pWdumaNjA-6CEEBhRoD5euxNETs When All This Actual Life Played Out

22 November 2016

I promised the daughter an adventure

No, really
Los Angeles, California
22 November 2016
I promised the daughter an adventure. I did not promise her the Dancing With the Stars finale.
Short version: I wanted to see the Guillermo del Toro exhibition at LACMA, which closes next week. The daughter has the week off because Thanksgiving. So we made some travel magic (e.g., trains and buses) and popped over there today.
After the monsters, the daughter was hungry. We wandered up to The Grove for lunch.
And ran into this.
I love L.A.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6. I've never even seen this show, but we switched it on when it started tonight, had a good laugh, and switched it back off again.
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15 November 2016

Super moon in tiny aspect

Downtown Disney
Anaheim, California
13 November 2016
We were already committed to dinner out with some friends so I wasn't going to be lugging a camera around. But that is the moon by the building's upper corner, not some random light.
It's been a long, exhausting few weeks. I had film crews in and out in rapid rotation, and constant requests from other crews to use the house as a location. One last minute group came in four hours late, and I had to literally sit on the set, chivvying them along because I had another crew loading in at 7:30 the next morning.
It was ridiculous. It will not be happening again.
(I kind of wonder if anyone will notice at the screenings that the house shows up over and over. Of course, given the massive set dressing--my living room became an office at the absolute last minute--probably not.)
I haven't slept well since the election. I know this isn't particularly uncommon, but it's certainly aggravating. I wrote an absolute diatribe the day of (something of the Letter Never Sent variety. I needed to write it, but I'm not sure there is any need to share it.) because like everyone, I have opinions.
But rather than continue to air my grievances--and I have been pretty public about where I cast the blame--I'm trying to focus on positive action. Like others, I am donating money to causes that matter, and though I always do, it's taking on a particular gravitas, and I'm just trying not to explode. In some ways, that might be the most positive action I can take.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
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07 November 2016

Dead of night

Noche de Altares
Santa Ana, California
1 November 2014

This week has been fraught (what week isn't around here?), in part because it's production season and all the college kids are filming their 2nd and 3rd year projects. Since I've gotten a reputation for being production friendly, and I worked in the industry, AND I know the ins and outs of permitting, I get requests for location shoots. While I'd like to say no to all of them, unfortunately, I also get it. These are kids with dreams (and in some cases, real talent), whose budgets are whatever change they find in their pockets. So I mostly say yes.

(Fortunately for me, the biggest shoot got a permit at their first choice location. But then, I got an emergency request for the vacated weekend that I had to deny. I'd just gotten out of the hospital, and I'm not supposed to get stressed! I'll wait while you finish laughing.)


The daughter's production was filming this weekend, and she was also working on two other shoots, which naturally, turned into complete chaos. Because they are all adults now, I try to stay on the sidelines and just watch and roll my eyes a lot while the fail-tasm occurs. And while I say that, even act on it, when the already exhausted crew rolled in Saturday morning, I made sure they had lots of coffee and really good food.

(This is how I get a reputation.)

The production that was shooting Friday night wrapped in the early morning hours of Saturday. I'd made arrangements to pick up the daughter when she finished, because I know my kid and I knew she'd be unsafe at any speed. Like the spouse, she needs her sleep. Unlike me, the Energizer bunny (who, yes, ended up in the ER. As the spouse has reminded me all weekend. Look, I always said that I can sleep when I'm dead. I just didn't plan on acting on that one quite so soon.)


It was quite late when I headed out to the production location, and fortunately, it's a fairly quiet route traffic-wise late at night. Quiet to the point where I need to use high-beams (that's saying something in So Cal) to ensure that I don't run over the occasional errant raccoon, opossum or wandering person. It's also quiet because I pass not one but three cemeteries.

Given the time of year--All Saints, All Souls, Dia de los Muertos--the cemeteries are pretty busy. On any given day, you see picnics and balloons and all sorts of activities that are generally frowned upon, but at the beginning of November, it becomes another thing altogether. And early Saturday morning, in the dead of night, I saw a completely different dimension. There were lights--everywhere. Candles, flashing strings suspended in the air, lanterns. It was eerie and beautiful. Friendly but otherworldly. Touching.


Since I was the only one on the road, I slowed a bit to take in what I was seeing, and gently rounded the corner, taking quick glances through the locked iron gates. I wanted to stop to look, but it was late and the daughter was waiting on me, so I proceeded to the location. We loaded gear into the back of my car--heavy light cases, C-stands, sandbags, cameras--and then I pulled out and we headed toward home.

As we approached the first of the cemeteries, I urged the daughter to take a look. She quieted for a moment, and then said, "It's beautiful."

And it was, one of the strange but lovely perqs of being out in the middle of the night on a quiet road, proceeding into another long day of work and life.

Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone4.
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01 November 2016

This perfect day

New Point Loma Lighthouse
Point Loma, San Diego, California
25 August 2016
As it happened, we wandered into Cabrillo National Monument on the National Park Service's 100th birthday--and got in free. We were pleased and surprised that we'd managed to show up on the actual day. We're never that organized.
(We didn't stick around for cake. Too many people milling around.)
I took photos. As I do.
It's November. I'll leave you to contemplate that.
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
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31 October 2016

When we became the haunted house

31 October 2016
A filter to hide the overall dereliction of the front. Have I got my work cut out for me this winter.
Tech stuff: Taken with my iPhone6.
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29 October 2016

Good-bye, Irvine Meadows

Cheap Trick from the cheap seats
Irvine Meadows Amphitheater
Irvine, California
29 July 2010

This makes me genuinely sad. The Irvine Company is closing Irvine Meadows Amphitheater. The last shows are this weekend.

(See also: completely enraged, but I'm always mad at the Irvine Company.)

 They're building more houses, which is exactly what bloated, constipated Irvine needs. Cue "Subdivisions." And how they can bring more people in while we're in the midst of the sixth year of drought. But I digress.

I've been trying to remember how many shows I've seen at Irvine Meadows. Rush, many times; REM, at least once; X, back in their heyday in the 1980s; Pacific Symphony, at least a dozen times since we've lived in Orange County. Aerosmith and Cheap Trick. Coldplay. And so on.

(This isn't the first popular concert venue to bite the dust. Universal Amphitheater was demolished to make room for Harry Potter. I saw Linda Ronstadt there. REM, multiple times. Rush. Moody Blues. CSN. And so on. The Sports Arena, where I saw U2 on the Joshua Tree tour, is also half down.)

 The kids' first rock concert
14 July 2004

But back to Irvine Meadows (always Irvine Meadows, even when it was Verizon Wireless. You could tell a noob or out of towner...they didn't know to call it Irvine Meadows).

The first show I saw there--a very, very long time ago--was Jackson Browne. Some friends dragged me along for the ride. We were on the lawn. (The lawn. Oh. My. God. The race for the best spots on said lawn. The steepness of said lawn. The dampness of said lawn. The climb to said lawn. What other people were doing on said lawn. When Coldplay played part of their set on said lawn. Oh, the lawn. I didn't sit there often. Just often enough.)

Honestly, I was pretty bored that first show. Except there were lions. Yes, lions. An attraction called Lion Country Safari was just behind the venue, and you could hear the lions roaring throughout the show. It was epic. Of course, it was also epic when Jackson was singing "Running on Empty," stopped, announced, "I forgot the fucking words," and then after a pause, resumed.

I dragged as many of my friends and fellow concert aficionados to Irvine Meadows as I could. "It's the best venue," I would tell them. The people playing there always seemed to enjoy it, too. With the exception of the pit, which was a pit, and maybe the lawn, because lawn, there really wasn't a bad seat. And when we went to the summer symphony series, you could bring in a picnic. The kids still remember listening to the symphony doing Loony Tunes music while eating homemade chocolate cake, as the spouse and I sipped our coffee in the cooling evening air.

I watched the moon rise many times over that stage. Later, much later, when a mall went up nearby, the brightly lit Ferris wheel illuminated the night too.

My kids learned to drive in Irvine Meadows' parking lot. We picnicked in Irvine Meadows' parking lot. Ran into people we knew in Irvine Meadows' parking lot. Stood around and talked in Irvine Meadows' parking lot until security chased us out.

And the smell of swamp. The swamp. Oh. My. God. I guess it's part of San Diego Creek that runs through the venue, but whatever it is, it is wet. And filled with plants And smelly. I will never forget that smell, which was bad, sort of, but memorable, vegetal and a harbinger of good things yet to come. So, I smell that smell, and I gag, but also think "concert!" And the damp rising up, cool on warm summer nights. I get goose bumps thinking about it. Because there were times, after a hot day, that I had real ones. And I always wanted to dance down that silly, swampy path. Sometimes I did.

I got filmed entering the gates. I got filmed exiting the gates. I was handed samples of soft drinks. I was given CDs. My daughter once got patted down by security in case I'd tried to conceal contraband on her small person. (SERIOUSLY?)

The concrete bunkers that served as restrooms. The old red seats (that I rarely actually sat in, unless it was Pacific Symphony). Remembering to be patient with the nice staff trying to tell me where my seat was because I knew where my seat was, thank you, been there a million times. The weird concessions. The spouse would always stop for a beer, but I eschewed it all. Of course. Especially the symphony box dinners after a really disastrous and inedible set of meals (thank you, Bristol Farms).

The sound. It's a natural amphitheater. The sound was brilliant.

Pacific Symphony performing the score to Pirates of the Caribbean
1 September 2012

"Ode to Joy" rising through the air. Pyrotechnics, cannon and fireworks and "The 1812 Overture" played by both the symphony and a rock band. Laughing at the irony of "Subdivisions" and "Los Angeles."


I had to leave Los Angeles the day after I saw X, off to pursue my master's degree elsewhere with no plan to return. But return I did. And the only paltry comfort in being exiled behind The Orange Curtain in the late 1990s was that Irvine Meadows was closer. Because I loved going there. And at the start of every season, I would peruse the list of shows, hoping there would be a reason to go there. But not anymore.

For a couple of years, my office was down the street, and I would bicycle past Irvine Meadows on my way home. Before they closed the tree lot next door to the venue, we'd pick out our Christmas tree there every year, and while the kids would dodge in and out of the trees, I'd look up at the banks of empty red seats, letting my eyes sweep across the different sections I'd sat in over the years (and the lawn), a wholly different perspective, thinking about the shows and the people who'd been with me through all those years.

Damn you, Irvine Company, and your greed. Pave paradise...

But I have memories. Oh, do I have memories. And they won't be building any apartments there.

Tech stuff: Taken with a variety of phone cameras.
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