October 30, 2011

Photo Essay: Corralitas Red Car Property

Last weekend I was still reeling from my visit to New York City the week before, and already feeling rundown, a precursor to the illness which plagues me now.

I wanted to get out and get hiking, but I didn't have a ton of energy or a ton of time.

So I drove to Silver Lake, lured by the promise of an abandoned rail line, and the hopes of seeing some of its vestiges.

I drove to the end of the road and parked. And walked straight past the "End" sign along the fence, hitting a deadend, and the highway.

I turned back and walked along another trail behind a row of houses.

Could an old rail line really have passed through here?

There weren't a lot of signs of anything, and I was literally walking through people's backyards.  At times I was surrounded on one side or both by embankments. Did the Pacific Electric Interurban Streetcar tracks once run along where I was walking, or up there?

I passed a number of stairways heading both up and down. Were they public or private? They seem now to lead to residents' back doors, but did they once lead to the streetcars?

Towards the end, I stumbled upon some stones, perhaps mile stones, perhaps other types of markers or supports...

...until I reached the holy grail, the "Stonehenge" of Silver Lake.

These are the historic concrete footings of the old Fletcher Red Car Viaduct, a bridge which once connected Silver Lake with Glendale, a trestle which was torn down in favor of freeway construction - a palpable example of the changing social landscape and infrastructure of Los Angeles as our fair city became more and more dependent on individualized motorized transportation.

And now, it's about a mile-long hike.

As economical and ecological as public transportation can be, I still prefer individual transportation, be it on foot, on bike, or in my car. I've still never taken the subway in LA - though, frankly, I would if it ran anywhere close enough to my apartment to be useful.

So as rail lines come and go, I'll keep walking along their decommissioned tracks, getting back in my car to drive home.

Related Reading:
Photo Essay: Lake Mead Railroad Trail
Photo Essay: Heart-Pounding Hike to a Lost City
Photo Essay: West Essex Rail Trail
Photo Essay: Walkway Over the Hudson
Photo Essay: The High Line, The Magic Hour
Photo Essay: The High Line at Night
Early Retirement

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October 28, 2011

The Patient Struggle

I'm sick in bed, not for the first time, alone in LA.

It's been nearly five months since I got food poisoning from Playa Rivera, serving me right for compulsively taking myself out for dinner and drinks.

It's been nearly three months since I gave myself concussion, an ailment from which I am still recovering and still suffering dizzy spells and persistent headaches.

And now I've got my annual fall headcold, which masqueraded as allergies for probably weeks, then worsened into a nuisance, and now has manifested in a total incapacitating illness, rendering me bedridden and barely able to maintain consciousness.

Earlier this week, my coworker (the same one who discovered me slumped over in my office and called an ambulance) walked into my office and said, "What's wrong?" When I asked "Why?" she said I looked like I didn't feel good, like I was sick. I was insulted, wearing new glasses and looking for compliments rather than concern. But I was feeling run-down. She must've known me better than I know myself.

So now that I am certifiably sick, where can I seek solace, and from whom?

The family I haven't spoken to in nearly five years?
The friends I left back in New York?
The boyfriend I never quite had, who is now someone else's boyfriend?
The lover who constantly insists on the casual nature of our relationship, yet whose capacity for intimacy and tenderness far surpasses all others?
The guy friends who want to date me?
The guys who don't want to date me?
The bartenders who flirt with me?
The husbands who fantasize about me?
The boss who can't stop worrying about me?

I know I probably have to ask for help, otherwise help will not come. I know I can get better on my own, and I have everything I need here. I don't need a doctor, I don't need the hospital, I don't need antibiotics. I have enough medicine, I have enough tissues, I have enough food.

But sometimes I need someone to stroke my hair and tell me everything's going to be all right.

The hardest part is, I felt exactly the same way when I was sick in New York. It's not LA. It's me.

Related Reading:
Plight of the Independent Woman

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October 27, 2011

The Nicest Words

“It’s good to see you, as always.”

“You’ll be missed.”

“Welcome home.”

These are the nicest words to hear.

These are some of the nicest words ever said to me.

These are the words spoken out of the mouths of Angelenos.

“Hey pretty girl. How’s your day?”

“Have a blessed day.”

“Jah bless.”

These are also some of the nicest words to hear, some of the nicest words ever said to me.

These are the words spoken out of the mouths of the Rastafari.

“Good job.”

“I appreciate you.”

“God was smiling down on me the day you got fired from your last job.”

These are words I never thought I would hear at work.

These are words I always wished would be said to me.

These are the words spoken out of the mouth of the best boss I’ve ever had.

Los Angeles may not be all sunshine and palm trees; reggae music may not be all peace and love; and the independent music industry may not be all Hollywood glamour…

…But they provide more sunshine, palm trees, peace, love, smiles and rainbows than I have ever experienced before.

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October 26, 2011

The Lost Trail to Mission Point

One of my greatest fears is getting lost. I constantly dream about it - driving my car, riding my bike, walking the halls of my school which suddenly turns in to the mall...

But I rarely actually get lost.

Just sometimes when I'm hiking, I get disoriented. I don't have a good map. I forget to bring directions. And I have a horrible sense of direction on my own.

But I'm never really lost.

It just feels that way.

This weekend I had to be in Granada Hills for a meeting, and true to form I checked the map to see if there were any good parks nearby to hike afterwards, discovering O'Melveny Park, second only to Griffith Park in terms of size for urban Los Angeles parks.

Reportedly there are several ways to get to its scenic overlook, Mission Point. I tried to find a couple of the trailheads, to no avail, so I hopped on the equestrian trail, figuring if I kept climbing upwards, I'd find it eventually. But, as per usual, it was late afternoon, and I was in a race against time.

And I am not one of those desert rats that likes to just set out and get lost and then figure their way back. I like knowing where I'm going.

As I tried to navigate my way, I was surrounded by plenty of hills, facing the late afternoon sun, shadows cast with the ending day.

And it wasn't long before I was making the steady climb upwards towards the sunny sky.

The view was beautiful. It felt like I could see everything, so much so that with every overlook, I kept thinking I was at the top.

But as high as I got, I knew I still hadn't reached Mission Point (nor its marker). So I kept walking, trying to take note of the direction I was heading in (generally west, facing the sun), hoping to make a loop back down to the parking lot. I used the sight of the Los Angeles Reservoir as a beacon to keep oriented.

I kept walking and walking, until I hit the westernmost boundary of the park, fenced off.

So I headed downwards.

I kind of thought if I walked all this way west, facing the setting sun, then I should make my way back heading east, with the sun behind me. But the problem with hiking hills and mountains and canyons is that you are hardly ever walking in a straight line. You are twisting and turning to gain elevation, with switchbacks and loops and intersecting trail junctions.

At one point, I had no idea what trail I was on. I suspected I had taken the Grasslands Trail to get to the western fence, but after that, I was pretty sure I wasn't even on a real trail anymore, but rather a fire break or a excavated gas line. A real trail wouldn't be this narrow, right?

And why was I still walking west?

So instead of choosing east versus west, I chose down versus up. I remember once visiting a friend in the labyrinthine Hollywood Hills, when upon leaving, he said, "Don't worry, you'll find your way, as long as you keep going down." So I kept repeating to myself, "Just keep heading downhill," hoping I'd find my way back.

By this point, I had no idea where my car was, or where I'd end up once I was at the bottom of the hill.

When I finally did reach the bottom, it was not at the parking lot trailhead, but rather a cul-de-sac at the end of Neon Way, a residential street.

Where was my car? I knew the address of where I'd parked it, but I hadn't brought my GPS with me on the hike, so I didn't know how to get there on the city streets. And there was no way I was going back into the park to tackle those trails again.

Ask a neighbor? There was no one around.

Call a cab? I tried finding a local taxi company with my Blackberry but only found limo services in towns that seemed far away.

Hitchhike? This seemed my best option, so I walked a couple of blocks towards a busy cross-street I saw in the distance. A cross-street with the same name as the one I'd punched into my GPS to find the park.

Thankfully, it turns out I was only a couple of (long, highway-sized) blocks away from my car, adding probably only another mile or so to my hike.

I found my car, but I never found Mission Point. I still have no idea where it is, or how I missed it up there.

Maybe I'll go back one day and find it.

Related Reading:
Lost Vegas
The Lost Road to Glendale Peak
Out and Back
The Wrong Trail?

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October 25, 2011

Not Going Back

Upon my return from New York, people keep asking me one question, phrased in a variety of ways, but all leading to the same inquisition: "So did visiting New York make you miss it so much that you want to move back?"

And my reply, phrased in a variety of ways, has been consistently, insistently asserting: "No way."

I missed my little LA life. I was looking forward to coming back. I'm glad to be back.

And although I had a great time a couple weekends ago, I don't need to relive an old New York life. There's plenty of new Los Angeles life to experience for the first time.

I may no longer be a New Yorker, but I've returned to LA alone - to my apartment alone, to my office alone. I'm not quite Californian yet either. I'm still becoming.

But as much as I'm still not settled in here, in my new home, I'm not going back.

Onwards and upwards.

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Photo Essay: Best of Saarinen's TWA Flight Center, JFK

In case you missed the prior photo essays from my long-awaited visit to the old TWA Flight Center at JetBlue's T5 terminal at JFK New York airport, below are highlights from the exterior and interior shots, in both color and black and white...

To catch up on what you may have missed:
Photo Essay: Saarinen's TWA Terminal, JFK - Interior (Black and White)
Photo Essay: Saarinen's TWA Terminal, JFK - Interior (Color)
Photo Essay: Saarinen's TWA Terminal, JFK - Exterior

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October 22, 2011

Photo Essay: Saarinen's TWA Terminal, JFK - Interior (B&W)

When I finally got to visit the old TWA Flight Center at JFK (in front of JetBlue's T5), I was glad that I'd made the trip all the way out from California just for Open House New York Weekend, but I wished I'd seen the terminal before its partial restoration, and I wished so many people weren't there with me.

Still, I managed to get a large set of lonely, haunting photographs, the below black and whites of which show some of the darker corners and hidden, deserted areas in the shadows of the unrestored parts of the fabulous landmark.

To see the other photo essays from my visit, see:
Photo Essay: Saarinen's TWA Terminal, JFK - Interior (Color)
Photo Essay: Saarinen's TWA Terminal, JFK - Exterior

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October 21, 2011

Photo Essay: Saarinen's TWA Terminal, JFK - Interior (Color)

After waiting so many years, seeing the exterior of the old TransWorld Flight Center, once a terminal of its own, now a landmark in front of JetBlue's T5, just wasn't enough.

Fortunately for me, Open House New York granted access to its partially-restored interior last weekend, a rare opportunity to skulk around the old ticket counters...

...the main entrance...

...the red carpeted departures and arrivals tubes (which basically lead to nowhere now)...

... the new red sunken seating area (true to its original form, but without ashtrays)...

...the red unrestored seating area...

...and the mod lounge.

There are lots of relics to be discovered: phone booths....

...snack counters...

...and lighting fixtures hung on peeling wallpapered walls.

For more exploration in the shadows, stay tuned for a black and white photo essay of the TWA terminal interior...

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