Urban Survival, Prologue

Caveats right off the bat, you will always hear, well, it depends on which city, but...




  • they all have mean streets
  • they all are dirty 
  • people get rude and pushy at certain intersections and at others (I'll never forget that guy on Houston St. In NYC across from the props shack specializing in old gasoline pumps, Mobil with Pegasus, Esso not Exxon, etc. and a few bird baths and demi-god faux-marble statuettes), people will surprise you with glimmers of kindness, and then, the cynic says, it akways fades, but, me, I say, if someone is good to you on a city street, it's kind of a little miracle
  • there are too many people sleeping on sidewalks, under bridges, in drain pipes and flop houses
  • there are great monuments to times long gone with much more detailed design that the institutional crap we get nowadays, unless you're way far out Euro-trash avante garde Guggenheimed-out, of course, but no one goes to work there, just admire what gets put on display.
What does get put on display? A new installation right next to "Million Dollar Rosslyn" hotel (we're guessing 20s, named for a daughter not a wife), across the street this swank furniture-interior design studio with this comfy bed all lit up at night that I can't help but thinking should have been open for all the people stuck out in the street last week during the downpours, always worse at night, when you just want to hide and there's no where to stay dry.

But that's this city, the heart of it, downtown which, like a faded-glory starlet, not quite as grand as Gloria Swanson in Sunset Strip, but, then again, not as utterly doomed to a tragic end, just the cuts to the swimming pool were enough foreshadowing for me and the long lonely ride up those Hollywood heyday driveways with wrought iron gates around the perimeter to keep out who back then?

No, Downtown is a resilient, old grand dame with an amazing hat, the old lady on the street the young, silly girls just pass by, not recognizing brilliance in their presence so vertically prone are they to fondle their iPhone and Blackberry pets, they feed them, they grow. 

These are the hipsters, living in the overpriced lofts, paid by Daddy in some cases no doubt, or even stranger, (it is L.A. after all the land where seedy meets what passes for bastard-nation royalty, under the code of the CelebCult -- which has its own energy drink), a city where all across town, men in luxury cars pull over to actually shout out the going rates for which orifice gets used by whom and for what (although how long is still negotiable), a loud skinny man, spouting unapologetically excessive vices loud enough for all of us to hear, 4 picnic tables away, proclaims that he has a friend who regularly consumes $ 1,500 of crystal meth/night, simply because "the sex is great," and the reason we know this detail about some guy who lives not 5 miles west of that uniquely Angeleno version of hell called 'Skid Row,' down San Julian from 5th to 7th, is because the man shouting (who's definitely seen better days) gets to partake in unbridled revelry and wanton licentiousness every now and then but what I can't understand is how someone who can spend $ 1,500 on speed let's his buddy eat at the Hippie Kitchen.