Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

Early evening Mid-city.

I’m driving westward down 3rd. Street. Not avenue. An ambitious, if under represented, Los Angeles artery. Beginning a few blocks away from Occupy LA, 3rd Street runs boldly for several miles from Downtown to Beverly Hills, an offshoot of the tight grid established in the late 1800s. Then it stops short. Dying out with a whimper at Alpine Drive. Representing the industrialist pragmatism of 19th century urban planning, the route never makes it past the historically green lawns of the Los Angeles Country Club—the club, in its 1911 location, is a pastoral parable in aspirational living. Ronald Regan was a member.

Red light at Western Avenue—an inexplicable line running North-South, from Griffith Park to the port where, as the nations busiest point of exchange, containers and commerce churn. It’s a lost borderline that once defined the westernmost urban edge. Now, thoroughly assimilated into Koreatown’s signage patois. The sun, bright amber and blazing round, singes my windscreen. It’s the golden hour. A time coveted by cinematographers for its warm glow and deep shadows.

Arthur E. Harvey’s black and gold jewel box stumps on the corner of Western and 3rd, selling phone minutes and cheap shirts. The Deco glazed terra cotta glints and blinds, a throwback to the black gold–era when oil derricks sucked richness from the LA basin. Banham romantically rode these streets mapping ecologies. Morrison strutted and swaggered. A half-century later, near horizontal beams of light refract, caught in the city dust and wiper outlines. Sunglasses are useless. Forget the visor. I can’t see through the gilded glaze.