Saturday, May 29, 2010

Janis Joplin, The Bike Clinic, And The Rescue Of The Prince Of Sparrows

Last Wednesday morning, at exactly 10:15AM I sauntered (sauntered) down to the case mangers office and discovered the case managers in there feverishly at work. Their door was chocked open so I took it upon myself to walk in and make myself at home, taking a seat in the chair next to Erin's desk.
I had been invited there the day before by case manager Paul who had asked me if I wanted to go shopping with him to buy snacks for the Bike (bicycle) Clinic he was sponsoring at noon.
Paul, much like my lovely case manager, Erin, is never ready to do whenever it is they plan on doing when they say they're going to do it. Accordingly Paul was finishing up some nice strawberries he had brought for his breakfast, and then needed to leave the office for something, leaving me and Erin alone.
Erin was busy working on her computer while I sat patiently across from her. We would chat a little, back and forth, as she continued typing. She and I share this in common. We both use the two finger method of typing, utilizing our respective index fingers to input the letters and punctuation marks associated with the English language. She is a much better typer than I am, much faster at least, and I am used now to her working away on her keyboard as I try to converse with her. Every once and a while she will divert her eyes from her monitor to look at me as if she were actually listening to what I was saying. I certainly appreciate the effort on her part.
At one point she asked me if I wanted to listen to some music (she can hook up her Iphone to a music amplifying device of some sort which allows her to listen to her songs. Oh, the marvels of technology).
"No," I said.
"Well, we're going to anyway," she said. We certainly know who's the boss around here, don't we dear readers.
She put on a lovely song, sung apparently by a friend of hers, a Jessie Thomas.
"Sounds a little like Janis Joplin, doesn't she?" Erin asked.
"You really know her?"
"Yes. I just texted her telling her I was listening to her music," she said.
"Wow," I replied. "How do you know Janis Joplin?"
"Well, I don't know a lot of her songs, but I know what she sounds like..."
"Have you ever heard, Me and Bobby McGee?" I asked.
"Look it up," I invited. "You might like it."
Erin is a very adventurous girl... she's told me so. She was adventurous enough to stop her friend's song, and through the marvels of the Internet came across a site which allowed her to play the Kris Kristofferson/Fred Foster tune, sung by Janis shortly before her tragic death here in Los Angeles.
It's a lively song! It starts out rather slow and then begins jamming. I started humming along, soon so did Erin. Then I began singing, and pretty soon Erin and I were out of our seats and dancing to the beat. At this Paul returned, and being the musician extraordinaire that he is, was familiar with the rift, and joined us in spirited dance. Erin did a variation of her "The Chicken Dance," high stepping like crazy. We were hopping up and down, bopping about like crazy people.
Dance therapy.
Janis abruptly stopped singing and the three of us returned to normal, well, normal for us.
Paul was ready now, and he and I bid Erin adieu.
"I'll miss you guys," she said as we departed. Indeed, we would miss her as well.
Paul and I drove in his car west on 7th Street toward downtown, headed to the Food For Less/Home Depot complex, near Wilshire and Alvarado. There was noting unusual in this as it would take quite a bit longer to have walked.
We discussed various issues while on the way. What we were reading at the time, Paul's upcoming vacation week, the exact numerical equivalent of Pi, etc. It would be a good day for Paul. He had already decided to accept a scholarship from USC next year, and he would learn in about an hour or two the his fiance, the lovely Farida, had just been awarded a dissertation fellowship that would fund her entire last year of graduate school. This meant they would be able to move up their wedding to next summer!
Very good, and congratulations to them both.
And I better get invited to the wedding or I'm going on strike!
Anyway, we made it to Home Depot safely, picked up some of those plastic ties the police use to handcuff people when they run out of handcuffs. I guess he was expecting trouble at the Bike Clinic.
We bought some liquid soap as well, to wash off all of the prospective bike dirt.
The Food For Less store actually sits on top of the northern portion of Home Depot, and Paul and I took an elevator up to the large supermarket, where we purchased some tasty mini chocolate chip muffins, a "Bold, (ie., spicy)" variety pack of chips, some bananas, and a case of bottled water.
Then we drove back, stopping on the way at Quiznos, the famous sandwich shop, arch enemy of Subway.
Bike people were waiting for the Bike Clinic at the entrance to the Las Americas. Paul and I hurriedly set up a table in the back garden area. It was a bright sunny day, perfect for repairing bicycles of various shapes and sizes, which was the purpose of the clinic. Residents from the nearby hotels who needed a part, or an adjustment of some sort, could come to the clinic and get some work done for free, with the help of some very nice professional bike people from the Bicycle Kitchen, who Paul conned... asked to volunteer their valuable services.
I don't own a bike and have little interest in procuring one, so I had no vested interest in the clinic other than to help out Paul. I did this by hanging around as the garden area quickly became crowded with bike owners wanting their bikes repaired. I also helped out by eating chocolate chip muffins, Bold chips, and a banana. Paul was soon enthralled with bicycle repairing, oblivious of everything else. This allowed many residents to come out and get snacks who had nothing to do with the clinic, including young Erin who tried a small bag of "Flammin Hot Limon Crunchy Cheetos," before determining they were too spicy for her and handing them over to me.
She had a nice banana too.
And took some pictures using her magic Iphone.
David from the Bicycle Kitchen ( ) showed up on his bicycle towing a little cart filled with spare bike tires and other parts, and was quickly inundated with requests for help repairing bikes of many sorts. I was given the opportunity of presenting him with the veggie Quiznos sandwich Paul and I had purchased earlier as a token of our gratitude for his help. David would soon be joined by several of his peers.
The clinic was scheduled from noon until 3:00, but didn't wind down until 4:00. Paul was so exhausted by the end I had to wheel him out on a dolly to his car so he could leave for the day.
One of the residents made a wonderful video using another magic camera (I'm going to have to get one of these!) featuring the goings on of the Bike Clinic, including an interview with Paul as he was trying to duck into a restroom. You can see it right here:
But before that happened, while I was standing around waiting for bike repairing activity to settle down so we could begin the clean up process, I noticed a small movement on the ground below me.
A sparrow was sitting in the dirt about a foot from where I was standing. I didn't think much about it at first as our garden area is flush with the small, lively birds scurrying and flying about. But it soon became clear that this little bird was having some difficulties moving. It stayed in in the same spot for one thing. Sparrows are normally very energetic, fidgety birds, always moving about, and not staying in the same place for very long. I've also noticed that they tend to shy away from humans when they get too close, which I can't say I blame them as they're hunted for food in parts of the Mediterranean.
The bird reminded me of something, I couldn't remember what though.
I knelt down to check out the situation. The sparrow stayed exactly where he was which further alerted me to the possibility that it was having problems. It's little legs looked a bit bent, which may have hampered its ability to hop about. It looked wildly around, and turned around in a full circle. I reached out and actually petted the little guy on the head, which it allowed me to do. Sparrows don't do that! I was now sure he was having trouble, and scoped him up in the palm of my left hand and stood up. He sat there for a good minute, looking around. Some of the guys from the Bike Kitchen watched as I did this, and applauded as it finally leaped off of my hand and flew to a nearby tree, then to a pice of brick near the basketball hoop, where it sat precariously on the edge. It still looked like it was having difficulty holding on, but was too high for me to be of further assistance.
I kept an eye on the little fellow. After about five minutes it took off, glided in the breeze a moment before setting down on the cement closed off walkway which serves as the rear exit of the hotel, where I couldn't get to it as it is kept locked.
On the ground again, just sitting around for over ten minutes, I felt sure he would expire there, and I would find his little bird body the next day right in that spot. If I could have gotten to him I would have placed him in the garden at least where he might have a chance to get something to eat, or I might even have taken him up to my house and try to nurse him back to health, but...
But then a miracle happened.
Another little sparrow alighted nearby in the walkway close to its protege, fluttering about, checking out the situation. The injured bird continued to look about nervously. Then the new comer did something weird. It hopped right on top of its brother or sister, flapped it's wings a few times, then hopped off. The other bird looked, I don't know, either exasperated or excited, I don't know which. The second sparrow hopped on top again, and the injured bird had had enough, and both birds flew up above the roofs, and haven't been seen since.
A few of us who had been watching clapped our hands in approval of the sparrows reprieve and ultimate rescue by it's fellow bird (or it's molestation, we'll never know).
And then I remembered, the little injured sparrow who had looked decidedly familiar, could it be...
Was it indeed Prince Aka de Tagogilein of the family Passeridae, heir to the sparrow throne (see, Friend of the Sparrows)?
Possibly. We shall see.
In any case it was a happy ending for a busy day.

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