Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Getting Lost In Lennox

AS I  drove east down Century Blvd and away from LAX I noticed a drastic change in scenery.
Many of us are familiar with the loop that takes us from Sepulveda Blvd onto Century, and as I took that loop past all of the clichéd hotels and hyperbolic palm trees I noticed the consistent decline in scenery the further I drove down Century. The hotels slowly began to disappear and even the palm trees became shorter. Eventually, there were no palm trees and the large building that had before overshadowed the street were replaced with one-story building structures as I drove under the 405 Freeway. I had entered Lennox.
I have driven this drive since my sophomore year. I often visit Lennox Middle School (LMS) as a member of LMU’s El Espejo mentoring program. I have been fortunate to do so since the commute is just minutes from LMU’s campus. However, the short drive covers a lot of distance in scenery as I find myself almost landlocked in Lennox. From the field at LMS you can see the 405 South as it merges almost directly above the field with the 105 East Freeway. Airplanes frequently fly over the field as they descend toward LAX’s runways. No bluff hills or mountain tops can be seen. The freeways and the planes are the only indications of anything different than two-story structures across this flat section of Los Angeles. It seems barren and for the longest time I had trouble finding out what was hidden just east of the airport.
I found myself getting lost in Lennox on my way to finding a taco truck that some of my friends often eat at. We traveled the same route I often travel to go to Lennox, but instead turned down Inglewood Blvd. The streets were very dark as we drove down Inglewood Blvd, but eventually a well-light truck, accompanied by an empty parking lot, welcomed us as we entered. We had found the truck, and we had found something more than just tacos. The truck was a social hub for many of the residents in the area as they found affordable tacos, drinks, and churros. In addition, there was vendors that sold discounted movies and video games, and even knock-off cash for gold table. All in all this taco truck draws quite the crowd that I had been hoping to interact with in Lennox. Prior to this I had only known young students in the area, but this helped paint a cultural picture of the area.
Lennox begins as L.A.’s stereotypical facade ends. As you cross into Lennox you enter into an area that may not be as attractive as the areas just west of it. The stores are less commercialized, and the buildings are very worn and torn. However, for the people of Lennox this is exactly what they love about L.A. Their culture can thrive around just a taco truck. It doesn’t need imitation living and palm tree covered streets. Lennox is a genuine diamond among all the superficiality in Los Angeles. From the outside looking in it is easy to dream up ways to improve the area, but from that taco truck everything seemed to be just fine.

-- Art Flores
-- Photo credit: Art Flores

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