So Long Steve

Yesterday was the weekly Thursday evening bike ride of the mighty mighty IAAL•MAF and as I’ve done as an enthusiastic and dedicated member in the past I put a fair amount of effort into routing the journey to areas otherwise previously untouched by mine or my biking buds’ tires. Here’s an example.

This time I started with a kernel of an idea to trace part of the last few marathon bike tours, mainly across Exposition Park to Arlington down across Martin Luther King Boulevard intoto Leimert Park and then back up through the Crenshaw District. I swear to you that when it dawned on me we’d be near to the location of where Elizabeth Short’s remains were discovered north of 39th on Norton Avenue on January 15, 1947, it was strictly because I’d been there once previously when Susan accompanied me on a crime bus tour back in January organized by the folks at 1947 Project. It was only after I’d charted us past the scene of that horrible crime that I realized — duh! — Brian De Palma’s “Black Dahlia” film is opening this weekend.

Honestly, I almost killed the idea right there because I didn’t want it to seem as if I was caught up in the overhype for a movie about a 59-year-old murder that I hadn’t heard much good about and certainly wasn’t eager to see (at least not in the theater; Netflix maybe). But then I what-the-helled and just stayed the course, which included a pass-by of the house made famous by the HBO series “Six Feet Under” and lastly a mural of Steve McQueen that I’d seen once before several years ago and couldn’t remember where it was since — until I Googled “Steve McQueen mural” and there was info on it like magic. It was on Union Avenue at 12th, and looks a little something like this:


Painted in 1971 by noted muralist Kent Twitchell and later restored in 1982 it was his first public art creation in Los Angeles. Though I’d seen pictures of it and known about it for as long as I can remember, I only physically saw it once, during one of the early L.A. Marathon bike tours… maybe 1998. After that I somehow got the idea it was on nearby Hoover or Virgil avenues and as I’ve journeyed down those streets relatively regularly and never seen it since I figured it got destroyed.

Learning I was mistaken and that it was on Union gave me hope it had survived. Sadly though, it hadn’t. Riding by last night after the stops on Norton  and the “Six Feet Under” property, the house is still there, but the compelling image of Steve McQueen isn’t. I don’t know when it was painted over, but it was and Steve’s gone. Dammit. Another piece of L.A. vanished.
Anyway, if you’re interested, you can check out who and where we rolled. Here’s the 16-mile route itself, and a buncha pix taken along the way are in a photoset here.