Monday, July 23, 2012

Seagulls Reel

Seagulls Reel

                Seagulls reel.  They rise in a quasi-flock and at the edge of the surf and size things up.  To go out, make the effort against the wind coming off the water to pick at the leavings of sea lions, pelicans and cormorants or to turn back inshore, to sandwiches, chips, pizza, McDonalds, pork rinds, Doritos, cupcakes left unattended.

                Quasi-flock: seagulls are not loyal birds.  Their social structure ranges from that of vaguely affiliated hillbillies to unconstrained mobs.  Given the right circumstances they will peck each other senseless over a crust of bread.

                Seagulls reel.  Heading inland; the wind makes it senseless to do otherwise.  Pudgy brown children roll in the surf like churros in powdered sugar.  Fathers male bond as mothers watch hawk-like although a few barely at all.  And as the bright sunshine bounces off water concealing tormented and writhing sand shifting beneath the feet of all and sundry, conditioned by inflow and outflow, by the moon, the gods and worst of all El Nino, they play. 

The lifeguard watches.  Red-slickered, hooded to the point of chicken-bandy-legged and gymtoned, waving a fire engine red lozenge while the myriads watch not knowing or caring what he’s worried about.

                “How many you pull out today?”  At Zuma Beach there are always rescues.  It is treacherous to the point sensible people won’t go there.  You want a rip-tide that pulls you to Anacapa you go to Zuma Beach.  Swim parallel to the shore as long as you want to and nothing's going to happen but you swim into another one.  From Zuma Beach you can visit the entire west coast of north America for free and without hardly trying.  It doesn't ask if you want to go.

                And jellyfish, though technically you’re not supposed to call them “fish."  They are not fish.  They are 99.999% water and the rest don’t you fucking touch me.  Zuma Beach always had, has, and always will have jellyfish.  The man-o-war kind in fractions and otherwise dead and tentacled lolling on the breakers hitching rides or whatever gelatinous does.  Nothing helps a jellyfish sting but peeing on it, which probably doesn’t help.  But it is funny.

                Seagulls reel.  Inland like a U-turn on the boulevard.  A sunburned slacker with beach-buzz eyes loses his hot dog to a clear headed smart beak, feathers and sinew heading out to sea.  It’s alright now, the buffeting no problem.  This bird has acquired the fuel to get back.

                “Five,” says the lifeguard.  “Lots of holes out there.  That’s why I love this job.  Love to go into the water.”

                Where would we be without lifeguards?

                I know a thing or two about seagulls.  It is nearly impossible to identify one kind from the other because at different developmental stages they all look the same.  A gray one can be a white one on the way to becoming white and a white can be thirty different kinds of white.  Herring gulls have a red spot on their lower beaks so their offspring can target the food pump.

Were I to wake up reincarnated a seagull, horrification would ensue: “holy shit what did I do to deserve this?”  Because for a seagull, a broken wing, leg, an illness or serious wound is a death sentence.  And the wind, the force, the engineering of a creature constantly and persistently at the mercy of such, and the undoing should anything befall it.  I cannot snatch the hot dog before the other one can.  I lack the strength to fly out to sea.  I am going away and I cannot fix this.  The others don’t notice.  They just bicker and fight over the leavings, until the leavings are you.
Seagulls reel.  And at the end of the day settle further on down the beach.  There are no people or snack foods there.  Just beak tucked into wing fluffed with white feathers and sand.  Night will fall.  For a little while breath beneath the wing is warm

Los Angeles at a Glance

Los Angeles at a Glance

No one knows where Los Angeles begins or ends.  They did once but not anymore.  It spreads out in so many directions north south east and west stopped only by the sea and then barely, that there is no obvious boundary.  It is like the universe only dirtier and with much less order.  There will be heat death for Los Angeles someday, but it will be ugly getting there.  The ocean stops the city but when it does the leavings of masses mixes with the surf and while yeah, the reason the foam at Santa Monica is brown may have something to do with churn and rainwater, but you’re never really sure.  There’s forever a nagging.  Is it or isn’t it shit I’m swimming in? Whose is it and what are they infected with?

The east.  Desert spattered with mini-malls and settlements gives way to something called “Upland,” although it is not clear what it is up land of.  Up land of more land which is bleak and waterless, sandy and shifting both in its architecture and population.  Lots of Latino immigrants have settled in Upland; they don’t mind the heat so much but the boredom gets to them as they work at fast food joints serving people driving to better or at least more exciting places burgers and burritos and send them on their way.  Go away Gringo.  We’ve got to get back to the hopelessness and meth labs, the first is always waiting—it ain’t going to go anywhere-- but the second tend to explode and burn down if you don’t keep an eye on them.

San Diego used to be south of Los Angeles but it has lost its autonomy and bled in.  It likes to imagine it is the other way around, that it has bled into LA but San Diego has never had much of a sense of self despite what T. Jefferson Parker says.  San Diego is real estate developed and yanked from under the indigenous population because it is too nice for the likes of them.  Bushy blond hairdo’s and hot rods disappeared a long time ago.  There are dolphins living in tanks now in San Diego.  One of them is going to jump out and go splat on the tarmac one of these days.  It has happened before elsewhere and it will happen again but very few people know about it.  It’s a secret.

 I live in Encino south of “the boulevard.”   “The boulevard” is Ventura and to live south of it is a big deal.  Everyone wants to live south of the boulevard since that means you’ve got dough except in my case.  In my case it means I fell on the charity of an old friend or maybe he needed the dough and fell on mine.  Either way it’s a kind of an impaling on chenielle and as you wake to the leaf blowers and middle easterners with black- tinted windows on high-end sports cars careening around the curve and down the hill, it kind of make you wonder in general about the things people crave.

My neighborhood is Jewish.  There are conservative Jews, Orthodox Jews, regular Jews, non-observant Jews and Jews who switch off Monday, Wednesday, Friday and alternating Saturdays.  There are kosher, non-kosher, short, tall, bearded, clean-shaven, men, women, and children Jews.  Many of them wear yarmulkas on Friday night and Saturday too.  I haven’t quite figured that one out yet but there’s a reason they have 2 Sundays.  Of course like the rest of us, some of them have no Sunday at all.

 You cannot go to the bathroom in Los Angeles without getting on a freeway.  Cars are a religion here and people act all kinds of ways they wouldn’t ordinarily when they are in their cars.  With a car you’ve got loads of metal, plastic, and tinted windows around you and you can act any old way you want to. If you get really mad you can crash into someone.  Of course most of the time it suffices to bully them, sidle up alongside and say mean stuff, intimidate them by acting aggressive and or crazy.  You can say things with your car you’d never have the guts to say ordinarily.  Leaning on your horn screaming “get the fuck out of the way.  My needs are a hundred times more important than yours are and even if they aren’t, fuck you anyway.”  There is a lot of fuck youing going on from the inside of cars.  Fuck youing nobody’d have the balls for if not for the metal, plastic and tinted windows.

But the fuck youing isn’t the worst thing emanating from the interior of cars in the City of the Angels.  The worst thing is the “I don’t give a fuck if you live or die because I’m busy texting.  If I don’t tell my best friend lol right now, some kind of bad electrical impulse is going to go off in my brain and I’m going to have to eat a quart of Haggen Daas when I get home.  Wtf?”  Text messaging monkeys are worse than fuck youing monkeys since at least the fuck youers have self-interest going for them.  They may act like they want to run into you but they don’t since it would damage their armor and get their insurance rates hiked.  The texters, which includes the yappers just for convenience’s sake, are in the grips of advanced addiction and while if they do run into another car or a pedestrian they won’t much like it, what they like and don’t like has nothing to do with anything.  They are compelled.  Compulsion is a dangerous thing.

Well, that is all for now.  Some Angelinos will read this and like, totally go, “Wow!  What a negative Nellie!”  I will address this phenomenon in the next installment, “The Law of Attraction, Pathological Narcissism, and Basalt.”