This is how it sometimes works when you’re a determined pedestrian in Los Angeles. I was heading for the first annual Independent Art Book Fair, taking place as a pop up in a building on Maple Avenue, on the edge of downtown. I vaguely knew there was a street called Maple Avenue, but I had never knowingly set foot there, and I also knew it was part of the Fashion District, just a hop, skip and a jump from Skid Row.
I could have driven all the way there but there’s no joy in that, and besides, I have to protect my reputation as a walker. But equally I wasn’t going to walk the whole of the eight miles each way, so the idea was to combine some walking with some other forms of locomotion.
So I got in the car, drove down the hill and parked, then walked the three quarters of a mile to the Metro station, got on the subway, traveled six stops, got out, then walked a circuitous mile and a half to the book fair, knowing of course that I’d have to do most of it again in reverse on the way back. That pretty much adds up to a day out walking in Los Angeles.
You know, I don’t hear the term “gendered space” as much as I used to, but that may say more about me than it does about space and gender. I was by no means the only man on Maple Avenue, but it was interesting how out of place a man can feel when he's in a street festooned with strange, gaudy fabric, all of it for sale.
Did I feel marginalized? Well, maybe a little. Did I experience the inverse tyranny of patriarchy? Not so much. Did my presence feel transgressive? Well no, but it did feel like a small adventure, that I was in a place where I had no business and no involvement. Clearly needs were being met, transactions were taking place, but they all seemed completely inscrutable to me. What would you actually make out of fabric that looked like this?
I'm sure that Walter Benjamin has a fair amount to say about this. It didn’t seem to me that I was watching “high capitalism” at work but obviously commodities were involved and were changing hands. Benjamin writes in , “