Monday, December 24, 2007

Feliz Navidad de Los Ángeles

Happy Christmas Eve from Los Angeles, where the weather is lovely -- although all that sunshine, mixed with bromide, chlorine, and dissolved oxygen, is producing carcinogens in some of our local reservoirs, including the scenic Silverlake Reservoir. The LA DWP will have to drain 600 million gallons of water from reservoirs to address the problem. The most stunning aspect of this story for me is that 600 million gallons of water equals just one day's supply of water.

Happily, it's been a wet December, and we're all looking forward to a good soaking in January.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I'm Dreaming of a Wet Christmas

Hiroshige, Ichiyusai (1797-1858), Travellers Surprised by Sudden Rain [public domain]

What you see above is actual rainwater, on a plant in front of our house. In an amazing, miraculous, and magical turn of events, it's been pouring in L.A. for days now.

I am absolutely loving it. We aren't going to get a White Christmas out here, but we have received the next best thing: a Wet Christmas.

Thanks, Santa!

Clarence H. White (1871-1925), Drops of rain (1903) [public domain]

Monday, December 3, 2007


I was working through the night at the office on Thursday into Friday; when I walked outside for the first time at 3:30 on Friday afternoon, I was shocked: it was raining. Someone told me that it had been pouring for like 18 hours. There were mudslides, there was flooding, massive car pile-ups on the 10 and 134 -- and I missed it all. What the f*ck?

Anyhow, the story of the rains abounds with ironies. Because of all the fires that ravaged the region due to a lack of rain in our historic drought, the fire-ravaged hills are now more vulnerable to mudslides when it rains too much. So over the last few days, people who had to evacuate their homes a few weeks ago because of the fires (caused in part by the long-standing lack of rain), had to evacuate their houses again because of the rain.

L.A. -- it really is the promise land.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Toilet to Tap: Drinking Purified Sewage

Axel Koester for The New York Times
Desperate times . . . . The Orange County Water District is beginning a project that will purify sewage into drinking water:
It used to be so final: Flush the toilet and waste be gone.

But this week, for millions of people here in Orange County, pulling the lever will be the start of a long, intense process to purify the sewage into drinking water - after a hard scrubbing with filters, screens, chemicals and ultraviolet light and the passage of time underground.

On Friday, the Orange County Water District will turn on what industry experts say is the world's largest plant devoted to purifying sewer water to increase drinking water supplies. They and others hope it serves as a model for authorities worldwide facing persistent drought, predicted water shortages and projected growth.

Look for bottled water sales in Orange County to skyrocket. The project makes a great deal of sense; it's just an issue of seeing whether Orange County residents will be able to get past the knowledge that they are drinking reclaimed sewage.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Billions of rampaging killer jellyfish -- coming soon to coastal waters near you!

A swarm of billions of jellyfish wiped out a salmon farm off the coast of Ireland the other day. The swarm of Pelagia nocticula jellyfish, which were ununusually far north, away from the more southern waters in which they are usually found, made quick work of more than 100,000 fish:
The Northern Salmon Co. Ltd. said billions of jellyfish -- in a dense pack of about 10 square miles and 35 feet deep -- overwhelmed the fish last week in two net pens about a mile off the coast of the Glens of Antrim, north of Belfast. . . .

The species of jellyfish responsible, Pelagia nocticula -- popularly known as the mauve stinger -- is noted for its purplish night-time glow and its propensity for terrorizing bathers in the warmer Mediterranean Sea. Until the past decade, the mauve stinger has rarely been spotted so far north in British or Irish waters, and scientists cite this as evidence of global warming.

The moral here? Global warming = really good for jellyfish.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Fog

Very weird times here in the City of Angels. I walked out the door of our place yesterday morning into a thick fog. It smelled - deliciously - like the mist from a humidifier. I had to turn on my wipers to wipe away the condensation on my windshield. I can't remember the last time I had to do that. Now I'm sitting up in my office, staring out into a cloud.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

It's not just Southern California

Water woes and drought throughout the country.

You want evidence that something is seriously wrong? There's a drought in Southern Florida.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Tastiest City on Earth

Off and on for some time now, I've been trying to push a logo for Los Angeles. One I liked for a little while was "Los Angeles: The Tastiest City on Earth". That logo was meant to emphasize the tremendous variety of ethnic food we have here. The "I ♥ L.A." logo doesn't really work for me. It makes the whole city look like a cheap knock-off. Also, the State of New York owns that logo as a registered trademark, and it's very likely that any "I ♥ L.A." merchandise you come across is infringing on that trademark.

How about "Cheney Has Never Slept Here?"

Monday, October 22, 2007

Welcome to the Hotel California

photo submitted to L.A. Times by Irvine Resident

It's a standard Southern California trope, the pendulum between Paradise and Hell. In the past few days, the pendulum has swung terrifyingly far in the direction of Hell.

Five hundred thousand people have been evacuated from San Diego and Orange Counties as of this evening. The fires have been rocketed along by the Santa Ana winds, which have been exceeding 80 m.p.h.

Drought has left our entire region as the most combustible kindling, which has now exploded into flame.
The conflagrations, which one firefighter likened to Armageddon, are being fed by the desert gales known as Santa Ana winds. Almost all of the great Southern California fires of the past have been fed by Santa Anas, which typically blow in early spring and fall.

The result of air pressure buildup in the Great Basin between the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains, Santa Ana winds sweep from the mountains through the lowlands toward the sea.

This year they are particularly strong. Sustained winds of 30 to 40 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 100 miles per hour, have fanned the flames, which are crackling through brush that is crumbly dry from the prevailing drought conditions.
SF Chronicle.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Slip Sliding Away

image by Ervín Pospíšil - GNU F.D.L.

Sometimes, very rarely, it rains here in Southern California, and the effects are usually disastrous.

Nearly every day our LA Times comes in a plastic wrapper. I used to wonder why, since it never rains. I kept meaning to call them to tell them I didn't need the plastic wrapper, but they would throw me off by leaving off the plastic wrapper every now and then. (I also realized at some point that the papers came in wrappers so they weren't soaked by 6 a.m. lawn sprinklers.) In the last couple days, with the early morning drizzles and sprinkles, when I've picked up the paper, the wrapper has been wet. The wet newspaper wrapper was a strange feeling -- unusual for me here in L.A. -- it took me back to days of fetching the Hartford Courant from the bottom of my parents' driveway so I could read Doonesbury. We lived at the top of the hill, and everything was always wet in the morning. And it rained a lot.

Also, on a prematurely dark April afternoon in fourth grade, in response to my teacher's question about the weather outside, I said it was "precipitating" and the entire class and my teacher laughed at me for like two minutes. That was also the year that my teacher confiscated my Casio watch because I couldn't figure out how to disable the hourly two-beep chime. She never gave it back.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I No Longer Heart New York

Geoff Manaugh, author of BLDGBLOG, recently left L.A. for San Francisco, but he's still in love with L.A:
In L.A. you can grow Fabio hair and go to the Arclight and not be embarrassed by yourself. Every mode of living is appropriate for L.A. You can do what you want.

And I don't just mean that Los Angeles is some friendly bastion of cultural diversity and so we should celebrate it on that level and be done with it; I mean that Los Angeles is the confrontation with the void. It is the void. It's the confrontation with astronomy through near-constant sunlight and the inhuman radiative cancers that result. It's the confrontation with geology through plate tectonics and buried oil, methane, gravel, tar, and whatever other weird deposits of unknown ancient remains are sitting around down there in the dry and fractured subsurface. It's a confrontation with the oceanic; with anonymity; with desert time; with endless parking lots.

Geoff's post is bursting with BLDGBLOG's usual infectious enthusiasm, and you come away from the post wanting to do backflips and karate chop planks of wood in celebration of the void-like nature of L.A. But I do agree with BLDGBLOG that L.A. is now America's greatest city. As I have been telling everyone who will listen to me lately, it's quite clear now that New York has jumped the shark. See, for example, the city's "hot blast of nastiness, jingoism and xenophobia" in reaction to the Ahmadinejad visit, the daily horrors of parents desperate to get their kids into the 92nd Street Y nursery school, the 2004 Republican convention and the banning of protesters from Central Park's Great Lawn to "save the grass", Rudy Giuliani, the corporate takeover and Disneyification of public space in Manhattan and Brooklyn, an average selling price of over $1 million for an apartment in Manhattan, Alex Rodriguez, a rightward trend, and to top it all off, sickening tales of a new gilded age in New York in today's NYT Magazine.

The hedge fund masters of the universe, the big law firm partners dining at Nobu, the self-satisfied Ivy League couples in the Sunday Styles pages, and David Remnick can have New York. I'm done with it. New York has always been a massive financial center, but it feels like this has become its defining feature now, eclipsing its other features (diversity, cultural fervent, etc.). The sheer concentration of wealth in New York is warping the city and changing it from what it once was. Admittedly, I haven't spent much time there since I left, but that's my impression.

Or perhaps these are just the justifications I present to myself as I pull into the Zankou Chicken in Glendale at 10 p.m. and sit alone in my car for a moment in the light of the mini-mall.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Water Rationing: Coming to an Unsustainable Southern California Town Near You

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is warning of coming water rationing and rate hikes throughout the Southland. As our friends at Aquafornia note, changing our water consumption behavior should be our goal. The rationing and the rate hikes may force some behavior modification.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

When Climate Change Gives You Giant Jellyfish, Make Jellyfish Juice

Climate change has warmed the waters off Japan, and millions of gigantic (450 lb.) jellyfish have migrated to those warmer waters. An entrepreneurial Japanese guy, Fukuda Kaneo "Jellyfish Fukuda", saw an opportunity: he has created a whole industry of jellyfish derived products, from drinks to snacks to make-up. He's filed some kind of bizarre patent for processed jellyfish with the World Intellectual Property Organization.

Japanese fishermen are less sanguine about the sudden jellyfish explosion: the jellyfish clog up their fishing nets.

We'll see if Jellyfish Fukuda is still happy when a giant mutant jellyfish rises from the sea and destroys Tokyo.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Good, the Bad, and the Nasally Invasive Brain-Eating Amoebae

In his comment on my last post, my good friend Tonic Blotter was kind enough to point out a brighter side-effect of climate change: dolphins returning to Germany.

In the spirit of on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand, I regret to convey news of another organism that is migrating to adapt to climate change: nasal-invading, brain-wasting killer amoebae:
It sounds like science fiction, but it's true: Killer amoebas living in lakes can enter the body through the nose and attack the brain, where they feed until you die.

Though encounters with the microscopic bug are extraordinarily rare, it is known to have killed six boys and young men in the United States this year; over the decade ending in 2004, the yearly average was 2.3.

The jump in cases has health officials concerned.

"This is definitely something we need to track," said Michael Beach, a specialist in recreational waterborne illnesses with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "This is a heat-loving amoeba. As water temperatures go up, it does better. In future decades, as temperatures rise, we'd expect to see more cases."

[. . . .]

Though infections tend to be found in Southern states, Naegleria lives almost everywhere: in lakes, hot springs, even dirty swimming pools, grazing off algae and bacteria in the sediment.

A person wading through shallow water stirs up the bottom, and if water gets up the person's nose, the amoeba can latch onto the olfactory nerve, which is responsible for conveying smells to the brain.

The amoeba makes its way to the brain, destroying tissue as it goes, Beach said.

[. . . .]

People who are infected tend to complain of a stiff neck, headaches and fevers. In the later stages, they show signs of brain damage, such as hallucinations and behavioral changes, he said.

Some drugs have stopped the amoeba in lab experiments, but people who have been infected rarely survive, Beach said. "Usually, from initial exposure it's fatal within two weeks," he said.
LA Times.

This has all the makings of an excellent teen horror summer flick. After putting the campers to bed, the camp counselors sneak off to go skinny dipping. They don't wear their nose clips. The lake is unusually warm this year. Amoebae latch onto the olfactory nerves of the frolicking counselors and . . . BAM! -- Zombie brain-eating camp counselors controlled by killer amoebae that have eaten their brains.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Everything Changes

Blue whales keep showing up dead off the California coast. A dead blue whale was found floating off of Santa Barbara yesterday. This brings the count to three dead blue whales that have been found in the past two weeks. The usual body count is one dead blue whale found per year. It's a murder mystery out of Raymond Chandler.
A blue whale that washed ashore in Ventura County last week and one found dead in Long Beach Harbor two weeks ago both are believed to have been hit by ships, but it isn't known if the whales were slowed or disoriented by illness.

"If they're all being hit by ships, you have to wonder whether they're compromised in the first place," said Mate, director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University. Scientists want to know whether domoic acid played a part. The highly toxic substance, created by bacteria found in algae blooms, can virtually paralyze marine mammals and has killed dolphins and sea lions in the channel.
LA Times.

The algae blooms that produce the debilitating domoic acid are likely to have been expanded due to human behavior. Specifically, sewage release into the ocean increases the amounts of nutrients available for the algae to feed on; climate change may also help increase the algae blooms. Some believe that the whale deaths may be related to suspected changes in the whales' migratory patterns, which in turn have been affected by climate change. There is also the possibility that the dead whales' sonar abilities were damaged by massive underwater military sonar discharges utilized by the U.S. Navy. A Naval base in San Diego uses the damaging sonar blasts, right into the blue whale's migratory path.

Here's hoping that time travel thing of getting to warp 10 by boomeranging around the sun actually works.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Gifts from the Sky

Still waiting for the rain we were promised. Although, reports say there's a chance of thunderstorms tomorrow. That's exciting. In Peru, they're worried about heavier weather
Townsfolk in this desolate, high-plains hamlet not far from Lake Tititaca and the Bolivian border received the shock of their lives -- a meteorite that struck nearby with a thunderous bang just before noon Saturday, leaving a deep crater, an acrid smell and terrified villagers and livestock. . . .

"Even before it fell, there was a strong sound, like an airplane," said Marina Llanqui Mamani, 53. "And when it hit, it felt like an earthquake. Everyone was terrified. Even my animals were running all around in fear. Then there was a loud noise and a lot of smoke."

The pungent odor, experts say, could have been caused when the crashing object fused with such elements as sulfur in the soil.
LA Times.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

L.A. Needs a Time Out

The L.A. Daily News reports on Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine's impertinent question: should L.A. continue to madly develop if there's not enough water to flow into all those new development double-showers, jacuzzis, and lap pools?

What are those big gray puffy things in the sky?

The weather weirdness continues here in Southern California. It's September, and we're about to get our first winter storm, which is either wildly late or wildly early, depending on how you look at it:
A storm moving toward the Southland from British Columbia is bringing unseasonably cold temperatures, snow at high elevations and the first rain in Los Angeles in about 150 days.

Meteorologists say it is the Southland's first winter storm, arriving months ahead of schedule and sending temperatures eight to 15 degrees below normal. . . .

The last measurable rain was April 22, Lindaman said.
LA Times (emphasis added). Either way, this is very exciting. I have the windows open and I can feel the storm coming: the air is cooler, the trees are swaying in a steady breeze that seems to be building, the clouds are gathering, and, for the first time in a very long time, I can't see the sun.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Less Oil is More (Expensive)

oil rigs in Los Angeles in 1896

The price of crude oil is up 33% from a year ago. This is bad news for L.A. drivers. But the Fed cut the interest rate. Which is maybe good news for L.A. homeowners and buyers. But the cut in the interest rate also helps drive up the price of oil. Which is probably bad news for L.A. drivers. Etc.

Perhaps a recession would be a good thing for the U.S. (and for L.A.)?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Guns or Butter: Gas or Twinkies

photo courtesy of chanchow

Drought and bad weather across the globe in combination with the ethanol wave are driving the cost of wheat to historic highs. I saw a strange billboard today driving home from the West Side: it showed a field of grass or some other type of plants, with a blue sky above. The only words on the sign were in green, centered in the blue sky, and read "gas station". Turning agriculture into fuel is not going to be without its serious costs. Eventually we will all, even here in L.A., have to drive less. Or maybe eat less.

Update: The NY Times basically says the same thing.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Time of Reckoning: Long Beach Water Restrictions

The extended drought affecting the Southern California region, a drought along the Colorado River that feeds much of Southern California, and the recent Delta Smelt ruling are all factors behind Long Beach's new water usage restrictions:
The Long Beach water board has prohibited residents from watering their grass during the day, and limited it to only three times a week. They cannot use water hoses to clean driveways, patios, sidewalks or any other paved or cemented areas unless they use a pressurized water device.

Long Beach restaurants are barred from serving customers water unless expressly requested by diners. Hotels have to give guests the option of reusing towels and linens without having them washed every day.

Water officials say the city will scrutinize water bills for excessive use and create a hotline and e-mail system for residents to inform on "water wasters."
LA Times.

Experts predict another dry winter this year, which may lead to similar restrictions being implemented in Los Angeles. People that are concerned about Southern California water supplies -- and everyone should be -- have probably already adopted similar types of measures voluntarily.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Metropolis Books in Downtown L.A.

Downtown L.A. now has an independent bookstore: it's called Metropolis Books (Main St. btw. 4th and 5th). Metropolis, which opened in December 2006, is right next to Blossom, the relatively new Vietnamese restaurant on Main Street, which has seen the arrival of many new businesses and developments in the last few years. Metropolis has good selections of fiction, mystery, sci-fi, African-American fiction, and non-fiction, and a small used books section as well. It's in a nice space that invites leisurely browsing, with some inviting comfy chairs in the middle of the store. The owner, Julia Swayze, a mystery author herself, is friendly and knowledgeable about her stock -- she appears to have hand-picked each of the books on the shelves.

In any event, that the opening of a bookstore is noteworthy gives you a sense of things in downtown L.A. To my knowledge, downtown residents are still waiting on a grocery store to open in their neighborhood; reportedly, a Ralphs is opening downtown sometime soon. [UPDATE: per Capt. Colossal (and other sources), the Ralphs is now open.]

For those you of you in and around downtown L.A., please support our new independent bookstore. Visit Metropolis Books sometime soon!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

On the Road: This is Los Angeles

In the introduction to his celebrated 1971 work, Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies, architectural critic Reyner Banham wrote that "like earlier generations of English intellectuals who taught themselves Italian in order to read Dante in the original, I learned to drive in order to read Los Angeles in the original."

I often continue to think of myself as a visitor here in Los Angeles. I don't know if in the back of my mind I keep alive some delusional idea that we will inevitably return to Brooklyn. Every now and then, I fully realize that I now live in Los Angeles. I had one of these moments of clarity yesterday evening on Third Street, on my way to a language class on the West Side.

I was driving into the sunset in a somewhat strange mood, having had an exceptionally uneventful day at the office; my spaciness was aided by the music was listening to: the pleasant droning and pulsing of The Field's "From Here We Go Sublime" (best reading music of 2007). I was stuck in a line of traffic at a light. In the opposite lane, cars crept by with their windows rolled down, radios blaring. A young woman looked at herself in her rear view mirror. A guy my age held his cell phone up to read a text message. I caught myself doing exactly the same thing at that moment, checking my blackberry for messages as I crept forward, and I felt at that moment very much like someone who lived in Los Angeles. I was with my fellow Angelenos in our one true public space -- gathered together in traffic. We extended each other minor courtesies, allowing people into lanes, letting people pull into traffic from the gas station, as we all continued together on our separate ways.

Banham made a kooky and fascinating BBC documentary in 1972 based on his book on Los Angeles (the 52 min. video is pasted below). He spends much of the documentary in a rented car, visiting architectural sites in the city such as the Gamble House, Ennis House, Watts Towers, and various gas stations, tiki restaurants, and hot dog stands.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Water Rationing in the Near Future?

The ramifications of the Delta Smelt ruling continue to settle in: the new talk is of water rationing in Southern California in 2008.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The New Wave

The recent heat wave that baked Los Angeles for the past week, keeping temperatures above 100 degrees for long stretches through most of the region, resulted in 25 deaths.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Victory for the delta smelt; Los Angeles to return to dust

On the plane to Baja California on Saturday (it wasn't hot enough for us up here in L.A.), two stories in the LA Times caught my eye:
1) A tropical storm turning into a hurricane was headed for Baja and was likely to hit while we were there, and

2) the judge in the delta smelt versus continued flow of Northern California water to L.A. case had ruled in favor of the tiny, endangered delta smelt.
Both stories freaked me out a bit.

Some state water officials are saying that the ruling and the necessary cut-backs on the pumping of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta could result in cuts of up to a third of the water supplied from the Delta. And that's a pretty big chunk of the total water we get in L.A.:
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which provides drinking water to nearly 17 million people, obtains 60% of its water from the delta. The district has already warned local farmers to expect a 30% cutback Jan. 1.
L.A. Times (emphasis added).

Others say that the state officials are playing Chicken Little. I really do hope that's the case. Otherwise, we're going to be seeing a great reduction in general turgor pressure here in the Southland. The tropical storm that was headed for Cabo dumped tons of water on Chiapas, killing seven, veered out to sea a bit, and veered back toward the Cabos, and is likely to hit tomorrow. We got on the last flight out before the storm was slated to make landfall. I wonder what the last flight out of L.A. will look like.

Monday, August 27, 2007

When Quaggas Attack

Today's water-related post is essentially the inverse of the last post. In the previous post, we considered the plight of the delta smelt, an endangered fish that is killed in the diversion of water from Northern California. Meet the quagga mussel. These mussels are native to the Ukraine and Russia; they were brought to Lake Erie by ships from Europe, and have been exploding through water supplies, recently reaching the Colorado River and the aqueducts bringing water to Southern California. The quaggas reproduce at a fantastic, tribble-like rate, and clog up reservoirs, aqueducts, and other important water-related stuff.

Quagga mussels and their cousins, the zebra mussels, have already wreaked havoc in other parts of the country; the E.P.A. estimates that quagga and zebra mussels caused $750 billion in damage in the Great Lakes region. California state biologists and engineers are deeply concerned about the arrival of the quaggas: engineers twice drained the major Southern California Aqueduct in order to chlorinate it in an attempt to remove its quagga infestation this year. The quaggas filter tremendous amounts of nutrients and plankton from the water, changing the ability of rivers and lakes to sustain other wildlife.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Endangered fish endangers L.A.'s water supply

There's a federal case going on right now (a week-long hearing began yesterday) that could result in a cutback in the amount of Northern California rain and snowmelt runoff diverted to Los Angeles in order to protect an endangered fish, the delta smelt; many delta smelt are apparently killed in the pumps used in the massive water diversion process.

The endangered delta smelt -- we will wither away in the desert sun so that he may live

A little context on current conditions here in Southern California from the MSNBC article:
Southern California's current water supply situation has been brought to the brink of crisis, meanwhile, by a perfect storm of drought conditions.

The Southern California region itself, particularly the Los Angeles area, is in the midst of a historic single-year drought. Meanwhile, the region's traditional sources of imported water are also drought-ridden. The Colorado River is in its eighth year of drought. And the State Water Project was only about 65 percent full this year after record-low Sierra snows.
I am all for endangered fish. But as I heard this story on the radio this morning, driving into work, I caught myself thinking "Screw the goddamn fish. We need that fucking water." Then, of course, I felt bad.

I'm truly going native here in Lotusville.

Monday, August 20, 2007

In Paradise

Leaving work tonight, I crossed Grand Avenue and looked up the street to the northeast: the view was breathtaking. The day was spectacularly clear and the San Gabriel mountains rose massively green and hugely crinkled, just behind the flying silver forms of the Disney Center, right up the street from where I stood, gawking in the crosswalk.

I often forget how beautiful Los Angeles can be. Glimpses like the one I caught today hint at the fantastic potential of this place, situated between giant mountain ranges and luscious beaches, and tug at the hopes denizens of L.A. keep buried under our accumulated disappointments with and cynicism for our city.

Thunderstorm in Connecticut

I went home to Connecticut this weekend, where it rained. There was a long thunderstorm on Friday evening. It was wonderful.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Alchemy to the Rescue

We went to the beach in Santa Monica today. It's a very nice beach. One feels as if one is in a perfect place out by the beach in Los Angeles. (Though, of course, the beach communities are separately incorporated.) All that beautiful water, making us feel better, cooling off the air, but otherwise basically useless. Of course, G.E. offers us hopeful commercials on Sunday mornings during the weekly talk programs -- mixed in with the pharmaceutical commercials justifying extortionate prices with vague promises of curing us of all ills of soul, libido, and metastasis -- suggesting that the arrival of cheap and easy desalination of sea water is imminent; but I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Water water everywhere -- but here

So, as I have been complaining to people trapped in elevators with me at work, I really really miss rain -- especially thunderstorms. So what happens this week? My former home, New York City, gets the storm of a century, with massive thunderstorms and a deluge that knocks out the entire subway system.

Sometimes -- and this is true -- I have these dreams where all of L.A. is flooded with clean blue water, and we're all just wading around in our flip flops in the cool, transparent, knee-high water, drinking smoothies. It would cut down on our driving.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The same theme, continued

I was in a conference room with other people high above Bunker Hill talking about rain. About how it never rains. About how we wish it would rain. About the El Niño years when it rained in biblical quantities.

Now the rain has stopped. I've begun to get queasy when I see things like a car repair shop attendant hosing down the floor of his garage, or six people and their cars, side by side in the 24-hour do-it-yourself car wash on Colorado, or the sprinklers chugging away across the neighborhood as I go out to retrieve the paper. Where's the water coming from? It can't go on like this.

The geniuses at the DWP better have something good in the works.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Garden of Eden in the Endless Drought

My entire backyard is dead. All of the grass is completely yellow and dry. There are some scattered dying rose bushes back there as well. I don't feel too bad about it. If the shit was supposed to live, it would live without my help. (That principle becomes a bit scarier when applied to myself out here in the desert.)

There are, inexplicably, grapes and figs growing back there as well. WTF?

It never thunders in L.A.

After the driest year on record for Los Angeles, I am hoping for some rain. I was talking to someone recently about how there are never any thunderstorms out here in L.A. It's an empty thing, a summer without a few massive thunderstorms. Thunderstorms make you feel as if the atmosphere is gathering heavily above you, crowding down on you. It feels comfy and safe to be inside on a July evening with the air conditioner on as a thunderstorm booms away above. You never get that here in L.A., and it's weird. Instead, the sky is almost always clear and fantastically empty -- nothing but blue space above. It can be a terrifying, agoraphobia-inducing type of clarity in the sky.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Why this blog is not titled Lotusland

I originally wanted to call this blog "Lotusland" but that name was taken -- by this person.

I Have Mixed Feelings About Los Angeles

I can't decide if life is good or awful. Just as I can't decide if I love or hate Los Angeles. This city is endlessly fascinating and deathly boring at the same time. It's beautiful and lovely, and giving us all cancer. The earth is turning against us one final time, it seems, and the water is going away. Perhaps L.A. will have to die. It's like the super green lawn my neighbors have in the middle of a historic drought. Beautiful, full of life, but obviously doomed.