I’ve been trying to write about Los Angeles from the pedestrian-and-bus perspective from my decade there, and it’s not flowing. I just get some bits and snapshots:
The asphalt from this perspective is way more broken and sticks up higher, so that waiting for the bus is like looking out at a moonscape.
Way more businesses are closed that you think when you drive by. The flyers stuffed into their mail slots have soaked and rotted into papier-mâché.
Shitty parts of town are dark. The streetlights are weak and few. Even in the day time a place like East Hollywood or Hyde Park is dark somehow.
People are friendly when you’re on foot, and you can talk to them and hear their stories. It’s only when you’re en route to your car and back that the city is socially forbidding.
The emotional memory is harsh. It’s very lonesome and demeaning to wait so long for a bus, knowing that you’ll wait so much longer for the transfer, while watching the city zoom by you and the other lost souls on the bus bench.
The L.A. buses smell like a drunk guy. No matter how often they’re swept and cleaned, the cheap beer and sweat and smoke and just a bit of vomit never quite leave.
Only the poor, the old, the young, the disabled, the addicts, and the unsuccessful criminals ride the bus in that town. A decade in their company is humbling.