#457 Belvedere Park, East LA

I felt so excited about riding the bus out to East LA to maybe play tennis.

I tried to capture this excitement on video, but failed — even though I did take plenty of pictures out the bus window. Let’s just say, back-lighting is real. Also, water-spots on the bus window render everything, I wouldn’t say pointillist — pointillist would be great! — but alas more like pointless, because no matter how thrilled I felt in the moment about:

the recycling center!

the power station!!

the graveyard!!!

on video it all looks smudgy and “you had to be there”-esque.

Fortunately, I was there, so let’s see if I can convey the thrill.

Part of it is the freedom — as of November 29, 2022, I can go wherever and do whatever I want. Hubris maybe, but also fact. I feel the thrill of this privilege and also a responsibility for making the most of it while I can.

So yeah, what about that recycling center? Well, it’s so poignant to see the folks lined up out there, lugging those black plastic garbage bags full of scavenged bottles and cans on the handlebars of their bicycles. What a hard way to go. Talk about heart-tugging.

And the power station? Man, it’s enormous. How enormous? I dunno, let me look that up for you…

Well, after an hour or so of poking around the internet, my first pass guess is that it receives about 830 megawatts, which is about a tenth of LA’s daily energy consumption. What that means in terms of how this power is generated and how it’s being used and what all that means for humanity and the planet and the future — something else to ponder on the bus, and maybe to investigate further at the downtown library on one of these upcoming rainy days.

Which brings us to the graveyard! We all know life is a temporary gig, and much as I like to think of me and my wife’s carbon atoms holding electrons together as we drift eternally through the universe, I also want to capitalize on the vitality I feel in the here and now.

Well… now you have a pretty good sense of what I’m thinking in the back of the bus there, taking backlit, water-stained videos of the passing cityscape.

Belvedere Park has a great-looking baseball field with a roomy backstop so if the ball gets past the catcher, the runners can scamper. Outside of the community center, a muralist was painting a Christmas celebration featuring Dia de los Muertos skeletons — good to see those guys partying on.

I had put a last-minute event up on Facebook saying hey, come and play with me. Not surprisingly, no one showed. This did not crush my spirit as I am a lifelong player-by-myself. I made up a game called “X Marks the Spot” involving laying down an X with blue masking tape deep in the court and then seeing if I could swat the ball to land there from the other side. I felt proud to be carrying blue masking tape with me to be prepared for this situation.

Here is a short video to commemorate the occasion:

Afterwards, I took a long walk along Cesar Chavez Boulevard on a rare-for-Los Angeles day of big looming clouds. I was a street-scene photographer in between checking the score of the US-Iran World Cup match. This was a premium good time and I want to finish up here by saying thank you for the good fortune that let me stroll along feeling unfettered and alive and also for the fantastic carne asada burrito at La Princesita Tortilleria y Carniceria.

Published by MarkGozonsky

Mark Gozonsky is the author of The Gift is to the Giver: Chronicles of a 21st Century Decade (Keppie Usage, 2022). His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Sun, and Lit Hub. Mark’s essay, “Gritty All Day Long,” is anthologized by Norton and featured in Best American Sports Writing. He has been writing since his emergence as a gigantic music nerd in early-1970’s San Antonio, Texas. Stints as a regular commentator on public radio’s Marketplace and Internet 1.0 exec preceded a 20-year run as a public school teacher. Marko’s favorite writing topics include unorthodox pedagogy, well-intended gardening, and the intersection of baseball and urban bicycling. He lives with his wife in Los Angeles, where he is working on a new book about his quest to play tennis on every free public court in LA.

2 thoughts on “#457 Belvedere Park, East LA

  1. I see a “Mural” theme emerging. I applaud such investigations.
    Let’s discuss Chicago Murals over Fish Tacos.
    Always good to see the Dia de los Muertos skeletons partying on.
    Enhanced appreciation of your words via video and photos.
    “X Marks the Spot”…whoda thunk it?

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