Neil Hopper used to stay close to his Hollywood apartment and drive everywhere, but no more. Now he walks all over L.A., not to get somewhere, but just to discover new things. Nita Lelyveld writes in today's Times about how it began with a ride on the Red Line subway:
Hopper hopped on and became an explorer. Sure, he'd gone downtown before, when he had to, for jury duty. He associated it with white-knuckle driving, headachy parking, crowded courthouse waiting rooms.
Whisked to the city center sidewalks by subway, freed from staring at the car bumper in front of him, he noticed other things. He saw paint peeling on the facades of majestic old movie houses, formerly ritzy hotels housing bargain stores. He loved the crumble of it.
Soon he wondered what else he'd been missing. "I asked myself, 'Is it possible for a normal, sedentary human being to walk 10 miles in the city?' "
To find out, he walked from Hollywood to downtown. He walked to Burbank and to Pasadena. He bought walking shoes and anti-blister socks and spent his weekends taking on El Monte, Alhambra, Hermosa Beach and Cypress Park. Drawn to the big streets that cut through the city, he checked out Slauson Avenue, Eagle Rock Boulevard, Imperial Highway, San Fernando Road. Commercial strips that drivers register as blurs became distinct to him. He noticed their details.
He chronicles his treks — making his "contribution to all the useless information on the Internet," in his words — at WalkinginLA.com.