Laying Down on the Job

Laying Down on the Job
The Santa Monica Easy

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

L A Times Opinion Piece:Contempt for firefighters won't solve L.A.'s budget mess

I read an article in today's L A Times' "Opinion L.A." section: "Contempt for firefighters won't solve L.A.'s budget mess".  First, the title disturbed me.  I have a lot of respect for firefighters and for their work in the community.  I don't know any firefighters personally and I'm not even vaguely related to one and have never needed their assistance (knock on wood) but theirs is a noble calling.  Second, the article's title immediately brought to mind many of the photos and news articles I've read that provided insight into what it is to be a firefighter.  I recall that some local firefighters went to New York City after the attacks of September 11, 2001, to provide heroic service not only to a community 2500 miles away but to the nation.  I've seen photos of firefighters resuscitating the limp bodies of children and animals. I've read about firefighters who lost their lives when enveloped in a wildfire.  I just can't picture the dark boiling chasm from which some of these commenters drudge up their ideas and their venom. 

One commenter compared firefighters to bridge attendants.  Not to belittle bridge attendants (I've never been one), but I doubt their professions require them to climb 6 stories worth of stairs while wearing a 90 pound pack and hauling a fire hose.  Another commenter was angry that firefighters make huge salaries (I have no idea how much firefighters make) and aren't required to have more than a GED. I won't continue to reiterate the comments -- they don't deserve to be repeated and they break my heart. 

There may be valid criticism about firefighting procedures.  There may be organizational waste that can be trimmed but writing comments pointed at firefighters which aren't based in fact incites the uninformed and certainly doesn't help solve the budget problem.  

I've stopped by my local station on Thanksgiving Days, Christmas Days and New Years Days and there's always a crew on duty.  As a citizen observer I've been in a fire station eating dinner with a firefighting crew when the alarm sounded. The crew was on the truck, fully geared-up and on their way in 30 seconds.  That kind of reaction only happens with training, determination, focus, dedication and more training.  When they came back they took care of the truck and their gear first -- in preparation for the next call -- before sitting back down to a dinner that had to be warmed in the microwave.

Commenters, here's what I do know about firefighters:

They have to stay fit, maintain their own gear and the station house equipment, have to buy their own groceries and cook for themselves during their 2 or 3 day rotation, have to leave their families for days at a time so they can be available to save the lives. 

Firefighters often can't afford to live in the communities they protect and -- for all I know -- may not be allowed to work near their own homes just as doctors usually aren't allowed to operate on immediate members of their family. 

You won't care how much firefighters are paid when they save your home or give you oxygen out of their own mask or breathe life back into the lungs of your loved one.  

You won't care whether a fire fighter has a GED, PhD or no pedigree if one pulls you from your wrecked car, a burning building or searches for you in a collapsed building in the aftermath of a catastrophe.  And yes,  firefighters will be there for you when there's a catastrophe.  

Firefighters perform a life-or-death service to the communities in which they Serve with a capital "S". 

Firefighters often miss important family events in order to serve a community that doesn't even know their names. 

More is expected of firefighters and at a higher level of performance than most professions. They are highly trained professionals who are priceless when they are called to serve.  

Commenters, you can feel spew contempt for firefighters, you can say mean and heartless things about them and yet -- should they be called upon to do so, they will unhesitatingly save YOUR life.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Santa Monica Critters

One of the delightful graces of Santa Monica are the critters, the pets, the wildlife, the winged creatures great and small. 
Wild Critters having fun while the real critter watches for Trick-or-Treaters
Shiba Inu pup outside Von's is not ready for her close-up.
Grey Hound hard at work.
"Get-me-outta-here!" kitty.
Community splash next to the Santa Monica jail.
Nikka (left) and Turbo on "Squirrel!" watch.
BIG Hello Kitty watching the holiday cemetery.
Hello Kitty and Pez friends.
How much is the Hello Kitty in the window?
I couldn't resist asking the owner of this sweet, friendly Dachshund for permission to take her (or his) picture. It was 10pm and my iPhone blurred this sweetheart's adorable face.  
Resident Turkey
 I wonder how many residents or visitors of Santa Monica know there's an aquarium under the pier?
Moray Eel with something to say... (Santa Monica Museum)
Stingless Ray (?) (Santa Monica Aquarium)

Star Fish in a dramatic pose (Santa Monica Aquarium)

Crab critter (Santa Monica Aquarium)

Birds of Paradise critters.

Waiting while "Mom" shops.

Brown Poodle buddy.
Garden critters and...

more Garden Critters

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Santa Monica Sunday

The relatively recently opened Annenberg Community Beach House at 415 PCH, sits atop the footprint of the former Marion Davies Beach House, and is now a public center for beach activity including swimming in the restored original swimming pool for those who prefer a dip in fresh water rather than the Pacific Ocean's salty, sandy and seaweedy wash. By the way, Marion Davies' beach house is a beach house in the same manner as Windsor Castle is the British monarch's vacation getaway from Buckingham Palace.  

Marion Davies' Beach House begun in 1926.
Marion Davies' Beach House was 100+ rooms of opulence, splendor and fun.  I'm learning to be a docent for the Annenberg Community Beach House through the impressive efforts of the Santa Monica Conservancy so I'll know more about this fantastic public recreation center when I complete the training.  For now, it's just fascinating and exciting to be walking the halls where the truly splendid Marion Davies -- as well as other celebrities -- once spent time.  If you live in Santa Monica -- and you appreciate living here -- go and enjoy 415 PCH. I'm pretty sure Marion would have loved the idea this space is still place of family fun (although I wonder if she'd be saddened that the main house was demolished in 1956). 

On March 13, 2011, I walked from my abode on 11th St. to 415 PCH to take the free docent led tour of the Guest House.  There are still some homes of interest built by filmdom's founders in the early 1900's  -- before it became a film industry.  I'm still learning about some of the architects who built spectacular homes along Santa Monica's "Gold Coast" during that time (much to learn, much to retain).  I do know the amazing Julia Morgan -- architect for William Randolph Hearst's Castle -- also designed the Beach House.  

Walking along the bike path on the way to 415 PCH, there are still a few homes from the 1920 era that have not yet been lost to the destructive bent of development. I'll have to call upon my friend Steve Vaught who once walked with me along the beach path and pointed out homes built by Louis B. Mayer, Harry Warner, Samuel Goldwyn, Irving Thalberg & Norma Shearer -- but I'm embarrassed to say I've forgotten which names go to which homes.   
As I recall, the salmon-colored house in the center is a house of interest but I don't recall who makes it "interesting".

I've seen this slightly out of focus home on postcards from the early 1900's but I'll have to go through my collection of Santa Monica post cards to find out who's associated with it (or ask Steve). 

In the sitting room of the Guest House, a lovely fireplace graces the room. I'll bet there's an interesting story behind the female bodied mantel pillars and I'll bet it wasn't originally painted all white. 
Sitting room (fireplace behind me) doors face the ocean.  I find it hard to believe the furniture is representative of what was in the Guest House before the estate's sale in 1947.  The chairs, couch, tables and lamp seem to be left over from the Sea & Sand Hotel which is what the Marion Davies Beach House became after she sold it.

 Photos of one of the two restored bathrooms in the Guest House.

The whimsical, Julia Morgan designed tiles were uncovered under layers of paint and the bathrooms restored to their former glory. This is what Marion Davies' family and friends would have seen when they lived in the Guest House. Unfortunately, my camera's batteries died just as I got to the Guest House and had to resort to my iPhone instead.  The photos just don't do justice to the interior. The square masted ship is a metallic copper color, as are the sea crests and delightful sea creatures.

View from the beach-facing 2nd floor balcony. 
Okay, here's the surprise. There's free wifi here and anyone with a laptop who wants to spend the late morning, early afternoon in one of the Guest House rooms surfing the net instead of the waves, can do so by just showing up when the Guest House is open. 

The Annenberg Community Center is a gem and should be used, admired, loved and appreciated by both Santa Monica residents and the public at large.  The Guest House is a throwback to a more graceful time of architecture and a historic treasure.  Plus, it's fun to imagine Marion Davies walking into the very room in which you're standing.   

I'll take better photos next time. There's much I didn't photograph which deserves to be seen and shared.