I’ve always loved parks of all sorts; it’s become a little habit of mine to take a walk at a nearby park to unwind, recharge, and to get my creative part of the brain to start working again. So when I unexpectedly came across this park located between Korea Town and Downtown, I couldn’t help it but decide to make a stop, until the idea came to a halt when I was told that it’s a pretty dangerous place full of drug dealers and homeless people.Despite the initial few moments of hesitation, I decided to give it a try, because after all, it was barely five o’clock and the sun was still hard at work.I parked the car at a meter… but being the scared little girl I am when it comes to driving in LA (remember this incident?), I walked out of the car to check the sign to make sure I was allowed to park in the spot. Weird though, I suddenly felt like I became illiterate because even after reading what the sign said multiple times, I still didn’t have a clear idea of what it was saying. I think it’s safe to call it a side effect of getting a traffic ticket, or simply a trauma of having been the “chosen one” (thanks, LAPD). Naturally, I approached this man that was “attempting” to walk his Pit bull,
“Excuse me, is it okay to park here?”
to which he kindly responded, “Yes, it’s free after six.” Honestly, being a self-proclaimed country girl (or 촌년), I was a bit frightened when I saw his tattoos and bald head at first… add his muscular Pit bull to the equation along with his creepy white van with no windows (aka molester van), trust me, it does get kind of scary.But then again, who am I to judge? I mean, who knows, people might think I’m creepy with my half blond hair and pants that look like they belong in the trash. In fact, a friend’s two year old asked me the other day why my pants were falling apart. The only answer I could give was that it was fashion. hmm..?
Anyways… he was nice. I mean, he was just like everybody else, courteous, didn’t do or say anything strange or inappropriate… he was just like everyone else enjoying a peaceful Saturday afternoon with his favorite dog. This short encounter made me think, why are we so quick to build walls around ourselves? Why are we always categorizing people and places, turning normal, friendly people into ones that are bad, sometimes inferior even, without getting to know them?
The parks that I’m used to are something like this: Central Park in Songdo, Incheon where I live in Korea, or the numerous parks all over Irvine, CA where I used to reside.Now, these are places that you can go any time of the day and are guaranteed to be clean, peaceful, and all around perfect for unwinding. There are occasional animal encounters that they are rather friendly.but the first thing I noticed when I arrived at Mac Arthur is the smell…. yeah… the sweet scent of urine. and the bird poop that sort of adds spice to the entire place… and the people, a lot of them… mostly speaking Spanish which I thought was nice (I kind of missed hearing Spanish after being in Korea for a while).
All in all, this was a completely different experience for me especially as someone who’s so used to living in a quiet, picturesque neighborhood where you rarely run into people. I loved seeing the diversity, and how each group or individual seemed to be enjoying their time at the park in their own way not minding what other people think… There were families having a picnic, couples taking a nap on the grass, a guy selling popsicles (Paletas!), geese and ducks having a party (or a poop party, rather), homeless people with their shopping carts organizing their belongings… but regardless of their social identity and unlike what others have told us, it turns out they are the same people that we are… they don’t bother you unless you say something that’s disrespectful… unless they are completely drunk out of their minds or high off of whatever they are smoking. At the end of the day, I felt at peace and was actually excited that I got to experience MacArthur… because it really isn’t fair to be stuck in my own bubble and never experience what’s out there just because of this “image” that others create for certain places and people… which reminds me of the flat I stayed in while visiting Paris a few years ago which turned out to be located in a slum (I had no idea obviously)… but that’s another story.I have to mention though… Something’s really wrong with these pants- they are size 24 and about to fall off. I’m all for comfort but this one’s kind of risky.Almost stepped on a $4,000 equipment (or murdered a really talented photographer) while channeling Godzilla…
Cropped top and fedora by Forever21, Leopard print kimono (kind of weird how they call it kimono..) by H&M, Distressed Boyfriend Denim by One Tea Spoon, 2.55 Reissue by Chanel, Qlocktwo watch, Miansai bracelet, Chevron rings by Tom Tom Jewelry, Jeffrey Campbell Maris
Photography by Sangtene