Just Above Sunset
May 2, 2004 - Nathaniel West, cellos and mountain lions... Strange Times in Los Angeles
Nathaniel West, cellos and mountain lions… Strange Times in Los Angeles
The Zeitgeist Prowling Griffith Park
Readers of my daily web
log As Seen from Just Above Sunset noted I did not post much early in
the week. This was partly the heat – the first two days of the week were
hot, and this was record-breaking hot. As I wrote to my friends –
this was two days of well over a hundred degrees in the shade. Of course there
was no humidity, and we had that interesting light breeze blowing the alkali-laden dust in from the Mojave, across the city
and then out to sea. Look up and the sky is cloudless steel blue - but look out
to the horizon and the air is brown in all directions. Thirty-miles east in Riverside
County the brush fires were running through the low hills. The usual end of the
world stuff here at the edge of the world.... We call this earthquake weather. It does give one apocalyptic, murderous thoughts.
Monday at SCOTUS it was
the energy advisors to Cheney – do we citizens have any right to know who they were?
Folks out here in California who got screwed big time by the energy companies two years ago do have a bit of a beef
with whoever it was that came up with the overall policy. We’d like to
know who’s running the show, if anyone. But I suppose that’s none
of our business. Those arguments weren’t really centered on Executive Privilege,
but I still liked the comment from Scalia - "I think executive privilege means whenever the president feels that he is
threatened, he can simply refuse to comply with a court order.” Right,
Tony. (What – Fat Tony is channeling Marlon Brando in the Godfather movies?)
The arguments presenting
the issues were made this week, and the rulings are due in late June. What will
they rule? These SCOTUS folks – as least those with key votes - were appointed
by the prseident’s father, and in turn these guys appointed the somewhat feckless son president, so the June rulings
on these matters are unlikely to surprise anyone.
A mountain lion has taken up residence in Griffith Park, one of the nation's biggest and busiest
urban parks eight miles from downtown Los Angeles, park officials said Wednesday, prompting them to begin posting signs
that warn visitors of dangerous animals living in the area.
And it goes on and on in
great detail. You will also discover that mountain lions in this state have attacked
fourteen people, killing six of them, since 1890, according to the California Department of Fish and Game.
A $3.5-million Stradivarius cello owned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic has been stolen from a
home in Los Feliz. No other items were taken.
No one has returned it
yet. Perhaps the mountain lion ate it.
No – conspiracy theories are just the product of oppressively hot weather.
So Los Angeles still here – with the usual fires, earthquakes, and drive-by shootings – and the Tongan gangs are still fighting the Samoan gangs down in Long Beach – and the smog is thick. Compton and South Central are still mean places. The Lakers, led by an inspired accused rapist, are winning games in the NBA playoffs, and terrorists may blow our malls. And now we a have a new city-dwelling mountain lion who may be pinching cellos.
And here on the 1600 block of North Laurel Avenue?
As I mentioned last year in these pages, F. Scott Fitzgerald was living at 1403 North Laurel Avenue when he died in 1940, a few doors down the street, while working on The Last Tycoon. Ah, an end-of-all-things depressing book. And in case you’re wondering, that’s the corner of Laurel and Sunset - and 1403 was torn down and replaced by a giant Virgin Megastore. Ironic? I suppose.
Nathaniel West – who wrote Days of the Locust and Miss Lonelyhearts - lived a few blocks east, on North Ivar Street and was a friend of Fitzgerald.
West’s 1939 novel Days of the Locust is about the bitter and sensation-seeking lower-middle class out here. As in this - "Their boredom becomes more and more terrible. They realize they’ve been tricked and burn with resentment. Every day of their lives they read the newspapers and watched the movies. Both fed them on lynchings, murder, sex crimes, explosions, wrecks, love nests, fires, miracles, revolutions, wars. This daily diet made sophisticates of them."
The novel ends with an apocalyptic riot at a Hollywood premiere (this fictional riot takes place a mile east of where I sit now) – but there is no mountain lion involved, as far as I recall.
But Nathaniel West was onto something. These are strange times.
This issue updated and published on...
Paris readers add nine hours....