Note: I know I do not utilize this place much anymore, but with my Dodgers in the World Series for the first time since 1988 and facing elimination by the Houston Astros in Game Six tonight (on Halloween!) here at home, I’d be remiss as a life-long fan if I didn’t post up the following fantasy that I SO hope becomes reality:

I had a vision last night. It is of a tomorrow not too far from now. Not too far at all on the calendar, but to get there we must leap across a wide and deep chasm tonight that so many are saying we cannot and will not clear.

In my vision we take that leap and we do end up on the other side where there stands a man on a hill in a field. He is surrounded and protected by his fellows and the field is encircled with the love shown him by the cheering and supportive throngs. But in the midst of all that joy and support the hill he stands upon is a lonely, lonely place. In his right hand he holds his weapon of choice, a palm-sized orb of bright white leather and red thread, with which he is so well practiced and so highly skilled.

He is a dignified, respectful man, wise beyond his 31 years, who in the direct face of a recent reprehensible and disgusting display of racist ignorance and derision — with the world seemingly clamoring for him to respond to it with furious condemnation — instead he returned a calm consideration and a thoughtul decency requiring so much more strength to deliver.

Swaggering forth to face that young man from a five-sided white pentagon embedded in the earth — an equally lonely place — comes the insulting enemy. He has been labeled a beast and called a monster, but he, too, is just a young man, though one infinitely less wise than his 33 years. On his head sits a helmet that shields his grotesquely styled locks from view and in his hands he wields his weapon of choice, a strong and well-turned staff made from the hearty wood of an ash tree, with which he too is well practiced and so highly skilled.

The cacophonous chorus of cheers for the man on the hill turn to a tempest of torment for his opponent sixty feet and six inches away as the two settle in and prepare for battle amidst the deafening din.

With laser precision and able command of a wicked wizardry the man on the hill flings the orb twisting and turning, rising and dropping in a succession of launches toward the pentagon where the pineapple-haired hater tries in vain to launch it into the air and beyond the field entirely. The first is swung at mightily yet missed entirely. The second is fouled off into the crowd, which then rises as one cheering louder. The third he watches go low and beyond the reach of his staff. He starts to chop at the fourth but pulls back at the last possible millimeter as the bottom drops out too soon and bounces in the dirt before him. He crowds in for the fifth and the man on the hill brings it in high and tight forcing him to twist out of its way.

And the sixth? Well, that comes after both men step aside amid deep breaths and deeper thoughts to gather themselves. And when it does it is a righteous freight train perfectly straight down the middle that he freezes before and can only simply stand and watch as he is slain.

And the surrrounding crowd in unison with all those across the land joyously cry out “Yuuuuuuuuuuuu!” And that man on the hill was not so lonely anymore.

#GoDodgers
#ThisTeam
#GetToWednesday
#YuGotThis

Gustavo Dudamel conducting Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony may have been listed as the star of the show (and it was fantastic!), but the reason I bought tickets to the July 13, 2017 performance at the Hollywood Bowl was that my beloved Vin Scully — eternal voice of the Dodgers and of ALL of Los Angeles — was on the bill to narrate Aaron Copland’s “Lincoln Portrait” and he did so beautifully with characteristic humility and eloquence.
 
The chance to hear again what has been the voice of ALL of my summers as a native angeleno was something I couldn’t pass up, nor could I not memorialize the occasion.
 
NOTES: Scully’s narration begins at about the 8:20 mark. An encore performance is scheduled for July 18, 2017, at the Bowl. This performance was recorded (faaaaar better than me and my handheld recorder from Section J) and is scheduled to be broadcast July 30, 2017, on KUSC-FM (91.5). Gawd bless my fellow audience members. This was my first visit to the Bowl in several years where everyone was pretty much completely quiet throughout the whole program.
 
If the embed at the top is not functioning, here the direct link to my YouTube post: https://youtu.be/rUbrYgvWMFI

There’s a striking mural depicting the facets and faces of the Black Panther movement on the corner of Jefferson Boulevard and 11th Avenue titled “To Protect And Serve” that I’ve found very revelatory ever since I first discovered it back about 10 years ago.

It was painted in 1995 by Noni Olabisi, and the story of how it almost never was until the community and the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) rallied against opposition to it from civic leaders is compelling in its own right.

In the 22 years since its installation, it has proven to be as polarizing a work of art as the movement, enduring various defacements and damage.

About six months ago I was pleased in passing to find it being restored. The dramatic color scheme, long faded from years standing against the afternoon sun, was brought back to gloriously eye-popping vibrancy. But there was little time to celebrate its renewal. Seemingly only days after work had been completed I drove by and found the center of the mural caved in. The heartbreaking indentation looked to be about as wide and as high as a bumper, so my assumption was a vehicle involved. The question was, given the indignities this mural has endured over its years, was its ramming accidental or intentional? Passing by a few days later I saw the letters “KKK” had been added near the crushed section.

The damage stood until a couple months ago, when repairs were made to the wall, leaving a large replastered area. I figured fixing the wall was inevitable, but not so clearly a given was if the mural would be.

Then came Tuesday afternoon and on my way home from work I saw Olabisi, brush in hand and filling in that void. I thought about turning around and coming back to meet her, but I was lazytired and so I didn’t. Yesterday afternoon, same story, but different ending; this time after seeing her I yanked a right at the next street and came back up 11th Avenue where I found her in conversation with a fellow named Victor. I stepped right up and told her how thrilled I was to see the mural being re-completed. She bemoaned the fact that in the time between Tuesday evening and now someone had already marred it. She pointed out the word “Apache” had been tagged onto the sleeve of one of the officers depicted subduing Bobby Seale whose face had been covered in black spray paint. We all stood there shaking our heads.

The three of us eased into a wide-ranging discussion on race, art, history, politics, the Rwanda genocide, the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, basic human goodness and instincts, Tupac, Jimi, Daryl Gates, and how love and respect is the answer to combating evil. I asked her about the significance of the bright circle on the beret near the top center of the mural (visible in the picture above with Olabisi on the left and Victor on the right), and she told me it represented the sun which shines upon us all equally and without discrimination. Amen, sister.

Before I gave Olabisi a hug goodbye, I was emphasizing my continuing belief — despite ample evidence to the contrary — in the basic goodness of us as individuals and as a species. A young lady, showed up to take some pictures of the mural and as she passed us Olabisi was talking to me about Hendrix and trying to remember a statement attributed to him. “When the power of love… is greater,” she started, but couldn’t remember the rest, and I couldn’t either.

The young lady turned around and finished it for her: “than the love of power…”

“That’s it!” Olabisi exclaimed. “When the power of love is greater than the love of power then the world will know peace.”

Righteous.

I have this mantra, taught to me by my beloved mother at a very early age. Our cat Puddy had been missing for a day or two and I was ripping around the apartment building and through our unit looking high and low in a frantic fruitless search all the while bawling like a baby at her being gone.

Mom sat me down and had me compose myself and said she’s going to teach me the “magic prayer.” And she made me repeat it after her, over and over and over:

“Nothing is lost, it is simply not revealed.”

Of course as a seven or eight year old, when Puddy did not reveal herself immediately, I went back to tearing my world apart, but at least instead of crying, I just kept saying those words over and over and over and over.

And you know what. I found Puddy soon after. She was trapped in the cabinet under the bathroom sink. Thankfully she was OK — doubly thankful because in fact, losing her had been entirely my fault. Mischievous brat that I was, I had seen her enter through the open cabinet door and I rushed up and closed it behind her. Of course I hadn’t intentionally planned on leaving her confined in the dark without any food or water for the next day-plus. At some point I must’ve gotten bored waiting for her to scratch at the door from inside and I went and found other ways to occupy that day, ultimately forgetting about her. Or at least until I couldn’t find her yet had still forgotten where I’d left her.

But me being an idiot evil child isn’t the point. The point is the magic prayer worked.

And it has done so throughout my life. I can’t give you a scientifically determined percentage of success, but over my many years when garage door openers or keys or lists, or phones or wallets or paperwork, or my sanity has vanished, I literally say those words out loud and more often than not whatever was lost becomes revealed. Sometimes it happens quickly. Sometimes not so quickly.

It happened not so quickly just this morning. Last week after the raptor presentation at Wild Birds Unlimited out in Thousand Oaks that Susan and I went to, we bought a couple of hummingbird swings. While Susan was at the market this morning I went out to mount themnext to the feeder sand in the course of screwing in the hook for the second one, it fell out and down from the porch to the brick walkway about 10 feet below with a plink. I went down and did a cursory search of the ground and came away empty handed.

So I said “Nothing is lost, it is simply not revealed” and went about my business.

A short while later, Susan got home and after putting away the groceries she came to me at my desk and handed me an eyeglass case, to which I was all “huh?”

I opened it. and inside was a long-missing favorite pair of sunglasses, themselves of which had been absent since sometime around a hike we had done, coincidentally, in Thousand Oaks nearly two years ago.

Waaaaay back then when they came up as gone I’d said the magic prayer, and then every now and then I’d remember they were still missing and tear the place apart only to end up reciting the prayer again.

Susan said she found the case in the driver side door compartment of her car where it apparently sat for aaaaall this time, because a yellow piece of paper there caught her eye. Ironically that piece of yellow paper had the address of Wild Birds Unlimited that I’d written on it and had dropped into that compartment upon our arrival last week.

Huh.

As to that hummingbird swing hook. It’ll turn up. One of these days. Or years.

Nothing is lost, it is simply not revealed. Indeed.

If the following press release ends up getting covered by any of the local media outlets, it stands a good bet that you are acquainted at some level with the Friendly Neighborhood Humane Officer involved in this all-together awesome of a happy ending, more than two years in the making.

JUSTICE FOR KING
2015 Animal Cruelty Case Results in Conviction

Los Angeles — Rather than stand trial on April 28, 2017, Marcus Kemp (DOB 11/15/1965) entered a no contest plea to one misdemeanor count Penal Code 597(b), animal cruelty, at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center (Division 47) for his part in the suffering of King, a four-year-old pit bull mix dog in his care. The terms of Kemp’s probation include 36 months summary probation, $250 fine plus penalty assessment, and 16 animal cruelty classes, among other conditions (Court Case #6CJ01732). The charges are the result of an investigation by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA). The case was prosecuted by Michelle H. McGinnis, Supervising Deputy City Attorney, Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, Criminal Division.

In April 2015, spcaLA Humane Officers responded to an animal cruelty tip on the 800 block of E. 109th Street in Willowbrook. In the backyard of the residence, they found King tethered to a cyclone fence by a heavy metal chain . Fatigued but alert, King was underweight and had a severe ligature-type wound to his left hind leg resulting from becoming entangled in the chain to which he was unlawfully confined. This injury resulted in undue suffering and neglect. Criminal charges were filed against defendants, Kemp and Keesha Price (DOB 11/26/1970) in March of 2016. Price later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

King, before and after.

While in the care of spcaLA, King recovered from his injuries with proper veterinary care and nutrition. Despite neglect at the hands of his former human companions, King remained a happy dog who loved to play and receive affection . In February 2016, King was adopted into a loving home.

spcaLA is the only private animal welfare organization in Los Angeles that is also Law Enforcement. spcaLA Humane Officers hold the same powers of Peace Officers in the state of California when investigating animal cruelty. spcaLA is a non-profit agency that relies on donations for its programs and services, including animal cruelty investigations. To donate, please visit spcaLA.com or call 323-730-5300 x233.

For more information, please contact Miriam Davenport at 323-730-5300 x233, 323-353-4658 cell or mdavenport@spcaLA.com.

Since 1877, spcaLA has been the premiere independent, nonprofit animal welfare organization serving Southern California. There is no national SPCA, parent organization, or umbrella group that provides financial support to spcaLA. Donations run programs and services including Cruelty Investigation, Disaster Animal Response Team, Humane Education, and a variety of shelter services.

Bonus video of King romping about: https://youtu.be/YvHSQ6_qi4E

As a San Fernando Valley resident at the time and far removed from the greater LA basin, it’s rather ironic how I came to experience what I did on April 29, 1992, and where; roughly a 4.5 mile straight line to the riot’s epicenter at Florence and Normandie. I was a student at Pierce College in Woodland Hills at the time and a photography class assignment to illustrate the theme of “Man’s Impact On His Environment” (speaking of ironic) was coming due. On the early afternoon of April 29 I got on my motorcycle from my home in Sherman Oaks and rode to Baldwin Hills with the idea of photographing the oil derricks pumping there along the hills and ridge lines. Dissatisfied with the compositions I found I ended up at serene oasis that is nearby Kenneth Hahn State Recreational Area at one of the horseshoe pits, taking set-up shots of my shoe print and a crushed flower in the dirt.

 

While I was doing this a woman came over, sat on the backstop of the pit and watched me for a few moments until she finally asked me if I’d “heard the news?” I stopped and shook my head. “They were found not guilty,” she said and I knew instantly she was referring to the officers on trial for the beating of Rodney King. I expressed my incredulity and then promptly went back to taking pictures of my shoe print. She waited a few more moments before standing up. “I don’t think you understand,” she said, and I looked back up at her. “I’m getting out of here.” I stared blankly. “And I’m black,” she finished, and started walking purposefully toward the parking lot.

Finally and fully I comprehended what she was trying to get through my thick white head, and when I did I offered up an emphatic “Thank you!” wished her good luck and wasted not another second getting back to my motorcycle at which time a pick-up truck drove slowly past me, stopping a few spaces down. In the cab were two young black men with two more riding in the bed and all were staring at me with a fury the likes of which I will never forget. There was no mistaking their rage and that it was focused directly at me and the color of my skin. Fortunately — no: miraculously — parked farther down past them at the end of the lot was a black-and-white — not LAPD but rather a “Safety” police vehicle, whatever that meant. I couldn’t see if there was an officer inside, but its presence made the four men hesitate enough looking from it back to me and back to it to give me enough time to get my helmet on and my motorcycle started and like a bat outta hell I was northbound on La Cienega and gunning the throttle.

By the time I got to the bottom of the hill, the Fedco at Rodeo and La Cienega (now it’s a Target) was already on fire and being looted, and I split the gridlocked lanes between cars many of whose drivers looked terrified stuck there in the gridlock as if a tsumani was bearing toward them from the rear and they had no escape.

When I got home to the relative calm of the valley I turned on the television and the Los Angeles I had earlier been in the middle of had turned into a living burning hell. I locked the doors, loaded the gun, and stayed glued to the newscasts broadcasting the horror and the heartbreak of a city seemingly hell bent on burning itself down.

I watched the endless replays of the attack on Reginald Denny, and who’s to say what might have happened to me if that woman hadn’t warned me or that police vehicle hadn’t been there, but I’m thankful either way I didn’t have to find out.

Days later after the chaos had been quelled and a certain order had been restored, I was in the dark room at Pierce College developing images from those few frames I snapped for the photo class assignment (I believe I got a C grade for the passable quality of the photos as shown with comments that I took the assignment too literally), and it dawned on me that the image’s subject matter was something I could have easily recreated in the comparative safety of my own backyard instead of in the midst of the waves of rioting that flooded the city.

Adding water to the birdbath, somehow I caught something reeeeally tiny on a rock just as it got washed off. It took some looking but I managed to rescue this littlest of mantises and brought him inside to get the following vid/pix and let it dry off before returning it outdoors.

It’s odd how you can get the biggest sense of accomplishment from the smallest of acts.

mini mantis movie link

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