The Great Potential of CicLAVia

10/17/2011 01:09 AM

It was early in the morning (before 9AM to be exact), when I started roaming the empty road of East 4th Street. I was the only one walking down this road, the atmosphere was eery. Zombies might as well have popped out of nowhere. Thankfully, the only random beings that appeared on this road were fellow pedestrians and bikers.

I guess this is the closest I’ll ever come to experiencing a post-apocalyptic world

I won’t lie when I say that I enjoyed walking down the middle of an empty major road. I had a delusional ownership and with that feeling I had an urge to lie down in the middle of the 4th Street Bridge. However, I had to keep moving forward and had no time for such silly pursuits.

DAT bridge *bites lower lip*

The lack of urban activity revealed the run-down state of LA. This urban decay only added to my expectations of Downtown being this city where nothing happened.

Not even a fresh coat of paint could fix this

I always expect colorful activity at major cities, like the ones I’ve experienced at Berkeley or San Francisco. I expect this because with more people, there’s more stuff happening (herp derp). With all this different activity, happening among different kinds of people, the city is more lively and fun.

However, I never expect that from Downtown LA. The most action I expect is someone stabbing me (according to r/LosAngeles, this is because someone loves me). Worse than lack of activity, I saw a man sleeping on the sidewalk when I left my bus on 1st Street. That alone was a bad impression of Downtown. However, my prejudice was soon to be put to an end by CicLAvia.

I was assigned by my UCI Digital Arts class to go to CicLAvia. We were told to group up, go to a specific event, and take pictures, videos, and give interviews. Walking past Occupy LA and going down 4th Street, I finally arrived at my assignment: the Bunny Bar.

The Bunny Bar sign, in progress

The Bunny Bar is a performance art piece by Raul Paulino Baltaza. He dresses up as a bunny and serves carrot juice. According to him, dressing up as a bunny gives him an excuse to do whatever he wants.

Raul himself

Raul’s brother and his friends who accompanied him

Hasti filming some B-Roll

My group and I stayed there for a few hours. Filming some B-Roll, talking and interviewing with the bunnies, and taking shots of carrot juice. The result is the video below The video has been released with a new version. The only downside to the whole assignment was we were made to edit one video. We don’t know how professional editors do it, but collaborating to edit one video results in a jumpy edit. Nonetheless the resulting product lends itself to the overall theme of bunnies and the playfulness of the event.

Walking back the way I came, my group came across many other street activities initiated by artists: from an oversized chess board to an Apology Booth.


Go inside, accept an apology, write your own, and melt that apology you just accepted in a bowl of water

I don’t know if it was due to CicLAvia and Occupy LA, but Downtown seemed lively that day. It was fun simply roaming the streets of LA and meeting people who were colorful characters, to say the least (of course, I wouldn’t have left my comfort-zone and talked with random strangers on the streets if it wasn’t for this video assignment).

As of today, CicLAvia has only been held three times. There is great potential in opening up the streets to pedestrians. It creates a sense of community by transforming LA from a bustling city, where everyone is just trying to go their own way, into a large meet and greet that mainly takes place at these street activities like the Bunny Bar. I can attest, from my experience that day, that CicLAvia shouldn’t just be about bikes. Greater consideration must be given to those who just want to play in the streets. When we were walking on 4th street, we were forced to walk on the sidewalks since so many bikers were zipping past by us. I hope the roads would be better partitioned to allow both pedestrians and bikers to share the street. I look forward to the next CicLAvia and I hope to see more whimsical street events like the ones I saw that day.

With heat exhaustion getting to me, my day of urban roaming comes to an end. As I walk back to my bus stop, I cross paths with Occupy Los Angeles once again, but am too tired to take pictures even though a lot more was happening. Though this was a regretful outcome, the day was not a waste. I did, after all, lie down on 4th street bridge.

Basking in the sun

You can view the rest of my CicLAvia pictures on Imgur.

Tom Elovi Spruce




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