The Most Interesting Thing About Los Angeles

5th st dicksWhat’s the most interesting thing about Los Angeles?

Steve Lopez’s answer may surprise you (he’s the Los Angeles Times writer I wrote about in The Musician and The Writer). It surprised me. And it made me stop and think.

Here’s what he wrote a few months ago:

Nothing about Los Angeles is more interesting than how people make it here. For sheer industriousness (working hard and not quitting), creativity (using their imagination) and hard work, it’s the people at the margins, rather than in the mansions (large houses of rich people), who make up the lifeblood of the city.

Making it” means for someone to succeed at living, to earn enough money for themselves and their families, especially when it’s difficult. “People at the margins” refers to the people around us that we often don’t notice or pay attention to, people we often forget about. Finally, “lifeblood” is something that is important and necessary to make something else strong. For example, we often say that communication, or talking to each other, is the lifeblood of a marriage.

Here’s another way to say what Lopez wrote: The most interesting thing about Los Angeles is how the people you don’t usually notice make a living. These hard-working people, not the rich or famous, are what makes the city strong.

Lopez wrote this about Los Angeles, but it’s probably true about many other towns and cities. It may be true about the town or city you live in.

I have met some of those people. And when I think about them, I agree with Lopez.

Richard Fulton is one of them. He started 5th Street Dick’s, a small coffee shop and place for people to listen to jazz. 5th Street Dick’s is what we’d call a hole-in-the-wall business – it’s very small and easy to miss if you don’t know it’s there.

Fulton – that’s him in the photo – had been a homeless person, truly a person at the margins. He not only started 5th Street Dick’s, but helped the area around his coffee shop become a center (a place people come to) for African American music and art, even though the 1992 Los Angeles riots started near there just a short time after he opened his coffee shop. On weekends (Saturday and Sunday) many jazz musicians used to come to 5th Street Dick’s after they finished their regular gigs (music-playing jobs) to relax and play jazz together.

I think Lopez may be right. People like Richard Fulton are more than just interesting. They really do become the lifeblood of our towns and cities.

Who are some of these people where you live? Who are the people you might not notice, but who use their imagination and hard work to make a living and become an important part of your city’s or town’s life? Tell us about them in the comments.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English web site.

Photo of Richard Fulton from

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31 Responses to The Most Interesting Thing About Los Angeles

  1. Dan says:

    Hello Warren, Hey guys, How are you all doing 🙂

    I am not sure, I am thinking. I would probably say Chinese people.
    I do not personally know any Chinese here, but I kind of have respect for them because they seem to be hardworking people.
    They are starting up large and small shops, bars, restaurants at every street corner, you know, lubricating the economy’s gears so to speak.

    The only thing that bothers me is that they do not look at you while walking around, do not make eye contact.
    I do not know, maybe it’s me, but I like observing people when I am walking around and I look at them and what they do. But again, it might be me I could be wrong on that.

    I am talking about the larger nearby towns here. My own town is so tiny that nothing happens.

    Thank you.

  2. lili:) says:

    Thank you Dear Warren for this special inspiring article.

    When I was reading your article, I remembered a Chinese article I studied in my lower secondary school. The title was “The small stones under the train track”, ie Track Ballast.

    These small stones for the train system are like people at the margins for the society. Both making silent but significant support to their surroundings.

    Please may I quote from the Wikipedia what it says about track ballast:

    “Track ballast forms the trackbed upon which railway sleepers (UK) or railroad ties (US) are laid. It is packed between, below, and around the ties. It is used to bear the load from the railroad ties, to facilitate drainage of water, and also to keep down vegetation that might interfere with the track structure. This also serves to hold the track in place as the trains roll by. It is typically made of crushed stone, although ballast has sometimes consisted of other, less suitable materials. The term “ballast” comes from a nautical term for the stones used to stabilize a ship.”

    Dan I think you’re super observant. I’m one of those people who walk with my eyes on the floor and seldom notice much in the street.

    Some people avoid eye contact because they are too scared of the consequences.

    A few days ago, an old friend of mine told me that she and her husband used to feel very happy to see Chinese people in England, it’s like feeling excited to find your own species in a remote foreign land.

    However, recently an old friend of hers saw a Chinese man in the street, God knows what happened, she was hypnotised and let him followed her home and ransacked her house. When she regained conscious, the man had long gone.

    My friend said she would refrain from make eye contacts with Chinese strangers in the street from then on.

    Sorry for spreading sad story.

    Best Regards


  3. lili:) says:

    Don’t forget, Dan, it’s your Bday today.
    Happy Birthday to you!

  4. peter says:

    Hey Dan
    Seems like the town u live in is the best place for a little bit of a low-key time where u can kick back and seep on your beer all day long.

    I bet ,there are a lot of of scene routes leading to the town.
    It must be something , mustn’t it ?

    Enjoy the peace of quite, bro

    Living in a maga city ,I get over in my head sometimes.
    U know everything keep coming at you. Don’t get me start on the pace of life around here.

    Well ,now that I think of it
    It should be the other way around to you.
    I like to get shelter in peace and quite out of the bustling days of s maga city.
    Well , I m guessing , it is the safe bet to assume that sometimes you like to turn the tables around.
    U know,living in a secluded town , u should get bored sometimes. I mean , I think , the bordond should be inevitable.
    So , persumably ,you sometimes drive to a near by city and let a bit of a hectic time spills over into ur peaceful life.
    Well , I maybe totally off here
    May be you never get board and enjoy the constant tranquility.
    Perhaps ,an evening stroll would do it for u.
    U know ,i would do it , if I lived in a small town.
    I would pump up a bit trouble into my life 🙂

    Well ,it is just me
    U may see it differently


  5. Dan says:

    Hello guys.

    Come on guys, let’s try to be the lifeblood of the blog.

    Thanks Lili and btw I love that Ballast analogy.

    Hey Pete.

    How about visiting my town virtually so that you can see it for yourself. There is also street view of it.

    Just look for Brusimpiano province of Varese, Italy.


  6. Tania says:


    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, dear Dan!


  7. Tania says:


    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, dear Aecio!


  8. Tania says:


    I miss you all.


  9. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Thanks, Tania. I am wondering who told you I am celebrating birthday? Actually, I am, but tomorrow. Do you know what age? Guess.

  10. lili:) says:

    Is it really Aecio’s Birthday today?

    Tania I’m very surprised how you can remember everyone’s birthday. You’re so special and sweet!

    I believe Tania is always right, and so,

    Happy Birthday to you Aecio!

    Tomorrow is Bonfire Night in England. People spend lots of money on Firework display on this Bonfire Night. I treat it as a gift for me for a special reason.

    So when you Dan and Aecio see the beautiful fireworks on Bonfire night, feel free to accept it as a birthday present to you. Smile. 🙂

  11. peter says:

    Happy birthday Dan

    I wish u all the best


  12. peter says:

    Hey Dan
    It is indeed a stretch of paredize
    Too small though
    I bet , all the city know one another by their first names.
    No action ,huh?

    It is a beautiful town though
    Looks like a country site

  13. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Thanks, Lili. I feel happy when my friends remember me. Can you guess how old I am? Few people can go further. They die very young.

  14. lili:) says:

    Hi Aecio

    I hope you have had a nice time on your birthday.

    I think we all are young learners here. As long as we are capable of learning, We are young. Don’t you think?

    Just now I found a piece of information from an article “Why can’t we imagine ourselves getting old?” By Tom de Castella & Virginia Brown in BBC News Magazine on 5 August 2011. It says:

    “Within the animal kingdom, apart from a few species like elephants, extreme old age is a rarity. Even species we think of as being genetically close to ourselves, like chimpanzees, die young through fighting each other, lack of food or attacks by predators.

    But humans are going through scarcely credible advance in longevity. As primitive hunter gatherers, our life expectancy was in the 20s or 30s, Prof Jones guesses.

    During Shakespeare’s time only one in three children made it to the age of 21. By Charles Darwin’s era, the rate had improved to one in two. Now for the first time, there are more people in Britain over 45 than under 45.

    “The progress has been astonishing,” he notes. For the last 50 or so years life expectancy has been increasing at a rate of six hours a day.”

    Everyone says it can’t last, and yet we keep getting older and older. Who’s to say it’s going to stop?”

    So, Aecio, be prepared to continue to write comments here for another 50 years or more.

    Best wishes


  15. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    I wish I could live that age, Lili. You gave me a lesson of life about living a long life but is that true? From what you have written, you seem to be a researcher. Are you? As for me, I am only a simple man who tries to lead a healthful life, eating natural and fresh food, drinking clean water, avoiding stress and having good friends. I think that’s all we need. Don’t you think so?

  16. peter says:


    I m guessing 75 years old !

    Am I on the money ?


  17. peter says:

    Hey former Betty , 🙂

    Thanks for the history listen :))
    It is so true
    The life expectency , the span of time each one of us live in this big rock we call home has extended.
    It is all due to the rapid advancement of health and technology in recent decades.
    Mankind has riched the unreachable.


  18. peter says:

    Hey Dany boy,:)

    Did u blow candles on your brotday
    I never do that unless there is one single candle in the shape 28 or 29 on my birthday cake.
    On second though , 30 would do it too.

    Man ,I feel old 🙂
    I m pushing 36 guys
    Almost over the hill :)))


  19. Dan says:

    Hey Pete.

    That’s right! no action.
    You see, as you can imagine living in small town like this one you are presented with a couple of options.

    Over here it’s the Bar or the Church.

    Since those two options for me are worth zero, most of my free time is spent online.


  20. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Peter, you were close. Almost. Keep trying. The worst thing about celebrating birthday is, on the one hand, you get a party, on the other hand, you are one year older. Every stick has two ends.

  21. emiliano says:

    I have read all the friend´s post, so late I would like to wish the best for you both Aecio and Dan.
    Have a nice new year of your life full of good experiences and nice time, every day we past it is
    a nice oportunity to be just a little more happy.

    Congratulations Lili you have written a lot, but I am very surprise with something you said,
    It is just the fact you don´t look directly the eyes of people, that´s incredible for me being
    a person that always look straight to person´s eyes as a rule.
    Even going inside the underground trains I use to look persons eyes and make an idea
    how these persons could be. Some of them support your look, other look other side, it
    could be somehow funy and very instructive.
    In fact I use to like persons that look at me directly to my eyes and doing so it is
    easy to understand how a friend´s soul or spirit is, high or sad if you look and see inside
    this friend or relative.

    This morning for instance I have been with my family doctor, she is a really nice woman
    that always look directly to my eyes and of course I do just the same like her.
    She was inspecting my blood exam on the computer screem, reading it and looking at me
    from time to time, I was looking directly to her face straight to her some how nerves because
    it was very important exam after being so ill three years ago.
    After a while, with a large smile on her face looking directly to my eyes, me too, she
    told me everything was alright, very good blood exam, and me looking very happy to
    her said, doctor “I don´t give you two kises for resptect to your position but you could
    feel yourself like kised, because I am very very happy with your words”.
    Of course, she has been my doctor for years and somehow we have a nice good feeling.
    She knows Cuca perfectly well and even which is my role about taking care of my
    dear wife, being so concious she was happy giving me, and looking directly to
    my eyes, so good news.
    May be Spanish people are just so, directly, rude some time, and lot of us look each
    other directly to our face, just taking the measure of each other.
    Looking directly to the eyes of a person, some time I could imaging how this person
    is. Looking directly and strainght the eyes of Cuca or my mother I always know what
    is happening inside their sould.
    High or down, and being so inmediately I could asked them, what is the matter, what
    has happened, or how are you this morning. Is there any thing that disturb you?

    If we ever meet each other Lily I will look you directly to your eyes, that´s for sure my
    friend, and I will tell you hi Lily, here is your friend emiliano.

    My best to all of you, Dan, Aecio, Peter, Tania, Lili, and Warren.

  22. emiliano says:

    Sorry, “what is happening inside their souls”, my mother was transparent to me
    and Cuce is just the same.
    Looking her eyes I know perfectly well how is she.
    But not only her, there are other persons that are clear if you look inside them.
    Along my long life, it has happened to me that some persons of my intimicy
    could have not secrets or sorrows without me perceiving them and what is
    worst even asking “what is the matter or what has happened”
    to do that it is necessary to have direct eyes contact……

    Sorry, it is just my secret power. emiliano

  23. peter says:

    Hey Acieo

    76 then


  24. peter says:

    Hey Dan,
    Well , there are way more options up here.
    Sure u can go to the Church ,and bars
    However , u can go clubbing ,Casinos
    Community centres
    U can go to the library too , I guess
    There must be some comnuity centres down there too , right ?
    How is the reception down there Dan?
    I mean do u get good internet reception ?

    I spend a lot of time on line as well.
    Well , I used to spend a lot of time on the on-line dating websites. I mean a lot of time.
    But , No success there. So , I stopped.
    Nowadays , my internet activities are limited to Eslpod and news.
    I m not a high-tech wiz.
    I don’t own laptop or desk top computers
    I don’t have iPads either
    So basically , i access to the Internet just via my iPhone
    See , not much of a difference between Our daily activities.
    I live in a mega city still pretty much doing the same routines as u do down there.


  25. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Close again, Peter.

  26. peter says:

    A lot of expressions and try a I m using on my comments here are in fact derivatives
    wondering why ?
    Because I excerpt them from learning guid
    U know
    There are two ,I should say perfect ,sections in every epside learning guid entery that are awesome!!
    The secotion are not in public domain.they are meant exclusively for Eslpod members,on them Lucy teaches us awfully common ,practical expressions and terms relevant to the words and expressions addressed by Jeff on every episode.
    I use them for most part.
    However ,these two sections – “What else does it mean? ,and culture note – are not what I like best in every learning guid episod entery.
    What I like best is the sample sentences which constitute the first section of learning guid.
    U know ,every fresh words and expressions we hear on dialogs and my beloved English coffee episods even in the question and answer section is listed on the first page of the learning guid with sample sentences for every each one of them. On sample sentences , Lucy kindly , embeds amazing sentence structures and extra expressions and terms that blow my mind.
    I m telling you folks every single time I m scouting around in the learning guid land I get high on English language

    I get the hardest kick out of it.
    It is amazing!!

    Learning guid is indeed very rich

    Guys ,I m telling you the truth in this department.
    I m not promoting anything here
    It is not a stretch or anything
    I m just voicing what is just
    I M just expressing my appreciation to eslpod for the extra mile they go to guranty the best we can get in this already awesome Longuistic programme.

    U know what they say :
    ” practice makes perfect ”

    So ,i try to use all that pops out at me on learning guid pages right here on our one and only blog
    See guys I proved it
    I m a hack !!!
    How about that !!!


  27. Dan says:

    Hello guys

    Over here it’s been doing a beautiful fall.
    Looking outside the mounts look brownish with some yellow spots.
    In the woods it’s all carpeted with leaves of every shape and color.
    You can even smell Fall in the chilly air. Just lovely.


  28. Dan says:

    Hey Pete.

    I do not you guys but I think I may have reached the point where learning
    the language his not my first objective.
    I am not sure where exactly I am but I’m beyond that.
    I am more interested in finding out new things and people and ideas.
    learning the language has taken the back seat.
    That one of the reasons I like the blog.


  29. peter says:

    Hey Dan
    I hear you man

    things are different for me,though.

    U know English language has never taken the back seat in my heart.
    I m an English language junky if u will
    An English buff.
    However ,aside from the fact that I am besotted by English language :)))
    English language is a way of life for me
    It is my bread and butter as I m battling my day in English.
    See where I m coming from ?
    I live the language.
    My life depends on it.
    I m working in a marketing department of a big company. In fact, I passed the panel interview for the job because of Eslpod.
    I can’t afford to see Eslpod as a hobby.
    For me ,every single Episode counts
    Plus ,the culture talk makes all the more important.
    U know ,we get one hour break for lunch
    My work friends that I hang out with all are mostly native speakers.
    In fact , The people I work with are mostly native speakers.
    As it so happens ,we take the lunch break together. U must be familiar with the culture otherwise how on earth do u wanna be a part of lunch conversations?
    Nobody likes to talk about work stuff on the lunch break.
    Eslpod gives me the ammunition I need, hang-out supply if u will :)))))))))

    I personally think Eslpod is a must for people like me who live in an English-speaking country.

    Therefor ,I can’t afford to look at Eslpod as a hobby, or some pastime activity but some serious topic or some serious activity.

    Eslpod works as a reference website for me.
    Sometimes it happens that I get stuck right in the middle of some admin work,rather paper work.
    I look up the term that I got stuck with on Ealpod. I go to Eslpod using my phone and look up the term and the relevant sentences. I m telling u man , it is a grate help.

    Eslpod offers an extra-curriculum course on the margin of its home page. It is about interviews. I listened to it 4 or 5 times before my panel interview and used a lot of business terms I learn from the course in my interview.
    guess what!
    I passed!!!

    U see what I mean?

    But, I see ur point my friend


  30. Dan says:

    Hey this is for Warren

    Warren, I am aware of the fact that we often go out off a tangent and do not even answer your questions.
    I think that is kind of rude.
    So for that, please accept my apology.

    Bye and thanks

  31. Aecio Flavio Perim says:

    Brazilian polititians are being punished for money laundry. What a shame to be Brazilian.

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