Back in 2004 and 2005, I did a series of flipwalks in my neighborhood in lower Manhattan: I would leave my house and flip a coin at every intersection to determine my route. After an hour, my timer would go off and I would photograph the block where I ended up. I posted the pictures along with a little report on each hour-long walk and called the series “48 Hours From Ground Zero.”
Reviving them in Los Angeles is an experiment: I know there won’t be as many people on the sidewalks, I know nobody will be handing me flyers or newspapers, I know some of the residential areas may blur together. But I’m hoping that by giving myself up to the forces of randomness again, some secrets of my new neighborhood will unfold.
I left the house and walked straight south, past well-groomed suburban lawns and very few pedestrians. (Not many cars, for that matter.) Some kids–old enough to take care of themselves, too young to drive– walked home from school laden with backpacks.
I circled around the intersection of La Brea and Wilshire for a while, heading onto quiet side streets and then right onto busy commercial streets with businesses such as “Lawrence of La Brea.” As I walked, I figured out how to handle the Los Angeles terrain for flipwalks–I decided that generally, alleyways were okay but parking lots were not.
A young man took a picture of a black BMW with his cell phone. His car? Somebody else’s? Six weeks after Christmas, there were some particularly sad trees left out by the curb, rapidly fading in the California sunshine.