Today was a perfect day to go downtown. Instead of the usual bright sun and searing heat, we had a heavy marine layer with a light drizzle. The temperature could not have gone over 68º Fahrenheit (20º Celsius).
I started by returning three books at the Central Library and picking up three other books to read in the next month or so:
Argentinian Juan José Saer’s The Regal Lemon Tree
Italian Pier Paolo Pasolini’s The Street Kids
Nina Revoyr’s Southland
From the library, I hoofed it to the Grand Central Market, where I had a delicious everything bagel with smoked sturgeon at Wexler’s Deli, which specializes in smoked fish.
Then it was on to the Last Bookstore at 5th and Spring. I picked up nice copies of two Sir Walter Scott novels at a good price: Kenilworth and Woodstock. I’m perhaps the only person I know who has the patience to read one of Sir Walter’s long and dilatory novels. Although he is not much read today, partly because he wrote in a difficult South Scottish dialect, I have always loved reading his novels. So I’ll have to consult the glossary at the rear of both books frequently. No problem there.
With my books in tow, I walked south on Broadway to 7th Street, past the abandoned old movie theaters where I used to watch all-night triple features with my old friend Norm Witty, then cut right on 7th Street to the Metro Rail station at 7th and Flower Street.
It was a good day, and I look forward to reading some good books.
On Thursdays, I find myself taking the Expo Line Train into downtown Los Angeles, or as the locals call it, DTLA. Before the free mindful meditation classes at 12:30 (taught by UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center—or MARC), I spend a couple hours reading in the literature and fiction center on the third floor. Then I make my way to lunch at one of several locations: Chinatown, Olvera Street, Little Tokyo, or the Grand Central Market on Broadway. Sometimes I stop at the Last Bookstore at 5th and Spring. When the afternoons are hot, as it was today, I return by the air-conditioned Santa Monica Bus Line Rapid 10 Freeway Flyer, which lets me off a block from home.
Since I started exploring the downtown area, I have gotten a better, more favorable feel for the city in which I live. LADT is nowhere near as white bread as the outlying areas, and there are interesting ethnic enclaves scattered about.
When it gets a little cooler, I hope to wander farther afield, perhaps taking in bits of Koreatown and Filipinotown.
The description below is from Eve Babitz’s Eve’s Hollywood:
At the bottom of Angel’s Flight [a funicular that no longer exists], you turned right and went a block and came to Central Market. This market covered an entire city block and had entrances on two streets at either end, Hill and Broadway, I think. In Central Market there are about 50 stalls. Unlike the Farmers Market [at 3rd and Fairfax], where tourists and Angelenos get cheerfully gypped daily, Central Market sells fresh produce and fresh fish and every kind of edible that could appeal to any faction of population minority that is in L.A., cheap. It’s like Baghdad [without the improvised explosive devices (IEDs)].
That was written more than forty years ago. Now there’s a heavy Mexican food presence, which is AOK with me.
Don’t let anyone tell you he or she knows Los Angeles. Why? Because there’s too much for one person to know. There are broad swaths of the county which I have never seen, mostly to the Southwest, all those weird little communities along Interstate 5 like Hawaiian Gardens, Downey, Lynwood, Paramount, Bell Gardens, and Santa Fe Springs.
But thanks to today’s little safari, Martine and I know a little more about the area immediately to the Northeast of Pershing Square. We had three destinations and hit them all:
The tantalizingly named The Last Bookstore at West 5th & Spring with its grim motto: “What are you waiting for? We won’t be here forever.
The Grand Central Market at West 3rd & Broadway, which I’ve always wanted to visit but never got the chance to.
Across the street from the GCM is The Bradbury Building, built in 1893 and the location for scores of Hollywood movies, most notably Blade Runner (1982).
The big surprise was Union Station, where I arrived in Los Angeles on December 28, 1966, on the Santa Fe Railroad’s El Capitan train service. For decades, the station fell into disrepair and disuse as Amtrak hit the skids. But then the city decided to add a substantial suburban rail system called Metrolink, a growing network of subways and light rail lines, and a bus hub. Now its a busy place with new shops opening and crowds of people on the way to and from somewhere.
Tomorrow, the Expo Line will link Santa Monica to downtown L.A. with the nearest stop being a few blocks south of me at Bundy just south of Olympic.
It’s nice to know that, in this day and age, I can find something positive to write about without having to grit my teeth.
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