THE BLOG
09/05/2012 06:40 pm ET | Updated Nov 05, 2012

The Excitement of Downtown Los Angeles

Westsiders such as myself tend to view L.A. not as one big huge great city, but instead as a series of communities strung together like multi-colored Mardi Gras beads. The Westside itself contains its own myriad gems, and OK, I'll admit it, so does the Valley. The Beach Cities. The Eastside. Los Angeles is a long, fascinatingly variegated necklace, strung together on the most interesting stretch of asphalt in the world, isn't it?

Maybe. It's a pretty picture, but it's not a useful one for anyone who loves L.A. and who wants to understand it in all its complexity.

So, Writers Bloc is making what is for us Westsiders a bold move: We just rented a downtown theater for a normally Westside event. And we did something even bolder: Not only are we hosting an event downtown, but we're doing it on a Thursday night -- on the second Thursday, in the very heartbeat of Downtown Art Walk.

Writers Bloc, the literary series I founded 17 years ago, hosts terrific writers and artists, and we routinely hold the programs on the Westside. But to honor our program with Junot Diaz and Christian Lander, we want to move out of the Beverly Hills/Westside enclave in order to celebrate the excitement of downtown.

Why? Because this program with Junot Diaz and Christian Lander shouldn't be in Beverly Hills. It should be downtown. It should be downtown where Oscar Wao, where Yunior, Alma and their loved ones and their rivals fight their curses, their demons, and fight for love. It should be geographically and emotionally closer to Junot Diaz' heart of the matter and to the historical core of our great city. And isn't it in all of our best interests to check out the arts in parts of town that we normally visit with a quick drive-by, or possibly a stop at the Music Center or Disney Hall?

Doesn't it benefit all of us when we venture just a bit beyond the Westside cocoon to discover a part of town that we only cruise through on our way home? Certainly, there are other great programs in literary L.A. that live, breathe and thrive downtown. The LAPL has hosted sold out events for years and years under Louise Steinman's vision. And, people come from all over to hit the Library's events.

So, it's time for the Writers Bloc crowd to get out and see the sights. Sure, many of us might be stubbornly rooted in West L.A. Traffic. Parking. Transportation. But instead of just saving downtown for court appearances, say, or business meetings, steel yourself for a city you might not know and for the extravagant show that downtown routinely provides.

So join us on the second Thursday of the month (September 13). Between Art Walk, restaurants, bars and Junot Diaz with Christian Lambert at the LATC, even stalwart Westsiders will find downtown glorious indeed.