Thursday, May 10, 2007

I Love LA

My wife and I decided to move back home to LA (after 14 years in the SF Bay Area), and then just a few weeks before we drove all our worldly belongings down the I-5 in a rented Penske truck, the LA Times canceled Candorville. We got a great apartment overlooking Griffith Park, and then just days before we move in, Griffith Park burned down. I was beginning to sense a pattern.

But as my Grandfather always says, "it's important to have faith. Everything works out in the end. And why isn't my cable TV working?"

In any case, as I was pedaling along the Santa Ana River yesterday, losing myself in the lazy dips and rises of the bike path and the warm desert breeze, thinking about faith, I realized one thing: I didn't know where the hell I was. So naturally, I kept going. This is the Southland, after all, I was sure to run into something that'd be familiar: a Carl's Jr., a Honda dealership, a mugger -- Something. Faith. Then it caught my eye...

A big halo fifty feet in the sky, and the familiar International Orange-colored "A" holding it up. Angel Stadium was just ahead, like a big, dilapidated anchor on the horizon. I crossed over the freeway overpass and looped down to the other side of the river-bank, and headed straight for the big A.

I'd been riding for nearly two hours, and as I sat under a tree next to the A, I began to relax. I began to think. I thought about how the last time I'd seen the Big Red A in person, I couldn't have been more than seven or eight. We'd driven down to catch an Angels game, and managed to lose our car. My dad, my brother and I wandered around the huge parking lot in the middle of the freezing night with no jackets, no light, and - for me at least - no hope. Hours later, when all the other cars had left, we saw ours, parked right under the Big A. I thought about how important it is to believe everything's going to work out, because it usually does unless you sabotage it yourself with doubt and anxiety (And if not, it just wasn't meant to be). I thought about how someday Griffith Park would be just as beautiful as it was three days earlier, when I'd hiked from Fern Dell Road to the observatory. I thought about how it's not a good idea to sit on a nest filled with red ants.

After shaking my clothes out and shrieking like a little girl, I crossed the river and headed for a restaurant I'd spotted earlier. Acapulco, by Century Theaters in the City of Orange. I ordered my shrimp enchilada and then checked my e-mail on my phone. There was a message from Sherry Stern the LA Times' Deputy Features Editor. The header read "Good news!" After nearly choking on my chip con guacamole, I closed the phone. I opened it again, fully expecting the message to have disappeared - it had to be a hallucination brought on by the Anaheim sun. It was still there. I closed the phone again and looked at it to make sure it was mine. I opened it again, expecting the message header to read "Just kidding." But it didn't. The LA Times had reconsidered its decision to cancel Candorville, she said. Candorville would return on Monday, with Sunday strips to return on or after June 3.

I resisted the urge to hug the waiter as he delivered my beans and enchiladas.

Someone else at the Times told me a couple weeks ago that the response from readers had been tremendous. Hundreds - maybe billions (but probably closer to hundreds) - of readers wrote in, called, and voiced their opinion about the cancelation. I'm sure that made all the difference. "Thank you" isn't enough, but then I know it wasn't for me. People didn't want Darrin Bell back, they wanted to continue to hear a young, dissenting voice in their newspaper - something Candorville provides with annoying regularity.

Score one for patriotic dissent, zero for the corporate media's dastardly plan to silence alternative viewpoints. Well, I guess that would be score 289,975 for the corporate media, and one for patriotic dissent, but you get my meaning.

As I waited at Acapulco for my wife to pick me up with the bike rack, sipping my Sierra Mist and downing a forkfull of sautee'd vegetables, I thought about faith. I thought about how hard it was to leave the SF Bay Area, the friends and the life we'd made up there. I thought about LA, the city where I was born and raised, and about how the city seems to have welcomed us back home. And I knew everything was going to work out in the end. Then I checked my socks for red ants, just in case.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Amazing animation: A patrol in Iraq

This is simply incredible (animation and handling of the subject matter):