Here Today, Gone Today

I always feel a twinge when something living gets destroyed, but in this case I’m in full agreement with our neighbors, who decided the towering row of out-of-control, top-heavy and increasingly teetering giant birds of paradise growing on the south side of their house needed to come down. Proof of how awesome they are: they even gave us a heads-up as to their plans and asked if we were cool with it.

So when I heard a crew arrive this morning and begin to make preparations for the plants’ removal, I grabbed a cam for before and after shots from the same vantage point (click them for the bigger pictures):

An Endeavour To Remember

With Endeavour’s morning arrival in Los Angeles delayed, I scratched plans to bike up to the Observatory for her impending fly-by and instead just parked an adirondack chair atop the roof of our house and camped out until she arrived.

Here’s a still of me and Endeavour taken by my timelapse cam, followed by a photo of Endeavour across Micheltorena Ridge to the west. Last but not least is the brief YouTube clip of the timelapse of me biding my time until Endeavor shows up right near the end:


In the grand scheme, it wasn’t a big deal — my participation in a ceremony this morning at Rio Hondo College honoring and remembering all of those affected by the horrific events 11 years ago today.

But it was a big deal to me. It was an honor to drive out to Whittier this morning, put on a freshly laundered and pressed Rio Hondo College Police Academy uniform atop a pair of specially shined shoes and join three of my fellow cadets on the campus quad. And represent.

The event was brought to our attention a little more than a week ago. The college’s Associated Student Body leaders had invited any available cadets from the academy to be involved in the event.

My first reaction was rather dismissive.

Then I thought on it harder and it dawned on me what a unique opportunity this was not only to show pride in my academy but to honor those in public safety who laid down their lives on September 11 many doing a job I myself now aspire to.

Some say I’m 20 years too old to chase such a goal. I say to them: watch me. Certainly I am a long hard way from that achievement. There are many push-ups to do, miles to run, shoes to shine, uniforms to press, and all manner of tests and tactics, protocols and procedures to pass and master before I can get to graduation next year, much less then begin to seek employment… probably from some who’ll look at me and say I’m 20 years too old to chase such a goal.

Daunting? Yes. Doable. Yes.

For now, though — for this morning — I didn’t think about all that. Instead I thought about the privilege of standing with my fellow cadets on this day — a student of public service and safety on a day made so sacred by those public servants who we lost.

We marched past a gathered crowd of college students and staff, took our positions of attention, and saluted when we were supposed to, including the full minute of silence at 9:11 a.m. Then when it was over we marched out past the crowd.



Timelapse: Memorial Day Ride

As I’ve done for many years now during the Memorial Day weekend, I get on my bike and make a solemn sojourn to Los Angeles National Cemetery. Late last week, in response to an inquiry from KPCC as to who or what their listeners would be thinking about and doing for the occasion, I recorded my thoughts for them via SoundCloud:

My Memorial Day Ritual by wildbell

It was a beautiful day and a beautiful ride, and as you’ll see in the video, I did my annual duty in righting a whole bunch of individual flags that had fallen. But I pedaled very pensively the way home, thinking both about the freshest graves I found there of soldiers killed in Afghanistan in August and September of 2011, and of those undoubtedly to come.

Thundering Herd

This is the odd perspective you get from my Silver Lake backyard when you jam an old low-res camera into the eye-piece of a 20X spotting scope (at right), duct tape them both together and point the contraption down at Sunset Boulevard and capture at a frame a second the river of humanity that surges through this spot just past the beginning of the seventh mile of the LA Marathon. First it starts as a trickle with the elite runners, then the street soon floods curb-to-curb before eventually easing back down to those diehard participants slowly bringing up the rear.

All in, it’s about two hours condensed down to about eight and a half minutes that to me gives off something of a vintage vibe, as if this was footage shot with a rudimentary camera in the 1920s and colorized.

UPDATE (3.19): For a less strange look, here’s some real-time video of the thundering herd as it passed me at the curb. After setting up the scopecam Susan and I walked the half-block to Sunset to support and cheer on my neighbor Dean who was running in the LA Marathon in support of and to raise awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project. When we got there, we found another neighbor, Ralph, who’d brought out his drum (as well as an excellent St. Patty’s Day-green dye job to his  goatee), so Susan went back and got my drum and together the two of us banged on them (with another neighbor occasionally accompanying on cowbell) as a parade of  thousands of marathoners entered the race’s seventh mile in Silver Lake.

Watts Happening Ride 2012: The Spokecard Art Is Here

I haven’t done much here in way of tooting/touting my upcoming bigger-and-better-than-last-time’s Watts Happening Ride next month, but I figured since I slapped together the spokecard art yesterday, why not start the tooting/touting now:

Basic details — When: February 18 at 9 a.m. Start/Finish: Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign at the northwest corner of Sunset Boulevard & Benton Way in Silver Lake. Approximate time to elapse: 5-6 hours. Total distance: 32.95 miles.

Optional partial ride: If doing the full ride isn’t feasible, consider joining the ride at approximately 9:30 a.m. downtown on Spring Street (anywhere between 2nd & 9th streets) for the roughly 9-mile segment to the Watts Towers. The 103rd Street Blue Line station is near to the towers and can be an alternative to get you back into downtown.

The Facebook event page is here. The complete route map is here.