Walking home from a class at the San Francisco Zen Center, I noticed this billboard.


And then this one:

breathe 2

They’re not like most billboards, whose job is to convince you of how much better your life would be if you drank this or went there or wore that.

My friend Felipe Dulzaides and I were able to put up a series of eight billboards, briefly, a few years ago, each with the intent to make the passerby pay attention to the location.

Each one featured some aspect of its site, suddenly huge: basketball backboards, parking lot stripes, surveillance camera, overhead wires.   They looked like these:




(These photos by Felipe Dulzaides)

In Zen practice there is something called a Koan, which is a question that you can’t answer using your everyday mind.   You ponder until something clicks.

This billboard, until recently at the corner of 17th and Mission Streets, is a good example:

17reasons w

Later it lost its “why” and became just “17 Reasons”.

Then it was taken down, as shown in this film: http://vimeo.com/73307986 .

Now, the 17 Reasons and the Why have gone their separate ways. Maybe some day they will be reunited.

Here, perhaps the most Zen billboard of all: