California Dreaming

Condos Reflected on Venice’s Grand Canal

Today, as I was driving to a history discussion group, I saw huge crowds of tourists lurking around Beverly Hills and perched on countless tourist buses. It is interesting to see that so many young people from elsewhere are interested in Los Angeles. Even if what they are interested in is mostly garbage: The shops on Rodeo Drive and the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

But there is something about this place. Believe it or not, it’s the light. But you have to be receptive to visual nuances, something not quite as crass as a Gucci Bag or a star honoring the career of Rod La Rocque. And you have to be up early in the morning, or be around at dusk. Noon is just plain achingly bright.

The funny thing is that you don’t see much of what L.A. is about by visiting Universal City or Disneyland or even the La Brea Tar Pits. You can get something of a feel for it when you see the Getty Center or the Arboretum or Descanso Gardens or the Huntington Gardens and Art Museum. But you have to be still and let the light play over you. The more frenzied your touring is, the less you’ll get out of it.

Hell, it took me years before I could even see this place as it should be seen.



They Look Enticing ... But Not Just to Humans

They Look Enticing … But Not Just to Humans

Palm trees are a part of the scenery of Southern California that draws admiring comments from Easterners and Midwesterners. Unfortunately, those stately palms can also be a home for roof rats, and often act as an invasion path to your house or apartment.

According to Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health, the following steps should be taken by homeowners who have palm trees:

  1. Remove all dead palm fronds. (After a high wind, you will find lots of them.)
  2. Trim tree limbs and tall plants six feet away from roof, attic vents, eaves, and utility lines. Thin ivy and
    other thick vegetation, and leave clearance beneath bushes to prevent harborage for rodents.

There are other precautions mentioned in the 4-page document (for which you will need Adobe Acrobat ro read).

One thing that many people do not realize is that the dense foliage of such beautifully landscaped houses such as those in Beverly Hills are effective at attracting rats. According to the New York Times:

“Beverly Hills is a nice place to be a rat,” Ray Honda explained, admiring the cool, verdant landscape of the moneyed class, with its fruit trees, bird feeders, swimming pools and dog-food bowls. “It’s a very good address.”

Mr. Honda, a Los Angeles County health inspector whose speech and demeanor bring Peter Lorre to mind, was quick to append, “the four-legged kind,” adding: “More rats than people, probably. And when they get really bad you can smell them.”

Across Beverly Hills and the other lush corridors of Los Angeles, rats —yellow-bellied, pink-tailed, flea-bitten rats —are wriggling through the woodwork and rooftops. They have come down from the trees and in from the fields, forced into neighborhoods by a strangling drought that has gripped the region. They are eating from dog bowls and drinking from swimming pools and acting in surly ways not normal to the genus.

The article does not mention two-legged rats, but Beverly Hills has always had a large population of those as well.

As much as I like Southern California, I have to admit that we have some unique problems of our own.