Animals in Architecture (extracts)

Author: Sabine Scho
Translator: Bradley Schmidt

Of Abandoned Cages – Old Los Angeles Zoo

Keep out and keep your hands off – the area behind you is still waiting for everything that is past.
A Picnic on Valentine’s Day in the provisional paradise and don’t forget how people disappear, maybe in a bear enclosure with permanently installed grill. Stick your fingers through the mesh – is it cool? Are you still glowing, Jimbo? “It’s just the age when nothing fits.”
It’s shrinkin’ time again, kidz. “You wanna see a monkey,” or something else? On Sunset Boulevard, while Miss Desmond waits? Drive by Bates Motel or a wedding chapel.
The collar starched, barking “nothing but the dog in me”. Don’t worry, it’s not East L.A. gang, packs have long left this place, tables and benches can’t be budged, the séance is over, the second face a silent movie set – space for projections.
There’s always just one who’s crazy enough to make a fool of themselves and the one who drives along the unending, long streets till they suddenly end after all. No, not suddenly. All of you all already knew about the crash back at the start, and that they would get you, that someone would turn themselves in, that someone would die, you knew that too. But you didn’t want to go back to the zoo.
Don’t worry, they won’t lock you away. They know that you know very well that you have plans for a nice cage, far away, with spacious interior, a trail in front of the door for flight, you’ll get settled in, thank goodness.

© Sabine Scho

Bars don’t get mentioned, they live fully glazed and have a view of the pool, a porch swing in the garden, the sins of the city lined up straight in downtown’s cabinet, where JESUS SAVES as the redeemer of the primates – a “soul-saving business” in the steel framework.
They mounted the block letters from God’s school notebook on the roof on “the flip side of Paradise,” the sky marked with lines, made ready for the quota of faith of united disciples, United Artists, but don’t forget: “There’s always a better show at Loew’s State”: “Tarzan the Ape Man tops Trader Horn for thrills.”

© Sabine Scho

The “Alphabet of Gestures” hasn’t been spelled out yet, but the first words slip out: “Me Tarzan, you Jane!”
You don’t really know where they belong. “Won’t you follow me down to the Rose Parade?” To the Old Los Angeles Zoo, where sleeping beauty waits? Where a mockingbird sings East of Eden?
High dropout rates, teenage pregnancy, child abuse and neglect, suburbia’s puberty, public enemies, “cops grill a suspect” or perhaps a lost sheep at a BBQ in Watts.

Have you ever heard such fairytales? Are you afraid of the big bad wolf? Wasn’t it you who wanted a zoo without bars? Wasn’t it you who said: It’s true anyways, reality bites?
Cypress Hill, Highland Park, Los Angeles northeast, although these enclosures are no longer appropriate for L.A.’s beasts, they can be the grave for their next funeral feast.
“Good fences do make good neighbors, you know.” Or was it the other way around?
Respect the fence in the soft focus, close to the limit, caution loose gravel, otherwise you’ll lose your grip, will be responsible for damages that no insurance would pay, in the area designated for Lost Animals.

© Sabine Scho

Fleeing animals astound with cunning, don’t believe they’ll let themselves be lured, petted, tamed, that they’re missing something you have little of.
They’re not from around here, come to and from the country, remember the zoo area, their turf, from Plato’s break room you hear them panting, invisible creatures. Watchmen from Hell.

They sketch shadows that they don’t cast, search for the zodiac signs not far from the observatory. Stargazers, armed to the teeth, lost in space.
Their shibboleth, the growling of a bear in chains, the squeal of the tires that feast on gravel, a red mustang that always keeps on track.

Lascaux is located in L.A., you just have to get out to understand that, and that the ciphers in the abandoned caves mean something.
Guess what? Mr. Psycho bombed this place.

© Sabine Scho

Cat Houses in front of the Church

First scratch with your paw, making the sign of the cross, then enter the smoky cave. Through the colored panes you will be illuminated by the glistening light of the deity. The divine attempt to reach Ground Control? You’d better not mess with Major Tom.

Cats stroll in the House of God like it’s my bird brain. And God licks his whiskers behind the retable, some kind of richly ornamented Spanish wall. Mouse pickers or pleasant company for Jerome in his Study? Cunning, cleaning addicts, sweet-toothed and lazy, Satan himself, the heretics’ cat has nine lives. Three times a black cat. Get thee behind me, evil spirit.

That’s not to say that completely different animals can’t live here. Corn snakes or owls as the sub-tenants of the less-domesticated kitties, tormented by original sin, nervously drawing back their paws on hot tin roofs.

The separation from God requires a mediator, but nobody knows how animals got into Paradise in the first place. Starting with the snake, where did that come from?
Their eyes, coin slots for four-legged bandits, black cats, the first gambling creatures of the Caille brothers.

They skillfully take the rats, household waste, and cockroaches out of churches, stables, and sheds before they have a go at the fledglings in the trees. The last thing most of them see is the inside of a burlap sack, when their hisses are soaked up by the canals of Venice. Their ancestors may have been saber-toothed tigers with teeth longer than their tails.

What are the cats called? Do they really have three names? One for domestic use, one for their majestic prowling, and one that is only known to each cat, dozed off on top of cigarette butts, exhausted next to the hydrants, not on Mohammed’s sleeve that the Prophet cut off in order to not rouse his house cat before leaving it to pray?
A little beast of prey for which canned food was invented, yet the can-opener was invented in its own right, because everything we feed then willingly assumes goodness and grace?

© Sabine Scho

From Sabine Scho, Tiere in Architektur © kookbooks, 2013
Translation © Bradley Schmidt