writer’s bonk: Edward Hopper on the 560 to Lakeview Terrace

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.

14 thoughts on “writer’s bonk: Edward Hopper on the 560 to Lakeview Terrace

  1. All of these resonate with me fiercely. I think the trick to L.A. is that it is bits and snapshots. Trying to write it as if it were a clean or true narrative is a dicey proposition.

    1. Good point
      It’s the Attention Deficit Town in a lot of ways. Television, subdivisions, freeways and sprawl.
      Thank you for the resonation. I know you’ve hit those streets at the same time and it means a lot to me to know I didn’t hit the wrong note.

  2. 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.
    This line really got me. Shiver-up-my-spine got me because its so true.
    Keep at it, soldier. I would love to read what you come up with.

  3. I live in what i guess is a ghetto part of Dallas these days, and I have to say not having a car for a month made walking in it a necessity. What I noticed was it’s MUCH more of a community to the pedestrians. People you would lock your car door right in front of are friendly, and usually do have a story or at least a good joke or two to tell you.

  4. This reminds me of some advice I heard on the Blue Line a couple of years ago, when I was visiting LA for a week (in which I never once got in a car):
    “Ignorant, stupid, or indifferent, you got to enjoy yourself. … We shouldn’t be against each other. There’s enough money in this country for everyone. … His problem is, he’s always lookin’ behind him.”

  5. When that happens to me, haiku often works. Something about conveying an idea in a limited number of words in such a rigid structure, breaks the block and gets it flowing again. Reverse psych maybe?

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