29 march 1999  

la l.a.

My wife and daughter conspired last Friday afternoon to spirit me away for a celebratory birthday weekend at the Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Since the experience was sprung on me by surprise, I didn’t have the time to amass heaps of expectation. This made things easy.

One of the major temptations of a weekend trip like this is to cram all the possibilities onto the schedule, but that would make all hope of relaxation fly right out the ninth-floor window. Planning is best kept to a minimum, particularly if you have a 7-year-old girl who is discovering her own powers of suggestion and testing their limits to see how they move along the continuum from suggestions to demands to insistence to tears to vows of revenge held throughout adolescence to semi-weekly psychotherapy in adulthood.

To Viv’s credit, I was given a lot of leeway. Whenever I wanted to, I could have broken off from the family thing to do the intrepid lone photographer thing, and that’s pretty much what I did Saturday afternoon.

It has always been difficult for me to make this split. I can’t easily resist the chance to see Amy making memories she’ll carry for the rest of her life. Earliest recollections of my childhood vacations are now just dark cave paintings on the walls of memory, fragments of journeys, and I cherish them dearly. I want to be there for her first impressions of something new and grand. She has no filters on her experience. The intent of design hits her full force whether it's in architecture or murals or transportation or human expression. She is a sponge, and I still marvel at how she absorbs.

But as I said, I did tear myself away to hit the urban setting and see it from behind a lens. Moving through a landscape full of odd shapes and odder people still makes me lose track of time. I run at peak efficiency there, without distraction. I’ll put some photographs up soon.

Friday night’s dinner near the Music Center was interesting for me because I got to catch a glimpse of the after-work networking crowd, the mostly young, mostly single, mostly flirting professionals who populate the happy hours at a variety of downtown watering holes and eateries. It’s a big world I never see. Laughing men and women on the slow slide to tipsy, looking for the Big Yes for whatever their question is. Nice clothes. Young men putting on the heavy lean at the bar. Girlfriends whispering to each other. Guys posturing for power while looking at ease. It’s a gin ad.

* * * * * * *

It’s a short one today. I’ve got a bunch of stuff to do. It’s Amy’s first day of Parks & Rec basketball, launching me into the Soccer Mom Milieu once again. I’ve got film to develop in the darkroom. I’d like to get a workout in and a neck cramp out. A shower and a shave. What’s for dinner? Homework.

    biltmore postcard
today's music:



today's wisdom:

"A big hard-boiled city with no more personality than a paper cup."

- Raymond Chandler, On Los Angeles