my JPL hum

I read this about the TAOS HUM.  Got me recalling something from my past which is very much like these hums heard/felt thru-out the Earth.

It was Spring 1995, my first as a resident of Los Angeles, and i was eager to pit my Tucson-bred penchant for stoney hikes with the urban-nature wonderland of the Santa Monica Mountains.  It was only a month earlier that Phil had introduced me to a mine-shaft set a 1000 feet or so at the back of a mountainside cave.  It was drip-filled with Evian-clear water, and i was deeply fascinated.  Like a boy discovering anything patently dangerous, all i could think about thereafter was to return to it & play with it.

So the next moment i had free was a Friday off early.  Parking the old green Jetta at the top of Altadena @ the gates of NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory, i spindelled my way up a fireroad.  My topo’s told me this road would drop my into the canyon where Phil had shown me the cave.  i had a backpack full of rope, my scuba lights, and a fair amount of weed.

As i headed up though, my attention was repeatedly taken by the vantage of a Los Angeles basin in late afternoon.  It was the magic hour, and from that altitude, i saw the whole of downtown unfold & twinkle into west side & the coast.  Stopping repeatedly to gawk at this, it was with some prescient wisdom that i decided to cancel the remainder of the trek, which was almost certainly going to have me hiking down & into a new canyon by night, perhaps sleeping there.

So after collapsing on a ridge & finishing dinner opposite the sunset, i witnessed something down below in the sprawling JPL complex; something so profound to me at the time, that i’m not sure merely explaining it does it justice.

There were these massive round structures, 2 of them, tight next to each other, with some metal infrastructure & piping in the center between them.  Slightly rounded at their tops, they looked easily to be the size of any of the big petro tanks in Point Richmond, but only about 10-15 feet tall.  I thought they were water storage tanks.

It all started when rotating saftey lights lit up on top of and all around the structures.  The faintest sound of a human voice over multiple PA.  Then, at the center of the structures, an abnormally bright set of lights started on, then off.  On, then off.  With a slow & even rhythm, these lights were steady for 10 beats, faster for 10, quite rapid for another 10, then solid on.  This cadence of lights was the visual warning cue of an approaching event, not unlike the self-timers on our cameras.  Then the lights went out.

Then the hum.  It was a frequency far lower then anything i’d heard before or since.  It was felt far more then it was heard.  It was coming from the earth.  It was coming from deep within.  And its proximity to the rhythmic sequence of warning lights down @ JPL was undeniable.  Barely audible; one of those sounds you think you hear, but somehow only confirmed by cocking your head or shifting & freezing your body for a few moments.    

But it was there; This was happening.  It was unmistakable once i allowed myself to accept that it was a concrete & constant hum.  And within about 30 seconds, the low rumble began to fade.  Once gone & confirmed silent, i was at once struck with the realization that this was clearly an experiment being conducted by the geeks down at JPL. 

But what?

Are the hums people hear thru-out the world also the result of deep-earth experiments?

SPEW :: los angeles bike

created: Sometime mid to late 1995

Around late January of this year, I began to grow aware…again. To come aware of the fact that there is absolutley no truth to the saying that “The devil will find work for idle hands to do.” I was far from idle, mind you. But even prisinors’ are busy. Even the Govenor has some time on his hands. It’s just what you do with your free time that makes you the man that you are. Or the woman that you are.

My awareness led me to spend exactly what I had saved up from Lightworks on what I considered a completeltly, rationally, sane object. King Full Mt. Bike compliments of Gary Fisher & American Expresss. It was the top-tier of objects I’d coveted all my life.

And just when I think that this Bike will see just the boardwalk of Venice and never any single-track, I begin to notice the weather here in SoCal. Record highs and clear days drive me from venice up to Mid-City where I meet the groomsmen for a meal and a belly of tequilla compliments of El Coyote. What started as a gathering of specific clan, bled into riding further still to follow the rim of the level. I began to catch my breath as I played cue on full-size Canadian rules. I practiced my Swing-Dancing with Cricket to bootleg Frank from the George Burns Estate…no shit.

I have never been so on top of my game than ever before in my life. I realize this as I’m riding west-bound on Olympic crossing Robertson…approaching that little hill just before Century City before I get that phat decline ALL THE FUCKING WAY TO THE BOARDWALK ….14.3 miles of smiles. “You do not cry for me…I cry for you.”

I’m drunk.. I jut got home from said bike ride. I love you. I’m going to bed.

COMMUNIQUES :: geri & fred

written: Sometime late 1994

Geri and Fred,

I got your postcard earlier this week and seriously had to study the picture in order to figure out which one of my friends belongs to this Kitty! Anna and I have many friends that are as loving of the feline as are we. Anna even had her passport picture taken while holding TumbleWeed, a Persian that she used to live with! Although cropped right below the ears, you can still make out that fluffy head.

Cricket and I are hard at work trying to find a great restaurant here in LA for when you arrive. There are SO many choices, though! Do the two of you have any preferences? Also, will you be coming into Long Beach or to San Pedro? Either port, I am of the opinion that the best restaurants in which to eat with out-of-town guests are in Hollywood. Perhaps you’ve heard of the House of Blues? In any case, there is one restaurant that all of us swear by called the Atlas Bar & Grill. Here, not only are the menu and kitchen filled with the best tasting meals, but the architecture is equally grand. On some nights, the dining area is converted to a dance floor on which you’ll find couples no older that 30-35 dancing to the Swing and war-time hits their parents would have danced to.

As you may or may not have heard, I have crossed a significant point in a mans life: Anna has finished her job in AZ and has moved in with me in Venice Beach…and I couldn’t be happier. I guess we’ve always known that it was going to happen, but like anything in the post-collegiate world, it came upon us MUCH quicker than expected. We both have very good attitudes about what it is that we’re here (Los Angeles) to do, and have set goals by which we should have made it possible to reach them. The beautiful thing is, now that we live together, we are more of a team: us against this City, as opposed to two struggling to make a name for ourselves. Others have offered their advice and their warnings about what we, as new “roommates”, should do or what we should be wary of, but the two of us are best friends, first & foremost. As I have said before, I am going to really enjoy introducing her to the two of you.

Looking forward to seeing you World Travelers after your cruise. And please, if you have any suggestions for that evening here in LA, please write or call either Cricket or myself. My number here at Ian Hale’s house is 310.578.9050. It’ll be a lot of fun having you in our city!


My “all too adult” business card is enclosed…I’m quite proud…it’s my first.