Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Dogers Has A Mascot Now?


There's lots of new things at Doger Stadium this season, but one of them just sort of randomly appeared during the recent series with the hated Giants. Apparently the Dogers may or may not have a mascot. The team describes it as a "Unique Performance Character (UPC)." Okaaaay then.

The Uunique Performance Character apparently resembles a happy little fellow with a big smile, has a heart lodged in his mouth, and styles his hair with Viagra. But it most likely depicts one of those giant bobble heads outside of Reserve Level. Like The Militant, no one really knows its name, but at least The Militant can go under the nom de guerre, "The Militant Angeleno."

Since the Dogers have not named this Unique Performance Character, The Militant will call him, "Bob L. Hedd."

Speaking of mascots, y'allz remember this guy from the 2013 postseason (feels so long ago...) that the stadium security staff just couldn't, um, bear?


But who needs a UPC or a Bob L. Hedd when we have The Militant's unofficial official Doger mascot, Doger Doge?


Sunday, April 6, 2014

April Foolavia! Y'allz Got Punk'd!


The Militant's favorite day is April Fool's Day. Yes, it was six days ago already, but hear The Militant out. He loves not only the prank aspect of the day, but how the normal can become suddenly abnormal, just for the day. But in this age of Teh Interwebz, though there's a plethora of April Fool's gags to be found online, we're often let in on the prank before we even get a chance to get pranked. And that's kind of sad.

In the past, The Militant has done stuff like turn This Here Blog temporarily into "The Extremist New Yorker," or revealed his identity, or revealed his identity again (on video), or posed as an Angels fan in social media during last year's Dogers Opening Day (yeah, that one was kinda lame).

This year, he was at a loss as to what to do for his April Fool's gag. Revealing his identity? Been there, done that. Re-doing his page as another site? Too much work.

He found his answer when he saw someone tweet the link from his Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour post from last June, which was the same route as today's CicLAvia. These posts get a whole lot of interest...so why not update the post with some fake historical facts?

Yes, parts of The Militant's Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour 5.01 post were not real.

Take note of the date of posting -- April 1, 2014. Of course, by the end of the day, many pranks were explained, but The Militant kept quiet about this one. Of course, there's no rule that says you have to give away the prank by the time it's April 2...

Mind you, the entire post was not fake. He added six more points of interest to his updated post, but only one of them was real. In case you couldn't tell, here were the fake points of interest:

4. Urban Chew
2013
North side of Wilshire Bridge over 110 Fwy

The Militant just discovered this peculiar public art installation by artist Matthew Kasmirofsky while witnessing the Big Pour. About 160 pieces of gum, made of either actual gum pieces or latex rubber, were placed here in an art piece described by the artist as "a commentary on contemporary consumerist culture," especially how things are easily and carelessly discarded after a short time. Kasmirofsky has done similar public art installations in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Montreal and Stockholm.

The Militant totally made this up. There may or may not be pieces of gum on the north side of the Wilshire bridge over the 110, but it's NOT a public art installation. But who knows, it might be someday!

6. Site Of "Redbeard" Pirate Lynching
1879
1675 Wilshire Blvd, Westlake

In 1878 a man known as Cochran "Redbeard" O'Connor, a self-described "pirate," sailed into San Pedro Harbor and arrived into Los Angeles via railroad. He went on a notorious public rampage described, by the old Los Angeles Herald as, "Six months of public drunkenness, vulgarity, and lewd and lascivious behavior, which cannot be fully described in the pages of this publication." Other historical accounts of O'Connor purport he engaged in public displays of urination, indecent exposure, masturbation and groping. Police attempted to arrest him several times, but he somehow eluded them. Finally, on March 27, 1879, he was found attempting to defecate on the front yard of a mansion on Orange Street, when an angry mob chased him down. He was hung by a sycamore tree that stood near where the Home Depot stands today. According to a later Los Angeles Herald article, His boat in San Pedro Harbor was burned and sunken. O'Connor was buried in an unmarked grave at Evergreen Cemetery.

This would probably be the most outlandish fake point of interest, he for sure would have thought someone would have called his bluff on it, but no one did! But could you imagine a nasty pirate running around 1870s Los Angeles? He couldn't even imagine a nasty pirate running around 1970s Los Angeles. Or maybe he could. At any rate, maybe they should have a life-sized figure of Redbeard at The Redwood Bar & Grill in Downtown. Uh, with clothes on.

13. Brotherhood Mansion Site
1898
3183 Wilshire Blvd, Koreatown

The first automobile in Los Angeles took to the streets in 1897 and Delbert J. Walford, businessman and early automobile enthusiast, (and one of the first Angelenos to own a car), created the Most Benevolent Brotherhood of the Horseless Carriage (a.k.a. "The Brotherhood"), perhaps Los Angeles' first-ever car club. Members would offer repairs to stranded motorists, free of charge, hold Saturday afternoon salons to educate the public about the automobile, and offer driving classes for a very small fee. Some though, considered the organization to be a cult-like group, where members lived inside the mansion, maintaining strict standards on uniform dress and hats. In 1903, the group published a 106-page, eerily prophetic utopian (autopian?) manifesto, The Automobile For A Most Glorious California, envisioning a network of "automobile super-roadways" spanning several lanes wide, the creation of "automobile gardens" built around cities and communities oriented towards the car, developed far from the urban core. They also shunned and criticized the use of streetcars, bicycles and long-distance pedestrian travel. Now here comes the strange part: In August 1909, Walford and all of the members who were have known to have lived in the mansion vanished without a trace, leaving all material valuables (aside from their automobiles) behind. Their whereabouts were never found and the mansion was razed in 1917. Ironically, the site is home to the Wilshire/Vermont Metro station.

Though it's true the first auto rolled in Los Angeles in 1897, there was no Delbert J. Walford, nor was there any Most Benevolent Brotherhood of the Horseless Carriage anywhere. He just made that up.
But everyone likes their conspiracy theories, so some cult-like organization behind the propagation of the automobile in Los Angeles might sound plausible to many. The irony of the Wilshire/Vermont station location just made the crazy story even sweeter.

Militant readers Audrey Dalton and questhaven posted in the comments that they couldn't find anything about "The Brotherhood" (no one can, lol...) The Militant got a little nervous, so he just told them that he;d get his books out of storage and give more information by Monday. And this was your "more information!" Bahaha!

19. Site of DeBeers Paradise Flower Garden
1897
Wilshire Blvd and Normandie Avenue, Koreatown

Everyone knows that The Bird of Paradise is Los Angeles' official flower, but how did it become so popular? South African trade importer and horticulturist Wouter DeBeers, who built the DeBeers mansion and gardens in Garvanza, bought a plot of land on Wilshire Boulevard at Normandie Avenue in 1896 in hope of building a second home closer to the city. Having discovered he lacked the funds for constriction, and not wanting his land to remain vacant, imported several Bird of Paradise plants from his native Durban and grew an exotic plant garden on the plot, called "Paradise Flower Garden." Visitors were amazed at the orange bird-like flowers that seemed to flourish with little watering. DeBeers later sold seedlings and eventually became profitable enough to finance construction of his mansion, which he eventually built in 1905. The residence and legendary garden were eventually razed in 1919. The popularity of the flower in Los Angeles was largely credited to DeBeers.

No Wouter DeBeers, and no Paradise Flower Garden. The real story of the Bird of Paradise was that it was introduced to California circa 1853 by a Colonel Warren from Sacramento. But it wasn't until a century later, in 1952, a plant and seed company owner lobbied the City Council to make it official.

22. Crenshaw Tar Pits
Discovered 1902
Wilshire and Crenshaw boulevards, Hancock Park

Everyone knows about the world-famous tar pits of La Brea just down the street, but did you know there's a (much smaller) tar deposit by Wilshire and Crenshaw? Look around towards the back end of the parking lot on the southwest corner and you'll find less than a dozen tar puddles and seeps peeking through the pavement.

The Militant laughs just thinking about this one. How many of you actually bothered to check for tar seeps by Wilshire and Crenshaw? Well, it might be hard to right now due to the Metro Purple Line construction staging area that's there right now. This sounds like one of those Howseresque "Man, I never knew this" Los Angeles places that we all love. The Salt Lake Oil Field, where Arthur Gilmore first discovered oil and the Hancock family found tar deposits on their Rancho La Brea property, is a bit west of here, just west of La Bra Avenue in fact. So, no tar here at all, LOL...

The Berlin Wall entry is the only real new entry. He knew about it for a while but neglected to add it to the original Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour post from last year.

YOU JUST GOT PUNK'D, LOS ANGELES!

Happy April, fools! But The Militant hopes you had an awesome CicLAvia today anyways.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Let's Go Dogers!*


The Militant loves memes. In fact, if he wasn't a Militant, he'd be making memes all day long (So, uh, it's actually good her turned out to be a Militant). He also loves the Los Angeles Dodgers, so much that his life generally revolves around the baseball season (he mostly languishes during the off-season) and is super-stoked about today's home opener at the (newly-renovated) Stadium, which he may or may not attend.

But there's one dark cloud that hangs over Dodgertown, and that's the whole television thing [cue ominous thunder].

As you may or may not know, Time Warner Cable's SportsNet LA channel has the exclusive rights to all Dodger games, which they paid the team $8.35 billion two years ago to do. So, you cannot watch Dodger games unless you have Time Warner Cable (except those of you out in Bako who subscribe to Bright House Cable, perhaps the only good thing about living in Bakersfield). No more games on Fox Sports West. No more games on KCAL 9. Ergo, not only are those of us cable-disadvantaged folks (e.g. the low-income population and intellectual types who would rather read books or go online than watch cable TV -- and The Militant qualifies as both) assed-out, but so are those who have cable and satellite service that's not TWC.

The contract lasts for 25 years. So, no new TV deal until...the 2039 season (The Militant, as well as all Dodger fans, TWC-advantaged or not, sincerely hopes the team wins at least a couple of World Series titles by then). Sucks, huh?

Yes, this season's Dodgers tagline is "Live. Breathe. Blue." But Time Warner Cable took away all the oxygen.

The only other options for the cable-disadvantaged are:

1) AM 570 Radio. Remember, you need to be listening to an actual radio (you know, that little box thing with speakers, or that thing in the center panel of your car's dashboard), and not the online stream, which is blocked due to MLB licensing restrictions. Which is fine, since we can still listen to Vin Scully (for the first three innings at least...), and we can listen to Dodger Talk with Kevin Kennedy and David Vasseigh. But then we also have to deal with the endless 1-877-KARS-4-KIDS and California Earthquake Authority (it was not cool) commercials. Ack!

2) Undocumented Internet Streams. The Militant was able to watch the Dodgers games in Sydney thanks to an undocumented internet stream of ESPN's UK feed. You can try undocumented streams like Wiziwig and Strikeout.co. The Militant didn't tell you anything.

3) Go To An Actual Damn Game. Of course, that is the ideal. Considering the TV debacle, maybe it's the reason why the Dodgers have already sold 3 million tickets before the home opener.

Yeah, there will be the rare dog bones thrown at us when the games are on ESPN or Fox's Game Of The Week, and we will inevitably chomp on them like emaciated hounds. And if when the Dodgers go to Teh World Series, everyone will be happy again for more than one reason.

To protest this, The Militant has decided to, well...he can't boycott the Dodgers since things aren't as bad as when McYouKnowWho ran the team. So, he decided to combine his love of Dodgers and love of Internet Memes and create the Doger Meme.

You've heard of the Doge Meme, right? Well, from this point on, until the TV thing is resolved, The Militant Angeleno will no longer refer to his favorite baseball team by their properly-spelled name. He will now call them The Los Angeles Dogers (pronounced, "doe-jurz" - and note, no second "d," which stands for, "Damnit, The Militant can't watch his favorite baseball team's games on TV anymore"). This goes for both This Here Blog as well as Twitter and Facebook.

PLEASE DO THE SAME IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE MILITANT (Or else he'll just look like some illiterate fool who can't spell the team's name correctly).

The Militant can't wait to go to Doger Stadium and eat his first Doger Dog. LET'S GO DOGERS! 

Use them hashtags: #dogers  #ineedmydogers

Thursday, April 3, 2014

34 More Suburbs In Search Of Their Names: An Etymology Of Orange County's Cities



Last November, The Militant came out with a list of the origins of the 88 incorporated cities of Los Angeles County, satisfying the curiosities of transplants, immigrants and natives alike, many of whom take such place names for granted.

That post literally made history of its own, becoming the most-read Militant Angeleno blog post of all time, garnering (to date), just a couple hundred views shy of 10,000 (the #2 most-read post only has a little more than half of those stats).

This time, The Militant takes on the land on the other side of The Orange Curtain. Home to famous theme parks, an agricultural heritage, a major league baseball team with a geographical identity crisis, and lots of suburban sprawl, The County Known As Orange also gave the world Richard Nixon (Yorba Linda), Michelle Pfeiffer (Santa Ana), No Doubt (Anaheim), Tiger Woods (Cypress) and the Fender Stratocaster electric guitar (Fullerton).

More recently (like really, really recently), Orange County became the home of the Huell Howser archives and a certain earthquake you might have felt a few days ago.

Like its larger neighbor to the north, which, before 1889, it was once a part of (finalized in 1951 when the county split from the 213 area code), Orange County's cities were named after town founders, saints, Mexican ranchos, topography, marine mammals and oil byproducts. English, Spanish, Invented Spanish, Latin and German contributed to the names of the incorporated burgs of Oh-See.

So after much Militant research, here it is, the etymology of Orange county's 34 cities, in alphabetical order:

Aliso Viejo – Invented Spanish for its native Sycamore trees (Los Alisos) and its proximity to Mission Viejo.

Anaheim – Founded in 1857 by 50 German American settlers of Bavarian heritage from San Francisco. They called the area “Annaheim” (Home of Anna, with “Anna” referring to the Santa Ana River).

Brea – Spanish for “Tar.” A merger of the former towns of Olinda and Randolph, which were located on the Brea-Olinda Oil Field, where tar was abundant.

Buena Park – Invented Spanish for “Good Park,” refers to a green area near today’s Artesia and Beach boulevards that was known by locals as “Plaza Buena.”

Costa Mesa – Formerly "Harper," was renamed in 1920 to the Spanish name for “Coastal tableland,” referring to its location and topography.

Cypress – Formerly "Watertown," and later "Dairy City, "was named after the original Cypress Elementary School. The school planted a row of cypress trees to protect itself from the Santa Ana Winds.

Dana Point – Named after author Richard Henry Dana, Jr, who wrote a book in 1840 called Two Years Before The Mast, which was set in the area. He described it as “The only romantic spot on the coast.”

Fountain Valley – Formerly "Talbert," was re-named in 1957 after the local artesian wells in the area created by the high underground water table.

Fullerton – Named after land developer George H. Fullerton, who was affiliated with the Santa Fe Railway, and was instrumental in bringing the railroad to the area.

Garden Grove – Named in 1874 by early settler and founding father Alonzo Cook, who held a vision of how he wanted the young village, located on an open plain, to look like.

Huntington Beach – Formerly "Pacific City," it was named in 1909 after the Huntington Beach Company, a real estate firm owned by Henry Huntington, who also founded the Pacific Electric Railway.

Irvine – Named after James Irvine, an Irish immigrant who owned much of the land the city now stands on.

La Habra – From Mexican-era Rancho La Habra (mountain pass), which traversed the Puente Hills. See the Los Angeles County list for its cross-county counterpart, La Habra Heights.

La Palma – Formerly "Dairyland," named after La Palma (Spanish for ‘the palm”) Blvd.

Laguna Beach – Derived from early town post office named “Lagona” (misspelled Spanish after the local wetlands, or lagoon), was later changed to “Laguna Beach.”

Laguna Hills  -" Laguna" + these little mountain things called "Hills."

Laguna Niguel – "Laguna" + "Niguel," which was the name of an indigenous Acjachemen (a.k.a. Juaneño) village located in the area, along Aliso Creek.

Laguna Woods – "Laguna" + "Woods," for the bushy chaparral area in the hills, and since "Laguna Hills" was already taken. Formerly named "Leisure World." Consider it an upgrade.

Lake Forest – Formerly called "El Toro," was named after the pair of manmade lakes and the forest of Eucalyptus trees in the area.

Los Alamitos – Named after Rancho Los Alamitos - Spanish for “Little Cottonwoods,” after the clusters of cottonwood trees noticed by early Spanish settlers.

Mission Viejo – Invented Spanish for “Old Mission” (correct Spanish is "Vieja Mision") – a reference to nearby Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Newport Beach – Named in 1870 by landowners James Irvine, Robert Irvine and James McFadden, who agreed to name the new port in the area where the steamship The Vaquero unloaded, “Newport” (duh).

Orange – Formerly "Richland," was re-named in 1875 due to another Richland in Orange County. Was named after the first consistently successful crop to grow in the area after years of trial and error (the rest is history).

Placentia – Named by city founders after the latin word for “Pleasant.”

Rancho Santa Margarita – Named after St. Margaret, an early Christian martyr from Antioch (no, not that one).

San Clemente – Named after offshore San Clemente Island, which was named by Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino, who first arrived on the island on November 23, the feast day of St. Clement, the 4th pope.

San Juan Capistrano – Named after the Mission San Juan Capistrano, which was named after St. John of Capistrano, a 14th-century Italian priest.

Santa Ana –In the early 1770s, Fr. Junipero Serra called the area “Vallejo de Santa Ana” (Valley of St. Anne). St. Anne, the mother of Mary, and Jesus’ grandma, is the patron saint of expectant mothers.

Seal Beach – Originally named "Anaheim Landing" and later re-named, "Bay City," it was re-named again (due to conflicting with Bay City in northern California), this time after the California Sea Lions that were a familiar sight along the coast.

Stanton – Named after Seal Beach founder and land developer Philip Stanton, who agreed to take on this town's sewage utilities after a number of landowners opposed dedicating some of their land for a sewage plant.

Tustin – Named after town founder Columbus Tustin, a carriage maker from northern California.

Villa Park – Formerly Mountain View, the town was forced to change its name in due to conflicting with the city of Mountain View in northern California (man, these Orange County city founders sure lack originality...). You can't lose with invented Spanish around here.

Westminster – Founded as a Presbyterian temperance colony in 1870, was named after the Westminster Assembly of 1643, which created the basic tenets of the Presbyterian Church.

Yorba Linda – Named after Bernardo Yorba, early 19th-century Mexican-era grantee of Rancho Cañon de Santa Ana, upon where the modern Yorba Linda stands.  The town was named in 1907 after landowner the Janns Company combined “Yorba” with “Linda” (Spanish for “beautiful”).

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Militant's Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour 5.01!!!!!!

Click here to open the actual interactive map, because the new Google Maps suck ass.
Yes, friends, it's an exciting week for Los Angeles. Dodger baseball season returns to The Stadium on Friday, and this Sunday, CicLAvia season begins!

This time, the route returns to Ironic Iconic Wilshire Boulevard, a route first used in June of last year. The Militant already wrote one of this legendary Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour posts for that one, but he felt it was time for a minor update.

So after much more Militant research, he adds six additional points of interest to the tour, and even slightly updates some of the other points as well.

You know you totally want to eat this up, so here it is, Los Angeles!

1. One Wilshire Building/Wilshire Bookend Palm Trees
1966
624 S. Grand Ave, Downtown

Built during the first wave of modern skyscrapers following the repeal of Los Angeles' building height limit laws, this building, designed by architectural rockstars Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (who also went on to craft Chicago's Sears Tower, among many others) stood for most of its life as the address of legal and financial institutions. After a renovation in 1992, this building is now the location of CoreSite, a major data colocation center, which carries the primary Internet connections for Los Angeles (without this building, you can't read this!)

Take note of the row of palm trees, planted here in the 1970s: They are meant to evoke the end of Wilshire Boulevard, as on the opposite end, at Santa Monica's Ocean Avenue, 16 miles from here, you will also find a row of palm trees.

2. Wilshire Grand Center
2017
Wilshire and Figueroa (SW corner), Downtown

This big-ass hole in the ground used to be the Wilshire Grand Hotel, formerly (in reverse chronological order) the Omni Hotel, Los Angeles Hilton, Statler Hilton and Statler Hotel.

On this site will rise the new Wilshire Grand Center, Los Angeles' (and the West's -- suck on it, Transbay Tower SF!) tallest building at 73 stories and 1,100 feet (kinda sorta, there's a spire, you see...). It will also be Los Angeles' only modern skyscraper without a flat roof. It will house Wilshire Grand Hotel 2.0 and a bunch of shops and condos.

The building will also have a "sky lobby" up at the top and will be the first skyscraper anywhere to sport a mohawk.

The current construction site is the location of "The Big Pour" - which lasted from February 15 -16, where 21,200 cubic yards (81 million pounds) of concrete were continuously poured - earning it a Guinness World Record for that feat.

3. L.A. Prime Matter Sculpture
1991
Wilshire and Figueroa (NW corner), Downtown

Wilshire is full of awesome-looking public art. Here's one relatively-recent sculpture right at the northwest corner of Wilshire and Figueroa. Designed by the late Venice-based artist Eric Orr, who had a penchant for utilizing elemental themes in his art, L.A. Prime Matter features twin 32-foot bronze columns that feature water sliding down its faces, and during random moments, FIRE emanates from the middle channels of the columns! The effect is total bad-ass, and its bad-assnes is magnified at night.

Hopefully participants in a bad-ass event like CicLAvia would get an opportunity to see the pyrotechnics!

4. Urban Chew (April Fools!)
2013
North side of Wilshire Bridge over 110 Fwy

The Militant just discovered this peculiar public art installation by artist Matthew Kasmirofsky while witnessing the Big Pour. About 160 pieces of gum, made of either actual gum pieces or latex rubber, were placed here in an art piece described by the artist as "a commentary on contemporary consumerist culture," especially how things are easily and carelessly discarded after a short time. Kasmirofsky has done similar public art installations in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Montreal and Stockholm.


5. Site of George Shatto Residence/Good Samaritan Hospital
1891
Wilshire Blvd and Lucas Ave, Downtown

Before it was named Wilshire Boulevard, it was once called Orange Street, and on the corner of Orange and Lucas was a Queen Anne-style mansion belonging to George Shatto, a real estate developer who first developed Catalina Island and the city of Avalon. If you read the Epic CicLAvia Tour 4.0 post, his name is brought up as one of the famous Angelenos buried (in a rather ornate pyramid) at Angelus Rosedale Cemetery.

But check this out! Take a look at the picture above, and pay close attention to the masonry wall going uphill that fronts Lucas Avenue. Now, on CicLAvia Sunday, look at the exact same spot, on the northwest corner of the intersection. The house is gone, but the original wall still remains!

Good Samaritan Hospital, which was founded in 1885 and moved to the current site in 1911, is also the birthplace of many native Angelenos, including mayor Eric Garcetti.

6. Site Of "Redbeard" Pirate Lynching (April Fools!)
1879
1675 Wilshire Blvd, Westlake

In 1878 a man known as Cochran "Redbeard" O'Connor, a self-described "pirate," sailed into San Pedro Harbor and arrived into Los Angeles via railroad. He went on a notorious public rampage described, by the old Los Angeles Herald as, "Six months of public drunkenness, vulgarity, and lewd and lascivious behavior, which cannot be fully described in the pages of this publication." Other historical accounts of O'Connor purport he engaged in public displays of urination, indecent exposure, masturbation and groping. Police attempted to arrest him several times, but he somehow eluded them. Finally, on March 27, 1879, he was found attempting to defecate on the front yard of a mansion on Orange Street, when an angry mob chased him down. He was hung by a sycamore tree that stood near where the Home Depot stands today. According to a later Los Angeles Herald article, His boat in San Pedro Harbor was burned and sunken. O'Connor was buried in an unmarked grave at Evergreen Cemetery.

7. Los Angeles Teachers (a.k.a. 'Stand And Deliver') Mural
1997
Wilshire and Alvarado, Westlake

Art imitates life imitating art imitating life in this mural by popular Salvadoreño American muralist Hector Ponce depicting actor Edward James Olmos, who portrayed Garfield High School math teacher Jaime Escalante in the 1988 movie Stand and Deliverstanding next to the real-life Escalante, and delivering a mural that's part-Hollywood, part-Los Angeles, part-Latino pride, part Eastside pride and if the Internet were as accessible back in 1988 as it is today, would make one epic photo meme. And it's painted behind the 1926 Westlake Theatre, which is slated for renovation into a community-baed performance arts venue sometime soon. Celebrate the 25th anniversary of Stand and Deliver by having the ganas to stop by.

8. Gen. Harrison Gray Otis Statue
1920
Wilshire Blvd and Park View Ave, MacArthur Park

Gen. Otis is perhaps the most visible statue at the park, which predates MacArthur's WWII service. This general served in the Spanish-American and Philippine-American wars, and also fought as a Union soldier in the Civil War. But in Los Angeles, he is most known for being the founder, owner and publisher of the Los Angeles Times. So why is he here? His Wilshire Blvd mansion, called The Bivouac, was located across the street, was later donated to Los Angeles County and became the original campus of Otis Art Institute. It's thought that his statue is pointing to the site of the Elks Lodge, but he's probably just pointing to his old house. 


9. Bryson Apartment Building
1913
2701 Wilshire Blvd, MacArthur Park

This 10-story Beaux Arts apartment building, built 100 years ago, was the 20th century precursor to today's fancy modern 21-century high-rise residential developments. Built by developer Hugh W. Bryson, it was built in a part of Los Angeles that was known at the time as "the west side" (let's not open that can of worms right now, okay?). It was one of Los Angeles' most luxurious apartment buildings, and had a large neon sign at the roof (characteristic of these kinds of developments back then). Several Raymond Chandler books reference The Bryson. The 110,000 square-foot building is also part of the National Register of Historic Places and a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.

10. LaFayette Park
1899
Wilshire Blvd and LaFayette Park Place, LaFayette Park

Clara Shatto, the widow of George Shatto (remember him?) donated 35 acres of her land to the City of Los Angeles in 1899, which was once oil wells and tar pits. Her late husband wanted it turned into a city park, and so it became Sunset Park, which existed for 19 years before the locals wanted it renamed to honor the 18th-century Frenchman who was a hero in both the American and French revolutions. Gotta give LaFayette park some props for living so long in the shadow of its more famous neighbor, MacArthur (Westlake) Park.

11. Bullocks Wilshire/Southwestern Law School
1929
3050 Wilshire Blvd

Perhaps one of the most iconic examples of Art-Deco architecture in Los Angeles, this former Bullocks Department Store was designed with a tower to resemble a New York-style skyscraper in then-unabashedly low-rise Los Angeles. It was the epitome of shopping in style in its heyday, with its own rear parking lot and other auto-centric amenities. It ultimately fell victim to the 1992 Los Angeles Riots and was closed down the next year. In 1994, the nearby Southwestern School of Law bought the building and incorporated it into its campus, restoring much of the Roaring 1920s Art Deco aesthetics.

12. Shatto Place
c. 1880s
Wilshire Blvd and Shatto Pl, Koreatown

Gee, we can't get seem to get away from that George Shatto guy, can we? George and Clara owned a plot of land here on this street, which was once home to some of the most beautiful mansions in Los Angeles at the time. Although Clara sold the land in 1904, George stipulated that all properties on the street maintain the character of the exquisite homes there, which was challenged several times until the late 1920s, when the homes started to be demolished in favor of more modern commercial development.

13. Brotherhood Mansion Site (April Fools!)
1898
3183 Wilshire Blvd, Koreatown

The first automobile in Los Angeles took to the streets in 1897 and Delbert J. Walford, businessman and early automobile enthusiast, (and one of the first Angelenos to own a car), created the Most Benevolent Brotherhood of the Horseless Carriage (a.k.a. "The Brotherhood"), perhaps Los Angeles' first-ever car club. Members would offer repairs to stranded motorists, free of charge, hold Saturday afternoon salons to educate the public about the automobile, and offer driving classes for a very small fee. Some though, considered the organization to be a cult-like group, where members lived inside the mansion, maintaining strict standards on uniform dress and hats. In 1903, the group published a 106-page, eerily prophetic utopian (autopian?) manifesto, The Automobile For A Most Glorious California, envisioning a network of "automobile super-roadways" spanning several lanes wide, the creation of "automobile gardens" built around cities and communities oriented towards the car, developed far from the urban core. They also shunned and criticized the use of streetcars, bicycles and long-distance pedestrian travel. Now here comes the strange part: In August 1909, Walford and all of the members who were have known to have lived in the mansion vanished without a trace, leaving all material valuables (aside from their automobiles) behind. Their whereabouts were never found and the mansion was razed in 1917. Ironically, the site is now the location of the Wilshire/Vermont Metro station.

14. "The Vermont" Highrise Apartment Development
2014
Wilshire Blvd and Vermont Ave., Koreatown

What's with the construction? It's a 30- and 25- story highrise mixed-use apartment development called "The Vermont" by J.H. Snyder Co. which is slated to open sometime this year. It's Metro-accessible, but who the hell can afford the rents for this place?

15. Consulate Row
Various locations along Wilshire Blvd between Vermont and Crenshaw

Some 62 countries have consular offices in the Los Angeles area and 41 of them have addresses on Wilshire Boulevard. Proximity to various foreign financial institutions on Wilshire, as well as nearby Hancock Park, where many consul-generals have traditionally resided, are the main reasons for such a high concentration of consulates on this stretch of Wilshire. The consulate offices for Bangladesh, Bolivia, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, South Korea, Nicaragua, Peru, The Philippines, Sri Lanka and Taiwan are all located on Wilshire between Vermont and Crenshaw. Many of them display their national flags in front of their respective office buildings. How many can you spot during CicLAvia?

16. Gaylord Apartments
1924
3355 Wilshire Blvd

Though the building's prominent neon sign has been source of many a snicker by immature junior high school kids, this building represents some serious history. It was named after Wilshire Boulevard's namesake, Henry Gaylord Wilshire, who was known as a wealthy real estate developer and outspoken socialist (Does that make sense?), who donated a 35-acre strip of barley fields to the City of Los Angeles on the condition that it would be free from railroads or trucking.

The building itself is a 13-story Italian Renaissance-style apartment building that actor John Barrymore (a.k.a. Drew's grandpa) and then-presidential candidate Richard Nixon once called home.

17. Brown Derby Site
1926
3427 and 3377 Wilshire Blvd

The now-defunct "The Brown Derby" local chain of restaurants were synonymous with Hollywood glitz and glamour. The Wilshire Boulevard location was the first of four (the others were in Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Los Feliz). In close proximity to The Ambassador Hotel and its Cocoanut Grove swing/jazz club, this was the original hipster joint back in the day, only back then the hipsters were actually cool and looked good. In 1937 the building was moved across the street and closed in 1975. In 1980, a shopping center was built on the site and the iconic dome structure was incorporated into the shopping center that exists today. It's situated on the third floor, above The Boiling Crab seafood restaurant. It's something to ponder on while you wait 90 minutes for your table.

Note that the pictures for #13 and #14 connect vertically - that's the Gaylord Apartments behind the Brown Derby!

18. Robert F. Kennedy Inspiration Park/Ambassador Hotel Site
2010
Wilshire Blvd between Catalina Street and Mariposa Avenue

The Militant wrote a post in 2010 about this unique public space dedicated to Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated just yards away at the Ambassador Hotel, which was demolished in 2005 and where the LAUSD's sprawling and costly  RFK Community Schools campus now stands. There's Kennedy quotes on public art installations and benches for you to chill on. There's also speakers playing recordings of some of the jazz music that was performed at the hotel's famed Cocoanut Grove swing and jazz club.

On April 18-19, the school campus will host the first-ever K-Town Night Market with food, vendors and live entertainment.

19. Site of DeBeers Paradise Flower Garden (April Fools!)
1897
Wilshire Blvd and Normandie Avenue, Koreatown

Everyone knows that The Bird of Paradise is Los Angeles' official flower, but how did it become so popular? South African trade importer and horticulturist Wouter DeBeers, who built the DeBeers mansion and gardens in Garvanza, bought a plot of land on Wilshire Boulevard at Normandie Avenue in 1896 in hope of building a second home closer to the city. Having discovered he lacked the funds for constriction, and not wanting his land to remain vacant, imported several Bird of Paradise plants from his native Durban and grew an exotic plant garden on the plot, called "Paradise Flower Garden." Visitors were amazed at the orange bird-like flowers that seemed to flourish with little watering. DeBeers later sold seedlings and eventually became profitable enough to finance construction of his mansion, which he eventually built in 1905. The residence and legendary garden were eventually razed in 1919. The popularity of the flower in Los Angeles was largely credited to DeBeers.

20. Wiltern Theatre/Pellissier Building
1931
Wilshire Blvd and Western Avenue (duh...), Koreatown

The 12-story structure, designed by Stiles O. Clements, is Los Angeles' emerald-green temple to all that is Art Deco. Originally operating as the "Warner Theatre" (Specifically the Western Avenue location of Warner Bros. chain of movie theaters; The Warner Theatre in San Pedro is another example), The Wiltern (named so since 1935) has seen many cycles of decay and rebirth, most recently in the 1980s, when preservationists renovated the theatre to a performing arts venue. The contemporary Wiltern Theatre has been operating since 1985.

21. The Last House On Wilshire
1918
4016 Wilshire Blvd, Hancock Park

Wilshire Boulevard was once a prestigious address for many a prominent Angeleno, from General Otis to, yep, George Shatto (don't worry, this is probably the last Shatto reference in this post). But after the 1920s, Wilshire became undeniably commercial and even the most dignified free-standing household succumbed to the wrecking ball.

Except this one, standing (quite nicely) on 4016 Wilshire, just yards west of Wilton Place. Built in 1918, this six bedroom, three bathroom, 3300 square-foot single-family home is literally the last of its kind on Wilshire. The earliest recorded owner, John and Katherine Neeland (circa 1921), of Canada, sold it in 1925 to Elmer & Clara Neville. The Neville family trust still owns the house to this day. If you owned the last house on the street, you'd hang on to it, right?

22. Crenshaw Tar Pits (April Fools!)
Discovered 1902
Wilshire and Crenshaw boulevards, Hancock Park

Everyone knows about the world-famous tar pits of La Brea just down the street, but did you know there's a (much smaller) tar deposit by Wilshire and Crenshaw? Look around towards the back end of the parking lot on the southwest corner and you'll find less than a dozen tar puddles and seeps peeking through the pavement.


23. Rimpau Blvd/Rancho Las Cienegas
1823-1920s
South of Wilshire Blvd between Norton Avenue and La Cienega Boulevard, Hancock Park

You may or may not notice that all of the streets south of Wilshire from Norton Avenue to just past the Fairfax Avenue terminus of the CicLAvia route run in a diagonal fashion, akin to the way Downtown Los Angeles streets run. Why? This was once part of the old Rancho Las Cienegas Spanish land grant, which was given in 1823 to Francisco Avila, once mayor of Spanish-era Los Angeles. In 1866, the land was divided among his four children, one of whom was his daughter Francisca, who married a German dude named Theodore Rimpau...Does that name sound familiar? Yep, it's the namesake of Rimpau Blvd. The last remaining rancho land was eventually sold and subdivided by Theodore and Francisca's sons in the 1920s.

24. E. Clem Wilson Building (aka Samsung Building)
1929
Wilshire Blvd and La Brea Ave, Miracle Mile

At 191 feet, it was once the tallest commercial building in Los Angeles (honoring the height-limit restrictions at the time). Built during the first wave of commercial migration from Downtown Los Angeles, this structure originally housed legal and medical offices belonging to Jewish professionals, and was part of the genesis of the Jewish community in this area (centered on Fairfax Avenue). The building once featured a large mast on top to serve dirigible blimps(!) but is most famous for the massive 4-sided neon advertisements installed on the crown in the 1960s: First,  Mutual of Omaha Life Insurance, then Asahi Beer and now Samsung Electronics.


25. The Los Angeles "Hair District"
c. 1970s
Wilshire Blvd between Cloverdale and Burnside avenues.

The Militant wrote about this interesting little business corridor five years ago, noting an unusually high concentration of wig, weave and human hair retailers along this part of Wilshire.

26. The Desmond's Department Store Building
1928
5500 Wilshire Blvd

This is the building that started it all, the archetype that led to many miracles on this mile of Wilshire Boulevard. The Wilshire location of Desmond's Department Store was the first high-end department store on Wilshire, and the retail development anywhere to sport a rear parking lot, and a main entrance that faced the back, rather than the street, as well as large circular display windows to attract motorists.

The 10-story building will soon be adaptively-reused into 175 (luxury, The Militant can assume...) apartments which will open sometime next year.

27. A.W. Ross Monument
1956
5700 Wilshire Blvd (Wilshire Blvd and Curson Ave)

"A. W. Ross, founder and developer of the Miracle Mile. Vision to see, wisdom to know, courage to do."

The story goes: Real estate developer A.W. Ross bought an 18-acre stretch of property along Wilshire Blvd in 1921 for $54,000 and in less than a decade's time, turned that stretch of dirt road, oil fields and farmland into Los Angeles' bougiest stretch of retail, which boomed -- of all times -- during The Great Depression. You can call that a miracle.

Ross was considered an innovator in his day; he brought large-scale, ritzy retail developments to his district, all with rear parking lots, and all made to be visible at 30 miles per hour. Left-turn lanes and synchronized traffic signals were credited to Ross.  Streamline Moderne and Art Deco architecture flourished thanks to Ross' development.

In 1956, this bronze bust was placed on this landscaped traffic island to honor the man who brought the "town" out of Downtown and stretched it out like Laffy Taffy.

But little else is known about A.W. Ross (no, he was not affiliated with the Ross Dress For Less stores). Where did he come from? What was his real estate dealings before the his purchase of Wilshire? What did "A.W." stand for, anyway?

28. Some Hairy Elephants In Some Oily Lake
16,000 B.C.
5801 Wilshire Blvd, Miracle Mile

You may or may not know about this place, built in 1976, and if you don't, there's really no hope for you.

George Allan Hancock, who owned the Rancho La Brea Oil Company, donated a large plot of land to the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science and Art, who dug the area for Ice Age-era fossils. In 1965, the "Art" part of the LACMHSA (pronounced, "Lakum-Hissa") outgrew Exposition Park and the County gave it its own digs at the western end of the Rancho La Brea site.

29. The Berlin Wall
2009
5900 Wilshire Blvd, Miracle Mile

You already know Wilshire Boulevard is full of local history, but it's also home of world history. An art installation from The Wende Museum called The Wall Project features ten actual sections of the Berlin Wall brought here for the 20th anniversary of its fall (Note to Millennials: Google "Fall of the Berlin Wall," it was a pretty big deal in world history back in the day) and decorated by several famous artists. As you may or may not know, Berlin is one of Los Angeles' 25 Sister Cities.

30. May Company Building/LACMA
1939
6067 Wilshire Blvd, Miracle Mile

Many people know the May Company Building - today part of the LACMA campus, and tomorrow the new home of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Museum - as a Streamline Moderne department store. But did you know it was instrumental in moving Los Angeles' Jewish community from The Eastside and Downtown to Fairfax Avenue?

It all began in 1881 when Asher Hamburger, a well-respected Jewish merchant, opened his People's Store on Main Street in Downtown. The business grew and moved in 1911 to a much larger building on 8th and Broadway and was then known as A. Hamburger and Sons Co until 1923, when the company merged with the Missouri-baed May Company. The new operation, formally known as May Company California, was largely run by the Hamburger family and enjoyed much support and patronage by the local Jewish community.

The opening of the aforementioned E. Clem Wilson Building attracted Jewish professionals farther west. In 1935, there were four synagogues along the Fairfax corridor. In the years following the 1939 opening of May Company's new flagship store on Wilshire and Fairfax, the Jewish population boomed, the number of synagogues tripled by 1945. Post-War growth continued the population boom along Fairfax.

Enjoy your CicLAvia and STAY MILITANT!

Monday, March 31, 2014

What's New, Blue? A Tour Of The Latest Dodger Stadium Renovations



On Monday, The Militant joined about 55 people and five hipsters on a tour of the new 2014 season renovations at Dodger Stadium, as well as a glimpse of things most fans, especially the disadvantaged ones who can only afford tickets in the upper tiers (i.e. The Militant), don't get to see.

Now, The Militant has toured the stadium before (which included a foodie conversation with Andre Ethier and seeing Mr. Scully's back), and last year The Militant got to post about the 2013 stadium renovations -- the first permanent stamp on the facilities since Our New Guggenheim Overlords took over (The Militant will not use this post to gripe about the whole Time Warner Cable debacle, and the team's disappearance from many (non-cable-privileged) households, though he just did, indirectly).

This Janet is also in control. She gave us an awesome tour of the new Stadium improvements.
But this year, there were new goodies in store, and who better than to show it than Janet Marie Smith,  the Dodgers' Senior Vice President of Planning and Development. In case you're not familiar with her name, she's been a longtime sports executive with a background in architecture and urban planning. As an architectural consultant, she was responsible for the much-emulated retro ballpark design at Orioles Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore. She also oversaw the conversion of the 1996 Olympic Stadium in Atlanta to Turner Field. So, she definitely knows her stuff.

She talked about changing the look and function of the Dodger Stadium grounds while at the same time keeping the design faithful to the early 1960s design, namely claiming some of the parking lot blacktop space to expand the stadium perimeter. The first part of that was achieved last year, with  the Reserve Level plazas, created to establish the clear separation of stadium grounds and parking lot, and provide more people/activity space, as well as to establish unique landmarks for each level and area (because of that, did you know that Dodger Stadium was the 7th most Instagrammed site in the entire world in 2013?).

Let's look at the numerous photos that took The Militant a long-ass time to resize and upload, shall we?

Gotta love the signage on this one.
Smith consulted with Peter O'Malley and discovered an unused late-'50s design
for stadium signage.  These signs faithfully employ not just the look, but the materials as well.
Da-da-da-DA-da-DAAA...CHARGE!
Juicing up is frowned upon for players, but perfectly welcome for your mobile devices.
These charging stations are found just outside the Reserve Level.
Ever wanted to know what the Dugout Club looks like? Here ya go. The field level is right above.
Deep below Field, near the Dugout Club entrance, is all 40 of the Dodgers' Gold Glove awards on display.
On the opposite side, the team's 1981 World Series trophy (the '88 trophy is getting polished).
Kershaw's Cy.
The Press Interview room. Everyone got to play Donnie for a few secs.
Deep below the 3rd base-side Field Level stands is a corridor...
...THE BAT-ROOM!
Pump You Up: The Weight Training Room!
Look out Jamba and Robek's -- The Dodgers have their own smoothies!
Found in the Weight Training Room
Matt Kemp knows this room pretty well.
We found the stash.
At the end of the corridor, we end up in the land of Wilson and Jansen.

Above the new bar that overlooks the bullpen. Get it?

Some Sanrio surprises at the Stadium.
The new plaza outside of the Right Field Pavilion. If you liked it, then you should've...

Los Angeles has yet another eatery called "Tommy's."


Lasorda was asked to pick the bobble head that would get the
life-sized treatment outside his restaurant.
He picked the Hall Of Fame one.


The visitor's bullpen. There's also a bar overlooking this one too.
Excellent idea, huh?


The pedestrian walkway at the Sunset Gate got new striping and lighting.
It's also meant as an entrance for bicycles (they assume people will be walking and not riding their bikes up the hill...)
The Militant is hungry for a Dodger Dog now. Even more, he's hungry for some baseball. He may or may not be there on Opening Day on Friday, but he's definitely ready for the season! Go Dodgers!