It’s early morning, the sun is shining, the trash cans are out, and the traffic helicopters buzz overhead. It’s just another day in La Crascenta, California, between the sheets of Burbank and the Angeles National Forest. Vaz Terdandenyan steps out of his house in his t-shirt, sweats, flip-flops and socks. He’s face-down in his smartphone texting his boss that he’s going to be late for work. Maybe he slept too late and he’s already grumpy. He looks up and comes nose-to-nose with a black bear that’s come out of the hills to sniff the garbage. He jumps, runs and is back in the house before the bewildered bear can even react. As crazy as this is, Terdandenyan manages to keep his shit completely in tact. He doesn’t drop his phone, he doesn’t panic, he doesn’t even lose a flip flop. It is, it seems, just another day in the Los Angeles suburbs on the edge of the Angeles woods.
If you can’t tell, I am completely enamored with this video. It is quintessential America. It could happen in a suburb of almost any major U.S. city — somewhere where the nearly insatiable roll of human progress bumps up against a still protected patch of wilderness where some, but few megafauna still reside — but it could not happen anywhere else but here. (Well, it could happen in Canada, but who’s counting…)
Only here, in America (and Canada) have we protected enough wilderness to have black bear and other mega fauna in such abundant numbers, while at the same time crowding that wilderness with dense suburbs and their sweet smelling fast food and garbage to lure these animals down into our neighborhoods to poke around. Only here, do we have such intense curiosity to spend millions of dollars flying helicopters with cameras over our cities and towns to capture traffic, high-speed car chases, riots and black bear sightings. Only here do we poses the Schadenfreude to watch a man jump out of his skin and “run for his life” 850,000-plus times and create 8.4 million pieces of content around this small human event. Only here, could Vaz Terdandenyan turn into an overnight 50 second sensation.
By the way, like most good stories, this one’s already been covered by The Simpsons.