Signs, Portents

February 25th, 2006  |  Published in old and busted  |  1 Comment

HoEWhen Al and I lived in Sunnyside, we became aware over the course of a year that we were sharing our neighborhood with an embittered tagger who had pretty much marked up everything in the area bounded by 39th and 50th to the west and east, and Hawthorne and Salmon to the south and north. Unlike the types who limit themselves to mailboxes, commercial walls, alleys, street signs and phone boxes, this tagger got the sides of houses, sidewalks, the occasional fence and even a window once.

We didn’t know much about him except that his tag read “HoE,” and that he’d made mention on one sidewalk tile of “HPV,” which we read to perhaps mean human papilloma virus. Acknowledging that our amateur anthropology was probably hopelessly square, the narrative we pieced together was that maybe he (or she) had been given HPV by someone, ended up with genital warts as a result, and set out to singlehandedly shame the source of his/her infection with a campaign of tagging, including the occasional arrow pointing to one specific block in the neighborhood. We kind of assumed that “HoE” wasn’t the name of the tagger, but was instead a quaint misspelling of “Ho.” As in “That ho gave me warts!”

Anyhow, moving to Woodstock seemed to mean leaving HoE behind. Until today, when we found a HoE tag on a walk to CoffeeCat. It brought to me a sense of both strangely welcome familiarity and maybe a little disquiet to go along with the egg we found smashed all over our door this morning.

Though I would never check off “superstitious” on a do-it-yourself personality inventory, I’ll readily admit that on days when my blood sugar is out of whack or I haven’t yet had my morning coffee, there’s little I could take as either a good sign or bad one that I don’t take as bad. A random egging combined with the reasserted presence of someone we’d always assumed to be a phenomenon as strictly local to the streets of Sunnyside as, say, a poltergeist, didn’t mix well and cast a cloud.

We ended up dipping through the Woodstock Safeway, though, to get some milk and juice, which caused us to pass by Cyclops Comics and Cards (it may just be “Cyclops Cards” now that the owner doesn’t carry any comics on the shelves anymore). Cyclops had also been egged.

On the strength of a weak mocha and chocolate chip scone, a moment of solidarity with Cyclops, which I think of as a pleasant place with an amiable and helpful owner, helped me remember that some shit is just random.

I kind of don’t get HoE’s reappearance, though. And his uprooting from his old environment sort of puzzles me since it might undermine our shaky vengeance narrative.


  1. Ed Heil says:

    February 28th, 2006 at 9:05 am (#),10117,18291784-13762,00.html

    Egg Crime is an international problem, you know, like terrorism

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