By Sophia Kercher
(All photos by Shannon Cottrell)
On nights of the Downtown Art Walk, Los Angeles becomes the impossible; a pedestrian city. December's Art Walk had the extra dazzle of holiday lights on Main as merrymakers from the Valley, to the Westside and East L.A. took over Gallery Row. Folks rambled around street-side hair cuts outside a salon, little dogs were outfitted in Santa attire, portraits of skid row denizens were sketched and window-watchers observed live ballerinas at the Pacific Electric Gallery. There was even a super-sized marching band banging out brassy beats that drew a crowd so large a cop car rolled by to tell spectators spilling into the street to get back on the sidewalk.
But not everyone was walking. I just missed the new “Hazard's Pavilion,” a limo bus/Art Walk shuttle which features TV screens that showcase vintage scenes of L.A. The arts-enthused vehicle is described as a roving performance space by the bus' curators Kim Cooper and Richard Schave of the Esotouric Bus Tours. I was able to step into the bus' counterpart the “Hippodrome,” as a man in zombie bell boy attire was on his way out. His band Clowns and Fetuses had just jammed in the colorfully converted 1940s school bus.
As I took my seat under the glow of party lights the bus began to bumble along and the legendary Mike the Poet swung center, his big blue eyes shining. The downtown skyline soared by. Mike buzzed, “I am alive in Los Angeles!/ I am alive in Los Angeles!/ Where the angles change like isosceles. Citywide topographies/undulate across massive landscape/moving from chain-link to palatial gates into separate economic/ states with rising birth rates below hilltops in the streetscapes….” The poem fit the mood on the bus, charged with energy from the skyscrapers and eclectic art-goers.
“I feel like a real Angeleno tonight. I don't normally, but I feel it now,” my neighbor in round-rimmed glasses revealed.
Los Angeles was very much alive.