"Thirty Days on Spring Radio Interview"
Translated from the German by Pablo Capra
INTRO: Mephisto 97.6 FM. Mephisto brings the love to Leipzig. [ENGLISH: "Where you at? Where you going? How you feel?"…]
DJ: The skyscrapers of downtown are an undesirable area of Los Angeles to live in. However, the writer Richard McDowell moved into a skyscraper half legally, half illegally with a handful of other artists. He lived in an old office space, making a new life for himself in a seemingly unpleasant neighborhood, and from this experience came his book, Thirty Day on Spring. With me on the telephone is Richard's friend and publisher Pablo Capra. Hello.
DJ: How did Richard come to live in this skyscraper? He already lived in downtown LA, correct?
PABLO: Yes. First he ran and lived in an art gallery in a better part of downtown. But his building was sold, and he had to close his gallery. He didn't have a place to live anymore, so he asked the landlord of an abandoned skyscraper if he could move in there.
DJ: And how high was this skyscraper?
PABLO: It was about 14 stories. It was an old bank building, and he rented a cheap office there. He lived in this building together with other poor artists. It was a strange experience. There was only one bathroom per floor, and the elevator was broken. The higher floors were dark, empty, and spooky because no one wanted to climb that high. There was also no fire alarm, and so the landlord sometimes asked Richard to stay up all night on fire watch. It was a chaotic but very creative environment, and Richard documented it all in his book Thirty Days in Spring – Spring being the name of his street.
DJ: What does he write about in his book? What were his experiences? What was his life like?
PABLO: He takes an interest in how low people can sink. Everyday he watches the drug addicts, the prostitutes, the crazies, the bums, the sick, the dirt, the rats, the criminals... and the artists try to wrestle meaning from all this. The book records 30 days in this hellish part of the city.
DJ: Why is life so harsh in downtown LA?
PABLO: Downtown LA had its highpoint in the '40s and '50s, and afterwards most of the businesses and people moved to other parts of the city. Today there are few people who actually live in downtown. At night, it's mostly just the homeless sleeping in cardboard boxes.
DJ: How long did Richard live in this skyscraper? Is he still there, or was it just a short-term thing?
PABLO: He lived in the bank building for almost two years, but in 2003 the fire department threw everyone out. Now he lives in a cheap hotel nearby, and he's working on his next book.
DJ: Has his living situation improved then?
PABLO: Well it's legal, and a bit more normal, but I wouldn't call it an improvement.
DJ: Pablo Capra is the friend and publisher of Richard McDowell, who wrote a book about living in a seemingly unpleasant skyscraper. The book is not for sale in Germany, but if you want to track it down, you can get more information by calling the station. Our telephone number is 97-37-976.