Friday, March 09, 2012

Rolling Rock

Excuse the pun, but one of the biggest news stories to hit L.A. this past week has been the transport of a 340-ton boulder as it makes its way from Riverside to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), where it will eventually become the centerpiece of an outdoor installation called “Levitated Mass.”  The megalith is so massive it’s being carried by a specially-designed 260-foot-long transporter that travels over surface streets, at night only, to minimize traffic congestion.  Plus the thing’s weight is distributed over some 200 truck wheels so roads won’t be destroyed as it passes.  The entire contraption is truly a modern-day marvel of engineering.  

My own feeling, though, is that the giant rock’s voyage is one of the most brilliant publicity stunts of all time, as thousands of people have turned out to watch it roll by on its nightly journey and/or see it parked during the day.  Not surprisingly, we’ve been following its trek from afar with rapt interest.

Traveling at only 5 miles an hour, the boulder and its entourage finally arrived in Carson yesterday, just 20 miles from the house.  We decided we couldn’t wait any longer to see it.

Driving 20 miles can take an eternity during rush-hour on the 405 in the middle of the week, so we waited until 7:30PM to get on the freeway.  According to all reports, the rock wouldn’t start moving until after 10PM, so we had plenty of time.  Still, we were anxious to get there.  Based on the LACMA website, Tim had calculated that the boulder was parked on Avalon Blvd., two blocks south of Sepulveda.  He set his handheld GPS.  Approaching Avalon, we could see traffic lights blinking and cars grinding to a halt.

“We can walk from here,” I announced as I pulled over and parked.  Several other people, with cameras in hand, were also jumping out of their cars.  We headed toward the intersection of Sepulveda and Avalon, where we assumed the rock was parked. 

Suddenly, Tim came to life.

“DO YOU SEE IT?!” he said, pointing to the right.

“What do you mean?” I asked, gazing confusedly around.

“IT’S ON THE MOVE!” he yelled as he disappeared into a crowd of gawkers standing on the corner.

Sure enough.  Looking over everyone’s head I could see the gigantic contraction making its way north on Avalon.

“OH MY GOD.  THERE IT IS!”  I joined Tim at the front of the crowd, while he snapped pictures like mad.  A young man next to me was filming the whole thing on his phone.

The rock, wrapped in white plastic, hung suspended in the middle of its massive carrier, filling almost the entire width of the street.  Two huge trucks pulled the thing and two more pushed from behind.  We all just stood there in stunned silence as it quietly passed.  Following behind was a flotilla of smaller trucks, including one hauling a porta-potty, which brought us all out of our reverie. 

And then, before we knew it, the excitement was over as we all headed back toward our cars. Turns out the rock’s road crew had encountered problems the night before and so were making up for lost time by leaving early.

“Another five minutes and we would have missed it!” Tim realized as we walked down Sepulveda.  It was only 8:20PM.

The megalith is supposed to arrive at LACMA in the wee hours, Saturday morning.  We may just have to find an excuse to go up there this weekend.  (See below)


The rock was scheduled to arrive at LACMA this morning between 2AM and 6AM. Tim promised, before going to bed, that if we woke-up early enough, we could go see it.  I sweetened the deal by suggesting we go to Du-par’s afterward for breakfast.

Tim kept his promise when the cats woke us up at 5:30AM. We immediately turned on the TV, where we saw the Channel 7 news crew standing outside the museum.  Though the boulder had already arrived, we decided to go see it anyway.  An hour later, we pulled into the parking lot across the street from LACMA.  

Channel 7 reported that there had been quite a party going on when the rock arrived, but the place looked pretty much deserted by the time we got there. We started to walk up Fairfax. In the distance, we could barely see the rock, and its rig, through the museum's tarp-covered fence.

“You can get a better view on Sixth Street,” a guy told us as he looked over the fence from atop a bus-stop bench. There, on Sixth St., we found a small group of early-risers peering through holes in the tarp. Everyone was madly snapping photos. An older woman looked at me, smiling, as if to say, “Well, I see you couldn’t stay away, either!”

Though less dramatic in the daylight, the megalith—still wrapped in white—and its transporter were nonetheless impressive. You can see below how the rock rode suspended in its carrier—quite an amazing fete! Be sure to also notice the endless number of tires supporting the thing.

After sufficiently getting our eyeful, we bid the rock adieu. Du-par’s was calling!

1 comment:

Ginny said...

I should have known you two would manage to see the Rock in transit! I am so jealous. I will have to wait and see it in situ at LACMA