Friday, July 27, 2007


Reporting from Little Tokyo, Los Angeles

I've passed by this Bronze on my endless rapturous trips into and out of the Little Tokyo Starbucks. I figured (incorrectly) that this "man on bench" was part of a city-wide series by the same artist as the "man with head in wall" over by the plaza at 8th & Figueroa.

I can honestly say I was startled by "him" only when the bench was occupied by carbon-based friends--creating the necessary juxtaposition for a true cognitive dissonance. Too bad for me that nobody sat down on the bench today for my pic.

So today, I paused. I wasn't as overly enthusiastic to get my Starbucks as I was (back in the old days) when I was rushing to work. I paused and wondered why the man was holding a pamphlet and noticed (for the 1st time) that he was Asian. At the top of the plaque was, of all things, a quote from the Talmud: "He who saves one life, saves the entire world". Followed by the unbelievable but true story of Chinune "Sempo" Sugihara. "A Japanese consul in Lithuania who issued handwritten visas to 1000's of Jewish refugees, against the express order of his government, and saved innocent lives during the Holocaust."

Why was Sempo or any Japanese man working in, of all places, Lithuania during WWII? I don't know, but there he was and he did what one man could do for Justice. And now he sits, in front of Starbucks, something we can be sure, he could never have imagined.

Credits: The sculptor: Ramon G. Velazco; I haven't found anything about the artist online. Anybody know more?


Unrelated but something else wonderful I came across on my search for LA sculptures, which led me to LA Neon Signs, etc.

In 1949, Raymond Chandler wrote in The Little Sister (via Michael Web)

 "I smelled Los Angeles before I got to it. It smelled stale and old like a living room that had been closed too long. But the colored lights fooled you. The lights were wonderful. There ought to be a monument to the man who invented neon lights."
Is Chandler God-like or what?


I wonder if the sculpture is part of one of the downtown LA tours (probably not the Raymond Chandler tour, but one never knows). The company: Esotouric "bus adventures into the secret heart of Los Angeles." This writer recently breakfasted with fellow blogger Richard Schave, husband of tour guide/founder-owner Kim Cooper.  

Disclaimer: We have no business relationship, financial or otherwise; but let me take a risk and call them my (wait for it...) partners in crime? I've been carrying around their brochure for months. Time for me to hop on that bus!


  1. My favorite Chandler spot in LA is the Second Street Tunnel which appears in The Big Sleep (and years later in Blade Runner).

  2. Anonymous9:33 PM

    Yes, I know the sculptor. I went to high school with him and we still keep in touch. I keep telling him he should build a website with everything he's done, but he's a busy man. He's also the one who sculpted the Chinatown Dragon Gate in LA.

  3. Anonymous12:44 PM

    I know the sculptor, Ramon Velazco.He is an extremely talented sculptor and has many public sculptures to his name, although Brian Cole sculpted The Chinatown Dragon Gateway in his studio in Van Nuys and Ramon Velazco was hired to assist.

  4. Anonymous3:45 PM

    As a correction to the comment above,I also know Ramon Valazco. He is an extremely good sculptor with many public sculptures, some in other states. He assisted the sculptor Brian Cole,of Brizzi Cole Studios in sculpting the Chinatown Gateway Dragons.