Dr. Pinch & the Pinchtones performance, part of the Metro Presents series.
On the occasion of Union Station’s 75th anniversary, Metro created a special commemorative publication, Union Station: 75 Years in the Heart of LA, featuring eight written and five photographic essays that celebrate the station. This is the first in a series of eight posts with the full essays by authors John C. Arroyo, William D. Estrada, Stephen Fried, Rafer Guzman, David Kipen, Marisela Norte, D. J. Waldie, and Alissa Walker. The book is on sale now at the online Metro Store. All essays will also be posted on The Source in the coming weeks. The series was edited by Linda Theung, an editor and writer based in Los Angeles.
Union Station Today: Making Cultural Connections
by Alissa Walker
It is just after the flurry of rush hour, the last of the commuters’ footsteps echoing in the low-slung tunnel toward the final Metrolink train of the day. The sun has slipped behind the towers of downtown, the blanched stucco archways slowly assuming their hazy golden glow from the wrought iron lanterns above. The heavy cinnamon sugar that hangs in the air begins to dissipate as Wetzel’s Pretzels switches off its heat lamps for the evening. A swiftly darkening departures board shows only buses this time of night.
I’m sitting at Traxx Bar on this fall evening, drinking a glass of red wine, and taking in the parade of humanity. The men at the table next to me are loudly debating the merits of various downtown restaurants as they layer condiments on their burgers. Two young women scurry through the main hall, giggling and pointing dramatically at each other’s phones. A man trudges by wearing a red quilted vest, his backpack sagging with the heavy resignation of a long journey that’s nowhere near over.
He pauses right in front of me.
And begins singing.
One of several performances of Invisible Cities. Courtesy of the author.
My fellow Traxx patrons are well versed in the pageantry of reality shows—they look around nervously for a camera. Instead, we see a crowd walking quickly from the waiting area—faster than commuters, yet without a commuter’s single-minded determination. It’s the singing man they’re looking for, and when they locate him, they gather quickly around him, pressing their hands to their ears, which are covered in large audio electronics.