Monday, December 19, 2016

Tar Pits Essay by David Ulin

I should have known: good articles always show up in threes or more. Should have held off on yesterday's post a day, because now I have something to add to it: an opinion piece fro David L. Ulin that appeared in the December 19 LA Times: "What Lies Beneath L.A."

It's all about the thin veneer of metropolis we trust so heavily in, and the fractured, tarry landscape beneath.

The Times ran a picture of the LaBrea Tar Pits diorama in front of the Page Museum, but I prefer this picture "borrowed" from another blog that shows tar seeping up through a sidewalk on Wilshire. This may be the very seep that Ulin mentions several times in his essay. I think it's a better illustration of the tar today (mammoths are nice and all but can we really relate to one being stuck in goo?) and the reminder of what's really beneath the solid ground on which we place our trusting feet.

The picture comes from a 2015 blog post by Geoff Manaugh. Actually his BLDGBLOG post is a reprint of a post he'd written for The Daily Beast, and goes into the same topics Ulin addressed, with even more details: the 1989 methane gas explosion that took out a dress store on a strip mall, also the fault of the tar pits beneath. The temporary nature of our structures compared to the forces of nature underlying them. How we've taught ourselves to ignore all this.

Both are fine reading, especially if you need a break from Modern Life.

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