The American Caliban (substitute) wrote,
The American Caliban

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Edward Hopper at Dolores Restaurant at 3 am, 1987

When I lived in Los Angeles and didn't have a car, I walked the city a lot. Frequently I did this at night because I was nocturnal and having depressive problems.

There were a lot of hours spent on the streets of West L.A. and Hollywood. I peered in store windows, read newsboxes and flyers, talked to street people. I read cheap paperbacks in all-night coffeehouses to keep my mind off whatever was eating me. When they were running, I took buses, but walking was more reliable.

When you're a pedestrian at night on a street like Pico Boulevard or Bundy, you're invisible. Cars blow past you at 50 all lit up and blasting music. Buses will leave you at the bench yelling and waving as the driver zones out heading for his turnaround. Even the other night pedestrians keep their heads down and look straight ahead much of the time. Only an occasional cop will see you, slow down and shine his light for a moment, or maybe even get out and make you play "who am I?" in case you're trouble.

That's how I learned that the world is made of broken concrete and asphalt. It's a dry, chilly place lit by fluorescent bulbs. In the distance you can always hear a freeway and a siren or two, and there's always an airplane in the sky. Other people are crazy, dangerous, or just boring. Everything costs money. And a cup of bad coffee and a book are not much of a defense against that or the enemies within.
Tags: losangeles, personalhistory
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