Observations on Downtown LA, thus far

Now that I've been here for five full minutes (okay, 10 weeks), I have some observations on my new city. I don't claim any real understanding of the place, at this point mostly I see the differences between this life and my prior one. Here they are.


I can't pick out the locals here, not with any certainty, but I am starting to see the tourists. It's the backpacks. For whatever reason, backpacks are just not the carrier of choice around here; totes, satchels, man bags, purses of every size and color, messenger bags, granny carts. But not backpacks. (Exception to this might be students - but they're pretty spottable as such, and the students near us are FIDM students and carry giant bags of fashionable stuff.)


Did not anticipate how much time I would be spending in elevators. It's not necessarily a bad thing, just unexpected. It's one of the few times I have the opportunity to speak to any of my neighbors, so it can actually be kind of nice.

flora and fauna

Not all trees are palm trees. In fact, downtown doesn't seem to have a ton of palms. But I don't know the names of the trees, except the jacarandas. Also: not all birds are pigeons. There are crows, and hawks too. I don't know their names yet either, but I am delighted still to be able to watch birds out my window. I thought that would be something I would miss about Ann Arbor.


There is a ton of good food in walking distance, and the vegetables and salads are as good as the meats. I have a couple favorite dishes so far: the ricotta cheese with honey at LA Chapter (Ace Hotel), the Dead Hippie burger (blue cheese, tomato, bacon, avocado, mixed greens, poached egg, mayo on brioche) at Engine Co No 28, and the roasted brussels sprouts (hell, I don't know what they put on them, it's probably crack - they are that addictive) at Sixth Street Tavern. But we have eaten well at so many places, even the little holes in the walls.


A 10lb bag of juice oranges costs $5 at the farmer's market. Sure, I have to squeeze them myself, but oh my, what a treat to have fresh-squeezed juice all week.

reflected light

It's everywhere. It reflects off buildings, it reflects off sidewalks and streets and cars. It's soft and flattering and makes everyone look just that little bit more beautiful.


Rule #1: not all liquid on the sidewalk is water. Corollary #1: not all liquid on the sidewalk is pee.

sidewalk vents

When Marilyn did it, sure, it was charming, but it is really not that much fun to show one's undies to the world (unless one intends to, of course). Only needs to happen once; lesson now learned.


My wardrobe is woefully lacking in this item. Well, lacking in above-the-knee skirts, which seem to be worn by women of all ages and sizes here.

Sunday mornings

I suspect that across the country, Sunday mornings tend to be a bit quiet, but where we are, it's like a ghost town. A beautiful, wonderful, silent ghost town, full of the dreams of men made real. Walk down a few blocks and the feel is different, still lazy, but more small town-ish with people out and about looking for coffee and brunch.


It comes fast. It's light and then it's dark. There is no slow transition, the fade happens as fast as if it were on a dimmer switch.


I measure walkable things in blocks, or possibly in miles. Half a mile is when I start looking at transit options, which are multitude, and get measured in minutes and fare. (Take the DASH bus instead of regular buses when possible - it's only 35 cents!) Drivable distances get measured in minutes. Miles are irrelevant in a car. Only time matters.