Monday, July 30, 2007
Pow Wow Sunday. Hot, as usual. We arrive a bit early to peruse the vendors. I buy abalone shell pieces, polished and with holes in them to string together. And turquiose heche beads. Green and blue parrot feathers. I feel like I'm in some ancient mesoamerican mercado...buying the same stuff they would. Then we have to eat Navajo tacos - fry bread with beans, meat and lettuce piled on top. Put some hot sauce on and eat with a ice-cold can of Coke. Ummmm....so good. Then you get that sick feeling afterwards, from all the grease. The dances are a social event, a prayer, an affirmation of identity in a consumer world. The drumming and singing are unearthly and can sweep you away. The outfits are pure country psychedelia...rich mixtures of old & new, day-glo and ancient beadwork. I love pow wow Sunday.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Dick Cheney is going into the hospital tomorrow to get his batteries changed. Ever since they switched the real Cheney out for the cyborg this has to be done every once in a while. Democrats have suggested a solar-powered Cheney - but this turned out to be impossible, as he rarely leaves his office and hates the outdoors. The one excursion outdoors resulted in him shooting a human, so he's been programmed to curtail recreational activities. Mrs. Cheney is reported to be thrilled with the current model and is looking forward to certain "upgrades".
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Behind our house is rising a huge plywood structure that will soon be a multi-family apartment building in our neighbor's backyard. We can already see where the doors and windows are going to be and they look down right into our backyard. Soon we'll have new noises and have to listen to conversations of strangers when we barbeque. It's one more reason to leave LA for somewhere with a bit of space ( wherever that might be! ).
The point is that this is typical of what's happening in our neighborhood, as each small space is filled with a money-making
structure and crammed with new residents. The legendary flatness of LA is quickly beginning to go vertical, with deluxe condo units replacing gas stations and vacant lots. The idea was to build them near buses and subway lines, so that residents would use mass transit, making the traffic impact minimal. This isn't happening, of course. People in LA want to have their cars, no matter how sucky and ridiculous the traffic and parking situation. And who can blame them...with the mess that the bus lines are and the stunning lack of logic as to the destinations of the subway lines. The only people who consistantly use mass transit in LA are people who can't afford a car and who dream of having one. Meanwhile developers here are getting tax breaks and are allowed to exceed density standards- all in the name of reducing traffic. It's clearly a corrupt and cynical system that is funding developers and remaking our town into something from Fritz Lang's Metropolis.
Me? I'm planning and scheming to move to New Mexico. Before the flood of refugees from LA show up there, fleeing a town
whose infrastructure has broken down under the weight of so many people looking for the California Dream.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Each year at this time I yearn for firework stands. In suburbia they use to magically pop up in vacant lots and parking lots around my neighborhood a week before July 4th. They had a whiff of circus about them, with their paper broadsides pasted up over last year's designs. Red devils emanating spark mandalas from their pitchforks, black cats, American flags..and always the legend : SAFE & SANE ! We would raid our banks and beg for quarters and dimes to go pick out some treasures.
Fountains, sparklers, snakes, House of Smoke, pinwheels, Piccolo Petes. Do not hold in hand. My father would get donations from the other neighbors and go in the afternoon to buy the Block Party Assortment, a huge box of potential light and sound that could run you up to !! forty dollars !!
As evening descended on the fourth, my mom & dad would begin to set up for the display. Folding lawn chairs would come out, a bucket of water and a chalked out no-go safety area in our driveway. My mom always made potato salad. Pop would grill burgers. My neighbors would show up around seven. Nell Marie Fotheringham and her evil sister Sue. Mr. & Mrs. Rowan. Annabell and Dave from next door. Mike Brion and his capenter dad and sad sighing mother. Linda Senise from across the street. We'd eat and us kids would run around the lawns as the grown ups prepared for The Display.
Gradually we'd drift back from our games to start the warm-up festivities. First some snakes..put them on the pavement and light them and a long gross grey ash would bubble out from the little fiery tablet. It would leave a round mark on the sidewalk,which was the coolest thing about them. Then the Cabin of Smoke which was a fold-together log cabin box with a firecrackerlike tube where the chimney should be. Light it and a voluminous amount of sulfery smoke would shoot out. To this day that is the smell of Independence Day to me. Sulfer. Is there a hidden message in there somewhere ? Both snakes and smoke houses were vaguely anarchist, reminding me of vandals raiding and burning..
As it actually got dark it was time for sparklers. The white ones were best. You had to wave them around and then light a new one from the lit one before it went out. Something about time being precious and fleetingness. Then the big show started , with all of us in lawn chairs, ooooohing and ahhhing after each display. my father would call out the name of each firework before he would light it, like announcing an act in a vaudville show: "Fountain of Pearls!" "Double Rainbow Salute!"
After it was all over and everyone had gone home my little sister and I would pick up the charred remainders. We would sort them out and soak the burnt cylinders in the sink and unravel them. Inside would be another treasure - Chinese newspaper
with real china writing on it from the mysterious east - where fireworks were invented long before we were born.