Skid Row is First-Century Jerusalem

Over at the site of British writer Warren Ellis, somebody named Sean Landers writes in the comments about eight months spent working in downtown Los Angeles:

What’s really going down there is that there is this truly massive number of totally hopeless people. Hopelessly addicted to drugs, no concern for their health and welfare, alternately aggressive and totally withdrawn. Its like walking through Bob Dylan’s “Hard Rain”, or maybe the way I picture 1st century Jerusalem, choked with lepers and madmen. The streets are littered with amputees. Half of the homeless get around by wheelchair; it is really surreal. Toothless mouths in perpetual sneers or screams. There are open wounds, boils, sores. It has to be seen to believed. People screaming, just constantly screaming, with no rhyme or reason. People openly urinating and defecating in the gutter — or the street. I saw a woman bathe her baby in a plastic bucket, dabbing the washcloth in the filthy runoff. I was routinely approached with offers of crack, sex for money, et cetera, by utterly hopeless people.

Personally, I always describe Skid Row as being like the bad neighborhood in a Robocop film, but I’m digging “1st-century Jerusalem.”

5 Replies to “Skid Row is First-Century Jerusalem”

  1. Yep. And I live here. In my high-rise loft apartment I have a great view of all the madness roiling below me, and wailing fire engines lull me to sleep every night. I only wish some of these people find some relief. In a departure from cynicism (unusual for me), I am hopeful that more gentrification and loft conversions in the area will alert more people to the problems, bring more tax base to the area, and get some more help for those who desparately need it.

  2. Yawn, so a bunch of well-off white people all of the sudden discover that there are people who are not as well off. There seems to be this periodic interest in the area, where essentially nothing ever changes. Anyone want to pay more in taxes to fund more social services in the area? Anyone care to get out of their high-rise loft to help out? Seems like people once in a while tour the area, wring their hands going tsk tsk and then just disappear.

  3. Heywood! Dude!! Where have you been? I haven’t seen you around on the internets in years!

    And “homeless” isn’t the preferred nomenclature, “urban camping enthusiast” please.

  4. I believe the proper term is “enclosure challenged.”

    And although LA’s downtown has plenty of really miserable areas, I think East Coaster Sean Landers feels some satisfaction and smugness at making the city sound like an even bigger armpit than it already is.

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