Sunday, April 30, 2017

History loves company at L.A.'s newest public park

I am a fan of parks, if you define "fan" as someone who does not go out of his way to avoid them. I live fairly close to a park and so I am gifted, on warm weekends, with very loud musical stylings from cars whose occupants like to commune with nature. 

I do not like to think of myself as a curmudgeon, so I try not to think of myself. I agree with Emma Lazarus in principle; I just wish the huddled masses would yearn to breathe free a tad more quietly.

When we had little kids, the park was great; a daily venue for burning off their energy so that they could not harness it against us. That's a pro tip, by the way, from "The Art of War." (Even when two parents specifically limit themselves to two children so that they will never be outnumbered, it doesn't hurt to occasionally flip through a few pages of Sun Tzu.) 

The park was a social center, too, a place where harried parents could share war stories about exploding diapers and, later, even worse—state testing.

A few years ago an environmental study ranked San Francisco and San Diego way ahead of L.A. for parkland per capita. So it was with a spirit of blatant one-upsmanship that I jumped on the Gold Line last Sunday to visit the new Los Angeles State Historic Park downtown. This lip-shaped smooch of land just south of Dodger Stadium has grass, trees and all kinds of early-L.A. history. It's nice. Like a kiss blown to Chinatown.

As I stood on the overlook, a bridge with a view of the skyscrapers downtown, behind me I heard a horrific shriek, like a peacock on fire. It was this dad. He was shirtless and muscled, two things I never am. He had a radio in a stroller playing music, because what is the great outdoors except a setting for pop tunes? His little boys were running away on the grass below, and his avian death-howl was meant, I guess, as a "come back here." I did not ask for clarification on its origin.

You meet all types in parks is what I'm saying. We need more. Parks and types. The young trees are not big enough to throw much shade yet, but then we've got politicians and celebrities for that. 

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