Archive for July, 2012

As I was going through my morning chores routine I made a deal with my dieting self. If I stepped on the scale and the numbers weren’t lower than yesterday, then I’d “punish” myself with a bike ride.

Sure enough the numbers on the scale didn’t change so much as a tenth of a pound from the morning before so I saddled up and went forth to complete the part of Saturday’s ride through Griffith Park that I wasn’t able to because of a flat and severe tire laceration I got in Elysian Park. Lovely day. Beautiful ride. Better late than never.

And I came away with a new favorite shot of me in Griffith Park, snapped by my handlebar cam (not that I had an old one):

Crossing paths with a coyote in an urban environment is a brief affair — especially if you go on the offensive rather than the defensive. The last thing a coyote’s ever wanted around me is to get into some sort of stand-off as to who’s the dominant opponent. Mainly because I don’t give it the chance by charging and chasing and clapping and yelling at it to reinforce my immediate vicinity as a hazard to its well being.

This doesn’t mean I don’t have respect for the coyote — both as a creature with a rightful place in the city; and as the top four-legged predator in the urban food chain. It means I do my part to minimize its habituation to humans.

Then there was this morning’s coyote, who was not only a new one on the block (our regular coyotes are a pair and larger), but a whole different animal all together. Returning from our dawn walk with Ranger, Susan and I heard some serious rustling in the neighbor’s ivy next to our garage and weren’t too surprised to find what looked to be a relatively young specimen. The surprise to me was that though it was well aware of our proximity, it was in absolutely no hurry to get away from us in large part because it soon became clear that it had a food item that it wasn’t interested in abandoning. Since the smell of whatever it was eating indicated some advanced level of decomposition, we decided to leave it alone in hopes it would pick it up and leave with it. The “it” in this case was initially thought to be the remains of a squirrel but later I saw that it was the rear leg and hip of a cat… judging by its condition it was not a recent kill.

Ultimately it did exactly what we’d hoped and ran off with the item, and I got the following video of the remarkable encounter that I’ve turned into three separate clips (iPhone-based apologies for capturing the first two vertically instead of turning the phone sideways like I did in the middle segment). It didn’t look entirely unhealthy, but there was something not quite right about the coyote. It demonstrated perhaps some sort of vestibular impairment by moving its head exaggeratedly and keeping it tilted to a degree, plus its imbalanced gait was additionally hindered by a slight limp that I saw when it finally fled the scene. PS, I should warn you ahead of time that the last frames of the third clip feature a maggot-covered cat limb:

UPDATE (3:03 p.m.): After the jump are three images visiting last week that I just found on our low-resolution front steps cam. The first two shots are from the previously seen pair who paid an early morning July 4 visit. The third still is of a solo coyote (perhaps the same one as encountered this morning) from the late afternoon of July 6 — with a kill (species undetermined… cat maybe?) in its mouth. Dude!


Alternate Title: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, Or: If I Hadn’t Reported A Swastika Found Sprayed Beside The LA River Bikeway, I Wouldn’t Have Flatted In Elysian Park.

I’d set out Saturday afternoon to ride to the tops of both Elysian and Griffith parks. All in about a 30-mile route abstractly resembling a figure-8. I’d done it before. It’s one of my favorite rides, and it all began very nicely with me coming through Silver Lake and over the Hyperion Bridge down into Atwater Village before getting on the LA River Bikeway at the Sunnynook Pedestrian Bridge and (after stopping to report a despicable hate emblem spray painted under the Hyperion Bridge) heading downstream to its end and rolling across the Buena Vista Viaduct and up into Elysian Park. As you’ll see if you watch the video above I ease on around the Elysian Reservoir up to Point Grandview and then made the rest of the climb up to the little league fields at Bishop’s Canyon — which used to be a canyon until it became a landfill… but calling a now nonexistent canyon Bishop’s Landfill just doesn’t have the same zing.

Dutifully I rolled to the end of the parking lot to the picnic area there to take in the wonderful view of Dodger Stadium and the downtown skyline beyond it, but no sooner had I come up the sidewalk ramp when I struck a razor blade of broken glass in the most opportune way for it to slash an inch-long laceration into the sidewall of my tire and the innertube inside. So nstead of momentarily enjoying the vista and getting on with my ride I settled down before it to change out the flat.

Trouble is with large gashes in tire treads, I knew right away the reinflated replacement tube would herniate through it. So first I tried to dam things up with a spare patch, but it wasn’t big enough or thick enough to prevent the tube from bubbling through. So next I used a couple dollar bills folded and placed between the tube and the tire. That minimized the breach, but I knew the rest of the ride was out the window because I wasn’t going to risk that temporary solution failing. In its place was a gingerly ridden return to Silver Lake and a visit to Golden Saddle Cyclery Shop for a (long overdue) new pair of shoes for El Naranja.

Griffith Park will just have to wait. Until today maybe.

Despite what some might see as a physical and structural impossibility, I’ve long wondered if I could grow a seven-foot-plus tall sunflower in a six-inch planter box suspended off the south side steps, and now I have the answer (click it for the bigger picture):

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of historic vintage maps of Los Angeles. I love pouring over high-resolution versions of the documents and one I’ve spent some time with is a fantastically detailed bird’s-eye view of the city from back in 1909 that I found here on the incredible Big Map Blog about a year ago.

I hadn’t looked at it in awhile, but I opened up the file again yesterday for no particular reason. And while past explorations left me kind of certain that our neighborhood was further to the right side of this image, yesterday’s visit left no doubt that I’d been waaay off.

Here’s the section annotated below (numbered and arrowed by me; click it for the bigger picture):

1. The intersection of Bellevue and what was then Temple or Old Temple Road (now bisected by the 101 with London Street to the north of the freeway and Park View to the south). Our street was originally called Sugg (and then later Ensign) and it’s shown extending northward from that intersection into what was originally the Rowland Heights tract.

2. This was the key element that I hadn’t previously recognized. That bend in the road is now the present curve of LaFayette Park Place (one street east of ours) down to what’s now Benton Way.

3. Is essentially our house. Not really, but pretty dang close to where it was built in 1906. It was one of the first on the block, and its position there on the map is good in relation to the view we have of Sunset Boulevard, seen above angling up between what was then curiously known as Capitol Hill (what’s now Micheltorena Ridge) and Crestmont (site of the famed Canfield-Moreno Estate aka Paramour Mansion built in 1923).

Every year these last few Susan and I have made the front porch our July 4th destination because despite ALL fireworks being ILLEGAL in Los Angeles, it seems like far too many of our otherwise mild-mannered neighbors disregard that civic ordinance. And the result is an hours-long noisy, poppy blasty boomy show consisting mostly of bottle rockets and firecrackers, backdropped by whumps and flashes that seem to happen all across the celebratory war zone that becomes our city. For 2012, with Independence Day square in the middle of the week, I set the GoPro cam up on our steeply pitched roof aimed westward across the gulch between our house and Micheltorena Ridge to see if it could capture the broad magnitude of local lawbreakers.

PS. And yeah, while the visuals aren’t that compelling, the song track I paired it up with from YouTube’s library is definitely diggable. The title’s “Downside Away Blues” by Big Mojo.

With my handlebar cam still snapping pix after my Beverly Thrills Bike Ride finished earlier in the afternoon of July 1, I decided on the pedal home that I’d detour under the recently opened Levitated Mass installation on the grounds of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and visit the rock I’d followed along on the last leg of its journey to the museum back in March.