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

Honey Talks About Where Los Angeles Began. Part 2

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August 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)

 

Part 1 of “Where Did Los Angeles Start?” looked at the primary Tongva trading village of Yang-Na, located about where the Los Angeles Civic Center is today. Part 2 describes Los Angeles as the first emigrants from the United States saw the pueblo (until 1835) and then as they saw the city (after 1835).

 

In Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “The Case of The Purloined Letter,” police detectives search for a stolen letter. They look behind wallpaper and examine tables and chairs with magnifying glasses, but they cannot find the stolen letter in the hotel room where the blackmailer/thief stays. The fictional private detective C. August Dupin later finds the letter hidden in plain sight hanging on a ribbon used to hold letters but with a handmade envelope that had nothing to do with the letter inside.

The website for Olvera Street calls it “the first street in Los Angeles.” It wasn’t. The first streets were called “o” and “n.” Olvera Street was called Wine Street until 1877. If you drive to that tourist marketplace called Olvera Street today along Sunset headed towards Terminal Annex, however, a road sign next to the market place states, “Olvera Street. Established 1930.” The city both misleads you and sets you straight.

California historians place the original pueblo proper (the plaza and surrounding structures) in different places: on top of the Indian village of Yang-Na, at El Aliso, the giant sycamore, “behind Union Station,” around the Twin Towers jail on Vignes, and on the hill a bit above the present pueblo at about Parking Lot No. 2. A couple of writers gave up trying to figure it out. Read more

Honey Talks About Where Los Angeles Began, Part 1

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July 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)

1860s photograph courtesy Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center

1860s photograph courtesy Braun Research Library Collection, Autry National Center

Introduction

“128. When it began, Los Angeles had no riverfront, harbor, or highway to somewhere else more important. Before Colonel de Neve opened his notebook and drew a plan showing house lots around a plaza and the church, Los Angeles had no explanation.” D. J. Waldie, Holy Land: a Suburban Memoir (St. Martin’s Griffin`1996).

Waldie’s misunderstandings about the birthplace of Los Angeles are common among those that think about it at all. Neve did not open a notebook and draw a plan. Before the Spanish pueblo of Los Angeles was founded in 1781, no one needed somewhere else more important to go to because the idea of somewhere else more important would have been incomprehensible to anyone living in the region, except possibly the padres of the two missions, but the padres were dedicated to conversions of the native people to Catholicism.

Los Angeles began as far as we now know in a large native village that was near, perhaps partly under, where City Hall now stands and extended to today’s Fletcher Bowron Square.

Felipe de Neve was governor of the Californias when he organized the founding of the Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles in 1781, although it is true that he earned the rank of colonel in 1774.

José Darío Argüello (1753-1828) drew a map in 1786 of the pueblo as it was five years after its founding.. https://www.kcet.org/lost-la/the-first-map-of-los-angeles-may-be-older-than-you-think. (Retrieved 6/17/2016). This link takes you to the map translated into English. https://www.kcet.org/shows/lost-la/happy-birthday-los-angeles-but-is-the-story-of-the-citys-founding-a-myth. (Retrieved 6/17/2016) Under Neve’s orders, Argüello had led the first ten Los Angeles pobladores to the site of the pueblo that grew into Los Angeles in June 1781. Read more

Honey’s literary travels by train

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May 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)

The names of Amtrak’s train cars painted on the sides carry messages of places that have geographic and historic meaning, e.g., “Yolo River,” “Monterey Bay,” “Yosemite River,” “Owens Valley,” “Drakes Bay.” Describing the train routes to and within California compresses the landscape of this state’s literature.

The literary traveler that arrives in California by train may take the Zephyr, which runs daily between Chicago and San Francisco, coursing through the plains of Nebraska to Denver, across the Rockies to Salt Lake City, through Reno and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, through Reno and Sacramento into Emeryville. The California Zephyr connects to San Francisco by Thruway Bus Service at Emeryville. Where the Zephyr’s passage over the Sierras passes through Truckee the train roughly follows one of several routes taken by the emigrants — Americans coming into California – before there were roads.

Amtrak.com

 

In May 1827, forty-two years before the Transcontinental Railway reached California, Jedediah Smith, born in 1799, and his party of 15 other men crossed the Sierra Nevada (west to east). They sheltered in a Mojave village near present-day Needles, California. Two runaway Indians from the Spanish missions guided them into the Mojave Desert along the Mojave Trail, the western portion of the Old Spanish Trail. This trail began as an ancient Native American trail. Read more

Honey goes down the first roads in California

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April 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)

 

elephants

Saturday I joined a Greenbelt Alliance hike through the Black Diamond Mines Regional Park, which is roughly between Clayton and Antioch.  Black Diamond refers to the coal mined there between about 1860 to the early 20th century.

The Greenbelt Alliance has for sixty years worked for the preservation of open spaces and agricultural land.  The hikes it sponsors and co-sponsors take people in the Bay Area into wonderful places – as does the Sierra Club and other public interest organizations.

It had rained heavily a few days before we started on the hike. The hills were vibrantly green.  One of the leaders remarked that the human cones in the eye are more sensitive to green frequencies than any to any other color.  Color isn’t real; that is, all colors are only electromagnetic radiation, which is a spectrum.

We may have more sensitivity to shades of green because human beings evolved in Africa, and it was green.  Prey animals need to see what doesn’t belong in a green background.  Predators usually – not predator birds of course — approach from the ground.  Once a prey animal sees a predator, it then needs to see where to go. Read more

Honey ponders California’s Golden Bough – deep ecology writing

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March 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)

 

Spencer Ridge from McCrae Meadow near Johnsville. Copyright 2013 by Robyn Martin

Spencer Ridge from McCrae Meadow near Johnsville. Copyright 2013 by Robyn Martin

 

Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas dissented to the majority decision in Sierra Club v. Morton (1972) 405 U.S. 727.   The suit arose when the United States Forest Service permitted development of Mineral King then near Sequoia National Park — a national park in the southern Sierra Nevada east of Visalia, known for its giant sequoia trees.  Mineral King is a subalpine glacial valley located – since 1978 — in the Southern part of Sequoia National Park.

In 1972, Douglas wrote:

“Inanimate objects are sometimes parties in litigation.  A ship has a legal personality, a fiction found useful for maritime purposes.  The corporation sole – a creature of ecclesiastical law — is an acceptable adversary and large fortunes ride on its cases…. So it should be as respects valleys, alpine meadows, rivers, lakes, estuaries, beaches, ridges, groves of trees, swampland, or even air that feels the destructive pressures of modern technology and modern life. The river, for example, is the living symbol of all the life it sustains or nourishes—fish, aquatic insects, water ouzels, otter, fisher, deer, elk, bear, and all other animals, including man, who are dependent on it or who enjoy it for its sight, its sound, or its life. The river as plaintiff speaks for the ecological unit of life that is part of it.”

In this dissent, Justice Douglas indicated a shift away from environmentalism through regulatory laws that manage environmental degradation towards the legal position that “trees have standing,” or, rather, “Rights of Nature.” Read more

Honey travels through California’s geographic, plant, animal and bird past

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

NOTES FROM ABOVE GROUND

By Honey van Blossom

Honey

 

 

 

 

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

BonnieLambertPalisade

Credit for the image is Bonnie Lambert’s “Palisade,” tall palms against the sky in Santa Monica. bonnielambert.com.

Copyright 2015. Permission to use granted by the artist.

 

 

Kern County in the southern end of the Central Valley of California began keeping tally of drowning deaths in the Kern River in 1968. As of May 2015, the sign at the entrance to Kern Canyon states that total is 271.

Before Kern County began its tally, children swam in the Kern River. Those of us who survived remember the powerful rush of water pushing us through champagne-colored water, flecks of gold swimming around us glittering like gold minnows in the place just before the rapids.

The Kern River is one of the main waterways that drain the southern part of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. In 1853, Richard M. Keyes discovered gold in a quartz vein a few miles from the present community of Lake Isabella in the Kern River Valley. An instant mining town called Keyesville sprang up at the site. In 1858, an Indian called Lovely Rogers chased his mule. He picked up a rock to throw at it, and the glint of gold in the rock caught his eye. Rogersville began at the entrance to the gold mine, shaded by California bay laurels. Read more

Honey on El Camino Viejo

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January 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)

 

CityHall

This is the map of downtown, courtesy of The Los Angeles Public Library with the Ord survey of 1849 as an insert. You can also see City Hall built on the streets that were configured in 1928. Click on map to see a larger version.

 

A billboard on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles welcomes travelers to Dodgertown. Dodgertown is not a town although it has its own zip code, thanks to the Los Angeles City Council. It is a stadium and nearby Dodger-owned property. If the Mayor leaves City Hall at 200 North Spring and drives along Sunset Boulevard to Stadium Way and then up through Dodgertown, he will travel along the trunk of what was called El Camino Viejo in the now City of Los Angeles.

When the first Europeans arrived in Southern California, they encountered a plain of tough chaparral – the plants impenetrable in their hardness and thickness — ground squirrel holes, rivers that were then much more like rivers than they are now, big rocks, steep hills, creeks and marshes. The explorers traveled through this rough terrain on a native trail, guided by natives, and greeted by friendly natives that presented them with trays of seeds. The trails the explorers traveled along were eventually called El Camino Viejo. El Camino Viejo was composed of several trails that all came into aboriginal Los Angeles and left from it. Read more

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