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.
Showing posts with label Picasso. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Picasso. Show all posts

Sunday, May 13, 2018


I was walking in Culver City (named after its founder Harry Culver), not a place I go very often, and usually I’m there with a purpose that doesn’t leave me with much time on my hands, but on this occasion I organized things so that I had time for a bit of a drift.
I wasn’t looking for anything in particular and a lot of the time I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking at.  I know for example, that this thing below is part of Sony Studios but I don’t know why it’s all wrapped and Christo-ed up like that.

And I assume these giant dishes also have something to do with Sony but lord knows what, and I’ve never seen anything like them on an ordinary city street before.  I kind of liked them, unless of course they cause cancer, which I'm sure somebody says they do.

And I definitely had no idea who Saint Rita of Cascia was. 

Turns out she was born Margherita Lotti, and lived in the late 14th and early 15th century in Italy. She was a victim of spousal abuse, then a widow, then a nun, and in 1900 a saint, at which point she was given the title Patroness of Impossible Causes.    Sounds good to me.  She’s also known among some believers as a patroness of abused wives.  
And no, I don’t know if there’s a person lurking behind that shopping cart, but there very well might be.

Oh yeah and don’t ask me why any dentist would call their business Picasso Smile:

You see the problem?

And currently one of great sights of Culver City is a very large hole, which is in fact best viewed from the Metro station platform.  

This will be Culver Steps - a huge development featuring 65,000 square feet of office space, and 45,000 square feet of commercial space - I'm not sure I absolutely understand the difference, but I'm sure there is one – Amazon are moving in.  

There’ll also be, apparently, a 10,000-square-foot staircase leading to a 10,000-square-foot plaza.  It will be, and needless to say I’m quoting here, “a walkable urban hub.”  Why does that make me feel so weary? 


Thursday, September 24, 2015


You remember me going on, some while back, about “desire lines” - also sometimes known as “bootleg trails” (a term which I like a lot) – informal paths created by walkers as an alternative and sometimes as a downright challenge to the formal paths by and planners and landscapers.  Well, once you start looking, these things are everywhere of course, and as I roam around I see them all the time.  This one here is in Salt Lake City (and actually leads to a labyrinth):

And I found this rather less developed one in Ely, Nevada (birthplace of Patricia Nixon) which runs around the side of the public library and didn’t seem actually to be very useful but somebody must think it is otherwise it wouldn’t be there (you can’t argue with desire):

 As a matter of fact Ely also has a labyrinth.  There may be something going on here, right?

Meanwhile at CalArts where I am a very occasional adjunct professor (yep, I have been known to get emails addressed to Professor Nicholson which really is unutterably cool), the landscapers (or maybe just gardeners) have been working to destroy, or at least erase, a desire line I wrote about in that previous blog post.
First there was, and is, a formal paved, in fact cobbled, path leading from the dorms and the lower parking lot up to the main buildings, and as can you see there was then a desire line somewhat further along the bank.

Well, the cobbled path is still there of course but the desire line has gone.  That area has been mulched.  I’m not sure why.  It was just a bit of grass that didn’t seem in need of mulching – but maybe it was too hard to cut the grass there. 

Anyway, it’s clearly quite hard to walk on mulch but I think the irresistible forces of desire are already at work and, to my eyes anyway, a new desire line appears to be forming.  We shall see.  And I’ll keep you informed.   
That other post is here:

Friday, May 23, 2014


Here’s something I didn’t know about walking.  I discovered it in this month’s Vanity Fair, in an article about the photographer Robert Capa, who covered the D-Day landings and created some of the greatest war photographs ever seen, like this one, soldiers from the 16th Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division walking, or I suppose wading, on Omaha Beach on June 6th 1944.

In the last days of May 1944 Capa was in London, on call for Life magazine, waiting for the summons to go and meet up with the U.S. army.  The call came and he went down to Weymouth, in Dorset where he was given some necessities; an envelope of francs, a pack of condoms, and a French phrase book that offered suggestions on how he might converse with French girls.  One was, “Bonjour mademoiselle, voulez-vous fair une promenade avec moi?” 

Capa was killed on May 25th 1954, having accepted another Life commission, this time to accompany a French regiment fighting in Indochina.  The were under fire, in particularly dangerous territory, and following his own advice “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough,” he got out of the Jeep he was travelling in and started walking up the road to improve his chances of getting a good picture.  He stepped on a landmine, his left leg was destroyed and he was wounded in his chest.  He was dead before they managed to get him to a field hospital.

Capa seems to have been one of those men who felt more alive taking photographs in war rather than peace, but he certainly took at least one great and joyous peacetime walking picture; this one of Picasso and Francoise Gilot (and some other guy) on the beach at Golfe-Juan, August 1948.