China Town

Pilgrimage: Bruce Lee’s China Town Statue


Saturday, August 3 – Bruce Lee’s statue was unveiled sometime in mid-June to much fanfare. Plenty of council members in the China Town area played up the fact that the statue was one of several in the world. But talk of a possible removal due to the statue not being cemented to the ground had me worried that I would miss the opportunity to pose next to a Bruce Lee statue.

I made my way to the Gold Line and it was a hot August day, warm enough for this chicken to run to some shade and chill out next to some agave plants. We had a moment. We exchanged glances.


“Hot enough for you,” she said.

“Oh you bet,” I said to the chicken.

On the Gold Line the children were half dressed in lingerie, in tank tops and cargo shorts, chucks and furry boots. There was a storm trooper who looked out of place in this gathering of tribal tattoos, Native American head gears and neon body paint. The trooper nodded to me and I asked for a picture and he said, “Should I put on the bucket?”

“If you want to put on your bucket,” I said, not knowing what he meant by bucket.

The trooper then put on his helmet and held onto the railing as his peripheral vision was limited, and probably why all the storm troopers seem to miss their target in the movies.

trooperI found my friend at the front car and we tried to ignore all of the naked children. When the Gold Line crossed the L.A. River and dipped low by the Historic State Park there the throngs of children and adults bounced on their feet at the HARD Summer Festival. I say children, but HARD festival is strictly an 18 and over event.

At the China Town stop it was like everyone decided to run away and join the circus on the same day. The wild rumpus had just begun. From up on high we looked down on the HARD festival, throngs of bodies and bikini strings writhing in a mass of flesh.

Some were in costumes, others in pajamas, underwear or covered with stickers – all they had in common was the mindset that their eternal summer would never end. This was Saturday, the first day in a weekend event with the likes of Crystal Castles, Flosstradamus, Bassnectar, Dog Blood, Duck Sauce and Flying Lotus.

This served as a great backdrop to the pilgrimage to Bruce, really played up the whole mystery of an otherwise mundane train ride to China Town. Another friend was planning to drive on into the area to meet us, but he hadn’t planned on the rave scene.

“I’m on my way over,” my friend said on the phone.

“But the HARD kids are all here. You might not find parking.”

“They don’t scare me,” my friend said.

And indeed they didn’t scare us. In fact none of the HARD fans were there to say hello to the Bruce statue and only a handful of people posed during the hour that we were there. China Town has a certain bright allure – shop fronts are painted gaudy pastels, while other forms of architecture play up the dichotomy of east meets west. What the Bruce Lee statue offers is a stoic representation of a man, bronzed, and it’s almost a bit too modest for the area.

IMG_0025The estimated cost to cement Bruce into the ground is somewhere in the neighborhood of $125,000.

In the meantime he quietly stands out front by the Grand Star, watching over a parking lot and the foot traffic that mills about in the shops where they sell Homies that used to be a quarter when I was a child.

We get back onto the Gold Line and ascended over the rave. From afar I could see them burning out all possible forms of polite nerves, so from here on out nothing will ever be enough and they’ll constantly be in search of some new beat to tickle their centers. It’s nice to see people passionate about a cause.

*UPDATE: There was a death at HARD Festival. Possibly drug related.