Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Los Angeles Lizard People

So, as Halloween 2006 draws to a close (well, at least for those not in L.A. City, where Halloween lasts until noon on November 1st), I wanted to share with you a frightening legend that is not oft discussed in Los Angeles these days. It dates back to the 1930s (1933 & 1934, to be exact) when Los Angeles was amidst an oil boom.

In 1933, while searching for minerals in the Los Angeles area, Mr. Warren Shufelt claimed to have discovered a network of underground tunnels that created a city hundreds of feet beneath the surface. He discovered this tunnel network by using his own invention: a radio x-ray device. He then traveled to Arizona and connected with a Hopi Indian named Chief Little Green Leaf who confirmed the Hopi belief that such people, Lizard People, lived underground in various places in the southwest 5000 years ago. Shufelt, along with Rex McCreary & Ray Martin, got permission from the County (not the City) to dig a hole out to excavate the tunnels that they were convinced existed, and the treasures that were exhumed would be split 50/50 between the County and the miners. Unfortunately, after burrowing for 250 feet into Fort Moore Hill (the current construction site of Downtown's new arts high school), nothing was discovered, and the operation, abandoned. (You can read articles written in 1934 here).

So, here are some other facts that are rarely mentioned which lead me to believe this was all a hoax:

1. At least 3 years prior, Shufelt oversaw mining operations in Arizona. He could have easily heard about the underground tunnels legend and the lizard legends while there and used them to build interest on his device or his name.

2. With Los Angeles going through an oil craze and people mining throughout Southern California, this could have easily been a ploy to grab attention so that he could make money on a scam.

3. Still convinced his radio x-ray device worked, a few years later, Shufelt volunteered to help recover the missing, drown body of a boy in the Los Angeles area. He claimed that a lock of the grief stricken mother's hair placed in the device would lead the authorities to the body. He searched for days, with no results. This further proves his device a sham, besides that fact that modern day science cannot prove his theories.

So, believe what you will, but I think the whole thing is a scam - back in the 1930s and today for anyone who leads you to believe that the tunnels were real. OK, maybe this isn't a scary Halloween story, but the fact that people believed that Shufelt really did what he claimed in "divining" the tunnels with a radio x-ray is quite scary.

LA Times map via Reptoids.com.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Downtown Tour: Disney Style!

As a fan of tours of Los Angeles, I was intrigued and glued to the screen in watching a condensed version of Charles Phoenix's Downtown LA "Disneyland" tour. Though 15 minutes in length, it's worth a watch.

Now, I would say that the Phoenix Bakery Cake is a great homonym for the Phoenix led tour... which is in LA, and not Phoenix.

Anyway, just watch it and enjoy the magic of Los Angeles, the true magic kingdom.

His next tours are coming up on November 5th and 12th. More info here.

via Quartz City Nerd

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Updated Links

So, there's some new blogs I've been tracking, and others that have gone on hiatus. I don't know about everyone else, but if it's listed on my links, I read it. I've updated the links section to your right as follows (where you can find the actual links):

Angelenic Nerd: http://www.angelenic.com
(This is Valley-based Los Angeles blogging.)

Dig L.A. Nerd: http://diglounge.net
Observations about the City & its culture)

L.A. Tour Guide Nerd: http://famous-houses.livejournal.com
(occasional postings about touring tourists)

L.A. Yarn/Art Nerd: http://www.ellenbloom.blogspot.com
(Lots of yarn, but other cool tidbits about LA, too.)

L.A. via Paris Nerd: http://losangelesfrog.blogspot.com

L.A. Photo Nerd: http://lightandsky.blogspot.com

L.A. Daily Photo Nerd: http://losangelesdailyphoto.blogspot.com

Westward Ho Nerd: http://westwardho.typepad.com
(An East Coast transplant's observations.)

Quartz City Nerd: http://www.quartzcity.net/blog
(blips and bites about L.A.)

USC Nerds: http://angelingo.usc.edu/
(Let's hope this grows to be more about LA and less about the world.)

Neighborhood Nerds:
Sherman Oaks Community Nerd: http://sherman-oaks.blogspot.com/
(not to be confused with LAist's Zach)

Photo-Tech Downtown Nerd: http://whatsupla.blogspot.com/

Lincoln Heights II Nerd: http://www.chanfles.com/blog/index.php

Municipal Nerds:
L.A. Parks Nerd: http://laparks.blogspot.com
(It is just a synthesis of press releases, but they at least let you know what's going on in the parks... for the most part.)

Angel's Gate Nerd: http://www.angelsgateart.org/blog
(This is only a quasi-municipal nerd because it's a City facility.)

and those who've gone on hiatus...
City Elf Nerd
El Sereno Nerd
San Pedro Nerds
Stuck Valleyite Nerd

New to City Nerd Media:
BrooWaHa (I'm hoping it becomes interesting...)

What other blogs should I add to my daily reads? Any who has time to read all this information? It's not easy!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Cardinal Mahony & LA's Cathedral.. on South Park??

With all this talk of the Cathedral of the Angels at LAist, I thought it would be interesting to share that South Park, too, has their own "photos."

Seen below are screen shots via the "Catholic" blog, The Cafeteria is Closed.

A fairly decent likeness to Mahony; and the Cathedral is captured in particular detail with the lighting fixtures being quite recognizable.

(Also, the comments on the "Cafeteria" site are amusing... for Catholics and those who know of them.)

Catholic or not, one would have to agree that this episode does represent the LA Landmark to a national (albeit potentially sophomoric) audience.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Defining Halloween & "No Silly String"

Franklin Avenue posts about the quotable signs put up on Hollywood Boulevard that warn of a "$1000.00 Fine" for using Silly String on Halloween there. A commenter, Will Campell, indicates that it is "because of alleged "rampant" use of the product resulting in altercations as well as complaints from Hollywood Boulevard storeowners that led to expenditure of city resources to clean up the mess."

Just to clarify...
The initial motion by Councilman Garcetti reads:
Recently there has been a problem with vendors selling what is commonly known as 'Silly String' at various major holidays and events such as the Hollywood parade as well as the Chinese New Year parade. 'Silly String' is a product which when used emits a string-like or streamer-like substance that is shot or expelled from a pressurized container.
This product creates a great nuisance, significantly adds to the trash problem and can also raise security issues at these mass gatherings. Several cities throughout the nation, including New Orleans have enacted ordinances to ban the sale of 'Silly String' along designated parade routes.
THEREFORE MOVE that the City Attorney be requested to prepare and present an ordinance which would prohibit the sale of 'Silly String' during parades and other special events, inasmuch as this product can create potential health, safety and welfare concerns for members of the public who attend parades and other similar events.
It was originally for all parades and special events and related to the sale of the product. Then, it was amended to focus on the specific day of the year and possession. The law enacted reads as follows:
WHEREAS, every year, a large quantity of products known as "Silly String" are used and the empty Silly String cans then are discarded in the Hollywood Division of the Los Angeles Police Department during Halloween festivities; and

WHEREAS, Silly String and Silly String cans cause a safety hazard in that they may cause pedestrians and police officers on horseback or motorcycles to slip and fall; the cans may be used as weapons in the event of a melee; and in the past the cans
have been thrown at store windows along Hollywood Boulevard; and

WHEREAS, Silly String and Silly String cans cause an environmental hazard in that these products are discarded in large quantities onto the street, clog the storm drains, and ultimately travel to the ocean.

No Person... shall possess, use, sell or distribute Silly String at, within or upon any public or private property that is either within public view or accessible to the public, including, but not limited to, public or private streets, sidewalks, parking lots, commercial or residential buildings, places of business, or parks within the Hollywood Division during Halloween."

So, to recap: No Silly String anywhere in Hollywood Division for 36 hours because of "environmental hazards" and "safety hazards." (Oh, and the store owners complained about a few broken windows and a potential "melee.")

And also, the City of Los Angeles has defined "Halloween": the adopted ordinance defines Halloween as "the 36-hour period from 12:00 a.m. on October 31st of each year, through 12:00 p.m. on November 1st of each year." Who knew the holiday was 36 hours long!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Another Square

Add another Square to the list in the City:

Lou Dantzler, founder of the Challenger Boys and Girls Club, at Vermont and 51st.

via LAist

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Say my name: LA

One of the debates that swirls around Los Angeles is a basic one that has been going on for over a century: how to pronounce the City's name. Quartz City gives the pop culture perspective and the battle between NBC and CBS. In 1923, Will M. Cressy of San Francisco wrote that there were 26 ways to mispronounce Los Angeles, to which columnist Jack Smith later wrote that " in the 1930s there were as many ways of mispronouncing Los Angeles as there were radio announcers."

In 1952, after touring the nation, Mayor Bowron found it necessary just before the City's 171st birthday celebration to convene a panel of 20 experts to define the true pronunciation. But, the results were inconclusive - no definitive pronunciation was proclaimed or adopted.

Perhaps we just rest assured by the words of Jack Smith: "I suppose there will never be any right way to say Los Angeles."

Mr. Smith is probably right. Even with our current Mayor's heritage, his pronunciation is more anglicized than that of Irishman Tom LaBonge, who uses the LA Times masthead version: "Loce Ahng-hail-ais."

(And don't get me started on pronouncing Los Feliz and the grammatical errors involved.)

Post Script...
It's interesting to note that in that same year of convening a committee to adopt an official pronunciation (1952), the L.A. Times referred to Mayor Bowron's true opinion:
"Although reluctant to reveal his personal pronunciation of the City's name, the Mayor prayed that civic pride would prevent its citizens from ever, ever referring to it as 'L.A.'"
Guess we've all messed that up.

Post Post Script...
Speaking of pronunciations, does anyone remember what Al Gore said when he came to Pacoima? Yep, he called it "Pack-o-ee-ma"; he tried to fit in, he really did. Too bad it was not the right time to use Spanish pronunciations for a Tongva word.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Constituent Bill of Rights?

What's with Councilman Bill Rosendahl's Constituent Bill of Rights? There are only 8; and really, do they say that much? The reason this is important to look at is because of ongoing issues affecting the constituents of Westchester as noted here by CurbedLA. )But, remember, the students at LMU are also constituents and, thus, are entitled to the same rights. Perhaps they'll pursue right # VII!)

Here they are (with comments in italics):
I. The right to prompt, professional and efficient service.
II. The right to be treated with dignity and respect by friendly, courteous and attentive City employees.
III. The right to ask questions and receive accurate and useful answers.
Great. What if my questions are non-city related questions? Is it my right to get accurate and useful answers?
IV. The right to prompt return and follow-up calls concerning complaints or requests.
That's a good policy.
V. The right to be educated about the services provided by the City and how to obtain such services.
Good to know the constituents can be "schooled" by CD11 staff.
VI. The right to an inclusive and transparent process for community development, parks, and transportation decisions.
I'd like to be included in all decisions about stop signs being install in CD11 - it's my right, apparently. But why only these three issues? Why not all issues? Municipal expenditures? Construction? Public works improvements? No? Ok.
VII. The right of all constituents to meet with their councilmember at weekly "open office hours" in the district.
Weekly? So we have the right to meet with the councilman on a weekly basis? What about setting up a standing meeting on Thursdays at 4pm?
VIII. The right to advance notice and reports for all neighborhood projects and deliberations.
All Neighborhood projects and deliberations? Wow - that's a lot of letters and reports being sent out by email or in hard copy! I don't see every project listed on the website (or any, for that matter) - how does one know what projects or deliberations (what are those exactly) are happening?

Councilman Rosendahl should be applauded for providing rights for the constituents, but please, don't make them unattainable. Numbers I, II, & IV seem to be reasonable, but the other 5 "rights" seem to be a little far reaching and unrealistic. That just makes the council office look patronizing.

The framework of the his website appears to want to fulfill these "rights," but things don't seem updated or complete - like what is the status of the empowerment congress?

To be fair, Rosendahl has recently issued a press release/statement on the proposed widening of Sepulveda between Howard Hughes and 74th Street. Listening to neighbors, he has decided not to support such a project. This could mean two things: he listens to neighbors and does what is right for the greater community, or he listens to neighbors and caves to NIMBYism. I guess the travelers on Sepulveda and the neighbors will have to judge. And if they don't come to a consensus, the Councilman has a nifty tool on his website they could use called "Virtual Town Hall". It hasn't been used in a while... but maybe they'll get it up and running? It's the right of the constituents to have it working - oh, wait, that's not one on the list. Oh, well.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Westwood parking crack-down

LACurbed has a great little post about parking enforcement in Westwood here.

Take a read, and then read this...

Ok, now that you see the issue (people parking in/on driveway aprons and blocking a portion of the sidewalk in the process), here are a few more points to consider:

This issue is not a Westwood phenomenon. Though I would believe the area east of the UCLA campus could be the poster-child for this kind of parking, areas in Silver Lake and other "over parked" communities show this same thing. It is the result of too many driveways, too many cars, not enough street-parking and not enough parking provided off-street.

Remember, it is LADOT that administers and enforces parking on City streets. So, don't blame LAPD for the tickets one receives. Yes, they have better things to do than give parking tickets. That's why they no longer are the primary parking enforcement agency in the City, as they once were.

The Ordinance that allows for parking tickets to be issued for this infraction also allows a property owner to be cited for brush and debris blocking the public right-of-way (sidewalk). Yes, it's the adjacent property owners responsibility to keep the sidewalk in front of their property free and clear of obstructions that may impede a pedestrian. So, though a car may be one of the violations, a dumped mattress or couch, an overgrown bush, or a low hanging branch could also warrant a violation to the code.

So, parking may be an issue, but as others have commented, this enforcement may force the car owners, apartment renters, and perhaps the community to re-think the way cars are viewed and used in the quintessential college community of Los Angeles. (Sorry, USC fans: UCLA has a better "college town" than the Exposition Park campus of USC.)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Museum of the San Fernando Valley

Who knew!?

Apparently, the San Fernando Valley - that large portion of the City of LA north of Mulholland - has a regional museum focused on Valley History and culture. Their website leaves something to be desired, but they are inviting the entire community to attend an open house at something called "Museum Sundae." I like free things - and ice cream sundaes - so I might check it out. I'm really interested in seeing this collection of Mayor Bradley's photos, and they're previewing an exhibit on W.P. Whitsett, who was the founder of Van Nuys in 1911 (and was quoted as saying about the Valley in 1951: "We build a city a month out here."). He also was the first chairman of the Metropolitan Water District, which should not be confused with the LA DWP.

The Museum is on the campus of Valley College on Burbank Boulevard and the free event will be from 1pm to 4pm (more info is at their site here.

Now, what about a museum for ALL of Los Angeles on history and culture?

Monday, October 16, 2006

City endorses blogging!

Further proof that the City of LA sees the value in blogs as legitimate information sources comes from the City's own website!

As you can see from this screenshot, they have highlighted "This is Character Counts Week." When one clicks on the link, it takes you to a page of LAFD's Brian Humphrey (one of the best Municipal Nerds), which is all about - you guessed it - Character Counts Week. (You can click the City's webpage here to see for yourself that it really works. Note, though, that the City's main page gets updated often; so if you're reading this post a week or two after October 16, 2006, you may be out of luck to see it work for yourself.)

Way to go, Brian, for raising the status of blogs throughout the (this one's for you, Mike) Blog-LA-Sphere!

"Fruity stands"

LA Frog posts briefly about the many fruit stands around town.

Like the many other street vendors in LA - except for those in MacArthur Park which are part of one (of the 3) officially sanctioned City "vending districts" - these fruit vendors are most often without a permit. Some know first hand the pains of eating a vended food item, be it fruit or the "cooked" foods. Often, the produced used and seasoned (like corn and mangos) is below the quality recommended by the FDA. Often when these vendors' "store houses" are discovered, boxes marked "not for human consumption" are filled with corn, intended to be livestock feed. If the below-grade produce doesn't get you, the mayonnaise they season the corn's ear will: it's stored at sometimes sweltering temperatures. (And everyone knows you don't take potato salad to a picnic if it can't be kept cool!)

Street vendors in Los Angeles are generally unregulated and selling without permits. I would not suggest patronizing them, no matter how good the foods look or smell - it's not worth it.

See losanjealous's Ryan's account and accompanying comments here.

Back in March of 2006, Councilman Tony Cardenas asked that the City investigate "how more authority can be given to Building and Safety Department, Bureau of Sanitation and Bureau of Street Services to confiscate and abate the food and equipment that is being sold by the illegal vendors." This was due to the fact that the County's Health Department (with its limited resources) had to be present in order for the City agencies to deal with the illegal vendors. At this point, no report (which was to be due back to committee thirty days later) has been presented.

Some might say the City should just permit the vendors to control them, but what is at issue here is a) the use of public property for commercial purposes (what stops every sidewalk to be bazaar-like?) and b) it often detracts from the businesses that are operating out of a storefront and have to follow stringent rules and regulations. Often, you will see food vendors outside of other food sellers. Often, at the edge of supermarket parking lots, you will find on the City sidewalk a fruit vendor as pictured above.

A word to the wise... though they may be colorfully and aromatically enticing: beware of (illegal) street vendors' wares in LA!

photo via LA Frog

Friday, October 13, 2006

"LA is good, too."

With the sale of YouTube to Google, what will become of the phenomenon?

I like this videoblog by "Lucy in LA", which really shows what LA is about from an "aspiring actor's" point of view. (I use quotes because who knows what's real on YouTube or not.)

She starts of listing the good things with the beaches - pretty stereotypically LA "goodness." But she goes on to be quite profound (while sounding naive) by saying that what makes LA great is the choices and the diversity. I would concur. She hits right on by saying that there are "pockets of communities" that make up Los Angeles and that LA is the "heart of so many industries." She really brings it home with LA has so many "passionate, driven people." Is it a pun? Patronizing, perhaps? Either way, I like what she has to say.

Thank you, pre-Google YouTube for adding to LA!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Nickeled & Dimed

Life and Times had a story last week about the parking meter revenue in Pasadena and how it made such an impact on their Old Town area. They ask "Where Should Parking Meter Money Go?" In Pasadena, that money is re-invested in the district in which it was collected, which in their case, is Old Town Pasadena. In many ways, it acts like the BIDs act in Los Angeles. See, in L.A. the parking meter revenue is collected into a citywide fund called the Special Parking Revenue Fund, which was established as such in 1972. This fund can only be used in the districts where parking meters exist "for purchasing, leasing, acquiring, designing, constructing, improving, operating and maintaining public off-street parking facilities and parking meters in the City." Until the end of the 90s, this was done by council district,but has since changed to actual local meter districts (like Miracle Mile, Eagle Rock, North Hollywood, etc.)So, the money does stay with the meters, but it is spread throughout the City (although, this SPRF also pays for the "validation cost" for patrons at the Central Library - about $176,000 in 2005 alone). The rational has been that no one meter district can generate enough money on its own to garner the results that a combined fund can create. This is what paid for the Hollywood & Highland parking, as well as all the off-street lots you see throughout the City from Larchmont to Westwood to Highland Park to Studio City to Reseda. The question, as pointed out by this L&T segment, of where the monies should be spent was reviewed by the City in 2004, and it was determined that the citywide special fund was the way to go in Los Angeles. The fund gets an influx of money every January in the millions of dollars, but much of the money is designated for debt repayment.

An interesting point that UCLA Professor Donald Shoup, "a foremost expert on the science of parking," makes during the segment is that "The annual subsidy for parking in the United States is somewhere between what we spend for Medicare and national defense." Shouldn't we all park for free, though? Isn't that the American way? The professor says that's the wrong mindset, but I'm not so sure about that.

Related LACN parking meter stories:
Toy/Fashion District parking meters
5 parking tips for LA
Eagle Rock parking meter zone rates

Friday, October 06, 2006

No Mo' Motor Homes

As of today, October 6, 2006, a new ordinance is in place in the City of L.A. that can prevent vehicles over 22 feet long and over 84 inches high to be parked on City streets between 2am and 6am... when signs are posted on the street by resolution of the City Council.

The new ordinance will directly impact RV owners, but there is a $10 per day permit that can be purchased from LADOT for "loading and unloading" as ong as that activity lasts no more than three days.

The ordinance language can be found here.

This was initiated back in 2005 by Councilwomen Hahn and Miscikowski, and it took over a year for the Department of Transportation to make a recommendation (this entire process had been overseen by the Interim General Manager). They came up with 9 scenarios, and the one adopted was, obviously, the one preferred by the City Attorney and City Council.

It has apparently been a major issue in the San Pedro area; so it will be interesting to see which streets in the City are first to be designated as no RV parking, er, "no parking of vehicles over 22 feet in length and 84 inches in height."

Photo of Torrance's RV sign (not L.A.'s) from Family Motorcoach Assn.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

This about sums it up...

In the "Best of LA" feature in the LA Weekly, David Zahniser writes about Best Words Carved in Stone. I have to say, for me, I couldn't agree more.

Thanks for shining a light on it, Dave.

"Here the American people were erupting like lava..." (That's my L.A.)

This perfect photo is from Stockholm Cindy's Flickr page.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Everything you ever wanted to know..

So, I realized that not everyone who reads my posts necessarily reads other LA-centric blogs. So, here are two posts from the LAist.com that are directly related to this site. The two posts are the two parts of an interview I gave to Zach of Sherman Oaks. It conveys everything you ever wanted to know about this blogger. Ok, not everyhting, but some things. I hope you find it interesting:

LAist Interview: LACityNerd, Part I

LAist Interview: LACityNerd, Part II

I especially like the shrouded images used to depict my anonymity. Thanks, Zach, for taking an interest. Here's to all of LA!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Hollywood "Slash"

A reader, Tim, asked what the "slash" across Hollywood/West Hollywood was. So, to answer, look no farther than the former Pacific Electric "red car" lines.

The route from Downtown came to Hollywood via the Glendale Avenue Tunnel, past Echo Park Lake, onto Sunset Boulevard, and then onto Hollywood Boulevard at Hillhurst. The route continued down Hollywood Boulevard to La Brea, where the tracks went in a southwesterly direction from "in street" to a "private right-of-way" (and therefore no longer in the street). This lasted for 2 blocks before going back "in street" on Hawthorn Avenue and then cutting southwesterly again at Martel Avenue. This private right-of way is what has left a slash through Hollywood. It is most obvious as you drive down Sunset near Gardner Street and look at the diagonal property lines that formed the private right-of-way. "There is now some public parking by the City in the former right-of-way at this location.) If you want to see photos of the entire Hollywood Boulevard Line, including part of the slash, check out this site.

What's most interesting, though, is the way Buildings were designed based on the right-of-way. Evidence of these old Pacific Electric Lines are still seen across the City. Look at Vineland at Chandler where you can see the right-of-way that curved between properties:

You can also see the Glendale Line's remnants in the Elysian hills that led to Atwater Village:

And many Red Car lines became street routes we still use today, like at Chandler & Van Nuys Boulevard:

Yes, the Red Cars' legacy lives on...