Archive for February, 2010

Begrudgingly canceled due to cold and wet weather that dropped in uninvited during our visit last Thanksgiving, I am excited to announce that Susan and I will be returning to Death Valley in early April not only so I can finally fulfill the 9-years-old dream of biking the 28 miles of bad-ass road from Ubehebe Crater to Racetrack Playa (inspired originally back in 2001 by this brief article, clickably pictured at right, that I found in Outdoor magazine), but also to check out any hot wildflower action that might be blooming out and about in them there vast solitudinous expanses.

Special bonus: we’ll be accompanied by family in the form of my cousin Margaret’s 18-year-old son Nathan (I think that makes him my first cousin, once removed), who’ll be coming out to California to spend a short vacation with us.

On the off chance any of you camping/adventuring types reading this wanna caravan out and join us, holler at me and I’ll send you the dates and details.

You might have checked out my post earlier this week on LA Metblogs cumbersomely titled “89 Snaps Of People I Passed While Biking This Morning On The Strand Between Hermosa Beach And The Ballona Creek Bridge.”

If not, in a nutshell, I had my sunglasses digicam on while biking from Hermosa Beach back to work this last Wednesday morning, and when I later reviewed the video I decided to capture stills of the frames featuring people I encountered along the way and ended up with 89 of them, which I then ran through some basic Photoshop filtration to give them an illustrative look.  Liking the results and feeling  it made for an interesting slice of SoCal life I tossed ’em all up on Flickr and linked to them from the aforementioned Metblogs post made that evening.

Then came this arrogantly assuming comment yesterday morning from someone who apparently thinks they know everything  and to prove it used the pseudonym “Privacy rights violated:”

Apparently you are unaware of the rights of individuals to control the use of their image in publicity. You legally are violating their rights to privacy. Just because people appear in public, does NOT mean you have the right to publish their images online for the world to see, and associate this with a blog. You have a right to take a photo for yourself, but not the right to make them public. An exception is when they are PUBLIC FIGURES and most all of these people are not. You need signed releases!

It was chuckle-worthy both in the person’s intense disregard for the true applicability of a person’s expectation of privacy in public places, and his or her blatant lack of awareness of my rights as a photographer and — for want of a better word — artist. Not to mention my 19 years’ experience in various journalistic endeavors.

I especially enjoyed the person’s apparent Freudian slip of “You legally are violating their rights…” Because that’s, in effect, absolutely correct. I am well within my rights not only to take photos of anyone and everyone on that bikeway, but also to publish them to Flickr and LA Metblogs.

And while it amazes me that there are people like “Privacy rights violated” who are so ignorant and adamantly demonstrative of it, at its core such a dimwitted display is an appreciated opportunity to explore and enforce the truth.

These five cactus pads were rescued as tiny sprouts a from a single dying pad (its remains visible on the right side of the pot) that had disconnected from the main plant. I’m particularly fond of the  exulting “arms” the pad in the middle has grown.

After Saturday’s rains, this tiny forest of mushrooms sprang up literally overnight.

One of my favorite signs of spring, this little flowering plant beneath the behemoth bougainvillea to the north of the front steps blooms annually, but usually only with one or two flowers. This year thanks to the increased rains it got an early jump and is really putting on a show.

Speaking of getting an early start, the backyard stand of callalilies has wasted no time making its presence known.

When it was announced that LAPD Chief Charles Beck was to be in attendance at this week’s City Council Transportation Committee meeting Wednesday, I would have bet good money that he wouldn’t show. Nothing against Beck, it’s just that in the recent past there have been blow-offs by the department to requests by the committee for reports and presentations, so it wouldn’t surprise me if its chief suddenly found something more productive to do than placate a passel of cycling types.

Then I heard that that Carmen Trutanich’s office had declined to file charges against the suspect who struck cyclist Ed Magos on January 6 and then, after getting out and observing a seriously injured Magos on the ground pleading for help, got back in her Porsche Cayenne and left the scene. This absolution against someone so criminally culpable and morally bankrupt compounded the frustration I was already feeling when I’d heard that the suspect later turned herself in to police telling them that “I may have hit something,” only to have the police for all intents and purposes condone such reprehensible behavior by sending her on her way instead of arresting her for felony hit and run.

Come the morning of the committee meeting I was pretty much the grumbliest cyclist in the city and made the snap decision to take a personal day, telling my boss something along the lines that “an important and pressing matter needs my immediate and direct attention.”

Then at noon I pedaled over to Heliotrope and Melrose in East Hollywood to meet up with a group of cyclists organized by the L.A. County Bike Coalition who were heading to City Hall and the committee meeting via the route that Magos took the day he got hit.

One of the items on my agenda as an Angeleno has been to visit City Council chambers, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d ever task myself with speaking there. But despite how much I hate doing so, I knew I had to do more than represent physically. For better or worse I had to verbalize it as well.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the lectern mic with all the bombast I’d been planning to drop. Beck took the wind totally out of my sails by addressing the Magos incident specifically in his opening statement at the beginning of the meeting. He said he recognized that the ball got dropped and that people were pissed and as such had spoken with Trutanich’s office, which had agreed to take another look at the issue (whatever that means).

So whereas I had been planning on using loaded words like “abomination,” “insulting,” “ignorant,” and “wouldn’t know justice if it hit them from behind and fled the scene” to characterize what I saw as uninvolved and uncommitted police and prosecution departments, I toned it down a bit, as follows:

It’s been awhile since I had a stray animal encounter as intense and involved as this one — the last being the relatively desperate one with Acorn the Jindo by the Galen Center at USC back in July of last year. That one had a far more satisfying ending than this morning’s, but this one takes the prize for uniqueness when you consider that a fellow concerned citizen who stopped to help the poor runaway dog and introduced herself as Melanie with the Animal Services turned out to be Melanie Ramsayer, the President of the L.A. Animal Services Commission.

So without further adieu, here’s the 12 minutes of me and eventually Melanie the most awesome city commissioner (and even a parking enforcement officer at one point) doing our damnedest to corral this uncatchable critter — who we think hope and pray actually made it back home.

Notes: Just after the one-minute mark when the dog charges into busy Olympic Boulevard about a block east of La Brea, you’re going to see me just look straight up into the sky. I did that not only because I couldn’t bear to look at what I fully expected to come, but also for another reason. Though I’m not one to trouble god with things that are probably pretty trivial as far as he’s concerned, I troubled him about that dog’s life right then and hard and as directly as I could. You can argue whether my prayer was answered, but that little dog made it across unscathed.

Other notes: You’ll hear me call the dog “Charlie” throughout the chase. I did this because he seemed to react to it when I randomly called him by the name.

The Saga Of The Stray Dog And The LA Animal Services Commissioner from Will Campbell on Vimeo.

Mainly this was an impromptu test of my nonvideo-capable iPhone 3G’s UStream video app that I’ve had for awhile and never used, and with it I managed to capture our Pumpkin’s distinctively odd and adorably unique purr. He even seems to ask a question near the end:

It was back in April of last year that I got the surprise of a lifetime via email from my daughter who shared that I had been a grandfather for several weeks. “Aiden Kristopher Coy Campbell,” she wrote, “was born March 20, 2009 at 7:25 a.m.”

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hurt at being entirely left out of what was not only such a momentous and miraculous period in Katie’s life, but also must’ve been a frightening one, too.

Shocked as I was at the news I was not at all surprised at being left so completely unaware. Katie and I are still slow and tentative in rebuilding our fractured relationship, and the process has certainly not been helped by people in her life who’d rather not see us succeed.

But out of my love and respect for Katie I won’t rehash the past. All I’ll say is had I been included, Katie would have had my support and love at a time when she could have most certainly used it.

In the months that followed I was hesitant to meet the baby. I chalk it up to lingering disappointment, coupled to a basic inability to wrap my head around the reality that at such a tender stage of middle age I was now a grandfather.

Well, both that denial and dejection were officially retired yesterday afternoon. Katie had texted me on Valentine’s Day weekend that she hoped we could get together soon and I texted her back asking about coming over this weekend.  One thing led to another and she was able to drive her and Aiden over and Susan and I spent the next several hours falling in love with my grandson, who’ll turn 1 next month.

Here he is with Jiggy, the first cat he’s ever seen, according to his momma. Aiden’s pretty much the first baby Jiggy’s ever seen so there was mutual curiosity and appreciation:

(click for the bigger pictures)

What a remarkable mom my Katie is, and what a wonderful little soldier he is. Aiden’s not just the Second Cutest Tyke Ever (behind Katie, of course), but he’s super energetic, curious with a ready smile or a stern look of reproach and a tremendous level of tolerance and poise in the midst of Ranger’s inevitable rowdy/barky wariness to new peeps. Plus he’s absolutely adorable. Or did I say that already?

Well if those pictures above aren’t proof enough, I’ll leave you with this quick vid of Aiden with Ranger discovering that the taste of dog nose is definitely an aquired one: