By Jim Miller
In my first novel, Drift, there is a passage where the main character, Joe, is driving through City Heights pondering the poetry of the streets.
He notes the “funky majesty” of a store front church sandwiched between a pharmacy and a liquor store and revels in the cacophony of signs in Vietnamese, Spanish, English, and more while he loses himself in the street life passing by as “everything bled together seamlessly in the twilight and became part of the mystic fabric of impending night.”
Joe’s musings mix with music on the radio as he contemplates the “blue feeling” of minimarts to jazz and rolls by massage parlors, 99-cent stores, and the Tower Bar. When I read this passage back in 2007, I had the pleasure of being accompanied by Gilbert Castellanos on trumpet and his melancholy solo lent the perfect air of blues dignity to the piece. It was, of course, a love song to my old neighborhood and the present hard-edged marvel that is City Heights.