Saturday, July 10, 2010

Horray For RFK...Public Space Comes To Wilshire

On Friday night, as The Militant and an unspecified operative were on a reconnaissance mission through the Koreatown area, they happened upon an inscribed wall of monumental proportions while cruising along Wilshire.

"What was that?!" The Militant said. They checked it out.

It was a wall bearing quotations from the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who (and shame on you if you don't even know the connection, but The Militant will just mention it anyway) was assassinated on June 5, 1968 just yards away at the old Ambassador Hotel (which was itself assassinated in 2005). By the way, did you know that in RFK's California Primary victory speech on that fateful night, he congratulated Don Drysdale on his 6th consecutive shutout, and that the Dodgers pitching legend carried a cassette tape of Kennedy's speech with him everywhere he went until his death in 1993?

The site is the new Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Park, a 1/3-acre pocket park along Wilshire Blvd between Kenmore and Alexandria avenues. It was supposed to open last year, know what happens when government entities contract private companies. But in its nearly-complete state, with memorial inscriptions, granite and metal artwork, plants, trees, grass and park benches, it's assumed to open up this fall when the high school at the Robert F. Kennedy Learning Center, built directly on the hotel's site, opens its doors. Earlier this year, the LAUSD dedicated the new school facility - formerly named Central Los Angeles Learning Center #1 (See, even the intellectually-deficient LAUSD has enough sense to know this is neither the Eastside nor the Westside...) in honor of the late senator. Though appropriate, the nod to history was still a shocker, since the LAUSD board doesn't really give a crap about teaching anything to its students aside from having them meet standardized test scores. But The Militant digresses!

The Militant can totally see this pocket park become a hit with the Wilshire office lunchtime crowd ( trucks there? Or would that be too disrespectful for the solemn nature of the park?), history buffs, tourists and perhaps the picket lines for the inevitable next teacher's strike.

The Militant will definitely check it out when the chain-link fences go down -- after all, the Militant asked for more real public space, and, by golly, we'll be getting it. There also doesn't appear to be any permanent fencing in front of the park, so it looks like it's 24-hour access (there's a security cam and loudspeaker pointed at the park benches and the wall, presumably to thwart off taggers and the homeless).

Although it's through such a tragic circumstance, this City should be humbled as host to one of the landmark historical events in American history. This pocket part is a just dedication to the slain 1960s political figure.


Anonymous said...

I just walked by there two days ago and they were taking down the chain-link fence because they were putting up a permanent chain fence. It makes me wonder how public the space will be.

Militant Angeleno said...

Anonymous: Hmmm, thanks for the tip. Will check it out soon. As an LAUSD-educated person, the Militant should have known that if the LAUSD makes something too good to be is.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind that they put a fence up if it keeps vandals out, but I have to admit that a metal chain link fence really detracts from the park. It looks cheap and sends a bad message. Wish I knew who to complain to.

Militant Angeleno said...

Anonymous: Just passed it a few days ago. Ugh! Was hoping they'd have some classy metal fence...but then again this is the LAUSD we're talking about. Quality is a strange an foreign concept to them.