How to Describe Happiness in Downtown LA
Anyone remember the little Charles Schultz book "Happiness is a Warm Puppy"? It came out in 1963 and was around through the early '70's. From then on "Happiness is..." became ubiquitous. At the height of the Vietnam War, the release of the Beatles White Album with it's infamous track "Happiness is a Warm Gun", reflected the transformation of America's youth from innocence to cynicism. The fab-four crooned the lyrics to a sweet 1950's "shoop shoop" tune, giving the hard edged 'I need a fix cause I'm goin' down' a painful punch.
Nearly Forty Years Later...(ouch that hurt to write)...I find myself still evoking the "Happiness Is..." form. My office sits at the corner of Olympic and Hope. A crash at the intersection is a weekly event. At each screeching stop, our office staff tense, and when there is no crunch, you can almost hear the collective sigh. When there is a crunch, a crowd runs to open the windows. One day we watched a hit-and-run (sad little car dragging it's bumper tried to limp away with newly bruised car giving chase). The race at a staggering 20 mph ended at the corner gas station when neither car could muster an other rev).
This particular week, there was a screech, it was a long screech, and then nothing. I typed on. Later there was another long screech and then nothing. "I've never heard so many of those before" I remarked to a co-worker. "They are shooting a movie" he replied.
Another misunderstanding so common now as to be unremarkable (okay I remarked, so sue me!) After all I live in a place where fiction and reality are one and the same. Later the same week, stopped at a red light, weary-eyed, I gazed at the glass windows of an office building. The windows were covered with bullet holes. Large, large bullet holes. As was the window above it and the window next to it. A man who appeared to be a window washer, carefully ran his squeegee over them. This time the reality break didn't phase me as I saw he was pasting ON the bullet hole decals, not washing off the remains. Another day, another movie.
Really it is remarkable that it is unremarkable, but I digress.
I also live on a very busy street. Each night there are one or two screeches outside my window. And "Happiness is a screech without a crunch" has become my credo.