The Many Fantes

stacy elaine dacheux . june 2012

“Los Angeles, give me some of you! Los Angeles come to me the way I came to you, my feet over your streets, you pretty town I loved you so much, you sad flower in the sand, you pretty town.” — John Fante (Ask The Dust)

I took this photograph on Spring Street with my iPhone, a few blocks over from the area of Downtown LA that Fante describes perfectly in Ask The Dust.

I used to have an art studio on this street with my friend. At the time, she worked for a tabloid magazine, procuring sales between photographers and publications. I rented space in the corner of her big loft. She was gone all day while I painted. I left at night before she returned. Sometimes, we were two ships crossing. Other times, we sat by the window and drank. It was a difficult job for her.

This was years ago.

Clifton’s Cafeteria was around the corner, and it was my favorite place to be in the city. All types of people would be there– homeless men, families, lawyers, couples. It wasn’t a hipster hangout and it wasn’t a shit storm. It was just a slice of history. Quiet. No one bugged you there. You could stay as long as you wanted. They played soft music like Duke Ellington. Inside, it always felt like the holidays.

Now, Clifton’s is going under renovation, likely it will become a hip bar, striving to maintain a certain historical integrity, which is better than condemning the place, but still, I am weary of that, and already miss it.

Additionally, downtown lofts are also much more expensive now than they used to be. The climate is changing– everything changes. This is nothing new, but it always feels especially sad when it happens to environments.

I feel like this street art (above) speaks to downtown’s environmental change– to all the John Fantes– all the poor lost creative souls who don’t have enough money to make change, but do have the heart to emotionally report on the loss.


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