os Angeles Doings
May 8-20, 2003
Not the normal tourists seeking sunshine or movie stars or even trying to be in the movies, we two came to Los Angeles primarily to attend Gerry's 40th Caltech Reunion and to see his Aunt Zelda . We'd originally thought of spending a month in the area but that didn't pan out - we never made the effort to find an appartment. Instead we stayed in a motel, where we twice extended our stay. At each extension we asked for the very low rate that we had negotiated for our first week. Very grudgingly — one could even say with astonishment that we asked — the rate was granted. Maybe we initially got it because that week was particularly slow; maybe we continued to get it because it was clear that we would walk if we didn't.
"Primarily" is a key word above as we did much more than the two indicated visits. Both of us got colds, for example. That wasn't planned and certainly not welcome. In fact, we had been congratulating ourselves on the long time it had been since we'd been slowed down by a virus. On a more normal note, we managed to walk downtown twice, see Beverly Hills at least three times, and in general get well re-acquainted with the area. We had some great meals. We also saw some old friends who had moved to LA from Hong Kong and missed what we thought was going to be a reunion between Gerry and a friend he had not seen since high school days. Regretably, we didn't spend anywhere near our usual time in museums or hiking. We only saw the Page Museum in Hancock Park , the site of the La Brea Tar pits.
Our one hike was with the Chongs (Thomas and his daughter Bonnie are shown; Gina, his wife, took the picture) to the top of Mt Hollywood in Griffith Park. That was midway in Gerry's cold and before Jan's set in. If one or the other of us hadn't been sick to at least some degree throughout our stay we would undoubtedly have tried a longer hike. Five years ago we also also went to the top of Mt Hollywood, but started from much lower, in Ferndale, at the base of the Griffith Observatory, so the route was pretty familiar. Ferndale is a picnic spot that Gerry warmly remembers from his childhood. Like things such as Christmas and the depth of snow falls and the size of waves at the beach, the actualities that an adult experiences when he or she returns to the scene of rememberances don't live up to the memories.
If we had been truly healthy enough for such vigorous activities we might have followed this nice warm up with something like a hike to the top of Mt Wilson which we also did in 1998 or hiking and camping at wonderful Mt Pacifico in the San Gabriel Mountains north of the city and Mt Abel in Ventura county which we did in 1993.
On our Griffith park hike with the Chongs we had the good fortune to meet a budding politician. No, we don't really mean it. We like seeing wildlife and were fortunate to see a rattler or gopher snake cross our path. We have some disagreement about that — we didn't pick it up and closely examine it for rattles. When he was ten years old Gerry went to summer camp for two weeks in Griffith Park. He well remembers the counselors warning against rattlers and actually coming across them on a midnight hike. While on this hike Gerry searched for traces of the camp. It certainly is closed; apparently all traces of it have been removed.
Not all activities were "intense." Just like people who live "at home" we sometimes just go for a walk. While Gerry was out for such a walk (Jan was at the height of her sickness and stayed in), he passed through Echo Park (which has a great view of downtown Los Angeles) and came across this Castro look-alike. It seems certain with his cap, beard, and cigarello that this fellow would like to be compared to El Jefe. What the meaning of the bicycle wheel was is not obvious!
As to the lake itself, partially visible here, was Gerry ever taken around it in a baby carriage? Memory does not serve to answer that question and there is no one definitive left to ask.
Another "ordinary" activity was looking at the lunar eclipse of May 15. Apparently the longest occultation was on the east coast and the viewing was better because it came long after sunset. From our motel the viewing was not too great. During the initial occultation nothing could be seen. We're still uncertain if this is because the moon itself had not risen high enough to be above the tall buildings of downtown or because the night sky was not dark enough to even see the moon. Gerry checked every half hour or so and finally did see the moon as the eclipse was past its maximum. His Sony PCR-100 has a zoom lense equivalent to about 30-300mm. With the zoom at maximum he did get an okay image of the earth shadow over part of the moon.
While in L.A., we spent a lot of our time reading the newspaper, usually the Los Angeles Times, but a few times the New York Times. Here the photo shows the event of the day for May 13. We also spent lots of time with CNN and other TV programs, but we won't bother you with poor quality photos of TV screens.
We'd have liked to go to political talks like we did in New York and Washington . Five months in those two places allowed lots of that. Here, we didn't even make it onto a university campus (except, of course, for Caltech). By the time we arrived in California, President Bush had declared the major fighting in Iraq over. Apparently nobody told the A.N.S.W.E.R people. (It is putting it very mildly to say that we think the "Act Now To Stop War and End Racism" people just haven't got a handle on things.) It would have been interesting to see what rantings took place at the "Emergency Anti-War Conference".
One day we did attend a meeting of the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, downtown in the Hall of Administration. We're sorry to say that it was boring. All of the real business and debate apparently goes on behind closed doors. What we saw was award after award of some metal plaque, or certificate for good citizenship, being a good guy, or living a long time. Congratulations to these people. If we were related we'd be proud of them too.
And we also from time to time had to attend to domestic chores. One of them was the laundry. We were lucky enough to stumble across a place newly opened. It allowed you to wash a giant load of clothes for $1 and dry them for free. There was a catch, though: You had to pay using a sort of credit card for which the minimum purchase or charge was $5. That was easily solved when we asked a young lady if we could purchase $1 off her card. Very friendly, she said "yes."