It’s funny now, but it certainly wasn’t then. Paying rent on your car due to your own lack of life skills.
The Denver Boot: originated by a Violinist to help save the city of Denver money in towing costs and prevent vandalism to maximize the punch from their enforcement of repeated parking offences.
Otherwise known as the Imobilizer. Hmm. The Imbolizer. Feels like a movie Jason Stratham passed on and Steven Segal couldn’t turn down.
This imobilizer and I were on very intimate terms. Just ask anyone who lived in the 300 block of Cloverdale back then and they would confirm. It was like a quarterly ritual for me. I somehow felt … I don’t know, civically obligated to fill the coffers of the Los Angeles Parking Bureau with passive income due to my inability to get up and out of my bed to move my car by 10.00 am.
Like five days a week.
Yeah. Not a very high bar to get over.
Especially since all I had to do was apply for a parking pass to hang on my mirror or stick to my bumper. But my name wasn’t on the lease, so instead, I just collected parking tickets. And then let them age. They yellow in the sun. And get crinkly. Like all of us out here in the desert.
They sat in a little knick-knack bowl, marinating at room temperature, as I waited to grow up and learn about responsibility.
See, I was very Bohemian. Which means I had a brillo pad afro, velvet pants, and I played a lot of hacky sack. In addition to my Bohemian tendencies, I was a cash cow for the city of L.A. between the years 2000 and 2003. I would like to think my efforts helped fix a few potholes or maybe bought road crews new orange vests.
I was too busy trying to blow up an inflatable world and put on my Uncle Sam costume to protest War Without End out front of the Federal Building at rush hour to worry about such basic levels of citizenry. I would take hits from a little pipe I called the Blue Bus and read Rousseau essays and the collected works of Thomas Paine to prepare me for the day the revolution began.
Ah, the street blend of misdirected youth and … wait for it… Entitlement.
I estimate paying more than ten grand in parking fees over those years if you could imagine. That’s determination. But, you know, we make sacrifices along our path to mastery.
Persistence is one of my natural virtues you know.
Again, youth. Perfectly cast for Uncle Sam I was: with huge aspirations, true knowledge for what is needed to make a better world and complete inability to look inward and move my car one block by 10:00 AM. There’s a metaphor there but I will leave that for you to assemble. Another child of the empire broken on suburban pasture running into his own, let’s say… limitation.
I would blow up my inflatable globe and heft it, like Mr Chaplin in The Great Dictator up and down the mean streets of West L.A. when I wasn’t talking through plate-glass security glass at a trusted employee of the DMV to educate her on the “quality of mercy.” In case you are wondering, after you get a certain kind of reputation, the DMV doesn’t accept personal checks. Go figure. So I would talk through more plate glass at mini mall check cashing stands to obtain cashier checks, and so on. It was a full-time job getting my imobilizer removed.
Our early twenties are like a Hindenburg. Full of promise but ultimately hot air. I would like to say the internet would have changed all that, but I doubt it very much. There are things even convenience can’t repair. Only sufficient pain can. I think on that today as we wait down the crossroads as a society, lead here by some kind of shadow of unformed youth in our collective unconscious. If I was able to stop getting the boot and move my car by 10.00 AM then maybe we can do something about all of this. I think you know what I’m talking about. The problem, of course, wasn’t the boot. Or the parking laws. It was something else. And that was something I had to figure out. Name. And then I had to get real uncomfortable, change just about everything inside out and give it time. Months turned into years and now I can say I am Denver Boot free for fifteen years.
But I had to start somewhere.