Stopping the Violence in South LA

I was in Inglewood at a community forum Wednesday night with the Mayor of Inglewood. The topic: stopping the violence for 2011.

We talked about how kids were always getting things taken from them, how getting shot at and funerals were just a normal part of life in South LA, and how the foster sytem rips apart black families.

The forum felt productive.

However, it's occurrence was very ironic and ultimately tragic and perhaps more desperate, considering the news below which happened the same night just a few blocks away.

A 14-year-old youth was shot and killed Wednesday night while riding a bicycle in South Los Angeles, the latest probable victim of surging violence between two gangs, police said.

Taburi Watson was riding his bike near St. Andrews Place and 87th Street about 7:25 p.m. when one or more assailants fired shots.

So this night marked a few personal milestones for me.
  • the first time I rode the very spacious, bicycle-friendly Green Line.
  • the first time I was going to ride through South LA and Inglewood at night by myself.
  • and perhaps the last time I'll willingly ride thru South LA at night without full body armor.
After getting off at the Hawthorne stop (because I thought it was somehow closer to the meeting), I rode all the way back to Crenshaw Blvd till it intersected with Florence. This was around 6:00 - 6:30. Crenshaw and Manchester is an intersection I passed en route to the forum, just about a mile and a half West, and 45 minutes from where the shooting took place.

Holiday Hilarity

So...very last minute shopping.

I waited until 6 PM today to start shopping, which left me with not too many stores. It was between the general big boxes, supermarket, the drug stores, and Discount Dollar.

The general big boxes with all the fancy stuff closed at 7 PM.

I rushed to get some things in from the last big box store. La la la, everyone rushing, cue Holiday music, cue knowing smiles from everyone. Holiday music being the main provider of atmosphere.

"So hear those sleigh bells ringin', ting ting tingalin' too.... come on it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you..."

"Deck the halls with something something..."

Same as the drug store. Rushing, holiday music, smiles.

Same as the supermarket. Rushing, holiday music, smiles.

But the moment I stepped into Discount Dollar... "smack that, all on the floor, smack that, give me some more, smack that, 'till you get sore..."

A different kind of music. I could feel the rush of the street.

What was missing were the Red Light District lights, poles, beverages and women you wouldn't want to share at a family party, and we would've re-created a mini-version of my Christmas five years ago.

I made my way to the toy section.

Metro Stories: Violence

If there was a time for me to sell people on the idea of public transportation in Los Angeles, the past week was not it.

Let's recap, shall we:

1) Tending to my bike in the bike/stroller/suitcase section of the red line, out of nowhere I feel a wham. It was a lightheaded smack to my face. I wasn't sure where.

All of a sudden a burning feeling on my lip.

A female teenager witnessing the event exclaims "He didn't even do nothin'!"

Another teenager who'd been sleeping woke up and said "Man I miss all the action!"

He takes a look at me and says "This is why were getting off at the next stop." He asks his friends, "Was it a nigga?"

Someone tells me that my lip is bleeding.

I check the mirror.

I think, "Cool it's like I got into a real fight" and marvel at the fact that my lip is bleeding and can spit it out.

A stunned old lady offers me a tissue.

That lightheaded slam to my face is actually my lip getting busted by a schizophrenic man on his way out. I check if I've lost any teeth.

I'd observed just a few minutes before that this schizophrenic man earlier had been making motions with his hands as if to swat a swarm of gnats. Not really all that weird behavior to me as budding Anthropologist interested in deviant behaviors. I thought it was borderline entertaining and was wondering if he was half Filipino. But he definitely looked like a man in some dire straits and at a dark place. Perhaps I'd been looking at him too intently.

After he left me with my lip in a less than-ideal condition, I thought I heard him say "asshole." Maybe that's just something I'm adding to this memory.

I know that there was an emergency phone and all, but I wasn't even thinking about that after my lip got busted. I was just mostly shocked and didn't really feel like dealing with anything to do with bureaucracies. There was nothing I felt I could've done, putting a crazy ass person with the cops and my lip not any closer to healing.

If I saw him again though...

2) Less than a week later at around the Vermont/Santa Monica stop, at one end of a train, a scuffle.

A lady in short shorts starts slapping and punching this middle-aged to older man in a suit carrying a suitcase. These weren't little weak girl punches, these were some bruise-inducing hits that you could hear from my end of the train.

As a result, some riders scramble to get the hell out of way opening a wide-open view of the occurrences.

Some try to separate the two, but she keeps hitting this guy telling him "you're not a father to that baby!" and continues hitting this guy whose shielding himself with his back.

The hitting and the spectacle doesn't stop until they are separated by a gang of people and he exits Vermont/Sunset along with me.

Glendale Library: Nothing Better to Do than...Spit

A windy November Sunday afternoon at about 3 PM waiting in front of the Glendale Public Library.

I had just biked from my abode in Panorama City. I was waiting to tutor a high school student from a Catholic high school, the son of one of my dad's contacts. This was the first time I was going to meet them. What was I going to tutor him in? Writing of course.

I didn't know how the high school student or how his accompanying mother looked like, so I told them that I would meet them in front of the Glendale Central Library.

I wanted to look studious and serious when they met me, so I made myself comfortable in this rounded seating pit with two levels intended for sitting and standing right in front of the library. Took a seat at what I thought was a visible center of the pit and the library entrance, a panopticonical view. I cranked open my notebook and started writing.

About 5 feet away from me to my right is some white guy standing up and smoking.

About 20 feet away from me to my left and also sitting on one step of the pit, feet on the level below, an Armenian teenager, nodding down and spitting.

After about 10 minutes of writing, another white guy comes in. He bums a smoke off that other white guy. They talk about the library and how it should be open for longer than 1-5. "People need to do research." Turns out that the smoker is a writer, trying to get published and resorting to getting self-published and the smoke-bummer-offer is a grad student in literature. Heh, maybe I should be in that conversation.

After the two leave, I could finally stop eavesdropping and concentrate on my writing. Though I do shoot a frequent eye-swoop of the landscape for sight of a Filipino son and his mother.

However, to the left of me, that teenager is still there to the left of me. Spitting.

Now that I have nothing else to focus on, I notice that. At about every 30 second interval, this teenager would just discharge any saliva he had in his mouth at a given point. He wasn't hacking loogies and conjuring up balls of spit. What he seemed to be doing was out of habit, maybe even hobby.

There was a bit of a dampened part of the level directly beneath him and between his shoes. It's as if it rained in one section of the pit.

He didn't appear to be sick.

What was even more peculiar is that he didn't even have an iPod, a CD Player, a book, a backpack, anything else to distract him. It was just him, his thoughts (I suppose), his head dug down, and his 30-second spits.


[30 seconds]


[30 seconds]


[30 seconds]


Jesus Christ, did this kid have anything better to do?

In past years, maybe I wouldn't have been so annoyed, but trying to write, as well as being concerned about the public space, and writing about the public space, I guess I've become sensitized to some things.

So with that, I tried to sympathize with him...a bit. I do remember a time when I had this habit of spitting everywhere. I was probably in grade school, a bit younger than he was.

Why'd I do it? Probably to establish myself as a cool teenager in what I thought was a subtle way, but hold on that's not to be dismissed as a trivial concern.

I noticed that athletes spat all the time. At hockey games, the dudes were spitting so much on ice that they all fell on nonetheless. At baseball games, players were spitting out tobacco and sunflower seeds. I love(d) David's salty-ass sunflower seeds. Everyone cool and established in my world was just spitting like it was nothing. I guess it was OK for me to do it, maybe people would confuse me for an athlete or at least notice how cool I was for spitting like an athlete. After a while of spitting, spitting came so naturally. It was nasty to have my own saliva in my mouth.

About 10 minutes into his routine, the teenager having my full awareness finally called it quits. He got up and walked across the street without checking any cellular phone, or any hesitation. It was like he was programmed to spit at Glendale Public Library from 3:30 - 4:00, and was just moving on to the next engagement.

Metro Stories Inspiration and the Social Space of the Bus/Train

So, on this blog, I'm just beginning to recall all this time I've spent riding Metro buses and train lines. I've seen a bunch of things and as I recall them, I'll put up as "thick" a description as I can manage.

The inspiration to writing all about this, probably a lot of things, but one big source of inspiration is from the rap group Blue Scholars and their song "Joe Metro."

In my previous life as a car driver up to just one year ago, I didn't really get it.

Yeah, I got that there was a diversity of people on the bus with interesting stories, but I didn't gain any appreciation for any of the lyrics of the song. They didn't mean shit to me. But now I just find that they mirror my current experience as a Metro rider to the tee.

This line in particular struck me.

"Appreciating God's design
Rewind sister
Reminds me of a smile in the back of my memory
Wonder if I'll see her again
Will she remember me?
"I'm not tryin' to holler, I swear. I'm just weary of the way we hop a ride
And just sit there and stare.""

Lot of people you come across, and yet you can barely talk to them.

It's like a space full of individual social barriers, and it takes "something random" to beat down all those barriers. "Something random" being something that we can all stare at: it could be some woman who who will ask you to donate to the homeless without even looking you in the eye. It could some enterprising hustler who will coax you into a game of moving cups. It could be some really loud teenagers. It could be my obviously-expensive bicycle wheels. It could even just be a baby.

Just "something random" becomes a way to break down all social barriers and a place of instant shared experience and instant conversation.

Metro Stories: The Homeless Family

A Wednesday night ride on the Blue Line from Long Beach to the Valley.

At the Imperial-Wilmington stop board a Latino man and Lady pushing a stroller with two children in them. With seats all taken and a bulky stroller, they parked themselves in front of an exit.

Sitting in front of me towards an exit was an overweight black dude talking on his cell phone about how he was fucked up and drinking all day.

For a split second, this elaboration was interrupted when his girlfriend/wife called in the middle of that conversation. He noticeably lightened his speech. He used terms of endearment like "baby" and said "yeah, I'm at this stop." Sounded like he was apologizing, if a bit deceptively.

After saying his goodbyes, he switched back to the other conversation beginning with "that bitch..." and continued on elaborating on the extent of his drunkenness for the rest of the train to hear.

Apparently, he caught eye of the Latino man and some 5 unusually tall Latino tweens who were sitting left of me and laughing it up. It was someone's first-time ride; amidst the boorishness of the man in front of me, he joked that he was absolutely terrified of this Metro ride.

The black guy, still in conversation, somehow noted these dynamics, making the comment on his phone "these people are scared of me!"

The Latino man with the kids said, "as long as you don't say anything bad about us, it's OK."

Some time later, the black man stopped talking on his phone.

Then from the back, a diagonal view of him, I noticed him twitching or blinking or something else repetitive and undeniably irritating. I was thinking "great, what the fuck now."

Upon closer investigation, he was actually making eye contact with the babies in the strollers. He was playing peek-a-boo with one white-ish baby who was tickled pink.

The drunken, overweight, boorish black man who would probably be at the absolute center of all conservative and Tea Party disdain, did have a sense of human to him, after all.

Somehow the Latino man and the black man got into conversation.

I started noticing when the Latino man said, "We just lost our home."

"We were renting and the guy who owned the house was kicked out. I don't care that I don't have a house, but for my kids..."

"Where are you staying?" asked the black man.

"We don't know yet, we've been staying with some relatives." said the Latina lady.

"Well, there's a place on Broadway and 39th called the New Image Center." My wife is actually there right now. They'll give you a room, and they'll let you get right in because you're a family.

"139th and Broadway?"

"No, 39th and Broadway."

The black man gave the woman her phone to speak to his wife.

Metro Stories: Oscar Grant

A chilly Friday morning on the Orange Line en route to the Red Line.

Just caught the bus.

Soon as I enter the bus, I see a young "conscious" dude of color wearing a black Oscar Grant T-shirt. In my head, I'm raising my fist with him.

Matter of fact, I was heading to an Oscar Grant-related event: The sentencing of the officer who delivered a fatal shot to the unarmed, young black father named Oscar Grant.

If you don't know who Oscar Grant is, I wrote an article about who he is and the trial and the importance of all of it here.

In progress, the young dude was having a conversation with a young black woman just across from him. I imagined that the conversation probably started with him explaining to her his T-shirt and why justice was needed for Oscar Grant.

She talked about how her godbrother was sentenced to life after having attained a third strike to his record. "He's gone for life at age 21" she said. She said that the first two things he did was just "stuff he did as a kid at age 13." Apparently, her godbrother was guilty by association. The police accused him of attempting to assault a police officer --- for her, she saw from the point of view of her godbrother and thought the logic of the police suspicious at best.

The guy with the Oscar Grant T-shirt could only shake his head in a knowing disbelief. A "knowing disbelief" meaning he's probably heard this story several times before but with other people and so "knows" the story, and a "disbelief" at the injustice still being blatantly carried out.

He made a poignant observation: Rich people who stole money were rarely ever prosecuted or stigmatized for white collar crimes, poor people were the ones always getting harrassed by the cops, and the final grain of salt to the slug, as taxpayers, they were subsizidizing the cops for such harrassment.

She began talking about her own experiences with the police. She talked about how officers demeaningly called her "Hollywood" when they saw her or asked her if she got her welfare check or would routinely tell her that she wouldn't be anything. Button-pushing, no doubt. Psychologists would call those "acts of microaggression." "Micro-aggression" meaning everyday actions carried out by someone, anyone, in this case, police officers, that communicate a hostility and demeaning of a person but are somewhat difficult to respond to.

Explaining the importance of microaggression, I'll take from the TV Show the Wire, a quote from the smartest cop, Lester Freamon, and a reformed cop, Carver, "It all matters."

Later in the day, I went to the courthouse where that officer was being sentenced. The demonstrators were chanting in front of LAPD and LA Sherriff's Department personnel "guilty, guilty, the whole damn system is filthy, filthy."

In a justice system that saw black professional football players like Michael Vick go to jail for 4 years for killing dogs...

In a justice system that saw a football player for shooting himself in the foot for 2 years...

...the officer who shot away the life of a young black man, who in Michel Foucauldian lingo "liberally exercised his technology handed to him as a means to control the body and backed by the state", received what will amount to...7 months.

Los Angeles City College Banning Bicycles on Campus?

So earlier today, I rolled by the bicycle store Orange 20 to fix my bicycle's new-old front wheel.

On the way out with my newly re-birthed bicycle, I cut through Los Angeles City College as I had done about 20 times.

Missing my first turn through a parking lot, I made the mistake of passing directly in front of the Sherriff's office. Two sherriffs in shorts just walking by. I'm entering LACC, expecting nothing when one of them barks:

"Hey, get off the bicycle, read the sign."

My gut reaction is to strongly dislike this symbolic show of institutionally-backed power.

I say "I didn't see it [dumbass]."

And it's true, I missed it.

OK, fine. People want to be assholes today, fine.

Reluctantly, I get off my bicycle. I walk for a few meters. I see very few people around on a mid-day Election afternoon and this walking shit is taking way too long. With the coast clear, I get back on the bike.

50 Meters later, some other Sherriff in shorts motions me to come towards him. He asserts more of his state-and-institutionally backed authority "No bicycling on campus."

What the flying eff-knock?

I used to be able to bicycle all over campus. What changed? Or has it always been like that, have I just been yet another unruly miscreeant bicyclist, and they just now have public safety personnel to enforce it at all times?

From what I know, the reasons that bicycles would be banned on at least parts of a campus have to do with steep inclines with steep drops as at UCLA and high pedestrian volume. At LACC, there is neither a steep downhill, there might be peak periods of pedestrians, but at my time, this wasn't one of them. It seems like the entire campus was just closed to bicycles.

Had there been a spate of bicycle-pedestrian incidents at LACC? Is this some type of economic development for the Sherriff's department?

Anyone know what is up with LACC?

Metro's Problems and Solutions from a Bicyclist's Point of View

So having my reduced student fare card on the Metro has let me travel even more through the strands of LA.

I love it. Absolutely no need for a car unless I'm running late. I use the car theoretically like a credit card should be used --- only for emergencies.

However, there have been tons of downsides to taking Metro trains and buses. And I'm already very weary of the complete non-incentive of the massive bureaucracy called Metro to improve just about anything.
  • Number one is the long wait times at night. Every 13-23 minutes my ass. Particularly for the 233 from Westwood to the Valley, that took about an hour or so from time of arrival at the stop to actually getting onto the bus.
  • Number two is the unsureness of when the buses or trains will arrive. Very random, and it's really hard to depend on the schedule. Every 13-23 minutes my ass. On occasion, I do get lucky and arrive to catch a bus, but more often than not, I'm on edge about when the bus will arrive. Sometimes, I wonder if biking somewhere will get me somewhere faster. This is particularly true on the Blue Line, and the Van Nuys bus.
  • Number three is asshole Orange line bus drivers who won't let your bike on the bus when there's space available. The last driver told me that "it was a safety issue", which was complete bullshit because I've taken my bike in before and no one's life was immediately threatened on the 15-20 minutes that I took it. Not allowing bikes in when there's enough space is a real dickheaded move because we bicycle riders have usually had to wait a couple of minutes for the bus to get there. Having to wait 10-15 minutes for the next one is particularly fucking annoying, and waiting another hour at night for yet another unguaranteed space on the bus is pretty dangerous if not particularly fucking annoying. We need to get somewhere too!
  • Number four pertains to buses and especially the Orange Line. This is the guessing game bicyclists often have to play as to where bike rack space is available. In addition to unsuredly waiting for the bus. Off the Red Line in North Hollywood, people are coming off the goddamn train, and usually on the Orange Line, all the bike racks will be used up if you're not fast out of that subway.
  • Number five is Metro train riders not understanding that there are designated spaces on the train specifically for bicycles, strollers, bags, and other big cargo stuff. On the red line tons of people will just stand on the railing when there are many places to sit. I'd rather not be holding up my bike and would prefer to rest it on something. I've gotten into verbal arguments on the Blue Line about putting my bicycle in the designated middle areas. I point to the bicycle symbol. Also, I'm not a fan of playing a guessing game as to where the designated bicycle areas are. It can be quite annoying fighting through crowds of lumbering masses.
Solutions to 1, 2, 3, and 4: What we need is some kind of progress tracker for buses and trains available on their website. Perhaps make use of that GPS technology that can track real time traffic. The minutes till arrival thing that the Red Line and Orange Line have are somewhat helpful...that is when they're not completely malfunctioning and completely off.

The reason for a real-time progress tracker? Probably for more efficient trip planning for customers.

Along with that progress tracker should be some kind of bicycle rack indicator. Either online or some kind of signalling system. The bicycle rack indicator would let me know if I'm wasting my time waiting for a bus, only to be turned away. Maybe I could make actual plans to bike, take another route, call a taxi, call a friend.

Solution to 5: Would it be that hard and/or costly to paint designated areas of a platform on the Blue and Red Lines, Bike Zones? I think that would reduce confusion amongst bicyclists and riders as to where we need to be.

Particularly helpful during nighttime.

Museum of Tolerance not Tolerant of Bicyclists

I went to watch a very profound film at the Museum of Tolerance yesterday.

Enemies of the People.

About a journalist whose family was killed by the Khmer Rouge regime in the Cambodian Genocide and him interviewing people who executed thousands of people and the 2nd in Command of the Khmer Rouge regime.

But anyway as important as that film is to our overall understanding of humankind that wasn't why I'm posting on this blog.

I'm posting because of everything that happened before that screening while at the Museum of Tolerance.

Security check.

I'm a commuting bicyclist, and a student. This means I carry lots of stuff everywhere. My netbook, my file holder thing, some books, some school supplies, and of course the wrenches, patch kits, hand-pump for my bicycle. This all fits into my high school backpack and weighs about 30 pounds.

I take this with me to the Police Commission, to Long Beach, to my cousin's house, to parties, to bars, but (I was warned by security) the Museum of Tolerance.

I biked from Downtown to LA via Olympic Blvd, and was pleasantly surprised. I hung out at UCLA for a bit, did research at good ole Young Research Library, and made the decision to buy some candy. All sour stuff. Paid $7.76 for a bag that I thought would cost $4; I should've just said, I was a student.

So back to the Museum of Tolerance. Security check. Complete with the bag check terminal and metal detector.

I see their sign saying "No food or drinks allowed."

Seeing that sign and having my $7.76 bag of candy tucked away in my backpack, I decide I'm going to tell security what to expect. I do this so they don't think that I'm trying to be sneaky. I'm hoping they'll be somewhat more lenient on me, ultimately allow me to bring my candy inside my bag with me because of my outright honesty.

"Hey I've got a bag of candy in there, but I won't eat it, I just don't have any place to put it."

With a slight pause, he nods no, and says " I don't know what to tell you, you either got to eat it throw it away."

I tell him, "Hey man, I paid $7.76 for this! Cub scouts honor, I won't eat it."

The security guy nods no, and uses me as an example to announce the standing crowd behind me: "Absolutely no food, no chewing gum or anything else is allowed, please get rid of it, or we will."

Slightly irked, I tell him "I don't have a car to store things in, so that's why I can't leave this food anywhere."

At this point he tells me to open my bag as he investigates my stuff. I put my loose stuff in the tray. Standard procedure if a little delayed.

Getting frustrated at all the stuff in my bag, he makes the remark "Normally, we don't allow bags of your size, please take that into consideration for next time"

I tell him, "Well, I can't. The bicycle is how I commute, and I've got take my stuff everywhere with me, maybe you should consider how unfriendly you are to bikes."

If you commute by car, you probably wouldn't see the problem. You can carry stuff from work/school with you. It doesn't even have to be just work/school stuff, you can include guns, tasers, knives, sex toys. All you have to do is leave all that shit in the car. You'll be fine, you'll get by security just fine.

However, if you commute by bicycle to school or work, you usually carry lots of stuff with you. I have to accomodate not only my school/work stuff, but also bike maintenance stuff. And this is the bare minimum of stuff to bring because bicyclists probably don't prefer heavy bags.

Then, there are these places like the Museum of Tolerance, which restrict you as to the kind of stuff you can bring in. You carry your stuff, usually pretty important stuff, seeing that you're already bringing the bare minimum for your commute. However, you could also forget about the important stuff on your way out. At a different venue with the same degree of asshole security, I almost forgot my wrenches.

And if you leave it in the front desk, which always ends up being the compromise, you're putting all your trust these probably laughably underpaid front desk strangers not to eat your food or mess with your stuff.

To that, all I'll say is: Locker or baggage check-in system. Cough Cal State Long Beach you too Cough.

Ways Riding the Metro Is Better than a Car

After a 1 and a half month wait, I finally have my Metro reduced fare student card.

Goddamnit that took so long. I ordered it on August 12th. Received it on September 25th. Another one arrived a week later, perhaps due to me harrassing the fuck out of them.

What does having the TAP Card mean, exactly?

That means if I have to run to catch a train, I can skip all the delay of digging for $1.50 and inevitably failing machinery. I just have to "TAP" my card. Haha ha, I played a pun.

Anyhow, onto the point of this blog: ways riding the Metro is better than a car in Los Angeles.

As I was traversing to Long Beach from the Valley for a project, I realized the kind of travel Metro is entirely advantageous for (at least with the Metro TAP Card.)

Going back and forth between destinations.

Unless I'm in a hurry, it doesn't matter if I have to go back and forth between the Valley and Long Beach. With the Metro TAP Card, I'd already dropped $36 for the month.

That means no further costs to travel in the month. Between the Metro pass and my bike, my travel expenses other than the $36 in LA are free. Free. FREE!!!!

That vs. spending at a minimum $10 on gas a day driving 100 miles on my Corolla back and forth. 30 bucks pissed away on 3 Days of motherfucking driving between the absolute motherfucking polar ends of LA.

So yeah, economic savings is big, however this all assuming you know where the Metro trains are, where they go to exactly, how to pay fares.

Also, unless there's some accident, the trains are pretty dependable and I'll get at my destination at pretty much the same duration that I always get.

Also as an aside, depending on Metro and my bike has made me a better planner of things in my life. As a student anticipating a long commute, I'll get a paper or a presentation done much earlier than the absolute last minute.

Also, nowhere else would I meet so many youths, talk with people in spontaneity, watch a man take his eyeballs out of his eye sockets, hear the sounds of a travelling family band, the woman who goes around selling individual ordinary pens and pencils for a dollar. Being relatively privileged, nowhere else would I coming into contact with so many segments of LA that you don't hear about.

CicLAvia Needs to Happen at Night

Great that it happened just because it created a public space for LA. And it was good to see the work of a few good friends come to fruition.

More than I can say about myself. I give credit to those that actually make something like this, with no precedent here, happen. That took some amount of elbow-pulling, twisting, and different kinds of contortion.

CicLAvia is overwhelmingly a space that absolutely needs to happen, frequently. I think it's any piece of public space is a great infrastructure for community-building.

However, I want to propose an add-on to CicLAvia that I think could go a long way in really building up the community. Something that could help drop crime even more, but more importantly something that attempts to reach da yutes of LA, particularly the youth of color. And it's real simple:

CicLAvia needs to happen at night.

Somewhat in the same vein as the Midnight Ridazz, and Critical Mass rides. However, I don't think it should be dominated as much by bicyclists.

Ala my buddy Jane Jacobs, I'm thinking of a CicLAvia that includes more pedestrians, more points of engagement for people, at night, when there is very little safe public space at all.

I'm thinking of the open fiesta that is the Central Avenue Jazz Festival. I'm thinking the claiming of spaces by various organizations in Park(ing) Day LA. I'm thinking the social scene of the Art Walk for the 20 somethings. I'm also thinking very prominently about Antonio Villaraigosa's Saturday Night Lights anti-gang program for youth and their families.

Why does CicLAvia need to happen at night?

Well, I'm quite tired of the nights of LA being reserved for adults with money. The dance club, the nightclubs, the bars, the gourmet food trucks, the frozen sugar injections, movies, bowling alley, hoity toity museums.

What do we do in those night-time spaces in LA? Talk. Drink. Eat. Smoke.

Lots of privatized, not really all that active activities.

Meanwhile, past 10 PM public parks are closed. This means that the kids who were just kicking it and skateboarding, must kick push to another place.

Public libraries shut down at 6. This means that the homeless people at Central Library gotta get the fuck out of there and go to some shelter or the street corner outside of Busby's. Or better yet in front of your local 7-11, a space he occupies like a void, where you can just learn how to filter the individual's humanity out of your talking, eating, drinking, smoking level of consciousness.

Places of free, spontaneous community convergence during the day time are suddenly dark, desolate potential crime spaces.

Our nights in LA are monopolized by private spaces. The spots of activity are suddenly concentrated into privatized, insular spaces. Whether it's the Standard downtown or Suehiro in the latenight, your entrance and access to those spaces, establishments are mediated only by money (or favors) if you have any to exchange.

The key to your entrance anywhere is having money (or favors) to exchange. A lot of youth, particularly the colored ones whether you're in Central Los Angeles, South Los Angeles, Van Nuys and above, East Los, (me too) don't have a lot of money to exchange.

There are very few spaces in LA at night that are free. There's the Tuesday Night Cafe, the Zocalo and ALOUD public lectures, events at universities and colleges, and Art Walk. Each cool in their own right, but all infrequent, and random, usually targeted towards adults, and particular kinds of adults at that. The events at night are either for the 20-30 something in the case of the open mics and the artsy stuff, or if it's some kind of public lecture it's for white people old enough to excrete dust particles when they are ready to deposit their #2's.

A downtown LA at night with no Artwalk or other big event features closed doors, gates, homeless and "sketchy" individuals.

So let's put this altogether:

  • There isn't much public space in Los Angeles in general, and even fewer at night with the closure of parks and libraries.
  • Activities are very limited, and not very active, and Americans are fat fucking bastards.
  • Private space overwhelmingly monopolizes and characterizes LA at night; it's a purely adult, privatized, disconnected mass of dystopia of borders and isolation, breeding grounds for "deviance."
  • Youth don't have a lot of money and don't have many places to go at night.

CicLAvia at night could be something to tackle these various problems. Preventative, and yet absolutely engaging and enthralling social infrastructure. An open space at night created by people and a free community event that could encourage youths to get out, be cool, be safe in a safe space.

The whole reason I even propose the night is for the youths, particularly the "latchkey" ones. The ones that are out and about after after-school hours.

I think outreach could be done to those youth intervention programs, and hell include the high school clubs, and whatever else. The great thing about putting this outreach in the great mass that is CicLAvia is that the event doesn't have to center around just that or them. They're just in with the rest of Angelenos who want to enjoy their streets and public spaces at the time of day when were culturally expected to be in exclusively private spaces.

As much as crime has been falling, crime could fall even more. CicLAvia on a Sunday morning needed tons of police; the police handle most incidents at night. They police will be out there already and the kids and the cameras so it's a shared visibility space. If you took a panopticonish view, it would be like a midnight nightwatch of streets, but done with fun and a lot more community involvement.

And that's where Mayor Villaraigosa's Saturday Night Lights program catches on. He began his Saturday Night Lights program last summer as an anti-gang program. His program kept parks open till late. Result, 2009 was the safest summer since 1967.

Except his program was concentrated exclusively at parks.

I wonder how much more crime could be reduced if he had the streets as well as the parks for this.

The CicLAvia at night would be a way for masses of different people to reclaim their streets at the time of day when it isn't expected to be claimed.