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Sundays with Satine : A Goodbye

“And that is how the Grand Dame exits … Always leave them wanting more.”

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We lost Satine to cancer on July 14 and took a subsequent break from our Unweeded Garden. We are back in action and working on the blog but cannot move forward without a final Sundays with Satine post.

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I am reminded of her  most during quiet evenings at home as the weight and warmth of her body went hand in hand with Sunday night movies on the Lovesac. It has been hard for both David and I but we choose to remember her with happiness, laughter, and through positive actions. We take walks through her favorite park and read in the afternoon on the warm pavement in the courtyard where she spent countless hours sunbathing. We sit on the stone wall on our street at twilight and talk. She is everywhere on this small side street in West Los Angeles. She is around every corner and in every soft patch of grass. I will never be able to walk around our neighborhood without seeing her tiny body prancing a few paces in front of me, making way for the occasional jogger and raising her tiny, mighty face to meet the fading evening sunlight.

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I am a thousand winds that blow, I am the diamond glints on snow. 

I am the sunlight on ripened grain, I am the gentle autumn rain. 

When you awaken in the morning hush, I am the swift uplifting rush 
of quiets birds in circled flight

I am the stars that shine at night.

Please stand not at my grave and cry, I am not there. I did not die.

- Mary Elizabeth Frye (1932)

Rest well, Satine. We miss you.

katiendave

Image courtesy of The Source.Net

On Moving West

There was some concern in my Mom’s eyes as we sat down to enjoy a short stack at Bob Evan’s. I had announced my plans to pursue a history major on the drive into town from the Kenyon College campus. I was 19 years old and by the time I was 22 I realized too late that my Mom had every reason for concern. As graduation approached, I had no career path, no family business to step into, no corporate internship for the summer, no service work planned for Teach for America, no backpacking trip set with friends, no grad schools to apply for, and certainly had no LSAT prep courses to research. Sorry Uncle David, Esquire. I was starting to understand that concern in my Mom’s eyes. Shit.

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With absolutely no clue what I had spent the past 4 years of college preparing for or what my Mom had worked so hard to pay for, I completely and totally panicked. “I’m going to work towards getting my state teaching certification in California and teach elementary school,” I told friends and family. Guys like Kindergarten teachers, I thought and I won’t seem totally vapid to my friends and family. I wanted to give back to humanity in the way my parents had.  My dad was a school principal, language and special education teacher and my mom was a social worker and nursing home ombudsman. They both set impressive examples with their lives of service and I admired it so much, but deep down inside I did not aspire to it. I loved movies and TV more than I cared about shaping the youth of America. I would have been happy braiding Kirsten Dunst’s hair* or washing Tobey Maguire’s car* as long as I was in in Los Angeles. I could discuss Wem Wender’s Wings of Desire auf Deutsch and I had a map of WWII Germany clearly imprinted on my brain but the only real direction I had in mind at the time of my college graduation was westward.

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I grew up in the Midwest in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio. I spent 18 years on the same street with the same neighbors. I went to the same private all girls school with the same 52 girls from kindergarten through senior year. I chose to attend college an hour away and I came home frequently for lunch and a movie with my Mom. I loved home and the comfort it provided but moving to LA seemed like a challenge to distract from the fact that I had absolutely no direction in life. I spent a few weeks at home after graduation packing up my car and with the Norah Jones album Come Away with Me on constant repeat I drove across the country with my boyfriend and decided to make a life for myself in LA. And a quick travel tip…  if you find yourself driving through Grand Island, Nebraska this truck stop has a life size replica of the Predator and a great slice of blueberry pie.

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After 3 days on the road, I drove into Los Angeles on the 10 West at dusk. I had arrived and in those first weeks, everything felt like an accomplishment. I remember requesting a high five from my roommate when I drove from my apartment to the Bed Bath and Beyond on Olympic Blvd by myself.

My college boyfriend (the one that I drove cross country with) dumped me at the end of the summer and moved to Barcelona to find himself. Yes, I was upset, hurt, and permanently encased like a sausage in this one pair of green sweat pants but I wasn’t afraid to be alone and this was a first for me. The constant white noise from the nearby 10 freeway or a helicopter circling overhead made those first nights alone in LA less quiet and lonely. LA drew me outward. Free chocolate samples at See’s candies, a bucket of frozen yogurt from The Big Chill, tamales at El Chollo, some people watching on the Third Street Promenade, or a late movie at Century City, LA took me in and even though I had no ties to the city other than my rental off of Pico Blvd, I felt compelled to stay. I spent the next three months living in LA entirely by myself and it was the most isolating and exciting time in my life so far. My Mom came to visit me in the fall of that first year and got me a dog at the now defunct Pet Love at the Beverly Center. I named her Satine because I was obsessed with Moulin Rouge at the time. I got a job in retail, made some friends, started a passionate relationship with California avocados, and generally settled in to Southern California life. My best friend from Columbus even moved to LA, became a talent manager, and remains the closest member of my LA extended family to this day. My quest felt complete but I was resting on my laurels far too soon.

Image courtesy of 3-D Monster.

Image courtesy of 3-D Monster.

My Mom died suddenly in early 2005. I was at the intersection of Santa Monica Blvd and Beverly Glenn when my sister gave me the news. I think about it every time I drive through that light. It was the worst day of my life. I hastily packed a suitcase, entrusted my dog in the care of my roommate, and went home to Ohio for the last time. For the first time in my life, Columbus didn’t feel like home anymore. After the funeral, I felt drawn to return to LA. I had hollowed out a small albeit insignificant spot for myself in this city and I was proud but I regretted making that life so far from my Mom and on her dollar to boot. I wouldn’t have lasted a year here on my hourly wage from Anthropologie. She made it possible for me to stay so far away because I said it was what I wanted despite her own struggles. I wanted to make our separation for the last three years of her life have some sort of purpose or meaning. As difficult as I know it was for her to support my move thousands of miles away, I know she wouldn’t want me to give up on making a life for myself in LA. I am still working on the whole “making her proud” part.

I still enjoy driving around LA and exploring the various corners of the city. I always find something new. One of the biggest differences between Ohio and LA was all of the street art.

I still enjoy driving around LA and exploring the various corners of the city. I always find something new. One of the biggest differences between Ohio and LA was all of the street art.

After a few weeks of combing through childhood memories with my sister and starting the gut wrenching process of cleaning out the house we grew up in, I answered LA’s siren song and flew home after 2 gut wrenching weeks. My sister returned to college and eventually moved to Brooklyn Heights, NY. We live on two opposite sides of the country but the loss of our Mother has bound us closer together.

When the flight landed at LAX I had a burger at Island’s, kissed my dog, and as I turned on to Westwood Blvd I whispered “Home.”

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*insert 2002 reference

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Batman in a Marvel Universe

If ever there was a perfect mascot for the Un-Weeded Garden, it is
Netflix. I’ve genuinely lost track of how much time have I’ve spent
weeding through questionable anime, b-grade slashers and a surprising number of Korean soap operas to find those wonderful, hidden perennials. We’ve decided to chronicle our Netflixian efforts in order to hopefully save a few people some minutes in their day.
Yup. This is how we’ve decided to contribute to the greater sum of
humanity.  So…you’re welcome, I guess.

Ladies. Gentlemen. Please let me reacquaint you with Jim Rockford.

James_Garner_RockfordJim lives in his beach side trailer in Malibu (more than a decade before Lethal Weapon’s Marty Riggs woke up in his beach-side AirStream, for the record) and spends most of his time privately investigating crimes for the poor “hot ladies” of Los Angeles County. He wears suits off-the-rack, strives to make time for fishing with his pops and drives a boss golden Firebird. Magnum used his red Ferrari to showcase Honolulu. Jim Rockford shows us Los Angeles in its 70s heyday through the moon roof of his Pontiac Firebird Esprit.

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Jim is an everyman detective who drinks canned beer alone and eats tacos for breakfast. He stands in stark contrast to today’s current line-up of “mystical detectives”. One thing all mystical detectives have in common is some version of the gift. Usually the gift is some human-lie-detector schtick, coupled with a personal need to right the wrongs. I’m looking at you Patrick Jane from The Mentalist, Dr. Lightman from Lie to Me, and Mr. The Finder.

Simon Baker plays Patrick Jane in the CBS drama "The Mentalist."

Simon Baker is reading your lies as Patrick Jane in the CBS drama “The Mentalist.”

There are plenty of variations within this world of procedural crime. One of the more common incarnations is the mystical-forensic-detective.  You find these guys in all glass labs with open floor plans and night club lighting (see any of the CSI labs, Numbers, Bones, etc). This nerd-mystic uses the power of computers and science to create animated movies, often derived from the carpet fiber of a rental car’s trunk. Justice prevails, thanks to their “reconstruct-the-entire-victim-from-a-tooth-imprint” mobile app. Usually the supporting character who built this tool is a reformed black-hat hacker or ex-stripper.
Another variation (for which I have particular affinity) is the damaged-mystical-detective. Their gift stems from a lifetime of trauma and an overabundance of empathy. Their checkered past allows them to emotionally visualize the crime after the fact and backtrack to the monster who spawned it. I find myself equally entertained by this clairvoyance and exhausted by the melodrama required to sustain it. Hannibal, Dexter- I love you and you entertained the shite out of me, but I can only sit through so many slow-mo “blood shower” montages before I just have to call it a day and have a bowl of soup.

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Jim’s dad, Joseph “Rocky” Rockford: all American, retired teamster and outspoken supporter of union rights*. After escaping a Norman Rockwell painting, he is completely unprepared for the Kansas City Mobsters who apparently loiter in liquor stores and motor-bike dealerships all over LA.

Let’s compare the mystic model to Mr. Jim Rockford. Does he have an innate ability to discern lies from micro-vocal-fluctuations? Does he have a lab full of ex-strippers writing software for him? His secret weapons are a golden muscle car and a business card printing press. Yup, a printing press.

In the world of heroes, there are some pretty great “man and tool” couplings.
Thor has his divine blacksmith’s hammer, Mjolnir.
Jean Michael Vincent has his trusty militarized helicopter, Airwolf.
Jim Rockford has a cast-iron printing press for making business cards. He keeps it inked up and at the ready in the backseat. Every time he needs to interview a Senator or sneak a peek at the hotel ledger, he turns to his well oiled seventy pounds of iron and cranks out some undeniable proof that he is there to conduct an audit for the IRS. If nothing else, this series proves that identity theft in the 1970s was as uncomplicated as memorizing a new name and wearing lensless glasses.

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A standard episode will play out something like this:
Jim Rockford and father Rocky are about to join Sgt Becker, a friend on the LAPD, for a day out on his new boat, the “Seaphoam Phantasy”. After some gentle ribbing about how Becker is probably gay*, they head off towards the marina. They pop into a liquor store to pick up an healthy amount of beer on the way. Oh Mad Men fans, if you like depictions of people drinking on the job, you are in for a flat, warm treat. While at the liquor store, Rocky chats with the elderly owner who’s being pressured to sell his store to make room for a copper mine or Mafia backed housing development. At the behest of his father, Jim uses his printing press and one of two accents to go undercover. After the metamorphosis, he’ll usually spend time rifling through some files in a darkened office and then confront several corrupt executive types at a fashion show. If the plot does involve the Mafia, which is about 70% of the time, there will also be an attempted abduction in a parking lot and somebody, usually Jim, will be pistol whipped into a brief nap.

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Need more colorful supporting characters? Meet Angel, a buddy from the joint, unapologetic coward and petty conman. I love him like family.

 

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How about a lovely prostitute pal who always seems to be in trouble? Well, here’s street-smart Rita Capkovic and her street-walking heart of gold. She’s going to night school!

One episode called "Just Another Polish Wedding" was originally intended as a spinoff vehicle for Louis Gossett Jr and Isaac Hayes playing odd couple "Gabby and Gandy". This episode features  the two of them briefly taking hostages at a Nazi-themed bar in Hollywood*. The show wasn't picked up.

One episode called “Just Another Polish Wedding” was originally intended as a spinoff vehicle for Louis Gossett Jr and Isaac Hayes playing odd couple “Gabby and Gandy”. This episode features the two of them briefly taking hostages at a Nazi-themed bar in Hollywood*. The show wasn’t picked up.

One of Rockford's endearing qualities is his unabashed honesty about not wanting to get hit in the face. He's a simple joe who shoots straight about his face's desire to remain punch free. Keep in mind that he is a 6'4" behemoth in a checked suit, literally straining the seams of his clothing like the hulk in mid transition. Oddly, I think most of the damage is usually dealt out with his car. He does get shot in the head once. Goes to the hospital, coma, head bandage, the whole nine. I won't ruin it for you.

One of Rockford’s endearing qualities is his unabashed honesty about not wanting to get hit in the face. Keep in mind that he is a 6’4″ behemoth in a checked suit. Oddly, I think most of the damage is usually dealt out with his car. He does get shot in the head once. Goes to the hospital, coma, head bandage, the whole nine. I won’t ruin it for you.

Truthfully, I’ve got nothing against mystic detectives. There’s place enough for all on God’s blue tube. Judging by the numbers, I know that I’m not alone in my enjoyment of the procedural detective genre. I mean, who doesn’t love a socially retarded genius in a bespoke suit chasing villains as a private contractor for the State’s Bureau of Investigative Agents? In the case that you are looking for a procedural-crime palate cleanser however, maybe flip through the files of Jim Rockford. Thank you and good night.

*Ah, the 1970s.

katiendave

 

EXPLORING LOS ANGELES