L.A. Marathon

Back in the eighties we used to live on the route of the L.A. Marathon. Our place was on Edgecliffe just a couple doors up from Sunset Blvd. Perhaps you partied there. We threw one every weekend. We were very popular with the neighbors and it occurs to me that if the me now lived next to the me then, I would hate my younger self. Anyway, there used to be an empty lot at the corner of Sunset and Lucile, a block away, just perfect for a band. They gave away water and donuts too, but apparently runners like live music with their water and donuts. On the morning of the Marathon the band–high school kids, I assumed–would start warming up at 6 in the morning. We of course had gotten to sleep at 4 am after a night of punk rock and wantonness. You would be surprised at just how loud an electric bass can be playing top forty hits at six in the morning. And how it can turn you against runners, not to mention bass players. “What is Hip” they played three times, making it so very hard to go back to sleep. So I got up, made a pot of brutal coffee and staggered down to Sunset Blvd and joined the crowd of fools on the sidewalk staring at a completely empty Sunset Blvd. Eventually a guy from Kenya ran by. People cheered, which the band took that as a cue and played “What is Hip”. A few minutes later another guy from Kenya ran by. Then a guy from Ethiopia, a couple women from Kenya, and a cop on a bicycle. Finally scattered Angelenos appeared, then more, then a flood. The band ran through the entire high school band songbook. There was a Beatles tune I can’t remember. A Beach Boys tune I’ve repressed. Some Bee Gees (“How Deep Is Your Love?”), some Blood, Sweat and Tears, and “Vehicle” by whoever. By then there were hundreds and hundreds of runners. The band did “What is Hip?” again, but it was “25 or 6 to 4” that sent me back up the hill to our place again. I shut the door, shut the windows and put on something loud. By the time I was ready to face the daylight again the Marathon was long gone and Sunset was full of cars and buses exhaling great clouds of blue smoke. I breathed in deeply, coughed, and all was right again.

LA Marathon

The L.A. Marathon on Sunset at Maltman, one block east of my vantage point. That 99 cent store was a grocery then. The empty lot was two blocks down, just around the bend. For you out of towners, that is the Hollywood Hills in the background, and that white smear near the summit is the Hollywood sign.

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