Honey at the Piper Tech

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November 1, 2017 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

 

Behind Union Station and across from the Denny’s stands the C. Erwin Piper Technical Center.  C. Erwin Piper died at the age of 84 in 1992.  He had been the head of the City’s Public Works Department.   I have sat waiting for the bus at the back of Union Station and saw the large building many times and did not notice it, which either sets the bar higher for my obliviousness or says something about the building’s architecture.

The Los Angeles Police Technical Investigation Division is in Piper Tech. The Elections Bureau is in there.  A room with boxes no one will let you into is there.  There’s a helipad.  City Archivist Michael Holland refers to Piper Tech as the city’s junk drawer. Read more

Honey explains the first roads through Los Angeles

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August 1, 2017 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

Misperceptions about the role of the aboriginal people of Southern California in building the city begin with the road system, a system possibly 13,000 years old.  Understanding the native American road system is a way to reveal that human behavior is not static, that the world of people is not one thing determined by immutable rules, but that it can be – and has been – much different from what it is now.

“In the New World,” wrote Carl Sauer in his 1932 monograph The Road to Cibola, “the routes of great explorations usually have become historic highways and thus has been forged a link connecting the distant past with the modern present. For the explorers followed main trails beaten by many generations of Indian travel.” Read more

Honey once again walks through time to the site of this city’s beginning

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July 1, 2017 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

I met Jodi at Nick’s Café on North Spring Street.  A statue of a pig stands in front of Nick’s and a pig offering to be devoured is painted on the wall as you come in.

The cafe was once at the edge of the Southern Pacific rail yard, hazardous waste dump and a refinery.  The neighborhood gets crappier and grimmer around the back of Nick’s in Dog Town around the William Mead Housing project is.  In 1994, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons tested at nineteen times the safe level in the housing project.  In the City’s general plan, this is the North Industrial District, and by people that live around there sometimes Naud Junction or Mission Junction after two Southern Pacific area junctions.   Mission Junction is a little to the north of the old road to the San Gabriel Mission and quite a bit south of the original road to the mission.

North Spring was Toma Road until 1876 when Southern Pacific cut off the top end and the city renamed it. Toma Road went to the Toma.   The Toma was the dam and headwaters built out of sticks, stones, reeds and clay that pooled water for the zanja, the irrigation system that sucked out river water and sent it past adobe houses and into the agricultural fields. The Los Angeles State Historic Park aka The Cornfield is on the other side of North Spring Street. Read more

Honey’s Dreamland

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June 1, 2017 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

After exposure to sunlight, Kodachromes taken with home cameras in the 1940s and 1950s lost color, becoming fainter. Memory may also turn colors fainter after a time. The colors in the first dream are paler than colors are in real life.

The place was near a lake or marsh. Tall reeds grew at the water’s edge, and the boy hid in them. Women were on an elevation behind above him, and the slope of land and brush concealed them from him. The women sang as they worked. They gathered seeds. They were all safe.

Partly concealed by the brush stood a rabbit that watched the boy without moving. The rabbit had long upright ears that were thin so that the light made them translucent. One of the women called the boy by his other name, not his real name. The boy’s other name was rabbit.

A smooth stone lay in the shallows. The child put his hand in the water and removed the stone.  His hand was brown not white. I knew I was dreaming and woke. Read more

Honey Continues to Live in Concord, California

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April 1, 2017 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

 

 

My house is one of perhaps thirty 1956 houses at the edge of the Canterbury Village subdivision. The thirty houses are regular square houses. Most of the true Canterbury houses are two stories with steep roofs and a brick chimney.

There is no village in Canterbury Village. There are houses and on the nearest main streets commercial businesses but the word “village” does not describe our neighborhood.

The streets of the Canterbury Village are named Shakespeare, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Cape Cod (no cape, and no cod), Chaucer Drive, Pickwick Drive, Lancelot, Churchill, Cobblestone Drive. I live on Shakespeare.

I thought for years that the three men that live on Shakespeare Drive were the same man but recently have been able to distinguish them. They all wear very long gray-brown beards, baseball caps, are stocky, and they all walk in a hunched way as if they had serious back injuries at one time, and maybe they all did. One, however, rides a motorcycle, and another one rides a convertible and plays the same song over and over loudly. The other one just stands at the edge of his lawn. They emerge from different houses. Read more

Honey Talks About Two journeys through California from Los Angeles in 1912

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February 1, 2017 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

 

1912 driving costume.

1912 driving costume.

 

An Englishman named J. Smeaton Chase settled in Southern California in 1890, when he was twenty-six.  The best known of Chase’s books is California Coast Trails: A Horseback Ride from Mexico to Oregon, published when he was forty-seven about his travel on horseback on trails from San Diego to the Oregon border wearing a broad-brimmed Stetson hat, riding breeches, leather puttees and a tweed coat.

From Chase’s California Coast Trails:

“Carl Eytel the painter and I were riding down the south road from El Monte one midsummer morning, with our blankets rolled behind our saddles and other appurtenances of outdoor living slung about us. Ever since I had lived in California I had been waiting for an opportunity to explore the coast regions of the State. At last the time had come when I could do it; and Eytel, my companion on other journeys in the mountains and deserts of the West, was free to join me for the southern part of the expedition.

“Our object was to view at our leisure this country, once of such vast quiescence, now of such spectacular changes. Especially we wished to see what we could of its less commonplace aspects before they should have finally passed away: the older manner of life in the land; the ranch-houses of ante-Gringo days; the Franciscan Missions, relics of the era of the padre, and the don, the large, slow life of the sheep and cattle ranges, and whatever else we could find lying becalmed in the backwaters of the hurrying stream of Progress.” Read more

Honey finds where the Portola monument should be

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January 1, 2017 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

 

One Sunday morning, river activist, urban adventurer and Los Angeles County Beach Commissioner Anthea Raymond and I met at Nick’s Café.  Our mission for that day was to look for the real site of the August 2, 1769 Portola expedition’s campsite.

Gaspar de Portolá i Rovira led the first European land exploration from San Diego to San Francisco.  Father Juan Crespi accompanied the expedition, and it was either from the campsite or very near it that he saw the land he recommended for a mission and large settlement, which became the City of Los Angeles.

Nick’s Café is at 1300 North Spring Street in an area that was probably alongside the agricultural lands first established in the grasslands Father Crespi saw.

The zanja (irrigation ditch) that probably nine of the pobladores – two of the eleven men were described as “useless” —  built in the late summer and early fall of 1781 went through the area popularly called “the Cornfield,” now the Los Angeles State Historic Park, and before that, beginning in 1876, the Cornfield was occupied by the Southern Pacific train yard.  In the early 1850s, the land was comprised of deeded land after E.O.C. Ord’s August 1849 survey.  Before the 1850s, the land was comprised of farms. Read more

Honey Talks About the first plaza in Los Angeles and the unsettling wind

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November 1, 2016 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

 

In Los Angeles, the disagreeable Santa Ana winds originate inland.  Raymond Chandler, in “Red Wind”:

“There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.”

Many of the streets in downtown Los Angeles are cocked at an angle.  They run north-northeast to south-southwest instead of north to south, east to west.   Streets begin to run north to south at Hoover.  Unsettling winds might be the explanation for why streets around the plaza downtown are set at an angle.  Or not.

Raymond Chandler’s plots were so convoluted even he couldn’t always follow them.

The plot of the mystery of why Los Angeles streets run at an angle is as serpentine as a Chandler story.

The simple solution to the street mystery is that the plaza next to the Olvera Street marketplace downtown – laid out between 1825 and 1830 – was cocked at an angle during the years when the plaza was a rectangle.  The plaza’s left top corner pointed north, which meant that the streets established after the plaza was laid out followed the plaza’s angle. Read more

Honey Talks About Brentwood, the birthplace of American California

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September 30, 2016 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

Marsh murder site stone

Marsh murder site stone

A big rock stands on the right hand side of Pacheco Road as you drive from Martinez. Low yellow hills lie on each side of Pacheco Road at that location. A metal plate on the rock reads: “Dr. John Marsh California Pioneer murdered here September 26, 1856.”

Dr. Marsh was on his way from his Rancho Los Meganos to Martinez in his horse and buggy that day, headed for San Francisco.

He may have followed a road – all roads were dirt then –from today’s Antioch to today’s Willow Pass Road to some road that wound through what would become Todos Santos (today’s City of Concord) and then down to a road that led to Martinez.

His route, whichever he took, from Rancho Los Meganos was one that passed through unfenced ranchos where cattle roamed. The City of Concord did not yet exist. Pacheco did not exist. Walnut Creek was still “Four Corners,” a meeting of roads near the bottom of the western flank of Mt. Diablo.

He may have intended to get from Martinez to San Francisco by a water route. Paddle wheel steamboats traveled between San Francisco and Sacramento since 1850 with a stop at Benicia, and a ferry opened between Martinez and Benicia in 1850.

San Francisco was a relatively new city in 1856. It was incorporated as a city in 1850. Prior to 1835, no one other that Ramaytush Indians lived north of Mission Creek, the creek that once reached inland to the mission, although Ramaytush villagers had lived there before the mission and presidio were built (1776).

Dr. Marsh had arrived in California on the Santa Fe Trail and lived for a year in the then newly incorporated Mexican city of Los Angeles, working as a doctor. Read more

HONEY TALKS ABOUT WHERE LOS ANGELES BEGAN, PART 3

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August 31, 2016 · Posted in Notes from Above Ground · Comment 

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

(Honey is a Belgian Marxist former strip-tease artiste)

 

Over the course of the summer of 1781, twenty-one men and women and twenty-three children walked from the San Gabriel Mission. They had been exposed to smallpox during the time they were in Baja California. They made the walk in small groups.

The two or three groups of colonists forded the Los Angeles River at the place where the Broadway Bridge now crosses it but then the river took a different path from the channel created for it by the United States Army Corps of Engineers a century and a half later.

The river then was a real river, and beneath it through the land ran subsurface waters that sometimes broke through the earth in springs. Fish swam in the river. Herons with their long necks uncoiled cast shadows of their wings on the surface of the water.

The families reached a ledge or mesa or hill terrace above the river near the crossing place in the river. Native men arrived from the village of Yang Na about a mile and a half away and helped the settlers build jacals from sticks and reeds to live in for the next few years. Read more

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