Sweeping up the scraps

The tow guy hauled our shattered Buick away at 7:45 this morning and I was out in the street sweeping up the scraps and sparkly tail lamp bits that were revealed in the now empty spot. For some reason that seemed important. Apparently I am gentrifying. I was done by 8 am and soaking in sweat, which I took to be a bad omen for the day to come. I guess this heat spell isn’t over. It’s like Milwaukee in the summer, but without the beer and brats and polkas. I used to hear polkas in Silverlake, rancheras blaring from tinny radios at all hours, Mex 2 the Max, tri-colored accordions and huge hats. Whatever happened to Patricia Lopez anyway? I loved that show, back when you could buy elotes and tamales right on Sunset Boulevard for a dollar, right there in the heart of Silver Lake, and wash them down with cheap beer and when the earthquake struck at seven in the morning, toppling chimneys and dishes, the residents of the tenement across the street poured into the street with cries of ¡Terremoto! ¡Terremoto! They wouldn’t go back inside for days, sleeping on the sidewalk, memories of Mexico City falling down around them only a year or so before. But the building didn’t fall down, and they finally went back in, but are all gone again. The place is all prettied up now and pricey and full of screenwriters and actors and other desperate wannabes, as no doubt it had been once many decades before when Raymond Chandler lived a couple blocks away and noir was new. I wonder if the tenants know a whole era that came and went in their very pads only a generation before, and that the little park where they buy the expensive produce on Farmer’s Market day was once a tragic scene, the homesick waiter from the Mexican restaurant on the corner polishing off a bottle of tequila there on the park bench, and the liquor took him into a deep sleep and he slid off the bench and broke his neck without ever waking up. I think of him every time I pass that little park, and I never even knew who he was.

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