Walking in L.A. is far from pedestrian

Special to The Times

Many people, while conceding that recreational walking is a convenient, low-tech and effective exercise, complain that it is much too boring to be worthy of their efforts.

As a regular walker around Hollywood and West Hollywood for 25 years, I have found my experiences, however, to be anything but dull.

First, we pedestrians don’t own the sidewalks. I am forced to dodge bicyclists, joggers, dog walkers, skateboarders, roller-skaters and mobility scooter users. Not to mention diners occupying outside tables on narrow sidewalks.

When I come to busy intersections, I have to always be on my toes. At Sunset and Fairfax or Santa Monica and La Cienega, for example, I never know whether those time-obsessed drivers are going to let me get across in one piece.

Neither have I found it necessary to kill time by attaching the latest digital music player to my ears. I simply entertain myself by humming some favorite tunes, such as “Angel Baby,” by Rosie and the Originals (1960).

And how could I possibly be bored when some of my regular routes take me past such evocative locations as Mary Pickford’s studios (Santa Monica and Formosa), Charlie Chaplin’s studios (La Brea and De Longpre), and a house that once belonged to William S. Hart in West Hollywood, when it was a bucolic suburb.

Above all, however, I have discovered an astounding secret: Walkers are the honored recipients of two-second epiphanies about life in general (and theirs in particular).

The sages, of course, have long known that the angels whisper to us mortals when we go for a walk.

Anyone who is looking for a good workout and nonstop suspense, then, you need only put on a pedometer and start walking around this vibrant and dynamic city of ours.


James L. Ming Jr. lives (and walks) in Los Angeles.