Hey there! Shannon had the stellar idea that I should take photos of the many wacky things I see from my office at Via Corona and write an equally madcap send up of said various and sundry items.
A terrific idea in theory if say, a.) all (or any) of the critters would stand still for photos and b.) I were even a passable photographer (hint: they wouldn’t and I’m not).
A lesser man probably would’ve chosen a different (easier) topic, but I come from a long line of frontiersmen and outdoor types to whom quit is a four-letter word. So, as we begin 2017, this is exactly the idea I will now ram down your throat in one of those annoying listicles that everyone reads like 2016’s Hottest Waffle Toppings.
Before we get started, a quick photo quiz from a shot taken at Rocketship Park in Torrance.
Q: What is this? (Scroll down for the answer)
Quiz answer: An attempted murder. Get it?
Top 6 Airborne Things
#6 Fireworks – If you know me even a little, you know that I’m not exactly pro-fireworks. My stance has nothing to do with safety mind you. In fact if you want to blow your hand off a la Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul (Google it), be my guest. Those things are like Darwin’s dynamite. My issue is more with fireworks shows. Specifically, why I must I make any effort to attend them since they are free . . . and in the sky. Generally speaking, I kinda prefer to stay a respectable distance from crowds, traffic and people saying, “Ooooohhh!” while marveling at a “technology” that hasn’t advanced one second in my lifetime?! I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts if I played you a fireworks show from 1974 this 4th of July and told you it was happening live you could not tell the difference.
I say all that to say this. Because my wife has heard this rant for nearly 20 years now (actually almost exclusively because of this), we can now enjoy the South Bay’s finest fireworks shows from the Via Corona deck. The Manhattan Beach holiday fireworks pictured below are a proof of concept. You’re all more than welcome to visit the heated Via Corona back deck and watch the fireworks with Shannon. I’ll probably be off yelling at some kids to get off my lawn (once I get a lawn). I can’t wait to see what the 4th of July has in store for us.
#5 WWII Planes – Growing up my older brother was always fascinated with WWII aircraft. Oddly he would torment me by asking me to name WWII planes by sight, passing out noogies for every incorrect response. Needless to say I got pretty good at it – and that’s a weird thing to be good at.
One day I was running near the beach when an old war plane came roaring overhead flying low over the ocean. It was a restored B-24 Liberator like the one flown (and crashed) by Torrance native, and 1936 Olympian, Louis Zamperini. Could I get my phone out of my pocket for an out of focus snap? Not on your life.
Louis Zamperini is something of a local legend in these parts. He’s also the subject of the book and movie Unbroken. The locals renamed Torrance Municipal Airport to Zamperini Field in 1946. We have a prime view off the airfield off the back of the house. Now and then you get to see cool WWII planes flying in and out of Zamperini Field and, like a dork, I can name most of them when they fly by the window . . . B-17! P-51 Mustang! Whee! I’m told Torrance also has a WWII store that I’ve never visited but here’s a link in case you want to sing Happy Christmas (The War is Over) and/or just get your Axis on: http://www.wwiistore.com
Tangent Alert! Before we move on with the countdown, can we discuss what the odds are that Paul McCartney and John Lennon, the collaborators and genius musicians who gave us scores of great tunes would also came up with two of the absolute worst Christmas songs ever recorded? If I live to be 1,000 I will never understand this. Happy Christmas (The War Is Over) AND Wonderful Christmastime?! Sure, I expect this kind of dreck from no talent hacks like Elmo & Patsy and The Waitresses, but 50% of the Beatles? I swear if I had any musical ability whatsoever I would record a Christmas song first so I could live on forever. Case in point, we’re still listening to Happy Christmas (The War Is Over) and Wonderful Christmastime and those songs suck.
Moving on to solid holiday fare, you probably know that the great Johnny Mathis did voiceover for our ESPN documentary ’51 Dons a few years ago. Because he is one of the nicest guys on the planet, he relayed this story about his first Christmas album Merry Christmas (the one with Winter Wonderland, White Christmas, etc.). For background, that album dropped on my Mom’s 22nd birthday and it’s a classic (so was she), so I had to ask how it came to be. He said when he finally became a star in 1958 the suits at Columbia Records asked him what he wanted to record. He said, “I want to do a Christmas album to thank my parents for all they did for me.” Shortly thereafter a freak dust cloud kicked up in the booth and my eyes watered some.
You might think I don’t have a terrible, grainy picture to commemorate the experience . . . and you would be wrong. This is the only selfie I’ve ever taken. And it shows!
#4 Helicopters – Zamperini Field is also the home of the Robinson Helicopter Company – the world’s leading manufacturer of civil helicopters. Apparently Robinson also makes the most crashed helicopter in the game. One model has 78 crashes in the last 22 months. They’ve been grounded in New Zealand. They’re pretty cool looking when they’re airborne here of the good ol’ US of A though.
#3 Peacocks – If you head just a few blocks due south of Via Corona you can hear the – ahem – love dance of the population of peninsula peacocks. There seems to be some debate on how the peacocks got there in the first place which also seems like an awful waste of breath. My favorite story is that they were stolen from chewing gum magnate William Wrigley’s estate on Catalina Island in 1924.
In a controversy so white it should be snowboarding, the peacocks are actually a major source of partisan bickering amongst the residents of the four towns that comprise “The Area Where No Really Bad Stuff Happens” Will the people of Flint, Michigan please sit the f&@k down, we’ve got peacocks ruining our hydrangeas here on the penninsula!
Apparently the birds are as destructive as they are horny and loud, so much so that the city of Rancho Palos Verdes passed an ordinance that calls for up to 150 birds per year to be shipped off to a mysterious, unknown location (read: probably the same “farm” where you’re childhood dog lives). This was in response to – I swear I’m not making this up – a string of 47 unsolved peacock murders in nearby Rolling Hills Estates. Yes, we have a serial peacock killer in our midst! Your move, Mannix.
#2 Hudson the Hawk – Much to my delight, there’s an adult red tailed hawk living in a tree just outside my office. He takes wing pretty regularly to practice his awesome hawk scream while ruling the skies like a boss and wreaking havoc on any and all unsuspecting neighborhood mice, squirrels, bunnies, peacocks, lambs, sloths, orangutans, Robinson helicopters, fruit bats and breakfast cereals (If you’re one of the 4 people who will get that reference, I salute you).
There is also an owl we hear in the evenings but have yet to see.
#1 The Goodyear Blimp – Growing up on the gritty streets of Carbondale, Illinois, I realized pretty early on that there was more to life than what I could see out my window. As a kid, the Goodyear blimp was always the symbol of the big time. On New Year’s Day I’d see it flying over the sunny Rose Bowl and think, “Man, how do I get to where the blimp is?” before going back to staring out the window at snow piled knee high to a tall giraffe.
The short answer is, you eventually move to Via Corona.
Here’s a shot of the blimp (Wingfoot Two to be exact), based in nearby Carson, California on its daily rounds, showing its precious cargo of cheerleaders and supermodels the sights of the South Bay. Flights on the blimp are by invitation only and I would kill to get one, so let me know if you know of anyone of the non-peacock persuasion who deserves a little dirt nap.
Here’s a blimp shot from some excited fanboy.
And here’s a professional shot of the blimp in action over the peninsula, no doubt in search of the elusive peacock serial killer. That’s Malaga Cove down below and Catalina Island in the deep background.
That’s it. That’s the list! Next week we’ll return to our regularly scheduled ranting about our 33rd month of renovation including progress being made on the the addition. Speaking if which, guess who showed up at 8:45 AM New Year’s morning? Not sure where they were the Wednesday, Thursday or Friday of the week before but for some reason even the builder couldn’t explain, they decided to install headers first thing 2017.