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‚Äôs 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 Hopelessly addicted to drugs, no concern for their health and welfare, alternately aggressive and totally withdrawn.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‚Äôs ‚ÄúHard Rain‚Äù, 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 ‚Äî 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.”