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.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


Some inhabitants of Los Angeles (I’m one of them) regularly complain about the lack of public space.  Oh sure there’s are biggish parks – Griffith Park is over 4000 acres – but going there can be a major expedition, especially when all you want is somewhere to sit for twenty minutes and eat a sandwich.  You need a little area – doesn’t have to be fancy - with a bit of grass and a bench, the kind of thing you find all over London and other cities.  This kind of thing:

For a long time there used to be a bench in my neighborhood.  It wasn’t strictly public, I think, because it was on a long thin strip of land that actually belonged to somebody’s house.  Clearly it was unusable as part of a garden, and there was no point fencing it off because that made it even less usable.  And so the land was left open, and a bench placed there for the public weal.

In ten years of walking around the local streets I believe I saw the bench being used exactly twice.  I sat on it a couple of times myself because I felt it should be embraced, but nobody could pretend it was a great local resource.  And in any case, it’s now gone.

--> Of course I noticed this a while ago on one of my daily walk, but I’d never got around to photographing the bench’s absence (for obvious reasons).  Even as a bit of negative space I realize it’s not much of a picture, but here’s the beauty part.  Until I tried to photograph the absence of the bench I hadn’t noticed the presence of that shiny new, white, replacement wooden fence behind it. 

Walking: I do believe it sharpens up the powers of observation.  But sometimes you need a nudge.


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