Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Little Indiscretions

"Never explain--your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway."


Monday, May 21, 2007

Malibu Mist

In California in the early Spring
there are pale yellow mornings
when the mist burns slowly into day.
The air stings like autumn,
clarifies like pain.
Well I have dreamed this coast myself.
[Robert Hass]

and Bruce aren't the only ones to have run the Malibu trails recently. And by "trails," I mean "rabbit tracks through overgrown meadows." I love it.

[Side note: I think our pictures are from the same trail! Ray Miller y/n?]

THIS was the stunning ocean view I was promised. 2000 feet of climb for crashing waves! Sweeping vistas! Typical coastal fog!

Do you see the ocean? Me, I do not see the ocean.

I did see some fun Seussian plants, though. Oh Malibu, you so crazy.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Insert "Bringing Sexy Back" Joke Here

The Face Transformer is such a fabulous waste of time for a narcissist like myself. We begin with a simple webcam shot: face forward, mouth closed, expression neutral.

The "painting" transformations were kind of cool, although they're not really recognizable as me. I do quite like the second one, though.

Now things get interesting. Asian Liz looks familiar...I think I went to school with her.

There are so many things I love about Super Shady Masculine Liz, I can't pick just one. Is it the enormous ears, the caveman forehead, the unwashed hair, or the pathetic attempt at a 5 o'clock shadow?

Now you'd think the monkey photo would be the most disturbing, right? Staring into the evolutionary abyss and all that. [Mostly it just reminds me of The Simpsons "Planet of the Apes" takeoff. "Oh my gosh, I was wrong! This was earth all along! Well you've finally made a monkey out of meeeeee!" Ahem.] This picture is downright cuddly compared to the horror of the next photo...

THIS is the face that will haunt my dreams tonight. I look so sad. If I didn't hate old people, I'd want to give myself a hug.

After seeing my tragic future, I tried to oldify a smiley photo of myself. The results were even worse. They even gave me rotting teeth!

I feel like Ebeneezer Scrooge. I have been visited by the Ghost of the Ugly Future, and I am sore afraid.


Monday, May 14, 2007

Griffith Park Update: Walking on the Moon

Well, the Griffith Park fire has been out since late last week. The final tally was over 800 acres burned, which is about a quarter of the park. A few structures were lost (including the beloved lookout/picnic area Dante's View) but only one house was damaged, which is incredible considering how many homes are in the hills near the park.

I'd heard last week that the park would be open by the weekend, but today was the first chance I had to explore. I drove up to the Vermont entrance, only to be turned away by park rangers, who said it wouldn't be open until Wednesday. Couldn't they see I was in my running gear, camera in hand? Not one to be foiled by The Man, I drove to the Fern Dell entrance, which was open because there are some grassy areas and playgrounds that were undamaged. Fools! Their first mistake was letting me into the park. Once I'd parked, I casually ran up into the park, past a few unguarded barricades, and onto a trail that would take me up to the fire-damaged areas.

In my defense, the signage was a little vague:

This one is especially ambiguous. The sign says "no no," but the broken caution tape says "yes yes."

As a comparison, this is what the undamaged hillsides look like. It's not lush forest, but there is (was?) quite a bit of plant life and greenery.

This was my first view of the fire damage as I began my climb to the top of the trail. From a distance, it was noticeable, but it didn't look terrible. I call it "the illusion of plants."

As I got closer things got spookier, and the smell got stronger. It actually wasn't bad--it smelled like a really strong campfire--it was just really unsettling.

It looks like there are green plants around, but the view from the trail is basically burned-out tree skeletons.

After awhile the scene was totally lunar. Compounding the otherworldly feeling was the fact that no one else was around. I was completely alone in this silent alien landscape. I saw rangers occasionally in the distance, but for obvious reasons I wasn't too reassured to see them. *cue sound of me diving into bushes*

Poor coyote! He looked so stark against the hillside. I wonder if many coyotes or deer got caught in the fire? I read an article written shortly after the fire where the reporter mentioned seeing "many charred rabbits on the trail, caught in the act of running from the fire." Fortunately I didn't see any dead animals--just lots of live squirrels, birds, and this little fella.

Random postscript: Aaaaah smoke! No idea what was going on here, but I didn't hear about a second Griffith Park fire, so I assume it was something the rangers had planned or had under control. (If I find out the park was closed due to a Ranger Weenie Roast, I'll be mad).

Even though the landscape was depressing, I feel better having seen it--I guess now I have an idea of what to expect once my regular trails are open. I'll probably bring my camera again and try to get up to Dante's View later this week.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Fire On the Mountain

By now, you've probably heard about the raging wildfire in Griffith Park, very close to where we live. The latest estimate is that 200-300 acres are burning, no end in houses burned yet, but they're started evacuating people a few blocks north of us. Everything points to disaster: beastly hot temperatures (95+ the last 2 days), shifting wind, no rain all winter. Let's pray it's not as bad as it seems.

I feel violated somehow. I've run the trails in Griffith Park nearly every day for the last 3 years. It's the first place I explored when we moved to LA, and the first place I take visitors to show them my city. It's my view from the breakfast table and my refuge when I need solitude. I know fire is part of the natural order of things, that it's even necessary sometimes to regenerate growth. But it still gives me a sick feeling to see the blackening sky, to taste the soot on my tongue, to feel my chest tighten and head get dizzy from the smoke.

The feeling on the street is quite a bit different. It's almost like a perverse block party. People are clustered on street corners, chatting, taking pictures with their cell phones, trying to climb trees for a better view. I walked up to one of the park entrances that was cordoned off. This was at 9:30pm; there was no power, so the streets were dark except for the flash of cop cars and traffic cop flashlights. At the corner gas station, a news crew was interviewing local residents, while others mingled and chatted in small groups. A few even had picnic dinners they spread on the ground right in the middle of the gas pumps.

It's surreal, it's distressing, it's DeLillo's Airborne Toxic Event come to life.

Now a few pictures. Jason has some good ones from this afternoon, I think he'll post them on his blog. I had some amazing views on my way to yoga around 7:45, but I'd forgotten the camera. This is what my puny camera could capture around 9:30. It was much more striking in person.

View from our balcony:

View from the street:

News crews doing their interviews: