L.A. Off Map

It’s here … A collection of maps and essays that swerve off the city’s formal grid. LAttitudes: An Angelenos Atlas maps L.A.’s more abstract or hidden territories.   I write about traveling the city via the radio band and what one  might learn about Los Angeles if you only had radio as your guide. 

For more, stay tuned. 



Urban Legends


IN WHICH, I consider the appearance of so many “headless” palm trees scattered around the basin. What was once the occasional spotting, now is a much more common feature of our landscape.

Click here to read the piece; it’s part of a series of essays in the new Flaunt/L.A. Review of Books partner-project about those ubiquitous palm trees here in L.A.

by hand

FOR THE last few months for my “Sunday Drive” (which has turned more into a “walk”) I have been concentrating on hand-painted/crafted signage. There is so much of it around the city and to really see it you have to walk it … some treasures from along the way. that are going to be part of a larger project going forward. IMG_2237






E-Z In – E-Z Out

IMG_6380 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.






hearing/seeing the familiar


I WANTED to add a couple of images to the Little Tokyo set just so that I could link to the walking public art tour. These images are from 2nd Street and Central Avenue, just up the street from the Japanese American National Museum. But what I always try to make time for is a chance to “read” the sidewalk, the chronology of nesting history of this place. The hotel shot from Sunday gives you a sense of the motion and feel of the street, the sidewalk, tells the history.

Click here and you’ll find a Community Redevelopment Agency with a walking tour outlining Little Tokyo’s layered history, told elegantly through various media — sculpture, in-laid photo-collage, etched into the sidewalk quotes and map-style legends..

Was nice to have a brief little window of time to walk back through it. I wish there were more spots in Los Angeles where the streets themselves were still able to tell their stories, if only small pieces of it.