Posted by Ric Garrido

A couple of weeks ago there was a Tip/Wag segment on the Colbert Report praising Spirit Airlines new revenue stream with its $14 million flying billboard ads on the exterior of Spirit Airlines planes. The piece got me thinking about how hotels could place large billboard ads on the exterior of their hotels, particularly for the side of the building that does not offer the preferred view for the hotel.

I had planned to write this up as a satirical piece.

Tip of the Hat to J.W. Marriott L.A. Live for promoting alcohol in the area of the city’s highest concentration of homeless people.

No need for satire since this practice is alive and well in Los Angeles where an 18-floor high Bud Light advertisement covers a large portion of one side of the J.W. Marriott. Here is a photo link from www.banbillboardblight.org showing the Bud Light billboard on the side of the J.W. Marriott L.A. Live. I wanted to snap my own photo, but I was entering the freeway in a rainstorm when I saw the Bud Light image.

Downtown Los Angeles – Homeless capital of the USA

I was in Downtown Los Angeles this past weekend for Blog World Expo 2011. This was the first time I have been in Downtown LA since 1977. Perhaps the centerpiece of the downtown revitalization plan is L.A. Live, a $2.5 billion entertainment complex with theaters, restaurants, music and sports venues and hotels including the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton situated next to the events center and Los Angeles Convention Center.

Ritz-Carlton and J.W. Marriott at L.A. Live - Downtown Los Angeles

I stayed at the Sheraton Downtown, about six blocks north of the L.A. Live complex. My first night in Los Angeles I went walking randomly around the streets to see what downtown L.A. looked like these days. The architecture was striking.

Los Angeles Public Library 1925 - U.S. Bank Tower (Library Tower) 1989

Los Angeles Central Library was built in 1925 on the site of the 1898 California State Normal School (college for teacher education). The Central Library building was devastated April 29, 1986 in an arson fire that destroyed 370,000 books and documents. The city of Los Angeles allowed the tallest skscraper on the west coast to be erected as part of the funding for the Downtown Los Angeles library restoration.

Los Angeles Public Library 1925

Across from the library is Bunker Hill, the center of the Los Angeles financial industry.

Bunker Hill skyscrapers are center of financial district in downtown Los Angeles.

Library Tower is the local name for the U.S. Bank 73-story skyscraper. This is the tallest skyscraper on the west coast at 1,017 feet.

U.S. Bank Tower, aka Library Tower (1989)

There is a lovely fountain winding down between skyscrapers and a grand stairway or escalators for the steep climb up Bunker Hill. There was no running water in the fountain and apparently I didn’t even take a photo of the stairs. I was too busy looking skyward.

At this point I could have asked directions to the Walt Disney Concert Hall which is considered an architectural beauty designed by Frank Gehry. But I didn’t.

I am a wanderer and I didn’t pull out my phone to check directions. I just started walking and within a few blocks I had left the skyscrapers and found myself in the streets of no name people. I was kind of hoping to find Los Angeles City Hall and see what the LA Occupy movement looked like. There was no need to find an encampment of people around City Hall.

I walked across Main Street in downtown Los Angeles where the street addresses change from the urban upscale west side addresses loaded with fine dining restaurants, hotels, shops and banks to the east side addresses where the racial makeup of the people on the streets was predominantly black and the businesses are primarily liquor stores, corner markets, city public works services and food banks.

The activist saying “Occupy Every Street” is something that has obviously been happening around Los Angeles long before September 17, 2011 launched the Occupy Wall Street movement. Block after block I walked was filled with homeless men and women living on the sidewalks. There were literally thousands of people who were living in tents, blankets, plastic tarps and cardboard shelters.

A gesture of kindness and salvation appeared as a dinner meal on the sidewalk. A dozen people who had been resting alongside the walls of buildings converged on four large foil food containers. I happened to be walking past just as the first person was removing foil from one of the lids and I saw it filled with spaghetti. I wanted to take a photo, but thought I should let people get their meal with dignity and anonymity. Looking around I saw at least a dozen more people trying to cross the street in the middle of the block to get a portion before the food trays emptied.

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did. It never will." - Los Angeles Library fountain.

There are no photos to share of this walk down East 5th Street to South Central and back to the west side of downtown LA along East 6th Street. This probably ranked in my Top 10 for walks in places where keeping it real could have gone real bad.

Google Maps - Los Angeles Mission

I just have this innate desire to see how people live where ever I go and sometimes that compels me to go places where most locals will tell you to avoid.

Nobody bothered me and nobody asked me for a handout despite being surrounded by so many needy people. People were living their lives on the streets, socially interacting – or not. Many of the individuals on the streets were visibly wasted, many just looked sickly and hungry.

Mostly there were men on the streets, but probably about 10% to 20% women on some streets. Only a small proportion of people on these streets were non-black guys among the thousands of people on the sidewalks.

Outside the Los Angeles Mission were hundreds of people lined up for dinner service. The LA Mission website states 73,489 homeless people are living in the Los Angeles area. I estimate I saw a few thousand of them in the 20 or so blocks I walked.

The concierge at the Sheraton Club Lounge told me the downtown LA area is so much nicer without all the homeless people who used to be around a decade ago. Perhaps he hadn’t walked a few blocks east of the hotel in some years.

Los Angeles theater on South Los Angeles Street, Downtown LA.

Turns out that back on the west side of these numbered avenues are loads of nightclubs. On Saturday night when I met up with BoardingArea bloggers RoadWarriorette, The Wandering Aramean and AAdvantage Geek, we walked about ten blocks from a nightclub where there was the closing evening Blog World Expo party back to the Westin Bonaventure. We passed hundreds of young partiers, the majority being Asian, dressed for entertainment at clubs with $10 drinks and long entry lines where you might get in if you are part of the select crowd.

On my walk back to the Sheraton Hotel alone on a Saturday night at midnight I passed by three different groups where a nicely dressed young woman was getting sick on the sidewalk as her friends surrounded her trying to help.

The juxtaposition of young, apparently well-to-do women coming into downtown LA to party and have a good time to only find themselves out on the sidewalk unable to stand and sick on the streets while a few blocks to the east there are thousands of people struggling with life on the streets made an impression.

Downtown Los Angeles

Sunday morning I left downtown Los Angeles to drive home to Monterey.

The last image I saw of downtown LA was the J.W. Marriott at L.A. Live and an 18-story Bud Light billboard on the outside of the luxury hotel as I entered the 110 freeway.

Honestly, I was glad to be leaving downtown LA.

 

 

 

4 Responses

  1. And that’s why I don’t live in So Cal anymore.

    Comment by Scottrick on November 8th, 2011 at 1:29 pm
  2. And the smell! Nice photo link to the Bud Light billboard – Stay Classy JW Marriott LA!

    Comment by aadvantagegeek on November 9th, 2011 at 12:26 am
  3. Two days of rain assisted in reducing the smell factor downtown, although we certainly had some strong whiffs on the dry Saturday night.

  4. [...] J.W. Marriott LA Live exemplifies Colbert Advertunities [...]

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