ideas awaiting birth
I went to the Santa Monica Pier on saturday night with Joe, Michelle, and Florence. Unfortunately,
Stacey was stuck working (end of FY2000 puts her in a tough place!). While on the
Ferris Wheel, Joe noted that tourists can often see more of a location than natives. I thought about
that. I must have been ten or twelve before I went to see the Hollywood sign up in the hills. I've
been in here on the Westside for over a year, and had never gone to the pier, except to one of the
little food establishments next to the pier. A couple weeks ago was the first time I'd
been to Venice beach to watch the weirdos and hide, like the cave-dweller I am, under my umbrella
for four hours away from the sun.
A tourist in LA for 2 weeks would, quite possibly, see more of these
things. Of course, as a native, I've experienced the indescribable beauty of the Los Angeles air
the day after a rainstorm, when the clouds are rushing by, colliding with one another like drunkards.
The kind of clouds that are dark and threatening, but far enough to permit sparse regions of a
more beautiful blue than could possibly be manufactured for a cloudless sky. Those minutes,
and they are only minutes, are things which tourists, hell-bent on novelty and the next attraction,
Put those clouds behind a building, put the late afternoon sun behind you (say an hour before sunset), shining
brightly against the side of the building with the threatening yet proverbially silver-lined
clouds behind them, and you get a reason that I try to write poetry: trying to fertilize and
give birth to the ideas and emotions that make sense to me when I experience them, but cannot
For example, at the top of the the Ferris Wheel last night, what struck me more
than the lights of the city at night (you know that I'm addicted to those), was the
intense darkness of the ocean in the middle distance, away from the lights of the pier and shore,
out there between me and the oil rigs on the horizon. It was a dark unlike the sky, and
looked like a pure stone, unreflective, absorbing each stray photon and each stray thought or
feeling which found its way out there. I wanted to go there, and I can't explain why. Of course,
there is teeming with life, more than any cubic meter on/above the land. But the perceived
lifelessness, the sense that the black water would be a womb, a cold heavy thing which shifts
and caresses in its total fluidity was alluring. It was seductive. But this whole paragraph isn't
quite what I was thinking. I wanted to go into the water, I knew it wasn't a pure, empty,
infinite, still water, but I still felt as though if I could only get there that it
would be. Maybe someday I'll write a poem, with none of these images, and you'll think it was
about a trip I took or a conversation we've had, but it will be about this, because by then,
I'd've thought of a better way to say it.
This was all about how I thought of the Ferris Wheel. There is nothing here about the swing ride which
Florence took in impressive stride, the man singing blues, then reggae, then gospel music through
an old Carvin speaker and acoustic guitar (who I believe I've seen on 3rd Street), the college
kids playing that dancing arcade game, looking like they're dancing not at all, or my idea for a
t-shirt which says, in Chinese script, "Big Dumb American" (with translation on back). And nothing
about earlier in the day, when I'd spent the afternoon with a couple present and past Revolutionaries.
Or the night before when I watched Vertigo again. Damn, that's a great movie. Or all of the things
I wanted to say over the weekend, which I didn't, because I was afraid.