thelastorchid

Susan’s company’s move a few months ago had her bringing home a dinged up orchid plant that at the time was just lots of thick, waxy leaves and little hope that the porch environment would be conducive to it flowering.

Or so we thought. Maybe it was the excessive heat and humidity. Maybe it was magic. It was certainly nothing I did, but dote on it and cross my not very green thumbs.

Within a few weeks a couple “branches” for want of the right word grew, first one and then a second, and from them more than a score of little nubs exploded into full-blown blossoms that never ceased to amaze me every day.

Equally impressive was how long the blooms lasted. I’m used to flowers that come and go over the course of a few days — maybe a week or two. Not these orchid blooms. They hung around and hung around until it finally started getting cold this past few weeks. Pictured up close and personal above is the last of them, snipped this morning and now stationed on my desk in a little pot of water where I will enjoy it for as long as it lasts.

With a little Quicktime trial & error I figured out how to include the footage of two perspectives in one file, so now for something completely different… For the first time I documented a bike ride (involving the CicLAvia of October 18, 2015, that sequed into Mr. Rollers’ Chinatown meetup and birthday ride) with cameras simultaneously mounted to the handlebars and the seatpost, resulting in this 5-minute hyperlapsed perspective on the 105 minutes recorded of the trip that’s probably guaranteed to induce vomiting or seizures or both.

The immediate focus on possible causes for the Dodgers going down to defeat after Thursday night’s loser-takes-nothing Game 5 of the National League Division Series between the Dodgers and the Mets was primarily on the heated exchange that took place in the dugout between player Andre Ethier and coach Don Mattingly.

How very aura- and karma-oriented (aka LA-LA-land) of those who attributed that argument to an increase in negativity that ultimately engulfed and doomed the Blue Crew.

Bullshit.

Yes, I have a different point of view. The Dodgers lost the game, not because Ethier was pissed off at whatever he was pissed off at in the bottom of the third inning. They lost in the top of the fourth because that’s when a spell got put on ’em enducing a collective amnesia that let everyone on the field wearing a blue cap forgetting completely and entirely about that little bit of real estate they’re in charge of defensing, commonly known as third base. It’s kind of important.

Let me set it up as best I can. We’ve got a Met player named Daniel Murphy on first base. Another Met named Lucas Duda is at the plate. There’s one out. Pitcher Zack Grienke is on the mound working his magic. The Dodger infield, specifically second baseman Howie Kendrick, shortstop Corey Seager and third baseman Justin Turner have strategically super-shifted to their lefts away from their standard positions to better protect any hits getting through into right centerfield or right field and possibly execute an inning-ending double play. Seager’s moved closer to second base, Kendrick’s moved closer to first base and the most severe relocation of all, Turner stands marooned all the way out in shallow right field.

Duda ultimately draws a walk and in doing so Murphy advances to second base. Dodger catcher Yasmani Grandal tosses the ball back to Grienke. Next batter, right? Wouldn’t that have been nice.

See, here’s were the bell tolled for Los Angeles. Murphy, while on his casual trot to second and who’s apparently known for being one of the dimmest baserunners in the league, sees third base completely w-i-d-e open and simply continues around second until sliding safely into third and standing atop it with what has to be one of most casual steals in the history of Major League Baseball; certainly its postseason. Sure, Murphy broke into a sprint to get there, but he didn’t have to. The Dodgers were so glacially slow on the uptake he could have slowed to a walk. It was sooooo laidback — and the Dodgers soooooo zen-like in their complete lack of awareness — that he could’ve stopped between second and third and lit a cigarette. Or whipped out his cell phone and called his mom.

“Hey mom, guess where I am?”

“Well dear, it looks on the TV that you’re on your way to making the Dodgers look really bush league stupid!”

Only Grandal, yelling helplessly at the plate made an attempt in complete vain to alert his comrades to the theft in progress and they were all, whaaaaa-? Huunh? Ooooooh. Turner started to jog toward third figuring better to react late than never.

So egregious was this Dodger failure of How To Play The Game (committed, mind you, not at the speed of an actual base hit, but rather at that meandering pace of a base on balls) that third base  should heretofore be emblazoned with Murphy’s name because he now owns it. Flat out and forever. Mineral and air rights included. It is his. I will never ever be able to look upon it without thinking of him.

I cannot compound the disaster of this fail enough. We’re not talking weekend city softball league, we’re talking about Major League Baseball-caliber skill and play and strategery here. It should go without saying that players and a team that execute a supershift to protect a specific area of the field of play should then damn well unexecute it post haste to re-protect the area they left vulnerable.

Instead the Dodgers abandoned third base like a hockey team might pull a goalie from the net to assist offensively. The prime difference being that in hockey, such an effort is last-ditch, and not done midway through the second period.

Maybe afterward with Murphy camped out on the hot corner, the Dodgers tried to minimize it. Shake it off. Maybe they figured “Let’s just get the next two out and put this behind us.” Good idea. And the fact is they got the next batters out. Trouble is the first batter Travis D’Arnaud hit what’s called a sacrifice fly ball deep enough into right field to allow Murphy on third base to tag up, run home and score. And with that the Dodgers lead of 2-1 disappeared into a 2-2 tie.

At best if the Dodgers had protected third base after Duda’s walk, Murphy would have advanced on D’Arnaud’s sacrifice fly from second to third and been stranded there when the next Mets batter got out and the 2-1 lead would have been preserved.

What also would have been preserved was the Dodgers hopes for winning. But I think in the ensuing innings such an embarrassing and demoralizing failure to accomplish such a basic and fundamental element of their game was just dwelled upon gnawing away their confidence the way a flesh-eating bacterium chews up skin.

In pure poetry it was the same Daniel Murphy in the sixth inning who stroked a solo homerun off Grienke to give the Mets the 3-2 lead and ultimately the win. But to me the game wasn’t decided at the last out of the bottom of the ninth inning. It was written and done waaay back in the fourth.

Here’s a 5-minute hyperlapsed version of the roughly 18-mile, 105-minute casual bike ride I did Labor Day morning that went from Silver Lake and back via Atwater Village, the Los Angeles River Bikeway, Boyle Heights, the Sixth Street Bridge, the Scrap Metal District  and back up Central Avenue across downtown and through Echo Park:

farewellWith so many of my Los Angeles touchstones lost to progress and reinvention, in this city a landmark means almost always having to say goodbye — and that’s proven to be the case for the cherished Sixth Street Viaduct.

Only it’s not being demolished for some over-development. Instead it’s shortly scheduled to be brought down and be replaced by a modernized version because the bridge has long been ravaged internally by a concrete “cancer” that has slowly eaten away at it and compromised its structural integrity beyond saving. There’s something like a 70% chance it will fall in the event of a major seismic event.

It’s rather ironic that in a city that so often destroys itself, the bridge was a bit of a victim of its location. The on-site plant supplying the concrete during the bridge’s construction in 1932 produced a product with a high alkali content that reacted adversely with the area aggregate introduced to it. In a way it was doomed from the start.

And now the end is nigh. Work has already begun at various locations at and around ground level, but it’s been a bit of an unknown when the bridge itself is to be closed and dismantled. As such, on yesterday morning’s bike ride I specifically paid the beloved bridge a visit — perhaps for the last time — and paid my respects.

truk

It’s easy to take one’s tools for granted. Day in and day out, year after year, familiarity is said to breed contempt, but it also breeds indifference. Such is the case of my 18-year-old Nissan truck, which throughout our life together, beginning when I drove her brand new off the Glendale Nissan lot in July of 1997 with 18 miles on her odometer (she’s got about 127,000 and change presently), has dependably and dutifully gotten me from my points of origin to destination with no muss and no fuss (a couple of dead batteries along the way notwithstanding).

I’m not much for the pretense prevalent in you-are-what-you-drive Los Angeles, but at the same time this truck most definitively makes a true statement as to who I am. Certainly heads don’t turn when she passes, except maybe in cases of those few angelenos who might appreciate old pick-ups relatively well-maintained — and I definitely don’t make it easy for them to admire seeing how as I’ve only washed her roughly four times in the last six years.

The most recent of those washes came last weekend, spurred on in part by a rather thorough cleaning/organizing/purging of the garage. The truck’s thick blanket of dust and grime just didn’t look right in its corner of the freshly spiffed-up carport. So this past Saturday I rolled her over to a local self-wash, soaped her up, scrubbed her, rinsed her, toweled her dry, and dang if she hasn’t been catching my eye these last couple days — so much so that coming back from lunch yesterday afternoon I stopped and snapped the above photo.

Look too close and you’ll see the ravages of time; myriad pings, dings, scratches, pocks and the like. But from where I’m standing she’s a thing of beauty deserving my appreciation.

This Saturday marked the second time in two weeks my newspaper’s been stolen from the front steps of our house. Trivial? Sure. Infuriating? Sure.

Both times, the crimes have been caught on our surveillance camera, and from the fuzzy images it appears as if the same perpetrator has been involved.

So my next step? Oh I could lay in wait. Or I could tie fishing line between a bait paper and something that would make a great amount of noise falling over when the scumbag strikes. Instead I’m opting for some mind games. I’ll be leaving a decoy paper out inserted within it the following notice (click for a slightly larger version) and hopefully scare the punk straight:

fairwarning

« Previous PageNext Page »