Drifting and striding, in Hollywood and elsewhere, with Geoff Nicholson - author of The Lost Art of Walking, and Walking in Ruins withcholson, author of Toff Nidrifting and stomping withcholson, author of The Lost Art of Walking, considers the narrower and wider shores of obsessive pedestrianism.
Showing posts with label Batman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Batman. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


The Black Dog has been upon me lately.  Of course there are always reasons to be less than cheerful, but it’s the nature of the Dog that these things get blown up out of all proportion.  Walking has always been a reasonable way for me to keep the Dog at bay and it’s true that recently I haven’t been pounding the pavement as much as I’d like to.  The LA summer has been long and hot, and it’s not over yet – it’s going to be 100 degrees again at the weekend, so I thought I should get some walking done while I can.

Monday being a cooler day, and since I had a dentist’s appointment (no big deal this time, just a check up on last year’s root canal work) and my dentist being within walking distance, I decided to walk there and back, probably an hour in each direction, itself no big deal by serious walking standards.

The route offered the opportunity to walk by the newly-completed Emerson College building, properly referred to as a campus, and just as often referred to as a “futuristic outpost.”  It’s on a slightly bleak stretch of Sunset Boulevard, and it’s designed by local architect (starchitect in some accounts) Thom Mayne and his firm Morphosis.  It’s a fine and eye-catching building and if it doesn’t as yet look totally at home in the neighborhood it does at least seem thoroughly, excitingly LA.  And right around the corner from it work was going on to refurbish this rather wonderful building, which in many ways seems even more LA.

On the way to the dentist I happened to notice other dentists’ offices, something I suppose I wouldn't have done in other circumstances – one with this sign:

I personally wouldn’t have spelled esthetic that way, but that’s just me, and then there was this one with it’s own roadside library out front, Richard Ford, the Simpsons, a guide to the best places to kiss, a book on astrology.  Well I guess everything starts to seem very LA after a while.

And of course there are those curious little LA ironies, that you always see when you walk, some of which seem a little too obvious like this Gideon’s bible on top of a trash can:

And these goofy stick on eyes on a fire hydrant:

And finally as I was getting to the end of the return journey, as the temperature was getting above 80 degrees, I saw that classic Batman had returned to the streets in this very fine depiction, front:

And rear:

And was the Black Dog slain?  No, but he was tamed a little, and by the end of the walk he, and I, were a little too hot and sweaty to get into much of a dog fight.  Sometimes I’ll settle for that.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Hollywood being what it is, I found myself shortly before Christmas at the same party as Julie Newmar, the legendary actress who played Catwoman in the Adam West Batman TV series of the early 1960s.  That’s her above at the party.  As I’ve discovered since, having mentioned it to various people, there are some who find this the most exciting thing they’ve ever heard, others who haven’t a clue who the lady is: generation has something to do with it, but not everything.

Ms. Newmar and I exchanged a few pleasantries, and I did notice that she was a little unsteady on her feet, holding people’s arm for support, and I did hear her tell somebody that she gave up high heels about five years ago.  There’s much debate online about just how old Julie Newmar is, but nobody seems to think she’s less than 75, so to have been strutting in stilettos till the age of 70 doesn’t strike me as the worst record.  And whatever age she is, she’s still looking pretty damn good on it. 

In fact it’s not easy to find a picture of Julie Newmar walking, whether as Catwoman or as herself: photographers seem to have preferred to see her lounging around.  I don’t really blame them.  The day after the party I looked up her blog and found an entry from 2009 titled Up and At ‘Em, in which she tells us that sadly “The crunch is, I barely can walk these days,” but not to worry, she says, “I can fly … Flying is the key.  As a concept, flying beats walking any day.  In my case, it means walking intensely, as in an intensity of purpose.”

She also compares herself with Franklin D. Roosevelt (not a comparison many of us would make, I think), “Like me, Franklin Delano Roosevelt couldn’t walk, and he rose above it to run the United States of America for four terms as President.  We never heard him complain.”  Indeed.

Now, it so happens that I live within walking distance of the location used as the outside of the Batcave in the 1960s TV series, it’s in Bronson Canyon, which is itself part of Griffith Park.  In fact, the Batcave isn’t really a cave at all, it’s a short tunnel, the remains of quarrying work that used to go on in the area. The interior, of course, was elsewhere, in fact on a sound stage at Desilu Studios in Culver City. 

Nevertheless, in honor of Batman and Catwoman, and especially in honor of Julie Newmar, I decided to walk up there on Christmas Eve and found that a surprising number of people had had the same idea. Good for them.  Good for all of us.

The walk started at the corner of Foothill Drive and Canyon Drive, another of those frustrating roads posted with the message “No Access to the Hollywood Sign,” the truth being that no road actually gives access to the Hollywood sign, however we define “access.”

Along Canyon, it being Xmas, a few people had decorated their gardens, including the one above,  Christmas balls adorning a euphorbia and a century plant. Not far from here, not that long ago, one of the houses once had a full size cross outside, big enough for a real crucifixion, which I guess is another version of the Christmas story.  Eventually the walk took me into the park with its various signs warning against fires and rattlesnakes, and this particularly fine sign forbidding alcohol. 

Now admittedly that’s a very shallow glass out of which to drink booze, but those bubbles sparkling both in and out of the glass strike me as a triumph of alcohol-related design, though frankly not one likely to deter the determined boozer/walker.

Access to the “Batcave” is on foot only and there’s a locked barrier across the track leading up to it, to prevent vehicles entering, but once you get up to the cave there’s evidence that bad boys have found a way to drive up there and do doughnuts in front of the cave entrance.

Of course there are no bats in the Batcave, let alone cats, and their attendant men and women, but once you emerge on the other side there are ravens on the hills and hawks circling, and if you turn to the left and look up you do actually see the Hollywood sign, rather distantly, which is arguably the best way to see it.

I’m not sure that Batman did much more walking than Catwoman or Julie Newmar but there is this great cover from Detective Comics.  "Beware of Batman!  He’s a walking bomb."  Well, aren’t we all?