I’ve been getting up early every morning with sunrise. A new Anna. But yesterday morning, I kept waaay hunkered down beneath the covers, even though my plan was to get up early and do laundry. I’m forever looking for an excuse to not do my chores, but this was not a reason for sleeping in that I welcomed.
I was awakened this morning at 5 AM by the sound of a good ole-fashioned gunfight in my charming Venice alley. The alley, let’s face it, is only a late-night haven for hookers and crack-smokin’. I don’t mind that my neighborhood is a little rough; it has helped to slow down the gentrification process, but I will admit that I don’t think the idea of bullets flying down my streets is fun, romantic or good in any way.
I always say with pride that I’d rather have the crack-heads walking around my corner than the little yuppie lady with the yappy dog. It’s all fun and good to say that until something sobering like this happens. I’ve seen bodies in the street here, a few years ago. It’s not pretty. I don’t feel personally at risk, per se, but it’s sad to get in your car at daybreak and see a dead guy in the next intersection reflecting back at you from the rear view mirror.
I covered my head with pillows after hearing one shot whiz past my house. Then the sound of a close-by gun retaliating from another direction causes me alarm . . . it’s close enough that I can tell one shooter is facing east and the other west. In fact, my bedroom sounds like it’s right in the middle of the whole mess. Then dead quiet. Then I hear the sirens. Mind you, it’s 5 AM – (historically right around the time when Venice gunfights usually break out)!! And just when I thought I should be hearing helicopters, sure enough, I hear a low . . . whop, whop, whop . . . right on cue. I bury my head further. That chopper is gonna be circling my house, I just know it.
And then I hear something I have never heard before . . . voices. Close voices of people moving around outside, on the other side of a simple cinder block and lattice wall that separates my little piece of Venice heaven from the ‘hood. The next apartment over butts right up against the back of my place, with just a narrow, two feet at the most, space between. It’s gated and never used. But I heard whispers, cracking metal and voices moving behind my house. The voices keep moving past as the helicopter noise gets closer.
I go back to sleep. There were media trucks and cops and lots and lots of my African American neighbors at the community center today. One of the last flop-houses, the one directly across from the community center, was torn down last week. Like the end of an era. I’m just wondering – where do all the poor people go at the end of this land grab? No easy solutions. And the gunfire really disrupts the inherent symbiosis of an artsy-rough-cool neighborhood like mine, making all sides empassioned and uneasy.