Friday, November 30, 2007
Jeanette and I met and fell in love as art students 27 years ago in Los Angeles. Now that we’re here again, we’ve been visiting our old haunts to see how they’ve changed.
When we were engaged, we moved into the Golden Palm apartments in Highland Park. The Golden Palm, or “GP” as we affectionately called it, was a favorite apartment building for students at Art Center. The top floor was occupied almost entirely by art students, and the bottom floor was all working people.
It was no beauty then and it hasn’t gotten any prettier. Our apartment was next to a dumpster. Every morning a mother would lift her son into it to fetch out cans for recycling. They’d then crush the cans at six in the morning by driving back and forth over them with an old Chevy Impala.
When we stopped by yesterday, the grass was tramped to dirt, and we saw broken furniture piled up along Benner Street. There were bars on the windows, and dented vans parked outside with bumper stickers that said “Yo Soy El Army.” Like other places we’ve seen all across America, the rich places have gotten richer and the poor places have gotten poorer.
In the old days after sketching in downtown LA, we’d grab a bite at Philippe’s, home of the famous French dip sandwiches and five-cent coffee.
We expected it would be erased by time, but it was exactly as we remember it, with the sawdust on the floor, the long communal tables, the pickled eggs, and the circus posters. There were only two changes we noticed. Now they have wi-fi and a website. And the coffee now costs nine cents.