MEMORY LANE

#TBT and other glances in the rear view mirror

Songs Left Unsung

Thirty-five years ago an invisible monster started stalking the streets of New York and the hills of San Francisco. The first mention of it in the media was ‘the Gay Cancer’ story in the New York Times in the summer of 1981. AIDS would go on to kill nearly 40 million people worldwide, with a death toll that still exceeds one million people each year. This disease decimated several generations of gay men in the United States. It also ignited an historic and powerful community response among gay people and our straight allies which changed the course of the disease – and of civil rights in America. This cataclysm is one of the defining global events of the late 20th century, reflected in our politics, literature, music, film and art… but it played out on a much more personal scale. One person, one life, one death at a time. Countless hearts have broken, oceans of tears shed… with amazing courage and dignity shown in the face of disaster.

One of the first blogs I followed was Gay Dinosaur Tales by a fellow WordPresser named Matthew. Our paths have overlapped a bit, both geographically and experientially, though he had about a ten-year headstart on me. It’s been a bit like finding a big brother I didn’t know I had. I love the way he writes about coming to NYC after graduating from Kent State and the decade he spent coming of age as a gay man in Gotham in the 70s and early 80s.

Matthew recently announced that he was taking a break from publishing his blog. I hated the idea, and told him so. But I resigned myself to not seeing any posts from him for awhile. Then, unexpectedly, there was a new post from Gay Dinosaur Tales! It’s very much in keeping with his reminiscences of life in NYC – but this one was something else. It’s a part of his story that he hadn’t yet fully shared, and he needed to now. (click on the link below)

Like all the most involving stories of life and love and loss, its power comes from the truth and the details of the people in his life, his relationships with them, in that time, in that place. Matthew’s story stands on its own by bearing witness to this chapter in his life and remembering those who went before him. But it also reminds us of the dangers of superstition trumping science in our own time, when there is still no vaccine for fear and ignorance.

“I’ve often said, if I could go back to any one job in my life it would be here–this time–this place–that me. That is, until the world collapsed from underneath our feet.”

GayDinosaurTales.com: Celebrate Good Times

 

TRIBUTE

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Twin Towers circa 1990s

 

Photo @GaryHershorn

Photo @GaryHershorn 9/10/14

 

 

 

 

Link to featured image at top of post, from NPR

Trees

When I was very young the view from my bedroom window looked up to the massive tree in the front of our house. It was either a maple or a sycamore. The only reason I know that is that I remember the seeds – the kind that would helicopter down to the ground. You could try to catch them, but their flightpath was unpredictable. About the only thing they were good for (other than making new trees) was that you could split the fat end and stick it on your nose, like a rhino horn. I’m not sure why that was so amusing, but it was. At night the tree was illuminated by a nearby streetlight. The light and the movement of the branches and leaves made an endless kaleidoscope of images. It was quite a show. Especially during a storm. I can remember being frightened sometimes by scary faces that would appear in the leafy imagery… but they never lasted long. Mostly, it was a great way to fall asleep every night.

One day, some men came with chainsaws and they chopped down the tree… my tree. I don’t know why. Maybe it had grown too big. Maybe its roots were destroying the sidewalk. What I do know is that this was the first great sadness I can recall in my life. I mourned the loss of that tree. And I did it quietly, because I instinctively knew that this was not something that a little boy ought to moretreesbe doing. Mourning a tree? That sentiment would not have been greeted with understanding or sympathy. But it was the beginning of my lifelong affinity for trees. Do others share this? I don’t know. It’s not something that comes up in conversation very often. I do know that many people don’t give a fig about trees. Are they in the way? Cut ’em down! Blocking a view? Cut ’em down! I’d rather cut those people down.

Today I came across two remarkable videos having to do with trees. The first was shared by my friend Scott on Facebook. It is from a group called Cryptik Movement which is dedicated to enlightenment through public art. Their “About” page opens with this quote:

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” -Albert Einstein

Remember that folks! The Smartest. Guy. Ever. says we need to keep a sense of wonder and awe. OK, so here’s the first tree video I want to share with you:

The Consciousness of Trees

 

If that reminded you of the movie Avatar, you’re not alone. (Or, maybe I’m not alone.) What I love about this is that it is grounded in science, yet crosses into the mystical or spiritual aspect of Nature.

The second tree video – from my friend M-R’s eponymous blog Margaret-Rose Stringer – is quite different. Yet so similar. The focus is on one remarkable man whose life has had one remarkable focus: planting a forest in a barren, environmentally threatened place. If you don’t have 16 minutes to watch this now, click on it and then watch it later. If you want to see a demonstration of hope in a hopeless place, watch it now.

Forest Man

Can one person change the world? Yes. So can one tree. Thanks to my friends for sharing these today. I haven’t thought about my childhood tree in a long time. I hope this post branches out to create some of the wonder and awe that Einstein spoke of. If you enjoyed it, leaf a comment. Just don’t bark at me for these terrible puns.

The End (so far)

 

 

 

The One Who Got Away

babyboyAt the age of 10 weeks, I was adopted by Bill & Nancy Rosenberger. The first day of June 1962. By all accounts, that was the happiest day of their lives. I must have been at my most charming. Some would say my powers peaked in that moment… and they might be right. But I had other mad skills. For instance, I was apparently a fully functioning fertility idol. Within four years my fiefdom was invaded by three sisters – at 16-month intervals of the Vatican-approved rhythm method. After that, it all gets a little blurry…

Anyhoo, it’s a beautiful sunny Sunday morning here in Los Angeles. I was about to pick up the phone to check in with my mother in Connecticut, as one does. But then I saw the date – and the protocol of June 1st dictates that my mother calls me. To wish me a “happy anniversary”. My friends have always found this to be absolutely delightful. To be honest, it always made me squirm a bit. Even though I’ve known since I was a toddler that I was adopted. It was a story, like a fairy tale, Mom would tell me as she dried me after a bath. So, I grew up with this personal factoid fully integrated into my psyche, never a moment’s trouble with it. (Well played, Nancy.)

But the “anniversary” business was always a little awkward for me. I mean, we’d celebrate my birthday in March. We’d celebrate my sisters’ birthdays in June, September and December. Everything normal, A-OK. But then June 1st would roll around and there’d be a card and a little gift. It just seemed so… unnecessary. No one else had these ‘bonus’ anniversaries. Actually, it’s the only time in my life I ever felt self-conscious about being adopted. Oh well, I lived.

ckmemoI came to understand that it was important to my mother. This is a woman whose philosophy of life can be summed up in one word: Hallmark. If there is an occasion, she marks it with a card. The appropriate card. The card whose message agrees with the occasion and recipient(s) in gender and number. It may require a bit of editing, as “We” becomes “I”, or “You” becomes “You two”. Words like happy and love tend to get double underlined for emphasis, with exclamation points sprinkled liberally throughout. Lovely sentiments, even if penned by anonymous copywriters in Kansas City. As the cards kept coming through the years, I’ve smiled as I deposit the checks with memo notes like “have a drink” or “do something fun”.


But I digress… That wasn’t the story I intended to share when I fired up the blog machine this morning. This is what I thought you should know today:

I follow a blogger named Matthew who writes a blog called Gay Dinosaur Tales. (Click here to see why I’m a fan.) Every once in a while, I do a quick survey of the blogs that are followed by the bloggers I follow. (You follow?) On the theory that if A likes B and B likes C, then A just might also like C. (That’s algebra. Never trust anything requiring more advanced math than that.) Anyway, I recently came across another gem of a blog in Matthew’s horde, this one called Dawn 4 Dinosaurs – written under the nom de guerre of Jim McTrip. Here’s a guy who is my age, living in LA, whose recent life experiences (for better or worse) are tracking quite closely with my own. He’s slightly ahead of me on the trail. So when I realized he had already paid for the life coach, I decided to start at the beginning of his blog (last August) and piggyback. I figure, if he falls down an open manhole, maybe I can avoid that fate. His writer’s voice is also eerily similar to the (one, thankyouverymuch) voice inside my head. This may reflect some sort of profound narcissism on my part… but I’m hooked.

Jim McTrip’s April 15th blog post, Skating Through Life (<< that’s a link) recounts the unusual story of John Kitchin – which is captured so beautifully in Slomo, an award-winning 16-minute short film by San Francisco filmmaker Josh Izenberg. Whoever you are, you should watch it. Now would be a good time.

 

So if you hear that I was last seen rollerblading down the coast, blame any or all of the above-named people. I’m not there yet, but… After half a century of “happy anniversary” cards from my mother, I do think about the lump of clay I was in 1962, the state of that clay today – and the clay’s next play. Mr McTrip refers to our chronological circumstances as “mid-life”. But we are in all likelihood well past the midpoint. Tick tock.

The End (so far)

 

Remember

I was born 17 years after the end of the Second World War. By the time I was cracking open history textbooks, WWII had already taken its place as one of the defining events in American history, alongside the Revolution and the Civil War. The war was portrayed as a great military victory of the Allies over the Axis – but also as a great moral victory of good triumphing over evil. Young Americans were taught that our country had done a great good thing by joining the war in Europe and by defending ourselves after the attack on Pearl Harbor. There was not much nuance used in descriptions of the Germans or the Japanese. We beat the Nazis and the Japs, and in the process America saved the world.

LANC panorama

I was enormously proud of my country. How could you not be proud watching newsreel footage of American soldiers liberating Jews from the camps? We had sacrificed much as a nation and many of our soldiers had died in battle. We were the good guys. And when I was 7, I watched American astronauts plant the flag on the moon. That served to confirm that I lived in the best country on earth.

trees on hill

Hindsight is 20/20. I learned long ago that the world is far more complex than a cartoonish battle between Good and Evil. In war, the victors get to write the history books. But I was right to be proud of my country when I was a kid. I am still proud of this country, for many reasons. But not for its propensity toward war. Since our founding (in war) 238 years ago, the United States of America has enjoyed only a handful of years when we did not have troops deployed in battle somewhere in the world. This detailed timeline of American military operations is startling in its documentation of our near-continuous involvement in warfare. And not all of our conflicts have been as noble as the Revolution or WWII. Not all wars are just; some are just war.

rows.jacaranda.ctrfoc1

Though I came to know the complex history of our involvement in Vietnam, and to understand the central role of domestic politics in America’s international adventures… I only have one memory of my experience of that war as a young child in the 60s: the body counts on the nightly newscast. “Today in Vietnam, 236 American troops were killed… 177 Americans troops were killed… 341 American troops were killed… 232 American troops were killed…” and so on, every night. It is said that Walter Cronkite started these body counts on his nightly news broadcast as a way to put pressure on the government to end the war. It also may have had the effect of dehumanizing the horrendous costs of war, reducing people to numbers.

groundlevel1

In any event, my experience of war has been as a distant bystander. I realize how fortunate that makes me. No one in my family has fought in war or died in battle. That is true of most Americans. In a nation of more than 300 million people, less than 1% of us have been directly involved in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And while we all felt attacked on September 11, that was an act of terror. Terrorism is not war, which is why war is never going to be the answer to terrorism. But that’s another post for another day.

one tree

Today is Memorial Day, the day America remembers her war dead. It is also the unofficial start of summer, a three-day weekend marked mostly by barbecues and get-togethers of family and friends. There have always been parades, though not so much anymore. Maybe mostly in small-town America. I went to a barbecue last night, and that was fun. But earlier in the day, I did something I’ve never done before. I visited a military cemetery.

westwoodbeyond

Where Wilshire Blvd crosses the 405 freeway is one of the busiest intersections – and one of the quietest corners – in Southern California. That’s where you’ll find the Los Angeles National Cemetery, sandwiched between the freeway and the UCLA campus in Westwood. And that’s where I found myself yesterday afternoon, almost by accident. A shortcut earlier in the week had taken me down Veteran Avenue, which – I discovered – is the eastern border of the cemetery between Sunset and Wilshire. So, yesterday after I left the pool at the Westwood Rec Center, I found the entrance to the cemetery and drove in.

sea of markers

Why? Well, I know that some might find this disappointing, but I wanted to take some photographs. As I drove down Veteran last week, I couldn’t help but notice what beautiful parkland held this cemetery. Gentle hills, magnificent old trees undisturbed by development – and the mesmerizing patterns of crisp white markers on green lawns, stretching in every direction as far as I could see. 100+ acres of peace and quiet in the middle of this sprawling, frenetic city.

marching uphill

As an atheist, I do not experience cemeteries as places of supernatural significance. But of course, I understand this is hallowed ground to many, and why. For me, a place like this has enormous historical importance, and can teach so much to future generations. The endless repetition of small white, identical grave markers becomes a symbolic representation of a nation’s loss and sacrifice.

small flag and marker.focalpoint1

But all one has to do is focus on any single marker for it to become very personal. There’s not much room on these stones. The story each one tells is limited to a name, date of birth, date of death, theatre of war. It’s enough, though, to conjure a sense of a single human being… among thousands buried here… among millions who have died in war… among billions who have ever lived. I saw markers on the graves of men who had died in Iraq and in Afghanistan, in Vietnam and Korea, in WWII’s battles in Europe and the Pacific, and going back all the way to “the Great War” (WWI) and the Spanish American War – which is abbreviated “Sp.Am. War” on the markers. That’s an immense sweep of our history, all in the tiny portion of the cemetery that I walked through yesterday. Wars of great moral purpose. Wars of proxy between ‘superpowers’. And wars waged by criminals who have brought immense dishonor on America.

infinity.bw

Whether a soldier or sailor died defending America’s honor, or in the service of cowardly politicians’ egos, it is easy to believe, in the midst of thousands of white markers, that those Americans who died in our wars were fighting for the country they loved – the same one we love. And for that, they deserve to be honored and remembered. Not only in military cemeteries, and not only on national holidays. But all the time. If more of us remembered the sacrifices required by past wars, it might make future wars less easy to begin. Because the only thing harder than dying in war should be starting the next one. True patriots understand that.

flag waving.crop

The End (so far)

Happy birthday, Harvey

As the 20th century was drawing to a close, Time magazine set to work preparing its mother-of-all-lists: The Time 100 Persons of the Century. Quite an undertaking, especially when you consider how many tens of billions of people lived and died during that momentous century. How to whittle the list down to a mere one hundred? Imagine the screaming matches in the editorial meetings as Einstein-TIME-Person-of-the-Centurythat deadline neared! “How can you not include [blank]?!” “Are you out of your mind? [Blank] is worth fifty of [blank]!” “OK, you can have [blank] or [blank] – but not both.” I’m sure it wasn’t as polite as all that.

In the end, The 100 were chosen. This was not a list of the most popular or most beautiful or most loved (although many were one or more of those). The filter used to sift the 20th century was influence. These folks were named for the impact they had on the human race in the past hundred years – “for better or worse”. Given the explosive growth of mass media in that century, many of the names on the list enjoy a renown without borders. Some inhabit the mono-moniker realm: Mandela. Churchill. Gandhi. Hitler. Freud. Ali. Diana. Lindbergh. Pele. Sakharov. Che. MLK. FDR. A few founded companies that became global brands, giving them a more dynamic form of immortality: Ford. Disney. Chanel. Albert Einstein landed on the cover, first among equals – and you don’t have to be Einstein to understand… oh, never mind.

Maybe you’re surprised to learn that little more than half of the list is comprised of Americans. That may seem too high or too low, depending on where you stand. The “made in America” label was sewn into far less than 5% of the planetary population during the timeframe. But this country did have an outsized impact on the condition of the human race in the 1900s, in almost every way. For better and worse.

The list was released not all at once, but in flights across five issues of Time in 1998 and 1999. Each issue offered a different group of The 100 including “Artists & Entertainers”, “Builders & Titans”, “Scientists & Thinkers”. (There’s a link at the end of this post to the entire list.) The final portion of The 100 appeared in the Time issue dated June 14, 1999. “Heroes & Icons” includes some of the most inspiring and courageous people our species has yet produced. Anne Frank. Rosa Parks. Helen Keller. Jackie Robinson. Harvey Milk. Mother Ter––

“Harvey WHO?!”

Seems a safe bet that most earthlings, and (sadly) most Americans would see that name on the list and have no idea who Harvey Milk was. Of course, most Americans can’t name the current Vice President (Joe Biden) or the inventor of the internet (Al Gore)… but that’s Harvey_Milk_Day_logocold comfort. Harvey Milk is a hero of the gay rights movement (and of the larger struggle for civil rights) in America and around the world. He is in the upper echelon of prominence in the lgbt pantheon. In 1977 Harvey Milk became the first openly gay elected official in California, winning a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (city council). In 1978 he was assassinated in City Hall alongside Mayor George Moscone by a deranged ex-Supervisor with a gun. But Harvey (he is one of those ‘one-namers’ to the gay community) had made his mark long before reaching SF City Hall. Here is an excellent bio from The Milk Foundation, if you’d like to know more about this man and his life so powerfully lived. I can also recommend the excellent biography by Randy Shilts, The Mayor of Castro Street (which was made into the Academy Awarded film, Milk with Sean Penn).

Today – May 22nd – is Harvey Milk Day celebrating the man and his life on his birthday. This was established by the California Legislature in 2009 as a ‘day of special significance’ for public schools, with appropriate focus in the curriculum to insure that kids learn about this important man and his place in their own history. As you can imagine, this sets certain folks’ hair on fire… but that’s all the ink I’ll waste on them here. Harvey would be 84 years old today.

harvey-milk-stamp (1)In a special acknowledgment of Harvey Milk’s place in our history, the United States Post Office has issued a commemorative stamp – to be officially dedicated in a ceremony at the White House today. It’s a very proud moment for all of us, gay and straight, who know what a powerful and positive role model this man was for his generation, and all those who followed. I was a 16-year-old kid in the closet in Connecticut in 1978. If I was even aware of the events unfolding in faraway San Francisco, I don’t recall any reaction I may have had.

Looking back now, it’s so easy to forget the context of those times. Harvey Milk was killed just ten years after MLK and RFK were gunned down. That’s less time than has passed for us since 9/11. The Stonewall Riots and the beginning of the gay pride movement were then even more recent. And it is haunting to realize that Harvey lived, and died, in a time just a few years before the onslaught of AIDS… It’s impossible not to indulge the What if? daydreams. What if Harvey had not been murdered? How would he have continued to change the world? It’s impossible not to hear the fury of his voice cracking the marble foundations in Washington – demanding the action and the funding and the leadership that Reagan’s government withheld. Others rose to take up that mantle, courageously and nobly. But there is no doubt that the bullets fired in 1978 condemned more than two good people to death. Keep that in mind the next time you see or hear some imbecile talking about “2nd Amendment solutions”. This nation has paid a hideously high price for our unwillingness to separate dangerously unstable people from their guns.

As President Obama remarked last summer at the 50th anniversary of MLK’s March on Washington and the civil rights struggle: “The arc of the universe may bend toward justice – but it doesn’t bend on its own.” Harvey Milk, as have others before him and since, reached up and grabbed hold of the arc of the universe – and pulled on it with all his might to bend it a little further toward justice. He succeeded. And as we celebrate that success we should stop looking around to see who the next leader will be, and look within. That was Harvey’s real message. And that is why those who would put us all back in the closet may win a battle here and there – but they have already lost the war. Thank you, Harvey.

burstdownthoseclosetdoors.milk

And how cool is this? The White House made a birthday cake for Harvey today. He would have loved that!

WhiteHouse.bdaycake4Harvey

The End (so far)

The Time 100 Persons of the Century

“What’ll It Be?”

BarCat

Professional stunt cat. Do not try this at home.

Bernadette, Felicia & Mitzi

Treat yourself to a manipedi, Gentle Reader, if you instantly recognized Bernadette, Felicia & Mitzi as the drag queens played so unforgettably by Terence Stamp, Guy Pearce & Hugo Weaving… in – TA-DAH! – The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Here’s some good Priscilla trivia. Do you know the characters’ full names?

Anthony ‘Tick’ Belrose –– Mitzi Del Bra
Adam Whitely –– Felicia Jollygoodfellow
Ralph Waite –– Bernadette* Bassenger

*Bernadette is transgender and she is known only as Bernadette in the film.
(And yes, that is the name of the late actor who played Papa Walton. Coincidence?)

Now, are you ready for some news that will really blow yer skirts up?

No, you’re not. But I’m gonna give it to you anyway. Sit down.

Priscilla is <gasp!> 20 years old.

Touch the pearls!

I know. I know. How can it be? It was only yesterday…

It was 1994. The year the boys on the bus rolled across the Outback and into our hearts. Ironically, that was also the year that the Pentagon instituted “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”. Isn’t it nice to know who won that battle? Hard to believe both were happening at the same time. Here’s the original movie trailer. Enjoy!

 

Credit where credit is due: My blog-friend Halim in Singapore alerted me to this cinematic and cultural milestone with this excellent post. Check it out, as he pays tribute to these wonderful actors and all the other roles they went on to play after Priscilla – which is mindblowing!

Happy birthday, Priscilla. You haven’t aged a minute.

 

The End (so far)

The Hateful Column

-=- Throwback Thursday -=-

People who suffer from a fear of heights ought not to journey to the top of tall buildings. Say, the Eiffel Tower. How do I know this? Because… in the spring of 1983 I traveled to Paris with some friends – one of whom required my assistance on the trip back to terra firma from the top of the you-know-what. The image may be a bit blurred, but I still have a few divots in my shoulders from Lauren’s vice-like grip.

Steve.Laur.Eiffel.1983

 

Tour Eiffel.

Blog Aside of the Day: Seems that whenever I go off in search of something useful, I bump into something interesting. Ferinstance, I just zipped over to Wikipedia to find how many steps to the top of Tour Eiffel, because I was going to wax dramatic over the 1,710-step crawl down the Tower.

But then my eye got caught on a passage about the opposition to the construction of this landmark – which came mostly from the community of artists in Paris. They formed a “Committee of 300” and published this petition in the newspaper:

“We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection … of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower … To bring our arguments home, imagine for a moment a giddy, ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack, crushing under its barbaric bulk Notre Dame, the Tour Saint-Jacques, the Louvre, the Dome of les Invalides, the Arc de Triomphe, all of our humiliated monuments will disappear in this ghastly dream. And for twenty years … we shall see stretching like a blot of ink the hateful shadow of the hateful column of bolted sheet metal.”

Just shows you how wrong you can be, eh? Because what’s better than this ‘giddy, ridiculous tower’? Absolument rien.

 


The End (so far)

Falling in Love

Here’s a beautifully written post about a feeling we can all remember… or look forward to… maybe both.

[094] And One Of Us Hasn’t Changed A Bit

Lili + Steve  #tbt

This was early ’80s… about 10 years into a 40-year friendship… and counting.

lili+steve.westminster.198?

Everything about this photo makes me smile!
Thanks to Kim for picking up our old yearbook and causing this photo to fall out.

Day 094 #100happydays

 


The End (so far)

[090] Twins

I’ve logged nearly 150 miles in the pool since November, which is the good news. The bad news? My favorite swim trunks have been degraded to the point of scandal. So, today I found myself in the shopping nirvana that is the Century City mall, in pursuit of a swimsuit. I had done my homework and headed directly to H&M, which had what I was looking for. Sadly, I tried on three different styles in size MEDIUM before succumbing to the harsh reality: I still require the LARGE. You know, I’ve heard that they take liberties with women’s size labels. Why don’t men get this courtesy? What about size labels such as POTENT or BRILLIANT or PROSPEROUS?

[Sidebar] A thousand years ago, I had my first big-city job in New York and bought my first big-city winter overcoat. It was a brown tweed number, trench coat style with wide lapels. I felt very cool while keeping warm that winter. One cold night, I stopped to see my friend Kip at his parents’ house. His father opened the door and gave me a hearty welcome. “Steve! Well, you’re looking prosperous!” Now, I knew I had overpaid for that coat, but in that moment I felt entirely vindicated. I suddenly hoped summer would never come. It was some time before I learned the crushing truth: “prosperous” is a polite synonym for “fat” – as in “well fed” – used by very nice-if-somewhat-snarky New England WASPs. (I lived.)

Anyhoo, success. I found my swimwear for the next several hundred miles. But then it took longer to get to the cash register than it had taken me to get to the mall. And I was nearly asphyxiated when the charming little girls behind me smashed a vile vial of glitter nail polish on the floor. Their mother pretended not to know them while the employee (who would otherwise have been ringing up my purchase, thankyouverymuch) discovered the near impossibility of wiping up glitter-infused nail lacquer from a white marble floor.

And no, I will not model my new swimming costume for you. Maybe next time… when I’m sufficiently less prosperous. Hey – this post is not even about swimwear, or overcoats, or child terrorists. Hello! Focus people, focus!

aerial-centuryplazaThat mall has an immense underground parking structure, and I’m always a little relieved to find my way to any exit. Today’s roulette put me on Constellation Blvd and I found myself looking up at the crisply striped twin towers of Century Plaza against an endlessly blue sky. (Sometimes, the blog post just writes itself.) Here’s an aerial shot to show you how these 500-foot tall wedges stand in relation to each other. The six angles produce ever changing communication between these two giant sculptures.

Once a New Yorker always a New Yorker (no matter how much ankle-deep slush I no longer have to step in) – so the first time I heard someone refer to Century Plaza as “the twin towers”… my reaction could be summed up as fuhgeddaboudit!

My stance on this has softened somewhat since learning that these twinned towers in LA share something rather significant with the iconic Twin Towers of the original World Trade Center in NYC: their parentage. The same architect, Minoru Yamasaki, designed these buildings. What’s more, they were built around the same time. WTC was finished in 1973; Century Plaza Towers opened two years later. And the family resemblance is striking. Yamasaki favored aluminum cladding and narrow dark windows. These two side-by-side shots show the similar design elements:

SIDE BY SIDE 1

Of course, New York’s Twin Towers were far more massive and 2-1/2 times taller than Century Plaza Towers. But as I stood looking up at the interplay of the twins here in LA, I couldn’t help recalling the same strained neck while standing between the North and South Towers of WTC, once upon a time. There was a time when this would have made me sad… but today I found myself happy to visit the California cousins of those noble old New Yorkers.

centuryplaza.landscape

WTC-twin towers

Towering Twins

Day 090 #100happydays

P.S. I have just traveled here from the future! Well, little more than a week after the original date of this post. Because I found another shot in the album from that day. I didn’t use it in this post, as the trees interfered with the clean lines of the architecture. But I like the juxtaposition of the natural and built environments. So I’ll just sneak it in here, and return to my proper place in the timeline.

centuryplaza.trees

 

The End (so far)