Bus Riders in El Monte
Once again, I hijack a picture from the Los Angeles Times showing the impact of the plague on the life of the United States’s second largest city. One would hardly think that there were upwards of ten million people squeezed into the county.
Today the weather was sunny and cool, so I decided to take a walk into Santa Monica. Not having any bookstores to go to, I made another stop at Bay Cities Italian Deli near Lincoln and Broadway. There I picked up a couple rolls of toilet paper (at $1/roll) and the fixings for another Italian pasta dish. I had bought the sausage yesterday at Marconda’s Meats at the Original Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax.
It was a lovely day for a walk, perfect for avoiding the masked phantoms who occasionally crossed my path during the two-mile trek. The shopping done, I boarded the #1 Santa Monica bus for the return trip home. Once so busy, the bus is full of masked phantoms staying as far apart from one another as the seating allowed. (Needless to say, I wasn’t wearing my mask: It was in the pocket of my jacket.)
When this whole plague period is over and done with, will we remember how strange it was? Being retired, I have no problems with apportioning my time at home, though I miss going to places. And I miss seeing my friends. I keep in touch with them on the telephone, but it’s not the same thing.
The Beach During the Early Days of the Plague: Now Forbidden
I used to love taking walks, but now I am somewhat indifferent. You see, what attracted me was not the mere exercise: It was having a destination. And my favorite destinations were bookstores. Well before the coronavirus plague reached our shores, the bookstores of Los Angeles pretty much melted into history. Now I will occasionally take a walk to an Italian grocery in Santa Monica or to the West Los Angeles Post Office.
For a while, it was possible to walk along the beach, or over the bluffs in Santa Monica overlooking the beach. Now both are closed to enforce social distancing. The above Los Angeles Times photo was shot during the early days of the plague. Now, the police are out in force chasing people from the beach or anything else that looks like a nice place to walk. We are urged only to walk for the sheer fun of it, or to go to the market or pharmacy to shop for necessaries.
One thing I absolutely refuse to do is wear a mask while taking a walk. If some random bozo attempts to upbraid me for it, I will gladly send my sputum in his direction. As I wrote in yesterday’s post, until I can find another solution, I cannot exercise while fogging up my glasses. I will gladly stay far away from other walkers, as my distrust of strangers long predates the arrival of the coronavirus. I am always happy to answer strangers’ questions in my ungrammatical Hungarian, which may include some colorful expressions of contempt.
Later this week, I will probably walk to Bay Cities Imports (the Italian deli in Santa Monica) to pick up one of their delightful Spaniard sandwiches together with some ingredients for a future Italian meal. Their pasta, sauces, and Italian sausages are nothing short of superb.
We’ll Take Your Word for It
As I took this picture some twelve years ago, I have no idea what this picture is all about. In those days, I used to take a lot of beach walks as a form of exercise. What really motivated me, however, is that there was usually a book store either on the way or serving as the final destination. Now that most of the bookstores in the area have been shut down to satisfy the itching of palms of greedy landlords. The only two that remain—Sam: Johnson in Mar Vista and Small World Books on the Venice Boardwalk—have survived only because the bookstore either owns the building, or a family member of the owner runs the bookstore.
I need to do more walking, though I feel some apprehension as the hot season begins raise beads of sweat on my forehead. No matter. I could wake up early on Sunday and time my walk to get to Small World Books as it opens at 10 am. The things I have to do! Apparently the walk is not sufficient motivation on its own.
As I continue to stare at the picture above, I realize what the photo is about. I strongly suspect that it refers to some benefit conferred by Falun Gong, the Chinese spiritual practice currently outlawed by the Communist Party in Beijing. How did I figure it out? After I wrote the second paragraph above, I looked up Falun Gong on Wikipedia and noticed that the first character in Chinese on the banner is the first character in the name of Falun Gong. Check it out for yourself here.
Sam: Johnson’s Bookshop in Culver City
My doctor prescribed that I take long walks four days a week. Now that I am working only two days a week, it is much easier to comply. This morning, for example, I walked from Pico and Pacific down to where Windward meets the ocean—along two miles of “boardwalk” including parts of Santa Monica and Venice. My destination was Small World Books, one of the few remaining independent bookstores in West Los Angeles.
When I walk south, I go along Bundy to Venice Boulevard, where (not coincidentally) Sam: Johnson’s Bookshop is located. It is easily the best used bookshop for miles around.
Do I head west? Then my turnaround point is the three-story Barnes & Noble on the Promenade in Santa Monica.
Small World Books on the Venice Boardwalk
Even with bookstores disappearing at an alarming rate, I have this book-buying habit that I have to somehow keep within reasonable limits. On my long walks, bookstores are like the raisin in the oatmeal. They give me a tangible reward for all that exercise.
When the temperature begins to heat up, I may have to join an air-conditioned health club that has treadmills and exercise bicycles. Hot weather is a powerful disincentive to outdoor exercise.