Friday, September 20, 2013

"Down"-Town Los Angeles

A few days ago, my colleague John and I walked a couple of blocks in Downtown Los Angeles to grab some lunch at the nearby Ralphs.  We typically talk about the ongoing issues we have at work, and we did with much gusto as if these issues are fixable within our pay scale. But every now and then there would be an eye-catcher along the way that is worthy of our two cents. It is Downtown Los Angeles after all and I was strolling with an old-timer who experienced the area back in the 80s and had really fond memories of then worthy of its calling as a “downtown”.

The buildings now are ragged out, pavements are crooked and litter is flyin’ all over the streets. In the north and east side of Olive Street, abandoned warehouses and stalls are aplenty. The homeless are tediously dragging themselves around epitomizing zombies from The Walking Dead. Just a few years ago the city made some initiatives to revive DTLA with the Staples Center as the core for its redemption to glory. L.A. Live was born (a conglomerate of establishments that includes the Nokia Theatre, ESPN Zone, the Ritz Carlton Hotel and the Yard House to name a few) and was designed to attract locals and visitors alike from all across the country. Suddenly there’s a buzz about DTLA again. Talks about L.A. Live nearly mimicking, perhaps even equaling that of Time Square in New York City, was widespread. But it wasn’t even close and sadly the buzz was short-lived. It became an occasional “it” place usually when the Lakers season start or American Idol is down to its Top 10 finalists. The drive-to-revive DTLA did not go the whole nine-yards and it was evident to the still existent infrastructure diversity between the west and east sectors. Whether the city still has plans to roll out the resurgence of DTLA or not, it is ostensibly a long-term project.

John and I had a great lunch. We were in a better mood going back as compared to our walk away from the office. And John, the truly colorful storyteller that he is, would always go nostalgic and impart some buried memories in his head about those old buildings. He pointed out to an already vacated theatre and how it was so grand during the day drawing SRO crowds all the time. We passed by an old pub where John and his buddies used to frequent after a stressful day at work. "The good ole days!!!" he quipped. And he would never miss telling me how that Chase building at 9th street was where he had his first job. I love John’s stories. He’s very passionate about it. But he is very disappointed and saddened of the city’s demise. We both knew that DTLA is in bad shape. Yet we always find humor in a lot of things that we see in the streets like overly fashioned-out people (think scarves in 90-degree heat) and restos like Johnny’s Big Wangs LOL. There is one in particular, a small factory nearby our building that manufactures mannequins. Typical store where they have prints on the side of their establishment (in big bold letters) of the merchandise they sell. Problem is, they spelled mannequins as MANNIKINS! It’s been there since I moved to Los Angeles and that’s like 7 years ago. Now if that’s not an indication that DTLA has a long way to go, then I don’t know what is?? Can’t help but chuckle every time we get a glimpse of it.

Los Angeles, we have a problem!

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