A favorite scene from last week’s road trip to Laguna
No, I’m not back on the East Coast yet, though if I were I’d be in Lexington with David Toczko at the Rolex Three Day. It was a highlight of my year in 2012. This particular picture was a backdrop for another type of highlight in 2010, the sort that comes ones way just as they’re falling over the edge of a cliff. The good with the bad you know. It was taken in North Carolina. And like the song says, for a while falling can feel like flying. It looks much more appealing to me today than it did in the days shortly after it was taken. Still….
I’m throwing it up because for the last couple of years I’ve been shooting craggy western peaks and the sunsets that seem to crash over them on their way to Australia and beyond. The eastern mountains that I grew up with have a more soothing effect. The peaks older and smoother and covered with evergreens dotted with patches of deciduous trees here and there: Just enough to ensure a colorful display each autumn. The ridges interlock with one another creating corridors that zig and zag and invite you to explore further. They draw you in. This particular sunset was especially hypnotic and on the day it was taken was all but intoxicating. The results were so predictable – to everyone but me.
I miss these vistas. They can be replicated to a degree by the mountains that surround the northern boundaries for the Los Angeles Basin, the Santa Monica hills to the northwest and the San Gabriels immediately to the north and east. Given just the right amount of haze they take on that blue aura so familiar too habitués of the eastern mid-Atlantic. But sage brush and juniper give the illusion away. They have their own appeal of course and I’d be the first to tell you that it is no less compelling an environment than the one with which I am most familiar. Just not the same.
When you stand on the Blue Ridge and look west you’re gazing at the long-held promise of America. Everything you see for as far as you can see constitutes the portfolio of freedom that has stood at the core of our existence since before we were a nation. What you see is the tangible vision that fueled our drive to explore and discover and claim and capture and hold dear. It was not always a clear vision. Not at all. Our saving grace has been that it prevailed.
When I stand on the mountaintops here in California and look west I see the periphery of the largest ocean on earth. For decades it provided a boundary that protected our endeavors and a sea upon which we could pursue more diversified interests than were available to us otherwise. But to my mind it never ever drove us to achieve the way that Blue Ridge promise did. The ocean has always been something we could take or leave – at least so far as our national identity is concerned. In fact that is not true; in feeling it is spot on.
I wound up where I am now for many of the same reasons that our ancestors did. I am working on gaining a greater understanding of the tagline Mr. Thurber provided for this blog. I’m grateful for the trails my predecessors blazed. They certainly made it easier for me to get here. But it’s left to me to figure out why. And to take in any sunset anywhere for what it’s really worth: the promise, though not the guarantee, of a new day to come.
Blue sky. Sunshine. Comfortably cool temps. A small park in West Hollywood along the edge of what used to be Rt 66. Anne Hathaway: a thirty-something looking not a day over 15. Jane Fonda: a seventy-something looking about Hathaway’s age. Marisa Tomei: looking, well, just like Marisa Tomei. And dozens of women, as well as a few men here and there, decked out in various shades of red and pink engaged in dance routines that would fit well into almost any zumba room. For V-Day? Not exactly.
This was One Billion Rising, a planned flashmob (oxymoronic?) occurring today worldwide to raise the level of awareness of the violence imposed daily on women and girls and to support a sustained movement to bring it to an end.
I was there because Mitzi and her client and friend, Bonnie, had signed up and had practiced their participation for a week and invited me to come along and bring the camera. I didn’t research the event and honestly wasn’t sure what would happen other than a bunch of women would be carrying signs and dancing in the street. And I suppose if you’re of a certain jadedness that would be one way to look at it.
But these women, young, old and everywhere in between, were on a mission.
And they loved it.
And it showed.
And it was impossible not to get caught up in the energy-charged net of enthusiasm they spread all over their assigned section of Santa Monica Boulevard. And that’s what I tried to capture. I’ll let you be the judge. In addition to the photos included here – my favorites – I’ve posted a few more in this gallery. For those of you who took my card and asked where they would be published – this is the place. Feel free to use the images but also please make sure you attribute them to Richard Harrison (moi).
And!!!!!! Be sure to catch the video produced by Voyage Vixens. There are several on the net but none even comes close to the Vixens’ production quality.
And incidentally, that lead pic was a deliberate tease to get you to click the link and learn about something a little more important than cleavage.
One last note: I’m coming to believe that no event is complete without a dog. Pina De Rosa feels the same and brought Wellington along to prove it. Put a couple of extra pluses on a day inundated with them. But Wellington came out on top. You can learn all about him here.
On 12 Jan Mitzi and I went to the first major west coast exhibition of the Kelly Collection of American Illustration Art (thekellycollection.org) at the Weisman Museum at Pepperdine University. By invitation of the collection owner I might add. The opening reception ran from 5-7 to be followed by dinner at a restaurant a few miles up the coast. We over-estimated traffic and arrived early so I drove up the PCH to make sure I knew the restaurant’s exact location. As it turned out it was on the entrance road to the Park. So we drove out to the beach to see what we could see. Now you can see what we saw.
When I left the East Coast back in early October I did so with the idea that I might not return, at least as a permanent resident. I’ve been there for decades but the more time I spend in the West, the weaker my ties to The Commonwealth become. So when I left I rented my condo out for an indeterminate period to my friend Barbara. Yesterday she sent me this pic, a view from the bedroom window. It speaks for itself. All chilly thoughts I might add. It was certainly a shock to Barbara too: she just returned from Phoenix. I doubt there was snow there.
It got me thinking. So I went to our living room window and took the other shot. I don’t know that you’d call it a stark difference but its unquestionably a sunny one. I know which one I prefer. She’s got flakes piled one upon the other; we’ve got a couple of wayward palm fronds.
It’s a little more expensive to live here, a fact brought home every time sales tax is applied. But so far as the weather is concerned, you get what you pay for. Lacking an earthquake, or the return of the Republicans to the Statehouse, this place is looking better with every passing ray of sun.