Thursday, January 19, 2017

El Centennial Party That's Segundo To None*

 The northernmost city in the South Bay celebrated its 100th Birthday on Wednesday, exactly a century to the day the city that was named after an oil refinery was officially incorporated. Though a town settlement had existed just east of the coastal dunes on the former Rancho Sausal Redondo since 1912, the town was not formally incorporated as a city until January 18, 1917.

El Segundo...knows how to party...
Throughout its century-old history, El Segundo owes its claim to fame to Standard Oil, the aerospace industry, it's love-hate relationship with LAX, and a certain '90s hip-hop tune. The city is also the corporate home of such institutions as Mattel Toys, DirecTV and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The city luckily dodged the potential rain on this overcast day with a Birthday Bash at El Segundo Public Library Park, along the town's Main Street, just across from the city's eponymous High School (the on-location site for the '80s movie War Games and alma mater of baseball hall of famer George Brett), The family-oriented celebration had live entertainment in the park's gazebo, carnival games, a petting zoo, some really tall dude on stilts, a historic photo exhibition sponsored by the Friends of El Segundo Public Library, a centennial photobooth and the city's fire department had trucks on display. There was free food as well, though unfortunately it wasn't enchiladas and fruit punch, but there was free bottled water, kettlecorn and birthday cake. The city also sold El Segundo Centennial merchandise from a booth.

Photo time!
Historic pics!The Militant loves this kind of stuff!
When the party ended at 5 p.m., The Militant visited the El Segundo Public Library next door to check it out and also found a historical display of veterans' and other mementos:

El Segundo history on display at the library.
Thanks to a tip from Twitter user @fuccitim, it was on to the official unofficial after party just a half mile down the street to The Tavern on Main, where the 15 year-old local hang had food and drink specials for just 100 cents to celebrate the city's birthday.
100-cent specials at The Tavern on Main!
The Militant spent $5 on his food and booze, which included two sliders, a gringo beef taco, a beer and his favorite - the historically-inspired "Standard Oil Birthday Shot" consisting of vodka, blue curacao and cranberry juice. Salud!

The city will also throw a Centennial Ball formal at the Automobile Driving Museum on Saturday. Tickets are reportedly sold out already (but if they're not serving any of those Standard Oil shots, then it's not worth it anyway...).

Though The Militant was just a clandestine interloper from the city on the other side of Imperial Highway, he had a great time on the city's centennial birthday, especially since he was more familiar with the coastal and business park periphery of the city than the quaint Main Street section of town.  He also learned a few things from the event: That the town's old Pacific Electric station was demolished in 1970 (booo!) and that Mattel Toys runs a factory store that's open to the public.

But best of all, The Militant was happy that he finally found what he was looking for!

*You're next this September, Culver City. You gonna top this?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Los Angeles Is...Defined By Its Street Signs

The streets of Los Angeles are not just mere infrastructure, but they create geographical identities, local cultures, microcultures and sub-cultures, and become the live stage of the urban theatre of daily life in The City of Angels. And the most significant identifier of those streets are the City's street signs.

Since The Militant is celebrating his 10th anniversary online this year (#StayMili10), he'd like to revisit one of his most legendary, epic posts.

On March 24, 2011, The Militant wrote a post on the history of street sign styles in Los Angeles.  It gave Angelenos the ability to distinguish between Blue Blades and Black Blades, Shotguns and Trapezoids.

It got such a reaction that it became the second-most read post ever on This Here Blog, and it also prompted a sequel later that month, going back farther into the history of Los Angeles street signs.
In fall of last year (meaning 2016, we can say that already), Filmmaker and Mar Vista resident Ian Rutherford completed a clever short film, $500 and four months in the making, called "LA.Is" that describes, though images of Los Angeles (and some neighboring city) street signs and set to a spoken-word poem (voiced by Tania Hunt) some of what Los Angeles represents.

Observe, and enjoy:

"The idea sort of came about just by driving around L.A.," Rutherford explained to The Militant via email, on the origins of his short film. "I'm a location scout and I kept seeing signs that were fun and unusual. Future street was the one that sort of convinced me to pursue the short. Also, I knew about Rutherford street several years ago and that was always in the back of my mind pushing me to do something."

Rutherford filmed the signs starting in June, 2016 and spent his weekends filming them, guided by a working Google map.

He also wrote the poem himself.

"Some verses came to me beforehand (sunset/sunrise). Some verses were written in the car (detour/chase/marathon). It was a slow writing process until I found the cadence in my head. Once I had that, it wrote itself...Every verse references something I love about L.A., even though it may seem abstract to others (future/vintage/future i was thinking about architecture, like Googie and Mid-Century). The only topic I didn't cover in verse is food. Never found the right way to express myself there."

Great work, Ian! The Militant was smiling under his camouflage bandana mask. No pictures of course, but take him at his word. Militant Approved! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2017: A Militant Preview

Whatup and Happy Militant New Year! Congratulations on surviving 2016 -- you've made it! We have a year ahead of us that may or may not be the greatest or worst year ever (of course he says that every year)!

Here's a calendar of upcoming events and milestones in Los Angeles to look out for in the year ahead. Of course, in between them will be the new and the unexpected, which will seal them in their own places in history.

16 - Kingdom Day Parade
Los Angeles' 32nd annual celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday gets underway on the 16th along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between Crenshaw and Western, and then south on Crenshaw to Vernon (it's broadcast live on KABC Channel 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.). It should be interesting as the parade will end in a construction area, as Crenshaw Boulevard is currently undergoing the building of the upcoming Metro Crenshaw/LAX Rail Project.

18 - El Segundo's 100th Anniversary
The legendary South Bay city just below LAX, named after an oil refinery and the mythical place where countless A Tribe Called Quest fans have left their proverbial wallets, is turning 100 years old. Incorporated on January 18, 1917, the city will hold a Birthday Bash at El Segundo Library Park on Wednesday the 18th from 3-5 p.m. The city will also throw a Centennial Ball formal at the Automobile Driving Museum on Saturday, January 21st. Gotta get, got gotta get it.

28 - Dodgers 2017 Fan Fest, Dodger Stadium
Yes, we miss Dodger baseball. Yes, we miss Vin Scully. Yes, we came pretty damn close to our first World Series visit since '88. Yes, there's some [sighs] unfinished business from last season. But the core of last year's team is pretty much intact heading into '17, and hey, this free event at the Stadium will give us all an excuse to wear our Dodger Blue for the day.
29 - 2017 NHL All-Star Game, Staples Center
Staples Center again hosts the NHL's All-Star Game (perhaps the most inconsistent and confusing in format in all of professional sports), this time with the league celebrating its 100th anniversary. 

4 - 118th Golden Dragon Parade, Chinatown
The streets of Los Angeles' Chinatown will be alive with drums, firecrackers, lion dances and those confetti bazookas everyone loves to fire off as the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration takes place in Los Angeles for the 118th year. This year will be The Year of The Rooster (hopefully Huy Fong Foods will be a sponsor as its legendary Sriracha sauce was born on the streets of Los Angeles Chinatown), or, taking into account who's going to be in charge of this country in a few weeks, The Year of The Cock.

5 - 626 Golden Streets
The San Gabriel Valley was all set to have a mega ciclovia event of their own on June 26 of last year (6/26, get it?), but the smoky side-effects of the San Gabriel Complex wildfire unfortunately put BikeSGV's plans on the back-burner (pun intended). Fortunately, it was re-scheduled for the much safer (and much cooler) 3/5/17, when fire danger is extremely low. This route will connect the SGV communities of  South Pasadena, San Marino, Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa, and will be accessible via Metro Gold Line, of course.

8 - Wilshire Grand Center Grand Opening
At 1,100 feet at its tallest point, it may or may not be the tallest building in Los Angeles, or the West Coast, but it looks pretty damn awesome so far. Once the site of the World's Largest Concrete Pour, this building will open its doors as DTLA's newest hotel and be a shining new jewel in the city's skyline.

19 - XXXII Los Angeles Marathon
Running 26.2 miles from Elysian Park to Santa Monica, the Marathon this year is moved a month later to a less-rainy mid-March date, just before the Spring Equinox.

26 - CicLAvia - Culver City Meets Venice
The (count 'em) 20th CicLAvia will take us back to Culver City and Venice on a redux of the August, 2015 route. Only this time around, the folks at Tito's Tacos will not have a shit-fit at the idea of Washington Place being closed for the day and will enjoy the throngs of crunchy taco-munching cyclists queuing up on the sidewalk.

TBA - Los Angeles State Historic Park Re-Opening
Don't call it a comeback. Okay, call it a comeback, but it's been here for years. The former Southern Pacific freight train yard known as The Cornfield (due to corn sprouting out from seeds spilled from hopper cars), after much public wrangling, became Los Angeles State Historic Park in 2001, but was closed in 2014 for renovations and improvements. The park, which will re-open in Spring of this year, is guaranteed to knock you out. 

3 - Dodgers Opening Day, Dodger Stadium
It's tiiiiime for Dodger baseballllll, at long last. Welcome to the post-Scully era. Don't worry, we will brave this together. At least we know our Boys in Blue will be Playoff Material once again this season (here we go again!). This year the season opens with the very sad (and Kemp-less) San Diego Padres in town.

22-23 - Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, USC
Los Angeles' favorite annual literary event is back in April as the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books returns to the University of Southern California campus for the sixth time (and the first time Westsiders can travel to the bookfest via the Metro Expo Line).

29 - Los Angeles Riots 25th Anniversary 
April 29, 1992 is more than just a Sublime song. This year, in a world without some of its major players (Rodney King and Darryl Gates are now gone), and in an era where the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the Trump Administration inevitably clash, whereby the mass media will again talk about race relations as a black-white binary yet again, whereby nothing has really changed. But The Militant digresses.

2-4 - Lummis Day Festival, Highland Park 
The 12th annual Lummis Day gets underway during the first weekend of June, celebrating the history of the Northeast Los Angeles area. This is the one time of the year where all the new hipsters in the neighborhood will learn who exactly Charles Fletcher Lummis is and pretend to care.

11 - CicLAvia - Glendale to Atwater
Ready for an all-new CicLAvia route? The second big Cicla this year will take you between Atwater Village and the city of Glendale. This must mean one thing - there will be an all-new Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour guide post to research and write! WOOT!

25 - Militant Angeleno's 10th Anniversary! 
Ten years ago, a bored, frustrated and freakishly anonymous native Angeleno (with a penchant for referring to himself in the third person) took matters into his own hands and created what may or may not have been a cultural phenomenon with the debut of the Militant Angeleno blog! The city has or has not been the same ever since. But one thing is for certain -- his true identity has managed to remain a secret all this time! Celebrate with The Militant online and what may or may not be The Militant's first public appearance ever! Stay Tuned and #StayMili10!

8 - 9 - Lotus Festival, Echo Park
Having attended these since he was a Lil'Mil, this is one of The Militant's favorite annual city festivals, taking place in the middle of the year, during the Summer, next to a lake with a wonderful view of the Downtown skyline. This year's 37th Lotus Festival will feature the culture of Bangladesh. With the issues of budget, lake renovation and the dearth of lotus plants now behind us, we can all focus on trying to get the fireworks show back on the festival's Saturday night. The festival is just not the same without it!

1 - 24 - Los Angeles County Fair, Pomona
The best fair in all of Los Angeles County (well, okay, it's only county fair...) gets underway on September 1st. An annual tradition since 1922 (with the exception of the World War II years), it's time once again to load up an all that fried food.

4 - Los Angeles' 236th Birthday
Our beloved city turns 236 years old!

17 - Judgment Day for the Los Angeles 2024 Olympic Bid
The International Olympic Committee convenes on this date in Lima, Peru to decide the host city of the Games of the XXXIIIrd Olympiad, which will take place in 2024. Will Los Angeles or Paris get to host the summer games for a third time? Or will the IOC give it to first-timer Budapest? Stay tuned...There will be a public rally that day for Los Angeles 2024 supporters (of which there are many) to celebrate or not celebrate. The Militant, of course, may or may not be there.

20 - Culver City's 100th Birthday
The city that gave the world the Helms Bakery, the Spruce Goose, Drew Barrymore, MLB Hall of Famer Gary Carter, Tito's Tacos and The Wizard of Oz turns a century this year, having been incorporated on September 20, 1917.  Whatever or whenever's planned, at least we can all ride the Expo Line to the big party.

26 - Metrolink's 25th Anniversary
Believe it or not, this year, we will have regional commuter rail for a quarter century. Opened October 26, 1992, the system grew from three modest lines into the 'burbs into a seven-line, 534-mile network. Expect some 25th anniversary events, or at the very least some 25th anniversary logo sticker slapped on the commuter coaches.

27 - Grand Central Market's 100th Anniversary
Opened to the public on October 27, 1917, the granddaddy of Los Angeles food courts has been embedded into the historical and cultural fabric of our region. Hopefully the folks who run the market won't be too busy kicking out its longtime tenants to celebrate an entire century of feeding generations of hungry Angelenos.

TBA - CicLAvia - Heart of L.A.
It's October, which means its time for the classic "Heart of L.A." route, emanating from Downtown into Westlake and the Eastside. Celebrate CicLAvia's 7th birthday on the streets where it (mostly) all began.

All Month - Holiday Light Displays
"Tis the season - again! In addition to the Los Angeles Zoo's annual holiday light display, there are a number of neighborhoods around town that put up ginormous Christmas light displays on their houses and yards. Take your pick from Christmas Tree Lane (Santa Rosa Avenue) and the Balian Mansion in AltadenaChristmas Tree Lane (Daisy Avenue) in Long Beach, Candy Cane Lane in Woodland Hills, another Candy Cane Lane (Acacia Avenue) in El Segundo and Sleepy Hollow (Calle Mayor) in Torrance. Before you know it, we'll be doing this all over again, this time, looking ahead to 2018...

30 - The Forum's 50th Anniversary
Envisioned by Los Angeles Kings' daddy and former Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke as the regions premier indoor sports venue. the once-and-always Fabulous Forum has witnessed NBA championships, Olympics and countless concerts and events. On December 30th, The Forum celebrates half a century of its fabulousness.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Militant's Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour XVIII!

Interactive map! Click here for larger version!

Welcome to CicLAvia XVIII, the third CicLAvia in 2016! Our Epic CicLAvia Tour returns to iconic Wilshire Boulevard for the first time since April, 2014, but this time it's a little, uh. Not As Epic - in size at least. But it's for good reason -- Metro is diggin' on Wilshire again for the new extension of the Metro Purple Line subway, which will take a while.  Now why the fine folks at CicLAvia didn't do a re-route up Western for a block and run a parallel route west on 6th Street, ending at Fairfax is beyond The Militant's control, but hey. that only means it's Cut-And-Paste time for this edition of the Epic CicLAvia Tour post, which he decided to slap together and do a quickie update for continuity's sake. Enjoy CicLAvia on Sunday. You may or may not see The Militant on the streets!

1. One Wilshire Building/Wilshire Bookend Palm Trees
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
Wilshire and Figueroa (SW corner), Downtown

On this site is currently rising 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 and 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, which is being built at this moment!

The current construction site was the location of "The Big Pour" - which lasted from February 15 -16, 2014, where 21,200 cubic yards (81 million pounds) of concrete were continuously poured - earning it a Guinness World Record for that feat.

Before the skyscaper, the site was home of the Wilshire Grand Hotel, formerly (in reverse chronological order) the Omni Hotel, Los Angeles Hilton, Statler Hilton and Statler Hotel.

3. L.A. Prime Matter Sculpture
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.

The sculpture, though, has been out of service since Fall of last year, where it has been undergoing a restoration project, which will be completed later this year. Once finished, the flames will go off every hour on the hour. Now that is bad-ass.

4. Site of George Shatto Residence/Good Samaritan Hospital
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.

5. Los Angeles Teachers (a.k.a. 'Stand And Deliver') Mural
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.

6. Gen. Harrison Gray Otis Statue
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. 

7. Bryson Apartment Building
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.

8. Lafayette Park
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.

9. Bullocks Wilshire/Southwestern Law School
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.

10. 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.

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

This 30- and 25- story highrise mixed-use apartment development is called "The Vermont" by J.H. Snyder Co. which opened in 2014. It's Metro-accessible, and it has a friggin' Pizza Rev, but who the hell can afford the rents for this place?

12. 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?

13. Gaylord Apartments
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.

14. Brown Derby Site
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!

15. Robert F. Kennedy Inspiration Park/Ambassador Hotel Site
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.

16. Wiltern Theatre/Pellissier Building
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.

STOP! That's it folks. The route ends here. It goes no further. Maybe you can spend your extra time on this route walking up and down the street and playing some Pokemon GO (The Militant has heard there's a Scyther nest at Lafayette Park).

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Militant's Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour XVII!

View larger map here!

The 17th CicLAvia is upon us this Sunday, and it takes us to Watts and the historically industrial cities of southeaster Los Angeles county. First off, for those who haven't been to the area before, this map might not make sense; only a quarter of the route falls within the city of Los Angeles, but it made a lot more sense once you see that it ties together several pedestrian-oriented retail corridors: Pacific Boulevard in Huntington Park, South Gate's Tweedy Mile and Lynwood's Plaza Mexico shopping center. And unlike the last CicLAvia in the San Fernando Valley, this one is accessible by both the Metro Blue (Firestone and 103rd St stations) and Green (Long Beach Blvd station lines.

The Militant visited the area last weekend for his Militant research and discovered this region is the land of historic movie theatres, formerly the home of several large industries (which, though have been gone for over 30 years, their effect on the area is long-lasting) and a local burger chain called Bobo's Hamburgers. But there are other great places to eat along the route, as you'll see below.

The Militant creates these guides to give the CicLAvian a deeper understanding of the history and the living community along these streets, so if you learned something (or have something to add), please share in the comments below or share via a tweet.

You know you've been waiting for it, so here's The Militant's Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour XVII!

1. California Theatre
6528 Pacific Blvd, Huntingron Park

This CicLAvia route is full of historic theatre buildings, and the first stop on the Epic CicLAvia Tour is definitely one of them. Built in 1925 as the 1,500-seat Fox California Theatre, it was designed by architects George Lindley and Charles Selkirk, who also designed Glendale's Alex Theatre. The cinema screened Fox pictures from the 1920s on. In the 1980s, the cinema became a three-plex, and later became a two-screener, finally closing in 2006.

2. Eastern Columbia Building
c. 1930s
6604 Pacific Blvd, Huntington Park

Most of you are familiar with the emerald-colored Eastern-Columbia Outfitting Company's onetime flagship store building in Downtown Los Angeles along Broadway, but the California store chain also had a location right here in Huntington Park. And like its famous Downtown mother, this one had a pyramid-shaped roof and a clock. Today, the building houses a jewelry store and a clothing outlet.

3. Warner Theatre
6714 Pacific Blvd, Huntington Park

This next historic theatre was built in 1930 as part of the cinema chain owned by Warner Bros. Pictures to showcase their latest releases (which included the Warner Beverly Hills, San Pedro's Warner Grand Theatre and the Warner (now Wiltern) on Wilshire. Architect B. Marcus Priteca, who also designed the San Pedro and Beverly Hills Warner theatres, as well as Hollywood's Pantages Theatre, drew up this 1,468-seat movie palace, which eventually became part of the Pacific Theatres chain. In the 1980s, the cinema became a two-plex, specializing in peliculas en Español, eventually closing down in the 1990s. In the 21st century, there has been a move to restore the theatre to its former glory, especially after the city of Huntington Park designated it a historic building, but the current owner has adaptively reused the venue as a retail space.

4.  Underground Arcade
C. 1980s
6901 Pacific Blvd, Huntington Park

Deep within the recesses of Huntington Park lies a subterranean arcade, usually open from 11 a.m. yo midnight every night that offers unlimited play of its video, pinball and billiard games for just $3 ($2 after 6 p.m.). Yeah the place is all tagged up, maybe 20% of the video games don't work, and you wouldn't want to go near the restrooms, but there's no place like it anywhere in Southern California (props to Erick Huerta @ElRandomHero for the tip).

5. Los Angeles Railway Right of Way
Pacific Blvd, Huntington Park

The northern leg of Sunday's CicLAvia route was once traversed by the Yellow Cars of the Los Angeles Railway, our more urban-centric streetcar system of the early half of the 20th century. The Los Angeles Railway's "J" line ran from Jefferson Park in the west through Downtown Los Angeles and down into Huntington Park, The line terminated a few blocks from here, turning east on Florence Avenue before zig-zaging south again on Seville Avenue down to Santa Ana Street. The line ran from 1920 to 1963 and was one of the last Yellow Car lines in operation.

6. Bobo's Hamburgers
7300 Pacific Blvd, Walnut Park

In the mood for a burger round these here parts? You might want to forego an In-N-Out, a Fatburger or any burger joint using a variant of the name "Tom" for one of the Bobo's Hamburgers (no, not Bob's Burgers) locations, which are native to this area. The family-run chain opened in 1975 and in addition to this location on Pacific Blvd, you can find two other Bobo's Hamburgers on this CicLAvia route on 2709 E. Firestone in South Gate, 1220 E. Firestone in South Los Angeles, and one just a few blocks east of Long Beach Blvd, on 3390 Imperial Highway in Lynwood. This is Bobo's Country. You cannot escape the wrath of Bobo's Hamburgers.

NOTE: If heading west on Firestone Avenue, skip to #18.

7. Elizabeth Bakery
8903 Long Beach Blvd, South Gate

At this first junction of CicLAvia legs at Long Beach Blvd and Firestone Ave is this South Gate institution that has been baking up cakes, bread, pan dulce and pastries since 1977. In addition to baked goods, they also sell bionicos, juice, raspados, sandwiches, tamales, and also will bake whole turkeys to order during the holiday season.

8. Teatro Los Piños (Vogue Theatre)
8903 Long Beach Blvd, South Gate

This Art Moderne-style cinema, originally called the Vogue Theatre (strike a pose) was built in 1937 and designed by celebrated and prolific architect S. Charles Lee, who designed 250 theatres in the Los Angeles area, and also crafted the Los Angeles Theatre and Tower Theatre on Broadway in DTLA, The venue, now known as Teatro Los Pinos still functions as an active teatro today, hosting concerts, comedy shows and occasional movie screenings.

9. Site of General Motors South Gate Assembly
2720 Tweedy Blvd, South Gate

Much like the last CicLAvia in Panorama City, South Gate's economy largely revolved around a General Motors automobile factory, which employed as many as 4,000 workers and operated from 1936 to 1982, churning out Buicks, Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs throughout much of its history. There were also two other auto factories in the area - a Studebaker plant in Vernon and a Willy-Overland facility in Maywood. After the 1960s, the GM factory made Chervrolets and Cadillacs before closing down for good in 1982 due to lower American car sales and air quality concerns. The site was later razed and is now the site of the LAUSD's South East High School complex.

NOTE: If heading east on Tweedy Blvd, please skip to #14.

10. Sushinaloa
10350 Long Beach Blvd, Lynwood

Imagine if there were a food truck out there on the streets that sold Mexican-style fusion sushi. Now imagine that there's no food truck but an actual brick-and-mortar eatery in Lynwood, right along the CicLAvia route, no less. Enter Sushinaloa, the best Mexican-Japanese fusion in the Los Angeles area since Fernando Valenzuela met Hideo Nomo. But apparently Sinaloan-style sushi is an actual thing, and The Almighty Jonathan Gold has given this place his imprimatur, so, hit up this place before everyone else does.

11. Plaza Mexico
3100 E Imperial Hwy

This massive suburban-style retail center is a re-creation of Mexican plazas (sort of like the Plaza del Valle (from the March CicLAvia) on steroids), with a layout inspired by the ancient city of Monte Alban, is part-outdoor mall, part-tourist attraction. And in a total So Cal twist, the owners of the mall are San Gabriel Valley-based Korean real estate developers. Donald and Min Chae owned the former Lynwood Marketplace and Lynwood Town Center and, dictated by demographics and dollars, decided in 2001 to invest $20 million into transforming their shopping centers into a Mexican-themed marketplace.

12. Pacific Electric Lynwood Depot
3780 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Lynwood

Originally built in 1917 on 11453 Long Beach Blvd to serve the Pacific Electric Railway's Santa Ana Line, the Mission Revival-style station was moved in the 1980s and later restored to make way for construction of the 105 Freeway. Now the offices of the Greater Lynwood Chamber of Commerce. Contains plaque dedicating building to former Lynwood mayor John D. Byork.

13.  Weird Al Yankovic's Childhood Home
3636 Burton Ave, Lynwood

A short bike ride south of the CicLAvia route will take you to the childhood home of Lynwood's greatest product, parody rocker "Weird Al" Yankovic. This video confirms that he grew up in this modest home next to Lynwood Middle School on Burton Avenue, where he lived here from 1959 to the early '70s, when he went off to college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. It was here where he started to learn the accordion, after a door to door salesman offered music lessons to a six year-old Alfred Yankovic. And the rest is music history. Note: This is a private residence, please do not bother the current occupants.

14. Tweedy Mile
Tweedy Blvd between State St and Hunt Ave, South Gate

The city of South Gate, as you might remember, was named after the South Gate Gardens of the old Cudahy Ranch. The old downtown of South Gate evolved into Tweedy Mile, the main drag of the town, featuring shops, restaurants, entertainment venues and civic and cultural institutions. The street was named after the Tweedy Family, headed by patriarch R.D. Tweedy, who came here from Illinois in 1852. The family soon owned about 2,000 acres in the area. Tweedy Mile is also home to the city's two biggest annual events, the Tweedy Mile Classic Car Show in March and the Tweedy Mile Festival in June.

15. Allen Theatre
3809 Tweedy Blvd, South Gate

Yet another historic cinema along the CicLAvia route, this single-screen 673-seat movie house opened as the Garden Theatre (a reference to the old Home Gardens tract it was located on) in 1924, and was remodeled in 1936 when it was renamed the South Gate Theatre. In the 1940s, it was purchased by the Allen Brothers, who ran several cinemas in the area. It was showing films until the 1980s, and later became a live music venue. It was closed in 2007, but recently undergone renovation, and some of the South Gate locals have told The Militant that the theatre will re-open this October as an arts venue. Even better, the Allen will give a sneak preview this Sunday and reportedly be open during CicLAvia with live music performances!

16. South Gate Veteran's Memorial Fountain
Tweedy Blvd and Walnut Ave, South Gate

Located on the south end of South Gate Park, this memorial fountain, originally dedicated to South Gate's World War II and Korean War vets, and later dedicated to veterans of all wars since, features an eternal flame (how cool), while a memorial marker lists the names of local vets. Also of note is the U.S. Army M60A3 Patton tank on display, located a few yards west of the fountain.

17. Legacy High School Complex
5225 Tweedy Blvd, South Gate

The eastern terminus of Sunday's CicLAvia route is along the campus of the Los Angeles Unified School District's Legacy High School Complex, which opened in 2012 after a quarter century of planning. Originally the site of a pesticide factory and other heavy industrial properties, the 36-acre plot of land was the center of controversy as the ground was heavily contaminated, mirroring the LAUSD's more (in)famous toxic campus project site, the Belmont Learning Complex just west of Downtown Los Angeles.  It took an entire decade and $22 million to excavate the land 30 feet deep and import uncontaminated soil into its place to build the school campus.

18. Firestone Tire & Rubber Factory
2525 Firestone Blvd, South Gate

One of South Gate's largest industries was this Firestone Tire and Rubber factor, built on a former 40-acre bean field y along Firestone Ave (hence the street name) between Alameda Street and Santa Fe Avenue. Company owner Harvey Firestone (no, not Harvey Fierstein) made the first tire himself, which rolled out of the assembly line on June 15, 1928. The Firestone factory was also followed up in the region by other large tire factories, such as Goodyear and Uniroyal, and for a time Los Angeles was the largest tire-producing region in America. The plant closed down in 1980 when the plant's 2,000 workers were laid off. Coupled with the GM plant's closure in 1982, that ended an era of heavy industry in the city of South Gate. But unlike the GM plant, the Firestone tire factory's building still stands today (East Los Angeles College has been eyeing it as a satellite campus).

19. Alameda Corridor
Along South Alameda Street

Adjacent to Alameda Street is a set of below-grade freight railroad tracks -- both the street and the tracks form the Alameda Corridor, a ground transportation system opened in 2002 that allows trucks and trains to easily access the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach -- important gateways for importing and exporting for not just Southern California, but the entire United States. Toys from China and cellphones from Korea pass through the Alameda Corridor in the form of intermodal shipping containers en route to Chicago or other U.S. destinations. The corridor began construction in 1997 as a way to consolidate the Union Pacific and BNSF railroads onto a unified, high-capacity, mostly grade-separated track to and from the port area. North of here, the tracks run directly to railroad yards southeast of Downtown Los Angeles.

20. Col. Leon H. Washington Park
8908 S. Maie Avenue, South Los Angeles

There are many parks that line the Blue Line route, but this one is unique for two reasons. As you head southbound and depart the Firestone Station, look immediately to your right and you'll see a park and recreation center. It's a Los Angeles County-run park called Colonel Leon H. Washington Park, named after the founder of the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper (originally called The Eastside Shopper), the city's premier publication in the black community. The other reason is that the rec center here is a popular spot for NBA stars such as Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Kevin Durant and others to play pick-up games and compete in the Nike-sponsored Drew League, a weekend summertime program where the biggest stars in basketball play with and against locals from the community.

21. Ted Watkins Memorial Park
Dedicated 1995
1335 E. 103rd Street, Watts

Originally built in the 1930s to memorialize Western actor Will Rogers, this 28-acre Los Angeles County park was re-named in 1995 after the late Ted Watkins, a local community activist and the founder of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee, which he started in 1965, just months before the Watts Riots. The aftermath of the rebellion heightened the purpose of his nonprofit agency, which dealt with social services, community development and empowerment for the Watts area. The park also features a youth baseball field built by the Los Angeles Dodgers, a newly-built community swimming pool and gym with basketball courts.

22. Hawkins House of Burgers
11603 Slater St, Watts

Forget those lame-ass newbie overpriced East Coast transplant burgers. Forget even In-N-Out, Tommy's or Fatburger. You might even need to forget Bobo's. Because Hawkins House of Burgers might just be the king of them all. The Hawkins family has been operating malt shops, markets and this eatery since 1939 (though the current hamburger business opened in the mid-1980s). They make all their burgers to order, use fresh angus beef, real smoked bacon (none of that supermarket stuff) and fresh ingredients, all at real decent, unpretentious prices.  You might have to wait as long as 20 minutes, but it's all worth it. Hawkins House of Burgers is perhaps the biggest institution in Watts after Simon Rodia's steel towers, and some of the burger stacks are probably just as tall.

23. Pacific Electric Watts Depot
1686 E. 103rd Street, Watts

Adjacent to the Blue Line's 103rd St/Watts Towers station is a mustard-colored building that was once the Pacific Electric's Watts depot. A popular stop along the old PE Long Beach Line, the building survived not only the PE's abandonment, but was the only wooden structure that was not set on fire during the 1965 Watts Riots. After a renovation project in the 1980s, the Watts Station has functioned since 1989 as a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power customer service center.

24. Watts Towers
1727 E. 107th St, Watts

You all know the story by now: Italian immigrant Sabato "Simon" Rodia collects scrap reinforced steel bars (using the adjacent Pacific Electric Santa Ana Line tracks as a fulcrum to bend them) and other found scrap material from rocks to broken glass to bottle caps, and builds 17 structures on his property over a period of 33 years. Then in 1955, he up and left for Northern California and never came back. Now that you know the story, see them up close for yourself. You don't deserve to call yourself an Angeleno if you've never visited the Watts Towers before.

25. Locol Watts
1950 E. 103td St, Watts

LocoL, the affordable healthy fast food venture from Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson, opened here in January and had lines around the block. Things have settled down since them (The Militant ate here last Saturday and was the only one inside when he ordered), but no doubt the joint's proximity to CicLAvia would no doubt start those lines up again. Get your Burgs, Foldies and Yotchays and wash it down with some Apple Line agua fresca.

Enjoy CicLAvia, see you or not see you on the streets this Sunday and STAY MILITANT!