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January 27, 2012

Tribute to the Riverbed

This comes from the land called a few days ago, but the river is timeless. Or so said Heraclitus. A few days ago KCET's Departures offered a testimonial to a Los Angeles River tour.

One man said being on the riverbed beneath the 6th Street Bridge felt like being in a cathedral.

A woman said the riverbed was picturesque.

The Departures segment reminds me of the movie Drive, which had its charms. One sequence in the film shows Ryan Gosling's unnamed character taking Carey Mulligan's and her "son" down to the river. He wants to show his neighbors a place that's meaningful to him. Down in the concrete basin, there are trees and other flora, a bit of fauna, random garbage, and a moment of grace. It shows what a tiny, corrupted piece of Earth this character commands and that he is sensitive to beauty.

And that's our river.

January 25, 2012


Speaking of trees -- dead ones, that is -- I went to the Sam Maloof/Claremont artists show at the Huntington this past weekend. The designer was central in a community of wood workers, painters, sculptors, and ceramicists in Claremont, and he sure had a way with walnut.

There is astonishing beauty and joinery in some of Maloof's pieces on exhibit. Nothing "wooden" about Maloof. One chair (this one made of a variety of bird's-eye maple) was set in the middle of one of the galleries, and visitors were allowed to sit in it. The problem was the chair was so comfortable people sat and then just stayed there, smiling ridiculously. Seriously. So I would wait, but then wander a couple of feet away, and someone else would jump in and then sit there for another while, smiling. Finally, I got a turn (after my friend Nicole Panter saved the chair for me), and, yes, it was insanely comfy. I am still smiling.

maloof_hornbackchair.JPGAnother particularly beautiful work, Maloof's Hornback Chair (1960), made of walnut, left, reminded me of Max Ernst's Capricorn sculpture (1948), below.


Chair photo courtesy of the Huntington; sculpture photo via

Reader says pony post not funny*

At least one reader objected to my post about the pony at Magic Gas.

Reader emailed: "There is nothing funny about that photo you posted or the article. It's called animal abuse to have a grown man on a small pony."

The rider did, in fact, look big on the pony. So this morning I called the production company, Smith and Jones Films, and the production manager, Gus Koufoulas, said a Humane Society monitor named Irene was present during the pony rides, as required by law, and did not object to the pony's rider.

Any film production that uses animals is required to have a special permit and be monitored by the Humane Society -- even for fish. That's when a camera is present. But I have been told that non-filmers don't need a permit to ride a horse, or pony, at Magic Gas, as it's still legal to ride horses/ponies on all of the streets around here.

*Edited post: reader's name removed at her request.

January 24, 2012

Magic pony at Magic Gas



"There are cowboys and horses at Chicken Corner!" my husband said early this afternoon, so I hightailed it down to Magic Gas, where I found a horse and pony, a herd of white trucks, a man in a cowboy hat, a reporter from the Eastsider, and the usual-looking crew. A commercial for vitamin water. But did I mention the pony had green spots? Blobs of paint (or something) spotted its torso and back legs.* Reference points perhaps for when the CGI folk morph the pony into a mythical creature. Eastsider and I were ordered off the sidewalk, the P.A. explaining that they didn't want to have to pay a special effects worker to erase our images, which apparently didn't say "vitamin water!"

So we stood in the doorway of El Batey grocery and watched several takes in which a pony wrangler trotted the pony and its rider down a cone alley and then across Echo Park Avenue. At one point the pony balked and our rider fell off. But he got right back in the saddle (so to speak -- as there was no saddle), and when he successfully rode that pony to the curb he yelled "Hell, yeah!"

Hell, yeah, indeed. A green-spotted pony at Magic Gas.

*Eastsider captured the spots, here.

Improving on nature

This tree, an exceedingly rare specimen -- ornamental Japanese maple ornamentus or maybe a purple leaf plum -- grows in Silver Lake, near the Casbah Cafe. Seen on Monday.


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