A LEVITATED MESS

A COUPLE OF THINGS THAT DRIVE ME CRAZY

There are many things I love about Southern California.  I love the weather for example. 

Not the rain so much…it’s just wet. It lacks the drama of a nor’easter.  No flashing and booming and winds.  Just wet.  But there isn’t much of it and because this was once a desert, five minutes after the rain stops, the pavements are dry and the skies are clear.  Perfect!

I love being close to the ocean and having people from just about everywhere in the world as neighbors.  I love all that California stuff.

But recently, we, the people, have been party to a couple of – to my mind – incredibly stupid activities.

THE JOURNEY OF THE LEVITATED MASS.

Remember way back in June of last year?   All the hype about a 340-ton rock headed from Riverside to the hallowed grounds of LACMA?  No? Then let me remind you. 

For 11 torturous days, this behemoth was moved slowly through the streets of LA and surrounding areas, tying up traffic, and tearing up streets. All while being referred to with amazing gravitas as LEVITATED.

I don’t often doubt myself when it comes to the meaning of words, but considering the mountain of evidence (nee ROCK) being presented, I chose to look up Levitated in my Webster.

Webster is on my side.  It describes levitated as.”…Floating…appears to defy gravity.”  Okay, this rock didn’t even pretend to defy gravity.  It needed a special transporter to get it from there to here; here being the museum where a great 456-foot-long concrete channel had been patiently waiting for said rock to be lowered into place.

I journeyed to the museum to view this wonder, to try to understand why a man would nurse along this dream for four decades.  But that’s what the artist, Michael Heizer did – until his patience paid off to the tune of millions of dollars.

So what did I see?  I saw this HUGE rock sitting on a marble wall built over a long channel.  THAT IS NOT LEVITATING.  That’s resting on a wall!

A loyal employee of LACMA overheard my snort of derision apparently and he hurried over to assure me that – if you stood directly UNDER the rock, it APPEARED to levitate.

 In a city that is on continuous alert for its next big earthquake, you are invited to stand UNDER that rock.

Right.

Why do I picture Mr. Heizer laughing all the way to the bank?

GETTING THE ENDEAVOR HOME.

This was a unique experience, which millions of people watched and took pride in.  Here, after all, was the REAL DEAL.  The actual piece of man-made machinery that had circled the globe again and again at speeds even the Star Ship Enterprise would envy.  Twenty-five successful missions.

I have long felt that America is starving for real heroes, but here we had a chance to honor the people who labored long and hard to bring this day to reality…the men and women who first imagined, then designed and built, this over-sized space-ship that would ultimately go on 25 missions into that great question mark that is space.

I can almost feel again the excitement of that first lift off and successful return.  What joy. What pride.  And it was ours…our American ingenuity and determination…Well, come on…I’m not suggesting that there couldn’t be a couple of parts in there somewhere that say Made in China, or Japan, or Thailand for that matter.   But it’s still OURS.

By this time however, the active part of Endeavor’s space travels are in the history books.  Now all that remained was for us to bring our baby back home to the California Science Center where it will properly take its place as one of American’s great achievement.

So what did we do?

Well, first we had to get the Endeavor back to Southern California where it was largely built.   We did that in fine style by mounting the 122 feet long and 78 feet wide shuttle that stand five stories tall at the tail, onto the back of a modified Boeing 747.  Ingenious. America!

Okay.  so the Endeavor is now here at the LAX, but it needs to get home from the airport, and, as most Angelinos will tell you, “That ain’t no easy ride.”  Not even for people.

So we did what we do best.  We planned a parade – a parade that involved cutting down several hundred trees, shutting down small businesses, and angering a lot of people whose power supplies were temporarily interrupted when lines had to be cut to accommodate the height of the shuttle.

But we did it.  We delivered the Endeavor – late but happy to be home I‘m sure – to the Science Center.

But wait!

Between the Endeavor and the Science Center there was one last little problem.  The Manchester Avenue Overpass!  The Endeavor and its high-tech ride were too heavy for the overpass, and so the load had to be lightened.  Which meant pulling the Endeavor across that 100-yard expanse.

But this is America, and we know how to plan a dramatic finish.

As the world watched and waited, crews unhooked the Endeavor from its transporter.  Television cameras swung into frantic action to cover the last, triumphant moments.  Finally the crewmen stood back and the Endeavor could be seen across the world as it was pulled slowly, but proudly, across that overpass by….

A TOYOTA!

Now, call me crazy, but in this All-American moment, couldn’t we have used an AMERICAN car to bring the baby home?  A Ford?  A Chevy?  A combination if neither would suffice?

Apparently not.

(If my mother hadn’t taught me that “A lady never uses vulgarity to     achieve a point,” this would have been a much longer rant.  I’m really……pisXXX…perturbed)

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