I hardly ever get over to the Westside of LA these days. The area bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the west and (depending on who you talk to) some north-south street on the east. An often flat area of the city crowded with apartments or plotted out with ridiculously expensive houses on small to gigantic land parcels.
This was the Los Angeles I got to know first and where I initially became enchanted, but now I tend to avoid the area like the plague. After a couple years of living there it became more of a homebase than a homeland and I found myself driving out toward downtown or further north or east. I’m not a big beach person, so this could be part of why I’m less enthralled with that part of town. It’s also more expensive and people seem to express their road rage and honk at each other more often.
Despite my now disenchantment with that neck of the woods, from time to time I get a little nostalgic about my growing pains years in Los Angeles. The other week I drove out to Culver City to visit Surfas. As I drove down the 10, creeping closer to the Pacific, I was also getting closer and closer to those early days of living in the city. With each exit off the freeway memories kept popping into the present.
I’ve had this idea in the back of my mind for awhile now that I should write some love letters (of a sort) to those exits on the 10. I have friends over on that side of town still, and on the rare occasion when I test the kindness of traffic and venture out that way I always get this feeling that I’ve entered some time tunnel.
Crenshaw-La Brea-Fairfax/Washington-La Cienega-Robertson-National-Overland-the 405
It’s an almost exactly chronological backwards trip into the far dusty corners of the memories of my Los Angeles existance. The exits west of the 405 I’m a little less nostalgic about because I’d generally take streets to get to parts of Santa Monica or Venice. And yeah, I’d probably cut the beginning of the “Westside” off around La Cienega, but the Fairfax, La Brea, and Crenshaw exits were also part of my Westside living experience so I’m including them too. I’m using Westside as a loose and personal concept more than a hard and fast geographic outline.
So I’m going to start off with my very earliest flickering memories of Los Angeles and then get off the 10 at Crenshaw and time travel my way backwards, exit by exit, to those very first forays into that beautiful, crowded, polluted, diverse, segregated, delicious, rich, poor, historic, engaging place that is the city of Los Angeles.