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New York

The Light Boxes of Greater Los Angeles
by Marcus Civin

I like to see which corner stores get custom neon signage and which order LED’s. There ought to be more lit up signs (solar powered, of course); there cannot be enough. By internet order, anyone can edge their storefront windows with neon using the money earned from ten haircuts, or hook up some neon tube window diagonals with the money saved from knocking off a few less beers for four to five months. Los Angeles could do more; the city could be a fully constructed light exhibition, not Times Square New York, but based on a radical expansion of the current LA model, I picture the best in cheap lights, placed just so. The city can take care of installing solar power everywhere. Based partly on necessity, partly on a hankering for diffuse light, we will design the lights.

Red light box, block letters spell out: “Carniceria,” over a wall of ivy. I stand at my studio window, stare at the sign, and say the word over and over, pronouncing each letter: C-a-r-n-i-c-e-r-i-a. Simple, to the point... Get meat here.

My favorite constructed lights are light boxes. And, in LA, the best light boxes are in Koreatown, almost one large light box for every commercial venture. I was killing time this evening, early to meet friends for dinner, and impulsively (I haven’t been sleeping much) interrupted a man installing replacement plastic printed with new restaurant logos, in two brown, metal light boxes. I had questions.

Light Box

The man got down from his ladder, and leaned a shoulder on the side of the brick mini-mall, answered most of my questions with raised eyebrows. “I do a lot of business around here,” he said, smooshing at a bit of red wire casing on the sidewalk with the toe of his cross trainer. He gave me a business card.

My absolute favorite light box right now is at 955 Vermont. My lover lives up Normandie, and if I take my particular route there, from work, I can pass 955 Vermont where I am forever, just more than mildly amused by an interlocking light box tree of stacked signs, slipping left and right, a vertical advertising equivalent of banchan—small exquisite side dishes, Korean restaurant house specialties served alongside many good meals, de rigueur.

- Marcus Civin


Posted by Marcus Civin on 1/26/10

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