Okay, here’s the deal. I don’t want Pharrell to be all, “Hey, this lady’s using my work as a naked cash grab!” But then I don’t want to avoid the cash grab completely. But, it is important to me that Pharrell at least have the possibility of making a bit of money off of this.  So, every post will have an Amazon link to something that will potentially put money in Pharrell’s pocket at the beginning. If it’s something that I’ve spent some of my own money on (the DVD of Despicable Me, for example), I’ll link it through my Amazon Associates ID. If it’s not (Britney Spears’s Britney album, which has the song I’m a Slave 4 U, which Pharrell wrote and produced, on it), I’ll post the naked Amazon link. I’m currently toying with buying Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories album, but haven’t decided yet. I guess we’ll find out if I buy it or not when I get there.

So I guess we’ll start with Britney, since it’s on my mind.

I hadn’t decided to do this as blog posts at first, so these first two hours are just my notes on where we go and what we see. Things get chattier and more detailed in future hours.


Midnight Mobil – Vermont at Melrose

12:40 – 4000 Fountain east to Hyperion then north to Glendale then south on San Fernando to Fletcher then northwest on Fletcher to Glendale to Rowena (?)

12:56 between 7th and 8th on Hope

1:00 a.m. Beats me. We’re indoors and the only words I can read look like maybe The Plump Gander? The Palm Court? That looks like a distinct possibility. There’s a Palm Court Ballroom in the old Hotel Alexandria in downtown LA that looks a lot like the room that Pharrell is dancing around in. If only I could see the ceiling. . . . Well, until I find something better, that’s my decision.

1:04 Hollywood American Legion Hall*

1:12 Outside American Legion Hall heading south on Highland to Mel’s Drive In

1:32 Back farther north on just south of Highland and Johnny Grant then west on Hollywood boulevard to Sycamore then back east on Hollywood to Highland and back south on Highland again to Hawthorn

1:56 Back at the Hollywood American Legion Hall, apparently.**

*2035 N. Highland

**You’ll see the term “apparently” a lot in these posts.

Note: I wrote this the night of April 27, 2018. There was some kind of maintenance thing going on, so I was unable to post it then. It’s April 28, 2018 right now and I’m trying to dig up something usable from the few photos I took at the concert. I prepared my regular camera in hopes that it would take better pictures than my cell does, and then left the camera in my car. If I come up with something I like I’ll edit this later.

Alex and I went to see Weird Al Yankovic at the Tobin Center last night. The last time I saw Weird Al live was in 1987, when he was touring with the Monkees. And even though he was “pulling out none of the stops,” to quote the back of the tour t-shirt*, it was still an awesome concert.

I’m behind on his songs, so I only knew maybe one in three (Alex didn’t know any), but I was able to follow most of the ones that I didn’t know.  I was really glad to be able to hear Bob live (my other favorite of his from the ones he did was One More Minute, which he did in 1987, as well).

The straight cover he did last night was Viva Las Vegas and the full parody was The Saga Begins. He also performed Jackson Park Express, which I hadn’t heard yet, despite having bought the Mandatory Fun album. I figured he probably did Jackson Park Express every night, but looking back at the set lists, I find he hasn’t. It’s a really long song, nine minutes, but I found the song engaging so the time seemed to fly by.

An interesting thing I discovered once I got home. Al described some of his “style parodies” as coming from a “what-if” game. And one of the songs he introduced this way was Dog Eat Dog, which he said was “what if I were David Byrne and I’d just gotten an entry-level job in an office” or words to that effect.  David Byrne is, as I write this, decompressing after having performed at the Tobin Center. I wonder if Al chose Dog Eat Dog specifically because he knew that Byrne would be playing the same stage the next night. . . .

*I think he pulled out one of the stops (maybe even two). There were flashy light things going on (which made it difficult to get anything like a photograph of him from the nosebleed seats) and he had a smoke machine.

On April 14, 2018, San Antonio held its second annual March for Science. The 2017 march wasn’t as well attended as I would have liked and the 2018 march had, from what I could tell, even fewer people. I haven’t yet been able to find any official numbers of attendees for this year, though.

2018 March for Science attendees

Some of the marchers. You can probably see what I mean about the sparse attendance.

We started out at Thomas Jefferson High School, the third-oldest high school in the city (the first two were evidently the Main Avenue High School (which is where CAST Tech High School is today) and Brackenridge High School (which is on Eagleland in between St. Mary’s and the San Antonio River)). A large number of famous San Antonians attended Jefferson High School including the Castro brothers — Joaquin (a US Senator) and Julian (the former mayor and who was Obama’s HUD secretary) and two Nobel laureates — Robert Floyd Curl, Jr (namesake of Floyd Curl Drive in the Medical Center area? Perhaps) and William E. Moerner.

Jefferson High School has a lovely building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Thomas Jefferson High School San Antonio, Texas, 2018

Jefferson High School. I actually like this one pretty well.

The Motorsport team from San Antonio College was there showing off the car that they were entering in the Shell Eco-Marathon in East Petaluma, California.*

The opening remarks were given by Ron Nirenberg, the current mayor, and then we marched down to Woodlawn Lake Park, sort of buzzed the park a bit, and then back to the high school. The march didn’t get much attention in the media, so only a couple of people came out to watch us (we also were watched by, and waved at, some roofers who were working on one of the houses in our path). I listened to the speech by the faculty sponsor for the Motorsport team, took some pictures of the building, and then hung around until I started to see people leave.

It was a very enjoyable march. It’s nice to get out with people who share the kinds of interests that I have. I just wish that there had been more promotion of the actual march, so that more people would have turned out for it and maybe we would’ve gotten more spectators.

*They won first place in a design award and fourth in the actual race.

Okay, let’s cast our memories back. Back, back, back. Farther than that. Okay, are you to 1978 yet? If not, we’ll wait.

Are we all here? Jimmy Carter is in the White House (I’m a big fan). David Berkowitz is tried and sentenced (I am a bit of a true crime geek). We had three popes, including the eerily prophetically named John Paul I, who really did put the “I” on his name (also a religion geek). And the top-grossing movie for the year? Grease.

If you’ve seen Grease, you’ll probably remember the drag racing scene. Remember the street they’re racing on? That’s not a street. It’s a river. The Los Angeles River, specifically.

There was catastrophic flooding along the Los Angeles River in 1938 and to fix the problem, they completely destroyed the river’s ecosystem. They dug the river deeper and widened it and covered the whole damn thing with concrete, as if that doesn’t add insult to injury.

In past visits, I’d seen the river occasionally, and it was just as heartbreaking an eyesore as you’d expect. I couldn’t believe that there ever had been a healthy river there.

In recent years, however, I’d been hearing that they’d been working on restoring the ecosystem. I’d heard rumors that there was enough water in some places that people were actually kayaking. This, I wanted to see with my own eyes. I spent quite some time trying to figure out exactly where the improvements had been made and how to get there. Finally I found an article in the Los Angeles Times giving directions that involved parking by the tennis courts in Griffith Park and walking behind the soccer fields. There, you’ll find a bridge over the Golden State Freeway which will lead you to the river. So, we did just that. It certainly was an experience, and on an early Monday afternoon in late July there aren’t a whole lot of people out and about, which made Alex very nervous. We got some fantastic pictures and got to watch an actual blue heron in the water of the river.

After a few blocks, Alex had enough. So we took what turned out to be the Alex Baum Bicycle Bridge back to Los Feliz, took Los Feliz back across the 5 and returned to our car. I’m glad I got the chance to see the revitalization of the river, even if it was kind of creepy and deserted, and I hope to get a chance to explore more (maybe on a weekend when there will hopefully be more people there) on future visits.

Also, coming back on the bridge is why I began my 24 Hours of Happy project. I was watching the video for Happy and noticed that Pharrell is on the Alex Baum Bicycle Bridge at one point. The end of the video directed me to the 24 Hours of Happy site and then I found the individual hours on Pharrell’s iamOTHER channel at YouTube, and it was all downhill from there.

Los Angeles River between Glendale and Los Feliz, 2017

Look at that. From this angle it almost looks like nature. And someday it will hopefully look completely like nature from all angles.

But back to our final day. Traditionally when someone from our pharmacy goes on a trip, they bring something back for everyone else in the pharmacy — magnets, food, pens, whatever. I hadn’t found anything yet, so I looked up souvenir shops and found that most of the best ones are in Hollywood. We hadn’t been to Hollywood yet on this trip, so we figured why not?

We found a parking lot not too far from Hollywood Boulevard and hiked for maybe a quarter or a third of a mile. But what a quarter or a third of a mile! We walked down the Walk of Fame looking at all of the names and watching the people looking at all of the names. I noticed, by the way, that Betty White’s star and that of her late husband, Allen Ludden, face each other, which I thought was sweet. We also went past the establishment formerly known as Grauman’s Chinese Theater. You may be familiar with Grauman’s. It’s the place where all of the actors’ hand- and footprints are in the squares of the sidewalk. I dragged Alex from actor to singer to director just agog and I managed to restrain myself and only take one (not very well framed) picture of Bette Davis’s square. Finally Alex dragged my attention to the task at hand and we continued to the souvenir store. I resisted the temptation to stop by again on our way back to the car, but we needed to get on our way to the airport to return to Texas.

We got our souvenirs and made it back to the airport in plenty of time for our flight. Unfortunately we were seated on the “wrong” side of the plane, by which I mean the side that faced out onto the ocean. As it took off, the plane circled around the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and from that side of the plane I could have maybe gotten one last picture of Cabrillo Beach, the lighthouses, Seal Beach Pier and the Queen Mary. Well, now I know. We need to be on the left side of the plane on our flight back next time.

And there will be a next time. Not in 2018, and maybe not even in 2019, but someday.

Well, okay. It’s late at night on April 4*, but today was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and so far no one I know has so much as mentioned it. I was expecting to be up to my eyeballs in King tributes and . . . nada.

I actually went and looked up the date on Google just to make sure that I was remembering it correctly.

So, to get this out of my system (since I’ve had this song stuck in my head all day for obvious reasons), even though posting videos that aren’t my work isn’t my style at all (and to keep the boys of U2 happy, here’s a link to (a remastered version of) the album the song came from at Amazon: The Unforgettable Fire )

 

 

*And actually closer to the time of King’s assassination than in the song. King was pronounced dead at 6:05 pm Central Time and it’s now 10:39 pm.

P.S. Oh, My God. Bono was such a *baby* 34 years ago!

When we first moved down here, Thomas and I drove downtown and then paid to park. We really wouldn’t have considered any other way, despite the fact that almost every time we went into downtown Chicago, we took the train.

In the last month, I’ve been downtown four times and I haven’t had to pay for parking even once.

We start on February 10. When trying to figure out how we’d get to the Howard Jones concert (which was awesome), I drove to the Pearl and walked downtown down the River Walk. I was both trying to figure out how to get to the concert and also trying to figure out how many tries it would take to get Foxy into shape so that we can take her downtown before we reach the end of her life. I measured our walk with her on February 4 and then decided to increase our range by half that amount every two weeks. I finally came to the conclusion that it would take us nine tries, which would get us to downtown the last week of May (we have since missed one two-week period of walking with her, so it will now take us until early June).

I explored a bit, because I wanted to get all the way into downtown.  I checked out the Southwest Center for Art, which was originally the old Ursuline Academy. I went on a tour of the Southwest Center in 2001, and Thomas has those pictures. So I decided to take some of my own pictures while I was in the neighborhood. I also checked out the Central Library (and got my library card renewed until 2020).

Once I got to the Tobin Center, I checked out a few parking lots and a parking garage, but while I was walking, I passed a bus stop which was less than a block from the Tobin Center and was a route that runs close to my home. I called the number on the sign and discovered that we could realistically take the bus down and maybe take the bus back as well (turns out that we were just a tiny bit too late for the first of the late buses, so we took a cab home).

The clock on top of the Ursuline Academy building only has faces on three of its four sides. The north side has no face because the school was built in what was then the far north part of the city. From what I’ve read, the only people farther north were Native Americans, who had their own methods of keeping track of the time.

After discovering that we could take the bus, I explored a bit more. I walked through to Travis Park, which used to be home to our Confederate Memorial. They took the monument down in September of 2017 and I hadn’t had a chance to check it out yet. Then, while I was there, I remembered a statue in the parking garage of the St. Anthony hotel, so I asked the concierge about it. The concierge said that a previous owner of the hotel (Ralph Morrison, I guess) had bought a lot of art from Europe and put it in the hotel and that statue was probably one of the pieces he bought.

February 15 was the concert, and we took the bus. We caught the bus about half a mile from our house then got off a couple of blocks from the Tobin Center.

February 17 was the Asian New Year Festival at the Institute of Texan Cultures. Alex and I took the bus again, but this time it was our usual bus, which leaves one of the transit centers and goes directly downtown. We drove to the transit center and took the bus from there.

Then today was his and/or my fourth trip since February 10, which was another walking trip. This time, rather than starting from the Pearl, we started from the Blue Star Arts Complex and walked north to downtown.

So there you have it. Walking south, walking to the bus, driving to a different bus, and walking north. That’s four different ways I got downtown and I didn’t have to pay for parking even once. If you want to get picky, of course, there are five directions here, because of the cab.

And I intend to get downtown one more way in the not-too-distant future. It’ll technically be back to driving, but still won’t involve paying for parking

This project is seriously eating into my language learning time. Before I started this project, I was routinely getting $2 and $3 easily. Now it’s like pulling teeth to get more than my average daily amount (currently $1.32) so that I don’t lose ground. And I’m definitely not going to make it for today — it’s 11:51 pm and I’m only at $1.30.

On the other hand, doing this project is going to give me 20-something new blog posts, so that will advance this part of my future as a self-employed something-or-other.

Speaking of which, I had something of a setback recently. I know that if I want to reach my goal, I’ll need to start investing in the stock market. So, to that end, I finally saved up the money and then the stock market dropped. I watched my stock for a couple of days and once it started going back up again, I figured I’d better get in while it was still low. And then it dropped farther. And farther. Fortunately, I’m investing and not speculating, so I’m just going to wait this out and figure that it’ll turn around someday. And if it drops another $50 or so I might go ahead and buy my second share now and then work to pay myself back for it.

Notice the words “20-something” up there. The 9:56 to 10:55:59 hour was spent in Union Station. The dancers really didn’t explore around the station much, so I’m probably going to lump that hour in with either the 8:56 to 9:55:59 hour or with the 10:56 to 11:55:59 hour, which means that I will have, at most, 23 posts.

On Alex and my last day in California, we finished up a couple of things I wanted to do but hadn’t had time to. The whole story will have to wait until I post my next installment (hopefully I’ll get to working on that tonight) but when I was watching the video for Pharrell Willams’s song Happy, I saw one of the places we’d been that last day. At least, I was pretty sure that it was the same place. I called Alex in and he agreed that it was the same place. Well, while I was working my way up to making these posts, I watched that video again (for reasons that you’ll understand when I post that post) and saw a note at the end directing me to go to 24hoursofhappy.com and so I did. And I discovered that the official Happy video is clips from a huge 337-person* project of people mouthing the words and/or dancing to the song. And so I began to watch it to see what places I’ve been to on my trips to Los Angeles.

I watched the first hour and then I realized that I was going to need a list. And then the list started to include notes on how I figured out where we were. And then I started marking the areas we’d been in on a map in Google Maps. This became a polygon (as I write this, after finishing the 9:00-9:59 hour my polygon has 10 sides and covers 21.64 square miles). And I put notes about that, as well.

I eventually realized that what I have here is the beginning of a 24-post series. So I think I’m going to do just that, once I finish my next post about the time Alex and I spent in California.

*Each segment is 4 minutes long, so we have 360 segments. However, the top of every hour is Pharrell, so I had to subtract all but one of his appearances because he does have to be counted once for the first time he shows up. So you get 337 people. Technically, it has to be more than that, since some of the segments have more than one person in them. We’ll have to just go with 337+ people,because I am not going to go back and rewatch those first nine hours to make sure I know exactly how many people are in there. I’m not that OCD.

I guess it’s not a terrible surprise that we finally did make it to the observatory on our last full day in California. I mean, it was totally a quest by then. If I’d needed to park in downtown Los Angeles and take the Red Line to the DASH, I would have done it with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.

Fortunately it didn’t come to that. There was actually no event at the Greek Theater that night, so we were able to park there for free and take the shuttle (50¢ apiece) up to the observatory. The shuttle was affordable and convenient and as a fan of public transportation, I have to give it, oh, 3.5 stars. You see, it wasn’t very comfortable. I had surgery on my tailbone 35 years ago and so my hind end is kind of picky about the surfaces I use it on. As a result we walked back down. But more on that in my special post on the observatory.

I have to admit that I’ve been up to the observatory something like four times in my life (actually maybe something like 5 or 6), but I’d never been inside until this trip. Always before we were there during the school year and there were always field trip groups in there. We’d visited the outside of the building, and I seem to recall visiting the room that has the telescope in it, which is on the roof of the building itself. I was very pleasantly surprised at what we saw and experienced while we were there. I’ll do a separate post on the observatory later.

sea cave, carrillo state park, 2017

This is about as good as photos of that cave got

After we left the observatory, we headed out to Malibu to visit yet another beach. If Thomas and I had known about the beaches of Orange County, then this trip probably would have been my first. Instead, however, when Thomas and I went to California that first time, we wanted a public beach. So, figuring that a park would be a public beach, I found Leo Carrillo State Park, which I will also go into detail on in a future post. Since Thomas likely has those pictures in his collection I set about creating my own. Alex and I took pictures of the rocks and wildlife, built our annual sandcastle (a rock castle this time, based around a rock that Alex found that looked like a grand piano) and slogged around to the other side of the rock outcropping where I made numerous attempts to take pictures of one of the sea caves. Finally we went back to the car (after bypassing the showers, which were awfully sulfurous-smelling). While we were rinsing off our feet in a little of our drinking water, we saw a car wreck (the front parking lot at Carrillo is a little too small for the trailer that the truck was pulling) and watched rescue workers come to help a man who thought he might be having a heart attack (I think it turned out he was okay). With everything else, it took a while to get out of the parking lot.

I wanted to take Pacific Coast Highway all the way down to our final lighthouse, but we gave up after 17 miles of stop-and-stop-some-more traffic. We headed inland in Santa Monica and took the 405 and the 101 down to Palos Verdes. I missed a step in my request for directions to Point Vicente light, but we got it sorted out and made it to the park next to the lighthouse just as the last bit of light faded from the sky. It’s been a long time since I went to California, but I swear that park wasn’t there 17 years ago. I remember a smallish building with a deck for whale watching, but nothing like the park that’s there today.

By this point, it was full dark, so we stopped in San Pedro for gas, got on the highway and headed back for our final night in our hotel.

Still working on that California post. I promise.

But before that, another project that Alex and I have started on. Our dog, Foxy, is (as I told you last time) getting old.  I want to take her more places and do more things with her, since her days with us are numbered. Her arthritis medication is damaging her kidneys. We could stop the damage if we took her off of the medicine, but then she’d be in pain, so we’ve decided to opt for quality over quantity.  Additionally, she’s getting a little dotty in her old age. Today we went for a walk and after we came home, when I went to leave the house for Alex’s and my outing to the Asian New Year Festival, she decided to go with us, despite not having her leash and walking harness. I had to grab her regular harness to stop her and redirect her into the house.

The Pearl Brewery

The Pearl, San Antonio, Texas, June 2017

So, I invested in a sling so that we can help her support her weight and, ever so slowly we are walking her down the Riverwalk from The Pearl (the old Peal Brewery along US 281 near downtown) heading towards downtown. Every two weeks, on Sunday, we’ll be starting out at the same parking lot, taking the same ramp down to the river, and going just a little farther south than we went two weeks earlier. The sling is great for her speed, but her endurance has declined significantly in the last few years. That’s to be expected; she’s the equivalent of a 96-year-old lady at this point. However, this also means that I don’t know if we’ll ever get her all the way downtown (if it turns out that we won’t be able to get her all the way downtown and back, our plan B is for us to go downtown on a Tuesday night when parking is free. But for now, we’ll try this. Today (I started this post on Saturday night, but it’s now Sunday morning) we’ll be going as far as the river across the street from the San Antonio Museum of Art (have I written up the museum? I can’t recall at this point) and then heading back to the car and coming home. We should, at this rate, be downtown by the end of May.