Putting the Flu in “Confluence”   1 comment

I was awoken in the middle of the night by someone shaking me.

Or so I thought. It turned out to be violent shivering brought on by a fever. As I tried various modes of dress & undress while the fever broke & fixed itself, thoughts turned to the season — Holiday season, not flu, but actually both, I guess — & especially those movies seen a thousand times in childhood. Visions of Bing Crosby & Rosemary Clooney danced in my head, a gauzy recollection of them singing about counting one’s blessings, so I did: my family, our friends, my work, our home…. These, however, became mixed up with less happy aspects: seeing too little of our speedily growing sons, friends facing great challenges, local national global woes. And this febrile mix of the merry & not-so-merry sent me off thinking about “Happy” again (see the 7 December post) with its uplifting beat & cheery dancers shimmying across sunny L.A.

The feverish mind started in on feverish questions: Would the video be more effective if it weren’t 24 hours of happy? Say, 6 hours of not-so-happy, a few in the haze of afternoon, a bad hour after one of those meetings, a couple more in an insomniac night. What if it were shot on the North Coast instead of the West? (My wife, Good Queen Wenceslhasa, had wondered this as well.) That might temper the glee somewhat: people trying to bust a move in parkas on the thin ice of the Black River, or reservedly tapping the dashboard behind a frosty windshield, or a nondescript character simply hurrying away from the camera over an icy sidewalk, or one long lonesome black-&-white “Stranger Than Paradise” shot of Lake Erie. What if other, less happy parts of Los Angeles had a role?

Which is about when the fever left. What fascinates me about the L.A. River is its made up, messed up, mixed up nature; it is not all sunshine & smiles. SoCal glories converge with ghastliness. At some of the river’s confluences with tributaries, “Happy” merges with “Grim.” Happy is part of What Is, but not all, & at various confluences I discovered this: in exploring the river, I am mostly trying to understand What Is.

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Arroyo Seco + L.A. River

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Rio Hondo + L.A. River

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Compton Creek + L.A. River

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Posted December 19, 2013 by the meaning of rivers in Uncategorized

One response to “Putting the Flu in “Confluence”

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  1. Love this.

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