Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Visions of Hope

2007 was the beginning of my practice of walking with camera.  I'd walked and bicycled a lot before, and I'd taken photographs before, of course.  2007 was the beginning of doing it in a purposeful way, documenting changes.  I was walking around the newly opened Los Angeles State Historic Park.  In the corner past the place where the cornfields had been, just the other side of the metro rail service yard fence, under the N. Broadway Viaduct, I saw a painted plywood board behind a dumpster.  L.A. has visions of hope, it said. I ignored the symbolism of the dumpster.  I have visions of hope, too.  The park was a vision.  It had been a railroad yard, and big investors wanted to use the land for more ugly warehouses, but the people prevailed, and the land became a park.  Before the railroad came, it had been a cornfield, and it became a cornfield once again, when Lauren Bon planted corn, and called it Not a Cornfield.  The corn continued to grow in the park, along with millions of wildflowers.

Joggers, dog walkers, kite flyers and soccer players were among the many who enjoyed the park in its "temporary" phase.  Now it is closed for a year of improvement.  We will see whether it really takes but a year, and whether we like it anymore than we did before.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Three Hearts, Commercial and Alameda, Downtown

It was the fifth day of a heatwave. I'd been spending all my time in one or the other of two little rooms in my house that have air conditioners in their windows. Then, at night, when it should have been cool, but wasn't, I decided to put gas in my car and drive downtown. Sometimes I take pictures out my car window, even though I've always thought it was cheating not to get out and walk, at least a little. I drove past the construction site where the Statler Hotel used to be. Then I drove on Broadway, where I had taken a series of photographs a few years ago. I went to see what I had called the last vacant lot. Once there were plans for a great courthouse, but they were canceled when there seemed to be no money. Now, a lesser building is under construction. I continued to drive in rectangles. The streets were full of detours and confusion. I drove up Alameda where the train tracks used to be. I saw three hearts made of plastic bags on a chain link fence. I had to keep moving but I came back. No place to park, of course. I thought I could pull over on the other side of the street, where the Federal Detention Center is, and stop just long enough to steady my camera facing out the window, but I heard a voice, "Ma'am, you can't park there." I didn't call what I was doing parking, just pausing. I wasn't blocking traffic. There was no one around. "Where are you?" I asked, and a man with a badge appeared. He was serious and fierce and threatened me with Federal Police. Even a few seconds here constitute a threat to national security. I drove around in several more rectangles until I found another place to take this picture, illegally of course, but not seen by those who enforce the law.

A few days later, it was cool enough to walk around outdoors during the daylight hours.  I had the six dollars it cost to park in the structure behind the hearts.  This is what a person can make of discarded things on an ugly chain link fence on desolate roads.