Tag Archives: koreatown

seen from the bus

In another place, some brief thoughts about riding the bus today. No claims to being anything but about riding the bus this evening, but what riding a bike means touched on some of the things I was trying to say:

And we’ve been talking through Goffman in class today, how Goffman sees the marking of the territories of the self. I don’t remember exactly how he phrases it, but he says something to this effect: That in all of our marking of territories, we’re trying to do both demonstrate our respect for others and establish a kind of regard in others for ourselves. And it’s not as though this is ever a simple process, but I think it’s easier to do in some places than others. What makes the bus such a heartbreaking place is how often you find the incommensurable moments between the territories of others and ourselves. More often than not, it’s something between the bus driver and passengers, some way in which the driver closes out passengers, refuses to open the bus’ doors, makes people feel acutely the sense of not being quite in control. And because I think there’s something to that, some way in which the bus requires us (as passengers, though my escape is always the bike, the recognition or declaration that I could always ride my bike if the press of people got too bad) to accept the fact that we’re on someone else’s time and in someone else’s place.

I don’t think you have to deal with that in the same way when you drive a car (Joan Didion’s quip that what makes Los Angeles unique is that it’s the only city you could drive to buy a hamburger at 3 a.m.). There’s something to the way in which cars become our territories of the self, and the way in which riding the bus forces people to confront the limits of their selves. And that maybe was what made this sight so heartbreaking: This man, when he got off the bus, would rather have walked calmly (be cool on the street, nobody wants to be the person running with your hands full, nobody wants to be seen as that guy) to catch his local transfer, but he would have missed his bus. And so something slipped, he broke into a shuffling run, hands clutching plastic bags of groceries, trying to make his way home.

And back to schoolwork. Thanks to those who commented on the Crank Mob thoughts – I’ve had some more stumbling thoughts kicking around but have yet to find the time to put things together. But best wishes to everyone.

updated bike map: mar vista to koreatown

Will made some helpful points about the first version of the bike route between Mar Vista and Koreatown:

I tried Cochran recently going south all the way to Venice. Not bad, but it’s a bit crowded/narrow in parts.

I’ve also used Cochran to 8th to Fairfax to Venice going south (and vice versa going north) and find that a good option.

Redondo and Crescent Heights are still my faves, and thanks for the tip about Wilton. I had a feeling it was bad but I had never ventured much below Wilshire on it.

The interesting part about Redondo coming back north is not to take it all the way up to La Brea, but instead to make a right from Redondo on Edgewood Place and cross La Brea. A couple blocks on the other side Edgewood meets up with Highland and that’s OK to ride, at least up to Wilshire where the cars get crowdy/angry.

It’s funny, looking at that zig-zagging cut through I do between La Cienega and Venice makes it seem like so much extra work, but I’d do just about anything to avoid La Cienega, especially where there are freeway on and off ramps involved.

All good points, and I tried to take a couple of them and update the map a little. You can see it below or find it here.

bike map: mar vista to koreatown

I actually mapped this one out a little while back but haven’t had the chance to put it up. It’s very much a work in progress and owes a great deal to Will Campbell’s routes, but here’s a first stab at mapping out some routes from Mar Vista to Koreatown. The Venice Blvd. bit is kind of a no-brainer, but it took me a couple of times to figure out the best route between Venice and 4th. As you’ll see, there are a couple options, and if you have any other suggestions, please send them my way.

century!

All joking aside, my 2009 mileage just passed 100 miles somewhere Mid-Wilshire this evening. And, to be fair, Will’s mileage already stands at a healthy 246.771 miles. And finally, my layman’s understanding of a century is that one is supposed to ride it all in one go (I, on the other hand, took 8 rides and just over a week).

But still. It’s cool to see mileage tick upwards.

In other news this evening, Steelhorse LA decided to flyer my bike again (does this mean that you don’t care if I’m not riding a fixie and just look like it sometimes?). And I had to laugh a moment at a battered Toyota Camry that pulled poorly into traffic on Burton Way on my ride home tonight: In the back windshield, a faded sticker read, Proud to be an American. You tell them, my friend.

back in the saddle

If I had three hands, I still couldn’t quite count to how many days it’s been since I was on a bike. A combination of things, really, chief among them 1,200 miles of driving to Colorado, but suffice to say this morning’s ride to the 720 and this evening’s ride home felt a little strange.

What did I learn in tonight’s ride?

  • I’ve been leaning on my front brakes a bit too much. At least, that’s what I thought. As it turns out, I was a dummy and didn’t check to make sure the little lever that engages the brakes was flipped down. Stupid me.
  • Traffic felt light. I don’t know if the time of day – 5 pm – or people still working their way back into the real world after a holiday season, but the roads felt sort of empty.
  • Of course, every time I started to feel comfortable and looked up at the gathering darkness through the trees on Fourth, I hit a divot or a pothole or a crack or found myself staring into oncoming headlights.
  • And what shape I was in? Gone, melted away like snow on a sunny day. It’s going to a steep learning curve for my legs, I’m afraid.

In the spirit of New Year’s Resolutions, I thought I’d try to keep track of my mileage. I’m certainly not out to break 6,000 miles (and congratulations Will!), but it might be a fun project (and one totally adopted from Will’s). Tonight’s ride? 11.42 miles. It’s a start.

update to the update

Coming back from Westwood last night after two pints, I couldn’t really muster up the energy to deal with traffic on S. Santa Monica Blvd. as it cuts through Beverly Hills. Instead, I decided I’d turn off and try the alternate route I suggested the other day.

What a surprise. I had no idea that Charleville Blvd. was going to be as peaceful or as placid as it was, and I’d definitely recommend it to people who want to move between West LA and places east of Fairfax without dealing with either of the Santa Monicas. I took Charleville at about 7:15 pm last night, and it was nearly empty of traffic. There are lights at two places between Moreno and La Cienega, and every other intersection is a four-way stop sign. If you’re really looking to pick a pace and keep it, it might not be the perfect road (unless you run stop signs on principle), but if you’re looking for a really comfortable alternative to the traffic and narrow road conditions on S. Santa Monica, it’s definitely worth a look.

Crossing north to get to 6th still takes a little bit of work, but it’s certainly possible. You can find the newly updated map here.

wandering in elysium

Last week, Will Campbell posted footage from his 26-mile post-Thanksgiving burn-off-and-otherwise-expel-your-excess-calories-ride, and it set me to thinking about my own adventure. While I’ve done a fair amount of biking between Koreatown and points west, my experience of the city east of here has been woefully limited.

While you can see the map below for a more accurate representation of the route (and for a yet more accurate map, the gmap version), a couple of thoughts about the ride. First, figuring out the best way to roll towards Downtown took some doing. Following some of Will’s maps, I pedaled down to head east on 4th; but when that petered out a couple of blocks later, I couldn’t remember which streets Will took to make it to Sunset and Sunset’s bike lane. Instead, I found myself on Beverly looking at a “bike route” sign and thinking that there were worse things I could do than ride by Tommy’s on a Saturday afternoon. As for Beverly – once they finish the construction on it, it’ll be a much nicer ride, but as it stands now, there’s a stretch around Alvarado that’s cut down to one lane on account of that construction, with an exceedingly bad shoulder to boot. But what traffic there was thinned out as I came down the hill over Glendale Blvd, and I had a peaceful slog up 1st to Grand. I rode Broadway north mostly because I remembered it from last week’s Critical Mass ride until I found myself with the south slope of Elysian Park on my left with the LA River channel spreading to my right.

Now for people who live or travel in and around that area, seeing that part of town might just be old hat. But for someone who’s spent so much of his life on the Westside and who’s gotten so used to seeing the Downtown skyline from a particular point of view, there was something tremendously exhilirating about being able to stop at the curb on Broadway and take in City Hall, the old business district, the greened expanse below me, the rail lines cutting along the River channel, the sense of a completely new city. And I’ve driven the 5 before, taken in the view of Downtown from this other side from through the windshield of a car, but it’s a completely different experience to watch the city move from the saddle of a bike.

I cut up – following Will’s route – into Elysian Park just before the bridge over the river, and worked my single-speed up Elysian Park Drive. Along the way, I stopped to catch views east and west, smiling all the while. I worked past Elysian Fields and the baseball diamonds before stopping to call my friend Matt and tell him that I was standing on a hill looking out over Dodger Stadium in the clear late afternoon, that I was going to get back on my bike and pedal through an aisle of palm trees before curving down Chavez Ravine to pick up Sunset Blvd. by way of Elysian Park. The rest of the ride back – minus an awkward turn onto Santa Monica – was easy enough, and when I came out of Scoops after a celebratory ice cream, the clouds in the west were lit up like the backdrop of some set of a movie I have yet to write.

Beautiful ride, and one that makes you appreciate just how much there is to do outside in this city. A friend of mine from back East was just out here to interview for a residency at UCLA. He commented on how strange it was to be in a city with no green, with no nature around. It’s something I hear a lot from people, especially people just recently removed from those states where trees are as natural as rain, and I never know exactly how to respond.

I’m not sure I have the whole answer yet, but this ride is a start.