Monday, January 30, 2012

A California Night from Santa Monica

"Someone Saved my Life tonight."
A truck passes leaving a muffled, quiet rumbling in its wake. In five seconds the void returns and the lyrics drift in through the slatted glass window.
"someone saved, someone saved, someone saved my life tonight."
In looking out over the night covered streets the song comes from nowhere. The courtyard below, and the corner grocer parking lot, are empty. Cars pass occasionally and temporarily burning after images in the empty corner with their headligts - but here, on 17th and Ocean Park, Santa Monica is asleep save for Elton John's pleading voice. This is when and how the city block sings out loud when it believes no one is listening. 
"Someone saved my life tonight."
While inside one of the many apartments, the Latin Playboys are on an indefinite loop with the song "Crayon Sun" stating "This is what I am. This is what I am."

The neighbors in my building have in past and or present represented many unique points on the nations vast demographic scales. Criminals, a published Christian essayist, Korean school girls, parents, a septa or octagenarian, multiple visual effects professionals, caucasians, African Americans, mixed race couples, writers, visual artists, teens, forty year olds, mustaches, gray hairs, transients and long-timers. Not everyone gets along but at least people don't fight with each other in shouting matches. Sometimes a tv is played too loud, or sex is had at volume eleven, at one in the morning. Homeless people are invited around by one resident who has once gone so far as to make a lobster dinner for his homeless acquaitance and deliver it with some beers and served on top of a garbage bin next to the laundromat. Regardless of day or night, the bitter, and sometimes acrid, stench of wacky-tobacky lingers in the open air halways, just outside apartment windows. On some nights, random strangers stand in the dark alley with the tiny cords coming from their ears. Their eyes are often lowered as usually they desire to avoid direct eye contact. One person wore a hoody, stood completely in shadow against the day care hedges. This warranted a call to the police of suspicious activity. Of the weekly or monthly craziness that happens on my block, some of which starts in my apartment building, nothing was more scary or absurd than the resident who was hauled off to jail for human trafficking. We never learned where he was keeping the trafficked humans, but it wasn't in our apartment complex. This was over a year ago and there's been no similar trouble since.

Tonight though it's quiet as the city sings "someone saved my life tonight" and one apartment quietly replies "this is what I am."

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