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.

Monday, December 5, 2016


If you write a blog titled The Hollywood Walker, then there’s some pressure on you to do a fair bit of walking in Hollywood.  And I give in to that pressure, honestly I do; I walk in Hollywood all the time.  But the thing is, and it’s a thing that I’m sure worries a lot of writers and bloggers, and certainly diarists, you get to the stage of thinking, “Is there any point doing if you can’t write about it?”

The answer of course is yes: If a thing’s worth doing it’s worth doing for its own sake.  However obsessive a writer you are, not every thought and deed needs to be set down or described in words.  That’s because not every thought and deed is necessarily of interest to others. (I know some writers feel differently about this.) 

There is, in any case, a dual aspect to walking, at least the kind I do.  Partly you do it for its own sake, and partly you do it because you’re inquisitive, and you like observing and exploring, which is all part of the writerly function, though you don’t have to be any kind of writer in order to be inquisitive, and enjoy observing and exploring.

And this being a digital age, if you have a camera with you when you walk, then you tend to photograph what you see.  Again, this can be a problem: are you going for a walk or are you going on a photographic expedition?  And more than that, does taking photographs get in the way of a good walk?  Simple answer: sometimes yes, sometimes no.

So, after that throat-clearing, scattered above and below are some of things I saw, noted and photographed on recent Hollywood walks, and which I think might be of some interest to other people.

I have been known to complain about the essential monotony of Los Angeles skies, but it’s been raining here lately and there have been some spectacular opportunities for cloud spotters, so no complaints from me at the moment.

Under those less than sheltering skies most of us continue to be troubled, one way or another, about the election results.  A few pro-Hillary signs remain, though I wonder if these signs are a bit like Christmas decorations – how long should they stay before you take them down?  If you leave them up too long don’t they bring bad luck?

The fauna, of course, doesn’t even know we have a new president-elect, and the deer in particular are thriving:

Some of the flora is doing less well.  Is this the world’s saddest cycad?

Elsewhere in the ‘hood, they’re continuing to install new water pipes and that includes replacing fire hydrants, which gives rise to certain small-scale, Christo-esque effects:

The boys' activities still gives rise to inscrutable markings on the ground:

And this has recently appeared, which I think has nothing to do with the water company,and is far cleverer and more ambitious than most things you see painted on the sidewalk:

Meanwhile, the L.A. version of autumn gives us an inadvertent touch of Andy Goldsworthy:

In other places the sidewalks do battle with tree roots – the roots are winning - which definitely doesn’t make it any easier to walk:

But you see, some people love our sidewalks so much they feel right at home sleeping on them, in the middle of a Sunday afternoon in front of a pedestrian crossing, right by a board directing you to an open house for what is most likely a million dollar property (feel the irony!):

There are no doubt places in the world where citizens would either accidentally or, more likely, deliberately walk on a person lying on the sidewalk in front of a pedestrian crossing.  Not here, though. There was also perhaps a slight feeling that maybe somebody was actually making a movie, and filming the guy with hidden cameras.  This is Hollywood after all.

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