Just When You Think You’ve See It All…

It was a sunny but brisk Sunday in December of 2014, and my wife and I decided to challenge ourselves with a bicycle ride from our home in downtown Los Angeles to Shoreline Aquatic Park in Long Beach, a return distance of about 48 miles. All but eight miles of the ride is on a section of the Los Angeles River Bikeway, which begins in the City of Vernon and ends at Shoreline. It is a fairly flat route, which is the norm for most bike paths that follow a river’s path, but 48 miles is 48 miles! The first part of the ride is not very scenic as it wends its way through several industrial areas of the city, which on the way to Long Beach are on the right, so the trick is to look left! The plan was to grab a bite to eat and relax for a bit, before getting back on the bikes for the journey home.

We got an early start, figuring it would take a little over two hours to get there based on an average speed of 10 mph, which is a nice, comfortable pace. We were about a half hour or so into our ride when for some reason I looked right and almost fell off my bike! I mean, it is not every day that you see a man sitting on a chair on a dirt road, with an ugly green fence behind him, a white fence in front of him, playing the cello! On the trunk of his car is what I assumed to be the empty case for the instrument, and by the back tire a water jug. It sounded like classical music which, despite my last name, is not a genre I am very familiar with, as I associate it with pain. Why, might you ask? When I was a kid, I refused to allow my dentist to freeze me (nobody was going to stick a needle in my mouth), so all my childhood fillings were done with no freezing even though the adults in my sphere at the time were telling me that the quick poke of the needle would be far less painful than drilling with no freezing. It’s really a shame that adults would lie to a kid like that! My dentist always had classical music playing in the waiting room, so as soon as I opened the door and heard the music, I knew I was soon going to be in a heap of pain. Every time I hear that music, even now, that’s the first thing that comes to mind.

My wife saw that I had stopped, and was concerned that there might be a problem, especially since I was standing there staring with my mouth wide open, like I was having some kind of attack! She asked me what was wrong, and I simply said: “Nothing. There is just a guy down there sitting on a chair playing a cello.” She probably thought I was having a mental breakdown, until I grabbed my phone and started taking pictures. There was at least another hour and a half of riding left and I was wondering: “What else are we going to see today?”

The rest of the ride was uneventful, at least in terms of seeing anything else out of the ordinary, but that got me thinking about why what I had seen earlier that day should be considered out of the ordinary? Perhaps this gentleman has been doing this for years and for him it was just a normal part of his Sunday routine. Maybe, if we had stuck around for a little while longer, he may have been joined by a few violinists and a harp player and we would have been summarily entertained by some beautiful music…at no cost! Was this a one-off random occurrence, or was it something that happened all over the city in similar locations? Was he a concert cellist rehearsing for a performance later that evening, or was he a cello hobbyist deciding to give his family a break from his playing? More importantly, why do I want to know the answers to these questions? I am almost certain that many of you will look at this photo and generate your own lines of inquiry; let’s face it, it’s hard not to when looking at something that appears out of place. I took this photo eight years ago, and I’m still wondering what the hell this guy was doing and why. Off course, I will never know the answer to my questions, and I am totally fine with that…aah, not really!

The only fitting end to this little story is to provide the reader with another photo that I took many years ago, and let you have some fun as your imagination runs wild. Better yet, caption this:

Los Angeles 2023

2 thoughts on “Just When You Think You’ve See It All…

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