Monday, December 12, 2011

Foot Clinic sign

Tax examiner Chris Fogle was a drug-taking “wastoid” in college, at the University of Illinois at Chicago:

The dorm we roomed in was right on Roosevelt, and our main windows faced a large downtown podiatric clinic — I can’t remember its name, either — which had a huge raised electrified neon sign that rotated on its pole every weekday from 8:00 to 8:00 with the name and mnemonic phone number ending in 3668 on one side and on the other a huge colored outline of a human foot — our best guess was a female foot, from the proportions — and I remember that this roommate and I formulated a kind of ritual in which we’d make sure to try to be at the right spot at our windows at 8:00 each night to watch the foot sign go dark and stop rotating when the clinic closed. It always went dark at the same time the clinic’s windows did and we theorized that everything was on one main breaker. The sign’s rotation didn’t stop all at once. It more like slowly wound down, with almost a wheel-of-fortune quality about where it would finally stop. The ritual was that if the sign stopped with the foot facing away, we would go to the UIC library and study, but if it stopped with the foot or any significant part of it facing our windows, we would take it as a ‘sign’ (with the incredibly obvious double entendre) and immediately blow off any homework or supposed responsibility we had and go instead to the Hat, which at that time was the currently hip UIC pub and place to hear bands, and would drink beers and play quarters and tell all the other kids whose parents were paying their tuition about the ritual of the rotating foot in a way that we all appeared nihilistically wastoid and hip.

David Foster Wallace, The Pale King (Boston: Little, Brown, 2011).
The real thing is found not on Roosevelt Road but on West Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles:

[Photographs by Michael Leddy. Click for larger views.]

Laura Miller has tracked the Foot Clinic’s life in literature and music.

[3668? FOOT.]

comments: 0