For about 19 years, I’ve lived in an urban setting, at least by L.A. standards. It’s the sort of neighborhood where most things I need can be reached on foot easily, or in some cases by a quick and easy bus ride. At the same time a huge number of daily commuters drive through the area on their way to or from the 405. As a result, huge billboards abound on the tops of buildings, and these days they often flash different pictures and messages every few seconds.
I’ve long been intrigued by the fact that when walking someplace, I hardly notice the billboards at all, because my focus is more at street level, and I’m paying more attention to the block I’m on, rather than a billboard 5 blocks away. In addition, my focus is extremely local, like looking in the windows of the second hand bookstore when I pass by, and often going in. It’s almost as if the worlds of the people who just drive through, and the people who walk around the neighborhood, are completely separate even though they occupy the same space.
Lately I’ve been noticing what might call pedestrian level billboards. Usually they are movie posters, or advertisements for HBO programs, found on the sides of buildings. They’re lighted, and look like they are about three feet by four feet, oriented portrait-wise. Have these always been there, or am I just noticing it now because I’ve been spending more time around the neighborhood than I used to? If you drive by they are almost un-noticeable, but if you walk past, you can’t help but notice.
My opinion generally is rather positive, since they demonstrate that even in L.A. not everybody has to drive everywhere, all the time.