Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Walk

Sixth Street Bridge from the east side

After experiencing Enlightenment last Sunday it became instantly clear to me that I needed to exercise more. As I recently told my lovely psychologist, Dr. Kimberly, sitting behind a desk all day is not all that... strenuous. And to top things off I read this article about sitting in the New York Times this morning,

which basically explains why you will die if you sit too much.
And I do sit a great deal. I can't see myself standing while typing for this blog, or other things I write. It's hard enough to type while sitting, hitting the wrong letters once out of fifty times (as opposed to my lovely case manager, Erin, who zips right along without making discernable mistakes, even though we both utilize the "two finger" method to type). I suppose I could stand while doing research, or watching television, or reading, but that would remind me too much of Donald Rumsfeld, who wrote in a 2002 memo; "I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing [by prisoners] limited to four hours?" when authorizing the use of stress positions during interrogations.
Anyway, I will strive to walk vigorously for at least 30 minutes each day, on top of the physical exertions I experience from our weekly yoga class, and my normal daily exercise regimen.
I like to walk anyway. You could say that walking is an integral part of my writing process, as I get a good amount of my ideas while I do so, or ofttimes find myself editing in my mind what I have previously written while strolling through the streets of downtown Los Angeles.
Many people I know shun walking as being beneath them, or a waste of time. I say to these people: "Poo poo." Walking is good for you, and is always recommended by heath care professionals as a great form of exercise for folks of any age... even little babies and old people.
Of course it would probably be a lot more beneficial for me, and others who live in or near Los Angeles, to vigorously walk, (or jog. I'll need to start training soon for the LA Marathon) where the air isn't so thick with smog you can chew it.
Perhaps I should invest in a gas mask.
I experienced Enlightenment last Sunday while walking. On Seventh Street, walking east between Vermont Ave and Alvarado Street, after attending services at First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, oh at around 12:20PM or so.
It not that big of a deal really. After years of meditation and examination of the infinite void, I was just ready I guess, and my life path became crystal clear to me, and I at once felt at peace, and quite fulfilled and happy, which is not a word I use lightly. "Content" perhaps is a wiser choice, for happiness just by it's very nature is transitory, and I have found that since last Sunday I have been consistently content... except when dealing with Erin of course... she still has the capacity to drive me bug nuts (and that is only because I allow her to, because it is always me that reacts weirdly to other people and their actions, it really has nothing to do with them, per se, and I allow her to bother me because I care enough about her to allow her to get close enough to affect me and my expectations. Now, after Enlightenment, I find myself without expectations, which is a great relief)... but only for a little while now, then I'm content again.
I'm not saying that I now know what the future holds for me, or I have the answers to everything, I certainly do not. But I do know what I should do within the next 24 hours to make the best of my time, perhaps the next week maybe, and by extension, by knowing that and tallying up all those days and weeks one has the sense that a substantial part of one's life can and will be well managed to the point that one is able to experience life to the fullest, and appreciate all of it's intricacies and beauty to the utmost.
Pretty cool huh?
Anyway, Hardy was supposed to come to my box last night after 6:00, so we could walk together east over the Sixth St. Bridge, or viaduct actually. He makes this walk on a regular basis as a major component of his exercises (and has recently joined us at yoga class once again. For a man in his late sixties his attitude toward physical fitness is quite progressive). He told me it usually takes him about 30 minutes to walk to the end of the bridge and back, which was just what I was looking for (I can do the same thing in the opposite direction by walking west to the Central Library).
He didn't show up though, so this morning at 7:34 exactly I took off on my own for this invigorating excursion.
The Sixth Street Viaduct (meaning it is made of several components) connects the Los Angeles downtown area with Boyle Heights in East LA, and spans the Los Angeles River (which used to be a real river, but is now constrained by concrete in a fixed course), the Santa Ana and Golden Gate freeways, as well as a whole bunch of railroad tracks used by Metrolink, and the Union Pacific Railroad. It was build in 1932 (the largest concrete bridge in the state for the first 13 years after it was built), is 3,446 feet long (I took a tape measure), and is included in the National Registry of Historical Places (correction: May be included, it is "eligable").
It's been used in movies quite a bit. It can be seen in the films "Grease," "Terminator 2," and "S.W.A.T.," among others, and music videos too, like Madonna's "What it Feels Like for a Girl." Homeless people typically camp underneath it.
I take the 18, or 720 buses over it all of the time to get to the closest supermarket and 99 Cent Store (where everything costs a dollar these days... thanks President Bush), but I've never walked over the entire length of it until this morning.
First I had to walk east on Sixth to Santa Fe Ave., where the bridge begins. I made the mistake of walking up the bridge's incline on the right side, along with the traffic, so it was coming up from behind me where I couldn't see it. It was like walking along a busy freeway, with cars and buses swooshing past at high speeds. Next time I'll walk on the left side so I can see whats coming at me.
Wikipedia tells us this:
"During the construction of the viaduct, an on-site plant was used to supply the concrete for construction. However, the quality of the concrete turned out to have a high alkali content and lead to an alkali-silica reaction which creates cracks in the concrete and saps the strength of the structure.
Current estimates are that the viaduct has a 70% probability of collapse due to a major earthquake within 50 years."
I didn't know this until a little while ago when I looked it up. However, as I reached the first arch section on the west side of the bridge, I noticed 1 1/2 inch cracks in the concrete where I could see portions of the LA River way down below me. I said to myself "WTF? Is this thing safe." Knowing the state of this countries infrastructure I had my doubts. However, I decided to take my chances hoping Los Angeles would not experience a major earthquake while I was on it (actually I'd rather be anywhere else when the next big earthquake strikes, like Ireland).
It was fun looking at the sleeping city wake up. Cars with people in them going to work. A Metrolink passed beneath me headed north to Union Station. I could see employees in a yard filled with large tires roaming about, and I thought about them spending large amounts of their lives in that small area to make a living.
Large warehouses spread out below me to both sides. I could see the Metropolitan Water District's office to the north, as well as the Twin Towers jail, and the "Death Palace," the USC General Hospital off in the distance, where the city's morgue is located.
My mind wandered a bit as it often does when I walk around by myself. I thought about this blog as the cars continued to swoosh on by, about the piece I was writing about the Nuremberg trials, and I thought about my niece, who had had her first child yesterday. I remembered the day when I first saw her, when she was just about three years old, dressed in a party dress outside a Mexican restaurant in Grenada Hills, with her mother and grandmother. I had not been around when Keri was born. I was much too busy being a professional alcoholic, and all. I hadn't been around for most of her life, not that she needed me to be. She didn't.
We always got along though, and I genuinely loved her... liked her too. She was a naturally "precocious" child, hyper, and overactive, not being able to sit in one place for any length of time. What a handful she must have been for her mother.
And now she was a mother herself.
Wow, life is a trip.
Where Sixth Street magically turned into Whittier Blvd, I crossed at the light near a Dominoes Pizza store, a Launderia, and the "Little Wheels of Death" donut shop, then headed back on the north walkway of the bridge, the cars still swooshing past. It took a good forty-five minutes, maybe fifty to get back to my box and begin to write this.
Later on I'll address those residents who show up at the monthly Resident Meeting, and try and pitch free Red Cross CPR and first aid classes to those who may be interested in learning how to save others lives in an emergency. This is a natural reaction to my friend Jose's death, and has already been approved by some members of the SRHT management, although no one has been particularly active in setting anything up until now, hence my pitch today. I hope we have a few takers.
After that meeting who knows what will happen.


  1. I don't think that that the 6th Street Bridge/Viaduct is on the National Register of Historic Places... but maybe I am wrong. Do you have a reference for that? Someone else mentioned that, but I could't find any evidence for it. I know it's a city of L.A. Historic Cultural Monument... and it should be on the National Register!

  2. Well Joe, my info states it was "eligable" to be included, so I assumed that it was, but I may be wrong. I was wrong once before. Joyce