Note: First published on Blogger on May 2, 2007
Unfolding the Map
Sal and Terry are still trying to drum up some money and a way to stay in LA. Join them in the cafeteria line below. If you want to see where we are, click the map!
"Terry and I ate in a cafeteria downtown which was decorated to look like a grotto, with metal tits spurting everywhere and great impersonal stone buttockses belonging to deities and soapy Neptune. People ate lugubrious meals around the waterfalls, their faces green with marine sorrow. All the cops in LA looked like handsome gigolos; obviously they'd come to LA to make the movies. Everybody had come to make the movies, even me."
On the Road, Chapter 13
Downtown Los Angeles, California
"Lugubrious meals...faces green with marine sorrow." Now that's an interesting line Sal utters. I had to look up lugubrious -- it's one of those words that I had a feeling for but no real way to describe it. It means mournful, dismal or gloomy. So, everyone in LA appears to Sal to be full of gloom.
The contrasts made are pretty fascinating. LA is, and continues to be, one of the most sunshine-filled cities of the country. It's full of "happy" things, including our movie, television and music industries, Disneyland (the happiest place on earth), beautiful beaches and beautiful people, and yet they eat lugubrious meals at downtown cafeterias. I find this interesting because it so jars with the common perceptions we have of LA. Even today, we associate the stars with the good life, fun times, lives of leisure and wish we had that too. We know there is an underbelly of sadness because all the tabloids tell us so. But we still wish we had it, because we know we could do better with it. As Sal says, even the cops came to LA to be in the movies, and so did he, seeking the good life.
Another fascinating thing that he mentions is eating in a cafeteria. How long has it been since you ate at a cafeteria? I mean a real cafeteria with a lunch line. Since you were in school, right? Perhaps you might have eaten in a cafeteria associated with your work. Perhaps. Most likely, you eat out like most other Americans - fast food. But public cafeterias used to be the fast food of Jack's day. Cheap, efficient and probably better quality food than the latest McMeal. When I lived in Texas, Luby's was the cafeteria style restaurant that still operated there, and was very popular on weekend breakfast outings. Here in New Mexico, we have a Furr's or two which provides cafeteria-style dining ambience, though I don't imagine that they are decorated as Sal describes that LA cafeteria. If any cafeterias are decorated as such, I would like to go there!
If you want to know more about downtown Los Angeles or cafeteria dining
Blogdowntown (Eric Richardson's blog of downtown LA life)
Clifton's Cafeteria (Perhaps Kerouac/Sal ate here?)
Downtown Los Angeles Walking Tour
Los Angeles Downtown News
Wikipedia: Downtown Los Angeles
Yesterday LA: Downtown
Next up: Alameda Avenue, Burbank, California