A Silver Lake stairway tribute to Charles Bukowski

Silver Lake

Photo by Matt Summers

SILVER LAKE — Earlier this year someone stenciled the Micheltorena Stairway with the words from Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book poem. Now, the same stairway have been stenciled with the words from another literary notable: Charles Bukowski. Matt Summer literally ran across the words last week during his morning run up the public stairway. The words come from Bukowski’s “You Get So Alone At Times That It Just Makes Sense”:

Lighting new cigarettes,
pouring more

It has been a beautiful


Is there room on that stairway for more poetic graffiti?  Summer is looking forward to more verse. “More, please, anonymous stair stencil person,” Summer said via email.

Silver Lake

Photo by Matt Summers


  1. Cool. I bet it’s the same person who stenciled a phrase from Ovid: “Everything changes, nothing perishes” on the stairway in Echo Park running in between the lower part of Laveta Terrace and the part with all the palm trees (the steps behind Lot 1.)

  2. …is that not defacing property ?
    Its still a form of graffiti …
    I love how its ok if its “art” , but its not okay if its gang monikers.
    Its not ok either way .

    • This seeks to enlighten or entertain, while gang graffiti aims to intimidate and “mark territory.”

      I agree it’s a thin line separating art and destruction, but they are clearly entirely different things.

      • Um ya , writing on public property in any way shape or form is defacing property.
        I dont need written affirmations on my walk from either gangsters or literary geniuses .
        Thats what the imagination is for .

  3. Oh sure it’s cool because its literary. If these were gang tags, people would be all up in arms and freaking out about it. This is no way to treat a historic resource.

    The City has no budget whatsoever for cleaning or maintaining our network of public staircases. They are considered “streets” by the City, yet no one drives on them. Then the City expects the adjacent property owners to maintain the public staircase to the center line. Are the property owners expected to do grading & structural repair for the staircases too?

    There are more than 200 public staircases in the City. Most are nearly 100 years old. Only a small handful are maintained by community groups and/or neighborhood councils. The bulk of the staircases in the most dire need of maintenance (including structural repair) are in Silver Lake and Echo Park.

    In 2003, the Bureau of Street Services created a comprehensive list ranking the staircases by need. I witnessed a couple of BoSS workers driving around my neighborhood inspecting staircases with the list about a year ago. They refused to say what they were doing other than inspecting the staircases, after first denying the existence of the list, until I pointed to the list which was sitting on their dashboard.

    Even in when the City was flush with money in the real estate boom years, no money was budgeted for public staircase repair. Respect our historic resources – don’t deface them in ways that will take money and serious volunteer effort to remove your artistic vision once it has attracted other “artists” or faded beyond legibility.

  4. Do you seriously not think the above idea/concept is beautiful? And that coming across a quote from Ovid on your daily urban ramble through LA isn’t great? Geez, that’s too bad.

    Maybe I appreciate it because I spend a lot of time walking my dog, and it makes my walk a little more exciting. Whatever, to each his/her own.

    The city is an entity always in the process of transformation. If there were some magical way to get back to zero, when all these staircases were pristine, that would be lovely. But there isn’t.

  5. People who feel the need to write *whatever* on public property feel very insignificant. Whether it is tagged or stenciled, something is missing from that child’s life. Daddy issues perhaps?

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