Walks in LA, Day 2

Yesterday’s walk was to the Arts District or the Warehouse District, via the Textile District and Produce District. Such imaginative names for the areas of downtown, ya know? I bypassed the Toy District and the Flower Districts, but came back via Little Tokyo and the Financial District, and just a tidge of the Jewelry District. Coffee Destination: Urth Cafe, at the Barker Block.

Now, I am a visual learner, and it gets me in trouble when navigating the world. It makes me a terrible person to give directions. It does give me the advantage of being able to find your house again if I have been to it only once, much to the surprise of various people when I show up on their doorstep again. (Which always surprises me, like it became a secret again AFTER I had already been there.)

So, I have been to this Urth Cafe location before, but I can never quite remember how to best get there. I always end up there eventually, but not the quickest route, I am sure. It is over by the bridges that span from downtown to Boyle/Lincoln Heights over the void of the LA River, it is past Alameda, and it’s somewhere close and north of  the Greyhound Bus station. And, since I usually walk over to that particular Urth Cafe, I really couldn’t give you directions, since quite a few of those streets are one way, and I don’t pay attention to that when walking.

That said, I knew it would be a long walk. It was nice and overcast, a bit drizzly even. Perfect for a long walk.

An Overcast Downtown

First, to get to Alameda. I was walking down 9th. 9th because it is far enough south that I avoid the worst of Skid Row, which even during the day makes me feel a little uncomfortable. Oh my, I find, there is an El Pollo Loco downtown. And another Starbucks right next door. Never knew, because mainly I never cross east of Los Angeles Street, the divide in downtown between east and west. Main Street is the last street of downtown I tend to wander towards, and Los Angeles is just one further, but has few new stores I have an interest in.

There are some other new stores I had no idea were there, some of the wholesale only kind, others I’m not sure if I would be welcome in or not as a retail customer. It progressively got more and more business to business oriented, and still no sign of Alameda. I know Alameda runs somewhat at an angle, but surely I have gone far enough east? I start going north and then east, north and then east. I find myself at 8th and see an enormous building I have never noticed before. I must never have driven on this stretch of Central before. The building takes up an entire block, and is labelled Seventh Street Market. It reminds me of a lot of the architecture of St. Petersburg, Russia, actually. It is built like a fortress, a two story edifice on the perimeter of the block, to create an internal open space. I’m actually surprised they haven’t started building the new schools of Los Angeles Unified School District on this model, it would do no worse than the enormous double gated buildings that are the current norm with the landscaping that you can’t get to because of the fences, that always make me think of the students being held prisoner inside.

Seventh Street Market or a Fortress?

Trucks and vans bustled in and out, and at one of the numerous entrances, I could see the building was merely various labelled truck bays. It was a produce market inside, the trucks backing up to unload or load to go on to their various  restaurant, grocery store and other destinations.

Turning on 7th, I found I was approaching the side of the huge warehouses that housed American Apparel (with a new color to the buildings) and a third matching warehouse was available for lease. Darn. Only for lease. It would make a lovely converted warehouse loft space….. but probably only if American Apparel ever moved out of the other two buildings. With plenty of parking, since it is designed for 18 wheeler trucks to be able to back up to the docks, which would easily make nice porches.

Warehouse Space for Lease

And what should my wondering eyes see, but there, at the corner past American Apparel and its LEGALIZE LA sign across the top, was the Greyhound Station. I had finally found Alameda. At last!
That of course didn’t make my elusive quarry any easier to find. Oh no. I still managed to circle a block or two away from the Cafe, knowing I was really close, but not knowing where I should turn. In the meantime, I saw some cool buildings and adorning guerilla art. I found the LA Gun Club, and its rapidly overgrowing parking lot. Another huge potential warehouse loft space, that seems to be currently utilized by Iron Mountain, the off-site document housing firm. No wonder they need such a big building!

Already Converted on the Left, Potential on the Right

 I began seeing notices of filming taped to various doorways. I read a few of them. ABC’s Castle would be filming that day, all day. Let’s see if I can spot the scenes when they air. Should be around March, my guess. A friend of mine just shot an episode of a TV show the week after Thanksgiving, and it will  be airing on Valentine’s Day, so….

Sure enough, as I was standing debating which way to turn to still find the elusive cafe, a large truck drove by, advertising Castle and ABC. Must be for the filming. Maybe I would run into Nathan Fillion or other members of the crew at the cafe. Who knew?

I finally made it to my destination. I had missed it by a block. The woman holding her dog’s leash as he took his designated poop on a corner of concrete surrounded by nothing but concrete buildings, pavement, parking and sidewalk was the clue. Must be near the Barker Block lofts now.

I ordered my mocha. I appreciate the fact you tell the order taker whether you want it sweet and mild, or strong and bold. I go for the strong. I sat on the outdoor patio, under a heat lamp, beside the sheriff and the tow truck driver. While there, an LAPD member joined their table. Ocassionally, one of their walkie talkies would start talking, and they would merely turn down the volume.

I had the beginnings of a story that had been brewing in my head the entire walk. “It wasn’t me,” said the evil twin, “it was my doppelganger,” it began.

It’s not done. It started going south pretty much immediately after that sentence, so it is back in my head, brewing some more. I watched patrons come and go, but no one who looked like they were with a television film crew. Of course, they would have their own craft services, but still, I had been hoping. Many local residents came with their dogs, and probably explains why there is more seating outside than there is inside.

A man came and sat at a table on the sidewalk below me, leaving his very large dog tied to a chair. When another dog came by and he wanted to sniff hello, he merely dragged the chair with him. After they left, the sparrows came to visit. I got this shot, unplanned, as I startled the sparrow away.

Bird in Flight

He came back with friends, and they continued to try and find pastry crumbs underneath the heavy silverware and napkin. I noticed they totally ignored the espresso remains.

I left. The tow truck driver, sheriff and police officers (another car with two more came and sat at an adjacent table) remained, and I wondered how long a break they all got.

Going home was far easier, since I knew exactly where I was heading, the address and cross streets. I could have looked up the address of Urth before I left. But where’s the fun in that? I never would have come across the Seventh Street Market on Central if I had gone the direct route, or found a new Starbucks or El Pollo Loco location. I had a ramble. Rambles aren’t reserved just for the country; rambles are any time you don’t know exactly how you will be going or what you will be seeing.

More rambles to come.


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