Sunday, May 26, 2013

An Urban Fairy Tale: How The Last Bookstore and the Spring Arts Tower Have Become the Heart of Los Angeles

Since The Last Bookstore moved to The Spring Arts Tower two years ago, it has become the place where not only everyone in Downtown seems to run into each other - but - increasingly - everyone in Los Angeles.

Whether buying  (or selling or trading)  books, looking at the store's art installations, checking out the CB1 Gallery or the artist's studios in the mezzanine, exploring the $1 book Labyrinth, attending concerts, readings and other events  - or coming to meet one of the hundreds of creative people working in  offices or studios in the 13 story building,  5th & Spring has become a creative  crossroads of all the different cultures of Los Angeles -  high and low and everything in-between  - all aided and abetted by  its own full time cast of  irregular regulars who have adopted the store as their second home.

And what happens when you mix all of that together is the 'Once Upon a  Time' story artist/ writer J. Michael Walker has to tell us  in today's LA OBSERVED.

Driving into downtown

Exu - pomba gira.jpg

Artist J. Michael Walker wrote this for LA Observed after an experience in Downtown last weekend. The artwork is his too.
Driving into Downtown, I float down Los Angeles Street, and now - early Sunday evening, the shops shuttered, an occasional street person the only pedestrian - I have the whole block north of Fifth to myself. Car parked and locked, I stroll up Fifth a couple of blocks and, detouring into the Last Bookstore and snagging a pair of arcane art books (Wenceslaus Hollar: "Delineator of His Time," and "Gothic Panel Painting in Hungary)", I pay with plastic and pop into my destination next door - CB1 Gallery - for the opening of André Goeritz's monumental woodworks and Kiki Seror's ying-yang porn-art photos and videos.
As happens at art openings, you see one friend: you see them all. Conversation with one acquaintance leads to hugs and news with another. Between the bonding, the attention to the art, and the wine, two and a half hours pass and it's time to go home.As I set back out down Fifth, smokers ring the gallery door; and a small dark woman dressed in red, whom I'd earlier noticed perusing Kiki's adult-website-based photographs with a knowing, sly smile, harangues some long-gone male with a preacher's wrath.                                                                                                       Rounding the corner at Los Angeles, I spy my car, all alone on the trash-strewn street. Setting my art books on the car roof, I reach into my pocket- and fail to find my car key. The more pockets I check (and re-check), the less I find my car key. It's not in the ignition, and of course it's not lying on the asphalt. I could call AAA to dispatch a truck and jimmy my door, but then I would just have an open car and no key; so I retrace my steps to CB1, silently calling out, "Okay, Exú," - Exú, Lord of the Crossroads, the orisha of opening pathways - "Figure this one out for me.
NOW - to find out what ... Exu - Lord of the Crossroads, etc. - has in store for - J. Michael Alexander  - read the end of this story at LA OBSERVED.

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