Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Boss, Boss: The Plane! The Plane!

I found this little site that tracking planes at & around LAX. Fairly interesting, if you ask me. It's like an early nineties computer game, but in real time. It doesn't beat watching the planes queue up in the east as you drive on the 110 through South LA at night...

UPDATE: Celia has a great post from last year on the site...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Famous Foods of L.A.

There are so many restaurants in Los Angeles; it's a wonder that one can distinguish itself from another. One surefire way to do this is advertise a signature dish. Call it "world-famous" or just "famous." Or, name it and advertise it.

I've gathered a few of these locations in hopes of revealing the City's famous that are not just celebrities or politicians. Maybe you've got one to add to the list?

The Hat has famous pastrami sandwiches

Howard's Famous Bacon & Avocado Burgers: The restaurant's name says it all.

El Nopal is home of the "Pregnant Burrito"

Langer's is (also) famous for pastrami sandwiches

Marty's is home of the "Combo," which is like the "Hockey Burger" (below).

Mike's Hockey Burger in Vernon has its namesake famous menu item (a hambuger with 3 hotdogs cut lengthwise on top!).

Philippe's has famous French dip sandwiches (even though Cole's is around, Philippe's is truly famous).

Pink's has famous chili dogs.

Tommy's has World-Famous Hamburgers.

And finally...
Jerry's Famous Deli - why is it famous, and is it really that good?

I know there are more "famous" places out there and "home of the..." joints! What am I missing?

Monday, May 29, 2006

Long Weekend; Short Name

Here it is: Monday of a long, holiday weekend. It reminds me of how long Los Angeles' full name is: "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Poriuncula."

Here's a Nerdism for you: it can be abbreviated to 3.63% of its size, "LA." Gotta love that short name on a long weekend!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

225 Ways to Celebrate: Griffith Park edition

It's Thursday, so here is the next installment of 225 Ways to Celebrate LA's 225th Birthday. This time, look at the wide array of things to experience in the largest municipal park in the country: Griffith Park.

56. Ride the Disneyland-inspiring Merry-Go-Round. (It's said that Walt Disney watched his daughter ride the merry-go-round and dreamed of an enchanted theme park.

57. Explore the Bronson Caves, a former quarry used in the paving of LA Streets and the "Batcave" exterior in the 1960s Batman TV show.

58. Hike to the edge of Bee Rock, but seriously, be aware of bees.

59. Take the time to visit the Ranger Station and the newly restored interactive exhibits relating to the park, its environment, and its history.

60. Buy a Sno-Cone at the merry-go-round snack bar and sit on the grass on the hill above it listening to the music and watching the people below.

61. Ride a horse from the L.A. Equestrian Center through Griffith Park (and back, of course).

62. Hike up to the area ABOVE the Hollywood Sign.

63. Experience the Old Zoo and Symphony in the Glen.

64. Take a leisurely stroll along the stream in the Ferndell section of the park.

65. Explore the recently restored Bird sanctuary.

66. Hike with Tom LaBonge through the Berlin Forest (in honor of the Sister-City relationship) up to Dante's View.

67. Explore Amir's garden.

68. Join the Sierra Club hikers on a Tuesday or Thursday night at the merry-go-round parking lot for the largest group hiking in the region.

69. Participate (or at least enjoy) the Drum Circle near the Ranger Station on Sunday afternoons.

70. See the historic trains (and other vehicles) at the Travel Town Museum.

71. Visit the Disney Barn (relocated by miniature train enthusiasts) at Travel Town.

72. Ride the Live Steamers.

73. Take the kids to ride the ponies at the Griffith Park Pony Ride.

74. Play golf at one of the 5 courses at Griffith Park.

75. Catch an event at the Greek Theater.

76. Take time to escape the urban landscape and visit the Cedar Grove.

77. Hike on the over 53-mile network of trails, fire roads and bridle paths in the Park.

78. Visit the newly renovated Griffith Observatory.

(map of Griffith Park)

"225 Ways to Celebrate..." thus far:

What the Observatory would have been...

Ever wonder what L.A. would be like if the Observatory didn't look the way it did today? What if James Dean didn't film a scene in Griffith Park that lead to his immortalization? What if later this year, we weren't going to celebrate a renovation and restoration?

Less intriguing than what now exists, if the rendering designed was actually built, how would LA be different today? I'd hate to find out.

Here's what was originally envisioned in the early 1930s:

Lights Out for Safety!

One of the things that makes the City of L.A. so attractive to businesses and residents is the services of the Department of Water & Power (DWP). Service programs and low rates (even though they have risen in the last few years) are a hallmark of their superior services. Sadly, one such service may be history: as of last month (4/26), the DWP has suspended its Outdoor Area Lighting Program. This program provided lower cost lighting solutions (from 4.25 to 8.31 a month) for private property & public for the consumer and had been operating at the same rates for some time. Since 1997, a DWP customer could pay the rates and basically "lease" the equipment from the DWP. This addressed safety issues round schools and community centers and helped brighten alleys behind homes and businesses.

But because the work (installations) was done on overtime and the material costs have increased, the program has become cost prohibitive. The DWP is currently reviewing whether any iteration of the program will exist after the suspension.

This is not the first nuisance-fighting tool the City has offered that then gets discontinued though it has been proven highly effective in addressing concerns about safety and security. In 2004, the City sponsored "nuisance alley conversion," program which allowed alley-adjacent property owners to petition to have the alley closed with access and maintenance responsibilities to those petitioning adjacent properties, was reduced by $600,000 - virtually eliminating it. This program, too, was successful yet cut due to funding challenges.

It's frustrating that the creative, low-cost solutions to addressing a community's quality of life concerns are being eliminated.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Throwies and Graffiti Research lab

One of the things that irks me most is graffiti. If you look back, you can see through previous posts that this is the case.

Like I've also said, I'm not against creative expression, but just find a way that doesn't ruin other people's (or public) property.

So, when I found out about Graffiti Research Lab, I was intrigued. Here are forms of graffiti that are impactful, but not destructive. I'm especially intrigued with "Throwies": magnetic LEDs that are removable, if reachable or when the magnet no longer "sticks." I've never seen them in L.A., and I'm not encouraging them by any means... but it woudl be cool to see a wall covered in them. The artistic impact would be fantastic, if done in the right magnitude.

I admit to being a City Nerd, but a techno nerd or mechanical nerd I am not. I thought it would be cool to try them out on MY property, but i couldn't figure out how to make them. Here are the instructions I found.

Artistic light installation - graffiti-style - would be cool to see: non-destructive yet quite impactful.

Monday, May 22, 2006

City "Squares"

Across Los Angeles, there are ceremonial signs posted for a number of reasons. Most are the tan, brown-lettered signs that evoke cultural significance. The ones that I find most interesting are the "Squares" designated at intersections across the city. Most are still in this tan & brown motif, but this was not always the case. There are still some from the early days of naming "squares" that are white signs with blue lettering, like Andrei Sakharov Square at Laurel Canyon & Ventura Boulevard.

So, what about these City-designated squares?

The first "square" in the City was designated in 1918 in honor of General John J. Pershing. This was a 5-acre parcel of land in the center of the City. The next "square" was not dedicated until 1975 with the designation of Fletcher Bowron Square, in honor of the former Mayor, at the location of the Los Angeles Mall in the Civic Center. It would be about 5 years later that John Ferraro designated the first intersection a "Square" in an individual's honor. A few more were designated over the next decade, but it has only been in the last 10 years that 75% of the squares were designated by the City.

And of all the squares since Ferraro's first proposal, the only Councilmembers to honor someone with a square have been the following 14: Farell, Ferrraro, Galantar, Garcetti, Goldberg, Hernandez, LaBonge, Parks, Perry, Reyes, Ridley-Thomas, Wachs, Walters, & Yaroslavsky. And the top movers on such actions? Perry with 7 and a 3-way tie for third with 4 each: Garcetti, Ferraro, & Parks.

Since 2001, seven honorees were alive at the time of the designation. This is interesting to note because in 1991, Reverend Joseph Lee Jr Square, in honor of the pastor of the Heavenly Vision Missionary Baptist Church, located at 243 W 85th St., was denied by the city because it was -at the time - the City policy not to name "squares" after living people. That has since changed, but Rev. Lee still does not have an official "square."

All areas of the City have squares from Venice (1) to Hollywood (10). The Valley only has 4 in Studio City and North Hollywood. The Harbor Area is the only part of the City that doesn't have any. (Now, to be fair, the reason there are no "squares" there is because Councilwoman Janice Hahn has named honorary streets in honor of people and groups rather than a "square.")

Below are the 42 City Squares in the approximate order of their designation:

General John J. Pershing Square: 5th Street & Olive

Fletcher Bowron Square: Temple, Los Angeles, & Main Streets

Edgar F. Magnin Square: block bounded by Wilshire Blvd - Hobart Blvd - 6th St & on E by Harvard Blvd

Raoul Wallenberg Square: Beverly Blvd. & Fairfax Ave.

David Ben Gurion Square: northeast corner of Wilshire & San Vicente Boulevards

Prince Hall Square: 91st Street & Figueroa Street

Andrei Sakharov Square: Ventura Boulevard & Laurel Canyon Boulevard

Dosun Ahn Chang Ho Square: West Jefferson Blvd & Van Buren Ave

Ramond Chandler Square: Hollywood Blvd & Cahuenga Blvd

Yitzhak Rabin Square: Ventura & Lankershim Boulevards

Jose Marti Square: Glendale Boulevard and Park Avenue

Bishop William Lugene Smith Square: Wadsworth Avenue and 52nd Street.

Carlos Gardel Square: North Gower St. and Waring St.

Roy & Ray Wolze Square: Pasadena Avenue, Avenue 26 and Daly Street

Theo Wilson Square: Camrose Drive and Glencoe Way

Carmen Miranda Square: Hollywood Blvd. and Orange Drive

Duke Ellington Square: 42nd Place and Central Avenue

Famous Amos Square: northeast corner of Sunset Blvd and Formosa St

Bishop E.L. Holmes Square: Westminster Ave & 7th Ave

Edith Wyle Square: Wilshire Boulevard and Stanley Avenue

Lester "Les" R. Fisher Square: northeast corner of First Street and Fremont Avenue (in front of Fire Station 3)

William Edward Hooper: Bakman Avenue & Magnolia Boulevard

Menelva Tippie Square: 116th and Avalon Boulevard.

Joel Wachs Square: Grand Avenue & 2nd Street

C. Bernard Jackson Square: The City block on the north side of Pico Boulevard, between New Hampshire Avenue & Vermont Avenue

Ira Yellin Square: 3rd Street and Broadway (includes Hill Street, too)

Billy Wilder Square: Sunset Boulevard & La Brea Avenue

Bob Hope Square: Hollywood Boulevard& Vine Street

Morris Kight Square: McCadden Place & Hollywood Boulevard

Judge Harry Pregerson Square: Hill Street and First Street

Amelia Earhart Square: Magnolia Boulevard & Tujunga Avenue

Malcolm X Square: Martin Luther King Boulevard & Central Avenue (outside of Bilal Islamic Center)

Officer Ricardo Lizarraga Square: Central Avenue between 34th Street and 35th Street

Dr. Cecil L. 'Chip' Murray Circle: 25th Street between Hobart and Harvard Boulevards

Tom Bradley Square: 3807 Welland Avenue (his residence)

Celia Cruz Square: Hollywood Boulevard & Argyle Street

Gene Autry Square: Hollywood Boulevard & Highland Avenue

Ray Charles Square: Washington Boulevard and Westmoreland Avenue

Dr. Frederick K. C. Price Square: 79th Street and Vermont Avenue

Freedom Square: Martin Luther King Bl. & Crenshaw Ave.

Pastor Wade Square: 42nd Place & Figueroa Street

Dr. Earl C. Cotton Square: 54th Street and Main Street

Friday, May 19, 2006

Watch the Road...

So, has a post about the Watch the Road Banners on poles on Venice Boulevard (among other streets in L.A.) today. It was picked up by the LA Observed Nerd, and now it's a big deal.

Well, it seems to have worked. The goal of the "Watch the Road" campaign - to educate drivers to make them safer drivers -is catching people's attention. Motorists might have missed the giant graphics on the reader screens at Hollywood & Highland or on the bus benches & buses, but people are now noticing and talking about the 2-year-old traffic safety campaign that is sponsored by the City, County, and a litany of others. Originally chaired by Mayor Hahn, the campaign now has Villaraigosa joining Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky as co-chair of this countywide initiative that is focused primarily in the City. The Steering Committee - the ones who direct the campaign with the giraffesque banners that have raised questions - are the Automobile Club of Southern California, the California Department of Transpotation, the CHP, LADOT, Metro, the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Works, and the Southern California Association of Governments.

One good thing, though, that comes from the campaign (if you think the banners are misplaced & ineffective) is that they definitively tell us the "Top Ten Behaviors that Contribute to Crashes":
Driving too fast for conditions (speeding)
Aggressive driving
Inattentive driving (e.g., cell phone)
Driving, cycling or running through red traffic lights
Driving under the influence (DUI)
Not yielding to pedestrians
Walking without looking
Walking outside crosswalks
Bicycling against traffic
Not buckling up!

Finally, I'd like to point out that there are about a dozen messages that have been used to address the ten behaviors above, but my favorite one is this one:

Clear This!

The LAFD Nerd, Brian Humphrey, educates all on the rules of brush clearance as set forth by the City's Fire Department. Good information to know, of course. But what's even more interesting to me is that the office that handles Brush Clearance (and Fire Inspection) is located in room 451. Was that intentional or what?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

City Budget Passes

As a City Nerd, I should post about the City Budget being passed unanimously yesterday.

But I won't.

Sure, there's a ton of detail that could be picked apart.

But I won't.

I could lament on the fact that practically every department had an increase in funding.

But I won't.

I could say the City has some financial issues that won't be solved by raising fees as the work force increases.

But I won't.

What I will say, though, is that I am sure glad the City is not run like the State, for the City always passes - as required by law - a balanced budget... and on time, too (though usually well in advance of the June 30th deadline).

The City charges forward for another year of spending... how are your tax dollars put to work that affect you directly? Do you even know? How about watching TV (ITA)? Brushing your teeth(Sanitation)? Going to shop and where to park when you get there (Planning & Transportation)? There's so much more; what a great City we live in, even with its flaws. No, seriously. We could be in San Diego...

The Song of Los Angeles

I've been thinking about it for a while, but today I saw that one of the more post-inspiring blogs I frequent, the Atwater Village Nerd, posted about an LA Mix tape, as proposed by "Hang on to your Ego" from early January.

So, it reminded me that we need to assemble the definitive list of songs about LA (or a portion thereof). And, for all intents and purposes, this could be about L.A. City or L.A. the region (but I will denote non-L.A. City with the venerable asterisk).

In addition to the ones listed on the links above, I also know of the following songs about LA:

"To Live & Die in LA" by Tupac
"Under the Bridge" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers
"The Little Old Lady of Pasadena" by the Beach Boys*
"San Fernando Valley" by Bing Crosby
"Hollywood Nights" By Bob Seger
"Walking in L.A." by Missing Persons
"Dancing in Heaven" by Q-Feel
"Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" by Burt Bacharach
"California Dreamin'" By the Mamas & the Papas
"I Love L.A." by Randy Newman*
"Hooray for Hollywood" by various artists
"LA Woman" by the Doors
"Ventura Highway" by America*
"Beverly Hills" by Weezer*
"Free Fallin'" by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
"Valley Girl" by Frank Zappa (& Moon Unit, too!)
"Surfin' USA" by the Beach Boys*

What's missing?

UPDATE: Don't click the highlighted text below yet!!
So, before I hit "post" on this, er, post I decided to search for "Songs about Los Angeles" on Google. My heart sank when I found that Wikipedia has a list already. All that typing for nothing, I thought. But, then, I did some checking, and of the ones above in bold are not on Wikipedia's list! So, before you look at Wikipedia, come up with your list of Songs about Los Angeles and see if you can add more!

Photo of the late Soprano Victoria de Los Angeles

Monday, May 15, 2006

San Pedro Fish Feed!

The Atwater Village Nerd is viewing the City with "new eyes," so he is definitely seeing things that some of us natives miss. He mentions San Pedro Fish Market at Ports O'Call. Check out his posts and links.

This makes me recall that San Pedro hosts a First Thursday Art Walk every month. Also, don't forget the annual San Pedro Lobster Festival. You just may find these two attractions on the list for 225 Ways to Celebrate LA.

Also, this weekend only, the Port of Los Angeles will offer free boat tours in conjunction with World Trade Week. Also, LA Wood will host "Woodies on the Waterfront" on May 20th starting at 10am.

Check out The San Pedro Community Event Calendar for a ton of events coming up including the Warner Grand Open House & movie/theater schedule, Farmer's Market info and more info than most communities have. A lot is going on in San Pedro and all over the City; don't miss out!

Valley's only famous "Girl"??

As a City Nerd, I don't often read TeenPeople, but I happened upon an interview with Paula Abdul. It was as mushy and loving as she acts on camera. (I've recently noticed a lot of TV coverage of her hugging paparazzi - what's that about?) So, she's being interviewed about the final three American Idol contestants and says of Sherman Oaks resident Katherine McPhee:
"Don't count her out, because teen girls love her. And she lives, like, two blocks away from me! I don't know any other [San Fernando] Valley girls who have become famous, besides myself."

I'm no celebrity stalker or star-struck geek, but I do know that there are a few other women who've grown up in the Valley (specifically Sherman Oaks) and become famous. Jennifer Aniston is still waiting for stardom, I suppose, & Melanie Griffith is still trying to "get there" - both were from Sherman Oaks. Ricki Lake grew up there & so did The Olsen Twins. So, apparently, there are other famous Valley Girls - I wonder if Paula has heard of them?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Highland traffic to get better... after getting worse!

Finally, after years of effort, the City of Los Angeles now has jurisdiction over Highland Avenue, which until today, was part of the State Highway System (like Topanga Canyon Boulevard (HWY 27) & and Pacific Coast Highway (HWY 1).

According to Councilman LaBonge's weekly newsletter:
Highland Avenue, heretofore known as State Highway 170, was formally relinquished to the City of Los Angeles on Friday when Assemblymember Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood) presented a check in the amount of $3.2 million to the City of Los Angeles for street and traffic improvements.

The transfer in authority, an initiative of Councilmembers LaBonge and Eric Garcetti, means improvements can begin immediately to improve congestion along this critical north-south corridor that runs through the heart of Hollywood. "There will be some pain as crews work to widen and improve this intersection of Highland and Franklin, but in the end, we will all gain from increased mobility, " said Councilmember LaBonge.

This first phase of street improvements at Highland and Franklin will also include installation of dedicated right-hand turn lanes, new street lights, street trees and new traffic signals. Traffic is expected to be severely congested during construction, which is expected to take six months. Motorists are strongly urged to avoid using Highland in favor of alternate routes like Vine Street.

So, traffic will be awful as they try to improve it. But as with other projects, I hope people don't think things have improved only because the construction delays have gone away.

Now, when are they going to fix the crumbling hill in Laurel Canyon?

Starting off on the wrong "froot":

Mayor Villaraigosa's commencement address at USC started out a little flat this morning. Following the eloquent, intelligent, & engaging Kavitha Sivaraman & her Valedictorian address, the Mayor's mispronounced words and references to the Westwood Bruins solicited comments and shaking heads (and even good-natured boos) from the Trojan crowd. But his success was not in his skill to connect with the students on the issues of being USC graduates. Here's what happened...

After receiving an honorary doctorate, the Mayor addressed the graduates. He asked them to "rise to your freet [sic]" and turn around. Then, to the parents, he said to take a good look because this is what 41,000 dollars a year gets you. He then referenced a litany of remarkable graduates of USC: from Neil Armstrong to Warren Christopher - and then, he said that the list now includes "the Mayor of Los Angeles." The crowd rumbled with comments of "modesty" and "ego."

His speech transitioned from the university and the students to the national political arena as he made many comments of the crosstown rivalry between USC & UCLA. The Mayor praised the local rivalry because he claimed it was rooted in a mutual respect. Of national politics, he chastised the partisanship of this country. He implied that their is little respect between Democrats and Republicans. And once he started talking about the truly "big picture" of national and international politics, he became energized and passionate. No longer was he stuttering or stumbling over his words. In fact, he was inspiring when he said with all honesty: "You can oppose the war but still support our troops." Mayor Villaraigosa has the ability & skill to bring divergent people & opinions together; he expressed quite well as he finished his speech his understanding of the responsibility of a federal office-holder. He's got my vote for governor or senator, for sure. But, here, locally in L.A., does he really get what it takes to run a City that needs someone to understand how to prepare a balanced budget? Does he know how to connect intimately to the issues of graduates looking for jobs in an economy can't keep them competitively in this city/state? With an audience estimated at 40K from all over the nation, he has introduced himself well to potential donors for his campaign for a nationwide ticket. And frankly, I think he could do it.

But his message to the students may have fallen short. After the ceremony, graduates could be overheard saying "well, last year Neil Armstrong spoke at graduation, but I guess the Mayor is ok." Out of state parents asked each other: "Did you know that he was a high school drop out from East L.A.?" And still another student said: "I can't believe they had a Bruin speak at my graduation."

He will be remembered by all as delivering a politically charged address - I just wonder how long it will be before these graduates will tell their future spouses or children that, "Oh, yeah, Vice-President Villaraigosa spoke at my graduation from 'SC back in 2006."

(One of the highlights of the speech for a City Nerd like me was when the Mayor explained how USC became known as Trojans. He referenced a 1912 article in the L.A. Times by sportswriter Owen Bird, regarding a track meet where USC were to face Stanford and would "fight like Trojans" in a competition with a forgone conclusion. Nice to know.)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

225 Ways to Celebrate: 46 to 55

It's Thursday, so here is the next installment of 225 Ways to Celebrate LA's 225th Birthday:

46. Walk around the Mulholland Fountain at Riverside Drive and Los Feliz Boulevard and try to imagine the 1-room home in which Mulholland once lived at that site. If you go at night, see if the lights are on and enjoy the show.

47. Park your car in the parking lot on the northeast corner of Vermont & Santa Monica and enjoy Sheila Klein's Vermonica art installation.

48. Visit the museums & galleries of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee. The "Countdown to Eternity" exhibit in the Civil Rights Museum should not be missed.

49. See the busts and reliefs of your favorite television stars from Bill Cosby to Johnny Carson to Phil Donahue to Lucille Ball to Jim Henson at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame Sculpture Plaza in NoHo. (You can also see a two-story tall Emmy!)

50. Eat Green Corn Tamales at El Cholo (through October only).

51. Catch a show at the Ebell Theater, which has been governed by a board of 15 women since its inception in 1927 as part of the Ebell Women's Club.

52. See if you can count the 1000 rings in the fallen Oak that gave Encino its name.

53. Take a hike in Runyon Canyon (thanks, Miles), but watch out for dog doo!

54. Walk across the Hyperion Bridge and read all the plaques.

55. Testify before the City Council during public comment on a specific topic, with a general concern, say you think they're doing a good job, or just say you have the right to say what you want, so you're going to. This is your right, per the rules, and everyone should exercise that right to speak before the elected body. (If you're in the Valley, you can also testify remotely from the Valley Municipal Building, though there's nothing quite like standing before the council in the temple-like Ferarro Council Chambers.)

"225 Ways to Celebrate..." thus far:

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Griffith Observatory unveiling - the last one!

Today, the Daily News reported on the upcoming unveiling of the 4-years-coming renovated Griffith Observatory located above the City in Griffith Park. Of course, the park was "gifted" to the City by Col. Griffith Jenkins Griffith and the funds to build the Observatory were willed to the City upon his death (of course, all this confirmed by the always accurate Wikipedia).

So, all this hoopla for the unveiling of the new observatory calls to mind the last time the Observatory hosted an unveiling. It was back in the days of Councilman John Ferraro. Later this year, it's going to be the most crowded attraction in the City, employing a Getty-esque reservation system for the visitors; but in 1990, it was the flanking of firefighters and a few community members that celebrated the restoration of Observatory's "Astronomers' Monument" which was originally built in 1935 (along with the rest of the structure) which depicts six cast-stone figures for this 40-foot monument by 6 artists. Represented are astronomers Sir William Herschel, Sir Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei and Hipparchus. The 4-week, $70,000 restoration was celebrated by Councilman Ferraro (at the podium) and TV crews.

These photos chronicling that last event are courtesy of then-Council Aide Tom LaBonge.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Biking in the Crosswalk - Thanks LADOT!

Currently, state law prohibits bicyclists from riding their bikes in a crosswalk. But, LA Department of Transportation is here to make a change for safety...

At the LADOT Bikeways Division's recommendation, the L.A. City Council has adopted (as part of their State Legislative Program) a motion to support & sponsor "legislation amending the Vehicle Code to authorize the operation of bicycles in crosswalks subject to local ordinances, as recommended by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and the California Bicycle Advisory Committee." The full recommendation is here. They approved it last week (5/5/06), and it now awaits the signature of the mayor.

(See, the City Charter adopted in 1999 gives all of the City's lobbying power to the Mayor's office. The Mayor has permanent staff in both Sacramento and Washington, D.C., to push forward the City's agenda.)


Flooding L.A.

With posts over at about flood maps, I thought I'd share this little site the City has that shows the City's flood maps. How safe are you? (There are also links for more safety and services related to flooding).

UPDATED: 60 cent Tommy's Burger!

To update a post from this weekend, on Monday, May 15th, Tommy's will be offering a cheeseburger and a soda for only 60 cents in honor of their 60th anniversary. Not that purchasing said items are that expensive at Tommy's to begin with, but this promo makes it a truly celebratory time in the City.

I'll be there sometime between 12noon and midnight (the hours of the promotion) - will you? And, oh yeah - it's only offered at the original location at Beverly & Rampart.


Monday, May 08, 2006

Got 23 minutes??

In the time it would take to watch a TiVo-ed sitcom (obviously, without commercials), you could revisit all that the Los Angeles Region had to offer via pictures set to music and film.

So, get a cup of coffee or some popcorn, take your shoes off, sit back, and click here to enjoy LA over 100 years ago... Thank goodness for the Internet.

And thank you, 1947project.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Material things I want most...

So, I just got "tagged" by Kim at 1947project (& Scram & Bubblegum) as a result of a tag fromRodger at 8763wonderland regarding the 5 things I most covet. I'm not sure how I should react, first, by being tagged; but since I'm taking a break from gallivanting across the City right now, I'll go for it.

So, the Top 5 things I want right now (with the rule being they must be practical things like one would find on a birthday list) are as follows:

1. A car that doesn't utilize gasoline to travel all over the City.
2. One of the Selig Elephants for my front yard.
3. An "eat-for-free card" for Tommy's.
4. A definitive & accepted map of L.A. community boundaries.
5. A key to the City - not one for me, but one that was given to someone long ago when they used to do those kinds of things in Los Angeles. (Bill Wardlaw is the last known person to get one, from then-Mayor Riordan. Prior to that, visiting dignitaries from other countries seemed to be the recipients. Also, as shown in the photo from the LAPL collection, there was a tradition for a key to be passed from mayor to mayor - I wonder where that key is now?)

I'm not tagging anyone else; but if you have some material desires, feel free to comment.

Tommy's Turns 60! VOTE NOW!!

Shame on all of us LA Bloggersl.

How could we have been remiss in the last months to not share with the world what is happening in Los Angeles on May 15th?

How did we not let our readers know about the contest that affects all Angelenos in the Greater Southern California area and beyond?

We missed mentioning that The Original Tommy's is celebrating 60 years on May 15th, and up until April 23rd, they were searching for the ultimate Tommy's Fan. You can no longer enter the contest now, but you can still vote.

Well, I for one, am very sorry I didn't bring this news to the forfront sooner so you could enter to win (heck, so I could enter to win!), but at least you can still vote for the person you think is the biggest fan.

When you register to vote at the site, you'll see all sorts of stories from all sorts of people. The one I liked best was from a guy named Donald from San Diego. He loves Tommy's so much that he writes:
"As a matter of fact, now, [when] I go to my weight reduction class at Kaiser Permenente on Tuesdays, I always stop by the original Tommy's on Clairemont Mesa Blvd in San Diego after weighing in for the week!"

That's true fandom!

Remember to go celebrate at the original shack on Beverly & Rampart on May 15th!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Atwater Nerd is right!

I'm glad someone else is saying it; I've been at it for years. The recent but astute L.A. (City) transplant has it. The Atwater Village Nerd Posts that places called "best in L.A." should actually BE in Los Angeles. Notice the first installments of "225 Ways to Celebrate LA" are limited to things in or related to the City of L.A. Thanks for calling it out, AV Nerd!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

My kind of graffiti!!

This is what I'm talking about: This is how you express yourself without causing costly repair/restoration/removal issues.

Please - I'd love to see someone knit an afghan for the "Ruins in Space" mural on the 101 north instead of seeing it tagged.

This argues the case that you can have creative expression without it being destructive expression.

State Assembly to address Graffiti

Well, at least there's a step in a direction by the California State Assembly.

Last week, Assemblyman Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) introduced AB 2923 which "requires the collection of all costs associated with graffiti abatement imposed upon a minor to be included with the renewal or registration of a motor vehicle. This bill would also authorize a court to suspend a person's driving privilege for up to three years on acts of graffiti & vandalism."

The Transportation Committee passed it on April 24th, and now it's on its way to the Appropriations Committee. The Assemblyman's press release with quotes and rationale is here.

So, is this the direction the state should move to address the issue of graffiti? Should they allocate more to Caltrans to address the issue, perhaps? That's where most of the Graffiti is: on state freeways, soundwalls, poles, signs, bridges, etc.

OR... is this an election strategy for Calderon as he vies for a State Senate seat? gotta love them term limits!

Other City Nerd-isms on Graffiti:
Graffiti Plan
Rolling Blight
Freeway Graffiti Removal Challenge

How to sing the National Anthem at Dodger Stadium

Everyone has a dream. Perhaps yours is to sing in front of thousands of people while at the same time trying to sound unique while still sounding respectfully patriotic. This is usually done while singing the National Anthem at a sporting event. Here's your chance, if you want to support the Red, White, and (Dodger) Blue:

1. Record your rendition of the National Anthem.
2. Send it and your professional biography to Jane Biondi of Special Events at Dodger Stadium.

Easy enough, right? Well, not so fast... at the bottom of their so-you-want-to-sing-the-National-Anthem-at-Dodger-Stadium information page, it clearly states:

"All applicants must have professional experience."

What does that mean? Professional experience in what? What determines "professional experience": getting paid? Are the Dodgers limiting their talent pool here in the creative capital of the world, let alone anyone who has access to the internet and the ability to come to LA if selected, to paychecks? I would think that - after hearing some of those who have sung "The Star-Spangled Banner" in Chavez Ravine in the past - anyone who wants to should send in their recording. All Ms. Biondi can do is not listen to it. And why wouldn't she? With the success of American Idol, who knows who they might find who has not yet had "professional experience."

I say, send in those tapes. Think Blue as you sing, and let them know you love America, Dodger baseball, & singing.

Listen and Eat!

It's true; I am a sucker for all things L.A. (Does it show?)

As much as I liked the most recent song I'd recently heard about LA, Weezer's "Beverly Hills", L.A. Music Nerd's post about LA's newest song is fantastic. The "Eat Street" song takes culinary allusions to a new level in Los Angeles. I'm excited to use the song as an anthem as I go out to sample all the restaurant's listed.

Bravo, Ron, for sharing this winner with the world via

225 Ways to Celebrate: 36 to 45

It's Thursday, so here is the next installment of 225 Ways to Celebrate LA's 225th Birthday:

This time, check out these "grand" things...

36. This summer, attend a free "Grand Performance."

37. Take some time to explore the public spaces of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

38. See a play at the Ahmanson Theater.

39. See another play at the Mark Taper Forum.

40. Take in an Opera at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

41. Hear a concert at the Disney Concert Hall.

42. Explore MOCA for free any Thursday night between 5pm and 8pm.

43. Hear a concert or attend a performance at the Colburn School of Music & Performing Arts.

44. Attend the Grand Avenue Festival.

45. Participate in a Grand Avenue Committee meeting to share input on Phase I plans.

"225 Ways to Celebrate..." thus far:

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Central Library Rebuilt

This weekend, Brian Humphrey of the LAFD postedabout the Central Library Fire's 20th anniversary . He called it "one of the most remarkable structure fires in American history," and that strikes a chord with me. Here we are with this amazing resource that was not what you see today. But remember, this was only the first of two arson fires that closed the library for over 7 years. Also, after the library underwent a $216 million renovation, the Bradley Wing was added which doubled the size of the Central Library. This made it the largest public research library west of the Mississippi River.

So, here's the challenge for folks like myself who didn't know the library before its 1993 re-opening. What did the inside of library look like before the reconstruction? I found a few pics on the LAPL site, but only black & white of the aftermath of the fire and some photos from the 1960s.

I did find the original layout:

Here are the few other interesting photos from 40 years ago:

I wonder if there are any color photos online anywhere?

Perhaps in someone's personal collection?

I'm sure there had to be some funky, early 80's color photos of the inside... right?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Abandon Your Cars; Park for Days!

Currently, there is a law in the City that says you cannot park a vehicle on the city streets for more than 72 hours in one spot. The requirement is that your vehicle must move at least 1 mile after each 72 hour period it is parked on an unrestricted city street. A Parking enforcement officer would mark a car and return three days later to see if it was still there. Well, how did parking enforcement officers know that the car hadn't actually moved and reparked during their absence? This was movement(or not) was confirmed by checking the mileage that was prominently displayed on the dashboard in the form of the odometer. I say "was" for a reason...

See, yesterday, a court ruling was delivered that said this ordinance was no longer legal as there was really no way to prove a vehicle had or hadn't moved the mile. So, basically, the Cit has no legal ordinance to enforce - right now - parking on City streets for more than 72 hours. So, park away - for now, no one is going to ticket or tow you (for that specific violation of parking over 72 hours). Who knows when a new law will be adopted that can be enforced, but word is, right now, no "over 72 hour parking" tickets are being issued.

As always, though, park at your own risk!

They're Baaaack

It's that time of year again in L.A....

It happens every year at this time. Are you ready?

El Cholo is now serving Green Corn Tamales! They start serving every year on May 1st. With all the hoopla yesterday, perhaps the excitement of this annual tradition was lost. Usually, the biggest crowd in the City gathers at El Cholo on Western on May 1st, not on Wilshire at La Brea.

So, act now, you only have until October to get your fill for 2006.

Also, it looks like their menu got a redesign and prices were increased slightly. First prices on gasoline go up; now green corn tamales... what's next? Diddy Reese Ice Cream Sandwiches going to $1.10???

Wilshire Boulevard: What it was like...

Remember when Wilshire Boulevard at Cloverdale Avenue was not mobbed with hundreds of thousands? Or, better yet: what it looked like in the 1980s??

Photos by Tom LaBonge. (Yes, that Tom LaBonge).

Monday, May 01, 2006

The March, The Mayor, & Irony

So, as questions swirl as to where the Mayor was during the marches today, it has been conformed that around 1:30pm the Mayor and Chief Bratton were eating lunch together at the Quiznos beneath City Hall East in the Los Angeles Mall. For those who don't know, the L.A. Mall is a meager, indoor/outdoor, 1970s City-owned shopping mall that is too dark to have real energy or desirable tenants (though Robeks, Quiznos, and soon-to-be Sbarro have recently located there). They have many food places, a Sav-on, one of the only bookstores in Downtown (B Dalton), a Hallmark Cards, and nice fountains. Their "toasty" dining experience must have been right before they took their helicopter ride to tour the marches.

Also, it was somewhat ironic that as the march gathered around City Hall, inside the budget chambers, the City's Department of Cultural Affairs was discussing their budget for next year before the Council's Budget & Finance Committee. It was somewhat ironic as the music, speeches, and chants filled the sometimes somber Council Chambers.