Bridge and tunnel

LA Noir.jpg
Downtown resident commenting on the suburbanite crowds loitering, a little forlorn, in front of Spring Street's dance clubs: "It's like the bridge and tunnel crowd in Manhattan ... what can you do?"

What can the earnest loft dweller, the new urbanist, the righteous hipster do? On Friday and Saturday nights, downtown's residential enclave receives a tide of Westside and Valley twentysomethings. The young women over-dressed in "bridge and tunnel" style; the young men under-dressed.

Certain half-deserted streets in the Old Bank District become almost city-like at night, but not the exactly the city some residents want.

"A lot of nights there it looks like the Westside, and that's not why we moved down here," said one. "Everyone's here now ... we don't like to go to places with lines out the door and avoid the Hollywood crowd," said another. Even the neighborhood places, according to the Los Angeles Times, "are now filled on weekends with free-spending USC students seeking an edgier night out."

Noir-adjacent authenticity is elusive, withholding. There is a secret knowledge in the streets, what passes for communion in the belly of a city. The "bridge and tunnel" people look for it, but it's not theirs.

The full-time residents sought just enough imperfection as a guarantor of domestic value. They wince when the bar down the block doesn't have a place for them. Some begin scanning forward, to spot the new. Where next? Club owners send viral marketers out on the plains. They need cash flow in the backwash of trends passing. There's a brief window of cool desire when it's no longer real but profitable at last. And parking lot owners clean up. They always clean up. (Did you wonder why downtown has had so many empty lots for so many years? The secret legislators of downtown development are parking lot owners.)

The local where the bartender knew your name is busy with kids from Rowland Heights. USC boys stand, dimly aware, in front of the gallery where you saw those great photographs of homeless families. The dark city does not have a gun shoved in its coat pocket, although you often imagined it did.

The photogrpah on this page was taken by Flickr contributor chocofied. It is used under a Creative Commons License.