Remembering Jonathan Gold: One year later
There was a moment when I was leaving L.A. last year and, in the car on the way to the airport, I knew it would be the last time I’d be in the city while Jonathan Gold was alive.
He and I had formed a friendship in the years before he died and, being one of a handful of people who knew he was sick during the short time he was, I flew out from New York twice to visit him. He thought he’d get better and didn’t want me to see him strapped down with tubes; I waited and saw his family for dinner and hoped that the next day would be different. It never was and then we ran out of days.
I had that realization when I was on the 101 going south, right where it meets the 110 cutting through downtown, where there was an epic demolition project happening — some big boxy white-ish building getting taken down by wrecking balls. I felt like that was me and that it would soon be all of us, because nobody knew but everyone would soon.
A year later, that intersection is one I pass on my commute to the office, to a job I have more or less because he willed it to be so. The site spent months as a mess, then was dug into a deeper and deeper pit. Lately they’ve been reinforcing the outer walls of the man-made crater, and I guess that means there will be a building there eventually.
I don’t know what was there before or who that building meant something to. And I doubt, though I haven’t looked into it, that something meaningful will rise in its place. But to me it’s an urban earthworks clock, a reminder that time keeps moving, with us and certainly without.
Which brings us here: the one-year mark of a city without Gold. Los Angeles memorialized, feted and celebrated his passing in a way that was as extraordinary as it was appropriate. He was the city and the city was him. I thought we could remember him here, in his newspaper, in what would have been his section, with the gift he gave to everybody whether they ate with him or not: his words.
I miss him. I bet you miss him too. But take a moment to read through and remember. The beauty of words and ideas is that they can’t be knocked down or paved over. They can be built upon though: They are there forever, for us, for whenever we need them.
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