Nice piece by writer Steve Oney on the memories evoked by the city covering the old concrete pavement of Outpost Drive, with its embedded paw prints of a long ago bobcat or mountain lion, under a black ribbon of fresh asphalt.
No one would dispute that Outpost Drive badly needed repaving. Its many buckled patches and corrugated seams attested to nearly a century's worth of water main ruptures and gas line replacements. The street was hell on automobiles. On the curves, hubcaps flew off constantly, and heavy loads rattled loudly.
Yet for all of this, as the cold milling machine made its inexorable way down my block, I was filled with a sense of sadness. As much as Spanish Revival homes and lollipop-globed street lamps, concrete streets are a touchstone of old Los Angeles. Durable and white, with the contractors' names stamped into the curbs, they evoke the city's heyday of roadsters, gangsters ("The Big Sleep" may be noir, but its streets are not) and Midwestern immigrants. In the case of Outpost Drive, there was also something else....
On any other street in the vast stretch of now densely populated canyons between Griffith Park and Malibu, the grinding up of some wildcat prints preserved in concrete would not be cause for much mourning. Outpost Drive, however, is different. The street takes its name from The Outpost, a retreat Gen. Harrison Gray Otis, the early and powerful publisher of the Los Angeles Times, owned near its southern terminus from the late 1800s until his death in 1917. (The property previously belonged to Don Tomas Urquidez. In 1853, he built an adobe on it.) This is where Otis and his cronies, many of them fellow veterans, went to get away from civilization and be at one with nature. Roughing it was the order of the day, and wildlife — whether hunted or merely observed — was a big part of the attraction.
Oney's piece was on the weekend LAT opinion pages.