A Magical Moment at LAX

LA DREAMIN’-LAX is certainly not associated with magical moments. But it was the usual LAX experience of driving through traffic mayhem to pick up a nephew, and inadvertently parking in the taxi zone (LAX needs better signage,) where the magic happened.  

I picked him up on the north side of the airport road loop, fought my way out of the traffic bottleneck in front of the Bradley International Terminal, and turned the corner onto the southern part of the loop.  

I was now traveling east, and in front of me were the LAX Lighted Pylons in a deep blue. Poking between two pylons, just under the crown, was a white, bright moon, a few days past full. It was magical. I felt like I was witnessing an ancient ritual, tied into times when the passing of the moon, the sun, the planets and the seasons had a greater resonance to life.  

The pylons are placed in a circle on both sides of Sepulveda and Century Boulevards, straddling the intersection. Evenly spaced and uniform in height, they give an aura of an ancient, mysterious ruin, placed there in the unknown past. Of course these pylons are not mysterious; they are one of the great public arts works by the City of Los Angeles, erected for the 2000 Democratic Convention held in LA, and updated in 2016.  

During the day, the glass pylons are mute, somewhat interesting in their silent, shiny glass. It is in the evening when the lights inside transform them into mysterious, magical forms. The colors change by algorithm, sometimes in tandem, other times individually.  

The rising moon, aglow in white against the dark sky and punctuated by the dark blue pylons, stopped Time. This was a modern event involving electric lights, special glass, electricity, highlighting the ancient spectacle of a rising moon. But the sights and feelings were of an ancient ritualized time-travel through modern life. 

Sadly, my gawking admiration was extremely short-lived because I was driving in the chaos of LAX traffic. My mythical experience was brutally cut short by the need to drive safely. 

The pylons also extend out in the median, moving down Century Boulevard from LAX to the San Diego Freeway, their height shortened in succession as you go eastward. 

These pylons are unique to Los Angeles, and could become a trademark for the Los Angeles region. As much as I enjoy seeing them when I go to LAX, and from neighboring Westchester, they should be spread throughout the city where they can be seen and experienced in a more human, leisurely way. 

Another transportation hub, Union Station, would benefit from the pylons, highlighting its rebirth as a transit center with increasing ridership of subway and light rail riders along with Metrolink and Amtrak passengers. 

The pylons could be placed in the Music Center Plaza which sorely needs updating. They could circle to the Lipschitz statue, and run along Grand Avenue as it transforms into a cultural corridor. 

The pylons would work perfectly in the parking lot desert of Dodger Stadium. They would do marvels in Exposition Park. They would add some artistic sensibility to LA Live.  

They could also be explosively vibrant, welcoming audiences to the Hollywood Bowl.  

The pylons represent Los Angeles, but need to spread from the chaos of LAX to places where one can just stop, stand, or sit to watch the moon pass between lighted columns as it rises in the darkened sky. 


(Matthew Hetz is a Los Angeles native. He is a transit rider and advocate, a composer, music instructor, and member and president and executive director of the Culver City Symphony Orchestra) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.