Birthday Party at Main and Alameda

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Artist, writer and curator Janet Owen Driggs is a guest contributor to the Islands of LA blog.

Until recently the intersection opposite Philippe’s didn’t have a proper traffic island and crossing the street was a take-your-life-in-your-hands experience. Now though there’s a sizable island at the triangular space where Main and Alameda converge. Landscaped with young trees, lawn, pathways and a couple of benches, it’s made walking down Main to get a dipped sandwich a whole lot safer and far more pleasant.

I love that island! But never more so than on Sunday when, inspired by Ari and Islands of LA, I had a birthday party there.

We first cooked up the idea at the opening of the Good Space in December, when Ari brought together people who are pretty compelled by issues related to public space and I mentioned my love of picnics. One thing led to another as it does and a few weeks later there we were, thanks to Matt Driggs’ organizational skills, with a 10″ chocolate fudge cake, an undisclosed number of candles, some lovely friends, and Theo.

He (Theo Peter Owen Driggs) is a sunny toddler who, refusing the label, strides with fascinated intent toward moving vehicles. So, we also brought along a very large baby corral (aka ‘cage’).

We’d estimated that a lunchtime party would take about 2 hours but, what with the sunshine, good company, a happy baby, and Ari’s comfy chairs, we stayed over 4.

We were hardly at the still quiet eye of a storm – the intersection’s pretty quiet on a Sunday after all – but there was definitely a calm-amid-action thing going on. Best of all, we weren’t going anywhere, we’d already arrived. And, while it seems small when you’re focused on getting to the other side, the islandĀ  gets larger when you’re just sitting.

Like the jungle in Max’s Wild Thing bedroom, while we were noticing seed balls on the young sycamores and eating cake, the island grew up all around.

Thanks Matt, Ari, Lev, Stefan, Jeremy, Julie, Max, LaLena, Bill, Theo – and this particular island of LA – for a wonderful birthday afternoon.

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