Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Mulholland Drive


From Mulholland Drive, the eastern San Fernando Valley, North Hollywood in the foreground


A windy morning, with broken clouds. Fresh and stimulating. Enjoyed coffee and a cinnamon roll with Robert. We talked about my future plans, or lack thereof. What to do?

Checking e-mails, motorcycle traveler Lana Lowe from Canada broadcast a message to other travelers: she decided not to go any further south than Panama. But she has really jumped into the culture of Central America, getting involved in indigenous communities there.

Inside all day, reading 9-11 conspiracy reports, then looking through family photo albums Mary has put together.

A feeling of depression and being lost, as a lack of activity allows all the questions and doubts to surface. Out to El Pollo Loco, a fast food Mexican restaurant. Stark and dreary, these places. What a dismal experience we've made dining!

Looking for an opportunity to at least be around other people, I went to the Coffee Bean in downtown Burbank. (Parked up on the sidewalk, but it feels really inappropriate in the States!) The shop's clientele was almost entirely in their teens and twenties.

Trying to alter my mood by getting out and moving, and maybe taking some photos, I went up to Mulholland Drive. This L.A. landmark rides the crest of the Santa Monica Mountains that divide the San Fernando Valley from the Los Angeles Basin. Steve McQueen and I used to race our motorcycles up here. (Well, at least that's what the cop who ticketed me said!)

It has long been famous for its wonderful views of the city, both daytime and nighttime (and, at night, as a great place to "park".) Over the years, however, the mountain real estate has been developed, and where once there were open lots, offering views, now there are mansions, with their tall fences and hedges, and gated enclaves with security guard posts.

The only parking now is at specified viewpoints, where nice little picnic areas have been created. The gesture barely conceals the insult though: these "parks" are closed from 9:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. This essentially means that in summer, you can't stop along Mulholland Drive at night. It is outrageous that this little urban treasure is becoming the sole domain of the rich. You're free to pass through, just don't stop!

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