For John Fante, it’s hip to get a square in downtown Los Angeles
At 11 a.m. Thursday morning, Los Angeles Councilwoman Jan Perry gathered with literary activists Kim Cooper and Richard Schave to officially name the corner of 5th Street and Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles “John Fante Square.”
Fante, the author of “Ask the Dust” and other novels, started his life as a writer much like his best-known protagonist, Arturo Bandini -- down on his heels in the cheap rentals on Bunker Hill. Although much of the old Bunker Hill was razed in the 1960s for urban development, the corner of 5th and Grand, a block from Pershing Square, bears a vague resemblance to the streets Fante once walked.
“Los Angeles, give me some of you!” Fante wrote in “Ask the Dust.” “Los Angeles come to me the way I came to you, my feet over your streets, you pretty town I loved you so much, you sad flower in the sand, you pretty town.”
Fante found success writing screenplays and moved west to a home by the beach. But he’s best remembered as a chronicler of downtown, its unloved and overlooked residents, its dirty sidewalks and cheap bars.
In fact, the King Eddy Saloon, a surviving skid row dive that is said to make an appearance in “Ask the Dust,” declared Thursday John Fante Day.