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Wednesday, May 22 2002

Places like home - 2

San Pedro, the community at the port of Los Angeles, is the only part of the city that struck me, on first visiting it, as incongruent or pasted on to the rest. It's connected to the main city by a narrow north-south neck that reminds me of efforts by landlocked German and Russian republics of earlier eras to gain their own ocean frontages so they could build navies and more effectively conduct wars.

Besides this southern port, Los Angeles also has a western ocean port at Venice Beach, just south of Santa Monica, but though it's a good swimming and surfing beach it lacks the exceptional shipping harbor at San Pedro. Of the three sections of the city advancing secession plans, San Pedro strikes me as having the most worthy case; it's really a community unlike the rest of Los Angeles. But being smaller and poorer than San Fernando Valley and Hollywood, it may be the least likely to be successful in winning its independence.

I was surprised to learn when I moved to Southern California (Santa Barbara) in 1968 that Hollywood, being so well known as a place with its own identity, has been all these years an integral part of the City of Los Angeles. A quick tour of the section, which in reality is far from its glamorous reputation, brings the visitor to realize that "Hollywood" is more a state of mind, an image, than a reality or piece of real estate. Yes, Hollywood Blvd. and Vine intersect in the center of it; the Chinese Theater famous for the footprints and handprints of the stars, the Capitol Records tower built like a stack of 45 RPM records on a stereo spindle, and the sidewalk stars commemorating big names in various types of show business inlaid into the sidewalks of Hollywood are here, but also are drug dealers, pimps, prostitutes, male hustlers, and other indicators that not all is well in the showbiz capitol.

Most of the Americans who can read maps probably know that Beverly Hills, a few minutes' drive west of Hollywood and also surrounded by sections of Los Angeles, is an independent city, mostly a residential subdivision for the wealthy and famous of the movie, television, and recording industries. Also, West Hollywood, which is partly west and south of the Hollywood section, is an independent city, the area's equivalent to New York's East Village and San Francisco's Castro district as the area's gayest "ghetto." Between Beverly Hills and the City of Santa Monica is Westwood Village, the home of the University of California at Los Angeles and which has been the site of more film premieres than Hollywood for the past generation.

If I were a bettor, my money would be on Hollywood (of the three sections of the city seeking it) winning its independence. It seems right, even though Hollywood is, in the media mind, indistinguishable from Los Angeles. Despite the incongruent overlapping of glamour and decadence, Hollywood is so familiar that it seems like home from first visit. To get a feel for this, if you can't visit in person, I recommend renting Day of the Locusts or Chinatown, or even both. Both films harken back to an earlier Los Angeles, but much of the city of today is foreshadowed in them. I've heard that Hollywood Confidential is also exceptional, though I haven't seen it as yet.

More "places like home" to come.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Burma Shavers (continued)

(This series has elicited exceptional response. One writer reminds that there was also a set of Burma Shave signs just west of Belsano on Route 422.)

 
BROTHER SPEEDER
LET'S REHEARSE
ALL TOGETHER
GOOD MORNING NURSE

***Burma Shave***

 
    —Sent by Bob Kennedy

Thought for the day

God's Wings

An article in National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God's wings. After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno's damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree.
Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he gently struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother's wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies.

Then the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, but the mother had remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live.

"He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge," (Psalm 91:4).

Sent by Bill Dalrymple

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