With no set itinerary, I set out late in the afternoon last Friday from my house for a 90 minute ride through Los Angeles. Although I did not plot it so, my undertaking would be of grave proportions before I returned home.
Below: Initially I pedaled my fixed gear bike north, to reach San Vicente Blvd. For some reason, this broad and mostly flat avenue is usually devoid of traffic, even at rush hours. Rather than cross it and ride through the mid-Wilshire district into West Hollywood, I decided to hang a right and follow the boulevard as it cut diagonally across the nominally east-west/north-south grid of city streets.
Above: I made my way across across Pico Blvd., and up an easy hill to Venice Blvd., then entered Lafayette Square, a semi-private, semi-hidden upscale enclave in the mid-city area. Lafayette Square sits between Venice and Washington Blvds; its eight blocks of the upscale neighborhood, built in 1913, feature a wide variety of architectural styles, including Craftsman, Neo-Federalist, Italianate, Spanish Revival, and Modern. Or so it states on wikipedia.
All these streets surround St. Charles Place, which is just a few blocks long, and it's also a sort of mini-San Vicente Blvd. Quiet St. Charles is more like a track than a street; it's a great place for riding a few or several casual laps, before venturing back out into traffic.
Below: Turning onto traffic-laden Crenshaw Blvd., headed back toward Venice Blvd., I passed this strange statue in front of a fine old home. I have no idea what the statue is doing there. It looks like a giant, pink Rapunzel, letting down her hair. Investigation is warranted on a future ride.
Above: Now on the southern edge of L.A.'s Koreatown, I passed Kim's Driving School, which has been around for years. So has Mr. Kim's mural, which tells a terrific story about the freedom of movement, the freedom of controlling our own destinies, that comes with a driver's license in the U.S.A. However, as much as I enjoy driving my car (OK, a pick-up truck), I like riding my bike better; and as much as I enjoy the freedom that earning my license has given me, I'm freer on my bike. I'm just visible, by the way, in the mirror on the left side of the photograph.
Below: Which of the four items on the sandwich board don't belong with the other three?
Menudo, a Mexican soup made with beef stomach, chile peppers, hominy, onions, cilantro, oregeno, and a dash of lime, often served on Sunday mornings and a supposed cure for a hang-over? (It's tasty, by the way.) Birria, a Mexican stew made with goat, lamb, or mutton? Pollo, chicken? Huaraches, which may sound, to the ear untutored in Spanish, like an exotic dish, but which are shoes?
Below: the Virgin of Guadalupe puts in an appearance at a corner market.
Below: The towers of downtown Los Angeles filled the scene above curiously empty Venice Blvd.
Below: Traveling up Venice Blvd. over the years, I'd pass an old cemetery. On a whim, this time I decided to enter its grounds, which meant circling around to the Washington Blvd. entrance. As many times as I'd passed it, I'd never noticed the name: the Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery.
This was, I learned, the second oldest cemetery in L.A., opening in 1884, when the city contained just over 28,000 living souls. It was the first cemetery in the city open to all races, and the first open to those of any religion (or lack of religion). It grounds were also the first in the city to be called a lawn or garden cemetery, with its 65 acres decorated with beautiful trees, shrubs, and flowers, as well as works of monumental art.
Although many once-prominent people are buried at the cemetery, their importance, the knowledge of their very existence of their lives, has been, with few exceptions, lost to the midsts of time.
It was closing time, and sunset wasn't far off. I'm not sure how these four friends entered the cemetery; they didn't seem to be there when I first cycled through, and after I made a few more photographs, I followed them out through the main entrance.
I stopped for one more photograph just before sunset, posing my bike in front of a mural on Washington Blvd. A few minutes later, and not ready to spend time yet in my own grave, I turned on my bike lights, and finished my ride just as dusk turned into darkness.