Friday, May 6, 2016

Erotic City (The Epic Militant Prince Map of Los Angeles)

View larger map here.

Dearly beloved...

We R gathered here to salute this man called Prince Rogers Nelson, who left this life 4 the afterworld on April 21. Though he's undoubtedly associated with being a proud hardcore native of Minneapolis, Prince has left his mark on the City of Angels as well, even briefly claiming residence here in 2006.

Prince also associated himself with a few Los Angeles-area natives in his career: Revolution band member, keyboardist Lisa Coleman is a native Angelena (and half-Mexican). And protege and "Purple Rain" co-star Apollonia Kotero was born and raised in Santa Monica.

In tribute 2 a major icon of The Militant's generation (an unspecified generation lettered somewhere between W and Y), on the day that this city throws a public memorial event at City Hall, The Militant has decided to make another one of his Epic maps, this time saluting Prince. Sure, you would expect such a map to be made by The Militant Minneapolitan, but it's not like this town doesn't love purple things originally from Minnesota.

This map contains movie and video shoot locations, recording studios, his onetime residence in the hills above West Hollywood and every single one of the concert venues he ever graced the stage on in this town. After all, this town gave made literally made him a star. Did you know that Prince played his first concert outside of Minneapolis right here in Los Angeles?

He no doubt played at all the major concert venues in town, with The Forum being the place he played in the most, having graced the stage 23 times there. Prince was also a man ahead of his time, realizing the potential of Downtown Los Angeles, where he not only shot music videos and films here, but opened a night club in DTLA, just eight months after the Los Angeles Riots.


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Militant's Epic CicLAvia Tour XVI!

Interactive map! Click and drag to navigate. Larger map here!

It may be technically winter, but CicLAvia season has begun! We're now here in 2016 for the 16th-ever CicLAvia. This time around we return to the 818, albeit much more northeast to and through the communities of Panorama City, Arleta and Pacoima (which, if you're a longtime reader of This Here Blog, is Tongva for "Place of Running Water").

This is also the first CicLAvia in a truly suburban setting, the first CicLAvia that is not directly accessible by any of the Metro Rail lines (tsk tsk tsk...shame...), the first CicLAvia to cross an active mainline railroad track (be watchful at San Fernando Road, folks - you all wanna live to go to the next CicLAvia, right?) and the farthest from Downtown Los Angeles (18.4 miles away).

Now, being mostly suburban, The Militant thought this route would just have like less than 10 points of interest. But digging deeper into the community history, and making an unspecified number of Militant reconnaissance missions to the northeast SFV, The Militant came up with 20 - count 'em - TWENTY points of interest on or around the CicLAvia route (He could have gone with 22 but, The Militant does this stuff for free, so don't push it, K?)!

You'll also notice that The Militant has abandoned his old arbitrary CicLAvia route version numbering system, just because it's a pain in the ass to keep track of, so from here on out, he'll go Super Bowl/Olympics on y'allz and use Roman numerals. So get ready for sweet XVI!

Now before we begin, The Militant would like to name the Official Theme Song of the XVIth CicLAvia (You may or may not get a personal hug or high-five from The Militant if he hears you blast this song from your mobile sound system on Sunday):

Read on, and you'll see why. Come on, let's go!
1. The Plant/Site of GM Van Nuys Assembly
7876 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys

This ginormous, sprawling car-oriented shopping center on the east side of Van Nuys Boulevard where one can catch a movie, buy some hardware or satisfy their "IN-N-OUT URGE" originally began its life as a large General Motors automotive plant (hence the name), pumping out Chevrolet trucks, other Chevy auto models, Buicks, Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs for nearly half a century, built mostly by residents who lived nearby, before closing down in 1992 to satisfy AQMD requirements. The plant was torn down six years later and Los Angeles City Councilman Marvin Braude resurrected the site into the ginormous shopping center in 2003. GM still operates a testing facility east of the stores. The Militant may or may not have written part of this blog post at the Starbucks (his cup may or may nor have read, "Milton").

2. Kaiser Permanente Panorama City Medical Center
13651 Willard St, Panorama City

Another major employer that made Panorama City is Kaiser Permanente's Panorama City Medical Center. Though it opened in 1962, it was envisioned as far back as 1948 when industrialist Henry Kaiser developed his residential neighborhood (more on this later), and a large plot of land by Roscoe and Woodman was set aside for the construction of a hospital.

3. Site of Van Nuys Drive-In/Vista Middle School
15040 Roscoe Blvd, Van Nuys

In the post-war area, not only did the Panorama City community flourish with homes, shopping and industry, but what more appropriate way to take your shiny new Chevy made down the street to watch a drive-in movie? In the SFV, the Drive-In was king, but every king's reign comes to an end. The Van Nuys Drive-In was the last drive-in theater in The Valley, eventually sporting three screens (in 1983) with a capacity for nearly 900 cars. The drive-in closed for good in 1992 and was demolished in 1998. The property was purchased by the LAUSD, which built Vista Middle School on the site in the early 2000s.

4. Panorama Mall
8401 Van Nuys Blvd, Panorama City

When it comes to shopping centers in the San Fernando Valley, North Hollywood's Valley Plaza might have been the pioneer, the Topanga Plaza might be the first enclosed mall (1964) and the Sherman Oaks Galleria might get credit for being ground zero of 1980s "Valley Girl" culture, but Panorama Mall deserves its own induction in the 818 Mall of Fame. It was part of Kaiser and Burns' plan for Pano to surround their hood with commerce and industry, as a place, unlike the regional shopping center behemoths of the time, where residents can simply walk to not have to drive very far to. Upon its opening as "Panorama City Shopping Center," it sported The Valley's flagship Broadway department store. It also housed Orbach's, Robinson's, and Montgomery Ward. In the mid-1960s, the shopping center focused on the indoor mall format. Having endured the decades, Panorama Mall was given a long-overdue internal remodeling a few years ago and now sports over 50 stores.

5. Chase on Chase
2009 (Built 1965)
8450 Van Nuys Blvd (corner Chase St - get it?), Panorama City

You would think that this location would be the product of some clever marketing. But corporations don't think that way. Rather, it was a matter of happenstance. Originally established as a Home Savings of America in 1965, it went under the guise of Washington Mutual in 1998 until WaMu was eaten up by J. P. Morgan Chase Bank a decade later. As fate would have it, this Chase Bank is on the corner of Van Nuys Boulevard and none other than Chase Street. You can't make this stuff up, folks. Now if there was ever a high-speed chase that ended up here, The Militant would explode.

6. Plaza del Valle
8610 Van Nuys Blvd, Panorama City

Plaza del Valle (Plaza of the Valley), originally built in the 1970s as a strip mall is an outdoor shopping court, nestled behind the nondescript storefronts on the east side of Van Nuys Blvd between Chase and Parthenia streets (and the perfect counterpoint to the mostly-indoor Panorama Mall down the block), was heavily influenced by Downtown's Olvera Street. The old strip mall was re-imagined and re-built in 2000 by its non-Latino developers to serve Pano's growing Latino community. The complex features retail shops and stalls, eateries, fountains and an entertainment stage.

7. Pacific Electric San Fernando Valley Right of Way
Van Nuys Blvd at Parthenia St, Panorama City

Now that The Militant made his epic Pacific Electric Archaeology Map and detailed where every passenger Red Car line went in Southern California, you all should know by now that Van Nuys Boulevard used to be a PE right of way (and if you didn't, then THE MILITANT IS DISAPPOINTED IN YOU!) So you wouldn't be surprised at all that the westward sweeping curve on Parthenia Street is where the line, which reached this part of The Valley in 1913, diverges from Van Nuys Blvd and continues westward, then northward again to San Fernando.  Due to the rising costs of maintaining and operating the line (and not because of some silly Roger Rabbit Judge Doom conspiracy), it was partially shut down in 1938 (years before the supposed conspiracy happened, BTW...but no matter how many facts get shown in your face, you still continue to believe it, right? RIGHT?) up to Sherman Way, and the entire SFV line was closed in 192 (y'allz should have that memorized by now...).

8. Kaiser Homes
Area bordered by Van Nuys Blvd, Osborne St, Woodman Ave & Roscoe Blvd, Panorama City

Whatup, homes? There's a bunch of them here east of Van Nuys Blvd here in Pano. When World War II was winding down in 1945, real estate developer Fritz B. Burns and industrialist Henry J. Kaiser purchased 400 acres of former dairy farms and alfalfa fiels for $1 million to build their own planned residential community consisting of affordable, pre-fab, single-story homes on winding streets to break up the SFV grid monotony. They built it, and they came.A General Motors factory set up shop down the street, space was reserved for a future hospital, and nearby breweries and aerospace companies also generated employment centers. A large shopping center was built, and Mr. Burns (no, not that one) brought his own personal reindeer to the Panorama Mall to delight shoppers each holiday season (and also found it an opportunity to market some houses to them). Of course, back then in the era of discriminatory housing covenants, you had to be white (and purely white, to be exact) to own these homes, a practice that was in place until the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1968. Today, the majority of residents who live in the former Kaiser Homes development are non-white and primarily of immigrant background -- predominantly Latino, as well as Filipino and Thai, providing the proverbial middle finger of justice extended to the legacy Burns and Kaiser.

9. Marty McFly House
1985 (Built c. 1950s)
9303 Roslyndale Avenue, Arleta

Months after Marty McFly traveled into the future, it couldn't be more appropo to take a short detour from the CicLAvia route southeast down Canterbury Ave, left on Kagel Canyon and right on Roslyndale to see the very house which portrayed the McFly family residence in the "Back to the Future" movie saga.  NOTE: This is a private residence, please do not bother the current occupants, and please refrain from shouting, "HELLO, MC FLY?!" outside.
10. Back to the Future "Lyon Estates" Location
Sandusky Ave at Kagel Canyon Street, Arleta

And if you haven't felt enough of The Power of Love yet, head back onto Kagel Canyon, turn right and stop at the intersection of Sandusky Avenue to see the very street where Marty McFly skateboarded down in the first "Back to the Future" film. It don't take money, don't take fame, don't need no credit card to ride this train (well, unless you're talking about a TAP card...).

11. Pacoima Mural Mile

Van Nuys Blvd between Arleta Ave and Bradley St

Spurred by a local need to increase community pride and aesthetics, several local artists painted murals along the Van Nuys Blvd corridor in Pacoima and thus was born Pacoima Mural Mile. Famous native Ritchie Valens (more on him later) is a popular subject on these walls, as well as cultural icons from Frida Kahlo to La Virgen de Guadalupe to Danny Trejo. Think of this as an Epic CicLAvia tour within an Epic CicLAvia Tour! View the Pacoima Mural Mile map here:!/zoom/csgz/coq6

12. Ritchie Valens House

13428 Remington St, Pacoima

This was the house that '50s rock star and Pacoima native Ritchie Valens purchased for his mother, Concepcion Reyes, in 1958 from the proceeds of his newfound "La Bamba" fame, and was also his final residence until The Day The Music Died on February 3, 1959. NOTE: This is a private residence, please do not bother the current occupants, and please refrain from shouting, "RITCHIEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" outside. 

13. Ritchie Valens Park
10731 Laurel Canyon Blvd, Pacoima

The former Paxton Park, re-dedicated in 1994 to Pacoima's most famous native in order to spur community pride, Ritchie Valens Park isn't just a patch of grass with a famous person's name on the sign, it features a skate park, a baseball diamond, basketball courts, a swimming pool and a children's playground with historical and interpretive displays highlighting the life of the local Mexican American rocker, whose life was tragically cut short at the age of 17 on a Wisconsin plane crash. Weeeeeeeeeeeeell come on, let's go, let's go, go, this nice little detour not too far away from the main CicLAvia route.  

14. Metroink Antelope Valley Line/CA High Speed Rail Corridor
Van Nuys Blvd at San Fernando Rd, Pacoima

This is the very first time a CicLAvia route will cross an active mainline railroad track, so please do not ignore the warning lights, bells and gates! These tracks were originally built in 1876 by the Southern Pacific Railroad to connect Los Angeles to Saugus, where continuing lines on to Ventura and the Antelope Valley were built. In the early 1990s, it was taken over by the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, otherwise known as Metrolink, for a commuter rail line from Union Station to Santa Clarita, which opened in October 1992. But on January 17, 1994, the earth shook violently and the 5/14 freeway interchange collapsed. To facilitate commuters coming in from the Antelope Valley during the post-Northridge Earthquake period, the line was extended to Lancaster (which wasn't planned to be built until 2004 at the earliest under normal circumstances) thanks to FEMA funds and was opened IN ONE WEEK. In the near (or distant) future, running parallel to the existing railroad tracks will be the proposed California High Speed Rail system from San Francisco to Los Angeles (...which may or may not get built).

15. Tresierras Supermarket
13156 Van Nuys Blvd, Pacoima

Established in San Fernando in 1944 to serve the growing Mexican American community in the area by Francisco and Pilar Tresierras while two of their sons served in World War II, and operating from this very location for 60 straight years, Tresierras Supermarket is a full-service
Latino supermarket featuring produce, dry goods, a carniceria and an in-house tortilleria. It's one of the long-time anchors of Pacoima's Latino community, serving local residents for generations. And we're quite sure that Ritchie Valens himself shopped here back in the day.
16. San Fernando Gardens
10995 Lehigh Ave, Pacoima

This public housing project next to the northern terminus of the CicLAvia route features 448 apartments built in the World War II era by the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles. It was built to house workers from the Lockheed aircraft factory in Burbank (though it's pretty far from Burbank -- no freeway and no PE line back n the day) and was unique in that it was racially integrated, and comprised the largest African American community in the San Fernando Valley at the time.
17. Ritchie Valens' Childhood Home
c. 1940s
13058 Filmore St, Pacoima

Though Ritchie Valens' birthplace is unknown, this was the very house where he spent most of his childhood in (after living briefly with an uncle in Santa Monica as a kid). At the age of 9, he taught himself how to play guitar at this very house and took it to Pacoima Jr. High School where he performed for his classmates and joined a local band, The Silhouettes as their singer, until he was discovered by record label owner Bob Keane, and the rest was history.

Duuuuude. The 4.2-mile CicLAvia route is kinda short. Let's go a little farther, shall we? Continue on Van Nuys and make a right on Foothill...

18. Discovery Cube Los Angeles
2014 (Built 2007)
11800 Foothill Blvd, Lake View Terrace

The de-facto successor to the nbow-defunct Childrens Museum of Los Angeles, which operated out of the Civic Center for most of its 20-year existence, this building was originally built in 2007 to house an expanded version of the museum. but after the nonprofit went bankrupt in 2009, this building sat as a white elephant on the corner of Foothill and Osborne for seven years, until the City entered a partnership with Santa Ana's Discovery Science Center and operated the intended Children's Museum site as "Discovery Cube Los Angeles" in 2014. But despite the museum's corner location, it's a horribly pedestrian-unfriendly experience just getting to the dang place, where one has to enter through the Hansen Dam Recreation Area's main entrance on Osborne Street, and drive some distance before entering the Discovery Cube parking lot. Whatup with that?

19. Site of Rodney King Beating

Foothill Blvd, east of Osborne St, Lake View Terrace

Twenty-five years ago this week at this very spot (just behind the Discovery Cube building on Foothill) was where African American motorist Rodney King was beaten by four mostly-white LAPD officers after a brief freeway chase (they didn't televise those things back then). But they did televise the grainy VHS handicam video (no smartphones back then, kids) that was shot by local resident George Holliday, who lived in the apartments on the north side of Foothill. The beating, after airing on KTLA a few days later, sparked outrage in the city's African American community and called to attention the issue and history of police brutality. The acquittal of the four cops over a year later triggered the largest riots in Los Angeles' history.
20. Hansen Dam
11770 Foothill Blvd, Lake View Terrace

Built in response to the Great Los Angeles Flood of 1938 that caused catastrophic flooding near the Los Angeles River in The Valley, the City tapped the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a 2 mile-long, 97 foot-high flood control dam on the site of Homer and Marie Hansen's horse ranch (apparently you get naming rights in exchange for eminent domain). It's designed to contain and control runoff from the San Gabriel Mountains, entering the dam area from Bug Tujunga Canyon, where water ultimately enters the Los Angeles River via the Tujunga Wash (and millions of gallons of water just get wasted in the ocean...). But the area, which also sports a large park and recreation area, can also be a part of Los Angeles' water future as the area sits on a large aquifer. The LADWP has long-term plans to clean up the SFV aquifer in the future to allow more harvesting of local groundwater (which currently comprises 10-15 percent of our city's water source), and open the possibility of stored or recycled water.

Oh yeah, if you made it this far, DO NOT PASS UP THE OPPORTUNITY to ride your bike on the dam itself (there's a dedicated bike path)!

Happy CicLAvia and STAY MILITANT!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

It's Always Sunny in El Sereno, Part II: The Ascot Hills Adventure

Ascot Hills welcomes you.
Whenever there's more to the story, there's always a sequel (although these days it's only because the movie studios want to make more money), but after The Militant's recent little Eastside trek to El Sereno (and adjacent), he was inspired to check out the neato little verdant rolling hills east of Soto Street.

It turns out those hills have a name, Ascot Hills, and they contain a relatively new city park called Ascot Hills Park

Back in the 1920s, the area was home to a racing venue called the Legion Ascot Speedway, which attracted Angelenos from far and wide (this was still a couple decades before the Los Angeles Rams brought big-league professional team sports to town).

Finally opened in June, 2011, some 81 years before it was supposed to open.

Hey, better late than never.

The Militant was welcomed by a brown dirt path cutting through the mountain and leading up at a steep angle. He was concerned with not having the proper hiking gear, until he looked down at his feet and realized that his combat boots could function perfectly well as hiking shoes (A true Militant is always at the ready). So he walked up the path, rounded a hill and walked westward.

he was greeted by an awesome view of not only the Downtown Los Angeles skyline, but of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, and even Catalina Island behind that. The Hollywood Sign and the outline of the Century City skyline can also be seen. To the north were the San Gabriel Mountains, including the snowcapped (yet overcast) Mt. Baldy. To the southeast he could also see Orange County's Saddleback Mountain in clear view.

This place is like the Eastside's Runyon Canyon -- except for the absence of the superficial self-centered showbiz (SSS) types and the lack of dog crap. And considering that he saw about 5 dogs being walked along his hike, he can say that Eastsiders are gar more responsible people.

The Militant also looked down towards nearby Montecito Heights where he could see the site of the now-removed Pacific Electric viaduct (R.I.P.).

The best part, however, was The Militant hanging out there in the Ascot Hills, waiting for the sun to go down. And although this was a generally cloudless sunset (and thus not an #epicsunset that fills up Twitter and Instragram feeds), it was nonetheless awesome.

Do make a chance to get here before Springtime ends; the hills are nice and green and native wildfllowers are known to grow here!

Monday, February 1, 2016

It's Always Sunny in El Sereno*

The seasonally-green Ascot Hills in El Sereno.
It was a lovely, post-rain windy day, the day that begs for photographs to be taken, and The Militant decided to crawl out of his compound, because he withers and wilts if he hasn't gotten enough sunshine. He decided to head to The Eastside because, believe it or not, he needed to make some new additions to his now-legendary Pacific Electric Archaeology Map (Note: The planned "Pacific Electric Week" of articles that was originally planned to accompany the map's debut last November has been postponed to an unspecified date due to additional Militant research...Stay Tuned!). Last month, a reader named "AJ" left a comment about some remnant track adjacent to Soto Street along the former Monrovia-Glendora main line, and today was the perfect break in El Niño business to go check it out.

The DTLA skyline from El Sereno.
The Militant headed down Mission Road to where it converged with Soto Street and Huntington Drive. He walked down that half-rural, half-industrial stretch of north Soto Street to bask in the sunshine, with the seasonably green (Yes, we do have seasons in Los Angeles, get with it) Ascot Hills to the east and the sprawling, solar-powered Forever 21 headquarters (which was once a large inventory warehouse for The Broadway back in The Militant's Lil'Mil days) on the west. After a fair distance, he entered the driveway of a satellite USC Health Sciences Campus facility and in the parking lot, saw the embedded remnants of the Pacific Electric Monrovia-Glendora Line double tracks, right there in the concrete, as if to preserve it for posterity (or for Militancy), or even as a Sid Graumanesque concrete monument for transit history tourists.

More Pacific Electric remnants!
The Militant took a moment to not only take a few snaps from his Militant Communications Device, but also touched one of the rails with his hands. Once he did that, he suddenly had a vision...he saw the Los Angeles of a long time ago, with the sight of large, red streetcars, rolling with the sound of thunder, and then he saw a Red Car pull away as a small child was crying, and then there was a rainstorm, and then he saw Kylo Ren standing with the Knights of Ren looking all bad-ass, and then the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi echoing from the outer realms of The Force saying, "Rey! Rey! These are your first ste..."

Oh wait, The Militant got that mixed up with something else.

He then continued to walk towards the USC facility to the end of the property where he saw the Valley Blvd PE Bridge from deck level, devoid of tracks but still covered with ballast stones. Again, The Militant felt a connection to the past. The Force of Pacific Electric history has definitely Awakened (Keep the puns going, Militant).

A deck view of the PE Valley Blvd Overpass bridge, paralleling north Soto Street.
The Militant enjoyed his walk in the sun, heading back north again, but to his chagrin, the Mission Road Viaduct, which was still standing the last time The Militant was around these here parts, is no more. Incidentally, on the same week where the 6th Street Viaduct is slated to finally commence its demise, The Militant has encountered the completed demise of this Viaduct, also in Los Angeles City Councilman Jose "Tha Bridgekillah" Huizar's 14th district.

Mission Road Viaduct, taken August 2015. Now you see it...

Mission Road Viaduct, February 2016. Now you don't.

R.I.P. Mission Road Viaduct. But do notice the stark contrast in color of the Ascot Hills in the background. The Militant can't stress this enough. YES, WE HAVE SEASONS IN LOS ANGELES.

The Militant was glad to take numerous pictures of both bridges and say his final goodbyes. This is why The Militant does what he does. May The Force of Los Angeles History Be With You (Okay, Militant, a bit predictable for an ending here, but acceptable).

*Technically, the track remnants, the USC building and the Forever 21 factory are on the west side of Soto Street and therefore would be in Lincoln Heights, and yes, The Militant is aware of this, but he spent most of the day in El Sereno, and the El Sereno side is what appears in the photographs. But don't you worry Lincoln Heightsiders, The Militant will cover your hood in due time.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

It's Time For Dodger Fan Fest

With the Holiday Season and the regular NFL season both finished, it's time to look forward to some baseball, and on Saturday, thousands of Dodger fans returned to Dodger Stadium for the second annual Dodger Fan Fest.

It was a semi-game day atmosphere, with cars in the parking lot, Dodger Dogs being consumed for the first time in 2016 and players in uniform (or at least wearing their jerseys), with everything but a ball in play, and a way to rev fans up for the upcoming 2016 baseball season (with Spring Training just weeks away).

The Militant decided to check out the fun, and took his familiar Metro Bus and hike up the street to be soon known as Vin Scully Avenue. Unlike the usual games, he was able to gain entry into the field level (well the tickets were free) and walk onto the field, which had the base paths cordoned-off for kids to run the bases, some baseball-themed games and rides, and a couple stages where Dodger players and broadcast personalities made appearances. And, for a fee, you could get a Dodger player or legend to sign a John Hancock for you.

Of course, this offseason left us with many changes: We have a new manager in former outfielder Dave Roberts (heading a generally-new coaching staff) no Greinke, a couple new pitchers, no more organ player and a whole lot more questions than answers. Will we get into the playoffs again? Will Kershaw dominate? Will Ryu return to form? Will new pitchers Maeda and Kazmir deliver? Will our bullpen improve? Will young players like Puig and Pederson be more consistent?

It was cool to be in the presence of blue-bleeding and blue-wearing Dodger fans for the first time since mid-October, but, maybe it was the overcast nature of the day, but the event felt a little...blah.

The smell of garlic fries wafting in the air prompted The Militant to queue in a very short line for an $8.25 tray of that stuff, which was far less salty, greasy and garlicky than usual. Honestly they haven't been the same since the Gordon Biersch license expired, but The Militant had no choice but to smother the dang thing in ketchup, mustard and onions for any semblance of flavor. Whatup?!

And then there was the dreadful organ music. Dunno if it was a recording or someone on the Dodger Stadium Roland Organ, but it definitely wasn't The Great Nancy Bea Hefley. The bouncy, cheery, ragtime-influenced playing of Hefley was tragically absent in place of someone (or a recording of someone) playing '70s and '80s pop songs that sounded like they were being played at a funeral. Even the great Hefley adds that wonderful cheery ragtime bounce when she does her renditions of '70s and '80s songs.

And thought it was great to see some Dodgers players again, it kinda gets old to hear some of them say,"We're gonna win the World Series this year!" as they have been saying every year (of course, that's what every MLB team says before the start of the season...). At least The Great Tommy Lasorda, who normally says that, gave us a more general, "We owe you fans a championship!" statement, which can't be argued with.

Lasorda: "We owe you a Championship!"
 Maybe The Militant is getting older. Maybe these Dodger doldrums will fade away come April. Or in late October. Or maybe he would have had more fun if he had more cash to blow on autographs, souvenirs, or had his own Lil'Mils (that he knows of) to run around the bases with.

One thing's for sure, the "wait" for "next year" is getting shorter and shorter.

Additional pics, because it happened:

L to R: So Cal native and new OF Trayce Thompson, Joc Pederson, 'Dodger Talk' co-hosts Kevin Kennedy and David Vasseigh.

We asked for a new skipper, and here he is. Will he kick ass right out of the gate or will he require a learning curve?
Kenley Jansen with the save.
All was not lost, The Militant got some free Carne Asada flavor packets from Chef Merito.

Monday, January 4, 2016

2016: A Militant Preview

Whatup and Happy Militant New Year! It's 2016 already, and we have a year ahead of us that may or may not be the greatest year ever (of course we say that every year)!

2016 is already a year of big changes, or the changing of the guard, as many notable people are leaving their beloved roles that we've known them play for years. On New Year's Day, Bob Eubanks and Stephanie Edwards already made their final Tournament of Roses Parade broadcast after 35 years (Entertainment Tonight alums Leeza Gibbons and Mark Steines take over the reins in 2017).

2016 is also the year of Pershing Square's Sesquicentennial, having been dedicated in 1866 by Mayor Cristobal Aguilar as "La Plaza Abaja" (relative to the main plaza in El Pueblo, located a bit higher up on the map). But time has somehow erased the exact date of the dedication, so let's just celebrate its 150th birthday all year long!

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.

18 - Kingdom Day Parade
Los Angeles' annual celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday gets underway on the 18th 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.

25 -The 6th Street Bridge Closes - For Reals This Time
After a big-ass farewell party in October, it was revealed that the 1932 6th Street Viaduct would close on January 4, 2016 before being replaced by its Version 2.0 upgrade. So The Militant recently took a bike ride on the bridge to say his final goodbyes, where a number of photographers, dog-walkers and lowrider trucks also wanted to bid their own adios. But stop the presses, L.A. City Councilman and 6th Street Bridge Fanboy Jose Huizar himself tweeted to The Militant that the 6th Street Bridge 1.0 would be open for another couple more weeks:
So there you go. Enjoy the bridge before the 25th. If there's yet another delay after that, Huizar owes us another party, with War performing in concert again.

30 - Dodgers 2016 Fan Fest, Dodger Stadium
Welcome to the post-Mattingly, post-Greinke era. Like The Militant himself, a lot is still unknown. Will the Dodgers get more pitching? Will the Dodgers even make the postseason? Will the Dodgers finally be seen on television by the majority of its fans? Who knows. But this free event at the Stadium will give us all an excuse to wear our Dodger Blue for the day.
14 - XXXI Los Angeles Marathon
Do you love Los Angeles? Do you love running 26.2 miles from Elysian Park to Santa Monica? Then this is where you're spending your Valentine's Day, either running on the streets or cheering on the runners.

21 - 116th 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. This year is The Year of The Monkey, so this year is gonna be b-a-n-a-n-a-s.

TBA - Metrolink 91 Line Perris Valley Extension Opening
Southern California's 388-mile commuter rail system will get its first line extension in over 20 years this month as the 91 Line is lengthened 24 miles farther east to the Inland Empire city of Perris.  

5 - Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Opening
The first of two Metro Rail line extension openings this year kicks off on the first Saturday in March as the Metro Gold Line is extended 11.5 miles from East Pasadena to Azusa, also serving the San Gabriel Valley cities of Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte and Irwindale (Do you remember how all of those cities got their names? If not, you might want to brush up). Upon the opening of this extension, the Metro Rail system will grow to just over 99 miles in length.

6 - CicLAvia - The Valley
The 16th CicLAvia will mark a return to the 818 for the first open streets event of 2016. This time around, it's a 4-mile stretch of Van Nuys Boulevard running through Panorama City, North Hills, Arleta and Pacoima (Which reminds The Militant, its time to start his research on the next Epic CicLAvia Tour post). Take note, though, this will be the first-ever CicLAvia where the course is not serviced by a Metro Rail station (there are Antelope Valley Line Metrolink stations a few miles from the Pacoima terminus, though). This is going to be interesting. Plus, let's hope the Godzilla El Niño we're getting this year will at least take a breather on the first Sunday of this month.

9 & 10 - Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, USC
Los Angeles' favorite literary event is back on the second weekend of April as the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books returns to the University of Southern California campus for the fifth time.

12 - Dodgers Opening Day, Dodger Stadium
It's time for Dodger baseball, at long last. It will be a bittersweet season opener as new skipper Dave Roberts begins his managerial career and legendary announcer Vin Scully prepares to end his. And would ya know it, the Dodgers will be facing none other than the Arizona Diamondbacks during the home opener, and you just know it's going to be a Kershaw vs. Greinke showdown on the mound.

13 - Kobe Bryant's Final Lakers Home Game, Staples Center
Wednesday, April 13 is the Los Angeles Lakers' final home game of the season, and barring a playoff berth miracle of some sort, the Lakers will just end their season on this date, with the Black Mamba playing the final game of his 20 season-long legendary career.

19 - Angel Stadium's 50th Anniversary
Angel Stadium of Anaheim, originally known as Anaheim Stadium, opened on April 19, 1966. The stadium gave Gene Autry's major league baseball team with a historic geographical identity crisis a home all to itself after being roommates with the Dodgers at Chavez Ravine for its first five seasons.

15 - CicLAvia - Southeast Cities
The second CicLAvia of the year will take us to good ol' Watts for the very first time, as well as venturing outside of the city limits on an as-yet-unspecified route venturing into the neighboring 'burbs of Huntington Park, Walnut Park, Florence-Firestone, South Gate and Lynwood. Check the CicLAvia website this Spring for full route information.

29 - City of Monterey Park Centennial
The 626 city of Monterey Park was incorporated on May 29, 1916. The San Gabriel Valley city is currently in the process of organizing several events to celebrate its centennial later this year.

TBA - Metro Expo Line Phase 2 Extension Opening
It's not quite the "Subway To The Sea," but we'll take the Streetcar To The Sea since it's finally coming this Spring, the second of two rail openings this year. The Metro Expo Line, which initially opened four years ago, will finally be complete as the 6.6-mile extension opens with seven new stations between Culver City and Santa Monica. This summer is gonna be pretty awesome as Angelenos will finally be able to ride a train to Santa Monica Beach for the first time in 63 years. Upon the opening of this line, the Los Angeles Metro Rail system will grow to a total route length of 106 miles. But let's hope and pray those Westside drivers will finally get their act together and not drive their cars onto the paths of the light rail trains.

3, 4 & 5 - Lummis Day Festival, Highland Park 
The 11th 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.

TBA - Los Angeles Kings Stanley Cup Parade, Downtown
It's an even-numbered year, which means our Los Angeles Kings will likely win another Stanley Cup (as they did in 2012 and 2014), which is not entirely out of the question, as the team is currently 1st place in the NHL's Pacific Division. Go Kings Go!

9 & 10 - 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 36th Lotus Festival will feature the culture of South Korea. 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!

7 - CicLAvia - Iconic Wilshire Boulevard
The third CicLAvia of 2016 brings us back to Wilshire Boulevard for the third time (and for the first time since April 2014) this Summer. It will likely be the same linear route between Grand and Fairfax avenues. You've all done it before, and it's not even a long CicLAvia route, but you're all gonna be there anyway, right?

2 to 25 - Los Angeles County Fair, Pomona
The best fair in all of Los Angeles County (well, it's only county fair...) gets underway on September 2nd. An annual tradition since 1922 (with the exception of the World War II years), this year's edition should be very interesting, especially in light of recent accusations of corruption within the fair's organizing body, the Los Angeles County Fair Association. 

4 - Los Angeles' 235th Birthday
Our beloved city turns 235 years old!

2 - Vin Scully's Final Broadcast
Barring a postseason appearance, this is the last regular season game for the Dodgers and may or may not be the last time we will hear the great Vincent Edward Scully, the voice of the Dodgers since 1950, call a game. The Dodgers play the hated S.F. Giants on the road, a great way to cap off a most legendary career.

9 - 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 6th birthday, the last CicLAvia of 2016 and the 19th CicLAvia event on the streets where it (mostly) all began.

28 - Los Angeles Zoo's 50th Anniversary
The original Los Angeles Zoo opened in Griffith Park and was in operation from 1912 to 1966. The current, 133-acre location of the Los Angeles Zoo opened on November 28, 1966, two miles north of the old location, in the former spot of a temporary post-World War II public housing project and a small airport. With 2016 being the big 50th year, expect some Golden Anniversary celebrations this year and most likely a special edition of this year's Holiday Zoo Lights display.

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 2017...