Hummer in silhouette © Robert Sommers 2018

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Yesterday was one of those whirlwind days. Ken invited me to accompany him to the War photography exhibition at the Annenberg in Century City and then on to the monthly dinner and meeting of his photography group, Clickers and Flickers in Burbank.

I raced over to get a haircut in the morning so that I could meet the big city looking somewhat tapered. We drove up in my car, since Ken has had recent rotator cuff surgery. Ken was checking the traffic on his ipad and the ex pilot expertly navigated us to the 105 North. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a sign for Watts Towers and quickly pulled off the highway. I had never been to Simon Rodia's masterpiece and neither had Ken.

I actually really enjoyed driving around the visually rich neighborhood of Watts. We stopped and took a few pictures of the towers, which were locked yesterday. Looked at all the plaques of famous Watts residents and their contributions to our culture.

We got back on the road and headed for our next destination, lunch. Road soldiers must have sustenance. I suggested Nate and Al's, probably my favorite Los Angeles deli.

Ken and his wife enjoy seeing celebrities and Nate and Al's usually has its share of them, not to mention excellent whitefish. We wended our way through the heavy lunch traffic and found a parking spot.

The older black woman at the menu station grabbed the two oversized maroon folders and escorted us back to our table. I glanced around and did a double take. "I can't sit here Ken. Look." He looked at the occupants of the next table and quickly understood. After a brief conversation with the server we were located at a table on the other side of the restaurant. She looked at me in the eye and said, "I understand completely."

You see as fate would have it, we were initially positioned right next to the man who has successfully swindled my father out of our family fortune, a sum of close to twelve million dollars. I would have been eating at a table right next to him, our elbows nearly touching.

I have often dreamed of the darkest fate ever imaginable visiting this man. I had a brief and temporary vision of seeing my salad fork sproin-n-g in a reverberating motion as it penetrated his chest and plunged into his corroded heart muscle.

"Do you want to go to another restaurant?" Ken asked. "No, this is fine." The universe, with its great and twisted sense of humor, had for some strange reason posited me right next to the man I hated the most of all creatures in this world, the man who put my family in the poor house and caused my father so much agony.  

Ken had a corned beef, I had the corned beef and tongue fresser with russian dressing. I don't know if it was the presence of the villain but the lunch wasn't really up to snuff. Rye bread didn't taste as good as usual, maybe I was no longer in the mood to eat. Actually felt a little sick to my stomach.

When I got up to pay, the man followed me, stood right next to me, not recognizing me or realizing that I hated him more than I have ever hated anyone in my whole life for what he did to my family. Was tempted to say something to him but did not. I held my tongue, he left, a pathetic creature none the wiser.

The photography exhibit is titled War/Photography - Images of Armed Conflict and its aftermath. It is free, opened at the Annenberg Space for Photography on March 23 and runs through June 2, 2013. Over 170 print images of conflict from 1887 to present, it features all of the war images from your vietnam and World War II data bank, the napalm girl, the vietnam pistol execution, the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima.

There is a war photography documentary that was made for the exhibit that was most disturbing. Coupled with my tsuris from the recent murder I found that I had to leave the building once or twice for air. Too much death. Death everywhere.The exhibition is so powerful and gruesome, yet also worth seeing. Especially the film.

The most intense picture for me was the wedding picture of a girl with a marine who had been burned and now no longer had features that approximated human form as we know it. The pain in her scared eyes was so tangible, her future now cast in stone.


We drove to Burbank. Ken's shoulder was hurting so we stopped to buy some tylenol. I saw Western Bagels and decided to buy a half dozen to take home. We drove up the steep hill to the Castaways. In the interest of science and fully exploring the depth of my alcohol allergy I decided to test it with vodka and grapefruit, with decent results. Watched as the Bulls took down the Heat, breaking their streak.

Saw some slide presentations, the guest speaker was Laurent Martes, "Capturing the essence of the Southwest Landscape." Martes was a personable frenchman who has written and published a passel of books on the photography of the southwest, Oregon and California. Learned a few new techniques.

We had some very interesting folks at our table including a doctor who sculpts prosthetic faces for people, a lighting designer and a police photographer. Lots of film and industry people there as well. Got home a bit before one in the morning, totally exhausted.


Anonymous said...

shoulda killed him, coulda killed him, oh well, glad you didnt waste the energy or get the bad karma shit.

barbara and nancy said...

This post is so full of such disparate stuff I don't know where to begin. I think I'll stick to what I know best- Watts. I actually lived in Watts for awhile while working at Tops Records, also was the counselor for a girl's club here (during the Watts Riot- the first one). I love Watts Towers and Johny Otis. I had never heard that song.
Thanks for being so welcoming to our friend. She was sooo impressed and she doesn't impress easily.