Skinny dippers and mad millionaires. Just another weekend in our breezy Brigadoon.
Say what you want about LA, how the slow drivers never stay to the right, or no one can make a decent loaf of bread, or how developers bulldoze the past before it’s even the past.
Yet, LA retains a fine spirit and remains robust in ways that set it apart from more run-of-the-mill cities – thinking Paris here…thinking New York.
Such a weekend we just celebrated, full of sin and dishonor, two qualities that also make special our little village by the sea.
Far as dishonor goes, I got a bad piece of fish at California Adventure on Friday. Not spoiled or anything, just criminally too small. I mean, what did I expect for 25 bucks? More than a bite or two?
I swear, LA is the nation’s longest-running comedy.
Then on Sunday, the kids and I watched a lifeguard pull a skinny-dipper from the drink, even though he wasn’t all that skinny. Definitely, though, he was a dipper.
“In the end, everything turns to gin” said the poet Richard Cecil, and so it does on this hot Sunday, tonic-water waves blasted by 30 mph gusts. You can almost smell the juniper berries and coriander seeds.
In all honesty, the Pacific usually has the cool chill of something distilled in London.
Down at the water line, an underpaid Santa Monica lifeguard orders the nudist from the water. The middle-aged swimmer is naked, having dropped his suit in the sand and strolled, for thousands to see, au naturel, into the surf.
No, he wasn’t homeless. It was worse than that. He was European, though since he wasn’t carrying any ID — or a flag of any kind — we can only assume.
No one stands and gawks, as they would in Milwaukee or Galveston. No one calls a pastor or the PTA. This is LA, so the lifeguard acts as cool as the skinny dipper, as if this is just another call on a busy Sunday.
I feel bad for the poor kids whose first sight of an adult wiener is this, an empty balloon belonging to this inglorious goof, who decided it was OK to disrobe in front of thousands of strangers.
Bottom line: Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.
Carry on, LA.
I feel like a cowboy riding the range as I move about Los Angeles these days. Each weekend, life gets a little rowdier. Freeway traffic is almost at a standstill once again, except for the yo-yos who insist on going 80 no matter what.
Experts say some residents are dealing with “cave syndrome,” or “re-entry anxiety,” after being cooped up for so long. Frankly, I don’t see it. The roads are packed, the beach lots full.
If trends continue, I hope to hold a wedding here soon…my own. I don’t want a marriage, just the ceremony, because I miss weddings – the open bars, the bands, the single people on the make, the married people sitting alone at a table with a chunk of cake — no longer really caring — and thinking: “Gee, hope it works out better for them.”
I would love to have a wedding just to include my nutty friends as groomsmen – six or eight of them, maybe a dozen. The rehearsal alone would be a riot.
“Where are you honeymooning?” guests would ask.
“Oh, there’s no honeymoon,” I’d explain. “This is it. Just the wedding.”
All I’m lacking is a blushing bride.
Know any? I mean, does anyone in LA blush anymore?
Don’t worry, the ceremony would not be legally binding, since this is Southern California, where nothing is legally binding and apparently there are no longer any laws. You can shake your noodle anywhere. You can blow through red lights. You can buy salvation.
The other day, I was telling the story about Griffith J. Griffith, who donated Griffith Park to the city. Five times the size of Central Park, the land was quite the civic gift, and everyone was happy with Griffith J. Griffith, till he shot his wife in the eye during a drunken rage (she survived; the marriage didn’t).
When they let him out of San Quentin, Griffith J. Griffith tried to polish his sullied reputation by donating loot to build the Observatory and the Greek Theater. City leaders, who were a little more moral back then, would have none of it. It wasn’t till he died that they took his money, and now we have a nice telescope on the hill, as well as a handy place for teenagers to make out.
I mentioned this to the Happy Hour Hikers after our Saturday hike. Locals say the park is haunted, perhaps by the spirit of Mrs. Griffith J. Griffith. Or perhaps by the rich old lout himself, who once raised ostriches here.
Dang, LA has a fantastic past, doesn’t it?
Point is, high crimes and misdemeanors have always been part of the fabric of this community. They ride the Santa Ana winds, and the city buses late at night. They slide in, just before the Gold Line doors close.
After our hike, we filled our tummies with happy juice – another LA tradition. As we chatted and laughed, a Griffith Park hawk swopped in and perched on a branch 15 feet away, where it preened and posed for might’ve been 10 minutes.
I suppose preening and posing have always been a way of life in LA too (see skinny dipper above).
What a breezy Brigadoon we live in, unmanageable and full of feral creatures. To drift across the Naked City right now is to witnesses a million unacknowledged kindnesses, just like before. Someone holds a door, or lets someone cut in, and there’s rarely a nod or a thank you.
I mean, who has the time?
But our breezy Brigadoon is back, all right – emboldened by the vaccine, or perhaps just not caring anymore.
Props to those who joined the Happy Hour Hike in Griffith Park on Saturday. Next up: Lake Hollywood, another slice of LA lore. Details to come. Sign up for info at https://chriserskinela.com/. Meanwhile, support this little enterprise by buying a book or a tee-shirt. Click here to order a Boomer U shirt. Be safe. Move around. Cheers.