Another L.A. River Hater

Check out Dan Turner, L.A. River Hater, in the L.A. Times. The dude goes for a five-mile bike ride along the path from Griffith Park to Fletcher and comes back like some definitive expert with things like this to say:

“…I’d like to write some Whitmanesque stanzas about the atomic oneness of nature, but the diesel fumes have aggravated my asthma and my ears are still ringing from the trucks blaring past on the Golden State Freeway.”

Or this:

“Picture a mountain stream, then line its banks with graffiti-scarred concrete, smoke-belching industrial buildings and the snarling, lung-burning, 10-lane tornado that is the I-5, and you have the Glendale Narrows.”

And this:

“Admittedly, it is reassuring to see wildlife thriving in the midst of such blight — the waters teem with great blue herons, egrets, black-necked stilts and other beautiful birds — but this is a nature experience only for those who have never actually experienced nature. Those birds are wading in treated sewage during the dry season and urban runoff replete with deadly chemicals, dog feces and other nastiness during the wet season; at any time of year, it’s also a garbage dump.”

Oooooo, I hope LA Creek Freak Joe Linton doesn’t read all that.

The Los Angeles River is certainly an acquired taste, one I’ve distilled from some 30 years spent appreciating its varied parts, from sections picturesque and stark — always ever hopeful of its potential.

Another thing acquired with that developed affection is a ready defensiveness to tell people like Dan Turner to just give it a rest with all that tired snark and overwrought hyper bollocks — especially if it indeed  derives from a single spin along a short section of its banks. If that’s true: way to put some dedicated research in there, Danny boy.

The river is what it is because of us and it can be something far better because of us. Yet Turner sees fit to turn his back on the wretched waterway, citing money and time as the reasons why revitalizing it is a lost cause.

Those are valid concerns but see, I’m the kind who’s a bit more willing to support such a dynamic restoration effort — even if I might never see it’s completion. In part because we owe it to the river and to our future as a liveable city. And also in part because I’m far more tolerant of the sensory distractions that troubled poor Turner so. Whether it’s in the river’s bed under the 6th Street Bridge or on the east bank marveling at never-before-seen-bird, for some reason the noises and the smells don’t get in the way of me taking my time to marvel at the oasis that the L.A. River is now and might one day become.

UPDATED (6/5): I guess I’d been hoping that the writer of the column was just an average joe freelancer-type who’d decided to submit his kneejerk thoughts on the river to the L.A. Times. Nah. Turns out Dan Turner’s on the paper’s freakin’ editorial board:


I read he lives in the Hollywood Hills. I’ll bet you he racked his bike and his anti-river bias to his car and drove both to the river.

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Will Campbell arrived in town via the maternity ward at Good Sam Hospital way back in OneNineSixFour and has never stopped calling Los Angeles home. Presently he lives in Silver Lake with his wife Susan, their cat Rocky, dogs Terra and Hazel, and a red-eared slider turtle named Mater. Blogging since 2001, Will's web endeavors extend back to 1995 with, a comprehensive theater site that was well received but ever-short on capital (or a business model). The pinnacle of his online success (which speaks volumes) arrived in 1997, when much to his surprise, a hobby site he'd built called VisuaL.A. was named "best website" in Los Angeles magazine's annual "Best of L.A." issue. He enjoys experiencing (and writing about) pretty much anything creative, explorational and/or adventurous, loves his ebike, is a better tennis player than he is horr golfer, and a lover of all creatures great and small -- emphasis on "all."