Posted in England, Green & Pleasant Land, Lakenheath, Let's Get Visual, Los Angeles

Union Station, Los Angeles

I’m going to be traveling over the next week. Not by train.

I’m going to my high school reunion – this time in St. Louis. I went to junior high and high school on an American Air Force base in England, RAF Lakenheath. (Sorry to be repetitive, but one must always set the table for the first-time visitor.) It recently occurred to me that I probably can thank Adolph Hitler for this. Or perhaps I need to go farther back to the Treaty of Versailles which pissed Germany off in the first place.  I also lived on a military base in Panama while in 4th and 5th grade.  We’ll ascribe that one to favorable geography.

Art Deco (and passenger trains) make me nostalgic for a time that I didn’t even live through. That’s part of nostalgia, isn’t it?

I’ll tell you something—I have such a raging case of nostalgia that I will probably never leave Pasadena this house that I’ve been in for 25 years. I already miss what I miss—the place I grew up. Time has displaced me from that place. Distance too.

Now I’m twenty-five years on in this place—and I still miss that other place. I couldn’t bear to leave Pasadena and face the prospect of missing it too. Shoot, I still miss Fedco!

My passport does not match the country in which I grew up. (That is an awkward sentence, much like the situation I’m trying to describe.) This makes me a perpetual outsider. When I go ‘home‘ – and it always feels daring to call England ‘home’ – the immigration control folks want to see my return ticket. Still, I feel very content when I’m there.

This weekend, I get to spend time with people who have a similar experience to mine. We are third culture kids, and I blogged about it here in a post called “Is It My England Too? On Being a Third Culture Kid prior to my last high school reunion.

Posting will be light to non-existent during the next few days. Next week, you’ll be seeing the happy faces of my fellow Lancers. See you later.

All photos by Timothy Down.

UPDATE: Wow. I just found out that Edward Lee Howard, a CIA officer who defected to the Soviet Union, graduated from my high school.

Posted in Let's Get Visual

Car Culture

Don’t get me wrong—I love the personal automobile. But the other day I said to The Scout, “If you really think about it, the idea of everyone having a car is a really bad idea, so who thought it was a good idea in the first place?” The Scout immediately poo-poohed my 2020 hindsight (that’s a good title for a blog!) and said ‘if you had been there at the time, you’d have welcomed the car with open arms too.’

I’m sure I would have. I love cars now, but cars are the new cigarettes. They’re bad for me. Even though they don’t pollute the environment as much as industry does, the energy and materials it takes to manufacture and maintain even one car — wouldn’t you rather see those resources go to the making of art?

I love the smell of utopia in the morning.

Chevrolet wants to sell cars. So they hire an ad agency. The ad agency is full of creative but insane but wonderful but insane people (ask Miss Havisham if you don’t believe me). I know – let’s make a commercial! Then the ad agency hires a production company.

Production companies have suggestive names. Propaganda. The Hayes Office. Red Car. Tool of North America. Untitled. Hungry Man. Sticks and Stones. Bedford Falls. Traktor. Unscented. (Then they became) Lotion. Headquarters. Biscuit. Anonymous Content. Bob Industries. Cucoloris. Tight. Furlined. Form. Pay Dirt (parent company Embezzler LLC). And my personal favorite: Shut Up and Drive.

These folks call The Scout. They say we need and old gas station, but we can’t afford to go far outside The Zone. But there aren’t any good looking old gas stations. So the photos you see here are suggestions. These locations would have to be “dressed out” with appropriate gas pumps.

Where am I going with this post? Car culture is already in decline. Chevy must invoke nostalgia to sell trucks. I don’t need a truck. I wanna be like Mr. Metro.

UPDATE: True confession – It’s completely irrational, but I want this too:

AAACCKKK! Earthquake!!!!  Blogius interruptus.

Posted in Around Town

Pasadena Public Health Department Wants Your Input

Here’s one for all you locals: The Pasadena Public Health Department (PPHD) is doing a “Alcohol & Drug Community Survey.” It has some interesting stuff on it, like ‘my community is good at handling changes’ (not sure what this question is getting at) and ‘parents in my community monitor their children’s behavior.’ There are a few open-ended questions that you get to answer freestyle, like “the biggest challenge facing youth in my community is…” and “the best thing about my community is…”

I defy anyone to take this survey without mentioning PUSD. I don’t think it can be done.

I don’t know what the PPHD will do with this data, but I hope they will make the results public. There’s a link to the survey on PPHD’s web site (scroll down and you’ll see it).

I’m just gonna tag a few folks to make sure the word about this survey gets out there (because my inner social scientist loves to gather data, even though I’m not involved with this PPHD effort): Mr. Brash N. Bratty, Sweetness Incarnate, Pasadena PIO (who probably knows about this already), yous guys, Dormitas, Mr. Econodena, Pasadena Bloggers’ Den Mother (we miss office hours!), Pa Kettle, and rockin’-it-with-the-point-and-shoot Petrea.

Posted in Let's Get Visual

Strange Fruit Performing Arts Company

As seen in downtown Los Angeles, Strange Fruit.

The name of the group is an odd (even disturbing) choice.

Winston enjoys the show:

Winston just had his teeth cleaned. He was adopted by my friend Terrie from the pound, and it appears that his previous dental care was minimal. He has periodontal problems. He also has allergies, so determining the correct anesthetic for him is tricky. He also needed some flea pills.

Total bill: $452. I could take that amount and wrangle a fairly nice weekend in Santa Barbara.

I didn’t grow up with pets and it takes a big stretch into the outlands of empathy for me to understand People and Their Pets. I know they provide emotional, mental and physical FDUs* for their owners.

*FDUs – Final Degrees of Utility (though apparently ‘marginal’ is the more accepted term these days) – The Scout uses this term to talk about the cost of something relative to its perceived value. For example, he will get up early and drive to Malibu to play golf, because the FDUs of being on that particular golf course in the early morning light and air outweigh an extra hour of sleep followed by a round at (the much less expensive) Brookside. Similarly, the FDUs of Patron Silver make it Scout’s exclusive choice of tequila (despite the hefty price). Other tequilas simply do not taste as good to him. In fact, he’d rather go without than drink the other stuff. (This brings the concept of the artist’s ideal hunger to a new level.)

FDUs are in the eye of the beholder. I’ll stoop to drinking a margarita made with Cuervo or whatever the house is serving. I’d rather have the couple extra bucks in my pocket than in my gullet. Oh I can taste the difference alright, it’s just that I don’t personally get enough FDUs from Patron to make it my tequila imperative. Once in a while, yes. Every time, no.

I find it interesting that partners/couples develop shorthand ways of communicating with each other. FDUs is just one example from this household. We need it because we each have different ideas about what constitutes a true FDU. Other prevailing concepts tossed around this house that I may (or may not) write about in the future:

  • Surface Area – As applied to the size of ice cubes, methods of drying what needs to be dried, and grilling.
  • “It goes on, Judah” (Messala in Ben Hur) – As applied to politics, fundamentalist expressions of religion, and trying to find the right light bulb for the refrigerator.
  • The healing power of making up alternative lyrics to familiar songs to help one deal with life’s funky and amazing situations.

The Scout insists that I include this example (who’s driving this blog, anyway?):  Upon seeing the Pope coming down Broadway (downtown LA)  in the popemobile  through a 1,000 millimeter lens, The Scout riffed on Barbra, “Papal – Papal who needs people..”

Posted in Issues

Pasadena Police Department 911 Response 2

An update on my wacky phone line making 911 calls to the Pasadena Police Department (original post here). The problem with the line was out on the pole. Over time the wires got smushed together and the line in question was ‘grounding out.’

While I understand the necessity for protocol to be followed when responding to a 911 call, I find it disturbing that officers don’t believe you when you say you didn’t make a 911 call. More precisely, saying that you didn’t make a 911 call is apparently code for “this may be a domestic violence situation.”

I’m trying to wrap my head around the idea that the police are just doing their job. If I really didn’t make a 911 call, it is difficult to accept that they think I did and therefore protocol is going to happen whether I like it or not. What’s more, that’s is reason enough for them to enter the house and check things out. In the numbers game, 911 trumps the 4th amendment.

File this under the ‘live and learn’ category.