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Full Circle

Day 230: Los Angeles

Michael Palin - Full CircleThe City of Los Angeles defies definition. Is it a city at all or, as they say, 'forty-nine suburbs in search of a city'? The road system encourages a constant movement of people in, out and across a great sprawl of neighbourhoods. The long Pacific coastline offers a vista of limitless space. If the surface of the Pacific were strong enough to drive across, the first land you would hit after leaving Sunset Boulevard would be fifty miles outside Tokyo. The only way to shrink the vast distances of Greater Los Angeles is to take to the air, which is why I find myself on this sharp, clear and cloudless morning at an office attached to a hangar in a corner of Santa Monica airport.

It is the home of a remarkable family business. Bob Tur, his wife Marika and mother Judy, along with Craig, a pilot, run a helicopter-borne news-gathering operation which is legendary even in this city of legends. The walls of their trim but modest offices are covered with framed awards and citations. They have won two Emmys, and Tur's footage of the beating of truck driver, Reginald Denny, after white police officers were acquitted in the Rodney King case is compulsive, frightening and unique. He has rescued people from deserts and out of earthquakes and he was the first newsman to locate O. J. Simpson's Bronco in the famous freeway chase.

Bob Tur knows his Los Angeles and he's told us that if we're prepared to take pot luck he'll take us along with him on the day's business.

He bustles in late, a slim almost studious figure in chinos and a check shirt. Reddish-brown hair flops across his forehead. He's dabbing at a blob of blood on his neck where he nicked himself shaving.

'It's a violent city,' he explains, reaching for another tissue.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 230
  • Country/sea: USA
  • Place: Los Angeles - California
  • Book page no: 298

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