I Should Be in Bed

I really should. I have to be up in a little bit, but I just finished Hollywood: Photos and Stories from Foreverland, by Keegan Allen and I have thoughts.

I bought this book from the discount table at a store. I’m pretty sure it was my own store, but maybe it was a different Walmart. I started it a while ago and really enjoyed it, but something interrupted my reading and I just found it again and decided to sit down and read it cover-to-cover.

It is a truly fast read — most of the book is photographs — but it made me think things. So I’m going to try to capture some of my thoughts before they disappear.

I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of pictures of people. Sometimes I wonder if that’s a sign of autism* or of facing some of the abuse I’ve faced in my life or if it’s just how I am and there is no real “why.” So, when the first few pages of landscape turned into pictures of people, I was kind of disappointed. But Allen clearly loves to photograph people and somehow it shines through in the beauty of the people he’s photographed in this book.

Not everyone in this book is conventionally beautiful. There are old people and scarred people and one guy with a forked tongue, and somehow, they’re all beautiful. I wonder what his secret is. Maybe it’s just love.

There are also poems and little vignettes written by Allen that are stories of the people who come to Hollywood. Some are running from something and some are running to something. Some achieve what they dream of and some do not.

And as I read them and empathized with them (yay for reading!) I also reflected a bit on my own past. Recently one of my friends posted a quote about how we become what we need to be to survive. And that is very true in my case, but it’s time to expand beyond that, I think.

My whole childhood, I wanted to write. One of my first pieces of fiction was a story I wrote when I was in . . . second grade? . . . about a friendly black widow spider. I’d just learned about venomous spiders and they frightened me, so I decided to take away the fear by making the spider a friend.

A few years later, I discovered the Nancy Drew books and decided that writing adventure/mystery books in that vein would be a good way to become a writer. I was horrifically embarrassed by my first attempt, in which my girl hero was visiting Egypt and got attacked by a lion. My uncle knew that I wanted to be a writer and he asked me what I was writing. I was afraid to tell him because, well, a lion? Really? He asked me if I knew where lions were from, and I said, Africa, and he asked me if I knew where Egypt was, and I said Africa. He told me that why would I think it was stupid to have someone attacked by an African animal in Africa. That made me feel a lot better. Rest in peace, Uncle Edward.

The next big turning point in my writing was in high school. My freshman year, my mom was not impressed by my high school’s newspaper**, so she encouraged me to apply my sophomore year. So I did, and by golly, the only people who got in were those who had had straight As in freshman English. I hadn’t; so, so much for that. I very briefly considered journalism after that, but gave up on that idea quickly because if I couldn’t get into my high school’s newspaper, what was the point?

My junior year, I sweated blood over a short story about a girl who worked in the local ice cream restaurant (based not-so-loosely on the Baskin Robbins down the street from my house). Several of my friends loved the story and I submitted it to my high school’s annual literature magazine and it didn’t get in. My friend Donna was incensed. She actually went to the teachers’ lounge to ask the faculty advisor why it hadn’t gotten in, and the advisor said that it was a great story, but it was too long, so they couldn’t publish it.

My senior year, I had a creative writing course, and several of the things I wrote for that class did get into the magazine, despite my not having submitted them. My teacher submitted them, which was amazing.

Then I had a hard time settling into college and by the time I got it back together, I was an A student in Education and my writing fell by the wayside for those years. I toyed with a novel about two teenagers with hyperactive and distracted ADD (I didn’t realize that was what I was writing, but yeah) who go on a fantasy adventure and find themselves becoming friends, but that never really went anywhere.

I got my writing back together in the mid-9os when I discovered fanfiction. I wrote a lot a lot of stories during that era. Then Thomas and I split up and . . . so much for that.

That brings us to the current era, when I’m having trouble writing fiction. When I found myself needing money, I made a few hundred dollars writing for content farms. I wrote some history, some travel, some . . . gardening? And really discovered that non-fiction has some appeal for me. If you’d’ve told 13-year-old me that I’d enjoy writing history and travel so much, I’m not sure I’d’ve believed it.

I’m now considering some fiction. It’s like, oh, maybe a Rubik’s cube or something. I take my fiction out and fiddle with it a bit and then put it back. I then return to my history and travel writing and book reviews.

The two fiction things I have at the forefront of my mind right now are a fantasy novel that started out as historical fiction about a world where Chinese explorers discovered North America before the Europeans do and a steampunk story about a sibling pair carrying classified information cross-country from their dad to their mom. I’ll continue playing with these and who knows? Maybe someday I’ll be a novelist.

I might even actually write that ADD-kids book I wrote two chapters of back in the 1980s.


*I’ve never been diagnosed and I’ve done online screenings that say that I probably am not diagnosable, but I do have some traits that people on the spectrum have. If I’m on the spectrum, I’m on what one of my friends calls the not-inconvenient end of it.

**Now, I’m paraphrasing here, since this was, oh, dear God, 41 years ago, but she said something about how the newspaper read like it had been written in a foreign language and translated badly into English.

24 Hours of Happy: 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm

First, let’s get the money thing out of the way. Today we shall have an Amazon Link for the album for the Despicable Me soundtrack.

6:00 Now it’s brighter again. I don’t even know anymore. Pharell is dancing up the bridge with someone who, at first, looks like a Mountie but who turns out to be a famous choreographer named Fatima Robinson.*

I’m really glad that Pharrell and Robinson were dancing around actually on the bridge like this, because unless someone makes a replica somewhere someday I’ll never be able to see it up close like this again.

We continue walking around on the bridge until 6:16.

At 6:16 we go somewhere new and it looks really familiar, like someplace they’ve filmed a movie, maybe? Or someplace that I’ve pictured the action of a book taking?

Wait. We’re still by the 6th Street Bridge. I couldn’t even begin to tell you where we are in relation to the bridge; it’s too dark and the area has changed too much. Maybe by 6:20 we’ll have some clue.

Our dancer passes something that looks like maybe a small apartment building. It’s well lit and might still be there, but I’ve still got nothing.

Eventually I’m able to identify a mural that the dancers pass as being under the 6th Street Bridge, so that solves that much. Then at 6:34, the dancers dance across some train tracks. Those tracks are still there in October of 2017, putting the dancers on Mission Street. The 6:32 dancers pass a building that’s still there at 6:35.

The 6:36 dancer goes up Willow Street E. This is such a relief. At Anderson Street, we make a left and go down a block or so. Then we turn around and come back down Anderson to Willow and back to Mission. Then we make a left onto something that Google says is 6th Street. I. Don’t know. And then we come out on Anderson again. We make a right and go back under the bridge and it sure looks to me like we end at Anderson and Jesse.

6:56 It’s dark. Really dark. The dancers are being followed by a car with its headlights on, presumably so that we can see them with the backlight. There’s a plant of some sort behind a fence over there on our right and a building on our left. We emerge into the light and make a right-hand turn. Still no clue where we are. It’s kind of postapocalyptic looking. Oh, look. Civilization. There’s a street and traffic signals and an illuminated sign of some sort. As the dancers move around, there’s a building with blue words on the side. We go back into the dark alley and the 6 pm hour ends with our dancers backlit like before.

*Who choreographed the video for his song “Come Get it Bae.”

24 Hours of Happy 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm

First, for a Gratuitous Amazon Link, how about Pharrell Williams cologne? I don’t know what it smells like and for $40 I think I’ll probably try to track down a tester bottle. Pharrell Williams Girl by Pharrell Williams for Unisex 3.3 oz EDP Spray

5:00 Still in the parking lot. Looks like we’ll be here for a while.

5:08 This is Steve Carrell’s appearance in the video. We and a bunch of other people (whom I bet we’ll be seeing in the rest of the hour) are on one of the school buses. Carrell lip-syncs or possibly sings Happy to them and they all act annoyed at first and eventually get into it. When we move onto the next dancer, Carrell and the young kid sitting in the fourth seat back on our left-hand side are both gone. Is that kid Carrell’s son John?

While Carrell was dancing, the bus started moving, but it turned out that it was only going in circles around the parking lot. At 5:14, we leave the parking lot. It looks like we make a left onto College and then a right onto what was Alameda but has now become Spring. I’m pretty sure we make a right onto Sotello then another right onto what’s probably North Main.

At some point we pass a corner and the buildings that are in the video and on Google Street View aren’t at all the same, so from here on in, I’m mostly just guessing.

Oh. My. God.

I was right. We take North Main all the way back to College and then turn back into the parking lot where we started. I guess I knew where we were after all. Huh.

5:24 Our next dancer is the bus driver, which made me smile. We follow her out of the bus and right back out of the parking lot. We make a right onto College (What college is College named for? Has anyone else noticed how strange the word “college” looks if you type it often enough?). We cross Main and then make a right onto Main.

5:28 The next celebrity is Jamie Foxx who is dancing with his two daughters. Let’s see if I can figure out where we are. That looks like a light rail line behind them there. I wonder if we’re just farther up Spring Street or something. We are getting farther and farther from that light rail line and we definitely look closer to downtown now. Maybe it’s the Red Line? That goes downtown, I know.

And, of course, even if I find the place, this area looks like it’s under construction and this was filmed five years ago, so who knows whether I’d even recognize it if I could find it.

Eventually Foxx and his daughters leave the train tracks that they’re standing on and we see that part of the tracks have been paved over with asphalt. We see them walk up to a wall with a sign on it, but God only knows what the sign says. I sure don’t.

There’s an institutional-looking building in the background. A prison? A hospital?

At 5:35 or so, we spin around and we’re looking at the back of the bus parking lot. Which means that, yes, the institutional-looking building there is, in fact, a prison. It’s the Men’s Central Jail. The train tracks where we start out are evidently North Alhambra Street and the place where the tracks go under the asphalt is the corner of Alhambra and College. If you could see my face right now, I’m looking really skeptical about whether that’s actually Alhambra or if Google Street View has gone haring off in some random direction, like it did back there on Wilshire.

However, when I drop my little person onto North Alhambra on Google Maps, that is, in fact, where I end up. So I guess it is a street. Who knew?

So Foxx and his daughters walk part way up College, and the next dancer continues walking the same direction. The sign on the wall, by the way? Says “California Drop Forge.”

I thought we’d be staying by the Drop Forge for a while, but the 5:36 dancer takes us the rest of the way up College and across Main then makes a right onto Main.

5:40 We are joining Miranda Cosgrove . . . somewhere in Los Angeles. Let’s find out where.

Wait. We aren’t anywhere new. It’s just a different angle. Again. Of course, this is kind of both how and why they make so many movies in California. Change the angle a little and it looks like you’re in a whole new place. Cosgrove goes back up Main to College and makes a right. The song ends while Cosgrove is crossing Spring St.

5:44 We’re under the ghost bridge again (refer back to 8:04 am for that explanation). Let’s see if we end up on the bridge, under the bridge, or near the bridge. What bridge is “Under the Bridge” written about anyhow? Turns out Kiedis won’t say. It’s downtown, though.

I’m pretty confused about where we are, especially in relation to where we were back at the 8:00 hour, but I found the building that this guy is dancing in front of and now I’m afraid to move. I opened a new window and am looking at the shapes of the buildings that used to be there on the map and around at how things are now in Google Street View and I’m as certain as I can be (which isn’t very) that we’re on the other side of the bridge, but on the same side of the river as we were in.

What do you remember of your high school algebra? If the map were a two-dimensional graph with the northeasternmost part in Quadrant I, then in the 8:00 am hour we were in Quadrant II and now we’re in Quadrant III. I think.

We start out at Mesquite and some street that doesn’t seem to have a name. This street may also be Mesquite. I’m not entirely sure. We follow this unnamed street west. We cross Santa Fe and keep going. We pass where Imperial stops at the bridge and keep going. At Mateo Street, cross the bridge and start going back down the street that I’m certain is Mesquite.

The 5:48 dancer’s top is really cute and Alex said that he actually wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen in public with me wearing it. Granted, it’s probably five years out of date by now, but that sort of thing’s never been a huge concern for me. I’m still wearing some of the same clothes I had back when my mom was alive and she died in 2006. Heck, I just realized that my favorite winter top is older than Alex, so it’s at least 20.

We pass the Stover Seed Company. They seem to still be in business, even if the building is now gone.

I guess we’ll never get back to Santa Fe Street because the 5:52 dancer is going back up Mesquite towards Mateo and then makes a u-turn onto the bridge.

Now, when I read the article, they said that the times given are always pretty close to the time that they filmed. The example given was a 15-minute difference. I guess that the 5:56 dancer must have been closer to 6:11, because it’s quite a bit darker than it was when the 5:52 dancer finished. I know the night falls quickly in the desert, but this is ridiculous.

We continue going up the bridge until 6:00.

24 Hours of Happy 4:00 to 5:00 pm

I think I’m going to include a gratuitous Amazon link this time. If you buy Mandatory Fun by Weird Al Yankovic from that link, both Pharrell and I will make some money because this album includes both Word Crimes, hia parody of Blurred Lines, and Tacky, his parody of Happy.

4:00 So far I’ve had no luck figuring out where we are. It looks like a mausoleum but most of the mausoleums I’ve found just have skylights and this one looks to have fluorescent lighting or something. I did take a side trip because I saw that Jimmy Durante’s gravestone looked like it was designed for a husband and wife, but the photo I saw only showed him on it. I figured that his wife remarried and was buried with that husband or something, but when I looked up Margaret Little Durante’s grave, it shows the same gravestone with her information on it. That made me feel better.

Now, back to figuring out where we are. There’s a rose window up there. That should help.

Yep. It looks like we’re in the Mountain View Mausoleum in Altadena. Only it doesn’t look like the same mausoleum. Now I’m confused.

Wait. Is that the same waiting area that our 3:52 dancer passed through? It’s the same lamp, certainly. French doors? Check. Column, lamp, water coolers? Check, check, check. So I guess we’ve been in Altadena this whole time.

I also wonder if, instead of the mausoleum having fluorescent lighting, I haven’t been seeing that one fluorescent light this whole time. Nope. I definitely see two fluorescent lights at the same time now.

4:08 Are we going to spend this whole hour in this mausoleum? Also, this next guy has a man bun. Or is he a Sikh? He’s got a bracelet on his right wrist. Is it a kara?

I wonder if anyone famous is buried here. Findagrave says that there are 61 famous burials. I guess for a certain value of “famous.” Oh, my God. This is where Octavia E. Butler is buried. Oh, crap. I don’t know if Alex is going to be enthusiastic about adding another cemetery to our next California trip. Well, she’s not in the mausoleum at least. He’ll be happy about that.

4:12 We’ve left the mausoleum and are watching a small child and her smaller sister dancing around in the cemetery outside the mausoleum. Well, the older child is dancing. The younger is just exploring.

4:16 We’re still outside the mausoleum and our 4:16 dancer is a comedian named Gian Molina, who died in 2016.

We finally leave the cemetery grounds at around 4:22 and it looks like we’re on Sacramento, maybe?

Yes. We are definitely on Sacramento. We first head southeast and then it looks like we’ll make a left at Santa Anita, but instead we turn around, heading northwest up Sacramento again.

4:32 We’re somewhere else again, I think*. Let’s find out. This little kid sure is cute, though.

4:36 Well, maybe we aren’t somewhere else because I see a building that looks not entirely unlike the mausoleum there in the distant background. I wish I could see a street name or something. Okay, we have a big building or a mural or a big building with a mural on it on our right here. And the big building is really big.

4:40 We’re somewhere else now watching Stuart (?) dancing through a residential neighborhood. I’m also trapped because it’s midnight and my 16-year-old arthritic dog is having trouble settling down. She’s finally lying down and if I get up, that’ll make her get up and she’ll be forever trying to settle down again.

Some guy came out of one of the houses to take a picture of Stuart (and, presumably, his entourage).

We keep seeing signs that have the names of the streets on them, but the signs are all blurry and I can’t read them.

I’m so desperate to figure out where we are that I’ve locked onto a tall palm tree in the distance and am trying to locate that palm tree on Google Image Search.

We turn a corner and not only is the street name blurry, but there’s a tree in front of it.

4:52 We’re passing a restaurant or something but I’ve lost track because this dancer’s dress is just so cute!

I’ve found a phone number. Or most of one at any rate. What’s that last digit?

It may be the phone number for Occidental Entertainment Group Holdings, but their address isn’t the right place. Let’s try Google Maps, maybe?

I’ve got it.

Okay, so Stuart starts out at Willoughby and Sycamore and dances down the block to the corner of Sycamore and Waring. Our next dancer starts out headed west on Waring (and she really does pick up where Stuart left off – you can see him behind her. In fact, the guy who crosses the street before she starts must be part of the behind-the-scenes entourage or something; you can see him and Stuart walking off together). She dances down Waring to the block between Orange and Mansfield. Our next dancer picks up there and takes us to the block between Willoughby and Romaine (hey! It’s Romaine again!). And our final dancer (*such* a cute dress!) leaves us on the block between Romaine and Santa Monica.

Now what’s that big building I see in the distance on Google Street View? Before we go on to 4:56, let’s explore. Guess what? It’s the Hollywood Storage Building from 12:43 pm. Wow. It is big.

4:56 I got nothing. Lots of buildings. Lots of signs. A light rail station. I can’t read a single word.

4:59 I guess I just needed to be patient? Because we’re in a bus parking lot and the buses say “Atlantic Express.” I looked that up at Google Maps and one of the pins is just outside of Chinatown. And I could see at least one pagoda-looking building in the distance. Or, well, maybe not.

And what the heck is this big pinkish/white stripe across the middle of the damn map? The Los Angeles Marathon is today, I guess (now you’ll be able to figure out how far ahead I wrote this. I have no idea exactly when I will post this, but it looks like it should be at least two months from now; I can’t wait to find out exactly what the turnaround time will be).

So let’s try the other address. No good, either.

Of course, Atlantic Express rents buses so maybe these buses are rentals, which means that they could, once again, be anywhere.

Great. Let’s assume that the pagoda-looking building is, in fact, in Chinatown and look for a Metro station near Chinatown. That looks very familiar. We never saw the station very clearly, but that kind of looks like what we sort of saw. Let’s hit Street View and see what we see.

Oh, this is looking really likely. Metro station. Bus parking lot. Building with three triangular green awnings in front. I like this a lot.

So let’s start from 4:56. We start out in a parking lot just off Spring Street and under the Metro line. We come out from under the Metro line onto Alameda and then go north on Alameda to College. Then we go southeast on College until we get to the entrance to the parking lot. It sure looks to me like the buses say “Atlantic Express,” but I’m finding articles saying that they closed down at the end of 2013.

*Spoiler Alert: I never do figure out where we are during this part. I’m going to have to actually research it once I’m done editing and revising these posts to see if this fits in our polygon or not.

24 Hours of Happy: 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.

And, today, to give Pharrell Williams some money, we have his 2014 album G I R L. (and also some non-breaking spaces I wonder if they worked?)

3:00 pm Ah. Okay. This is the part with the choir from the video. We stay inside the church for a while, finally emerging into the afternoon sunlight at around 3:13. We head north on Marengo until 3:16.

3:16 We’re somewhere else. Again. Are we still somewhere in Pasadena? Are we back on Vermont? Dunno. It looks like a residential neighborhood with broad streets. I can see a street name. It starts with an “A.” “Algernon”? “Algonquin”? “Aloysius”? No parking. Bike route. A guy doing The Pony this time. Another illegible street name. Pine trees.*

3:20 Wow this guy’s backlit. It’s almost like one of my photos. Wait – there’s a sign. Let’s go back. It might be a hospital sign I can see “Main Entrance” and “ICC.” Another agave. There’s a big building with a tile roof in the background.

3:24. We’re not in the same place, but it sure looks like the same big building there. From this angle it looks like maybe an apartment building? Yet another illegible street name. And another – no, wait. Does that say “Mt. Pleasant”? Let’s try that out.

This could be it. We start out on Campus Road and Alumni (that’s our “A” street name) near Occidental College.** We follow the street (which is lined with pine trees and has a sign that says “ICC” on it) and just before we make a left onto Stratford, we can see a large building with a tile roof behind us. Mt. Pleasant makes a T junction with Stratford.

3:32 We’ve moved again. I think. Did we move at 3:28? No, I think that’s where we left off. We cross Avenue 49 in the right place. The background matches. The fences match. That’s the same mailbox.

That flowering shrub is the same.

So that house on the corner must have really changed.

I guess that is the same house. Amazing what a coat of paint and a deck will do.

The train of her wedding dress will be really grubby after dragging it along the street like that.

Oh! And we’ve turned onto Avenue 50 and are headed southeast. Then we make a left onto Meridian. I wonder what this bride’s story is. Is she a model or is that her wedding dress. Pharrell got married in 2013, didn’t he? Is this his wife?

No it doesn’t look like her. And that’s doesn’t look like what his wife wore at their wedding so probably not.

3:36 Rush hour must be starting or something. Those vehicles are driving right past that young woman (and, presumably, the entourage walking ahead of her). I wish I knew where in the block she was right now. ‘Cause there’s something in the middle of the sidewalk there and I wonder if it’s a permanent fixture or what. Oh, wait. We’re at the end of the block. And I don’t see anything on the sidewalk there, though it could be behind one of those cars***.

We cross Avenue 51 and I really need to go to bed. We’re hoping to go state parking tomorrow.

(the next day)

We make a left onto Avenue 52 and we might not have time to go state parking today. We both overslept.

We eventually find ourselves making another right back onto Stratford. Our next dancer is wearing high-heeled footwear of some sort (we’re still pretty backlit here, but I think they’re boots) and she looks a little unsteady on her feet, like she has either walked or danced in these heels but not both together.

3:48 We’re on a sidewalk. Are we still on Stratford? I see a steeple-looking thing there. Let’s see if I can find it on Google Street View. Yep. There it is. I wonder what it is. I know how to get back here from there.

It’s the Iglesia Adventista de Highland Park. It’s kind of a cool-looking building. Their Facebook has the name in English (Highland Park Seventh Day Adventist Church) but the information on the page is all in Spanish.

Oh, I can hear my late mom now. “She’s not dancing. She’s just posing.” We get the occasional dance step from this young lady, but overall, it feels more like she thinks she’s a model in a fashion shoot than a dancer in a music video. We continue following Stratford after it jogs slightly north at Avenue 55. How far back do these numbers go? Is there an Avenue 1 somewhere? Looking it up, the “North Avenue #” names only look to go as far back as 16.

3:52 We’re leaving Highland Park and now we’re at a cemetery? I wonder what cemetery we’re in. It’s not Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, I don’t think. Time to hit Google Image Search.

*I still don’t know where we were, months later.

**Alma mater of Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Barack Obama.

***for varying definition of “cars.”

2017 California Trip: Joshua Tree National Park

Every year, Alex and I visit some property of the National Park Service. In some years it’s a hardcore park like Yellowstone, others it’s a National Historic Site or something of that nature, like the National Mall or the Statue of Liberty. When we started planning the trip to California, I actually considered Channel Islands National Park for quite a while, but apparently they’re more fun for people who like to boat. And while I like to ride in boats, my only experiences with actually driving the boat involved me causing the canoe to capsize at Girl Scout camp.

So I went back to the proverbial drawing board and looked at the list of parks again. This time I did the math on Joshua Tree. I also asked a friend whose father is a retired park ranger and the friend said that Joshua Tree is a great place to learn about desert ecosystems. And with that I was sold. We ended up going to Joshua Tree.

Joshua Trees, 2018
Joshua Trees at, well Joshua Tree

We intended to get up early and head out at about 6 or 7 am so that we could miss the hottest part of the day. Yeah. That didn’t work out so well. By the time we got there (quarter to noon) the only wildlife we saw was a coyote who was apparently running late.

We stuck to Park Boulevard for most of our visit, arriving at the West Entrance Station and leaving at the North Entrance Station. We took the Keys View detour to see if we could see the San Andreas Fault (which is visible on a clear day). Unfortunately, it was not a really clear day. It wasn’t cloudy, I don’t even know if it was smog. I’ve been toying with the image and I think I can see the fault. At least it looks like the thing that’s labeled the fault on other photos. It doesn’t look like any of the faults here in Bexar County, though, that’s for sure. We also considered hiking out to the Lost Horse Mine, but we didn’t want to commit that much time to the trip in the heat of summer. I think we did walk out a while, but didn’t get too far.

Overall, we spent three hours at the park and saw most of the northern half of the park. It looks like if you want to see most of the rest you’ll have to be a more intrepid hiker than I am.

I did bring the recommended amount of water (a gallon apiece) and I even used sunblock. I wear a face lotion with sunblock all of the time, but generally the rest of my body is left to its own devices. The informational signs were informative and the people we bumped into were friendly and maybe when I return to California someday I’ll take some of those paths that go out into the hinterlands. Not in the summer though. I promise.

Yay! It’s Gratuitous Amazon Link Time! And in what I’m sure is a complete surprise, I’m going to post a link to U2’s album The Joshua Tree in my article on Joshua Tree. An awesome album by an amazing band (and I hope they come to Texas again someday — I want to take Alex to see them).

24 Hours of Happy: 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm

2:00 to 2:25-ish I really thought that we were going to spend another hour inside Union Station. Then, around 2:25, the dancer walks out the front door of the station and . . . keeps going. We start out on Alameda and head south. We cross Alameda at Temple.

What temple is this street named for, I wonder. Oh, apparently it’s not a temple, but a Temple. Jonathan Temple, to be exact, a rancher who lived in the area and was the first mayor of Los Angeles. No relation to Shirley, I guess.

Are we going to go down Temple? It looks like it.

And we start to go northwest on Temple.

2:44 Now we have three guys . . . somewhere. You can see an underpass and a pink and gray building behind them. We passed a pink and gray building on Temple, but this one looks less pink and more gray, so I don’t think it’s the same one, but I’ve been wrong before.

Maybe this is the parking garage from 9 am? Judging by the public art piece there by the underpass, yes, it is the Grand Avenue parking garage again and we’re heading northwest on 4th Street. At the corner of 4th and Hope, we make a right onto Hope.

2:48 4th and Hope was nice while it lasted. We’re somewhere else now. I see a sort of plaza with trees. I see buildings. I see a bicycle lane. I see Pharrell in Union Station (I goofed and restarted the video instead of pausing). There’s a bus shelter and a blue-and-white sign not entirely unlike the sign for Good Samaritan Hospital. Are we back over on that side of town?

Ah-ha! The words “Federal Building.” That should help us narrow it down. Are we back on Temple, maybe? A lot of the governmental buildings are out there.

We’re now on Los Angeles Street again, this time between Temple and Aliso. The blue sign is for the Los Angeles Mall. We cross Aliso and then go over the 101. Well, the dancers do. I somehow click in the wrong place on the Street View and end up on the 101.

Okay, I’m back on Los Angeles.

We continue north and pass a lady with a doggo. The dancer stops to pet the pupper and we see a man arrive with two more dogs in a stroller. There’s a lot of greenery nearby, so I wonder if there’s a dog park near where we are. So I look it up and we’re near Father Serra Park, which doesn’t seem to have a dog park.

In fact, Los Angeles has only nine dog parks that I can find. San Antonio currently has 11 dog parks. That’s one dog park per 441,000 Angelenos and one dog park per 136,000 San Antonians. Los Angeles had better get on the ball.

We cross Los Angeles and guess what we see in the background? If you didn’t guess Union Station, you’d better keep guessing until you do. Because that looks to be where we’re headed. Union Station is sure a pretty building and is framed very attractively at around 2:55:45 or so. I just kind of wish we’d spend some time somewhere else. Particularly since we’re burning daylight here.

I missed a day during the 2-2:59 hour because I had some kind of digestive thing. It may have been my motion sickness cropping up, it may have been something I ate, it may have been an eight-hour bug. But either way, watching Beattie look up into the sky after each dancer and then back down at the next one was making my nausea worse.

2:56 Where are we going to start the 3:00 pm hour? There’s a sign for California State Route 110 and the building there on the right sure looks familiar. Have I seen it in real life or in this video or does it just have one of those facades?

More building and our dancer (a) is being photographed from an awkward angle or (b) has a little bit of a limp.

Okay, we’ve left Los Angeles proper now, I guess. The building is the First Baptist Church of Pasadena. And it looks like the Google Street View car went through this area at night during a blackout. Never mind. I was in Pasadena Texas and not Pasadena California. That would explain the darkness (if the car did go through that area at night). There aren’t a lot of streetlights out that way, I guess.

So we start out on Marengo in Pasadena and make a left onto Holly. I wonder what that building behind the dancer is. Google Street View isn’t helping (though there must be a field trip to whatever this building is, since there’s a school bus parked outside), so we’ll use Google-Not-Street-View. According to the old school two-dimensional map, the building is the Pasadena City Hall. Also, according to the map, we’re just a stone’s throw from the Colorado Blvd. Bridge.

Looks like we’re going into the church now. I wonder why Pharrell is indoors for so many of his top-of-the-hour segments.

2017 California Trip: Hancock Park and the La Brea Tar Pits

Okay, so one of the points that is often made about the name “La Brea Tar Pits” is that “la brea” is Spanish for “the tar,” so the name is the “The Tar Tar Pits.” But it’s actually worse, I guess, than that. because the name may have the word “Tar” in it — twice — but the substance that oozes out of the ground around that area is actually asphalt. Tar is  a similarly goopy manufactured substance made from wood (generally pine) or peat or even coal.

I’ve been to Hancock Park three times now, and neither Thomas nor I recognized it the second time we went. They’d apparently done some renovations in between our visits. I wonder if Thomas still has the pictures we took on our first visit. I have some fun memories of that first visit. Asphalt oozes up out of the ground randomly around there and on our first visit they marked those spots with traffic cones. Thomas and I watched a rottweiler try to run off with one of the traffic cones. The rottweiler’s person was *not* happy.

My mom always kept a diary of our trips, listing where we went and when we went there and sometimes I really wish I was in that habit because I cannot for the life of me remember which trip it was when Thomas and I went to the George C. Page Museum, which is kind of the centerpiece of the park. The museum holds most of the major discoveries that they’ve found in the pits and also has the labs where they clean the fossils.

I’m pretty sure that the first time I went to the museum was during our 1999 trip to Los Angeles, which was when I was pregnant with Alex (on this trip Alex and I put a lot of emphasis on returning to places where I had gone while pregnant with him). They were shooting some kind of program on, if I recall correctly, Jenna Elfman, at the museum and that helps not at all because I can’t find any such program. Of course, Elfman is a Scientologist, so maybe it was some kind of video for internal Church of Scientology use?

The park itself has quite a bit of interest. First, of course, there’s the famous (and kind of distressing) statue of a mammoth dying in a tar pit. There’s  also a lovely garden and when you look more closely, you see that the plants are all the same kind of plants that lived there when the mammoths, dogs, and other animals found in the tar pits lived there.

There is also an observation pit, which wasn’t open during any of Thomas and my visits, I don’t think, and was closed for the day when Alex and I were there.  Also, when they were building the parking lot for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, they found more fossils. They put this material into 23 boxes and dubbed it “Project 23.”

Project 23 cases 5A and 16.
Okay, maybe “boxes” understates it a bit. These are some of the Project 23 boxes (and it took some doing to get this picture. I had to hold the lens of my camera up to a hole in a wire fence to get it). I think that’s part of the art museum there in the background

They aren’t planning to open any more pits to excavation, but between the boxes of Project 23 and the tar pits that are likely to be found while the city develops its subway system, they aren’t likely to run out of material any time soon.

Our Amazon link today is less gratuitous than usual. It’s the movie The Last Action Hero, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. This link brought to you by Danny standing next to Jack watching Jack wiping the tar off himself and opining that tar sticks to some people.

24 Hours of Happy: 1:00 to 1:56 pm

First, let’s try to give Pharrell some money. I can’t remember if I’ve posted a link to his previous book, but here’s the sequel: Pharrell: A Fish Doesn’t Know It’s Wet.

Today in grousing about WordPress 5.0, when I copied-and-pasted this blog post from the original document, I lost random spaces somehow. I did not have this problem in WordPress-whatever-comes-before-5.0.

1:00 So are we going to start out in the same gym? Let’s find out.

Yes, we are. And Pharrell makes a bit of a show of flinching away from the boxers practicing around him. Our 12:56 dancer is exercising in the background for most of the four minutes that Pharrell is in the gym.

1:04 Looks like I’m going to be able to phone this one in. We start out on 4th Street and go right back into the gym.

1:16 Never mind. We’re outside now and it looks like we’ll stay that way for awhile. Will we explore the neighborhood? Stay tuned and we’ll find out. So far, so good. We go west-ish on 4th Street to Omar and then make a right. Google Street View has a tent village (like a tent city but smaller) there on the corner. It might not’ve been there in 2013 though. I wonder how many of these tents are the same people? They seem to move around. The tents that you can see from 4th in October of 2017 are different from those you can see from Omar in January of 2017.

Okay, so at Boyd and Omar we cross Omar and head up Boyd. Along the way, we pass some signs saying that this is a sightseeing bus zone. What sightseers would be in this area?*

We cross San Pedro at Boyd and we’ve been here before. I went back and checked. We were here at around 11:20 am.

We cross Wall Street and this, I think, is a new-to-us area.

1:28 We skip ahead almost a block to the corner of Boyd and Los Angeles and start to head southwest. Our dancer jumps up and touches a Minion pinata as he walks along, and on Google Street View, there’s still a Minion pinata hanging in that spot in January of 2017. I guess that this video has been good for business for that store. We cross 4thStreet and then Winston and make a left onto Winston. We also pass more of those Loading Only signs. I was beginning to wonder if they were put there by the crew for the video, but you can see at least one in the Google Street View in 2017.

At the corner of Winston and IDEK-At-This-Point**, we cross Winston and pass another Loading Only sign. I’m pretty sure we’re on Wall Street.What I can see of the background looks like the Anne Douglas Center for Women. How much does a pay phone call cost these days? It looks like it was still 25¢ in 2013.

At Probably-Wall and Most-Likely-4th we make a left. As Happy goes into its I-think-”breakdown”-is-the-correct-term, our dancer clutches at her chest like she’s suffering heartbreak or an asthma attack. I’m pretty sure that I’m in the right place. The doorway of (what is in 2017) L.T. Gifts is in the right place. I’m so glad I’m doing this project only five-ish years after the video was made. In a few more years, God only knows whether I’d be able to find enough landmarks to identify where we are.

We turn into another alley (how many alleys is this now?), only it turns out that this alley is a shopping area of some sort. We emerge from the alley onto Winston, I think. Then, just before we get to Los Angeles, we turn into another alley. If I’m right about where we are,we’re going to come out on 4th Street. Let’s watch.

Actually we don’t end up on 4th. There’s another alley within that alley and we make another right down there. As of 1:45, we’re inside a building. I’m so confused. I hope we come out onto Wall Street or I’m going to have to go back and figure this all out again. Please don’t make me have to go back and figure this all out again.

We make a left onto whatever street we’re on.

Yes! We’re on Wall Street. I can see Cap Star*** behind the dancer, and Cap Star is on Wall Street. We make a right onto 4thStreet.

1:48 These three young men are celebrities of some sort. Their names,Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt and Jasper Dolphin, mean nothing to me. They are, from what I can tell from Wikipedia, members of a group called Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All. I hope you can hear the dubious tone of my typing. And I also hope you kids get off of my lawn.

We seem to still be where we left off on what is likely to be 4th Street and I’ve been reading entirely too much Breaking Cat News, because for a brief moment, I think that the cat on the middle young man’s shirt is Sophie.

We are on 4th Street, but I was going the wrong direction. I thought we were going northwest, but we were going southeast. We should be passing the LA Sands gym soon, right? Or am I hopelessly lost?

We cross San Pedro and keep going down 4th Street.

1:52 More Pony.

1:53:37 We’re crossing Crocker Street, which does, in fact, put us a block northwest of the LA Sands gym. Will we make it all the way back in the next two and a half minutes?

1:55:30 If my calculations are correct, that should be the corner of 4thand Towne and the LA Sands gym should be right across the street. I’m doing that moving back and forth changes the scene thing again.Nothing as dramatic as the destruction of the 6th Street bridge, but boy, does this corner change between January and October of 2017.

Three of these four corner buildings must have been bought by the same people in those ten months, because they’re all the same shade of blue in October. Well, either that or a very persuasive blue paint salesman came through in that time, I guess.

And now, 1:56.

Oh, goody. We start out indoors. I hope we get some kind of hint where we are at some point in the 1:56 to 2:55:59 hour. Otherwise this will be another hour that I skip.

I stand corrected. We’re in a courtyard of some sort. The things that I assumed were pillars are about half pillars and about half palm tree trunks.

1:56:50 And now we’re indoors. Dammit. A sign says something about Metrolink trains as we go down an escalator, so maybe we’re going into the subway?

We are in the subway. I don’t know what station we’re at, but I can see that both the red and purple lines go there, so that looks like Union Station, the Civic Center, Pershing Square, 7thStreet/Metro Center, Westlake/MacArthur Park, or Wilshire/Vermont. I see people in USC shirts. We haven’t been to that part of the city yet. And the winner is Union Station. I can see the words “Union Station East Portal” above the entrance to the train platforms.

Some people step off to one side to stay out of the shot, but I guess they figure out that they’re in the shot because they keep walking after a moment.

*I did some digging later and this is just around the corner from the Little Tokyo Historic District. So those tourists, I would imagine.

**We’re way too close to the dancer. She’s very pretty and is wearing a very brief top, but some of us are here for the other scenery.

***A store that sells baseball caps. Not the flea medication.

24 Hours of Happy Project: 11:00 to 11:56

I completely forgot our “Let’s Give Pharrell Williams Some Money” links in the last couple of posts. I’m going to link to a Colombian artist by the name of J Balvin this time. I’ve mentined the song Safari which was produced by (and features the singing voice of) Pharrell. I also like the song Ginza from that album and Sigo Extrañandote is a great song, but the video is really heartbreaking. So here’s the album: Energía.


11:00 There’s something big there in the background. At first I thought it was a giant statue of maybe an owl? But maybe it’s just a tree. Pharrell lies down on the trunk of a car and I hope that we know whose car that is. People are gathering to watch the filming and he high-fives someone through a chain-link fence. Some guy is filming this on his phone. If he would upload it and it had a location tag that would make my life so much easier. There’s a fence with some plants behind it that for some reason reminds me of the museum at the La Brea Tar Pits.

11:04 Now we’re back out on the street where we started out. We make a left at a help wanted sign. We pass something that looks like a fabric store. We’ve passed one thing that might be a tailor shop and one thing that probably is a fabric store. Where is the fashion district for Los Angeles? There’s a Maple Street in the fashion district. “Maple” is short and starts with an “M.” I see the words “City Discount.” What do you want to bet that it’s a chain with stores on every corner in the city?

There’s just the one. And it’s a block off Maple. It’s not quite in the fashion district, though. We’re now at the corner of 6th and Los Angeles. Before that we came down Los Angeles and before that we were on 7th. So now I’ve tracked us back to the beginning and the street isn’t Maple; it’s Main. We start on Main and 7th, head down 7th to Los Angeles, and take Los Angeles to 6th.

11:12 We aren’t where we left off. I think we’re back, oh, at 7th and Los Angeles, maybe? Okay, so this is funny. I was going to check to make sure that I’m right about where we are and rather than opening a new window, I reused an already-open one. It just so happened that it’s the page where I searched for GEANCO based on the Facebook ad for a campaign where they’re sending someone to tea and a movie premiere with Benedict Cumberbatch. I sort of figured that the campaign was going to send someone to maybe London or something and so after I clicked on it, I thought that this was going to screw me up completely. Turns out that GEANCO (and the prize in the contest) are for Los Angeles, and that GEANCO’s headquarters is at 4th and Olive, which isn’t that far from where I actually wanted to be. Someday, after I’ve finished this project and can reboot my computer, I’ll plot a route and find out how far exactly. I’m betting it’s less than a mile. And I’m right. We are at 7th and Los Angeles (btw, according to the map I just pulled up, the video for U2’s Where the Streets Have No Name was shot at 7th and Main, a block northwest from where the dancer is at this point in the video).*

11:16. Great. The image is mirrored again for some reason. I’ve got “Vitamins.” I’ve got “Hotel” I’ve got “One Way.” I’ve got “ATM Perfume.” Ooh! I know where we are. When we were on Los Angeles before, there was a big white building with a red fire escape in the background. That’s the hotel. At least, I think it is. Never mind. It’s a different building. Dammit. I’ve got “Jewelry Watches Buckles.” I’ve got parts of phone numbers the words “oil burner.”

11:20 Kid with wild hair and it looks like we’re dancing back the way we came and things are no longer reversed. Yep “Oil Burner” is now on the other side of the street. And now we have “Ray Ban” and “le Center.” “Wholesale Center”?

11:24 Things are reversed again. I looked up “Wholesale Center” and the first result, which is listed under ‘”HK Wholesale Center” but the building says “Hong Kong Wholesale Center” looks like a distinct possibility.

So here goes. At 11:16, we’re at the corner of 5th and Los Angeles. We go northeast to the corner of Los Angeles and Winston. We cross Winston and head Southeast. At 11:20, we are just a smidge farther southeast on Winston and head northwest. We make a right onto Los Angeles. At Los Angeles and 4th, we head southeast on 4th. At the corner of 4th and Wall, we’re still flipped. We cross Wall and make a . . . left? No, a right. No, I was right the first time. It’s a left. So now we’re going northeast on Wall. We cross Boyd and make a right so that we’re going southeast on Boyd.

And then I lost the polygon. I got an error saying to reload the page and when I did, poof. So, I’ll see if I can possibly find a way to recreate it and save it. Maybe with directions? 7th and the LA River to the corner of San Fernando and Glendale almost up to the Colorado Street exit of the 5 or something like that? I’ll have to play around with it.

Anyway, we take Boyd to San Pedro (the street, not the suburb) and make a left then take San Pedro to 3rd and make another right. This dancer kind of reminds me of Michele Greene, who played Abby on LA Law.

11:36 We’re somewhere else now. Will Olivia be able to figure out where we are? Let’s watch.

11:40 No. No she cannot. We look to still be in the same place, so let’s give me another four minutes to figure this out.

11:44 Wow. This location is tough. I only have 12 more minutes to figure this out. There’s a big building that looks like a church or a museum in the background. That should help me figure it right out. Now we’ve gotten to a place where there are more people and another church or something w-a-a-y back there. I’ve seen the word “Hollywood” twice, so that’s a pretty good clue there. One of the “Hollywood”s is followed by the word “Refresh”? So let’s see what Google gives us. Wait. No, it’s “Hollywood Refreshed.” I just noticed the stars. So we’re back on Hollywood Boulevard, probably.

Okay, so let’s try this on for size. Starting on Hawthorne just behind Hollywood High School then down to Sycamore and Sycamore to Hollywood Boulevard and make a right. Looks good to me.

11:48 We start about a block away from where we left off, across the street from the Hard Rock Cafe, with Jimmy Kimmel. We go up the stairs and into the building where his show is filmed, apparently. And in an interesting choice, Kimmel decides not to sing along with Pharrell, but to sing along with the backing vocals. We follow Kimmel though the theater to his set and he really looks happy. So many celebrities aren’t, you know. I really believe the studies that happiness levels off at around $75,000 of income and that beyond that you keep trying to achieve more happiness with more money and it never works.

Kimmel comes out the back door of the studio and we start following a woman going the other way. She hugs the security guard and heads into a fenced-in area (this turns out to be the parking lot for the theater). Is this Mrs. Kimmel or something? I cheated and looked at a list of dancers that I found online and it doesn’t say. She’s probably underweight in real life. I was once standing by some people talking to an actress who’s rather well-known for being big and I totally didn’t recognize her because face-to-face she looks about as heavy as my mom did and my mom was only carrying about ten to fifteen extra pounds. Ever since then, I’ve realized that it really is true, the camera does add pounds. And as such, I think that this woman must be very, very thin in real life.

11:56 We’re watching a young woman working behind the scenes somewhere. A hotel, maybe? A restaurant? My money’s on hotel because we first watch her in a room full of folded-up white fabric. Maybe the restaurant has white tablecloths and napkins, but it’s more likely that these are sheets and towels. Or maybe it is a restaurant. Or a science-fiction movie. There’s an object hanging on the wall behind her at 11:58:22 that at first I took to be an immersion blender, but then it occurred to me that I may have seen whatever it is as the weapon in an old Doctor Who episode. The Keys of Marinus, maybe? Or maybe it is an immersion blender. There looks to be something like a slicing mandoline hanging nearby.

*You can tell that I wasn’t really paying attention. We start the hour at 7th and Main, which is where the video was filmed. There’ll be more on the video later.