Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

Wilshire and Western

A few blocks from my apartment in Los Angeles there is a magical corner.  A corner that, were you dropped into it, without knowing how you got there, you would think you were in mid-town Manhattan or the West End of London.  It is a heightened sense of reality, in an already crazy city.  Just 16 years ago, this area was under siege.  The riots of the early 90’s were in this mid-city district, there were fires and burned out buildings.  There was fear and mass exodus.  But 16 years in L.A. time is like a century.  Most of the people who live in this area are unaware of the fact that there were even riots in Los Angeles in 1992.  Even if people remember that there were riots, they have no feel for the fact that here, beneath the surface lies a scorched earth, that saw the eruption of decades, perhaps even centuries of hate.  

But above all the hurt and the rubble now lies a real city corner.  It is being completely revitalized at the moment (which means that I am usually abruptly woken up by jackhammering and heavy machinery).  On Friday night I was working at the Wiltern Theater, which, in true L.A. fashion is called the Wiltern because it’s on the corner of Wilshire and Western.  I had been working for about 8 hours with no break, and went out for food.  As I stepped out of the theater I was assaulted with the cityness of this corner.  The sidewalks are made, not of pavement but of a kind of marble looking substance, perhaps it’s granite.  Unlike granite countertops in fancy houses, the granite on this street corner is covered in old gum and city grime, which seems so much more plentiful in L.A. than in other cities.  The nice granite sidewalks are a dirty black mess that, when it rains, turns to a squishy muck, like a pre-paved road in a nineteenth century European city.   
The corner is a cross section of Los Angeles, there are two bus stops and a subway station on three of the four corners.  There are always people out on the street, which may not be impressive to dwellers of any other city, but L.A., being a car city, it is unusual for there to be lots of people walking on any street.  It just isn’t a scene that one is privy to on the streets of Los Angeles.  The corner is full of colors and languages and different styles, a veritable census of the people of Los Angeles, real Los Angeles, not the 90210 version.  
It is said that smell is the best memory.  Smelling particular smells will bring you immediately back to a moment, whether you remember the actual moment or simply the feeling from that moment.  And the smell of the hot dog vendors on Wilshire and Western will always remind me of that rush of the city.  That magic that all cities have, but the magic that is never the same in any city.  It’s all contained in the smell of those bacon wrapped sausages and grilled onions cooking on a street corner at 11 o’clock at night.
My favorite street corner in Los Angeles is the corner of Wilshire and Western.  Like the door of the Wardrobe, it transports us to Narnia, a magical land that looks like ours, with just a bit of imagination and magic thrown in.  
Peace, Love, and Magical Corners,
Julia
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April 29, 2008 - Posted by | Los Angeles

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