Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wine Wine Wine

Rapid Bus 704 - Santa Monica / Lincoln

Like any decent LA happy hour spot, Bodega is a subtle presence.

Announcing itself with naught but a little sign, Bodega Winebar looks quite red from the outside (in fact, the red windows are its most distinctive feature), but is easy to pass by if you don't know it's there.

Inside, red is still the prevailing color, and their red wines seem to be their star players. At happy hour you can sample some fun wines (the Petit Syrah was the group favorite tonight), and nice appetizers to share with friends in a very low-key environment.

If you're looking for a place to sit - the back tables have brighter lighting and seem a bit more private (as in, you'll have trouble finding your friends if they're sitting there). The raised window seats are very fun, but you might get a bit warm if you're sitting there before sunset. In the center of it all are long tables with stools where you can socialize with larger groups or make new friends. All in all, it is a nice mix of seen or not-seen, mingle or alone.

Since Bodega is located around the corner from Lincoln, just a quick block from Santa Monica Blvd, it is easy to grab a bus and head home when you're done, and it saves you a buck or two on valet parking.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day Goodness

Metro Rapid Bus 720 - Wilshire / Western

Today I survived jury duty and made my way up to the Wilshire Center's Earth Day Celebration.

There were lines of booths with information on planting trees, meditation, and organic everything. People walking and people making friends while riding by (Guys - take note: Flagging down a girl walking by while alongside her on a bike is far more successful than whistling and cat-calling while driving by in a car, just based on what I saw today).

Perhaps the best part was the main stage area, where you could sit on the grass and marvel at how different the area looked with so many people gathered and relaxing. It was a lot different than watching people get upset while stuck in traffic.

A few solar panels on one side of Wilshire supplied the electricity for everything except the main stage. Which included the two side stages, as well as a movie/presentation tent.

There were lots of petitions to sign, causes to join, and people to listen to. Just as the range of causes varied from chanting meditations to collecting signatures for biofuel, the range of enthusiasm ran from bored to passionate.

And I must admit, I found something to be passionate about.

The ability to travel from Los Angeles to Sacramento or San Francisco in less than three hours. Without leaving the ground.

The proposed high speed rail system for California may one day receive its funding. It wouldn't be a complete solution to traffic or pollution, but it would be an appealing alternative to driving. (The big downfall here is that they're talking about running rail through the central valley without talking about freight rail - anyone who has driven I-5 through California knows that the great bulk of the traffic comes from truckers.)

Safer, faster, and greener than driving or flying, a high speed train would also be a huge benefit to tourism, and to economies in the central valley.

It would also be the first step toward a larger focus on rail travel throughout the state and the nation. And I'm all for that.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Jury Duty

It isn't that I don't like doing my squirrel duty. It's just that they make it awfully difficult.

You see, at first they tried to send me to the airport courthouse. And it was the first time in a long while that I really felt my lack of car. See, a driving commute from my house to that courthouse would have been about twenty minutes (OK, forty in rush hour). But, because our bus system is divided, I would have had to travel nearly two hours in a very roundabout way to get there. And that doesn't include the risk of missing a transfer or otherwise ending up (very) late to serve.

It seems that court assignments for Jury Duty in LA are done in a random(ish) manner. So instead of a courthouse which is convenient to you, most jurors are called to serve at courthouses which are within a twenty mile radius.1 For those of you who don't realize it, there is a reason that distance in LA is measured in driving minutes, not miles. Twenty miles can be a very long drive.

From a legal standpoint, I suppose I can reason this to a certain extent. After all, you want to avoid a jury of your peers who actually know you. But in Los Angeles, where neighbors rarely know each other, and most people spend more time working in districts or cities which are quite some distance from their homes, it does seem a bit puzzling.

So I filed a request for relocation due to an inability to reasonably reach the appointed courthouse on time. This went back and forth for a little while, with apparently varying opinions over whether or not my lack of automobile constituted a true hardship and justified a change of venue. Finally, after much confusion, and a near-warrant situation, a friendly jury selection employee helped to get my jury duty rescheduled much closer to home.2 To a trailer, in fact. But I can walk there!

Although this means that I will have to spend earth day in a courthouse. And that has me a little sad.

So, if you have a chance, go out and plant a tree for me, will you?

1 Q: Why can’t I be summoned to a courthouse closer to my home?
A: Summoning you to the court location closest to your home is not possible for several reasons. First, you are not summoned based on your place of residence, city, or zip code. All jurors are summoned by a computerized process. The assignment is made taking into consideration the location of the juror and the location of the court which need jurors at the time the juror is summoned. Jurors are summoned from a 20-mile radius of a given court.

2 Fellow walkers, a tip: if you do not have an excuse (such as care for a small child or sick person) other than your lack of car, skip trying to write back for rescheduling and go straight to the phones. They'll help you with what language to use, and the difference between an inconvenience and a hardship, for problem-free rescheduling.

Walking in the way of cars

Red Line - Western Ave

Tomorrow, from 10 am - 5pm, Wilshire Blvd will be closed.

Okay, so it's only the small section of Wilshire (0.3 miles) that calls itself the "Wilshire Center". But it is in honor of Earth Day, one of LA's few officially declared car free days (not to be confused with world car free day on September 22nd).

So ditch the car. Ditch work. And come find me in the crowd*.

There's a bike raffle, live music, free reusable grocery bags, and the whole event kicks off the start of the Wilshire Cool District Program created by the Wilshire Center Business Improvement Corporation. The Wilshire Cool District is a commitment to reduce the area's carbon footprint by 2% a year for 40 years.

* I may or may not be there, depending on how quickly I get out of Jury Duty. More on that later.

Friday, April 18, 2008

HOWS Market: The new Hughes Market

Metro Red Line – North Hollywood Station

If you lived in LA from the sixties to the nineties, you probably shopped at a Hughes.

Hughes was somewhere between Trader Joes, a Whole Foods, and Ralphs. Before Trader Joe’s sold fresh (not frozen or preserved) produce, and before Whole Foods and Farmer’s Markets were in every neighborhood, Hughes was where you went for variety and fresh vegetables (I hear their meat was pretty good too). All of that, and I think one of the things I remember best about Hughes was that, unlike most other stores, they had a large clock which you could see from almost anywhere in the store. It was very convenient.

The chain was sold in 1997, and disappeared not too long after that.

And now they’re back.

HOWS market in North Hollywood is across the street from the last stop on the Red Line (or Orange Line, if you're coming from the valley), comfortably surrounded by coffee, ice cream, and food.

The trick is knowing how to enter. After exiting the subway, walk Southeast on Lankershim (just go forward). Cross the street, walking toward the white window-wall, which looks like a mis-placed leftover from the Beetlejuice set, and take a left. You’ll pass a few stores, and head right into HOWS.

Once inside, it almost looks like any other supermarket. Except the ambiance is a little bit calmer. The lights don’t seem so harsh. You can sit and eat on the patio outside, or inside in a small deli/dining area. Or visit the wine bar, located inside the separate alcohol corner.

Prices are the same or cheaper than the nearby Ralphs, and if you’re traveling on the train, or just a bit farther than the average local, they’ll give you special bags to take home your frozen foods, or you can buy reusable hot/cold insulated bags.

I’m just happy to have my childhood Hughes market back.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The City of Trees

Sacramento, CA

If you ever want to feel the difference trees can make on a hot day, visit Sacramento.

In the summer, temperatures break the triple digits. Even now, in April, the temperature hovered around ninety in the sun. But it was a perfect day in the shade.

Sacramento sits at the end of the great bowl that is California’s Central Valley. This means that all of the pollution, pollen, particulates, and other P-words from Sacramento stick in the air, and are fed by San Francisco from one direction, and the Central Valley farms from the other.

It wouldn’t seem like the best place to go for a walk to get a breath of fresh air.

Except for the trees. Downtown Sacramento is an Urban Forest. Most blocks have trees planted every five yards; trees which are anywhere from five to a hundred years old. In fact, Sacramento claims to have more trees per capita than any other city in the world.

You can feel the temperature difference – ten to twenty degrees – from a block without many trees (they're rare, but do exist around construction areas) to blocks with fully grown trees. The tree canopy helps to make Sacramento a walkable city. It also assists in keeping the city from existing under water, as part of Sacramento's flood management program.

The Sacramento Tree Foundation is now looking to expand this tree canopy, with a goal to plant five million trees over the next 40 years. Their three-part, staged plan will include working with twenty-six jurisdictions around Sacramento. The goal is to plant trees in urban areas while educating businesses and residents in the planting, care, and appreciation of trees, to help ensure the long life of the urban forest.

I can’t argue with that, but it does make the Million Trees LA initiative seem a bit lacking.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Walking Merced

Merced, CA

Most people visit Merced on their way to Yosemite. It’s a place to stop and grab a bus to Yosemite Valley on YARTS (highly recommended), or to fill up on gas and snacks for people just driving through.

But you can also walk through Merced to see a small town with a lot of history. Most of the towns in this area are filled with great little places to stumble upon, since most of them were built during the gold rush era.

Merced even provides you with a helpful walking map of famous and historical buildings, which you can pick up in the California Visitor Center located next to the old Santa Fe rail station.

Highlights included:
- The old Courthouse, built in 1875 (it’s the one with Lady Liberty on top).

- The 1888 cottage built by William McElroy which was also home at one point to “Rusty” Doane, "a reputed underworld boss of Merced's earlier shady days" (it's the picture of house with the flag out front).

- The Greenbrier House, which is not only beautiful, but has served the city well; first as a sanitarium then as a boarding house for bachelors. You can even still tie up your horses out front on one of the handy hitching posts. While it's Merced's pride and joy, there is some doubt about when Greenbrier was built, since the early records refer to properties more than they refer to structures atop them (it's the picture with the green house to the left).

Most recently Merced has become home to one of the newer UC campuses, UC Merced (opened in 2005 alongside Lake Yosemite, it is also one of the prettier UC locations).

If you want to get around Merced (or visit neighboring cities) and you get tired of walking, you can grab The Bus from 7am – 6pm at any corner along any of its routes. Just wave down the driver, and hop on.

Friday, April 11, 2008

These Boots Were Made for Walkin’ (Country Remix)

Clovis, NM

There’s no substitute for a good pair of boots. And if you’re looking for Cowboy, the southwest is the place to be.

In Clovis, I found 16,000 pairs at Joe’s Boot Shop.

You can pick your color and style (Blue Alligator!). Snakeskin, Ostrich, leather, it’s all here. Row by row you can find any type of cowboy boot you can imagine, and even some that are beyond what you'd think anyone would dream up.

In the back of the store, you can buy tack or learn to rope. If you’re there on the right day, you can participate in special contests, from calf roping to the Clovis first chuck wagon cook-off.

They also have 12,000 belts, 10,000 hats, 5,000 candles, and a trailer parked out front.

It happened to be a bit breezy that day (60 mph winds), which meant blue skies and clouds of dust. If you’d rather not walk against the wind, you can always call in and request delivery (the online store is a bit lacking).

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Oo-oo I look just like Buddy Holly

Clovis, NM

The home of the Clovis Man, the Clovis culture, and the Clovis sound: Clovis, NM is a little big town with people who enjoy naming things after their city.

If you go a few miles west, you’ll be in Texas. A few miles south, and you’ll reach Roswell. In between are miles and miles of desert.

While you might not be able to travel through space, you can certainly take a trip through time in Clovis. At Blackwater Draw you can view the famous (and recently controversial) evidence of what is generally accepted as the earliest culture in North America. If you aren’t ready to travel that far back, take a look at the 7th street studios, where Buddy Holly recorded “Peggy Sue” to take a trip through Rock ‘n Roll history.

If you’re traveling, you might want to take the bus. The Clovis Area Transit System (CATS) where you can pay 50¢ to have a bus pick you up and drop you off (curb to curb). Kids can even buy a $25 summer pass to travel to and from any location while school is out.

That’s right, the stops are where you make them. Their new transit home will eventually become the center of a standard fixed route service. But for now, it is quite convenient to be shuttled door to door when you need it.

Just make sure you make your reservations at least a day in advance.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Texas Beef and Town Squares

Canyon, TX - Hereford, TX

Sometimes I travel to distant, exotic locations (small towns in the middle of nowhere).

Along the way, I get to have little driving adventures. Outrunning tornadoes in the Texas panhandle, for instance.

And I get to see a lot of the United States – big or small.

On my way through Texas I missed a turn, and found myself in Canyon, TX.

Among stories about cattle ranchers, Canyon was also home of Georgia O' Keefe from 1916-1918 while she was teaching at what is West Texas State Normal College (now known as West Texas A&M university).

Honestly, I was a bit puzzled by the name. There were any canyons visible from downtown (Palo Duro Canyon, the grand canyon of Texas, is to the Northwest).

But there was the town square.

In fact, Canyon is part of Texas’ Main Street City program, and was revitalized in 2002.

The time and the weather (see previous note about tornadoes, which also explains the quality of these pictures) meant there weren’t many people walking around Canyon’s main street while I was there, but the town square had its own little walk through time.

The Rock’n’Roll Soda Shoppe had I ♥ Lucy lunchboxes inside, a soda fountain, and pink flamingos out front.

It was hard to resist.

More classic stores lined the main street block, with the architecture ranging from turn of the century to 50’s chic.

Although I’m not sure that I believe that the cleaners is as modern as they want you to believe.

Also, I saw Hereford, TX in Deaf Smith County. Beef capital of the world.

This too was flat.

But there were many statues of cows. Like this one.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Time for another Good Idea, Bad Idea.

Good Idea: Reading a book on your way to work.

Bad Idea: Reading a book while driving to work.

Taking a book to read is perfect (if not essential) for the bus or train or even walking. But it can be tiresome to carry them around. Especially when you're a little squirrel.

Enter the e-book. A few years before the dot-com bust, e-books were supposed to put librarians and bookstores out of business. They were going to kill the paperback, the printed page. It turns out that electronic letters just don't do it for many readers.

For the most part, I'm one of them. It is still one of my favorite things to find a corner in a bookstore or library and sit down to read a new book.

But... I have to carry this little big phone with me at all times for work (you never know when you will encounter a nut emergency), and I like to travel light. So I gave the eBooks a try.

And I really like them. In fact, I have become addicted to (or, on your smart phone, Little files with free Project Guttenberg, Creative Commons, and Public Domain books. No charge, no dead trees, as many books as you can read (up to 20,208) in handy formats to match your electronic gizmo of choice.

Things that are great about ebooks:
  • You can read in the dark (backlighting, people)
  • Fit in your pocket (or laptop, if you prefer)
  • Tiny pages (finish a 4,000+ page book in a week)
  • You look busy or important staring at your cellphone
  • Finally read all of those classics you should have read in High School
  • You don't inadvertently make eye contact with a crazy person on the bus
  • Try out books you might never buy otherwise
  • No trees were harmed in the making of these ebooks
  • Did I mention they're free?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Rust and Lace

Big Blue Bus, Line 5 – 26th Street

Gallery hopping can be draining. Especially gallery hopping at Bergamot Station.

Once the final stop for the red line trolley (started in 1875 by the Pacific Electric Rail system), which ran from Los Angeles to the Santa Monica Pier, Bergamot Station is now an eight acre art gallery complex.

Although it appears the public transportation link will be reborn with an Expo Line station at or around Olympic and Cloverfield, the most striking feature of Bergamot Station is the parking lot. People walk around the complex, or to their cars, but they don’t walk here (yes, I realize I mentioned this earlier).

One by one, the thirty-odd galleries become a blur of large-scale abstracts and watercolor sketches; black and white photography and ceramic lavaflows.

But at the end of the line, one gallery stands out. The (now formerly known as) Patricia Faure Gallery is currently host to the eye-catching work of artist Cal Lane.

Steel lace. Delicate strength. Refined, rusted car parts are arranged in one room: a filigree car bombing. The crumpled remains appear frozen in time, reworked as fragile veils.

Further into the exhibit hang silent, nudging cartographies etched into oil drums. The etched maps recall the age of discoveries, medieval wars, ancient explorations. And always, the border of the oil drum itself, the spigot poised just over the North Pole.

Lane uses the pieces we throw away, carves them with plasma torches, and delivers them reborn as reminders of the consequences of what we use today.

Finally is the piece that can’t be bought or held. A delicate lace of dirt fills the final room.

The roped-off display feels almost sacred. The one creation more ephemeral than lace.

Go. Visit. Try to ignore the irony radiating from all of the Jaguars in the parking lot.

It is worth the trip.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Arbor Ardor

Big Blue Bus, Line 5 – 26th Street

Some people drive cars. Some people plant trees. Some people make art.

This car, formerly known as a Mercedes, is now decorating the entrance to the Santa Monica Museum of Art at Bergamot Station. It is one of four “Junker Garden” cars created by Farmlab, the thinktank/performance venue/art group which evolved out of the Not a Cornfield project.

The this junker garden was the center of today's Cause for Creativity: Arbor Ardor event.

Inspired by the 2006 eviction of the South Central Farmers from their community garden, the Junker Gardens evolved as a way to bring the garden back to the city. Farmlab realized that constructing mobile or container gardens would cost a fraction of the $16.3 million demanded (and, subsequently, refused) by Ralph Horowitz to repurchase the 14 acres in South Central that once constituted one of the nation’s largest urban gardens.

With a car, some space, some soil, and a few days, Farmlab explained how to build your own self-contained car garden. Although you can’t exactly drive it, it can still be towed, pushed, or dragged from place to place.

Volunteers from TreePeople were on hand, showing kids and parents the essentials of tree planting, but, unfortunately, not planting any actual trees.

Together they created art trees with colored scraps, potted two-by-fours, and staple guns. The colorful garden grew throughout the afternoon with the help of children's hands.

The objective was to expose the groups of children to art, the process of creation, and the idea of growth. The hope was to inspire the kids to look at nature, see what can be created, and plant the seeds of art and arbor ardor (too much alliteration?) in them.

While fun, I still prefer actual trees. It would have been exciting to gut, decorate and plant old toy cars with real plants that the kids could take home.

As a young squirrel, I once visited TreePeople and planted little pine tree seedlings in old milk cartons. That day I learned that even little me could create and be responsible for something living. Something that could very well out-live me.

TreePeople is still doing plantings like this at their Coldwater Canyon nursery. One day I will try to venture up the canyon to join them again (it’s a long walk).

At the end of the day, the City of Santa Monica Environmental Programs Division spread the word about the green living and business workshops they offer, and offered printed copies of the City of Santa Monica Environmental Directory for all attendees.

It was a sunny, colorful day filled with art and laughter and thoughts. Although I was the only one leaving Bergamot Station without a car.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Frank 'N Hank's

Metro Bus 207 - Western Ave/5th Street

Tucked away behind the classic Cocktails sign on Western Blvd. is a little dive bar where the drinks are cold, the people are friendly, and the lights are dark. Local watering holes should all be like this.

Cheap beer and drinks?

Kitschy drink glasses?

Christmas lights?

Red vinyl?

Regulars playing pool in the back?

Flashy dart board in the middle of the action?

Jukebox with everything from Jimmy Buffet, to Abba1, to No Doubt?

Bus stops nearby2 so that you don't have to worry about parking or a DUI?
Check and check.

A big screen TV in the corner plays sports when there is a game on and Jeopardy when there is nothing else to watch. Frank 'n Hank's bartender, Snow, will remember your favorite drink (and pour it strong), help you find something to eat (no bar food here, not even peanuts), warn you about parking in the lot next door (not a problem when you take the bus), and walk out for a cigarette break with the rest of the regulars.

There isn’t a theme to the bar or the customers. Come in your work clothes or wearing jeans and a t-shirt. You can walk in with twenty bucks and walk out a few drinks and a few hours happier. There aren't many places in LA where you can do that.

1If you select Dancing Queen, prepare to be teased mercilessly by the regulars.

2Local busses stop right at the corner, or walk a few blocks south to Wilshire/Western for the subway or the rapid 720

Thursday, April 03, 2008

"The last of America's great rail stations"

Metro Red Line – Union Station

If you are going to travel through downtown Los Angeles without a car, you will inevitably end up at Union Station. The MTA Red/Purple Line and Gold Line converge here, sandwiched between Amtrak and Amtrak’s Metrolink trains, and topped with a connection to almost every major bus line in the Los Angeles area.

It is all covered by a beautiful, Dutch Colonial Revival Style/Streamline Moderne/Mission Revival style station (translation: Danish Steampunk Pueblo), also known as the last of America's great rail stations. The building screams Welcome to LA from the bottom of its terra cotta tile to the tips of its towering palm trees.

Built in 1939, Union Station has seen its way through the heyday of the Santa Fe Railroad, and managed to survive the advent of the freeways, when many Los Angeles rail lines and public transportation resources were paved over to make way for the automobile. But when the Red Line came, passengers began to outnumber pigeons once again.

As a traveler, there are two very good things to know when you arrive:
  1. When you come, give yourself some extra time. While smaller than its fellow Union Stations, Los Angeles Union Station is still quite daunting, with lots to see, inside and out.

  2. The trains here really do leave on time. To help you remember this, the entrance provides your choice of timepiece: Sundial or Clocktower.

When waiting for your ride, you can take shelter in the large waiting room, or walk outside to one of the two enclosed garden patios. The building is beautiful, but the atmosphere is often subdued once you leave the platforms. Venture outside and across the street, and you can even enjoy Olvera Street’s shopping, history and culture.

At Union Station you can ride:

Metrolink, Pacific Surfliner, Coast Starlight, Southwest Chief, Sunset Limited, Texas Eagle…and connections to other lines (via bus) on Amtrak’s Thruway Motorcoach Service

91 Line, Orange County Line, Riverside Line, San Bernardino Line, Antelope Valley Line, Ventura County Line

Red Line (subway), Purple Line (subway), Gold Line (light rail)

Gateway Transit Center (Patsaouras Transit Plaza)
FlyAway Bus (direct route to LAX!), Metro Local: 33, 333, Metro Express: 439, 442, 444, 445, 446, 447, Metro Rapid: 704, 728, 740, 745, 940, Antelope Valley Transit Authority: 785, City of Santa Clarita Transit: 794, LADOT DASH: D (Weekdays Only), Bunker Hill Shuttle, LADOT Commuter Express: 430, 534, Orange County Transportation Authority: 701, Santa Monica Big Blue Bus: 10, Torrance Transit: 1, 2, Metro Local: 40, 42, 68, 70, 71, 78, 79, 92, 94, 378, Metro Rapid: 704, 728, 770, 794, LADOT DASH: Lincoln Heights / Chinatown, LADOT DASH: B (Weekdays Only), DD (Weekends Only)

El Monte Busway
Foothill Transit: 481, 493, 497, 498, 499, 699, Silver Streak, Metro Express: 484, 485, 487, 489, 490

It is a bit complicated. There are many reasons for these separate transportation resources, but the biggest and best reason is: Los Angeles is large and, largely, flat. Different counties, cities, and jurisdictions often have different bus lines and transportation interests. The land of freeways is fragmented, even when it comes to our public transportation.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Nat’l Park

Metro Rapid 704 – Bundy Drive

So, you ask me, how does it feel to be a national hero, to have your home transformed into a National Park and people worshipping the sidewalks you walk down?

Good, I say. It feels pretty darn good.

That’s right. My home, or at least the adjacent traffic triangle, has been declared an official Islands of LA Nat’l Park.

But, you might ask, what is an Islands of LA Nat’l Park?

Well, according to the art project, Islands of LA, little traffic islands have been declared National Parks as "a symbol of the treasure of everyday urbanism in our unique democracy". Their artistic antics are designed to, like most urban art, provide the inspiration for discussion and an examination of how we use the materials – or, in this case, public spaces – and encourage interaction. The Islands of LA designation was announced with the placement of commemorative signs, such as the one gracing my park, at 200 different traffic islands across LA.

Alongside their Islands of LA project, they have also participated in Newtown’s Hugely Tiny Festival with a little traffic island float, placed signs encouraging art and passed out mini-postcards of Traffic Island.

The oddities surrounding my little park (fenced in to keep out you pesky humans!) have been the subject of other public art stunts in the past, including Heavy Trash’s Stair to Park project.

I’m just glad to finally get the recognition I so clearly deserve.

Next stop, commemorative coins.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Breaking News

We interrupt this post to bring you a special bulletin, direct from the offices of the Weekly World News:


LOS ANGELES, CA – In a stunning discovery, scientists have landed upon a beguiling squirrel with the power to make drastic leaps into the future once injured, amazingly speeding his recovery and resulting in virtually no experiential healing time!

“Don’t let his cute-but-inquisitive look fool you,” states Dr. Ken Kesey, from the Further Institute for Advancement. “This squirrel has an incredible grasp on how to manipulate time and matter in ways which have the Large Hadron Collider scientists seething with jealousy. But these leaps in time and space appear to have saved the little guy’s life.”

In late 2006, Bawdy the Squirrel (pictured above) took a life-threatening plunge from atop a precarious perch. The fall broke his back, legs, tail, and even one arm, although his favorite nut fortunately remained intact. During the painstaking hours of surgery required to reconstruct his body, and months of recovery, there was no sign of life from the Squirrel.

No sign, that is, until August 2007, when he briefly reappeared in what appears to be a dubbed Japanese movie about Tofu. After such an exertion he collapsed, and was once more unresponsive to attempts to revive him by trained EMTs.

“We thought we had lost the little guy until just this morning. Then he appeared before us, good as new, ready to take our pictures and get back to pounding the pavement,” his nurse Joey Skaggs said, trying to contain his emotion. “I’m - I'm just glad he’s back.”

In fact, Bawdy the Squirrel’s ability to heal himself through the manipulation of time has inspired remarkable scientific breakthroughs in the field of quantum time. The first practical results of these breakthroughs were seen today in the new Gmail Custom Time™ feature of Google’s popular Gmail service, and the algorithms used in place of traditional chronology in the new Google Weblogs.

Bawdy’s skills even managed to manipulate the fabric of time enough to replace his old, bulky camera with a brand-new refurbished Kodak EasyShare V1003, which will allow for even more strange and exciting pictures from the streets and bus stops of Los Angeles.