In The Shadow Of The Alley Of Death

The headline read “Man Found Beaten To Death In West Los Angeles,” and it’s a homicide story with which we’re all too familiar. We read it and turn/click to another page shaking our head, but it doesn’t have the shock and heartbreak nor media play of the murder of Lily Burk, so we don’t dwell. Not that one is more or less tragic than the other, there’s just less connections that can be made, perhaps in part because the details are so few.

The detail that connects me to it is that the crime took place in an alley south of the 8600 block of Guthrie Avenue, a block or so west of La Cienega Boulevard. It’s a street I bike on and an alley I pass on most of my commutes home and some to work. I’d long been including that dense neighborhood somewhat precariously balanced between safe and sketchy as part of the Crestview area, but the news story refers to it as South Robertson, of course hiply — and now ironically — shortened to “SoRo.”

There’s sorrow in SoRo.

I’ve been cautioned by readers and fellow cyclists that the area is trouble and I’ve been made aware of that fact several times, the instances being nothing more than passively intimidating:

  • A varying group of young Latino toughs who I’d often bike past congregated in front of a house just off of Cataraugus, would hiss or just stare at me in silence as I went by them. If they were in the street when I’d approach they’d make no move to get out of my way.
  • Same thing once with a group of black teens between Cadillac and Guthrie on Chariton. I had my headphones in at the time so I didn’t catch what they yelled, but I’m sure it wasn’t a welcome to their neighborhood.
  • Another group of black males standing in front of an apartment building near to the murder scene once watched me pedal by and then hurled calls of “UC! UC!” at my back (I’m guessing because of my black bike and black helmet and black backpack they thought I was some undercover bike cop).
  • A block from there I once found a pigeon corpse in the street that upon closer inspection had been shot dead.
  • Assorted incidents of police activity including several LAPD officers entering a stripmall liquor store with weapons drawn.

It doesn’t surprise me someone ended up dead there. Nor should it come as a surprise that I’ll not be deviating my route because of the killing.

UPDATE (12:34): Whoa, busy night of doom. The beating victim was reported at 11 p.m. Wednesday night, and now I’ve learned that 30 minutes early, and not even a block away from the murder scene where I turn right from Corning to Guthrie during my commutes, a pedestrian was stuck and killed by a hit-and-run motorist; a suspect has since been arrested.

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Will Campbell arrived in town via the maternity ward at Good Sam Hospital way back in OneNineSixFour and has never stopped calling Los Angeles home. Presently he lives in Silver Lake with his wife Susan, their cat Rocky, dogs Terra and Hazel, and a red-eared slider turtle named Mater. Blogging since 2001, Will's web endeavors extend back to 1995 with, a comprehensive theater site that was well received but ever-short on capital (or a business model). The pinnacle of his online success (which speaks volumes) arrived in 1997, when much to his surprise, a hobby site he'd built called VisuaL.A. was named "best website" in Los Angeles magazine's annual "Best of L.A." issue. He enjoys experiencing (and writing about) pretty much anything creative, explorational and/or adventurous, loves his ebike, is a better tennis player than he is horr golfer, and a lover of all creatures great and small -- emphasis on "all."