The Staples Center: A Memoir of the Last Bombing

Column: Mike Davis’ final email to me captured the L.A. ‘sewer explosion’ — and reminded me to write, not mourn.

On June 27, 2005, my wife and I went to our first Lakers game in 30 years. My kids were with me, and I’d spent the morning before driving around LA looking for an old family friend. I’d just left the house, but on the way I passed the intersection of Fairfax and Vermont when I saw the street sign for the site of the blast that leveled the Staples Center in early May. I thought about turning around, but I was out of time. I raced to Fairfax, but the building was still standing, and a fire truck had already arrived — it happened quickly, with no survivors at risk — so instead I pulled over. The Lakers lost, and a few months after the bombing a police officer shot Michael Brown four times on the street. We were in Los Angeles after 9/11, and I was afraid to go into the Staples Center after a bombing, even though it seemed a safe place to go; now it seemed like a place to look in vain for those who had perished.

But the Staples Center became a monument to the senseless violence of the past year. My phone remained off and went to voicemail, and I finally decided to get it — as I was driving back from Fairfax, a second explosion, this time a pipe bomb, went off in the parking lot across the street. I ran around the first explosion, then pulled over again. But this one was on a different street, and by the time I found an open spot in the parking structure, where the Lakers were on the first night of their home-opener, there was nothing left of the arena — not even the front doors. I walked up to the site where the first explosion had taken place, but there was no sign of anything I had not seen in the weeks leading up to the bombing, even though I’d driven through there multiple times and walked past it countless times before the day of the

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