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Is This a Legit Memorial?

by Prince Of Petworth May 9, 2011 at 10:04 pm 47 Comments

“Dear PoP,

On U St, between 14th and 15th St, NW, in front of the parking garage, there seems to be some sort of “shrine” on one of the street signs. Every few days, it looks like someone puts up some sort of decoration, or I don’t even know what, on the sign. The other day there was even some sort of walker/toilet seat contraption as part of it.

Does this ring a bell? Any idea what’s the deal?”

This is truly bizarre. Street memorials are not uncommon after a shooting or violent death. But I’ve never seen one like this before. This one seems so random I can’t tell if it’s legit or not. Normally these “shrines” spring up on the site of the killing and I don’t recall one happening recently at this location. And secondly and perhaps most importantly – the portable walker/toilet seat just makes no sense at all. I mean no disrespect but this is really strange.

Anyone know the story here?

  • victoria

    Can you just not enjoy the odd shrine to a wayward god now and then?

  • Bryan

    But is it ART, Eddie?

    • laurenmck

      I don’t feel that I need to explain my art to you, Warren

      • Keepin’ it real


    • Anonymous

      Wow, Absolutely Fabulous blast from the past!

  • Sarah

    That toilet seat graced a Petworth sidewalk planter a few weeks ago (9th and Upshur). Enjoy it, U Street corridor!

  • Deak

    It’s a new city program: Basic Utilitarian Mobile, aka BUM, Toilets.

  • Maire

    I see that on my way to work! It can’t be a shrine to violence, nothing has happened on that block and I can’t remember hearing of a deadly car accident at all. Strange.

    • la_niña

      This art/shrine whatever people are calling it is the work of a (sorry) deranged woman who everyday at the crack of dawn comes to the corner of 14th and U and starts singing and gyrating – no I am not kidding – I have seen her in action

      She is definitely from and African/Middle Eastern country and is occasionally moved from the corner so she has not taken up this upost as hers.

      At some different times there have been shoes, flowers, dead flowers, etc left there but this is the first time I’ve seen a commode.

      • Anonymous

        I didn’t comment, but that’s what I figured when I saw this post last night. Hard to believe someone would mistake it for a memorial.

  • Jen

    There has been something attached to that street sign for at least over a year now. It used to be just some sort of cross… I have no idea why it would have grown to whatever that is. I’ve lived around the corner for years and cannot think of anything that’s happened there since I’ve lived there.

  • g

    everything is so RANDOM! I like the plastic/cloth/whatever tied to the walker blowing in the wind. it’s deep

  • Anonymous

    Maybe there was a car accident? I’ve seen crosses on highways and busy, poorly lit roads with sharp curves marking traffic deaths. That might explain the aforementioned cross, but if it’s been there a year and devolved into a toilet seat and a bunch of other trash, it’s time to take it down. Whoever’s mourning needs to find another way to do it, if that’s what’s doing on here.

  • Jess

    I saw an old lady putting up these decorations on Sunday morning and was wondering what she was doing. She didn’t look to be the most sane individual. I’m intrigued to know what it is!

    • crin

      I’ve seen her at 14th & U too. There are definitely gaps in her mental health care.

  • ro

    ghost toilet

  • PG

    This photo needs a caption contest.

  • Michael

    I walk past this frequently as I live up 15th.

    And I think Bryan up there wins best comment award. I made a real LOL.

  • D from the P

    This is not the product of a sane individual…I know alot of religiously preoccupied schizos who build shrines out of almost anything and put them in strange places. Example: Using all the items on a hospital breakfast tray to build a shrine under your bed. This is probably an extension of someone’s mental illness, you should take it all down before things get out of hand or worse, someone decides to use that toilet…

  • SnarkCity

    In fairness, there was a point when it looked more shrine-y and less pile-o-trash-y.

    And my vote goes to ro’s comment. Ghost toilet indeed.

  • Heartbreakingly beautiful.

  • Jason

    Its a shrine to the Cabi gods to put a station there. These shrines appeared sporadically across the city in the 90’s. Amazingly, every location is now the site of a Cabi station.

    The walker and stroller, obviously, represent wisdom and youth.

    The box of boading balls with no balls signifies mother earth.

    The rolled up newspaper represents the creatures about the planet.

    The brick points to our violent nature, while the children’s toys show our peace. Ying/Yang.

    Finally, and most obviously, the entire shrine is located at a no parking sign decorated with a dandelion and a baby sandal. No need to explain.

  • Anonomi

    put a bird on it!!

  • anonymous

    That has been going on for years. I often walk past there on my way to work and it always has something new or added to the “shrine”. Not sure what its for but makes for an interesting walk to work.

  • andy

    urban scarecrow

    • yes?

      Does it scare away chicken-wing eatin’ hobos? If so, I declare a fail.

  • EckingtonChick

    This memorial to Richard Head, 1957-2008, was erected shortly after his passing in a tragic bicycle accident. Richard, or Dick to his many friends, was an avid cyclist who often failed to stop at traffic lights and stop signs. To this day, many people recall Mr. Head when they see a cyclist breeze through a red light by shouting out his name “Dick Head!”

    • Anonymous

      Well, aren’t you just Sofa King clever today.

      • Anonymous 2

        Clever > snarky. Try harder next time, Anonymous.

  • Looks like someone’s trash bag broke open to me.

    How about one of you neighbors clean it up?

  • erin

    This has been around since I moved onto the block a few years ago. It certainly has it’s periods of more shrine and less trash. I always assumed it was in memorial to a car crash because of the yellow traffic guards.

    I don’t understand all the comments calling on neighbors to clean it up. If it helps some one cope with their pain, and isn’t posing a danger to passers by, why not leave it.

    • Anonymous

      Because it’s a stinking pile of trash, and “shrines” ought to have a shelf life. MPD should extend its pilot litter enforcement to the 3rd District.

      • MBA Thug

        Just because a loved one died doesn’t give you the right to throw trash on the ground.

        • textdoc


  • call me a shrine elitist but…

    what a dump. i’m laughing so hard right now. this post has officially made my day. i second the need for a caption contest. please. don’t make me beg.

  • call me a shrine elitist but…

    erin has a true and good point. wah wah, now i feel like an a-hole… though it would be good for the city to ascertain whether or not it is a legit memorial just so it doesn’t risk becoming an unsanitary dumping ground.

  • Rayful Edmond

    Looks like Oscar the Grouch vomited all over the sidewalk.

  • Anonymous

    No one has properly thought about this. It needs to be backlit. It’s just sorta kerplunked.

  • This shrine was documented on my shrines site in December 2010.

    It may be for a tragic situation that occurred in this block on September 28, 2010; but I have no clear evidence of its origins. The shrine was not built in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, but showed up some months later. Rare, but not unheard of.

    The police report is here:

  • Not a litter bug!

    Where are all the people who always complain about litter?

  • Anonymous

    she’s a lady that does this all year round. What upets me is that she pulls plants and bulbs out of people’s yard to put there. I know someone who asked her why and she said some guy did her wrong. She also will add plants, berries and leaves to the manhole at the corner of U and 14th street in front of the Reeves building. Once I saw her holding a cross made out of wood over her head as she mumbled something in her native tongue on top of the manhole. Clearly in need of mental health support.

  • Austin

    Clearly a baby and an elderly person engaged in a low-speed game of chicken that went horribly awry.


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