LA Culture

August 18, 2012

Plane at airport

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

This is an update to the previous post.

The rescheduled trip to LA went quite smoothly.  Employees at the airport were in a much better mood than this morning-it is easy to imagine how difficult it is to deal with the behaviour of travelers who think they must have someone upon whom to vent their frustration when things go wrong.  The staff that morning also had to contend with a balky baggage conveyor-it was not a good way to start the day for anybody.

LA as seen from Mulholland Drive

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

The flight itself went well and once there, I went for several drives through the city and surrounding areas.  It was especially intriguing to actually see so many places depicted in popular culture (movies and books) in real-time.  David Lynch had made a movie entitled “Mulholland Drive”, for example, and  above is an image of LA made from one of the overlooks on this iconic drive.  A car accident factors into the plot of the movie and having now been on the road and driven its curves, it is easy to have a frame of reference for how crashes could occur.

Highway 110 in Los Angeles

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

These drives also provided an opportunity to experience the language of LA.  Language is an integral part of any culture.  In fact, it can be said that without language, culture would not exist, and so it is important to pay attention to how language is used when traveling. The locals in LA seem to attach the word “the” to their highways as in “We took the 110 into the city”.  I tend to do this with the grocery store I sometimes use-“I am going to the Giant”-and so it was interesting to see that idiom applied to a different structure.  However, where I live folks do not seem to say “I took the 95 to Washington”…

Street scene of Magnolia Avenue in Los Angeles

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

…just as in LA people do not seem to say “I took the Magnolia Avenue.”  My contemporaries do however say, “I took the beltway.”  So, it appears that when using the route numbers, those living in LA attach “the”, but not when using street names. We use “the” with pronouns, but not the route numbers.  Not sure how this distinction developed, but if used enough, any pattern of language becomes habitual and so can differentiate one geographic location from another.  (Need I say the word “hon” for those in Baltimore, MD?)

Republic of Pie sign

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Food is another prominent aspect of culture and it seems as if pie is replacing cupcakes as the new “in” food as there are specialty shops springing up on both coasts.  I for one am OK with this-pie is such a treat.  Cupcakes?  Not so much.  The Republic of Pie is an example and is located in North Hollywood.

Piece of blueberry pie from Republic of Pie

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

California is often seen as a trend-setter and so LA has several pie shops wherein one can indulge.  Yes, this pie was certainly as good as it looks and several hours were spent in the Republic of Pie.

LA Post Office and intersection

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Finally, architecture is one more vehicle by which culture is expressed. The post office in LA looks much different from the post office in Manderson, South Dakota for example.

The Getty Museum garden

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

From an architectural standpoint, museums present a duality of culture in that they house and display examples of material culture while at the same time serving as examples of culture in-and-of themselves.  Coincidentally, one of the exhibits at the Getty Museum was entitled “Herb Ritts: L.A. Style” which is a celebration of the manner in which Mr. Ritts’  impacted the world of fashion photography.  Fashion is, after all, one of the fundamental examples of material culture  and LA is certainly one of the style-setters because who wears what out there is often the model for what becomes popular dress across the country.

The Getty Museum courtyard

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Due to its location and construction, the Getty Museum gleams in the direct sunlight that is southern California.  As such, it is an excellent example of the glamour that is LA culture.

Getty Museum tram dropoff

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

It must be said that LA did provide a different experience from what was expected.  Granted, not much time was spent in the downtown area, but it was surprising what a small-town feel there was to the North Hollywood section where I spent the majority of my time.  Most of the visited areas were within a short walk and it is hard to imagine not being able to find what is needed for daily life within that space.  As does fit the LA stereotypes, the highways were quite crowded and we decided to not visit the beach specifically because of the traffic and packed parking lots.  That too, was OK as I am not much of a beach person anyway.  

Take care.

Time

August 10, 2012

Please read this one with Pink Floyd’s “Time” playing in the background.

Had a flight scheduled for 6 a.m. this morning to Los Angeles and arrived at the airport at the requisite two-hours before boarding time (yep, awoke at 3 a.m.) only to be informed that the flight had been cancelled due to weather.

The options presented were thus:  take another flight at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow; take an 8:00 a.m. flight later this morning at another airport in a city one hour away (not sure how one would have gotten there in time due to the already building rush-hour traffic, especially with the road construction between here and there); or fly out at 6:00 p.m. this evening.  The decision was made to take this latter flight as the purpose of the trip out-weighed the irritation of the process.

So, I rode back to Long Term Parking and picked up the car after being at the airport for about two hours.  Fortunately, the charge was only $2, which was a surprise-I was expecting to pay the full $8 per day fee.

Interestingly, when checking email as soon as I arrived home, there was a message from the online booking agent, one who advertises heavily in all media, saying to “Please call us immediately regarding your 8/10/2012 flight.”  as there was a problem.  The kicker in this story:  the sent time for the email was 6:13 a.m.-thirteen minutes after the flight was supposed to have left.

How is that for a head’s up?

I did call the listed phone number to discuss the flight only to be immediately put on hold for a “longer than usual wait time”.  After 5 minutes, I hung up.

To re-cap:  I had driven to the airport, been told the fight had been cancelled by airline personnel, waited in line to discuss the options with the counter-person, made a choice, re-booked, got the car, and drove home all before the online service had sent the email advising me of the problem.

The saving grace in this mess was the counter-person-she was quite patient and pleasant and aside from automatically booking the next day’s flight, she calmly explained the situation and the options and allowed time for a decision.  That was customer service.

On a different note, with time still the theme here, I realized that I could have driven to Ithaca, New York and arrived at 8:30 a.m. after a 5-hour drive.  The original touch-down time for the flight to LA was also 8:30 a.m. after a 6:00 a.m. departure.  Time zones sure do mess with continuity as the distance to LA is ten-times that to Ithaca, but it would be covered in half the time.

This bring me to the final comment (for now-we’ll see how this trip plays out after this inauspicious beginning) in this post.  It really is possible to get anywhere in the world within 24 hours due to the sophistication of modern air travel.  However, weather is local.  If the plane on which you are scheduled to fly gets hammered by a storm in another city, then it may not be available for your flight, which is a point that you may, or may not, be informed of in a timely manner.

Take care.

“Disgusting”

August 4, 2012

Trash bags piled near street

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

I have continued my early morning walks to photograph trash.  It has been interesting these past couple of weeks as on two separate occasions I have talked with some local residents who both used the same word to describe their neighborhood and the debris left from the night before:  disgusting.

While the following subjects may not be considered very disgusting on a visual or olfactory level (for that, please see some of my previous posts), it is the fact that so much trash is left behind, on a consistent, daily basis, and with such seeming indifference, that is found to be disgusting.  A sample:

Can and crust in street

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Thrown away Budweiser can on shelf

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Crushed Budweiser can in street

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Magazine dropped in street

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

City paper in street

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Plastic bottle dropped on ground

As usual, it is not just this particular Baltimore neighborhood whose streets are used as an outdoor bin.  The photograph below is from a different part of town…

Plastic bottle dropped in leaves

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

Plastic bottle and vine

…while the one above is from another state altogether (West Virginia).  Arguably, it takes no thought or effort to simply drop trash on the ground or set it on a ledge and walk away.

Can in bag hanging from tree branch

Copyright 2012 Kevin P. Mick Photography. All rights reserved.

However, it does take some effort to hang it from a tree branch-this  had to have been a deliberate act.  Perhaps it was a means of saving the contents to be consumed later, as it does remind me of hanging food in a bear bag while backpacking or camping in order to keep it safe from predators.  I have to admit, I would not have ever thought of seeing this along a sidewalk in the city.

Hearing the comments and seeing so much trash got me thinking more about values. A value is that which is considered right or wrong, good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable and becomes the basis for the value judgments we make.  Saying something is “disgusting” for example, is a value judgment.  Many Sociology 101 textbooks reference Robin Williams’ 1970 research that was used to determine the “Core American Values“.  As defined here, core values are “…fundamental driving forces.” Williams found that Americans hold “practicality and efficiency” as a core value.  Unfortunately nothing is more efficient than simply using the ground upon which one is walking or standing as a repository for trash.  And that is disgusting (from a judgmental standpoint).

Take care.