Victoria Jelinek

Los Angeles
September 16, 2010, 12:39 pm
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A sense of liberty, beauty, light and sordidness. Dusty hills. Pine trees. Palm trees that one never tires looking at because they’re usually on a beach and yet here they are in a functioning city. The smell of skunk. Stucco houses. Craftsman houses. Pseudo-Roman-pillared mansions. Yellow, pink, white, turquoise colors. Art deco buildings. Signs for Scientology, help and salvation. Murals. Steeples in East LA. Olvera Street and churros. Strip malls. Lounges. Cinemas. Museums. Outdoor Ampitheaters.The sweep of the ocean as one descends on Pico Boulevard. Parks and picnicking Mexican families. Turquoise-colored pools. Broad roads. Super highways and super traffic with Oleander growing profusely, and without encouragement. Helicopters overhead at all hours. Hanging flowers in pink, white and red abound. Cactus, succulents. Coyotes. Street cafes with folks hanging around with notebooks and pens and laptops writing their magnum opus. Great bookstores, upmarket diners in every neighborhood from Los Feliz to Larchmont to Santa Monica and Venice. Sunset Boulevard’s music stores and drinking joints. Headshots, six-minute conversations. Hummers, Range Rovers and BMW’s. Desolate, spacious and clean underground system. Sparkling buildings downtown. A gorgeous main train station that conjures up the Silver Screen Era. Dirty, crazy, hippie, colourful, violent Venice Beach bordering more upscale Santa Monica and its pristinely clean sidewalks. The arid canyons, coastline and Tahitian vegetation of Malibu. Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Rumania. The best Mexican from fine dining to under tents in parking lots, seated at benches. Warm nights. Valet parking. Manicure and pedicure shops everywhere.

Seattle, WA
September 13, 2010, 12:17 pm
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Maritime. Navigating water and hills to find your way along winding roads between neighborhoods that sit atop hills or at their base, called Queen Anne, Capitol Hill, Belltown, Madison Park, Ravenna, the U District, Fremont, Phinney Ridge…boats, barges, ferries, sailboats, sea planes over head, draw bridges, the smell of the sea. The homeless fishing off of the piers for their food. Crisp, wet air. Oak trees, fir trees, wet asphalt. Skies an oppressive, low-hanging grey for most of the year, erupting in a veritable Garden of Eden for the summer. Families, animals, water, parks. Native American names on suburbs and Chief Seattle. Hip cafes, restaurants, barber shops and music shops. Recycling everywhere. Cooperative food markets. Earnest, well-meaning people with hippie delusions even as they are living the lives of Yuppies. Political correctness that often borders on fascism. Amazing beer and coffee. Great Japanese and Thai restaurants. Fine dining meaning that you wear your good fleece out for dinner. Rules abound for swimming, kayaking, canoeing in the various lakes. Live music in small and large revues. The best outdoor store in the world with a climbing wall and lifetime guarantee on its products. A huge pink elephant on Denny Street. Hanging underground gardens. The space needle slowing rotating.

New York City, NY
September 11, 2010, 11:51 am
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Being able on a Monday night to hear a Japanese band do Hawaiian surf music on Houston at 2am, just after watching an amazing Blue Grass band in Alphabet City while drinking Dixie beer. Anonymity giving you freedom. Every color and kind of person. Noise. Sirens. Yellow cabs, buses. Long cross-town blocks. Every street looking like it could be a set for a film. The smell of urine in the subway in the summer. Insects you never see biting ones ankles in the heat. Amazing pizza – even when the pizza is mediocre, it’s still pretty good. Bagels and coffee from corner carts in midtown that hit the spot. High glass buildings and so much concrete. Chinese delivery in the wee hours of the night. Huge, low moons that lie close to the tops of the buildings. Bridges and rivers. Busy sounds and dirty sidewalks in Chinatown with perpetual traffic down Canal Street. Emptiness and quiet in Lower Manhattan on the weekends. Hipster bars and restaurants in Little Italy and the Lower East Side. Basketball in any of the city parks that are everywhere. Huge museums with the best collections. Shopping, commerce and convenience of any kind imaginable. The smell of rotting fruit and damp in the city grocery stores. Parades seemingly every other month with cops and paddy wagons on every corner for 50 blocks. Neighborhood garden plots. Pirate radio. High fashion. Superstars decked out in casual NYC attire and tennis shoes. Strip joints where the girls wipe down the pole with a paper towel and the servers bring you watered down all-you-can-drink well drinks. Corner stores open all night with flowers of every kind on sale. Hardware stores open 24 hours a day. Pure energy that makes you want to wander the city for days simply looking and feeling.

Zimbabwe – Elephant with an Identity Problem
December 6, 2006, 5:32 pm
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While on safari in Zimbabwe at the Imire Game Reserve in July of 1995, we came across this elephant who has established herself as a female ruler of the Cape Buffalo herd. Anna thinks she is a Cape Buffalo. At least she’s preferred the company of the buffalo to her own kind for twenty years. Anna was brought to the game reserve at the age of eighteen months with one of her siblings. The sibling died shortly thereafter, and Anna did’nt identify with the other elephants. Instead, she attached herself to a Cape Buffalo herd on the reserve. Anna grew large eventually, and the buffalo realized that she was’nt one of them. At this point, the lead bull challenged her, and Anna, realizing instinctively that she outweighed him by at least a ton, literally squashed him.

This killing was the first of many in the years to come. She had established a matriarchy. A decade ago, the game keepers came to the conclusion that something had to be done to save the bulls and increase the herd! Anna was eventually going to make it impossible to mate because of her defeats and deaths to the bulls who challenged her power.The gamekeepers responded to this crisis by removing the bulls from the herd and taking the females to them singly to mate, so as not to arouse Anna’s suspicions. Later, the fledgling bulls would be taken from their mothers so as not to be at risk, and another herd, with a few select cows, would be created.

Within the last decade, nature itself has compensated for the herd’s losses by producing four male to every one female birth. Nature is incredibly self sustaining, and in the case of Anna and her herd of Cape Buffalo, freakish. To my question of why the Cape Buffalo don’t just ostracize her collectively and take the risk for the greater gain, Paul Ritson, game keep, said, “If you had a loaded gun to your head, would you risk escape?”