People’s Park bathroom mural by B.N. Duncan & Ace Backwords

Whenever I walk through People’s Park, I often take a quick look out of the corner of my eye at this mural on the bathroom. Mostly to make sure it’s still there. Me and Duncan painted it in 1992, it’s of some of the street people that were hanging out on Telegraph back then. And it’s a weird feeling. Like looking at a time capsule from another lifetime. All of them (except me and Rare, which is weird) are long gone. And over half of them are dead (9 of 14).

But the weird thing is, when I look back on the me who painted the thing nearly 30 years ago, it’s like looking back on somebody else. Do you ever get that feeling when you look back at your past selves? It’s like looking back on a movie where somebody else was playing the part of me. He had the same name as me, but he was so different than the me I am today, it really does seem like looking back on somebody else.

They say that the body’s cells replace themselves every 7 to 10 years. The old cells gradually die out and are replaced by new cells. And every decade or so you’re completely different person, cellularly, from who you were a decade ago. Your DNA, of course, is still the same. But maybe that has something to do with why my past selves can seem so different from my present selves. Who knows.


(The characters (starting from the bottom right-hand corner, moving clockwise) are Wild Billy Wolff and B.N. Duncan (reading a copy of their zine Tele Times), Betsy the dog lady, Julia Vinograd, Cinnamon (panhandling for the Free Clinic), a youthful chipper Ace Backwords, Hate Man (with his shopping cart Gilda), Minerva (this crazy street woman who used to keep a diary by writing on the place mats at IHOP), Sandy the street musician, the Rare Man, Vincent Johnson (with a People’s Park sign he painted), and obscured by the garbage can are two street bros Gypsy Catano and Sparrky (aka Picasso Mike). In the middle is a self-portrait by Narayana. And below her is my Hippy Boy character.)

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