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Big City Bear

Wait a minute.

I'm the guy who wrote the "bit critical comment" about the overwhelming militaristic nature of the skid row walk.

The last time I attended, the walkers were outnumbered by Midnight Mission security personnel, uniformed LAPD officers and BID security people. Plus, LAPD squad cars and bicycles accompanied the group.

You claim "that's the point. To give those who would never go there on their own a chance to gather their own perspective, and still feel somewhat safe," but is that the point? What sort of perspective is it when the denizens of skid row are treated like dangerous animals in the wild?

The message seems to be this: Look at this community! It's so criminally dangerous that we have to pad the walk with a security body armor so you will feel "somewhat" safe.

How can people "gather their own perspective" when the area is treated as being more dangerous than Basra? Also, what message does the walk give to the residents of Skid Row? Surely they end up feeling like animals in the zoo or specimens in a jar. Shouldn't the walk be a more nurturing experience for them?

I live in the Old Bank District and I walk through Central City on a regular basis day and night. I have never had a problem and I have met many good, friendly people, people who are fully as decent as--for example--the intelligent Arts District blogger I enjoyed chatting with tonight at Banquette. The goal should be to integrate this part of the city, not to scamper through like frightened tourists.

I could support the walk wholeheartedly if the security were cut back and the walkers strolled the sidewalks, mingling with their neighbors and left alone to freely form their own, untainted view of this neighborhood.

Until a fundamental switch comes and the seige mentality goes, then count me out. I will continue to integrate into the community by myself and I will treat the residents of Skid Row with dignity and respect. They deserve no less.


I've written before that this walk cannot give a complete composite of Skid Row. To do that you have to visit it on your own terms and a will to interact with the residents and occupants. Those of us who walk in and around skid row and know the hazards, and you must admit we're able to do just that by having a slightly imposing presence, exploring Skid Row can be managed with no problem.

To say the walk has no value to provide a sense of the area as a whole because of the "militaristic nature" is as I said critical––and yet has merit. I've even mentioned to Eric that the walk feels like a surreal Disneyland tour. A "Pirates of San Julian" as we are on a very controlled walk and the occupants of Skid Row becomes audio electronic characters to be seen at a distance and not interact with.

The security on the walk is heavy handed and can be easily be interpreted as grandstanding, but it does give those who have no clue about the area a sense of security a chance to see Skid Row at night. At night. Where the tents are up, people are beginning to settle in and dealers are looking for their imported client base from out of town–– the Skid Row walk opens the eyes of people who only see it from a car or a bus.

Is this really a district you want to give a map to people not prepared, point in the direction of San Julian and say "Mix with the locals. There's no harm. See it at night"?

For you and I who experience the row on an almost daily basis, it is limiting for us. Consider it a chance to share the other experiences people like you have. Maybe that's how you can participate, by adding a counter narrative and perspective to those who have never been there. The real purpose of the walk was meant to create awareness.

There's no doubt that your treatment of the residents, (not the dealers or those who come to the area to pick up narcotics), with diginity and respect is just as important a process. And as for you reporting your view of the "militaristic nature" your protest of the walk is on solid ground. It was critical. And it for someone who can walk safely there at night, it was accurate.

Big Bear Joe

You make some good points.

I have followed up my rants about the Skid Row Walks with my own Alternative Skid Row Walk I. My first walk is detailed at blogdowntown.com and will be posted soon on newdowntown.com.

Viewfromaloft will receive a release of my Alternative Skid Row Walk II before it is sent to any other outlets.

I will move a bit deeper into the Row and guide the readers step-by-step through Towne and Gladys Avenues.

There they can leisurely observe the folk art of turning cardboard into affordable sidewalk housing.

This walk will be first released to viewfromaloft next December.

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