Tarzana Is My Heroine

a poet considers the imaginary and reality of Tarzana


Leave a comment

Three Views of Dusk–Encino

Winter yields to spring.
I’m left with
three images of dusk—

20130310-174252.jpg

One is a nondescript skyline, seen
from the Bank of America
at Ventura & Libbit;

a cement wall
foregrounds the parking lot
snapshot.

20130310-175129.jpg

20130310-175142.jpg

Then a stand of Washington palms
commands
the rose-gray sky

first clear, then

blurred, showing
how winter’s hush
effaces things.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Tarzana Is My Palimpsest

Since my mother died five years ago January, I’ve criss-crossed Tarzana scores of times. If my car had left marks (like lain rubber), the town would be a Pollock of lines, angles, and loops everywhere I’ve driven.

If my tires had been dipped in paint, the town could in fact be painted red, with the red and black lines all tangled up.

 

Tarzana Is My Palimpsest

Tarzana Is My Palimpsest (Coco Owen)

 

 

The vectors and loops I’ve driven add texture and depth–but they write over that page recording my mother’s last illness, which began Christmas Day of 2007 and ended when she died less than a month later.

The day she died was one of those freakishly unseasonable winter days. The gas-jet blue January sky was unclouded. After she was gone, something like a film of plastic fell over the board-and-care home and over her room, where I stayed with her body until the mortuary people came.

Once I stopped crying all the time, went out for groceries, cooked dinner, and paid the bills again, I started to make tracks up and down Ventura Boulevard as I retraced the page recording her death. Imagine my car as a huge paintbrush, as

I drove

south on Mecca, west on Wells

north on Corbin, east on Burbank

south on Lindley, west on Oxnard

south on Wilbur, east on Ventura

& up Nestle past Palora

to _________  [unspeakable street ]

where she died.

I started rewriting the story of my life by reviewing her life-story. Her life and her death starred in an elegiac group of poems I wrote, because I could keep her alive there–if only in the past tense.

[She wouldn’t like that I’m writing about her.]

I write about Tarzana, though the errands I run, the walks I take, the bike rides, further obscure that page in my mind that recorded her death. It’s become a palimpsest text–layers and layers of posthumous scribble.


Leave a comment

Aloha, Tarzana

I found another ad for the Los Angeles Steamship Company I wrote about in the previous post

Hawaii ad

I surprised myself when I wrote “Aloha, Tarzana”, because Tarzana, and the Valley in general, seem far from the Land of Aloha. Malibu maybe seems closer, but the Valley? But I’ve found some more images showing the connection between the founder of Tarzana and the Islands, meaning that Burroughs went to Hawai’i, but he sent Aloha back!

Here is Edgar Rice Burroughs (from the back) at Pearl Harbor

ERB at Pearl Harbor

ERB at Pearl Harbor

 

I also discovered, looking through an online Burroughs archives, that he had gone to Hawaii on the Matson steamer, Lurline, in 1935. That was five years before he moved there for a few years in 1940. I also saw, from that collection of letters (www.angelfire.com/trek/erbzine22/erbz1049.html), that he stayed first in Lanikai–a beautiful neighborhood and beach on O’ahu–, then apparently moved to Kapiolani Blvd. in Honolulu, near Waikiki.

Here are a couple of images of Lanikai Beach, on the Windward side of O’ahu.

Lanikai Beach - Saturday morning around 8am

Lanikai Beach – Saturday morning around 8am (Photo credit: ShaneRobinson)

English: Sida fallax (habit and view Mokuluas)...

English: Sida fallax (habit and view Mokuluas). Location: Oahu, Lanikai (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now here is an even weirder tidbit I found alleging to recount a conversation about Burroughs between two soldiers on O’ahu:

Burroughs was became the topic of conversation between Jim Petersonand a major who was a Burroughs fanatic, while the two were preparing to defend the Kolekole Pass at the Waianae Range. Peterson doubted Tarzan of the Apes would be able to navigate the difficult terrain of the Waianae Range. The major went into a lengthy and unavoidable speech about Tarzan – telling Peterson Tarzan had “got around a lot” in his many adventures – before going on to John Carter on Mars, Carson Napier on Venus, and then Burroughs himself. When learning the author had spent a good deal of time on Oahu, Peterson wondered if Burroughs’ stay was a way to get away from his eager fans.

http://turtledove.wikia.com/wiki/Edgar_Rice_Burroughs

I’m still looking for a photo I saw showing a group of Hawaiian musicians playing for an event at Burroughs’ estate in Tarzana, but haven’t found it yet. I’ll post it when I do!


Leave a comment

L.A. – Honolulu

I’m vacationing on Maui at the moment and saw this card with an image of a vintage poster advertising the L.A. – Honolulu steamer. At the bottom it says Los Angeles Steamship Company.

20130122-060213.jpg

I didn’t realize there was a steamer line out of L.A., though early travel between the mainland and the islands was obviously by ship. The first two ships for the L.A. line — “The City of Los Angeles” and “The City of Honolulu” — were repurposed German vessels captured during WWI. The first ship left L.A. harbor in 1922.

Here’s an article about the steamship company:

http://maritimematters.com/2010/08/los-angeles-steamship-company/

Later, Edgar Rice Burroughs–creator of Tarzan and founder of Tarzana–had sold his ranch and moved to Hawaii with his second wife–though she soon left him and returned to the Mainland.

When Pearl Harbor was attacked in ’41, Burroughs was playing tennis with his son at one of the hotels. No one took the antiaircraft gun noise they were hearing as anything more than an exercise at first.

Burroughs’ nonchalant description of that day led to him becoming a columnist for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, and he went on to work as a war correspondent from the Pacific.

Read more about his wartime writing from Hawaii here:

http://hawaiiantimemachine.blogspot.com/2011/11/tarzan-of-waikiki-jungle-edgar-rice.html?m=1

and here, in this chapter excerpt from the book Tarzan Forever: A Life of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Creator of Tarzan:

http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/t/taliaferro-tarzan.html

Here is a photo of Burroughs either leaving Hawaii or arriving by steamer (see all the leis).

http://images.fineartamerica.com/images-medium-large/1-edgar-rice-burroughs-1875-1950-everett.jpg

I saw a photo on the ERB, Inc. site that showed Hawaiian musicians performing at Burroughs’ ranch in Tarzana. That must have been before he moved to Hawaii in 1940, since he had sold the ranch before he did that. So did he already know some Hawaiians? Had he already visited Hawaii or learned about Hawaiian music and culture?

I’ll do some more sleuthing in the ERB archives and see if I can find that photo again and some more background. When I do, I’ll post it!


Leave a comment

The Ooze In Encino

20130114-195959.jpg

Water is still seeping from that pipe on Louise Ave. that’s been leaking for 10 years. I wrote about it in a previous post, under the title “Something Rotten In Encino”: https://tarzanaismyheroine.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/something-rotten-in-encino/. And now I’m starting to get annoyed, so I’m going to keep writing about it until a) it gets fixed, or b) I figure out who can get it fixed.

The morass of moss, algae, and rust-colored gunk around the leak is almost big enough to qualify as a city pond. Well, that’s an exaggeration, but it is an overly healthy muck habitat.

I bet mosquitos breed there in the summer too. Hello West Nile virus!

So I wonder what it will take to get the LA Bureau of Street Services to fix this? I posted a photo and note about this eyesore on the Encino Neighborhood Council Facebook page, but no response there–at least so far!

Now I’ve found a page on the LA Public Works website where problems with street drainage can be reported.

Let’s all report this!

The page has a form which asks for the address or location of the drainage problem. The location is south of the Louise Ave./Rochelle Place intersection in Encino on the west side of the street.

Here is a link to the form for reporting a problem:

http://bss.lacity.org/request.htm

Maybe if more people report it, we can get some action on the ooze!

20130114-200116.jpg

And in case anyone is curious and wants a close-up so they can identify the species of algae, moss, or what have you, here you go

20130114-200626.jpg


Leave a comment

How Much Espresso Is Too Much Espresso?

A modern espresso machine

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was behind a young teenager, maybe 15, at Starbucks the other day who ordered a drink with 12 shots of espresso. The barista, who told him she’d worked at Starbucks for many years, and the other baristas as well, said that no one has ever ordered that many shots, and did he really think that was a good idea?

While I was waiting with him at the counter for our drinks, I tried subtly to talk him out of it too. But he said that he and his friends are “into pushing the limits on things” and that (if I understood right), he had fun memories of once drinking that many shots with friends a few years back. I’m not clear on whether he drank 12 shots himself, or the group shared them. I suggested that was a shitload of caffeine and he might want to monitor his pulse as he was drinking it, just as a little scientific experiment (meaning that he should stop if his heart started racing!).

English: Chemical structure of Caffeine. Franç...

Chemical structure of Caffeine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then he took his drink and left.

I got on my phone and looked up Caffeine Intoxication (yes, it’s in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV, or DSM). [See this link for more info: http://behavenet.com/caffeine-intoxication.] The DSM says that 250 mgs., approximately 2-3 cups of brewed coffee, is enough to cause unpleasant anxiety-like side effects such as flushing and heart palpitations.

My wife reading in bed. And it wasn't because ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the figures for average amount of caffeine in a Starbucks solo espresso (75mg.), 12 shots would deliver roughly 900 mgs. of caffeine. Here’s a chart showing the amounts of caffeine in Starbucks drinks: http://www.energyfiend.com/the-complete-guide-to-starbucks-caffeine.

And here’s a post by someone who decided to see what was the most expensive drink he could concoct (it had 1,400 mgs. of caffeine!), but he had sense not to drink it! http://nacgeek.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/23-60-the-most-expensive-starbucks-drink-possible-in-the-world/

I talked to the shift supervisor after I found this info and asked her if Starbucks has any guidelines around how much caffeine can be sold (and to a minor), and they don’t, really. She had it hadn’t ever come up as an issue. She said the teens from the nearby middle school who come in usually order something like a Frappuccino, so I assume they’re more into the sugar than the caffeine.

As the blog Grub With Us notes about Frappuccinos in a funny post, “What Your Starbucks Drink Says About You”:

Frappuccino

Coffee gurus don’t order these unless hell froze over and Starbucks ran out of iced lattes. The customer who orders this is probably young, goes to Sweet Valley High School, and is “shopping” at the mall with all of her teenage friends with a phone more expensive than mine and a $20 bill they got in a birthday card. You order a frappuccino because it sounds pretty and reminds you of something you might drink in Paris one day, or to impress your friends with your extensive, worldly knowledge. http://blog.grubwithus.com/what-your-starbucks-drink-says-about-you/

I suggested she might raise the issue with management, because it’s come up now. Not that I think cafes should have to regulate espresso shots, or that there should be a legal drinking age for coffee, but . . . on the other hand, 12 shots for one person–especially a teen–just seems wrong somehow!

Any thoughts?


4 Comments

Storybook Ranch Homes

Here are snapshots of a few storybook ranch houses I’ve seen around Encino, north of the Boulevard. These homes epitomize what my favorite retro home blog, Retro Renovation (http://retrorenovation.com), would call “mid-century modest” homes.

Fortunately not too many of these homes have been torn down to build Spanish-style McMansions–as happened to one very lovely barn-red storybook ranch home on the corner of Hayvenhurst and Adlon a few years ago. Some of you may remember the house I’m talking about….

I love the pale yellow exterior of this first house below, and of course the diamond-pane windows on the garage too!

Look at the mix of horizontal and vertical batten boards here (behind the white picket fence!)

I love storybook ranches in barn or carriage red with white trim

Look at the little dovecote tucked just under the eaves

This house below is so attractive with its row of diamond-paned windows, pale green exterior, and the peeling bark of the gum or melaleuca tree in front.

I have in mind starting a project of getting a photo of every storybook ranch in town.

Maybe you can help!