Archive for August, 2011

For no good reason and/or the hell of it (using duct tape and earthquake hold) I managed to secure my cam lens to my backyard spotting scope eyepiece, which I then pointed at Sunset Boulevard between Micheltorena and Maltman in Silver Lake for the following two-minute timelapse of traffic. Maltman’s about two-thirds of a mile from the scope as the crow flies.

On a leaf of one of the six sunflowers growing outside the southside door of the house, I found this pattern. Are/were these eggs (or what’s left of them) perhaps or just the trail of some lopsided unknown bug (click it for the bigger picture). If neither than I’m going with a crop circle from the universe’s tiniest aliens.

I’ve met Tony Pierce the blogger on a very regular basis since 2003, but I’ve only met Tony Pierce the person once since then. It consisted mainly of a brief handshake coupled to my expression of sincere appreciation at finally meeting him, before he moved on to far bigger names in attendance. It was at Bar Lubitsch in West Hollywood, site of a blogger get-together organized by some blogging get-togetherers that required RSVPs and shit. All the cool kids were there.

It may have been the spring of 2007 while I was temping at DirecTV, though it might have been after the summer of that same year when I had enthusiastically started the editor job that I enthusiastically quit this past April. But whether it was El Segundo or Westchester where I had been gainfully employed at the time,  I biked to the bar and then home because that’s how I roll.

Nowadays Tony’s rolling in a sweeeeeet Chevrolet. A gift he gave himself for a job excellently done as blog editor at the LA Times — a job he got that same year, and given the success he’s had invigorating the Times’ blogging presence one he just shockingly lost recently as a result of the latest rounds of layoffs to thin the paper’s ranks and thicken its bottom line. Among other things, the Chevy’s on Tony’s mind right now, because it’s gone from reward to burden as he realizes its lack of practicality and its hindrance to his freedom both physical and creative.

He argues that he could be better a better artist if he could more readily avoid the materialistic trappings that come from the ever-quest for the dollar.

I can testify to that. I quit my job to be that artist. After practically a lifetime of back-burnering my creativity I gave myself an entirely unrealistic  four-month window to realize that dream. Now that window’s closing and surprise: I’m not much closer than when I started. And so I’ve started looking at/for job opportunities.

One found me. An email came Friday from a TV network’s online content manager who wrote that he found me via my work at Blogging.la and that a freelance gig was basically mine if I wanted it. Focusing on DIY’ers it would involve me parking myself in front of various hardware stores around town and finding people exiting to interview them about who they are, what they bought and for what project. The guy wanted 10 of these profiles. By August 15. The pay was $750 for the bunch. Fixating on that dollar amount like it was a golden carrot, I said I’d do it… making myself believe I could knock this thing out with a few hours work.

I couldn’t have been more wrong — and what pisses me off is I knew better. A few hours? Hell, by yesterday afternoon I’d spent two hours prepping and then more than two teeeeedious hours at two different hardware stores in Silver Lake and Echo Park along with a brief visit to the Hollywood Home Depot (long enough for an over-zealous security guard quick to demand I cease “soliciting” patrons), and what did I have to show for it? Not a single interview.

People were buying light bulbs and potting soil and extension cords and timers and crescent wrenches — or nothing at all. Or they were contractors or subcontractors shopping for materials. The single solitary person who came closest to having shopped for an actual project — she had a can of paint for a wall in her new apartment — was initially interested but practically ran away when I told her some snapshots would be involved.

With all that time spent I couldn’t help but realize how I’d so vastly undersold myself. At a cost of 750 of the network’s bucks I’d agreed to first spending an untold amount of time wrangling 10 subjects, getting them to read and sign the consent agreement (always a great ice breaker), then interviewing them relatively thoroughly from a set list of at least six questions, and then photographing them (a minimum of three different images involving the person, product and store were required). From there I then come home. Transcribe the recording of the interview, produce a 400-600 word profile, format the photos, write captions using quotes not in the profile, scan in the consent form and email all of it to the content manager.

Given the time I first spent familiarizing myself with the provided style guide, while printing out 10 of three-page consent forms, followed by those two-plus  hours vested in not even finding that first interview, it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that it could take me four, five — maybe even six hours per profile. Beyond the low dollar-per-hour rate that amount of work would equate to, was the fact that given the looming deadline 144 hours into the future I was looking at spending upwards of 60 of them just grrrrrrrinding this out. And I do mean grrrrrrrrrrinding.

So in actuality that overbearing guard at the Home Depot did me a favor. He said: You’re better than this, you don’t need to be on the streets “soliciting.” I came home hating to quit but hating even more that I prostituted my talents so eagerly for such a meager payoff (and maybe just maybe for the opportunity to be burdened with forthcoming and similar projects).

I emailed my regrets to the content manager and withdrew from the assignment.

I’d like to say with what was left of yesterday afternoon I immediately hunched over the keyboard and focused that negative aggravation into positive creativity, but instead I just stared at a blank page open on my monitor did a pretty good job beating myself up for being the sellout Tony’s trying hard not to be:

What he wrote early this morning sums it the fuck up:

if this aint the time to be making art and or making a difference out there i have no business calling myself an artist.
meanwhile, we all should be making art. while rendering unto caesar whats caesars.
because our mommas didnt go thru labor to produce sellout half-assed mediocrity.
when they saw us, they thought we’d be so special.
so for just a little while, lets be so fucking special.

 

The historic Paddle The Los Angeles River pilot program begins next weekend (continuing Saturdays and Sundays through September 25) in which the public will be legally allowed to kayak/canoe in the Los Angeles River for the first time in I don’t even know how long… decades, at least.

Now, it’s not something as easy as dropping a raft anywhere along the river that you’re willing and able.  The event, a culmination of efforts between city officials, the Los Angeles Conservation Corps, the US Army Corps of Engineers, and a variety of volunteer and environmental organizations, is hyper-organized, super-supervised, and takes place specifically along the section of the river in the Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area between Balboa and Burbank boulevards. And it’s not cheap. Tickets run $53.74 a person.

None of that hindered the 280* tickets available from quickly selling out after they went on sale this morning. Given how dear I hold the river to my heart, of course I was there at my computer when they became available at 7 a.m., reloading the registration page impatiently until it went live and I was able to order up two for August 21. A lot of other people weren’t as lucky. Less than an hour later they were all gone.

*Why so few? This inaugural program aims to assess the feasibility of the river for future recreational
uses, and its short timeframe only allows for a limited number of participants.

The Farmer John plant in Vernon is well known for the large, elaborate and meticulously maintained mural that wraps around its streetside walls Along Vernon Avenue, Soto Street and Bandini Boulevard. But until I was down in the Los Angeles River bed during my ride last week I had no idea the well-maintained artwork was continued along the backside of the facility not nearly so readily visible, so I attempted to capture a section of it atop the concrete bank and the river below it in something of a surreal juxtaposition (click it for the bigger picture):

On this edition of “Will Rides The River Bed — Again!” this time I’m joined by my friend Andrew and together we did something that I think is pretty unique in the annals of Los Angeles cycling, we bridged the long (roughly 8-mile, as the water flows) gap from the southern end of the Los Angeles River Bikeway in Elysian Valley to where it begins again in Maywood, by riding entirely in the river bed between the two points.

Actress Annette Charles, pictured above (in a near-immaculate Los Angeles River bed under the Sixth Street Viaduct with the Fourth Street Viaduct in the background) as villainess Cha Cha DiGregorio from the film version of Grease, died yesterday at age 63.

First Jeff Conaway and now her. Sigh.