In Essays, The Daily Drool on March 21, 2009 at 10:13 am

A few years ago, when I was lovingly slinging flapjacks at hungry folks in Santa Monica, a beautiful family of tourists asked me the fateful question: “How do we get to downtown.”    Now, being the sensible Single White Female that I was, I took one look at their innocent Norwegian faces and asked “What do you mean by… downtown?”  To which they naively explained that they would like to visit downtown Los Angeles.  

I laughed.

I laughed a lot.

Then I explained to them that downtown Los Angeles was NOT the place to go for family sights.  

Sure, it might be nice to show the kids what happens when you do drugs, loose your jobs, and start downgrading to cardboard siding…but I couldn’t in good conscience send these kind strangers to the land of the lost.

Well, fast forward five years and I can’t seem to get away from the place.  

I’m currently working at a funky old warehouse on the set of a new reality show right in the heart of DOWNTOWN LA.  

And yes, there are the cardboard shanties… the sad and wretched living off hope and the kind assistance of strangers.  But there’s something else happening here too.  Little pockets of the city have been quietly and steadily fighting back, and have begun to shine.

Part of my new job involves fetching dinner for folks.  Every night I pull out our menu book and try to pick something that won’t make people want to stab me with their forks.  Being totally inexperienced in the downtown quisine, this has meant taking a fair amount of suggestions and doing a whole lot of mapquesting.  And it has also allowed me a hefty amount of jaw dropping as I round the corner of one shady street only to find a lovely little bistro nestled amongst the brick.  

It’s exciting, this revolution. And it’s encouraging.  Especially since everything has sort of paused amidst our current economic quagmire… Here at least, LA is shining in the dark.


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