Was last weekend it? Will it prove the last fleeting glimpse of Pacific Northwest-like conditions we shall see for some time?
Will it be Thanksgiving before I peer out the kitchen door and say: my goodness, what wet leaves we have today! Thank God it’s over. Mother nature has forgiven us at long last. Let’s put on our boots and walk Fryman in gratitude.
Question: do you think you’re allowed to drive on this street?
Apparently not, right? I mean, it’s…PRIVATE. Clearly marked by signs. In fact it’s so private, they had to tell us twice.
This means you, interloper. All you little people from the grim wastes north of Ventura Blvd can turn around right now. No trespassing, loitering or entry without permission. Don’t make us call the police.
Why would anyone proceed any further? What would compel such insubordination?
Well, there’s this. One of three trailheads into Fryman Canyon. A public access point to a public park waiting at the end of a public street, paved with tax dollars. And all the million dollar views beyond.
If you just tell people from Van Nuys they can’t drive there, they’ll never use it, right? It will be privatized, effectively, for the benefit of the hillside gentry. Like they did at Malibu, and Lake Hollywood, and Runyon.
There used to be something in America called a daily newspaper. We even had one in Los Angeles. I miss them. They were staffed by middle class people, even working class guys occasionally, with a sense of civic pride and a keen moral barometer for public offense committed by the privileged. This is exactly the sort of petty outrage they used to feast on. But that was a different country.
If you take the long Fryman Canyon hike, not directly up the hill from the Wilacre parking lot, but out to the Briarcrest Fire Trail and back around, you will reach this fork in the trail. Let say, just for variety, you wanted to go to the right, down to Valleycrest. You would follow the established signs…right? We can agree this is an official marker.
Okay down the trail we go……to Valleycrest Drive. The people’s trail, maintained with our tax dollars! Isn’t it lovely?
Wait, what could this be? It seems to be a gate of some kind. And it’s locked. There is Valleycrest and here are we, and never shall the twain meet. I’m very confused. What does the sign on the gate say? We can’t read it from this side of the fence. Hmmm. Didn’t the trail marker send us here? Why, it’s almost like somewhere along the way we turned into…trespassers. Or something. That’s some formidible fencing on either side of the gate. I don’t think we can go around. I think we are definitely being told do not go around. Guess we’ll have to go back. Back to Iredell, then to Fryman, then to the car, then up the canyon to Valleycrest.
Ah, there’s the sign. No trail access. That answers one question…but invites another. Why would the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy build a trail, and an access point and install trail markers for something which is not open to the public? Unless…it once was open to the public. Get it?
New Years Day, the resolutionists were out in abundance in Fryman Canyon. As we (a great many we) hot-footed it up a very busy trail we were joined, or I should say upstaged, by the actor Shia LaBoeuf and his five mile-long apologia to the graphic novelist Daniel Clowes, author of Ghost World, whose work he has (allegedly) plagiarized. One version of the story is LaBeouf, stung by the criticism sent his way for his work in the Transformers franchise, decided to make a short about a film critic, and in the process largely appropriated from the Clowes work Justin M. Damiano. Caught out, for the past week he has been apolo-tweeting, and now skywriting his amends. That’s one version of the story. Another is, this is all guerrilla marketing for a project on which Clowes and LaBoeuf are secretly collaborating. So up the trail we continued and we came to this:
A dog bed, laying in the woods, surrounded by stuffing from a disemboweled pillowcase. Placed with the admonition do not move, in the hopes a missing Siberian husky may be led there by familiar scents to wait for his family to collect him.
The sign has been there for days. One almost hopes this is merely a stunt assembled by the producers of a new reality show called Hollywood Pets. Doubtful. For in this world there are many versions of ‘sorry’, but there is no inauthentic sorrow.
Even the swells aren’t immune to the intoxicating lure of idiosyncratic landscape decisions.