Thursday, May 18, 2006

The 'burbs

How did they get such a bad name?

The American Enterprise and University of Illinois architectural historian, Robert Bruegmann, explains why: It's a 'clawss' thing, 'dah-ling.'

In it, denizen's of "America's suburb" may discover the roots of L.A. snobbery.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Great horny toads!

In which we spot a not-so-rare critter
Went on a long hike in the surprisingly picturesque Big Tujunga Canyon, in the Angeles National Forest. Today was the first day of real summer heat here in the Valley, a precursor of things to come in July and August, after the doldrums of June gloom. The trail was one of those steep, sandy desert alpine trails that mark canyon country. Combined, the heat and the steepness served to remind me of just how out of shape I have let myself become – how “un-Lambed” I am.

The high point is pictured above; the huge horn toad scrambled noisily across the trail and leaped up onto a bank, glanced back at me and froze – just long enough for me to snap that pic.

Thanks, Mr. Toad! You made my day.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Now that is just tacky!

In which we are reminded we live in La La Land

This morning's LA Times devoted the top spot of its website and a good-sized spread in its dead-tree edition to piece of "artwork," that millionaire Richard Moriarity is intalling in his Newport Beach manse. As the pic above indicates, this so-called artwork is a '74 Lamborghini, bolted to one of Moriarity's refrigerator-like interior walls. The engine was removed and will serve as the room's "200 mph coffee table."

Don't get me wrong, I love cars. Some cars truly are works of art. But they are functional works of art that belong in the streets, doing what they were made to do: be driven.

There's conspicuous consumption and then there's conspicuous consumption. Owning a Twachtman and displaying it in your private collection is conspicuous consumption. But in the right context it can also be a show of exquisite taste and a display of knowledge in the fine arts. Putting a $500K supercar on your wall is just plain tacky – a flashy show that shows off only that you’ve got nothing but more money than you have brains.

Well, that’s SoCal on a bad day for ye!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Fast as it Gets

In which M2 finds a link to his past

Enjoy the video above. It was taken in October of 1997 in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. Its subject is a car; the world's first supersonic automobile, built by the British patrician and thrill-seeker Richard Noble and driven by RAF pilot, Andy Green. The car, ThrustSSC, sporting two surplus fighter jet engines, broke the sound barrier and the World Land Speed Record, reaching a two-way average speed of slightly more than 763 miles per hour.

For best results, put your head phones on and turn the sound all the way up. And bye the bye, that film was taken from at least a miles distant, so the width of the frame is itself about one mile. Sort of puts it in perspective.

I was lucky enough to be there that day, but this is the first publicly available film of the event I've seen. I wish there was more. If you have leads on film, video or DVD of this event, please drop me a line.

Monday, May 08, 2006

You’ve Got Gas

In which M2 gets miffed over gas prices

This evening I went to the gas pump to gas up my ride, a Bajaj Chetak 150cc. I was aghast! Aghast, I tell you! At $3.45 per gallon for regular and more for premium, $3.00 would hardly fill my tank. Think of it: three whole dollars. That means I might spend as much as $6 for gasoline this week, and perhaps even a fraction more.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Should you renovate a haunted house?

LAVoice reports that one of most interesting follies in Beverly Hills -- which appeared in the 1965 film version of Evelyn Waugh's satire, "The Loved One" -- appears to be undergoing rennovation... or demolition. We certainly hope it is not the latter.

America Libre!

In which the American West -- and the nation -- turns a corner

The photo at left, which appeared in today's LA Times, has transformed me from an equivocal supporter of gradual assimilation and citizenship for illegals into an amnesty now advocate. Why? The colors! The flags! These people are patriots, real American patriots, who have worked hard, paid their taxes and deserve to be citizens of the Republic, regardless of what kind of accents they carry.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Bombs away

In which we get a chance sighting of one of WWII's great bombers in action

I was picked up from the office this evening by some pals who happened to be passing my way on the road back from the Coachella Music Festival. The Yahoo! offices are adjacent to the Bob Hope (Burbank – Glendale) Airport. We see all manner of craft flying in and out all the time from our office windows, including Tom Cruise’s own P-51 Mustang, a WWII fighter plane known as the “Cadillac of the Sky” because of its extraordinary power and speed.

On the way to my place we drove past the end of the runway from which one usually sees Southwest Airlines 737s lumbering into the air. We were chatting when, in front and above of us, soared a four-engine bomber of WWII vintage, props roaring.

“Look! Look! Look at that!” I exclaimed, pointing from the back seat (no doubt annoying my even-tempered and less excitable friends).

As it banked slowly and majestically to the west, one of my friends asked what it was. I identified it, wrongly, as a B-17. I always get the 17 and the 25 mixed up. I hate that. It was a B-25 – a noble, fierce-looking aircraft that seems to bristle with an angry but just power.

Ten minutes after my friends deposited me at my door, I heard the droning growl of those engines again. Rushing outside, I looked up and saw her once more, flying away over the Hollywood Bowl and banking over the Santa Monicas toward the Westside. I count myself lucky for two B-25 sightings in a single day.

I don’t know what brought the 25 to Bob Hope, but I’ll give the airport a jingle on the morrow and find out. Stay tuned.