I Made Huffington Post

My friend and fellow LA Metblogger David Markland, clued me in to the news that my little timelapse vid got picked up by Huffington Post, and even played on the front page:

The following images (clickably biggable) allowed me to practice my Giant Arrow Pointing To My Name skills:

Front Page:


Gimme A Sign!

The buzz on the blogs is that the Hollywood Sign is soon scheduled to undergo an authorized transformation of some sort. I’m fuzzy on the details of the metamorphosis but I believe it has something to do with raising money to publically procur the parcel of land near to it that’s been for sale some time.

Anyway, since our second floor guestroom affords us a view however distant and semi-obstructed of the landmark through the palms standing atop the Micheltorena ridgeline, I thought I’d zoom the webcam in as far as it could go in hopes of maybe capturing a timelapse of any activity undertaken.

Here’s a still from this morning. As you can see it’s signage as usual:


The image updates (and archives) about once a minute so for a current view (probably of more of the same), click on the Webcam thumbnails in the right column or visit my Webcams page.

Twenty-Four Years Ago This Morning

I heard the news via an unlikely source on January 28, 1986. I was in my Mazda GLC going from my apartment in Van Nuys to my job in the small business complex behind the gas station Barham Boulevard deadends into in the Cahuenga Pass. I was traveling on the gridlocked southbound 170 Freeway approaching the 134 interchange it passes under to become the 101. I was probably late.

I was listening to Rick Dees on KIIS-FM as I usually did, and coming back from a commercial break instead of launching into more of his usual shenanigans he spoke in a tone that was part solemn and part disbelieving in telling his listeners that the Challenger space shuttle had apparently exploded shortly after lift-off a few minutes earlier, reportedly killing all seven astronauts on-board.

To this day I’m not sure why the news hit me so hard, but I felt as if I’d been punched in the stomach by it. Overcome with sorrow I burst into tears, and sobbed as I crept my car along with the slow flow of vehicles while Dees and his on-air cohorts discussed what they knew and what they didn’t.

Eventually they ran out of things to say and put on a melancholy, reflective song that was a hit back then. It was “Life In A Northern Town,” by The Dream Academy. And just as my waterworks started to dry up, the song got to the last stanza of lyrics that close like this:

And though he never would wave goodbye,
You could see it written in his eyes,
As the train rolled out of sight,

I didn’t know who or what the song had been written about. All I knew was that those last few lines spoke of someone’s death, and for me from that point on they became about the Challenger crew never getting a chance to wave goodbye, of the space shuttle rolling out of sight and the sad and slow byyyyyyyyyyyyye byyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyye reflecting mine and the country’s heartbreak and loss.

I can hear this song today without so much as choking up, but it never fails to transport me back to that moment of profound tragedy.

Later that evening President Ronald Reagan was to give his State of the Union address, but postponed it and instead spoke to the nation about the disaster, closing with:

“We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of Earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.'”

They were: Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik.

Sixty Minutes In The Life Of Death

There is something about rampaging unstoppable wildfires and the literal and figurative pall they cast that both agitates and depresses me to marked degrees. It’s like such disasters create an internal tug-of-war wherein I want to got to irrational extremes — on one end I want to seek out destroy anyone even remotely resembling a past, present or future arsonist, and on the other I want to move to a place of permafrost and ice wherein there’s no chance of such disasters happening to me.

Because they do happen to me. Sure I’m not someone in the inferno’s path who’s lost property or suffered injury, but however indirectly and from whatever distance I am from the devastation I am nonetheless deeply affected by it.

As the following timelapse video of the Station Fire shows, I’m physically far away. From the roof of our Silver Lake home I set up the camera and captured the footage, condensed down to four minutes from an hour that passed last night beginning at 5 p.m.

It’s not very dramatic from a visual level, but with the spewing white plumes that power up above the hanging haze of ash and smoke, it makes me imagine gargantuan steam locomotives unseen behind a curtain of poison, destroying everything in their predatory paths. And it breaks my heart.

Confessions Of An Unrepentant Addict

Well, me going cold turkey in canceling my subscription with the L.A. Times lasted all of two weeks. No, I’m not going back. Not yet at least. But being that my newsprint addiction is lifelong and irreversible, I can’t go any longer without a fix — and sorry, but all the internet news out there does not replace the literal and tactile and olfactory joy of holding and perusing an actual paper.

That’s right, I even love the smell of ’em.

The words told me by George Lucas, the Herald Examiner distributor who gave me my first job, still ring true.

“Don’t even think about looking at the porn in my briefcase!”

No, that’s not it. Before he told me that he told me something else back in 1977 as he smoked filterless Camels and drove me around in a beat up Ford F150 truck showing me what would be my paper route. “People may not know where their next meal is coming from,” he said. “Or their next pair of shoes. They may not even know whether they’ll be sleeping in a bed or on a bus bench. But people will always want their newspaper.”

Champions of the online news revolution may scoff at such sentiment as quaint at best and extinct at worst. But I know it isn’t. It’s alive and well in me today. I want my newspaper.

So first I thought about keeping my source local and going with the Daily News — and I probably would’ve had someone over there thought to put a subscription page on their website. But instead the only sign-up option I was given online was a tollfree number to call and good grief but I imagined getting connected to a call center in Manila or Mumbai with someone wrestling to subdue a marked accent with painfully perfect grammar whose name was not Eddie or Nan or Brendan even though that’s what they’d say it was.

Instead I went to the big dawg. The New York Times. I have never before subscribed to the New York Times, mainly because it is hella expensive. My L.A. Times rate was an awesome $99 a year, which works out to about 27 cents an issue. The New York Times “special introductory” offer is $6.70 a week for 12 weeks — or about $1 an issue — and after that it’ll double!

That’s a lotta paper for a paper.

But this morning when I looked out on the front steps and saw today’s issue sitting there waiting for me I didn’t doubt its worth, nor my willingness to pay such a premium. I was just happy to see it, and will be at least for the next four months. I can’t say at this stage if I’ll pony up $2 an issue after that, but maybe I will. Or maybe I’ll give the Los Angeles Times another look. By then, the changes that resulted in my breaking things off will be implemented and maybe at that time I’ll find my first love better for it.

I doubt it. But we’ll see.

Thanking Of Me

Among the  variety of people, things and events the L.A. Times gave thanks for in its lead editorial in today’s paper they made sure to appreciate me too:

We also thank those who can drive but don’t, who bike and carpool and make good use of their EZ transit passes on two dozen public transit systems from Lancaster to Long Beach. Whether they’re motivated by gasoline prices or the health of the planet or the chance to just look at the city, block by block, we thank them for leaving their cars at home.

Right backatcha LAT.

More On Mountain Lions

My friend and fellow-L.A. Metblogs contributer Frazgo posted up news yesterday about an animal attack in Monrovia in which a bicyclist was reportedly aggressively chased by a pair of coyotes near a city park and bitten.

Fraz included news of the mountain lion killing last week that triggered my first post on the subject and linked to a post about it on the Monrovia City Watch blog, as well as to another post in the aftermath of mountain lion killing in September that I did not know about. The post itself is pretty straight-forward, but a follow-up comment by the same writer — written in response to a commenter who wondered why the creature couldn’t have been tranquilzed and lamented human encroachment — really blew me away and not in a good way, Here’s what he had to say:

I’m tired of hearing that we moved into their land. This isn’t their land they were not alive when homes were built here, they were born much later. If you want to be dinner for wild animals than be my guest or if you want to feed your children or pets to them then do it but don’t tell me that this is their land.

If you subscribe to that theory then where do you start and finish. Man doesn’t have a place on the planet because others were here before him. Non Native Americans don’t belong in the United States, we need to leave. Mountain Lions shouldn’t kill deer because they have a right to be here this is their land also.

We have a duty to keep ourselves, our families and neighbors safe and sooner or later we are going to have to start killing the animals that would kill us. We are the reason that they are so prolific because we provide an easy living for them that allows them to thrive in numbers that were unheard of a few hundred years ago.

There is no place to relocate them that does not allow their quick return and that makes all in danger and they have become accustom to us and we and our pets have entered their food chain and we are quickly becoming the prime target because we are the weakest, slowest and easiest Kill.

Obviously I submitted a differing point of view — surprisingly diplomatic in tone — that attempted to counter this fellow’s misperceptions. Unfortunately they were sent via an email form that the blogger can then decide to post or not (I’m betting not) and I didn’t copy them to paste them up here.

So suffice it to say that such a myopic and misinformed point of view is pretty aggravating.