Black bear eating from my apple tree, August night, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Westwood Cemetery Graves, Los Angeles, California.

"Caddyshack"--"Now I know why tigers eat their young!"
Creepy epitaph, and no one is sure who paid for the stone or chose this particular passage. Taken from a Hemingway piece. How weird is it, that years later,  Mariel Hemingway (granddaughter of Ernest H.) would play Dorothy in the movie "Star 80?" Dorothy Stratten--discovered at a Dairy Queen in Canada, became a Playboy Model before she hit 20. Dead the same year. Sad.
"Charlie's Angel." As a teenager growing up in the late 70s, I always appreciated her tonsentorial  hegemony.

"When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's AMORE!"
My favorite storyteller of all time. I had no idea I was going to run into you.  All your "Americana" stories were about Indiana. To find you in the middle of LA. Wow.
"Family Affair." I still have creepy dreams about the "Mrs. Beasley" doll.
I must admit, in the early 70s, I had a crush on Freddie in "Chico and the Man," and  continue this crush with Freddie Prinze Jr. Good for you, Sarah Michelle Gellar. Let's hope the apple falls way, way far from that tree. The tree that says it's okay to mix loaded firearms with coke.

Half of the original "Odd Couple." Had a face like a bloodhound, but we loved him.
The most famous Hollywood grave of all--Marilyn Monroe. Of all the  memorials I visited, hers was the only one with fresh flowers (and many lipstick kisses on the stone.)
Heather O'Rourke, the little blonde girl/actress ("they're baaack!")  in "Poltergeist." Died at the age of 13 from a congenital intestinal deformity. And the other actress in the film, who played the oldest sibling, Dominique Dunne, was murdered by her boyfriend the year before Heather died, leading to speculation that all the actors in these films were cursed. Last time I checked, Craig T. Nelson is still alive.)

Hollywood Graves--Forest Lawn, (Hollywood Hills) & Westwood Cemeteries

"The Velvet Fog." (One of my favorite Seinfeld episodes ever. Kramer had Novocaine and bad shoes.)
Sandra Dee
Liberace's grave, with his signature incorporating a piano cartoon. Did you know his first name was Wladziu?
Statue of George Washington, facing (not seen in this pic) a reconstruction of Boston's Old North Church. Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills, California.

No, this post has little to do with wildlife, unless you count the squirrels and pigeons I saw hanging out in these Los Angeles landmarks. But at the request of two friends and blog readers, I am posting photos from the two cemeteries I visited when in LA in September.

It was very hot that day, when we had five hours to kill before meeting family for dinner in Malibu. Extremely hot--100+ degrees. Hot for LA. And the first cemetery we visited, Forest Lawn, Hollywood, had little shade. It's one thing to go somewhere in the hot sun, and at least know your destination, it's another to be in an unfamiliar city, worse still to be trying to find a grave you've never visited. I can attest that going to find a loved one's grave--one I've seen before--can be difficult. And here I was with a few crude maps from the web, trying to find graves of some famous people I'd admired. (I never did find Andy Gibb's grave, BTW.)

As many of my friends and colleagues know, I have always been intrigued by graveyards, cemeteries, crypts, mausoleums, etc. Having never been to a Hollywood cemetery, I was thrilled to find lots of people with cameras, wandering around like I was. One couple I met in Westwood had given up a trip to Disneyland to hit cemeteries instead. We all commiserated over our out-of-date maps, trying to figure out where Roy Orbison was buried, until another cemetery buff came up to us. "I couldn't help overhearing, " he said, "but you're right, here's buried under that tree. But the grave is unmarked."

Anyway, life is short, enjoy it while you can. A visit to any cemetery will remind you of this, but in addition to the philosophical implications of a grave visit, it was nice to be as close to some of these celebrities as I'll ever get to celebrity. None of the monuments were especially artistic, like those in Europe, or in Victorian US graveyards, but many had touching, sometimes enigmatic inscriptions. Enjoy. More photos to come, as soon as I get some work done around here.

(Laurel was the skinny one in Laurel & Hardy movies)
Bette Davis
Grave of Clyde Beatty, circus performer and "the greatest wild animal trainer ever."

"You are my wife! Good-bye city life! Green Acres. (Coincidentally, saw Eddie Albert's grave the same day.)

Will always remember Marty Feldman as "Igor" in "Young Frankenstein."

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Road Trip Photos, 2012

Joshua Tree National Park, California
While I enjoy all kinds of vacations, there's just something about a road trip that's special to me. Being in control of the vehicle, being able to stop where and whenever you like, and watching the scenery change as you drive this great country of ours is so thrilling to me. I recently put 3500 miles on my Toyota Matrix travelling from my home in Colorado to the Channel Islands nearVentura California. Along the way, I was able to visit many National Parks and Monuments, the Navajo Reservation in Arizona, cool towns (like Sedona, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas), and was able to catch up with family and friends I haven't seen in years. Here are a few photos from my trip. If anyone's interested in learning more about my itinerary and the routes I took, send me an email. The entire adventure took me two weeks.

Kiva at Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Here I am inside an old dwelling, Wupatki National Monument, Arizona

Montezuma's Castle National Monument, (cliff dwelling) Arizona

Elephant Feet, Navajo Nation, Arizona

Norma Jean's crypt, Westwood Cemetery, Los Angeles

Sea cave kayaking, Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park, California

Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California

Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Park, California

Red Rocks Park outside of Las Vegas

Does this really need a caption?

Super campground just west of Las Vegas--Red Rocks

Tarantula seen while walking the dogs in Vegas

My cousin's dog Simon in the pool, Las Vegas, Nevada

Lehman Cave, Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Pine nuts collected (yummy!) in Great Basin National Park

"Shoe tree" at the terminus of Highway 50, "The Loneliest Road in America,"

Fall foliage, Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Colorado National Monument, Colorado

Elephant seals (over 300) on a beach near San Simeon, California

Joshua Tree National Park, California

At the science museum in Los Angeles, California

Lizard on Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands 

Pelican (?) skeleton on a Santa Cruz Island beach

Enjoying the boat ride back to Ventura, California, after exploring Santa Cruz.