Saturday, February 10, 2007

Helicopters: "Flashlights in the sky"...

In Los Angeles you will come to form an opinion about helicopters. They are as much a part of our habitat as are trolleys in San Francisco or Weddell Seals in the Weddell Sea. By day they zoom across the massive sprawl of LA County delivering politicos and high-powered executives to and from meetings. They film themselves - one closely tailing another with cameras hanging out the side as some dismal action sequence dramatically overplayed in the other gets etched into celluloid. They spy on celebrity weddings and poolside trysts. They hover over burning buildings and track car chases for the sake of TV ratings. Many people learn to hate them - giant pesky mosquitoes and sad proof of every LA cliche in the book. I, for one, love them. They are just the most amazing machines ever built. Helicopter porn is my thing.

By night helicopters do less zooming and more circling. Night time is the right time for committing a crime. And when the cops are called in to dangerous neighborhoods and situations, they need all the surveillance tools they can get. Just about everyone in LA has been jarred awake in the wee hours by the chopping rotors of a helicopter stationed directly above their pillow (or so it seems). The sun-bright search light jerks across acres of land looking for a hoodlum on the lam. Someone I know says, "the helicopter at night becomes a giant flashlight dangling on a string in the sky." She monitors the circular orbit of the whirlibird, always disappointed that the circles are not geometrically perfect. She's German. What do you expect.

You've probably never heard the song Sarah and I wrote: "Turtles Watching Helicopters." Too bad for you, it's a smash hit single in our house. Perhaps we'll record it someday for you to download, burn, and pop into the CD slot of your Sikorsky.

("Rotorelief 2002" by Robert Chambers)


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