The Skywalker foot bridge connects a network of high rise shopping malls and overlooks the rooftop garden on the Felwright building. The garden grows edible plants that are made into products sold in an exclusive spa and restaurant in Felwright. It's one of the few surviving rooftop gardens in Los Angeles and I've always had the feeling that it only survives because it's visible to the throngs of people traveling across the Skywalker bridge every day. Specifically tourists who want to take a photo in the middle of the city, and having at least the one roof garden in the background reminds people of what the city used to be. Tourists dont care about visiting the city as it is, they just want to visit their fantasy of the city. And that fantasy doesn't just disappear when they are confronted with the reality of the city. It is built strong from the on old photos, movies, TV, and the fraction that celebrities show them. But the photos of the garden keep the hype of its products strong enough to survive.
I've made dropoffs here before, and it's always a little awkward looking for the client. All the shoppers and tourists have made it a common place for people to meet secretly in plain sight. So standing around and trying to catch the right person's eye results in a lot of awkward conversations. Or maybe that's just how I felt being there last time. This time I'm going to wait for them to find me.
I enter the silvery steel building from the ground floor. The parking entrances are on the lower levels so there is very little foot traffic on this main level. But there are still security guards on each door. I smile at one as I pass through and skate over to the elevator. A giant screen displays the map of the building. The bridge is accessed from the 30th floor. 4 Drone Post bots hover silently over head and wait for the elevator with me. Buildings like this one have a special entry for Drone Post but small deliveries will get rerouted through the human entrances. I used to feel a kinship with the Drones that make small package deliveries like I do. But now I just feel watched by them. They are, after all, another camera.
A family containing 3 crying children join us to wait for the elevator. All 3 seem very distressed and I struggle to understand the meaning of their sounds. It doesn't sound English or Spanish. Their parents ignore them. Do they not understand them either? Maybe they are speaking Child. If Child is a language, how long can it survive before it gets lost to Adult language? Probably not long if your parents refuse to learn it, and even if you have siblings, they are growing out of it faster than you are, leaving you no one to practice with. I wonder if you can relearn it? Not that these parents have. If you can't as a parent, maybe relearning has an expiration date too. I wonder how long they have to speak it with other children. I don’t remember moaning and creaking at other children, but I must have. I wonder what other pieces of Child Culture get lost when we are overwhelmed with learning Adult Culture. When I try to remember what it was like to be a child, I can't remember interacting with other children at all. All I can really remember are things that I looked at. Features of the floor and walls. Small plants and the texture of chairs. If I stretch as far back as I can, the earliest memories I have were dreams. One of the children has stopped emoting and is reaching up to the UP button on the wall. Watching children interact with the world, it looks like they are reaching through a dream. Like there is a thick aether between them and the world and they are slowly seeing through it to discover things. Can children see aether clearer than we can? Can they see the space between things that we have learned to ignore so that we can get to the things on the other side? So that we can press the button of the elevator without having to struggle to get to it?
The elevator door opens. I zoom inside and press button 30. The smallest child teeters over to the panel of buttons. A parent leans in and scoops them up before they press anything. The doors close. The other parent reaches over and presses 41. The elevator stops at floor 10 and gains some more riders. Then again at 13, 21, 27, 28, and 29. Soon the box is crammed with people. Someone smells like french fries.
When the elevator dings for the 30th floor, most of the crowd oozes out of the elevator, and I ooze out with them. The 30th floor is buzzing with people. Couples are walking with drinks and shopping bags. Someone is carrying a dog wearing human clothes. This floor is designed to look like the set of the classic American movie franchise, Star Wars. The walls and ceiling bubble out in a faceted glass pattern outlined in white steel. The doorway out onto the bridge has the same white border following the polygons of the wall with an orange and white boxy font, stretching across the top reading "SKYWALKER BRIDGE." I walk across the vestibule out the door way and onto the footbridge. Tourists dressed up in their favorite outfits huddle together by the wall of the footbridge while one of them takes a photo.
The bridge is a glass tube and the sun beats down on it relentlessly. But like the Automat, it’s cool and breezy inside the glass. And again, voices don’t echo. But in that way, it feels like we’ve all stepped outside, if LA was cool and breezy rather than hot and stagnant. I skate slowly across the bridge and look for someone who might appear to be waiting for me. Oh yeah, I'm going to let them find me today.
The nearest raised highway loops around this group of buildings and that particular section of highway is loaded with extra large billboards, since they also catch the eyes of the pedestrians on the footbridge. Giant logos loom over the highway and gaze through the countless windows on the highrises that the footbridge links.
The times on these pickup assignments aren't precise. If the clue is at the beginning of the shout out, I can assume they mean for me to meet them in the morning. If it is at the end, I can usually assume they will be there in the early afternoon, and if it refers to a specific event, then I at least know they'll be there no earlier than the start of the event, but I've had to wait hours at sweltering outdoor festivals or boring concerts before I find the client. I skate across the bridge without catching anyone's eye. It's okay. I'm going to wait for them to find me. There sure are a lot of tourists today. Everyone looks busy and barely noticing the other people crammed on the bridge with them. At the other side, I turn around and head back. I'll just wait in the middle and listen to some music.
It's after 2pm so I tune into Jr Stylez. They run a radio show from 2pm-6pm and I keep ending up listening to them when I'm working in the afternoon. They consider themselves a DJ but their mixes aren't exceptional. What makes the show worth listening to is the news. Political Art is long dead but there are a few still tending the fire. They always say that their numbers are on the rise and that there is going to be an explosive revolution in the Music and Art world that will make living apolitically impossible. But it's hard to see that when almost no one I ever meet in real life will say more than two sentences about politics. It doesn't matter how oppressed people are, they don't want to admit that they are victims of oppression. They just want to talk about how much better they have it than someone else, to avoid the fact that the are exploited too. And they act like exploitation is something that we grow out of as we gain wealth, like that somehow magically makes us free. But where is the freedom? In being able to buy something that you couldn't before? The small amount of wealth that people squirrel away doesn't give them any more power over their lives. It just makes them feel like they aren't the same as people who can't buy things. They just wind up alienated from people who share their oppression.
"HEY MOVAS AND GROOVAS OUT THERE IN THIS FINE FINE CITY OF FILTH! I'M YOUR DEEJAY JUN-NIOR STIE-LEZ AND THAT WAS A LITTLE MIX I MADE LAST NIGHT DEDACATED TO THE FAMALIES IN VISTA YARI WHO LOST THEIR HOME IN THE RAID BY POLICE. NO REPORTS OF DEATH OR INJURY FROM THE FOLKS EVACUATED, BUT SOURCES ARE SKETCH AT BEST. AND WE ARE STILL WAITING TO HEAR FROM ANY AH… UNDERGORUND CONTACTS IF ALL FOLKS LIVING THERE ARE ACCOUNTED FOR. IT'S HARD TO IMAGINE A WHOLE BUILDING OF FAMILIES COULD ALL BE HUSTLING BUT NYPD SEEM TO FIND ANYTHING THEY WANT IN OUR HOMES. STAY SAFE EVERYONE AND STAY TUNED FOR UPDATES! AND IF YOU WHERE AFFECTED BY THE RAID OR ARE A PART OF ONE OF THE FAMALIES AFFECTED, WRITE IN TO D-J-J-R-S-T-Y-L-Z AT RADIO WORLD DOT NET SO THAT WE CAN GET YOUR STORY OUT THERE. WE CAN START TALKING ABOUT WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON IN OUR FINE CITY OF FILTH!"
I listen through a few cycles of crappy house music until I am approached by a person wearing a hoodie and sunglasses. They have a reflective bag strapped to their back and they reach around and pull out a small box with the graphic of a camera on it. They hand it to me.
"Do you want me to take your photo?" I ask.
"Yeah. It needs to get to 750 South Rimpau Boulevard pretty much now if that's possible," they say as they pose against the bubble.
I hold up the box and pretend to take a photo of them. They hold up a goofy hand gesture and smile. Does this really look like a camera on the security cameras? Apparently.
"750? Isn't that just... down the street, between Wilshire and 8th?"
"Fuck if I know." They shrug.
"Alright, well it's real close so it'll get there soon no problem. Maybe you can take my picture too?" I hand them my CASH handheld and pocket the box. They fiddle with it to add their code, and then hold it up. I strike a pose and they laugh. They hand it back to me, shaking their head.
I put the machine into my backpack and they continue to walk to the other side of the bridge. I decide to head back down and out the way I came in.