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Ransom's video: Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund:

In which John Green walks and drives around Los Angeles in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Japan. He visits the beach, the Venice canals, some pet turtles, and goes to a fancy wedding reception in Beverly Hills.

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A Bunny
( - -)
((') (')
Good morning Hank, it's Monday.

I woke up on Friday around 8 AM in Los Angeles, the city of palm trees, pleasant weather, news helicopters, prestigious zip codes, terrible traffic, and astonishingly sparse mobile internet.

As I drove over to my friend Ransom's house I heard on the radio there had been an earthquake and a tsunami in Japan, and I was so wrapped up in the news that I got lost, and since my phone didn't work as a mobile atlas anymore, I had to call Ransom for directions. "I mean, I see a sign that says Wilshire and I see a sign that says San Basante and the signs seem to imply, uh, that there's a perpendicular rather than parallel relationship between those two places but what you're seeing on the map disagrees with that."

I finally made it to his house, we went inside and read about the earthquake and then somehow got to talking about his photographs. Ransom collects photographs taken of and by people he doesn't know. He has thousands of them in these plastic slip cases, and he's obsessed with the stories that these photographs contain, particularly when you flip them over. This one, for instance, "Rock Wall near Rose Bowl Pasadena, California, where Dorothy found a baby girl on January 24, 1961."

Hank, Ransom used photographs like this one to make one of the greatest YouTube videos of all time, link in the dooblydoo.

We drove down to the beach then, where this newscaster was like "This very ocean just devastated Japan." And then I ran into the water like a boss, forgetting that I had shoes on. Then Randy took me over to the Venice Canals, a few blocks of L.A. that look like Southern California and Amsterdam had a baby, and we walked around talking about how weird it was to stroll these sun-drenched canals on such a tragic day. But then really, all human life is lived in close proximity to tragedy. We saw bird flowers and a park for ducks and these turtles. Too quiet for the camera to hear, Ransom said "Wouldn't it be sad if a child's pool were enough to imprison you?"

Then I had to leave for a wedding, so I participated in an activity that people in Los Angeles call "hopping on the freeway" which does not in any way resemble hopping. As I idled back toward our hotel, the news on the radio got worse and worse. And then I put on a suit and went to the wedding.

The reception was at a beautiful home in Beverley Hills, and as I drank free champagne and looked out over the pool, I thought about how, even though we were kind of in a desert, the water had been everywhere that day. From the pool to my champagne glass, from the turtle pond to the canals to the ocean. I found myself wishing there were some way for those of us on one side of an ocean to tell people on the other side that we were thinking of them, a way that I could say that, not only to the people of Japan, but also to Dorothy, who had found that baby girl in 1961. But images can travel in a way that our thoughts can not, and that night I felt sad and frustrated that technology can never quite bridge the oceans between us.

Hank, you'll find a link to the Red Cross disaster relief fund in the dooblydoo. Welcome back from Haiti, I'll see you on Wednesday.