Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Drifting in Los Angeles Again

I've spent the last week and a half in Southern California, returning to the regional lifestyle I led down here for four years. Last Wednesday, I went in my mom's garage and dusted the cobwebs off my folding bike, the one I named the Loose Goose when I bought it in 2008, and rode it down the hill to the San Juan train station.

On clear days, the cloudscapes outside the train window reach all the way to the mountains at San Bernardino.

When I arrived in Los Angeles, I went down to the subway platform with the Loose Goose, which I'd been advised not to ride due to a recalled part. A young Latino guy asked me about the folding bike, and we made small talk about bikes for a while. He said he had a bike, but it was "gangster" (not a chopper, not a cruiser, I'm not totally sure what he meant). I asked him if he was going to CicLAvia on Sunday. He hadn't heard about it, and speculated that there'd be a lot of "skinny" bikes there (I think he meant either fixies or just road bikes). Then we got on the Purple Line.

I walked up Western from Wilshire to Santa Monica to leave my bike at a shop where they could replace the recalled component. On the way, I saw lots of people on bikes. No women, mostly Latinos and Asian men. A Salvadoreño restaurant had a sign in the window that said, "Tenemos paches," which means they had patch kits to repair busted tires. The shop where I left my bike had a Korean owner and Latino mechanics. I asked the proprietor if he was going to CicLAvia, and he said no, but that he'd heard people talking about it.

I hopped on the 4 down Santa Monica Boulevard and passed a few more bike shops. There are a lot of people biking in central LA. How many of these cyclists would make it to CicLAvia? When the bus passed through Silver Lake, I saw a new green triangle park with many bike racks and chairs, echoing the public space innovations of Janette Sadik-Khan in New York, and far fewer bicyclists than I'd seen further west.

I went to Grand Central Market and got a sandía, then walked over to Broadway and Seventh and found that Clifton's Cafeteria was closed. Permanently? The signs out front were sort of ambiguous. I'll feel sad if they get rid of the Brookdale décor.

Then I walked along Pershing Square to the public library. I went up and sat in the funny suspended glass hall on the top floor, where you can hover over the newer wing and watch everybody.