Rest In Peace: Silver Lake Walking Man

I’m entirely dumbstruck to learn that one of Silver Lake’s most recognizable and mobile icons, Dr. Marc Abrams — aka The Walking Man, The Walking Dude, Doc Walker — has died.¬† His age is being reported as 58 and he was apparently found dead Wednesday in the backyard hottub of his Silver Lake home.

In my seven years in Silver Lake, I’ve of course seen Abrams in his element countless times (and photographed him on any of several occasions). By chance one day a few years back while I myself was walking the hills west of the reservoir I found him coming out of his house to begin one of his marathon treks and felt like I’d graduated; not only did I know of The Walking Man, but now I knew of where he lived!

It’s a funny thing. Though he was in essence a stranger, there was nevertheless something very reassuring in seeing him out there on the sidewalks in his shorts, reading something or talking on his cell phone. Whether I was having a crap day or the world was in some way greased and going to hell, a fleeting encounter with him was a reminder that everything wasn’t entirely out of whack.

But now it is. And I know that sometime in the next few months I’m going to be biking or walking or driving somewhere in Silver Lake and wonder why it is I haven’t seen him in so long. Then I’ll remember, and it won’t surprise me if I get choked up like I am right now.

It is at least some consolation that so revered by the community as he was I can find him in at least three neighborhood murals I know of, including¬† Nicky Gagliarducci’s 2009 mural next to Local Restaurant (pictured above; click to enlarge). He has — sigh, had — a habit of popping up our of nowhere so maybe he’ll surprise me by showing up in other street art I don’t know about.

In the meantime I’ll fondly recall the last time I saw him in person, which was prior to the start of one of my Bike Every Saturday In May group bike rides. As he strode past where we’d gathered in the Silversun parking lot at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Parkman Avenue, one of us asked him if he had any advice. He stopped, turned and thought about it for a second. With a smile he fittingly gave us Satchel Paige’s “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.”

Then he walked away.

Rest in peace, Walking Man. Rest in peace, Dr. Abrams.

10 thoughts on “Rest In Peace: Silver Lake Walking Man”

  1. Oh, this makes me so sad!!! He was an icon in that neighborhood. May he rest in peace, and be walking and reading (at the same time) in his next life.

  2. What a bummer. When I leave my house and come home more than a couple of times without seeing him walking around, something just doesn’t feel right. We’ll totally miss this dude.

  3. Good Lord, I was JUST thinking about this guy over the weekend. Very, very sad news. Condolences to his family and patients…

  4. Wow, it’s weird how someone you never formally met can be part of your life. And then not. I’ll miss seeing him around.

  5. Rest In Peace Walking Man.

    I grew up seeing that guy up and around, he was a part of the background of my life. I feel like a bit of home has slipped away. I’m going to miss him.

  6. THanks for all you guys wrote to help me as I mourn a man I saw on my own walks everyday! I only wish I took more time to get to know him better. I’m grateful for his smile, jokes, and slight jabbing about how slow I was compared to him!

  7. I too am shocked. I’ve been living in Silverlake for the better part of 10 years. And even when I lived in Hollywood prior to that I would see him.

    As marathon runner who runs around the lake (reservoir), I would see him all the time. I bumped into him at Gelson’s one day and asked him if he was ever concerned about skin cancer. He brushed off the concern saying he throws a lot of sunscreen on.
    As I was running today, I saw the little memorial with flowers on W. Silverlake Blvd. I was shocked to say the least. I felt like the wind was knocked out of me. How could this icon, robust an example of health just disappear from one day to the next??

    I too, no matter how bad my day would feel better when I saw him, seeing him reminded me strangely enough that something profoundly right in the universe was happening… like the universe’s perfect mechanism was still working like clockwork. In these modern times where technology is changing so rapidly, when Iphones applications are changing our lives faster than we can keep up – seeing this man walk and walk and walk, day after day, would ground me, center me, keep my feet on the ground… bring me back to a more human place.
    I too am going to miss him…
    I wish I got to talk to him more… I always thought there would be more time to get to know him… I thought he would be here forever…
    I hope wherever you are Mark, that you are walking…

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