Foreword by Stan Lerner: Sometimes I wonder why I got myself into all of this. My life was simple I only cared about my next indulgence. Then I get a blog like the one below from a college kid that I wanted to give a chance to be heard — and it makes me wish that everyone in the country was reading downtownster.
Last Saturday arrived with so much promise for my school, and more importantly, my city. Earth Hour, 4-Party Frat Row, and a blossoming downtown. That promise spoiled with the blood of my schoolmates stained on its streets.
Last Saturday was Earth Hour, a global event hosted by Hollywood elite to attract awareness to the current climate crisis by turning off all non-essential lighting for an hour. Downtown skyscrapers turned off their lights, but below Pico, local Angelinos didn’t bother. Chano’s beamed its fluorescent lights so brightly, I thought Christ was re-birthing himself in their tiny taco shack.
Last Saturday, USC’s Fraternity Row held four registered parties. Thousands of USC students and their friends from around the country took part in a celebration for the ages. My cousin from Berkeley stared in amazement, wishing his school had anything remotely close to this. Sand, foam, fog, volcanoes, rock bands, rap bands, DJs, beautiful women, and enough smiles to fill the Great Wall. We almost forgot we were still living in the ghetto. We were painfully reminded.
Last Sunday, at around 3:00 a.m., Adrianna Bachan and Marcus Garfinkle were walking from the Frat Row parties back to their dorms, when a local black sedan ran a red light and hit the both of them. Garfinkle was carried 500 feet on the windshield before a passenger got out of the car, pulled him off, and sped away.
Marcus is in critical condition. Adrianna is dead. Dead. Her mother’s face can be seen in the LA Times, her tears parched away, providing a $135,000 reward for finding the driver.
I had to walk by her consistent wailing on my way to class, as she stood holding up a picture of her daughter, begging for information and asking the classic unanswerable question, “Why?” I felt guilty that I was still alive, guilty that I took part in the fun with Adrianna, moments before she was run over.
It can be so easy at times to disregard the reality of our city. We like to talk about the new club that opened up on Grand, or the newly renovated theatre on Fairfax, or the new college hangout near campus. We do all of this because we are so excited about participating in the renovation of this great city. Some of us are SO enthralled with this city’s future, we feel the urge to write about our experiences on websites such as these. But the reality is, Los Angeles is still a collage of crumbling concrete. We see a new flower here and there, but so far, Downtown’s efforts to rebuild have been lame at best, and destructive at worst.
Our citizens, our entrepreneurs, and our politicians still choose NOT to rebuild. I see this when LAPD pulls over a student for an unyielding left turn when a drug dealer is selling crack to Latino youths around the corner. I see this when yet another Taco Bell opens up in a location sprawling with rich college kids willing to pay $10 for an entrée, and that same entrepreneur hasn’t enough balls to open up a place of his own to cater to these students. I see this when a brand new complex opens up near Staples Center, only to shut out its own community with its insular design and $1,000,000 parking. And I see it everyday on my way to class, when one of the richest schools in this country can’t persuade the city of L.A. to build a safe underground crosswalk for its students.
Well, these efforts (or lack thereof) cost the life of an Environmental Studies major…someone dedicating four years of her life to possibly helping the environment…an environment L.A. wasn’t willing to acknowledge was in crisis when they didn’t participate in Earth Hour. An environment where cops still try to fill quotas instead of protecting the community. An environment where government officials choose against the safety of its students, asking 10,000 kids who live north of Jefferson to walk across one of the busiest intersections, at all hours of the day, just to get back home.
Maybe it’s time I start a petition and ask for an underground (or over-ground) pedestrian crosswalk at the corner of Hoover and Jefferson. And maybe it’s time this city gets its ass in gear and starts to rebuild its crumbling concrete into the dreams it envisions for itself.