Sunday, May 18, 2008

A hot day on Broadway - Adventure Part I

We had tickets to see a show downtown, and gave ourselves lots of time to get there. One of the paradoxes of Los Angeles is that when you give yourself a lot of time to drive somewhere, the road is wide open. When you're cutting it short, that's when there's a car on fire on the 10 east, or a truckload of watermelons spilled in three lanes of the 405.

We got downtown with an hour to spare, [The Man I Love] was a little hungry, and thought we could grab a snack, so we parked the car and walked over to Broadway. I love Los Angeles's Broadway. It's a hustling, bustling street of commerce. There are jewelers, electronics stores, clothing outlets, bridal and quincenera stores, taquerias, botanicas, and music stores.

I've read somewhere that the dollar amount of financial transactions on Broadway is greater than that of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

In addition to the established stores, there are entrepreneurs doing their best to make a living on the street. There are newstands with a vast array of publications, most of them in Spanish. There are street peddlars selling cut fruit from trays that are arranged on top of baby carriages (without the baby). There are panhandlers, musicians, and people selling water and soda from coolers. As we walked down the sidewalk on this 90 degree day, we were followed by the jingling bells of an ice cream seller's wagon.

There are all kinds of people walking on Broadway on a hot Sunday afternoon. You might see clusters of people following docents for a Los Angeles Conservancy walking tour of the historic core. You might see black-clad artsy hipsters. I saw an old man in a crisp seersucker suit. There was a man without legs begging for coins. There were young Latino families - one young man about 20 years old walked with his lady and held his baby girl - she must have been 2 months old - in his arms with a pink blanket shielding her from the sun.

The buildings date from Los Angeles's vibrant past, when this part of town was the center of business and entertainment. They are decorated with terra cotta faces, beaux arts flourishes, and art deco terrazzo.

There are perhaps a dozen theatres along this stretch of Broadway, although only one of them regularly hosts events. The others are closed, rented out for movie shoots, or used as storage rooms for the retail businesses that have set up shop in their former lobbies.

Broadway has been ignored by established Los Angeles for so long that it's evolved its own way. Here, a narrow space no more than 4 feet wide between two buildings has become a sales outlet for pictures of Our Lady:

Feed the soul, and don't forget the chips! I like it!

1 comment:

KathyR said...

I love the virgin + the chips!

Looking forward to Part 2!