This is a follow up to Finding Picasso, Elvis’s dressing room and Monkeyshines in Tacoma.
At 6:30 am, I was drenched. My water-resistant jacket had given up. My shoes, my socks, my multiple layers of clothing all soaking wet. It was probably around 40 degrees. The cold and wet didn’t bother me. I had been awake all night, I wasn’t sleepy. My legs were becoming increasingly sore. But I was determined to find a glass Monkeyshine.
I was working my way down Ruston way. Checking between rocks, and in bushes, under picnic tables, public bathrooms. I would have felt a bit crazy if there weren’t hundreds of people out doing the same all over the city.
I, along with my Black Labrador, decided to head down to an emptier part of Ruston Way. My step-counter hit a remarkable 22 miles. I caught a bit of movement and I stopped to get a closer look. A small mouse was scrambling over some leaves attempting to flee from me, unaware my interest was in finding rats.
I glanced up and saw a lone bench overlooking Commencement Bay. I walked over to it and resting there was a glass medallion.
I had been scouring Tacoma for 6 and a half hours looking for one and I finally found it. I was elated. It caused me to smile for nearly the rest of the day.
A few minutes prior to my finding the medallion. A woman sitting in her car alone rolled down her window to tell me how my dog was amazingly well-behaved, and she asked what everyone was doing with flashlights? I explained to her how artists of different types hide art around the city on Chinese New Year featuring the Chinese Zodiac symbols.
“Oh, that’s interesting. Maybe, I’ll go look for one.”
Holding my treasure with a big smile, I looked back towards my car and she was still parked there sitting alone in her car. She needed a Monkeyshine. I don’t know her name or why she was parked there, but I felt she needed one. I kept looking for another while till I found a rock, carefully painted with the symbol of the rat in blue, white, and gold.
I gave the painted rock to her and she was absolutely giddy with excitement.
A few hours earlier, I was searching at Fireman’s Park. I saw a couple walking ahead of me. I yelled out, “Are you guys Shinors or Shinee’s.”
The man responded, “Shiner’s. No, Shinee’s. Wait which one is which?”
I responded, “I don’t know, you guys make the call.
They each responded differently. I knew they were rogues right away. Rogues hide their own works while searching for the treasured glass medallions or orbs.
I met so many different people. A guy leaving the bars who told me about how he often goes snowboarding and surfing on the same day in Washington. I met people who worked for the theaters. I met a hyper-intelligent young man and we shared tips on social media marketing.
Between 3 and 5 a.m., the city was asleep, while I was searching nooks and crannies within it. But also seeing Tacoma in a new light. A city where an anonymous Ms. And Mr. Monkey started a mischievous idea years ago, and years later it carries on drawing out thousands of people. Two days later, I took my daughter to Point Defiance to search and the park was crowded with people searching.
It was in those early hours though, when I really began to admire how Tacoma and its residents appreciate the city. Everyone, I’ve known loved the Old Elk’s temple back when it was a derelict building, and it’s become stunning as the restored Mcmenamin’s Elks Temple Hotel.
I noticed parking lots I’ve never noticed (Mostly where I now plan to park when going to the restaurants downtown). I paid attention to the art lining Tacoma’s streets for the first time in forever. Tacoma is a remarkable city filled with remarkable people like Ms. and Mr. Monkey.
Their Monkeyshines, an act of mischief, has turned into a significant act of leadership, of caring, of uniting people. A simple act of kindness that has convinced thousands of residents of Tacoma over the years to wake up in the early hours of the morning and in the dead of winter to scour the city through rain and snow, so they could find art, and share art. It’s probably one of the most beautifully inspiring events I’ve experienced. They deserve an anonymous statue commemorating their creation, but I’d recommend someone simply just erect one somewhere and let people figure it out over time.
Thank you, Ms. And Mr. Monkey.