The Hollywood sign shot has been everywhere. It’s been really exciting. Thank you to all of you who saw it in your papers (Fargo! Tulsa! Edmonton! DC! London! Holy Moly!) and wrote to me. I feel really lucky this past week.
But, knowing that TIME had featured my Hollywood sign shot in their weekly gallery online, I figured – just in case – I’d peek at their print edition. I dropped Newsweek, picked up its shelf-neighbor, TIME – and there was my baby, jumpin’ off the page! I was psyched.
[Apologize for the quality of the scan; the paper is so thin that it is hard to scan it well.]
I was sitting in my magic floating office pod when there was a very explosive and intense jolt – I felt a big shock / compression wave burst through the house (and me). Everything shook and rattled. It was powerful and incredibly jarring. Then, for a very short duration – maybe three seconds – there was major shaking; the house and its components made noises that I do not wish to hear again. I made it out of the pod and up against one of the core beams of the house within that time, and waited a few seconds. I looked out one of the small windows and the trees and telephone poles were visibly swaying. There were several more seconds of diminishing wavey motion, underscored by the oddest, deepest, almost-soundless roaring I’ve ever heard. Like the world’s biggest subwoofer turned way up, but without any actual music.
I stayed where I was for a bit, then checked around the house. Pictures on the walls are moved, a few things fell over, but there’s no visible damage.
To find out that the quake was a puny 3.4 was also jarring. A 3.4 felt like that? I must be a serious rookie. Virgin in the ways of earth-quaking. Really new and gone all wimpy-Maine-kid on these nerves-of-steel Californians. But then I found out it was centered about 800 meters from my house.
So I grabbed the camera and zipped down to the epicenter – the end of Venice Boulevard where it meets Pacific Avenue – to see if there was anything up. Everything looked normal; no sign of damage or anything. I walked the canal area for a bit; chatted with some people at Canal Club [literally at the epicenter]. Fuck yeah we felt it, the staff said, that was crazy. I talked with a girl who lives at Venice and Canal Street, and she said it was the biggest one she’d felt in her life, and she thought someone crashed into her house. Everyone was buzzing about it down there. This helped me feel a bit less wimpy.
Then I checked the Richter Scale article at Wikipedia and found that the approximate “energy yield” of a 3.5 is 747 gigajoules, or about the same shock wave as detonating 178 tons of TNT. Put another way, that’s a quarter the yield of a small atomic bomb.
The pod is also where Deanna was sitting when we had the rolly-quake last summer. She found that to be a unique experience. So, I’ve redubbed it The Quake Pod, and don’t plan on going back in there tonight.
In Venice today, it was a record 90 degrees, windy and bone-dry. When I woke up, I could see huge walls of smoke rising just north of the Santa Monica Mountains, then billowing west and south out of the San Fernando Valley from the Sylmar Fire, presently raging 20 miles north of here.
As the afternoon wore on, it really began to feel like the outer edge of a fire zone. Ash and smoke passed over the eastern portion of the Santa Monica mountains and rolled down into the western section of the Los Angeles basin, casting a reddish-grey, eerie smoky darkness over this area for much of the late afternoon and into the evening.
The sun burned an angry alien red all afternoon until suddenly letting go behind the wall of smoke now hanging over Santa Monica Bay to the west.
I’m certainly safe where i am for now. From a personal standpoint, I’m more worried about new fires than I am the Sylmar Fire. Compounding this worry is that in the last 24 hours, I’ve seen two separate cretins throw lit cigarettes out of their car windows. Who the fuck are you people??
During the recent earthquake here in Los Angeles, I found myself mildly spooked. Not because of the quake itself, nono – after all, I had, since I moved to LA, wished for exactly this kind of quake. “I want a quake,” I told friends, “just strong enough for me to experience one [I’d never felt one before], but mild enough so no one gets hurt.” The quake of a couple of weeks ago was exactly what I’d ordered.
I felt my first quake today – about five minutes ago – and think I just felt something again. More like rolling waves than the “jolt” just described on MSNBC. Everything looks OK here in Venice. On-the-fly updates here.
I’m a year late at a true update. So, as 2007 comes to a close, it’s high time for a general update on my new scene – especially since I’ve not sent out holiday cards. Some of you have been following along here (thanks!), but most of you haven’t had the time, so here’s an abbreviation.
Look, assholes – stop throwing your cigarettes out your fucking car window. I saw some cretin do this today in Santa Monica and wish I’d had been able to yell at him without causing an accident. This is the world’s most obnoxious habit under any conditions – but you can’t even use your ashtray now? Do the species a favor and die, please.
Spoke a little too soon. I was getting ready for bed when I heard a strange noise – sounded sort of like the dryer was on or something. I looked outside and saw a large conflagration a couple blocks away. I could see towers of flame well above the houses between us. I grabbed my camera (wrong lens for the occasion, but I was in a hurry) and jumped on my bike to get a closer look. I found a patch of brush, palm trees, and a garage or small home totally involved. Power lines and a transformer fuzzed and sparked and fell to the ground. The fire was high and hot and it moved quickly. I shot these pictures. I was worried the fire would spread quickly because the palm trees – some probably fifty feet high – were fully engulfed and spraying embers all over the area. A man jumped from the flames. A couple concerned residents were out with their garden hoses, doing what they could. The fire department was on scene within a few minutes and brought it under control very quickly. Thanks, dudes.
Today’s the first day I’ve really noticed any impact from the fires, aside from the odd atmospherics mentioned yesterday. Over the past 24 hours, considerable dust and soot has built up around the house. Tonight, I went for a bike ride around Venice and Marina Del Rey, and there’s a layer of the stuff on just about everything; cars, decks, tables, chairs, and so on.
The last couple of days have been very hot and very dry – you can feel the moisture being lifted from your skin – but the wind has been quite calm.
Some of you have asked where, exactly, I live. Here’s a fair approximation. You can see the up-to-date fire maps here. I’m guessing the dust and soot around here today are from the Malibu and Santa Clarita fires (about ten and twenty miles away respectively). This group of fires burned over 50,000 acres and were apparently extinguished this evening. The closest one that’s currently burning is about sixty miles north – a 55,000 acre fire just on the other side of the Santa Monica Mountains near Santa Paula (the Piru Ranch fire). That one is reportedly 78% contained as of tonight.
I can definitely smell it today. It doesn’t smell like fire, really – it’s a dry ashy smell punctuated by extremely brief moments of smokiness. I’m told it’s not good for me.