Sunday, June 3, 2012

Insomniac tales of a 1986 Skid Row...


The last few months have been extremely busy with work and art shows... busier then normal. That always means long hours and late nights to screw with my sleep schedule. I can’t sleep at any regular hour so I’m up doing a whole lot of nothing. It’s 2 a.m. and I’ve got the Netflix playing Karate Kid in the background as the bar across the street purges itself of its rowdy inhabitants. Mr. Miagi is in here kicking ass, while inebriated patrons are noisily stumbling out into the night looking for cart dogs and hoping to hook up. Seems like a good time to write something down.

Here is a little story to kill a few minutes. Larusso is working his way through the All Valley Karate Championship elimination rounds, so I’ll try to keep it short. I bought a photo book many years back in the late 1980’s called, A Day in the Life of America. The context of the book was simple, 200 photo journalists across the country shooting pics on one day... May 2nd, 1986. I was fifteen on that day in 1986 and my world was a whole lot smaller, so photos of other places seemed to be that much larger than life. One photo in particular left a mark. Sarah Leen had taken this two page spread of a mugging in process halfway down a dirty alleyway in Los Angeles. The caption mentioned the area was called, “skid row”. I remember staring at this photo for a long time and thinking to myself... “I never want to be anywhere near that place.” As a kid, I was open to all sorts of ideas on what I wanted to do or where I might go. At times it would seem a bit overwhelming not to have the slightest idea about what the future might entail... but for this one instance, at least I knew one place I would absolutely never go.

Over twenty years later, I’m living in downtown Los Angeles. I’ve learned to love this place for all its unusual sights and sounds. The mix of people cover the widest possible range of economic and social scales for a street brew of boundless entertainment and inspiration. Lots of things have changed in ways I could have never imagined. I guess that’s how it goes... I’ve always ascribed to this belief that the only way you can guarantee your future will not go, is the way you plan it. I’m all good with that. Keeps you guessing... So I’m digging through all my reference books that I’ve amassed over the years and I come across that very same book. The flashback to the alleyway image was instantaneous as I quickly flipped through the pages. Sure enough, on page 201 was that same Sarah Leen photo just waiting for me to find it again.

Larusso is down... Miagi did his magical Japanese healing trick so Daniel is headed back to the mat.

I immediately had the cold rush of a time warp sending a chill down my back and trailing goosebumps across my arms. Sure enough, the alleyway is right off Winston St. downtown. It is a smaller side street often overlooked and it’s just one block from my studio. A street I’ve actually become quite familiar with over the years. To the point that I’ve even used a photo of it myself for a helmet project I did for Icon. With all the time I’ve spent looking around downtown, I had never made the connection to that one image. However, looking at that photo instantly sent me back to1986 and for one moment I remembered all the intensity and power that image had created. I’m not sure what I believe when it comes to coincidence, providence, kismet or any sort of destiny... I don’t give it much credence, but ironic happenings of this sort can tend to get me pondering the possibilities.

Daniel just did his crane jumping maneuver that took Johnny out... Is it just me, or does its seem kinda fishy that a skinny little kid could beat an entire dojo of stocky dudes to win that big trophy? I never bought that scenario... Miagi’s house was very cool though....

T

Sarah Leen's photo published in, A Day in the Life of America... copyright 1986 Randd, Inc. I couldn't find an online version so you get the late night - smash the book on the scanner deck - version.

This is the Googlemaps pic of the same intersection as it looks today.

By chance, I had shot this photo shortly after moving downtown seven years ago. I never caught the connection.

If you look hard enough, I superimposed the alley over a skull drawing. You can't see much but the roof gutters are most apparent.

Here is the final version of the Icon Domanin Decay helmet...


6 comments:

Gerry Donahoe said...

Great post!

Kurt Walter said...

Really well done post.

Kurt Walter said...

Really well done post.

Kurt Walter said...

Really well done post.

Aly said...

Story matters. As we can see, it lends itself to artistic excellence. I hope you continue to tell yours...

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