Drifting and striding, in Hollywood and elsewhere, with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.

Friday, May 31, 2013


Here’s something from Henry Rollins’ column in this week’s LA Weekly:

“I don't do much walking in Los Angeles. I am sure there is a lot to enjoy as a pedestrian in our city, it just never occurs to me to do it. Years ago, when I lived in Silver Lake, I used to walk for miles all the time. As I would make these epic, biped journeys into Hollywood to see shows, I always had the same feeling that I wasn't really going anywhere except deeper into the seemingly endless sprawl of Sargassoid stucco.
“In Washington, D.C., I walk for hours, take a break for food or writing and then set out again. Most of my walks are referential, having to do with music. Places I saw bands, places where bands used to practice, houses I used to hang out in and listen to records. I go to these places over and over again, decade after decade. I know that sounds strange and it probably is, but to me, it's like a Kata or a meditation. The walk, the arrival at the spot. A moment to dwell on the significance and then to walk elsewhere, is to me what it means to be 'poetry in motion.'"

I think any even half-way serious walker would completely agree with what he says in the second paragraph; I think we’re talking psychogeography, or deep topography, or conceivably Proustian remembrance.  I’ll drink to that.

But I wonder if I get his point in the first para. “Endless sprawl of Sargassoid stucco” is a nice, if slightly opaque, phrase, and I assume it’s a reference to the Sargasso Sea: a two million square mile gyre (another nice phrase) – i.e. rotating currents - in the middle of the North Atlantic. It’s a seaweed-choked place of mystery, discovered by Columbus, where ships have historically been becalmed and where uncanny things have happened.  These days apparently it’s also a vortex of swirling plastic waste, much like the North Atlantic Garbage Patch.  So, not much walking to be done there.

Still, be that as it may, I think I’m enthralled by the idea of walking “deeper into the seemingly endless sprawl of Sargassoid stucco,” in fact I think it’s what much what I do it all the time.  Here’s a pictures of Henry Rollins, walking (sort of), not in seaweed, but on the red carpet:

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