Where The Hell Have I Been? Recovering.

It’s not like me to go more than a couple days between posting anything, and my excuse is that it pretty much took me the weekend to recuperate from the all-nighter I pulled Friday shadowing the 340-ton rock between South Los Angeles and its destination at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on the final night of the journey that began in Riverside County about a week and a half ago.

I left the house at 8:45 p.m. to bike downtown and meet up with my friend Joni, wherein we pedaled down to Figueroa Street south of Gage in time for the rock’s 10 p.m. departure aboard its elaborate 200-foot long, three-traffic-lane-wide transporter.

Here’s a clip of the monster vehicle juuuuuuust barely clearing a speed limit sign at the bend in Figueroa Street just south of Exposition Boulevard:

That above location will now forever hold a frustrating place in my head as it was where I suffered one of the most dumbfounding brainfarts of my life. In addition to the camera I used for the realtime footage, I was also timelapsing each pass-by with my GoPro cam on a small tripod. After the truck had passed, I packed up what I thought was both cameras into my pack and Joni and I headed up through the USC campus to get ahead of it to await its first left turn at Figueroa and Adams. Upon arrival I went to unpack the GoPro and it wasn’t there — meaning I’d somehow managed to leave it behind. I made the obligatory return to the scene of my idiocy but I knew the whole way back that the odds of the device sitting there untouched amidst all the foot traffic were slim, and sure enough when I arrived it was gone. Sigh. All I could do was hope whoever found it needed it more than I did and would take better care of it than I had, and I returned crestfallen to Fig and Adams where I spent pretty much the rest of the night (and weekend) flip-flopping between letting it go and kicking myself for committing such an incredible and inexplicable fail.

The good news is that the rock was making great time. We met up with my friend Elson at Adams and Normandie and after that the crew flawlessly executed the rig’s toughest turn of the night, a right onto Western from Adams. Not much later the rig completed the left from Western onto Wilshire at 1:30 a.m., and things suddenly looked like they might wrap up way ahead of schedule. But thanks to illegally parked cars along that homestretch as well as a traffic signal that needed to be moved out of the rock’s way (see photo below), it then took three hours to get from there to the front of LACMA, pulling to a stop at 4:30 a.m. for an extended stop/photo opp before a large crowd who cheered its arrival. Continuing west it made a right from Wilshire Boulevard onto Fairfax and then a right halfway up the block onto the museum’s grounds where it will be installed in the Levitated Mass exhibit slated to open in about six weeks. I said goodbye to Joni via text as she was somewhere else near a plug recharging her phone, and Elson and I headed back east through the quiet streets by the dawn’s early light.

Here’s a clip of the vehicle passing in front of the United Methodist Church on Wilshire Boulevard between Highland and La Brea:

About a block and a half after the church, an LADOT service crew jumped into action to elevate the traffic signal at Fremont Place so the rock could continue rolling:

Not taking anything away from the largest rock to be transported since ancient times, but honestly, the vehicle was more impressive than its precious cargo. And not taking away from the enjoyment of being witness to the final leg of its journey across town, but by the time I got home at about 7 a.m. all the coffee in the can wouldn’t have kept me awake, and I crashed until 11 a.m. and then again from 1 to about 4 p.m. on the backyard hammock. Sunday, I did manage to do some leaf sweeping in the front of the house and go get Susan and me some lunch, but that was about it for productivity.

Still, if I had the chance to do it all again, I wouldn’t hesitate. And I wouldn’t lose any of my equipment.

Autocalypse Now Ride

I had the excellent company of Ann, Harold, Robert and Thaddeus, a fabulous foursome of fellow cycling enthusiasts, who showed up at the starting point in Silver Lake to join me on the 47-mile trek that set out about 9:45 a.m.

From the left that’s Harold (who did the whole ride on a singlespeed!), me, Ann, Robert and Thaddeus after I led them offroad to check out the Sepulveda Dam spillway, whose vast concrete emptiness served as good prologue to what we would soon find on the Skirball bridge over the 405 :

And here’s the Mulholland bridge demolition in progress:

I still think the city missed a HUGE windfall opportunity to charge $20 for anyone to bikebomb the 405 down into the valley, but maybe that’s just kooky  me and my willingness to sign a waiver absolving all entities of any liability.

Anyway, Thaddeus split off from us at the 405 to ride Mulholland, and Robert bid us adieu at La Brea and Melrose, leaving Ann, Harold and me to make it to the oasis that is Scoops at Bicycle Square where Ann kept on going while Harold and I enjoyed an ice cream reward.

The only bummers encountered had nothing to do with gridlock or road rage — in fact the overall serenity on the streets brought to mind the unexpected and still unsurpassed two weeks of summer games back in 1984. Rather the downers were two flats I suffered (one partial deflation that held up until getting to Santa Monica and Sepulveda; and the second upon leaving Scoops), my iPhone’s otherwise ultra-dependable Cyclemeter route app shutting down inexplicably in Westwood, and my cam’s memory card filling up as we entered Beverly Hills, bringing an abrupt end to the timelapse vid at around the 36th mile.

But those were minor inconveniences to what turned out to be a great day for a ride:

Go Flight!

Yesterday a Delta IV Heavy rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, making history as the biggest launch vehicle ever shot into space from the West Coast of the United States. Here’s what it looked like from much closer to the action:

And of course, being geek enough about such things, I climbed out on the roof yesteday afternoon and snapped a couple shots of what it looked like about a couple minutes into the event from about 150 miles away (click images for the bigger pictures):

A Show Of Admiration & Support

Yesterday, a new newspaper hit the streets of Los Angeles for the first time in the form of blogdowntownWeekly. This is important to me not just because I will always be a fan of ink and paper — especially in this age of contraction in which I absolutely  love to see new incarnations of the format born — but more directly because it was started by my friends Eric and Kathy Richardson as a physical companion to their long-running and popular blogdowntown blog.

And frankly while I’ve known a bunch of publishers of the various magazines and newspapers that I’ve worked on throughout my career, I haven’t known anyone who started a newspaper from the ground up before, let alone been acquainted with them on anything beyond a business level. Certainly I’ve never gone bike riding with them like I have had occasion to do with Eric and Kathy.

So in thinking about that unique distinction and connection, I decided I had to do something more than just rah-rah the first issue’s arrival here in my blog. I had to go physical with my cheerleading and be an actual supportive part of that first edition. So I put my money where my mouthpiece is and did something that in itself was a first for me: I bought an ad — a small one that looks a little something like this*:

The picture is one I snapped of Kathy and Eric and other cyclists in the background during the inaugural “Ten Bridges” ride I put together waaaaay back in 2007. It’s not the best image owing to us all being in motion on our bikes at dusk, but what it lacks in clarity it makes up for symbolically to me in that they’re both captured side by side coming westward along the historic 6th Street Bridge toward downtown. Toward the place that would define their future. And now that future is here.

Maybe I’m working to hard to contrive a connection between the photo and their new endeavor, but the sentiment I express is sincere.

* I haven’t had a chance to get downtown yet and grab me an actual copy so I’m not sure how the ad looks in real life, but that’s what my questionable graphic design skills hath wrought.

What A Difference A Day Makes

You can click to gigantize this roughly knitted  panorama of a series of stills that capture the hundreds of people gathered prior to the start of the walk Sunday afternoon.

The news has landed. The coroner’s office has ruled today what many people feared and some will refuse to believe, that Silver Lake’s beloved Walking Man, Dr.Marc Abrams, killed himself.

Given how I feel about suicide I don’t want to believe it. Given the horrible manner within which he’s purported to have done it — by drowning himself in a covered hot tub — I can barely imagine it.

Not that I didn’t consider it in the days following his shocking demise last week. In fact I suprised myself by being ready to accept that conclusion if it had been a decision made in the wake of him contracting some debilitating illness that would ultimately immobilize him. But if he killed himself because of the criminal investigation that came to light, well… the following about-face might seem heartless, but as someone who spent many hours as a volunteer telephone counselor with the Suicide Prevention Center talking with people thinking about killing themselves but who had the strength to reach out for help, the regard I had for him just evaporated and the only sympathy I have is for those in his life who held him dear and who he so selfishly abandoned.

I’m not so narrow as to not realize there may be more to the story. Maybe he did reach out for aid and found no comfort from it. Nor am I callous enough that I can’t recognize the turmoil he must have been in to do such a terrible thing. But now because of what I can only accept as his official cause of death I’m left with abject disappointment, questions there may never be answers to, and the empty wish that he had been able to recognize there was a better way he could have gone.

I walked to honor Abrams twice, individually on Thursday and  yesterday with hundreds of others, because of what he meant to me and because I mourned the community’s loss of him. I wouldn’t walk for him today not because I no longer grieve, but because what he means to me today is something entirely less honorable.

Silver Lake Loses A Bit Of Its Stride

I was greeted this pre-dawn with a tweet from my friend Walt, saddened by the death of the man well-known as the Silver Lake Walker, otherwise known to his patients as Dr. Marc Jacobs.

In shock and abject sadness over the sudden loss of such a fixture of the neighborhood I then went about posting up on Blogging.la a bit of what he meant to me as a treasured community icon who I encountered numerous times since moving to Silver Lake in 2003, such as in the series of images above (click for the bigger picture), captured as he passed by me and other cyclists outside Trader Joe’s as we readied for a ride.

I’m going for a walk today at lunch in honor of him.

UPDATE (3:46 p.m.): Well, I did it. Took an extended lunch and logged five miles walking in honor of Dr. Abrams, stopping at Trader Joe’s to pick up a couple  bouquets of flowers in hopes of recognizing his house on Moreno Drive and leaving one there and leaving another at the mural on Sunset. Alas, I couldn’t recall the house’s location so both bunches of flora ended up at the mural.

And if there’s anyone reading this who thinks I’m making too big a deal about the man’s impact on this neighborhood, here’s a short and wonderful documentary from Lauren Malkasian made about the Walking Man a few years back: