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 christmas walk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label christmas walk. Show all posts

Thursday, December 31, 2015


One of the things about walking in my neighbourhood immediately after Christmas is that you see more walkers than usual.  I suspect part of it may be that people have relatives staying with them and don’t know what else to do with them.  Some no doubt think it’s a good for the soul to take a walk at least once a year.  Maybe the odd one has got a new puppy for Christmas and is swiftly realizing what a terrible responsibility that is.

However, my unscientific observation is that this year there were far fewer walkers than usual.  And a man who had acquired a new camera lens for Christmas pretty much had the streets to himself, which was fine but just a little surprising.

Of course Christmas decorations persist for a while after Christmas  – not sure if that Santa is breaking into that upstairs window or breaking out:

And just because a Santa is small that doesn’t mean he isn’t security conscious:

 This presiding demon stays in place whatever the season:

But the spirit of good cheer is not universal.  This sign appears on the door of the last house before you get to one of the entrances to Griffith Park, and you can understand the guy’s sentiments whatever the time of year:

And you can never quite escape the John Cage influence, nor would I want to.  Whereas he had mycological expeditions that involved walking deep into the woods, I found these beauties by the side of the road, just a few hundred yards from my own front door. 

I took a couple home, tried to identify them, couldn’t altogether, though I suspected they might be the evocatively named Funeral Bells, and even if they weren’t, and even though I’m generally all in favor of Cagean chance operations, I really didn’t want to take a chance on these.  I left them where they were.  Next day walking the same route I saw they were half eaten, though not sure by what – possibly one of the new, though unseen, puppies.

But I think the best thing seen while walking over the holidays was this electronic keyboard left out for the garbage men.  And I wonder what the story was there.  Had Santa brought a brand new one, or had the owner made a resolution, 2016 will be a year without electronic keyboards?

Sunday, December 28, 2014


On Christmas Day afternoon the Loved One and I went for a walk – nothing major – just a couple of miles or so, 45 minutes up and down and around the hills of the neighborhood.  We didn’t encounter a single moving car.  For that matter we didn’t meet many moving, or walking, people, though we did eventually cross separate paths with two couples and one family group complete with oldsters, children and dogs.  Every one was amazingly friendly.

This, I suppose, is the way it goes at Christmas.  Even people who never put one foot in front of the other for the rest of the year decide this is the time when they need to get out, with or without family, and show what they’re made of, in the name of good cheer, or possibly to work up an appetite.

It seems that President Obama feels somewhat the same.  The White House website tells us “In keeping with the President's vision to make the Obama Administration as accessible as possible, the White House is inviting the American People to sit back, relax, and follow along on his 2014 Hawaii Vacation.”  And so (whether we’re American people or not) we can sit back, relax and watch him walk.

Above for instance, “Obama and family go hiking in Hawaiian island of Oahu.” This looks like a very, very extended family.  There seem to be dozens of them (including one or two body guards I assume), and also it seems there were dozens of photographers too.  This is actually a screen cap, and on the video you can hear shutters clicking off screen like a thousand noisy insects.

No doubt there were fewer photographers (possibly just one) and far, far fewer family members, on the President’s first morning in Hawaii, when he was able to pose for this picture “President Obama enjoyed a relaxing sunrise walk on 
Kailua Beach” the White House site tells us.  Is he really going to walk and swim and read?  A busy sunrise, for sure.

I don’t know what Obama got for Christmas, perhaps it tells us somewhere on the website, but I’ll bet he didn’t get one of these, which I did:

It’s an antique plate with an image of Felix the Cat – admittedly it looks like the caption says “Felix the Gat” but I can live with that; a creature who walks alone and doesn't seem all that cheerful about it.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


I suppose there are a lot of people who “go for a walk” at Christmas who’d never dream of doing it the rest of the year.  It’s a thing you do on your holidays, it’s a thing you do with the family, or something you do to get away from certain parts of the family, a way to walk off the turkey, if not the devil’s bath.

Walking around Hollywood at Christmas has its appeal.  It’s sunny and mild of course - good walking weather - though the days are short.  And you might think that in Hollywood you’d see all kinds of excessive Christmas lights and decorations, but with a few exceptions it’s all curiously and surprisingly modest.

Yes the Capitol Records building on Vine Street (above) has a sort of tree made of lights up on its roof, but it’s not exactly Vegas, and it’s had pretty much the same look since it was first designed in 1958. True it uses 4,373 bulbs which is impressive in its way, and I like it a lot, but I like it because it suggests an old fashioned, dignified kind of celebration.  You can see more extravagant and baroque lighting rigs hanging off suburban bungalows all over America.

The fact is I always prefer to see the small-time, domestic, personal decorations, put up by people who’ve made just a little bit of effort but not too much.

I’m particularly fond of this one that’s been placed at the top of a lamppost.  Is it Santa, or is it a Cabbage Patch Doll? Or both?  You decide.

And the thing is, you walk past these decorations in the days before Christmas, and however low key they are, however downright pathetic in some cases, there’s always something optimistic and forward-looking about them, looking forward to a happy Christmas.  But after the day itself you see them with new eyes.  However happy the Christmas was, there’s something forlorn and melancholy about the decorations now.

And that applies especially to abandoned and discarded Christmas trees.  You see some of them dumped by the side of the road, all over Hollywood, sometimes just a couple of days after Christmas.  In certain ways I respect the sentiment - once the party’s over, it’s over – but really guys, there’s no need to be nihilistic about it – at least put the  tree in the recycling.

And so I’m very glad that whoever was walking in Hollywood, up by the corner of Highland and Franklin, and found this discarded tree below (still with some decorations on it for Pete’s sake) decided to plant it in the adjacent pile of rubble, so that it stood upright, so that the season of combined optimism and melancholy lasted just that little bit longer.  

On balance, and I hear your arguments against it, I think that’s probably a good thing.