MANY CITY incarnations ago, we Angelenos used to trade in shortcuts; better ways here-to-there. It was a form of one-upmanship, sure. But you always kept your best shortcuts to yourself. The decades-long shifts in traffic patterns have wiped away so many of these quick, albeit circuitous, alternatives. I still have a few stashed away but mostly I’ve just re-thought the ways I travel — more train trips, lots more “off hour” movement back and forth across the city.
The other secret, that we don’t talk about as much is secret parking. Lost corners of the city, thoroughfares that are afterthoughts, old lots that are manned at strange times if not at all, but always with a slot for you.
As a reporter on the road, you sometimes need a place to switch gears, to leave the last thought and prepare for the next. Some of the older open-air parking lots are little oases — a place to pause before meetings, to catch a nap. They’re vanishing in certain parts of town as super-multi-tirerd structures rise. With them, of course, human attendants are being replaced by automated machines that suck in and spit out your credit card. Marooned on those white plastic chairs, the attendants were often chatty, full of neighborhood stories. Now, there’s no one to ask directions, no one to have conversation about where to go get a late-night anything.
More and more, when I slide down a side street hoping to find my little pot-hole pockmarked lot I find instead what once was is now ringed with yellow caution tape or already busy with hard-hat crews breaking ground on another multi-use development — another pause long gone.