The Walking Man, Marc Abrams, was a longtime fixture of Silverlake, known for his daily and sometimes day-long silent marches through its hilly streets. Pedestrians are rare out here, and he became a celebrity of sorts – no shirt, fluorescent shorts, running shoes, always reading a newspaper or something. He was an oddball and a provided a bit of the surrealism that makes this part of Los Angeles what it is. He'd just pass by, and maybe nod. This went on for decades. Everybody knew him, and no one knew him. It was a mystery, or perhaps it was performance art, or maybe you only imagined him – maybe you were losing it and LA really was the place where the boundary between the surreal and the real finally dissolves. He was a witness to something, but you were never quite sure what.
And this summer he passed away – they found him dead in his backyard hot tub. He was a doctor and there seems to have been a drug scandal and perhaps it was a suicide – or perhaps not. But he was gone, and everyone missed him. Even the New York Times covered his death and the memorial events – and the Walking Man mural by Nicholas Gagliarducci, from 2009, on Sunset Boulevard at North Vendome Street.
It seems we need the inexplicable, and we miss it when it's gone.