The Los Angeles River takes no scenic detours as it runs across the valley. Rivers only wind freely on uneroded terrain — they need to spread out and dribble, and to find a new way downhill. Instead, this river cuts an edge, a concrete groove unshakable and direct, forcing you to confront the costs of things like water in the desert, and what it means to be thirsty, and whether anyone has ever cast off before you and had no second thought.
[Clockwise from top left: Robert Larin abstract brooch from wildthingvintage; 1930s vintage French print from StardustART; Vintage ropey sweater from PlayhouseVintageShop; Paisley Dr Martens from omNoms; Awesome vintage leather gloves from GaletaVintage; Stylized wave mid-century lamp from poojones13.]
They say it’s possible to canoe the entire length of the river in the spring, all 51 miles, past produce warehouses and places where people like us were once not allowed to live, past the spray-painted block letterings of those who came before. There’s a short stretch where the ground is wet and the concrete won’t set.
[Clockwise from top left: 1940s vintage river bend dress from Planetclairevintage; Engraved oxidized earrings from bonesandthings; Enamelware swirl kettle from CrapolaAficionado; Sterling silver and turquoise bracelet from ESTATENOW; Cornstalk fabric hand-printed pillow from bark decor.]
The last trout was seen in the Los Angeles River the year my father was born, but I think you might be able to write a poem about the things you find in the river now, or at least a concept album. So what if the river doesn’t technically meander — meandering rivers are like snow-capped mountains or like butterflies fluttering by, and it’s the word you are looking for.
[Clockwise from top left: Grasp porcelain bowl from brycewymer; Recycled fishing net headband from knittykittie; Hand-carved birch paddle from norwegianwoodshop; Papercut Apostle islands from Crafterall; “After the Storm” ceramic bowl from OneClayBead; Leather 80s vintage sculptural arm dress from themodernbohemians.]
The canoe trips convinced developers and politicians that the river is indeed still a navigable waterway, and this means grand plans for it, for recreation and parks and other things that would probably actually be lovely. But in the annals of people who champion lost causes, success brings a pang of heartbreak. There is something to being a storm drain, and to being a monolithic eyesore in which no children play, and to paddling alone in a concrete channel in shallow tepid water, hoping that you don’t splash too much on yourself, and heading out to sea.
Su Wu of I'm Revolting continues to compile a list of the things, places and misinterpreted philosophies that somehow manage to coalesce into a well-lived life. These narrative-driven collections will find you stealing out of your alternate personas' closets.