Had to go down to the Central Library Friday afternoon to pick up a book I’d put a hold on. Opted to leave the bike at home and instead catch the No. 4 bus from Silver Lake to Pershing Square, where I walk along Fifth Street from Hill past the park, Olive, the Biltmore and Grand. When I leave the library with book in hand, I decide not to return the way I came and instead step on Hope south to 7th and go underground, hopping the Red Line back up to Vermonica from there to stride the rest of the way home. On impulse I veer into the parking lot to make a stop at the Rite Aid, which puts me in the direct trajectory of a young lady who steps out from behind a car wanting to know if I speak English. I successfully fight back the urge to ask “What other do you think this loaf of Wonder Bread might speak?” and instead politely confirm that I do have a passing familiarity with that language. In turn, she casts out a weary line about trying to get Pizza Hut’s finest for her kids, but her debit card was refused and could I maybe spare some—.
“Sure!” I said, cutting her off. “I’ll buy the pizzas for you. How many you need?”
As expected she hadn’t set up for the curveball I pitched and the words stumble out of her mouth wondering if it would be OK if I just gave her the cash. I told her all I had was my debit card at which she shook her head. Her “Thanks anyway,” confirmed my suspicions that the pizza story was a fiction, and for their sake hopefully the children were, too.
Out from the Rite Aid the young lady starts for me again until realizing she’d hit me already and sharply turns away as if I don’t exist. As I head east on Santa Monica Boulevard I wonder if it’ll ever dawn on her that duh, she missed an opp for free pizza that if nothing else could’ve helped fuel the drive to her next fix. Oh well.
I pass the stately Cahuenga branch of the library where I startle a homeless woman who is changing clothes in the relative privacy of the library’s locked-up lower entryway. I pass the Little Temple club, cross Virgil, and look down upon the shack that used to be the beloved
Jake’s Jay’s Burgers, but now since its eviction is home to the latest in a succession of nondescript and noninteresting eateries.
Next I eye a small mural and double back to get this snap of it (after the jump; click for slight enlargification):
Normally I get bummed when murals are defaced with tags, but the ones scarring this — crossed out and overwritten — emphasize the work’s title: To Live and Die in Los Angeles. Further reinforcing its point came the tragic news that less than eight hours after I took this picture and about 230 feet to the west of this mural, a man was killed outside Little Temple, reportedly the end result of a verbal dispute.