Went looking for the elusive but famous Budweiser parrots today. They’ve been thought for years to be nesting along the railroad tracks adjacent to the beer plant, refugees from Busch Gardens of yore. Didn’t see the birds but found nests of urban refugees being rousted from their perch along the 405 by the police. A woman in yellow pants staggered out of a flooded and trash-strewn gully, pushed her way through a gap in a chain-link fence as casually as if she were emerging from a beaded curtain to her kitchen and asked me for a smoke and if my name was James. She seemed unaware of the official rousting going on just above her, in the shadows of the overpass. My civic loyalties a bit divided, I helpfully told her the cops were about. She pinwheeled in a disoriented circle, then continued walking alongside me as we, suddenly a couple, were observed by the LAPD.
Well, this will be interesting. How am I going to explain this?
We walked side by side, sort of, as I contemplated a plausible alibi for my impromptu assignation here in the hidden backside of the Valley. I, conspicuous white man, was just looking for the parrots, officer.
A second man, perhaps whose name was James, emerged from a gap in another fence and she skipped ahead toward him eagerly. Without preamble, they marched with purpose away from the tracks and disappeared into the shrubwork. Her clothes looked slept in but she had a pretty decent weave going. No policemen followed them.
Busch Gardens in its heyday. Seventeen acres of lagoons and exotic birds served by monorail and boat. Lots of wildlife tours for the kids and free beer for the adults at any one of five ‘hospitality houses’, like the Michelob Terrace. Remarkably, this nearly perfectly designed childcare arrangement fell out of fashion in the 70’s and the park closed after a mere fourteen years.