This is a magical time of year in the City. The end of spring… The Golden Poppies have given their all and they made a nice opening act but now the main attraction takes the stage… Ladies and Gentleman I give you The Jacaranda Tree. Those amazing purple trees that blossom for this short window bringing true beauty to the Streets of Los Angeles. If you don’t pay attention quickly they may be gone.
The thing is it takes a lot of energy to produce brilliance in nature. So the trade off for the vibrancy of those purple leaves is that the Jacaranda Tree can only blossom for a short time… then it goes dormant to rest up for the next semi-annual bloom. It takes effort to stand out in nature and that’s also true of the human condition. This years bloom has me thinking of colorful characters whom I’ve crossed paths with over the years
It might just be me but I’ve always been more enthralled with character actors instead of leading actors. I love those quirky oddballs that give a story depth and panache by surrendering their personality for the story. DeNiro, Pacino I can take or leave their performances…. but Bruno Kirby ( Brilliant as Clemenza in Godfather pt II and as the Lt. “Good Morning Vietnam”)and Ed Harris( Amazing as John Glenn in ” The Right Stuff”) now those are actors whose body of work evokes art They create Characters. They added color to the story just like the Jacaranda trees .
If you’ve been to the Hollywood Bowl then you’ve been to this preachers church. He is the guy who stands in the tunnel with a bullhorn and shouts readings from the bible. I used to pick him up on the old 420 line at The Hollywood Freeway and Western and take him to the concerts. A small slight man with a long growth beard he often would start his work day early by preaching on my bus. I stopped him real quick and laid down the law. ” You want to go do the Lord’s work, fine but this is the bus to your work. If you keep it up I’ll pass you up and you won’t get to do your divinity” from that point on he never preached on my bus. But he’d get on and tell me how his night went last night. who listened, who cussed him, etc… etc….. but each and every year he keeps coming back just like the Jacaranda’s yearly blossom.
The tired teleporter
This guy was 300lbs and used to wear a radar dish on his head… wrapped in tin foil… he was riding my bus in Hollywood for a few days and he got on 1 last time and told me this would be his last day. He told me it would be his last day because he was well rested now and no longer needed the bus… from now on I’m able to just teleport home… You have to appreciate that effort.
The Law student
The Law student had 1 law book and she had it on top of her push cart, she was homeless and swore up and down she was going to law school. The thing was none of that mattered she was a beautiful human being who saw the lovely side of everyone she met. She always brightened up my bus just like the Jacaranda Tree brightens up our city.
The Black Israelites
Who are the Black Israelites? Well click the link and find out. These guys were angry and militant. Well come to think of it I’ve never met pleasant militants… but anyway back to the Israelites.. you want to talk sensitive you try to explain to 3 angry men, who hate white people, that their Scimitars aren’t allowed on buses…. Nice people they were not, but definitely interesting and thats the thing Beauty isn’t always neat nor polite…. The Purple bloom leaves of the Jacaranda Tree stain whatever they fall upon.
And that’s why the Jacaranda Trees stand out…. you see it’s easy in life to not try to stand out. To show our beauty… it takes effort… almost too much effort so much effort that most people don’t think it’s worth it. It would be easier for the Reverend to not be verbally abused by people entering the Hollywood bowl but he see’s God’s beauty and decided to shine his bloom by showing up and preaching. The teleporter… I’m just in awe at how he rolled, with style… he was different and accepted it. He knew everyone stared at him… just like the Jacaranda he was ok with the attention. The Law student… well it’s not her job to spread beauty around town.. but in doing so she uses her energy the best way she knows how… by being herself… and in my mind she is, was and always will be a law student. The Black Israelites… They could lay down and let life beat them up.. but they dare to stand amongst the crowds preach their beliefs and show their colours…. like them or hate them they will not be ignored..
Those purple trees I love them and my brother did too…. This time of year was my late brothers favorite time of year.. he was a lawyer and when he worked downtown I used to meet him for lunch on occasion and when the Jacaranda’s bloomed he loved to walk the streets and see them…. This is their first bloom since his passing…. Sometimes in life it pays to exert extra energy and shine….. if even just for a brief moment…..