Sunday March 15, 2015
What I find fascinating about nature is that I have no interest in it. Also I wonder, living in Los Angeles, if I can fully go into 'nature. ' Where I live, I'm surrounded by parks and mountain trails. Yet, as far as I can gather, these trails were made by humans. So the very nature of either building a road or making a trail is already changing what is once 'wild' nature. Most people don't even think about what is or what isn't nature, but for me, it's important to make the distinction between 'real' nature and 'man (woman) -made' nature. Is the reflection we see, is that real or not real? As I get older I crave to see or feel something that is real. So far, when I take my walks in the hills of rural Los Angeles, I feel I'm on a movie set, than say a natural landscape that is untouched by human hands.
While reading up on the history of Griffith Park, I was surprised to learn that there was an Indian tribe called "Gabrielinos" (now called the Gabrielino-Tongva tribe) that lived in the area. It seemed that Corporal Jose' Vicente Feliz was rewarded with a Spanish land grant in 1775. Colonel Griffith J. Griffith acquired the land in 1882 and eventually gave it as a gift to the city of Los Angeles in 1896. In 1934, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built retaining walls, hiking trails, access roads, maintenance, and restored some of the structure that are in the park. The CCC camp, after Pearl Harbor was attacked, became a prison of sorts for Issei (Japanese people who immigrated to a new country), who were considered by the FBI to be 'enemy aliens. ' Griffith Park Detention Camp could hold around 70 men. It seems that the major crime by these people, was the fact that they were part of the Japanese race. As of today, Sunday, I can find no trace of this world.
The only thing I connect to is an image of Smokey the Bear. Smokey has been around since 1944, so he was ten years old when I was born in 1954. Throughout my life I was aware of Smokey, and he is the one consistent figure in my whole life. So as I enter the park, he is the one that greets me. It has been reported by the Ad Council, that Smokey is recognized in the U.S. BY 95% of adults, and 77% of children. I have memories of having a Smokey the Bear lunch box. The message that became very clear to me, was “only me, can prevent forest fires.” Whenever a fire breaks out in a forest, to this day, I feel responsible for the destruction.
Living near Griffith Park, I feel that it’s my almost private playground. Although I do share it with a million other people at the very least, I still feel like it’s a reflection of my life. My wife and I walk up to the Griffith Park Observation to look over the magnificent landscape that is Los Angeles, which as we all know by now, is the greatest city on the West Coast. It is interesting to note that the Observatory opened up in 1935, around the same time that the CCC was building up the park. A utopia vision of the mixture of nature and the stars - the perfect partnership. Being a long-time fan of “Adventures of Superman” TV show, I was happy to discover that they used the Observatory as Jor-El’s laboratory on the planet Krypton. We went inside of the Observation to see the Foucault pendulum as well as the refracting telescope, Zeiss. The song "Lost in the Stars' came to my mind as we sat there and watch the stars appear on the ceiling. Someone behind me made a 'moo' sound, and at first, it annoyed me, but I followed him up by doing a rooster. It was a full audience, and it seemed everyone looked at us in the darkness or one or two voices saying "shut-up." We did, and speaking for myself, I just pretended it didn't happen in the first place.
When we walked out of the Observatory, I noticed a statue or a bust of a face. I walked up to it, and I admired the way the sculpture captured the hairstyle of the person's face. The next time I get a haircut, I want to bring this bust with me to show to the barber what type of haircut I want. It's very difficult at times, to communicate with a hair-cutter in exactly what you want. For instance, if I tell them that I want my haircut to be a combination of Elvis 1956 mixed with touches of Bowie's Ziggy haircut of 1972, I would mostly get a blank stare. But here, bringing this statue, I think would solve that problem. A photograph would be helpful, but bringing an object that is 3-dimensional I think is better. That way, the hair-cutter can see the object from all sides and angles. Then again, maybe I'm putting too much thought on to all of this.
As we walked down the hill taking us to Los Feliz boulevard, we ran upon a pack of coyotes that were eating something that was once alive. I wasn't sure if the victim was human or beast, but we just walked down the street and paid no attention to the carnage in front of us. Griffith Park means many things to people, but for me, it is a reflection that is life, but life as being projected by yours truly on a very warm Sunday afternoon.