Dogs and cats may be a common sight in Highland Park, but last Thursday it was two mules tied to a fence along an alley near Figueroa Street and Avenue 59 that had people turning their heads to take a second look.
The mules at first glance appeared to be unattended, but according to the website imprinted on the mules’ saddlebags, their owner, a 65-year-old man who goes by the name Mule, intentionally walks away from the animals to call attention to the reality of urban life: “Open spaces where [the mules] once moved through freely, and sometimes spent the night in a secluded spot, were disappearing. More and more cars filled up the roadways, and the expanding urban infrastructure seemed to serve one purpose: accommodate more automobiles.”
“The mules have been traveling for nearly three decades through 16 states,” according to the website.
Surprised, and perhaps a little intrigued, several people walked up to pet or take a picture of the mules, only to walk away with little more than a web address – 3mules.com – to get more information about their presence in the northeast Los Angeles neighborhood.
“The space needed by The Mules to travel this country freely in all four directions on the landscape is being taken over by the suburban model of automobile usage, exclusively, and leaving no space for alternative venues of moving and living. In our travels, we carry that awareness and bring it to others. We’re a working model for that awareness, one step at a time, all day, every day,” informs the website.