Thoughts As I Move About Downtown
By Ann Friedman, journalist, podcaster, and pie chart enthusiast.
A gray Tuesday morning:
Driving through the 2nd Street tunnel. My speed is slow enough to notice the drippy tags and missing tiles, but fast enough that the ceiling is still an electrical blur of reflected taillights. I’m thinking about every car commercial that’s been filmed here, and how in order to glamorize this conduit, all it takes is 35 mph and a slight camera pan upward.
A Sunday at dusk:
Looking for parking in the Arts District. Wondering what it was called before it was labeled the Arts District. The Warehouse District? (Also wondering why suburban research parks are never called Science Districts.) This is a place where a $5 latte doesn’t feel so icky because it used to be empty industrial spaces, not people’s homes. I turn down a street named for Jean-Louis Vignes, an “adventurer and vintner” with not only an enviable title, but a picnic-worthy lineage: He arrived in Los Angeles in 1831 by way of the Sandwich Islands and Bordeaux. (Thanks, Wikipedia.) But for real, wine and sandwiches! A background that hinted at the “neighborhood change” to come. I park. Just off the curb, someone has spilled paint or a chemical designed to remove it. The gutter is milky blue iridescent.
A Tuesday night (different Tuesday):
Walking into an old theater I didn’t know existed until I bought a ticket for an event here. How many times have I walked past this musty echo of a building? Every wide entryway on Broadway is hiding a theater, abandoned or in use only on Sundays for Pentecostal worship. I walk past them without pausing until the day when they happen to be lit up or boasting a line out front. This particular auditorium smells like they’ve barely dusted it off—just removed some drop cloths from the seats and turned on the lights. My hands are cold the entire time. •