Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Rock is Rolling

Some argue the weather was most spectacular today.Others will argue it is "The Rock" that the Los Angeles County Art Museum (LACMA) is moving through side streets from the Stone Valley Rock Quarry in Jurupa to the mid-Wilshire art museum.

With my new Adele CD timing my freeway drive to the beach at 1 side +3 songs- I decided to return home on lower grade arterial. At the corner of Harbor and Grand, the traffic signals were coming down. I was on my way to meet the rock. Like many movie stars, it didn't feel as big in person. But the transport certainly was.

There is something about a 294' transporter equipped with more tires than I will ever own in my lifetime that is disconcerting. This isn't a major port. This is a suburban thoroughfare. The sight challenges one's notion of  appropriate setting.

If the rock itself didn't garner lookie-loos- the channel 4 NBC news van could. Wherever there was a long lens- kids ran to see if they could get close enough to get on camera.

The transport crew meticulously added more wheels beneath the actual boulder. When they travel over Colima Road later tonight- it wouldn't do to drag high center.

Wouldn't you love to know where they buy their shrink wrap? I have a hard time just getting rolls wide enough for Easter baskets.

The men who do this sort of work deserve our respect. One miscalculation- a chain snaps- its an HBO movie.

Just what size rock can a girl get for a reported 10 million dollars? A 340-ton, 21&1/2-foot-tall granite boulder. Kind of ironic that the title of art exhibit it will go in is titled "Levitated Mass. " 

One more look at the behemoth transport needed to spread the weight of streets not designed to roll a rock over.

This operation is complicated. As a  former Planning Commissioner- I note the logistics are worthy of a 4 star General.  The coordination of agencies- I have read over 100 were involved- Herculean. The command of the vehicle -awe inspiring how the trucks will push and pull around corners. (Hey- My husband wants to pull the bumpers off his boat to put them on the side of his Chevy Avalanche when I drive it.)

As art- I think the museum would do better at managing expectations for the actual display. The rock is not Stonehenge. It is not the pyramids. Not even close. It is the journey that is interesting more than what I expect the end result to be.

In the end, I hope the mini mountain arrives safely. The weekend is over- when last seen the rock had 14 miles to travel to La Mirada- and only time enough expected to go 10. When it reaches LA- If commuters there don't like being inconvenienced by Presidential Motorcades- I don't expect any geologic formation interfering with traffic will be viewed as any more considerate.


  1. I am not impressed. Of all the stupid things to spend money on... moving a rock from a quarry to a museum at an atrocious cost and logistics for dissrupting traffic and lives is just one of the more crackbrained ideas ever! Sounds like they are taking lessons from the idiot in the White House!

  2. Lydia,

    I do so agree with Sue! With everyone hurting for money these days it seems like a stupid endeavor! Of course all those workmen are no doubt getting paid well. I am wondering who will take a trip to that museum just to see a danged rock? L is right. It's the trandsporting of it that is more interesting than seeing it in it's final resting place!
    I have DB friends who went to see it and posted photos on FB. I was so unimpressed that I didn't even copy the photos to send to you girls to see.
    Glad you went to find it L because it did make for an interesting write up on your blog!

    Hugs, Trisha

  3. Good morning Sue and Trisha.

    Something that annoyed me as a government official was we could support for government entities what we would never do for a private individual.

    Imagine- The same rock project- but the receiver was a private individual. It would never have been allowed.

    Why? Despite insurance- tying future damage to this specific object- it would be settled by having one government entitiy sue an other. If that unfortunate possibility comes to life- that is where the taxpayers are on the hook and why a private person would not be allowed to proceed.

    What would make me less of a skeptic is the commercial value of lessons learned from this effort. I am a big fan of things that are both beautiful and useful- not just exercise in vanity.

  4. Disgusting waste of money in these hard times. Better they had not allocated more money for this useless project.

    Judy Duvall
    Seal Beach, CA

  5. An Amazing Journey...! I have heard that the Rock is quite something...! I hope there will be pictures of it once it is installed...!

  6. Judy- Technically,any public money spent will be reimbursed. The rock only cost 70 K - the rest was for moving it. Compared to a 5 mile ambulance drive- cheap. I'm would just rather see a rock in the mountains- or cut into a countertop.

    Naomi- Maybe once the install is done I will pack up my car to meet you- and we can see The Rock together.

  7. Funny, I had meant to come back here and comment when I came across some article about the carbon footprint of this rolling rock... What I was wondering was how the roads held up to something so weighty.

  8. Hi Nikki! Need to update my profile to post on your site. Soon as I get my act together.

    At least through our portion of drive- the weight appears to have left no immediate damage because rock's weight was not directly on ground. It was suspended over long arms that bridged both front and back.

    The engineers I overheard discussing it were impressed with the engineering aspect, particularly the load dispersal.

    However, engineers being frugal beings obsessed with details - they were perplexed by "why" the long journey made by any particular piece of granite- a pretty common component of the California landscape.

    The boulder had a nice shape- but since it was shrink wrapped, I'm still not getting the value of the 10 Million dollar fuss. Maybe there is something special about the patterning still to be revealed that will explain how getting it through suburbia became such an obsession.


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