Steve Lopez on Nathaniel Anthony Ayers

Nathaniel Ayers plays the Foshay Learning Center

Nathaniel Ayers plays the Foshay Learning Center

I picked him up at 10:30 Monday morning. He was waiting on the sidewalk outside his apartment with a cello, a violin, a guitar, a trumpet, a walking stick and a backpack full of music.  Read more ...

Serenade in the key of glee

He was so eager to make the trip, he called several times to make sure it hadn't been canceled.  Read more ...

L.A. Times reporters move into the spotlight for 'The Soloist'

L.A. Times reporters move into the spotlight for 'The Soloist'

WHEN film producer Gary Foster walked across the frayed green carpet into the Los Angeles Times newsroom for the first time, he encountered an expanse of cluttered desks walled off by journalistic kitsch: notebooks stacked against Mao statues and Elvis paintings, Mexican piƱatas hanging above mounds of legal briefs, old photographs of Richard Nixon and Saddam Hussein.  Read more ...

Mr. Ayers drives toward a mulligan

Of all our many adventures, the trip to the golf course in Griffith Park might be the most memorable.  Read more ...

STEVE LOPEZ / POINTS WEST

The Best Present for Nathaniel: a Future

Christmas came a couple of weeks early to the skid row apartment of a soulful gent who goes by the name of Nathaniel Anthony Ayers.  Read more ...

STEVE LOPEZ / POINTS WEST

Man of the Streets, in Three Suites

First Suite: The Apartment  Read more ...

STEVE LOPEZ / POINTS WEST

Stakes Are So High, It's Hard to Wait

I could tell something was bothering Casey Horan and Shannon Murray, and it wasn't hard to guess what. They're in the business of patience, and I've got very little of it.  Read more ...

STEVE LOPEZ / POINTS WEST

From Skid Row to Disney Hall

Nathaniel was in a panic over what to wear.  Read more ...

STEVE LOPEZ / POINTS WEST

A Ray of Hope for Future Nathaniels

The timing was perfect. I had just asked a Yale professor why there are no mentally ill people living on the streets of Norway, where he helped design some of the most progressive mental health treatment in the world. Then a colleague mentioned she was working on a story about Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies dumping a mentally ill man on skid row in downtown Los Angeles, where thousands of chronically ill people sleep on filthy, rat-infested streets.  Read more ...

STEVE LOPEZ / POINTS WEST

Vicious Circle of Hope, Despair

I got the message while I was out of town. The owner of Little Pedro's said Nathaniel had flipped out while playing cello at the downtown Los Angeles club, launching into a belligerent tirade in front of his audience.  Read more ...

STEVE LOPEZ / POINTS WEST

A New Stage for Homeless Musician

Alexis Rivera, owner of Little Pedro's Blue Bongo in downtown Los Angeles, was riding his bike to work one night when he saw Nathaniel Anthony Ayers playing violin near the mouth of the 2nd Street tunnel. Rivera stopped and listened for more than an hour before approaching Nathaniel with a proposition.  Read more ...

STEVE LOPEZ / POINTS WEST

A Twilight Concerto for Rats and Cello

I know only part of his story. I know him playing the cello on a dairy crate in the morning sun, suspended somewhere between boy genius and lost traveler.  Read more ...

STEVE LOPEZ / POINTS WEST

A Cello Backdrop for Voices Inside

When I saw Nathaniel Anthony Ayers back in his usual location, I had to ask: How could he stand playing a crummy violin when he had a brand new cello waiting for him several blocks away?  Read more ...

STEVE LOPEZ / POINTS WEST

Violinist Has the World on 2 Strings

Nathaniel was shy in our first encounter a few months ago, if not a little wary. He took a step back when I approached to say I liked the way his violin music turned the clatter around downtown L.A.'s Pershing Square into an urban symphony.  Read more ...

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