What I Saw on This Saturday Morning Run

by B.J. on 11/10/2007 03:58:00 PM 0 comments Print this post

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It's been quite a while since I last ran more than 10 miles. Today I wasn't going to be content just running the typical Sunset to West Hollywood usually through Beverly Hills and to UCLA, or Griffith Park Boulevard to Los Feliz through Glendale, or Silver Lake to Fletcher through Eagle Rock route.

Those routes...too routine, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I won't ever be able to run a marathon in 2 hours and 9 minutes.

Instead, today I decided on going to downtown LA, and wherever else the road took me.

Started out gloomy and chilly enough by this Angeleno's Standards, which is why I handily wore my winter headband, which suckered me into believing that I was Rafa Marquez, the Barca defender and Mexican hero.

It was a day, a run where I saw how beautiful everything is...and how ugly things can get.

Ran across buildings that have been here since the emergence of LA as a big city 130 years ago.

Shook my head, mentally, with each and every luxury loft occupying tons of space, with the knowledge that Skid Row is literally a block away.

Ran across the Eastern entrance of FIDM. Wondered if the rich white females there would look at me, catch on to my Rafa Marquez headband. and call it the next big thing.

Visited a cool nonprofit that will and has served as my parking lot when I have to go to the Convention Center and/or Staples Center.

Had to see the old Alvarado terrace. There's a little strip of land, as part of Arnold's Parks act, that serves as a "park" with some authentic cobblestone roads. It's always interesting to see something that old.

Saw the old "S.Hoover Apartments" sign on this one building, that I always see when I drive down to this part of town. I can't make up my mind if the structure was built and the lettering was written around the 1890s or 1920s or somewhere in between or heck maybe even later.

Went through to Westmoreland, thinking how it was an enclave for LA's earliest elite, what they and their ancestors would think of it now.

Parused through the old high school. Or should I say "brand-spanking new" old high school. Seems like all anyone has to do to ruin things is burn down one general section of the school. No more street crossing to get to that building across the street, no more on-ground student center, no more sophomore lockers near Pinney.

One of the women I talked to said that it looks like a college campus. Yes, if you're a fan of the "institutional" look that Porter College at UC Santa Cruz sports, then you too might enjoy the new construction.

After that, I ran across some egregious examples of city planning on what was a route for the high school cross country team. The route stretches from Venice westward bound to La Brea. I never noticed how unwalkable it is. Jesus christ, or Councilperson build a fucking side walk!

In other news, "egregious" is rapidly emerging as one of my favorite vocabulary words to casually inject into normal conversation.I didn't realize how far La Brea actually was and could feel the urge to quit bearing down on me.

But I was so far from home that it would've probably taken a 4 hour walk to just to get back. So once I was up La Brea and crossing 1st street, I eventually gave in...5-6 miles to walk...and at a pace you can only expect after running more than 10 miles for the first time in months...without drinking any water, eating anything beforehand.

I'd have to walk up La Brea and wait for Santa Monica Boule to show up.

This is when the sun started to show up a bit more.

I wondered how and why the hell the surveyors measured La Brea heading West.

I saw orthodox Jewish people attending Saturday morning services. Kept wondering if they spoke English. Perhaps that's how some folks in Montana or South Dakota view Mexicans, Arabs, etc. Wondered if they had a myspace and if they would put a grainy self-taken picture of themselves in those suits. Wow, I am showing tons of ignorance, and I guess I know a bit of what it feels like to be one of those people mocking people of color.

Saw some nice graff work across La Brea.

Women with nice fat ischial collosities wearing pants to a point of tightness and you could see the outline of their little cloth (or possibly silk) coverings.

A frail-looking white homeless man offered to suck my dick.

Noticed a water shop on Santa Monica, and that they had dropped their prices for a gallon from 25 cents to 20 cents. Also noticed that Little Ceasar's was selling crazy bread for 2 bucks. Don't even know if the price has gone up or down, but pizza's only 5 bucks!

Saw a bunch of people in the Medical building where I used to go to the Dentist having some kind of conference breakfast or brunch. Still smelled pretty medical --- a strange enticing mixture of basementy and gassy.

Noticed that they've sandblasted a lot of graffiti in the spot leaning up against an Elementary school.

Along the way, I noticed a bunch of other things:

Lot of people working on a Saturday. Mostly the ice cream pushcart vendors, the fruit pushcart vendors, the day laborers at industrial buildings, the people making the comida at las restaurantes centroamericana, the ditch diggers, mass poster plastering. It's interesting how specialized a people we have become. We all do one thing at a time, hope to get paid well, and buy stuff. Yet, this might be changing given the way information is now sent.

I noticed that the areas had more space, the more West I went. Developers from the 1920s and 1930s at work?

I wondered if there were any straight houses in and around the Pico-Union, Alvarado terrace area. Pretty damn big for just families. This is probably something I could just find out by looking at a zoning map, but that can be a daunting task.

Saw private security guards telling homeless people to vacate the premises on several structures with lots of crap in it, usually with people who use paper to acquire the crap. Very popular around 99 cents stores and convenient stores in and around Hollywood, and soon, coming to a city near you!

Tagging is just through the roof nowadays. The Los Angeles mural painted by cache has a bunch of people trying to scratch on it already, and I think that was a pretty dope mural with some credibility, but some people obviously don't think so. Or perhaps Cache shouldn't dominate every damn wall I see in Echo Park and should integrate more folks in his work. I noticed on an affordable housing project, kids had already began tag-scratching it's doors. And that's been up for maybe only 2-3 years. A mural that is currently in work with a bunch of white people on it on is sure to suffer the same fate.

I built up a craving for sweet bread. Saw it first in Echo Park, saw it on Santa Monica, but nothing reasonably walkable, which sent me to thinking about the economic and demographic development of Silver Lake. Only the ever popular Pupusas, and Tacos...in restaurants allowed. No bakeries? One I see is a restaurant and some Filipino bakery.

I continue to be stunned at how people come here to be rebels or "different" and...shop, shop, shop...for furniture, vintage furniture, vintage clothing, shoes, gelatto, vegan crap, coffee. Shopping...the most undifferent thing you can do. The people in Silver Lake make me mad sometimes.

But all in all the day was pretty damn fun, more food for thought or perhaps a waste of time for some.

The road I took took me down Sunset to the borderline between Chinatown and downtown. From downtown to the Staples Center From the Staples Center to Loyola High school. From the high school to La Brea. And from La Brea to back home. It started out gloomy and chill and ended sunny and chilly. Ran through a mix of enclaves, with the businesses offered in English, Spanish, Korean, Armenian, Jewish, Tagalog. I thought about George Carlin's meme of how we've turned America into a mall. Thought about architecture, urban planning, race relations, personal relations, language, and the physiology of the brain.

In the words of Forrest Gump, I just felt like running.

But not without my Livestrong, Enriching Lives, Justice for Immigrants, and Serve the People wristbands.

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