Deep Cuts

Deep Cuts: Songs For Those Stuck in a Tar Pit

tar pitsThe La Brea Tar Pits don’t figure into the collective imagination as much now as they did when I was a kid. Los Angeles’s bubbling puddle of goo always seemed to crop up in a cartoon or a sitcom, but not anymore. I guess Miley’s sideboob is more interesting.

Thanks to my stellar intergooglewebtube skills and my three seconds of research (minus the 18 minute sideboob search), I can tell you that 650 species of flora and fauna have been found in the tar pit, the most common of which is the dire wolf. The photo to your left is a small portion of the back lit dire wolf skull wall, which for my money is the coolest thing in the entire museum. I spent a lot of hours staring at that wall.

I don’t think I can pin you down for a list of 650 cuts from my stacks without first covering you in tar, so here’s a slightly abbreviated musical tribute to things stuck in muck:

“Wolf Like Me,” TV On The Radio. So here’s the way this works: Your happy little bunny-shaped animal comes down to lap up the water on top of the bubbling tar and his little paws get stuck. The wolves see an easy meal, so they attack the bunny-shaped animal. Now they’re stuck. Wait 10,000 years, mount their head bones on a wall, charge admission. Easy, right?

“Say Goodbye to the Black Sheep,” The Furys.  Ten thousand years ago one could see wild sheep in the area now known as Los Angeles. You still can, but now they’re called ingenues.

“It Must Be A Camel,” Frank Zappa. Yeah, that’s right–camels once roamed the western United States. They’ve been gone for about 10,000 years. Or maybe they’re just really good hiders.

“Cold Bear,” The Gaturs. Several short-faced bear specimens have been found in the La Brea Tar Pits. Even more short-faced bears have been spotted in West Hollywood. Hey-ooooo!

“Weasels,” Iggy Pop. The pits caught a few long-tailed weasels. I’ll let you make your own L.A./weasel jokes–too easy.

“Rabbit Fighter,” T. Rex. I laid out the fates of the sad little bunnies while discussing wolves, so no need to repeat it here. Three tasty flavors of rabbits got stuck in the muck: the black-tailed jackrabbit; the brush rabbit; and the desert cottontail.

“Mammoth,” Interpol. Both mammoths and mastodons have been found in the pit, which begs the question: When are Interpol and Mastodon going to tour together?

“Night Owl,” Dick Dale and the Del-Tones. You’d think a bird smart enough to figure out how to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop could stay out of an asphalt puddle, but 8 varieties of the scholarly bird have been found in the tar pits. No word on whether they could hit these sweet harmonies.

So there’s eight varieties of critter who stumbled into something unexpected and never made their way out. Do yourself a favor and don’t do the same thing. Life is full of emotional tar pits waiting to suck you down.

photo Dallas Krentzel / Flickr Creative Commons

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