The streets were dark with something more than night
— Raymond Chandler

For three and a half years I lived along the fringe of downtown Los Angeles. During that time, the familiar and iconic office buildings, hotels, and condominium towers became the backdrop to my life. The sun would set and my neighborhood would transform, abstracted by the darkness and harsh streetlamps, shapes that had become barely recognizable occupying the foreground while those omnipresent glittering spires rose up behind them. Compared with the anonymous gray space of my immediate surroundings, the skyline seemed wondrously beautiful, impossibly distant.