In "Mining the States of City Minds," a recent blog, I introduced my approach to experiencing the texture of city life in Venice, California and writing up the resulting stories with a type of literary journalism.
He sweeps the bar. I wipe the tables. Then grab the padlocks, lock the doors and think, how did I end up here? We walk around the street market at 3 a.m., under the hum of lampposts, thinking about what to do next. We share a flask of whisky.
Did I just see something slither to the shadow? Trip to the ice machine, all that is frozen in time like that cockroach, just kidding. I need to get my peripheral vision checked. I'm sure I just saw something flee to the darkness under the stairs.
John is going away. To a rehab nuthouse -- his words. One year in exile with a bunch of drunks. Ordered by psychiatrists. The doors are locked night and day. But he's figured out a way to get supplies delivered.
Someone says, Jake died. We all drop a few rungs. He owned a bar. Lung disease. He never smoked, unless you count the smoke of others. It's still dark outside. The f*cking cognac tastes off. So much for the sour grape.
Talking Heads is on the jukebox. All the hits. Around closing time, the bug man comes in, his poisons in hand. He crawls under the bar like an explorer venturing into the darkness of the insect world. Nothing there.
Jaime Lerner, one of the most influential urban leaders of our time, has written down all of his hard-earned wisdom about the city in one slim yet rich volume, Urban Acupuncture: Celebrating Pinpricks of Change that Enrich City Life.