Archive for February, 2007

I’ve always kicked myself for not making the time and effort required to go see the Watts Towers. Simon Rodia’s unique creation, which he began in 1921 took more than 30 years to build is a monument to individual achievement and artistic expression.

Well at least I’ve “seen” them now. Standing on the platform at the Rosa Parks Green Line Station at Imperial Highway and Wilmington this past Wednesday I raised my camera to get a shot of the hazy downtown skyline in the distance when I spied a couple spires to the right of the 105 Freeway’s Wilmington Avenue exit sign.

[click for large image]

Sure enough it was the two tallest of all the structures Rodia built. And now, more than ever I want to see them upclose… maybe via an impromptu bike ride down there for a tour February 24 or 25.

I think everytime I tell my baby I’m going for a bike ride — whether it’s around the neighborhood or across town –for a split second she has the urge to tell me not to. But instead of doing that she usually just takes a breath and gives me the big eyes and says a slow and open-ended “aaaaall riiiggggght…” full of concern at this strange and dangerous thing I’m more attracted to doing now in my middle age than at any other time previously in my life.

I think the group night bike rides I do several times a month, be it RIDE-Arc or Midnight Ridazz or its off-shoot Hollywood Ridazz or with the group of buddies evermore rapidily coming to be known as The Cyclists Formerly Known As The IAAL/MAF are less worrisome to her, perhaps because of the implied safety in numbers, but when I pop up out of nowhere and drop that I’m going to bike to work, such as I did this morning when she was still trying to get the cats and dogs fed and sweep the sleep out of her eyes, it’s cause for her to pause and consider how to put it nicely that such silly risk-taking is barely tolerable to her.

But above all that she also understands how much I enjoy it and how meaningful it is to me, even when I venturing into uncharted territory such as today — especially when venturing into uncharted territory. And so she accompanie this “aaaaall riiiight” with a roll of the eyes and a mostly understanding nod. Mostly. And

And so a short while later I kissed her goodbye, promised to be careful and  set out at 7:47 a.m. from the house, rolling a total of 15.8 miles down to Fourth and over to Vermont down to Exposition and across through Leimert Park and south on Crenshaw to Florence which becomes Aviation, which hits Imperial Highway and the office building where I work.

And I rolled into the parking lot at 8:43 a.m. Less than an hour. Dang. Nice.

I usually don’t do much in the way of identical cross-posting, but I just filed this prehistoric recollection over at and decided to paper the walls with it here as well: 

Seeing as it’s — ahem — that day, I figured why not regale anyone interested with what has to be the most spontaneously romantic thing I’ve ever ever seen happen in this city — or anywhere for that matter — and it all unfolded at the corner of Crescent Heights and Melrose back in either 1985 or ’86.

At the time I was the courier for a firm that obtained travel visas for its clientele. I had just had lunch at the old Sundance Cafe on Robertson just above Beverly and I was coming back to the company’s Cahuenga Pass offices having completed my afternoon westside run to the consulates of France, Kenya, and South Africa all on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills at that time. Grandmaster Flash blasted proudly from the speakers of my adored little Mazda GLC hatchback (not because I remember but because that’s pretty much all I listened to):

It’s like a jungle sometimes,
It makes me wondah,
How I keep from goin’ undah,
Huh huh-huh-huh huh huh.

Those lyrics may not do much to set the mood for love, but it totally captures the period. Anyway, I can’t be sure exactly where it began, but after leaving Sundance and turning onto Melrose from Robertson I found myself bringing up the rear of a little romantic intrigue that then continued to play out for several blocks to La Cienega Boulevard and beyond. Cruising along in front of me was a spotless convertible Jag driven by a bombshell blonde and beside her in the right lane doing his best to get her attention was a rather undistinguished looking but obviously lovestruck man in a less than showroom-ready Ford Mustang and way out of his league.

Obviously well-versed in how to ignore stalkers, gawkers and loud talkers Ms. Bombshell coolly kept her eyes and attention straight ahead, having little if any of Mr. Smitten despite his shameless and unabashedly nutty attempts to catch her eye and heart by honking at her in conjunction with gesticulating and yelling variations of “You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen!” Eventually the three of us approached Crescent Heights, slowing for the yellow light, and at the last moment, Smitten accelerated and yanked in front of her, slamming on his brakes so Bombshell had to stop short as his tires screeched against the asphalt, whereupon he threw open the door and jumped out almost before his car had come to a halt.


Just a brief vidclip of the moment of truth at the beginning of the Blue Line when it cacophonously emerges from underground to street level near Staples Center.

At the 405 overpass around the seventeenth mile of our Sunset Boulevard Walk, I found this sign stashed behind some weeds and fellow walker Lisl obliged me by recording its discovery:


Whoever was using it to augment their roadside panhandling, well… I may have my doubts as to whether they’re truly destitute or just sponging whatever handouts they can. But at least they have a sense of humor about it and I dutifully re-filed it in its previous location for obvious re-use.

More of Lisl’s pix from the walk are here.

A few days ago I voxed apoplectic about discovering a single busline — MTA No. 439 — that would get me from Union Station to its destination a couple long blocks away from my present temp gig in El Segundo, a far less disjointed journey than the multi-transferring one that involved the No. 2/4 bus, the Blue Line and the Green Line to get to the same exact point.

Seeing as how I fared so poorly utilizing mass transit last week (driving four days and riding one), I vowed that this week would be an all alt-commute week. None of this drive one day and ride the next crap. Instead, this Monday-to-Friday stretch won’t see me adding a single solitary work-travel mile to my trusty old truck.

So far so good. Sort of. Monday morning I smoothly bus-rail-railed it and 85 minutes and 60 pages of two-time Edgar award-winning T. Jefferson Parker’s totally engrossing “The Fallen” later I strolled into work a cool 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

It was the getting home part 8.5 hours later last night that left a lot to be desired and a lesson learned. Exiting at 5:15 I marched the half mile down Imperial Highway fully intent on rail-rail-busing it back home. But when I arrived at the Aviation Boulevard station I saw the No. 439 bus roll in to its slot and instead I what-the-hell’d it and decided to get a front row seat to witness if that particular line and I had a future together.

The short answer is: not so much…. mainly because it took me 2.5 hours to get to my front door. That’s right, I left the office at 5:15 p.m. and wasn’t standing at the front door of the house until 7:45 p.m. And as much as I’d like to say this was due to really crappy traffic or a breakdown or a sudden onslaught of frogs falling out of the sky, the fact is that give or take 10 minutes, that’s about as fast as that trip’s gonna get.

Even the amount of additional pages of “The Fallen” I put behind me weren’t any consolation.

And the busdriver was surprised I went the duration. As we approached Union Station she piped up and said that a quicker way for me to go would be to take the shuttle into the airport and catch the nonstop LAX Flyaway bus back to Union Station.

“It’s three bucks, but it’s much faster.” I thanked her for the info, declining to go into any detail about how this  was essentially just a scouting expedition.

Exiting at MTA Gateway Plaza I wasn’t done yet, because I still had to make my way up to Cesar E. Chavez and Broadway to catch the No. 2 for the home stretch, but at least coming through Union Station and across Olvera Street I had some interesting stuff to look at (and snap of course).

But man was I beat when I finally de-bused at Parkman and Sunset and made it those last few hundred steps home. Live and learn. Bus and burn.

In the wake of the Friday night’s awesome Midnight Ridazz ride, followed by me staying up so late that I only got about an hour’s sleep before needing to get up and ready to go walk Saturday away along the entire length of Sunset Boulevard from downtown to the sea, I’m peering up over the resulting wall of exhaustion this Sunday morning and looking out upon all that should and could be written about the events and instead I’m just going to point you to their corresponding Flickr photosets and leave it at that: