While sitting in the Elk Loungesque L.A. train station of wood on wood crunched on the grandly masculine lumbered lumbar-lacking seat I realize how aesthetic sometimes seems more important than function. The chairs of the station provided suitable comfort if one were waiting for a train arriving within the hour but became a crusade-like torture device for the twenty-four hour layover I had.
The ‘lodge’ is scenic with bustling. People came and went, pictures were taken, trinkets were purchased, trash was lost, luggage collected, and shuffles of small children went about their day. Of course, I had to jot down a few notes.
I originally started writing this because I didn’t have anything to do with myself on April 26, 2008, the evening three letters dragged my best friend into the next world, as we toasted every breath of air along the way. It was certainly a lot of fun, indulgence done well… but then it all came to a halt. It became frustrating as I wasn’t sure how to move on properly. Sometimes we as a human race, collectively, tend to overcomplicate things. Maybe it’s a comfort mechanism just so that the unpleasant can be put far enough away that we can justify avoiding seeing the details through the clutter. I had to raise my view up past the person and see the bigger picture, how he fit in relation to the world and not how the world fit in relation to him. After that, everything (in my head at least) became uncluttered… motion soon followed.
Crowds of people move with a background sense of modification for survival without realizing it, automatically adjusting to the layout of a building or slightly altering their regular path for a new trash bin that is placed along the way. It’s different when the details are thrust in your face. If a orange cone is put in the middle of a sidewalk, people just move around it without asking why, but everyone who does so is annoyed. If one person took the effort to remove the cone, there would be a freer flow of traffic, and less annoyed people. But no one does that. No one looks at obstruction head on. It seems sad now, to watch people without someone next to me giving running commentary on personalities, movement, sociology. It’s a very specific frequency that people like myself enjoy. No matter, I still find myself captivated by people watching. There is so much to see, but even more to learn.
Come the evening in the city, peace. In quiet subtlety the tepid air turned chill and the stillness of the grand expanse of the train station gave me a feeling of insignificance. Who knew L.A. could be so silent?
The conundrum of the train station, physically and metaphorically, is that anything different than the soft-covered blocks of wood would be visually disruptive and out of place, causing the majority of people who only had to wait only a few minutes or an hour to feel uncomfortable in the space. Me, with my twenty-four hour layover would have to endure for the sake of continuity in architecture.
I was okay with that. It was beautiful architecture.
James P. Perez © 2014