I took a sublet on Marion Avenue for a month, not just because it was super charming and cozy, but because the signs pointed to a good thing. Marion is my mom’s name, and Angelino Heights has intrigued me since my first Halloween there in 2019. When drawing en plein air there last year, I met some lovely folks and Saturday nights are exciting for this rev-head. It’s also super close to the number 4 bus line—the Santa Monica bus—that stops at random times at Sunset/Marion and then belts straight up Sunset. You might not have noticed my stop as the Metro 4 stop sign is dominated by the large, colorful Highway Gothic sign, urging you to avoid public transport and get on the 101.
There’s no permanent shelter at my bus stop. I try to catch the bus to work early, to ensure I make it on time, and avoid the relentless summer sun. The buildings on the inbound side have been knocked down for a massive new development, although the digger sits idle every morning. The only shade is cast by the two trash cans, a bench, a pole, and the streetlamp.
In the early mornings, if someone isn’t sleeping on the bus stop bench, I can sit in the shade. But by mid-morning, it’s a perilous situation to avoid the sun—I wedge myself between the pole and the curb—facing the oncoming traffic on Sunset. In the late afternoon, I stand awkwardly to fit within the sliver of thin shadow cast by the streetlight, or I huddle way too close to a rancid black trash can.
When the trash cans are open, they become ominous, wide-mouthed monsters—I’ve seen folks lean into them and fear they will be lost forever. Even with a mask on, that bin smells terrible, but I figure that’s better than skin cancer. After growing up under the hole in the ozone layer in New Zealand, and having had skin lesions removed, the last thing my body needs is more sun.
Mondays are the worst. The taco stand has blown up and is bustling with queues five nights a week. Dodger weekends are so busy that by Monday morning, the sidewalk is oily enough to make me slip, and it smells like a grease trap getting emptied. The remnants of the food and garbage make the stop feel like a festival ground—the day after the festival. It’s a shame “It Never Rains in Southern California”: to clean the streets, water the plants, and provide some clouds for shelter.