Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Xolotl

Citrus flower hangs heavy in rain-washed air.
Restless parrots argue over palmfruit,
their brilliant green tails flashes against the lapis sky.
Coyolxauhqui’s round white face
watches over all from above the temple.

Xolotl’s blood drips on the parched soil.
He watches each drop fall, his bright star in the west
following the sun toward the ocean.

His vessel heavy, his blade worn,
Xolotl regards the traffic on Alvarado Street.
This blood, this sacrifice
that in Mictlan could raise the dead from their dry bones
here falls lifeless to the pavement
splatters the low and whitewashed wall of cinderblock
between the parking lot and the 99 cent store.

He carries the dead to their eternal home
he guards the sun in its transit of hell each night
and longing for Xochiquetzal ruler of artistry and joy,
the precious pleasure-flower goddess, her headband of green feathers
brilliant in his home’s remembered sunlight,
Xolotl again takes his long blade,
scrapes wash-water from the laundromat window.

Breaking Pleistocene Update

I Am Zed's Mandible

I went over to the Page Museum this morning to get a look at some of the fossils they pulled out from underneath the May Company parking lot.

I got a handful of blurry, underexposed photos with my phone. They’re here.

On a side note, why is it the tourists always come up to me and ask me to explain things? I was just minding my own business reading the latest issue of Natural History near Pit 91, not bothering a soul or looking at all intelligent. Always, ALWAYS happens. Weird.

Major cache of fossils unearthed in Los Angeles

From the Los Angeles Times:

Workers excavating an underground garage on the site of an old May Co. parking structure in Los Angeles’ Hancock Park got more than just a couple hundred new parking spaces. They found the largest known cache of fossils from the last ice age, an assemblage that has flabbergasted paleontologists.

Researchers from the George C. Page Museum at the La Brea tar pits have barely begun extracting the fossils from the sandy, tarry matrix of soil, but they expect the find to double the size of the museum’s collection from the period, already the largest in the world.

Among their finds, to be formally announced today, is the nearly intact skeleton of a Columbian mammoth—named Zed by researchers—a prize discovery because only bits and pieces of mammoths had previously been found in the tar pits.

According to the story, “Zed” is being cleaned in the Page Museum’s “fishbowl,” which means I’m gonna go gawk at it tomorrow.

The paleocontractors doing the excavating have a blog. You can see photos of one of them woman-handling an intact American lion (Panthera atrox) skull here.

[Updated] In other Breaking La Brea Tar Pits News,* researchers have isolated new species of bacteria and archaea living in—and off—the asphaltum in the Rancho La Brea seeps. These extremophile organisms possess the ability to metabolize the tar, and biotech developers are eyeing the microbes for environmental cleanup potential. I’m hoping for a spray application that will dissolve big knobby tires.

* How many redundancies can you spot here? The answer may scare you.

Cleft

I walked the other day in Runyon Canyon, a cleft in the Hollywood Hills with a steep short climb. It was good to get my blood flowing again. It was good to breathe hard, to feel the growing wet in the small of my back, and though people half my age ran up the slope I labored to walk, I felt fit.

And halved.

Two years ago today I walked with him, guided his aching, wobbly bones down a frost-slicked slope to his little park, and the killdeer complained in flight. I was certain of looming desolation, terrified of it, and yet I was whole, somehow, in a way I have not felt since.

Runyon Canyon is full of dogs. They walk there off-leash, running far ahead of their owners, trailing far behind their owners. A rottweiler stod at the base of one steep slope, reluctant to climb, and she leaned against me to procrastinate as her man waited patiently. The hill above her rises a few hundred feet in a quarter mile, and I’d just watched a three-month-old puppy struggling to hoist itself up one railroad-tie step after another, mighty shoulders straining against the pull of an entire world. His woman laughed at him sweetly.

A part of me has been amputated these years.

We looked at puppies a few days ago, having found an adoption center along our route from one errand to the next. There was a little one there, a two-month-old rottweiler-shepherd mix boy, and I had to look away. He has followed me since. I am lucky to have a few sensible reasons not to adopt a dog, unemployment chief among them, because if I didn’t I’d have to face the real reason I walked away: it would still feel like betrayal.

Last night I dreamed of my other half, his legs grown strong again and his eyes new sharp, and he ran ahead of me frustratingly as I followed in the truck. No sideward glances toward me, nor hesitation in his step, his business was his own and I merely sought to intrude, to take him back to a home neither of us has anymore.

I carried him up that long hill two years ago, and it was an easier climb than the one I will make again today without him.

Elysian Park

I miss the certainty I had back then.
I miss the knowing all of it, the keen,
the ardent hewing to my heart’s clear path.
Old men slow-shamble in the liquor aisle,
sigh Russian imprecations baleful, soft
under their smog-choked breath. This shortest day
ends soon, the sun resigned. This is the life
I have these days, the slow awakening
and tethered dreams, heart tied to ghosts and soul
enervated, searching these tawny hills
for beating hearts there, under the chamise.
I saw a hawk above Elysian Park,
two hundred feet or more, and all the world
below it scurried heedless to some end.