While everyone is trying to figure out what happened in the jury room and assign blame or credit to the lawyers, there's a problem in this case that goes much deeper and its ramifications will be felt for years to come. It involves the women who testified about Spector's violent past - and the men who didn't because they weren't called (or in some cases, have passed away).
While writing my book Twentynine Palms, I met a woman named Tammy Watson. She had recently suffered a nervous breakdown. The daughter of a sergeant major in the Marine Corps, she was raped by a Marine shortly after he had returned from the Gulf War in 1991. Marines (and their families) follow a strict code - for the most part, they take care of their own. So rather than calling police, she went to her father - one of the highest-ranking black NCOs in the Corps at that time. He assured her that the situation would be handled. Six weeks later, the man who assaulted her raped and killed two girls in an apartment near the base. When Tammy saw their faces on the front page, she collapsed. But that was just the beginning of her ordeal.
A few weeks after the double homicide, she was on a double date. She and the other woman began talking and the woman remarked that her sister had recently been killed by a Marine. "Is his name Valentine Underwood?" Tammy asked. Krisinda said yes. "I have something to tell you," Tammy said. "He raped me. I thought my father was taking care of the situation. I guess he didn't and I'm sorry. I should have called the cops." The last time I spoke with Tammy was in 2001, ten years after both incidents. Barely able to get through a day, she still blamed herself for the murders of Rosalie Ortega and Mandi Scott.
The women who testified in the Phil Spector case all had their reasons for not calling the police after Spector threatened them at gunpoint. Presumably, so did John Lennon, Stevie Wonder, and DeDe Ramone - a few of the men who were on the receiving end of that behavior as well, according to the many legends that have swirled around Spector for years. Would things have turned out differently for Lana Clarkson if, just once, someone had called a cop? I pose the same question to those who think she killed herself at Phil Spector's castle. If, just once, he had been busted, the news would have spread, and perhaps, instead of hearing from fellow employees that Spector was "golden" (House of Blues seating jargon), Lana might have learned about his violent past and gone home.
I also pose a question to the media, the same one I asked in my coverage of the case for Spin Magazine and the UK Independent. For decades, reporters took their Spector cue from Tom Wolfe's giddy piece, "The Tycoon of Teen." He was a genius, Wolfe said, maybe a little nutty, but he sure had a lot of money. And that's the story that was written many times in many different ways, and it continued when he was arrested, and it only stopped recently, and now, is likely to resume again. Or perhaps not - if reporters can step away from the jury interviews and take a look at their own role in what happened on the night of February 3, 2003.
UPDATE: From the roundup following Wednesday night's online discussion of the Democratic presidential candidate debate (via Denver Rocky Mountain News reporter M.E. Sprengelmeyer's Back roads to the White House blog):
"Tancredo ripped various Democrats when they talked about his trademark issue, opposing illegal immigration. But he never got around to answering a pointed challenge from one of our panelists, writer T.J. Sullivan of "T.J. Sullivan in L.A.".
Sullivan, a former colleague of mine from the Ventura County Star, questioned Tancredo's assertion that illegal immigrants will "simply self-deport" if there's a crackdown on employers who hire them.
'Congressman, with all due respect, what you're saying is that the American people should turn millions of their neighbors out into the street, then lock all the doors and hope they go away.
Is it possible to defend that as a humane solution?'
Unless the congressman wants to come back and post an additional response, Sullivan gets the last word on that."
THE ORIGINAL POST is after the jump ...
As if there wasn't already reason enough to watch tonight's debate at Dartmouth, yours truly will be one of several featured participants in a real-time, online discussion of the exchange between the Democratic contenders for the White House.
Also featured in the real-time chat will be:
Elizabeth Blackney, host of The Media Lizzy Show. Media Lizzy's blog says she "brings a fresh, and sometimes naughty, perspective to her show. Remember, politricks - is just politics - with a finale. Join the afterglow."
Lynda Waddington of Essential Estrogen, a blog dedicated to women who "strive to bring the female attributes of integrity, cooperation and true compassion into our public policies." It is written by women who reside in Iowa.
Congressman Tom Tancredo, a Republican whose hardline stand on immigration is ... uh ... well ... hard (he reportedly told a reporter this summer that he "loved the symbolism" of a pitchfork and a torch when asked if the implements might provide fodder for a new Tancredo logo).
Sprengelmeyer, who's following the drive to the 2008 election from a bureau in Des Moines, says in the teaser that the discussion is expected to be "uhm, lively."
It's not exactly an afternoon tea.
Last night I snuggled up to indulge in the season premiere of my #1 guilty pleasure, "House." The episode featured a plot line in which a woman, crushed in a collapsed building, was struggling against other, mysterious, life-threatening illnesses. At her bedside were her boyfriend and mother. The boyfriend was standard-issue dweeb, but the mother appeared to have some bizarre facial anomalies. Her visage looked calcified, her forehead hardened into an Eric-Stoltzian-in-"Mask"-like precipice. Clearly this was some horrific genetic issue that was now manifesting in her lovely younger daughter. I kept waiting for Hugh Laurie to look at the mother and immediately go, "Aha! Lionitus Fasciatis!" or "Myofacial Cementiasis!" or some such thing. But no, everyone kept relating to this character as though nothing were wrong with her and I grew more and more confused.
House of course, eventually solves the medical mystery by figuring out the mangled woman in the hospital bed is in fact, not the woman's daughter at all, but somebody else from the collapsed building and her actual daughter is down in the morgue. Cut to the mother receiving this tragic news. Naturally, she is devastated, but her own mysterious disease prevented her from registering any emotion. Her face was a veritable Mt. Rushmore of granite stillness. That was the moment I made my own "no-duh" diagnosis: this woman was suffering from that silent killer that is cutting down expressive, gifted, aging actresses across Hollywood: Botox. This actress' strain was so aggressive, so disfiguring that it had completely handicapped her in her work. Unable to furrow her brow as one surely must when learning that your only child has been squashed under a big building, she was directed to cover her face with her hand and turn away from the camera.
Botox is a blight on our culture. It is destroying faces, personal histories and prime time television. We must stop this silent, disfiguring killer before it robs another actress of her most valuable tool, and us another second of our voyeuristic pleasure. All across TV Land, from "House" to "Desperate Housewives," actresses are doing what is known in the theater world as "mask work" -- where they must express through their bodies what can no longer be read in the face. But we go to TV, film and theater to watch faces contort and crumple with emotion, to see ourselves, flaws and all, reflected. If it was only perfect stillness and beauty we were after, then all we'd need is magazines.
You can help stop this epidemic by speaking out: tell a woman over forty that she's beautiful as she is. Please act now. The face you save may be your own.
Two weeks ago our family hit the LAUSD jackpot: we got a call from LACES (Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies) informing us our daughter had been accepted into the seventh grade. LACES is the Holy Grail of LA public schools (Blue Ribbon, one of the ten best nationwide in test scores). It also happens to be two blocks from our house. For most parents, this was a dream come true.
We were surprised - we had applied to LACES in an effort to game the magnet system, thinking we'd never get in, and thereby racking up points for high school. Our gamble backfired, and two weeks into the school year we were faced with an excruciating choice: yank our daughter out of New West Charter middle school, where she is happy and thriving, or pass up what is lauded as one of the best schools in the city
LACES is a known academic pressure-cooker, with a menu of high-stakes A.P. and honors classes. Their reputation is for churning out college-ready superstars. In this era of hothouse child-rearing, to question achievement-oriented education is close to heresy. But my husband and I have always questioned it, and in the stew of consideration we were embroiled in, we found ourselves once again asking ourselves how we as a family define success. Is an elite college really our ultimate goal for our children? Franny's immediate reaction was to stay put at New West. But I took her to LACES for a tour, on the principle she couldn't make an informed choice without seeing the other school first. She ended up being pleasantly surprised. She loved its big auditorium and art studios, its community services programs and personable magnet coordinator who answered all our questions and put some of our fears to rest.
Back at home we made a list of pros and cons. The biggest pro for LACES being that it goes through high school. In the parched public school landscape of Los Angeles, that is a huge consideration. Where would we send Franny for high school if she remained at New West?
I had as privileged an education as one can get, from private school in Manhattan, to boarding school, eventually graduating from Barnard College. No one ever asks to see my degree, and when I look back on my own education, it was actually the four years I spent in a bohemian boarding school reading and writing about great books, shooting the shit with my friends and hanging around in the theater that shaped me the most. The apple hasn't fallen far from the tree and if my daughter were a young attorney or physicist in the making, she would be starting LACES next Monday and I would be thrilled. But she is more explorer than go-getter, given to dreaminess and poetry with a tendency to clam up when she's put on the spot. I worried she'd be lost in a large classroom full of over-achievers.
After a day of puzzling it over, with a throbbing head, I found Franny in her room curled up with a book. I snuggled up with her and we batted the issue around one more time, both of us filled with worry that we'd make a decision we would later regret.
"I don't know Mom," she said in a voice laced with emotion, "I feel like I fit in at New West -- like everybody sees me for who I am." At her old school she was teased for being "the quiet, good girl" but at New West her friends all call her "deep" and she has blossomed into a funny, outspoken member of that community.
As I listened to her, I realized that all my reasons for wanting to send her to LACES were based on fear and laziness: worry about an uncertain high school future, anxiety that everyone else wants their kids to go to LACES, and the temptation of not having to drive a carpool. None of this had anything to do with the actual person next to me, who was already succeeding on her own terms.
So we did the unthinkable -- we turned LACES down. The choice felt incredibly good, because we didn't vote for one school over another, but instead, cast our vote for our girl -- who she is as defined by herself, and not by the rat race that thinks she needs some kind of edge to succeed and be happy in life.
Crossposted to The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erika-schickel/acceptance_b_65653.html
Are we still talking about THAT Charles Bukowski, the one who lived in LA and wrote and did many of the things described last year in The New York Times?
"... his nearly constant drunkenness; his bar-fights; his arrests; his whoring; his volcanic feuds with editors, friends and the women who dared take up with him; his liquor-induced hemorrhages and vomiting spells and apartment-smashing rampages ..."
It's what was left out that ought to bother Bukowski's admirers and critics alike.
If indeed the bungalow is the last of the rented residences left standing, then why not wonder aloud whether Bukowski might have helped knock the others down one booze-sodden punch at a time? It's no stretch to suggest that, if those walls could talk, they'd either stutter like a traumatized crime victim, or get up in your face and spit something like: "Bring it on you ugly mother!"
THAT was Bukowski, not this clever, sentimental adaptation that almost makes him sound like a prolific writer who enjoyed the company of women, got in a tussle now and then, and consumed more than two glasses of wine at fireside each evening.
I'm not talking about factual inaccuracies, although there has been one of those. Bukowski is not LA's "native son," as described by the preservation effort blog, which used the term in a form letter to the Cultural Heritage Commission. He was born in Germany.
This is about communicating the essence of an artist.
For example, the LA Times editorial was factually accurate, but the poem it chose to quote — Crucifix in a Deathhand" — was about as typical of Bukowski's work as "High Hopes" was of Frank Sinatra's career.
"Crucifix" is safe, almost lacy, and Bukowski was neither of those.
If we must engage in this search for approval from beyond the grave, then why not quote from "The Tragedy of the Leaves," which appeared on page 15 of "Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame" in 1983?
"... and I walked into a dark hall
where the landlady stood
execrating and final,
sending me to hell,
waving her fat, sweaty arms
screaming for rent
because the world had failed us
"... and as my grey hands
drop a last desperate pen
in some cheap room
they will find me there
and never know
nor the treasure
of my escape."
"B able to love
B able to feel superior
B able to understand that too much education is a fart in the dark
B able to dislike poets and poetry
B able to understand that the rich can be poor in spirit
B able to understand that the poor live better than the rich
B able to understand that shit is necessary
B aware that in every life a little bit of shit must fall
B aware that a hell of a lot more shit falls on some more than on others
B aware that many dumb bastards crawl the earth ..."
Bukowski was a writer, but not one of these bespectacled ones (I am bespectacled, so save the hate mail). There were no cream-colored suits in Bukowski's wardrobe; no Panama hats either, at least none that we shouldn't expect to have been ringed in sweat and dulled by road dirt and dried blood.
Bukowski told it like it was, but his truth was a writer's truth, something completely different from its distant cousin, journalistic fact. Bukowski's work was a reflection on and of the experiences he lived. As for what he thought outside the margins, there's plenty of accounts online that illustrate his notorious brashness, such as how he would sometimes hector the audience at his readings.
Bukowski was incendiary, given to outrageousness, like the time he was "caught on film, drunk, praising Idi Amin and Hitler." At one point in his life he "supported himself writing for skin magazines like 'Hustler' with humorous and very cynical pieces such as the provocatively entitled Western-spoof 'Stop Staring at My Tites, Mister...'"
Many people might find Bukowski's life shameful. Others will see it as typical of an artistic temperament and worthy of forgiveness. Regardless, the greatest shame of all would be for anyone to conveniently omit or curtail the most vibrant parts of his life in an attempt to honor it. Salute him, or spurn him, but make it clear that we're talking about that most rare of individuals, THAT Bukowski.
Remember, as he wrote:
"... there'll always be money and whores and drunkards
down to the last bomb,
but as God said,
crossing his legs,
I see where I have made plenty of poets
but not so very much
— "To The Whore Who Took My Poems," By Charles Bukowski, "Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame" (1983)
President Dwight D. Eisenhower mobilized the 101st Airborne Division to help escort nine black students into Little Rock's all-white high school on this day in 1957. Nothing in the LAT about it today, so here are some news links to various views of the desegregation of Central High in Arkansas half a century ago.
It was the first test of the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education ruling. More archival photos here.
A view of downtown LA from Mulholland Drive, shot Saturday afternoon between cloudbursts.
It was while burdened with my usual load of literary LA baggage that I tripped over a particularly bold pronouncement that protruded from a Time Magazine article this week.
The piece told of a local effort to preserve author and poet Charles Bukowski's bungalow at 5124 De Longpre Avenue in East Hollywood [just a block from the intersection of W. Sunset Blvd and N. Normandie Ave]. The bit of the story that made me stumble was in the lead paragraph, the part that said Bukowski's residence is "... the epicenter of a cultural earthquake that continues to rock Los Angeles's literary landscape."
Really? A place in which Bukowski flopped and farted on a regular basis is the epicenter of a cultural quake that continues to rock LA's literary landscape? What magnitude are we talking? Wait, I have to read that again.
"... the epicenter of a cultural earthquake that continues to rock Los Angeles's literary landscape."
Like I said, I've got literary baggage. In addition to having been one of the many LA writers who regularly attended poetry readings in the late 1990s, I used to be the co-host of the now-defunct Midnight Special Bookstore's open-mic night, and, without a doubt, I can confirm that Bukowski's work influenced many young LA writers from all parts of the world.
Friday after Friday, both washed and unwashed poets squeezed into Santa Monica's literary Mecca and claimed five minutes at the mike to relate with hard words and sloppy details their own antisocial attributes and exploits. Some provided not only tales of ugly one-night stands gone sober, but the residential addresses of each louse and a few suggestions about what to shout [or throw] at a particular window or door after 3 AM. Spittle-laced profanities often flew from the back of the store to the front, and helped gather standing-room-only crowds of onlookers who slowed down to gawk at our messy lives as they might an accident on the 405. It was the sort of thing you don't see at today's chain-store readings (many of which have been sanitized for your protection). Of course, the chains that censor their readings are the same booksellers that put special places like the Midnight Special out of business, and subdued anything close to the cultural earthquake of which Bukowski may, or may not, have been a part. But, what's done is done.
So what would Bukowski say about this cultural earthquake thing nowadays, I mean, say if he were offered an opportunity to read at a corporately cleansed bookstore? WWBD? [What would Bukowski do?] To answer that we need only calculate how many carefully chosen curse words and lewd acts could fit through a whiskey-soaked microphone before the manager was able to wrestle the power cord from the amp.
Corporate bookstores aren't about cultural earthquakes. Nor do they seem interested in airing the unfettered self-expression of today's would-be Bukowskis. It’s too much for our all-too-sensitive consumers, the type of folks, I guess, who are more offended by Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction than by a brutal sport that writer George Will once described as "a mistake" that "combines the two worst elements of American life. Violence and committee meetings." It's not my intent to bash football, but rather to defend it with enthusiasm equal to my defense of a wardrobe snafu that sent TIVO recorders into overdrive for weeks. Are we all expected to be as kind and gentle, as, um, Sally Field? Er, maybe not after her Emmy snafu. [She's lucky she wasn't tasered.]
LA's poetry scene has deteriorated more with each death of an independent bookstore (as well as the demise of many independent coffee shops) during the past 10 years. And LA has lost something vital as a result. The city is lucky to have the many fine poets who continue to seek out venues, and especially the mom-and-pops that continue to allow uncensored performances. But they're still fewer and farther between.
Nonetheless, attend any reading in LA and you'll find what I did a decade ago — talented and typical Los Angelenos, but typical only in that most of them are from somewhere else, like New York, Minnesota, Louisiana, Texas, etc... They may be here now, but they read Bukowski back there. My first Bukowski book was a gift from a girl I dated in Kentucky, long before I ever imagined that I'd end up in Los Angeles. She copied one of his shorter poems on the inside cover: "As the spirit wanes the form appears."
This landscape is waning.
Maybe the cultural earthquake referenced in Time is the one that started up north with Ginsberg, Kerouac and Burroughs. If so, it's in error, for Bukowski never would have counted himself, or his readers, among the masses of "angel-headed hipsters." He was something different, physically and emotionally older than the others; drunker, perhaps, with no interest in the experimentation, the guitar, or the patchouli.
If Bukowski was part of any cultural rumble it was one of his own making. He wrote for no one but Charles, endured rejection after rejection, educated himself along the way and rebuilt himself into a bullheaded bastard who knew his work was better than much of the trash chosen for publication instead of his. He was tenacious, like a stewbum with a bottle of wine and no corkscrew. He knew what many young writers seem to have trouble learning in this Internet age when anyone can stick a poem in a Web site and call it publication. Bukowski knew that a writer writes and writes and writes and damns the rejections all to hell. Bukowski wrote because writing was a form of pleasure.
Let's say Charles Bukowski continues to rock LA's literary landscape. Then what in God's name have poetic giants like Maya Angelou done to it, and why hasn't the literary arm of FEMA responded to help pull us from the rubble?
Perhaps this is just another unfortunate example of East-coast bias. Maybe assigning Bukowski the stature of "a cultural earthquake" is a way to rationalize that an important writer actually emerged from the depths of this burbalicious conurbation instead of someplace more literary, like New York, or Paris. Maybe some minds flash "LOL and OMG" when confronted with the notion that people in Los Angeles might actually be writers, not to mention readers. Readers in LA? WTF?
LA has been and continues to be the home of many great writers and poets, some of whom are from here, and some of whom are not. As Chicago Tribune columnist Mary Schmich said so well in a 1997 column that's often misattributed as a commencement speech by author Kurt Vonnegut, everyone should move around in life.
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.
And let's not forget the local poets and writers who've done their own share of rocking, artists like Michele Serros, whose recorded performance poetry from the late 1990s remains a cherished part of my collection.
As for the bungalow, Curbed LA blogs it has yet to be swayed by the effort to preserve it, and Time says Bukowski himself might not have cared much about the place. The conclusion of the Time story says "... it's definitely a lot of effort for a man whose gravestone reads simply, 'Don't Try.'"
Then again ... maybe Bukowski meant "don't try" but rather shut your mouth and go do what you love simply for the joy of it. If something good happens, by God, enjoy that. Drink to it even. Have a sandwich!
That appears to be what he meant when he reportedly said this:
"What do you do? How do you write, create? You don't, I told them. You don't try. That's very important: not to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It's like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks, you make a pet out of it."
* RELATED: An Incomplete List Of LA Writers, with links to their Web sites.
** RELATED UPDATE: CBS 2 LOS ANGELES reported on its Web site that LA's Cultural Heritage Commission decided Thursday, Sept. 20, 2007, to tour the Hollywood bungalow before making a final determination about whether to designate it as a historic-cultural monument.
*** RELATED LA TIMES EDITORIAL: The Los Angeles Times argued in favor of preservation in an editorial that appeared in the print edition, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2007.
Sunday afternoon --not much going on. Idleness is the Devil's workshop. With thanks to Franny and Georgia.
Addendum: I'm getting some discomfited email so to explain: This all started when I took my kids to buy candy in a liquor store and they noticed the "dolly-sized" booze bottles on display. We laughed about this idea for a year before we got around to executing it. They helped art direct some of the setups, but they have not been allowed to see the finished product with adult-themed titles. So have no fear, my children were not psychologically damaged in the creation of this layout. One viewer has asked, "What are you teaching your kids?" My reply: irony, humor, creativity and that its okay to mess with and re-purpose corporate mascots. Also, this project engendered a lively discussion of how alcohol addiction ruins people's lives. Good family fun!
Click HERE to see the entire, lurid, debauched set.
A Note to LAO readers:
I'm now blogging at the Huffington Post, and doing some cross-posting (or double-dipping, if you will, trying to make the most of all the free writing I'm doing). I wrote this summer-specific piece, went out of town, came back and it was published at Huff. So okay, summer is over and this is stale by a week or so, but its got "sense of place" in spades, and I hope you'll enjoy.
As I write this, my nine and almost-twelve year-old daughters are out, alone in the world, on the mean streets of Los Angeles, with only a cell phone and a fifteen year-old boy to protect them. They have gone with a pair of neighbors/friends/brothers up to The Grove, the nearby Rick Caruso-designed ersatz town square, masterminded to look just like the world did back in the forties, when children were safe to wander around the world on a summer's day.
The boys they are with are responsible, experienced neighborhood walkers. Their mom Christie is the author of The Three Martini Playdate a book which espouses a joyous, hands-off parenting style, and man, Christie really walks the walk, letting her boys roam the 'hood. Thus squired by these boys, I have allowed my girls greater freedom and our four kids have been having a Rockwellian summer together, riding their bikes over to each other's houses, ankling up to the local video store or meeting at the neighborhood pool. But today's extended outing seriously ups the independence ante - its a long walk to a crowded place. The list of potential threats to my young makes me woozy. Christie is upbeat and ready to get down to a productive afternoon of writing. "Call me when you get there!," I call fretfully as my baby birds, sun-blocked and behatted flit off down the street.
The mall is a scant two miles to the north as the crow flies, but for humans with shorter-than-average legs, its a schlep. I count twenty-three blocks on my Google map when I get back to my desk. Twenty-three streets to cross. I take comfort in the fact these are mostly quiet, residential streets.
This is the moment to stop worrying, to seize the kid-free day as the gift it is and do something housewifely and constructive like mix up a martini and continue the search for my G Spot. But no, instead I surf over to the Family Watchdog website and type in my street address. A map of my neighborhood appears, an orderly grid, but then over the grid a festering rash of little red dots blooms, each dot representing a registered sex offender. There is a pox on my neighborhood. A quick count reveals there are no fewer than twelve rapist/pedophiles between my house and the mall. Helpful mug shots show twelve blurry, pock-cheeked, braided, bespectacled neighbors who are probably leering right now through dusty Venetian blinds at my meandering, pubescent daughters. Eyes front girls, I think hard, trying to send a telepathic warning to my young - don't dawdle. This was the mantra my mother taught me back in the seventies, as I soloed on the streets of Manhattan. She believed a purposeful gait was the best defense. Of course, those were the days before Polly Klass, The Silence of the Lambs and all the attendant parenting nightmares that have since taken over our collective consciousness and caused us to hide our children away from the world.
I understand the predator map is meant to be helpful, but really it only makes things worse. What exactly am I supposed to do with this information? Like Dick Cheney's terror alert it only serves to amplify fear. I've done all I can to prepare for an attack. My daughters have both taken self defense classes and know how to kneecap an adult male, should it ever come to that. Now all I can do is fret at my desk, trying resist the manic urge to call their cell phone and check up on them, because if I do that, the predators will have won.
In New York City it is common knowledge that you're never more than ten feet away from a rat. Does that stop anyone from dining out? No, you've simply got to put verrmin out of your mind and dig in. Similarly, you have to let your children learn to move around in the world. I know the days of kids hopscotching down the sidewalk, running a stick along a picket fence, stopping to pick up a lucky penny are over. But my kids should at least be able to walk briskly through their neighborhood and join in the glossy, fetishized version of life in the good old days being played out over at the The Grove.
My daughter just called. They made it without incident. Now all I have to worry about is them wandering around that faux '40's fantasmagoria, easy prey for corporate predators and the hoards of loonies who think throwing their lucky pennies into a man-made pond while "That's Amore" is piped in over loudspeakers is a good substitute for real life. Its a big, scary world out there is all I'm saying. Maybe that martini isn't a bad idea after all.
Cross-posted to The Huffington post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erika-schickel/baby-steps_b_63179.html
I just received this report from fellow river enthusiast Misha Collins, who kayaked down the L.A. River last weekend. I love it when people treat the L.A. River like a river:
Yesterday I put in by the 5-110 interchange and kayaked to Long Beach. I was in a 50 year-old wood framed vinyl kayak with a canoe paddle. I had to portage a total of about one mile (because I bottomed out), but would not have had to portage at all in a modern river kayak.
It was a little gross, but all in all much better than I expected. No run-ins with authorities, a few cheers from pedestrians, cyclists and taggers.
The last 10 miles or so were quite beautiful. Lots of birds and rushes and even big fish. I only capsized 4 times. I traversed one set of rapids on a floating mattress.
I put in around 2:15pm and got to Long Beach at 8pm. 26 miles Pretty Quick.
If you'd like to see the river up close yourself--but not quite that up close--you can sign up for bus and car-caravan tours on the Friends of the Los Angeles River website (full disclosure: I lead them). The next two are Sunday 9/9 and Sunday 10/7.