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All posts for the month April, 2018

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!