Friday, May 14, 2010

Remembering L.A.

This cartoon reminds me of an incident way back in 1953, while attending art school in LALA land - - - having always had an interest in photography, I got this great idea, I bought an inexpensive camera and feeling bold, one lazy nice balmy Sunday in November I took a bus deep into the bowels of Los Angeles - - - back then, the Cecil Hotel on Main street was about as far downtown it was safe to walk around in without either getting mugged or knifed, so I decided to walk slowly deeper into the abyss - - - I remember walking by Wall Street and I started to notice I was now looking straight at what I came looking for - - - people who were a couple or more notches down the socio-economic scale than I, people I had heard about, people I would see in the news i.e. - - - pan handlers, bums, drug dealers, winos, prostitutes, people with interesting faces who begged to tell you the string of bad luck they were on - - -  who would make great black and white photo studies - - -  back then that is how you would describe them, now, you would say you ran into some people who were homeless, destitute, disadvantaged, victims, disenfranchised - - - maybe it was the same thing, I don't know - - -  all I knew is I felt and believed, for a moment, I was going to be the next Richard Avedon, Arthur Tcholakian, Gordon Parks or some other celebrated pulitzer-prize-winning world class photographer - - -

For a moment I was Walter Mitty fantasizing all of this - - - - then, POOF! - - - just before I was about to take my first photo shot of an unshaven poor wino clutching a paper bag with the bottleneck of a pint of cheap apple wine peeking out of the brown paper bag laying on his back in an alley next to an overflowing garbage can, Man! what a shot, I thought ! - - -  I noticed just as I was about to snap that first picture, I see out of the corner of my eye, a policeman in a squad car motioning to me to come to his car - - -

He said to me: " What are you doing here ? " - - - "You don't belong here, I suggest for you to get back over in a safer part of town. "

That incident, which is as clear as it happened yesterday, makes me wonder - - - Either One, that policeman shattered my dreams of becoming a famous phographer, or two, that policeman saved my life - - - I prefer to think of it as the latter.

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