By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
By Dennis Romero
The leather-jacket guy’s rant only escalated, and he suddenly grabbed at the woman’s shoulder. Thinking of the Hollywood Division station only a few blocks away, I grabbed my cell phone and punched in 911. But before I could hit the "send" button, the woman shook off his hand, dropped her right arm way low, and then snapped back with a looping Sunday punch right in the guy’s kisser.
The single, direct hit shut his mouth, buckled his knees and sent him flat out onto the asphalt. As surprised onlookers moved in to sort out the mess and the traffic in front of me once again began to crawl, he lay sprawled, face-up to the indifferent rain.
Ever since Christmas day, the sky has been crying over Los Angeles: two solid weeks of rain that some have described as biblical. On the local news, opinion was divided on whether this rain was the fault of El Niño, global warming or the Omega Block. But what feels like El Niño is just a freakish string of Pacific storms, blown south by a drunken jet stream that is causing bizarro scenes all over Southern California. The Grapevine looked like Grenoble.
Those seeking signs that the end was nigh pointed to the line at Pink’s hot dogs, which was reduced to maybe five customers. There was even parking on the street. It felt like the 50s. It was nice.
Some things didn’t change, though, and in zero visibility and with 3 inches to 3 feet of water on the highways and byways, the citizens of Los Angeles still drove like idiots. One early morning on the 101 near Melrose, rubberneckers slowed to check out a minivan stuck so high up the embankment it looked like a giant skateboard going for coping. The woman driver was safe, talking to a cop, under an umbrella, at highway level. How fast must she have been going, in the pouring rain, to make it all the way up there? And how did the van not flip and tumble back to the roadway?
That same afternoon, the rain was relentless and the 101 was jammed. On Rossmore, just past the Ravenswood, a torrent of water ripped across the roadway. It was sketchy even in a raised Suburban, but how to feel about the two citizens, up to their knees in water, pushing their drowned Porsche out of the puddle?
And then there was the guy stuck on his car in a flooded river in Santa Fe Springs. Video of his flawed but successful rescue was shown over and over again on CNN, but no one ever asked the question: Why was he driving in a flooded river at the end of two weeks of rain?
Up until last weekend, the rains had done surprisingly little damage in Los Angeles. But on Monday, CNN Headline News gave equal time to new, truly horrifying footage of the tsunami coming up the main street of Banda Aceh, and a similar scene of a mountainslide of mud flooding the streets of idyllic La Conchita in Ventura County. At least three people were killed in La Conchita, though more than a dozen were still missing as of this writing. A house slid in the Hollywood Hills, where a passerby helped rescue the inhabitants. Dozens of drivers were stranded for hours in snow in the San Bernardino Mountains. A woman lost one of her three kids after she drove into a flooded wash near Palmdale. A man was feared dead after he tried to swim across a surging Topanga Creek near Fernwood on a dare.
But the death and destruction in Los Angeles was nothing compared to the truly biblical cataclysm caused by the tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Our clouds perhaps have silver linings. When the storm lets up for an hour or a day, it leaves behind a Los Angeles as well scrubbed and shiny as a Michael Mann night shot. A biblical deluge can scrub the sky and streets cleaner than an armored regiment of street sweepers and jailbirds. And a raging Malibu Creek left behind a perfect sandbar at First Point that is going to do beautiful things when the weather settles down and the swell comes up.
Rain, former Angels scout Ray Scarborough told The New Yorker’s Roger Angell back in 1976, is "the number-one occupational hazard of this profession." Angell’s story about the toil of the most anonymous men in baseball later became the source material for the Albert Brooks movie The Scout.
Nearly 30 years after Scarborough let The New Yorker into his world, the Angels have gone through two name changes, Angell has pretty much retired from baseball writing, and scouts have been displaced by computer geeks obsessed with arcane statistics. So it’s fitting that it’s raining outside the Beverly Hilton this Saturday night, because as 1,000 people fill a chandeliered ballroom at the hotel for the second annual Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation dinner, scouting itself has become a hazardous occupation — one with little security and a lot of risk.