Sunday, January 21, 2018

Women's March, 2018

City Hall, January 20, 2018
Last year’s Women’s March in downtown L.A. was one of the most validating events I've ever experienced. A half-million protesters joined together to alert the newly inaugurated White House occupant that we would be watching and weighing everything he did. The march was spontaneous, joyous, and exhilaratingly hopeful. We took our despondency over Hilary Clinton’s loss and turned it into positive collective action. I insisted that we march again yesterday, one year later.

Yesterday's protesters met at Pershing Square with the goal of marching to City Hall, several blocks away. Even though the actual march wasn’t scheduled to start till 10AM, participants were advised to arrive early to attend the pre-march rally and get fired up.

On the train to downtown L.A.: me in my 

Tim and I boarded the eastbound lightrail at 7:45AM. Most seats were already taken by (mostly) women, wearing pink “pussy hats” and warm clothes. Except for a handful of coeds, who got on at the USC stop, the great majority of riders were from the westside. We amused ourselves listening to them describe their recent trips to Europe and complain about managing their rental properties in Venice, CA. One woman’s mother skyped her as we approached downtown. “Hi, Mom,” she chirped. “I’m on the train to Los Angeles to march. Look, here’s my protest poster!”

We arrived at Pershing Square by 8:30AM and staked out a spot to stand. Occasionally, the crowd would cheer, but we didn’t know why because we couldn’t see the speakers or hear what they were saying. It was a colder-than-usual morning, so we tried to stay warm, while more and more people arrived, carrying signs and wearing pink hats. 

Lots of vendors this year—better prepared than last year
Several themes dominated this year’s march. Although there were many signs in support of the Dream Act and the “Me, Too” movement, most protested the current occupant of the White House and his recent rant against immigrants from “shithole” countries. The general consensus was that he should be impeached and that Congressional Republicans should be voted out of office next November. We wholeheartedly agreed.

"How to spot a dictator . . ."

Human march and "Spank Him Mueller!"

Who's a shithole now?

Some pro-abortion signs, too

Several of these . . . 
As the clock ticked past 10AM, the crowd started to grow restless waiting for the march to begin. Finally, we spotted a group of mutineers, pushing their way back towards us from the front of the crowd.

“Everyone is gridlocked,” they reported and so were trying to find another route to City Hall. A few minutes later, I looked over my shoulder and saw people behind us starting to march toward Broadway. We quickly joined them and were on our way.

Marching down Broadway
Suddenly I forgot about being cold and was soon chanting along with the marchers. “What does democracy look like?” someone yelled. “THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!!” I screamed back and almost started crying with joy. It was truly wonderful.

We marched and fist-pumped our way down Broadway to City Hall. Even though this was not the planned route, Tim was happy to see several entrepreneurial street vendors selling bacon-wrapped hot dogs and so stopped to grab breakfast. Protesting, after all, can be hard work!

Grabbing breakfast from street vendor

Bacon-wrapped hot dog (gag!)
Thousands of people were already in front of City Hall by the time we arrived. We basked in the fellowship, took photos and then turned around to walk back down Broadway in search of restrooms. We missed the celebrity speakers—Olivia Munn, Natalie Portman, Viola Davis, et al.—but felt we had done our civic duty and so were now heading home. The lightrail was blissfully uncrowded.

Protesters at City Hall: "HISTORY IS HERSTORY"

Spotted on the way back home: Channel 7 news van with a
hand-scrawled note on pink paper, saying, "THIS IS WHAT 
DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!" No fake news here. 


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Throwback Nite at Disneyland

Sleeping Beauty Castle in pink and blue, just like the old days
When we were kids, it seemed like families visited Disneyland during the day, while evenings were just for adults and couples. In fact, the only time I remember going there after dark was "Grad Night," when I graduated from high school in 1971.

Taking advantage of the recent nostalgia craze for all things mid-20th-century, the resort has started a new series of evening events called "Disneyland After Dark"—named (I assume) after the 1962 World of Color episode where Walt showed us how much fun the park was at night. On TV, Annette Funicello sang on the Tomorrowland stage and Louie Armstrong played trumpet on the Mark Twain riverboat. All very exciting and magical.

This year's first "After Dark" event happened last Thursday and we, of course, were there. Marketed as "Throwback Nite," the evening promised to recreate, as much as possible, the early days of Disneyland, including original attraction posters and characters (the Blue Fairy!) and favorite 1950s/60s menu items, like mac & cheese, chicken pot pie, and dreamsicle beignets (gag!). They even staged "Fantasy in the Sky," the original 1958 fireworks show. Park visitors dressed in their dapper best—all petticoats and hats—and because it was a special ticket event, attendance was limited. Absolute heaven.

Plenty of photo ops in front of original attraction posters
But the best part for us: just like the "Disneyland After Dark" TV show, music was everywhere! The Dapper Dans barbershop quartet sang a cappella on Main Street, a small club combo entertained riders on the Mark Twain, a pair of female DJs played 50s/60s rock-n-roll records throughout the park, and a swing band blasted out hot dance tunes in front of it's a small world. So we pretty much danced the entire night away. Every time we started to leave, we'd get pulled back in by a toe-tapping song. At 11PM, we finally made it to the Main Street train station, only to stop and dance to Jerry Lee Lewis's "Great Balls of Fire!" broadcast over the park speakers. As you can see below, a Disney photographer loved our impromptu jitterbug and went crazy taking pictures of us dancing. Oh, what a night!

Excellent video of the night's festivities. You can (briefly) see us
dancing 4.38 mins into the video.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Griffith Park Zoo

Griffith Park Zoo, circa 1940s
I am not a fan of zoos, but I am a big fan of Los Angeles history. So we jumped at the chance to tour the Griffith Park Zoo, which predates the current L.A. Zoo, just two miles from its former location. Amazingly, neither of us had ever been to the old L.A. Zoo.

Opened in 1912, the original zoo was built alongside one of Griffith Park's many hillsides, within walking distance of the area's historic merry-go-round. Many of the animals were donated by the movie studios and local moguls, who either died or grew tired of their private zoos. As was typical in those days, the animals were kept in cages. More realistic "pit" habitats were eventually created in the 1930s as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. 

Despite the apparent popularity of the Griffith Park Zoo, the animals were not well treated and so a modern, more humane zoo was opened in 1966. The old zoo now serves as a free picnic and hiking spot and is mostly covered in colorful graffiti.

The first thing one sees: 1930s habitats, built by WPA workers

Larger animals would have been housed here

Picnic tables now occupy one of the "pits"

Another pit

Stairs the zookeepers would descend to feed the animals

Cages for smaller animals

Horrible . . .

Inside a graffiti-covered cage