Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Forbidden City

Maybe it's his concealed, yet active glass- is- half-full optimism, but when bad things happen to the Militant, it's not so bad after all -- because it just becomes the subject of another blog entry! Muhahahahaha....

Take Monday night, for example. The Militant, after completing some classified militant activities in the Civic Center area, decided to take a casual, yet productive Campbellesque bike ride through Downtown Los Angeles. As he passed by the John Ferraro Department of Water and Power building (named after Tom LaBonge's old boss and predecessor), he was so enamored by the bright orange glow of the ornate water fountains that lit up the north and south ends of the structure that he wanted to go towards the south end and take a picture of the fire-like fountains with the Downtown skyline in the background. What a shot, huh?

But when the Militant approached the building, walking his two-wheeled chariot, he was predictably met by a sentry...

Security Guard: Sir, you cannot bring your bicycle here.

Militant Angeleno: Oh, the Militant just wants to go over there and take a picture.

SG: Sir, you are not allowed to take pictures here.

MA: The Militant just wants to take a picture of Downtown

SG: Sir, you are not allowed to take pictures of this building without a permit.

MA: The Militant doesn't want to take a picture of this building, he just wants to take a picture of Downtown from here.

SG: Sir, I said, you are not allowed to take pictures here.

MA: The Militant isn't allowed to take a picture of Downtown?!?!?

SG: Sir, if you want to take a picture of Downtown, then go Downtown! You also aren't allowed to bring a bike in here.

MA: [This guy just doesn't get it...] Okay, so what if the Militant leaves his bike here and just walks up there and takes a picture?

SG: What part of no don't you understand? I'm not allowed to say anything, but you are not allowed to take a picture on this property without a permit!

MA: [Relents, as this is going nowhere, except for the blog] Okay, okay... [walks away, with disheveled look on his face]

SG: Hey! Sir! I hope you understand!

MA: [Continues to walk away, one hand pushing the bike, another holding the flat-palm "Talk to the Hand" gesture towards SG]

Then the Militant went ahead and took some pictures from the sidewalk. Of course, it wasn't from the angle that he intended, but it did include the fountains...and that building, which he supposedly wasn't allowed to take a picture of (pictured above).

The security dude was obviously doing his job, but in a more sensible world, what harm would a single person taking a photo not of the building but of the Downtown skyline with the fountains in the foreground do? It's not like the Militant intends to do some tagging or anything of that nature. And as for the bike? It wasn't as if the Militant went barging into the property, X-Games style. He had enough sensibility to walk the bike. What the Militant gonna do? Crash it into the building? And property the Militant's ass - his tax money - and that of four million others - pay to keep that fountain on (as well as the rest of that building). The Militant was instantly reminded of a time when he took pictures of the (M) Red Line train at a station and was told to ixnay on the otosphay because "The Metro is a private agency." Boy would some local prominent radical Libertarian anti-transit types looove to hear that one!

The Militant doesn't need to tell you what's wrong here. The city needs to change its public space paradigm. Ironic how no one can enjoy the city-owned DWP fountains up close at night, but people can certainly enjoy other visually-stunning waterworks in privately-owned spaces like the California Plaza Watercourt a few blocks away. People will always be attracted to pretty things, and want to be in close proximity to them. The more people are enjoying it, and allowed to enjoy it, the less likely it would be for undesirables to come barging in. Take the beach, for example. You hardly see people tag lifeguard stations or cause trouble. So why not on the mainland?

Damn you, turn of the 20th century Midwestern puritan transplants! Barging in here with your $1 Santa Fe passenger train ticket, acting like you own the place! We had a public plaza, we had a more walkable city, we had whites and Latinos getting along, and you took all that away from us (Of course modern-day Midwesterners are in total denial when the Militant brings that bit of history up to them...Maybe that's why they insist Los Angeles "has no history"...so they won't be able to take the blame)!

The Militant Cools Down For A Bit

After that little incident, the Militant headed over to a country that has a better sense of public urban space:: Japan. Well, not really, more like the closest thing we have to Japan - it's local mini-me version, Little Tokyo.

As he rounded Central Avenue and passed by a certain storefront that recently made various Downtown bloggers jump up and down like an antsy 5-year old with a full bladder, the Militant approached Japanese Village Plaza where he wanted to get some mochi ice cream action on. Unfortunately, the famed confectionery shop was closed for the night, so he headed to an unspecified nonfat frozen yogurt joint nearby. Can you guess which one?

Here's a clue: The Militant ordered their raspberry- pomegranate flavored yogurt.

He also noticed that their napkins were still printed with their former name: "IF - Italian Frozen Delight," which was a short-lived name change after their original moniker, "Fiore," circa August 2006. Perhaps an Italian-owned flower shop slapped them with a cease-and-desist (Never mind that nonfat frozen Italian yogurt doesn't even exist in Italy).

After he consumed his treat, topped with granola, red bean and small chewy mochi cubes (hey, he had to get a little mochi action somehow...), the Militant took a few steps back in the plaza and took this classic shot of the two Little Tokyo fro-yo warriors at battle (pictured above).


Of course there were tons more people at the new kid on the block. With people hanging out, eating or socializing outside...in front of a privately-owned establishment.

Hey, it's just another night in DTLA.


Will Campbell... said...

I may be wrong but I'm gonna guess the guard at the LADWP building was an elderly black man, not because I'm a racist jackass but because the guard I tangled with for biking around that building about a year or so ago treated me the same way. He didn't have any issue with me taking pictures though.

The Hollywood Jedi said...

That seemed very Jedi Master Boxesque

Militant Angeleno said...

Will: He may or may not be the one!

Will Campbell... said...

How did I or did I not know that was the answer you'd give!

chachi said...

wait, what? What do 'midwesterners' have to do with this episode? And if you replaced the word 'midwesterners' with 'blacks' would the sentiment of this post change?

Militant Angeleno said...

chachi: The Midwestern transplants from the early 1900s changed Southern California society immensely. Up until then the white population of Southern California freely intermingled with the Mexican population, even speaking their language, but after the Midwesterners came and seemingly claimed the land for themselves, they instantly segregated themselves from all that was Spanish/Mexican. If the Militant replaced the word "Midwesterners" with "blacks" it wouldn't apply, because the black population never wielded the same influence and power the white Midwesterners had. The Midwesterners became the elite, the landowners, the businessowners, the politicians. Black people at the time weren't even allowed to own property. Long Beach became "Iowa by the sea" and streets named "Michilinda" were named, not after Spanish or native words, but from an amalgam of "Michigan, Illinois and Indiana." The reason why there is an earlier alcohol sales curfew as compared to other states is a direct result of the Midwesterners' influence.

The irony is that modern Midwesterners are quick to blame certain traits of Southern California culture on the natives, when in fact it was mostly due to the influence of their forebearers.

Brady Westwater said...

The DWP is very strict about bike riding due both to the dangers of going into the water since there are no railings and because of the danger of hitting someone. They - meaning, us, of course, would get sued big time if there ever was an accident.

But I've heard about the photo taking being a problem before, so I'll inquire about that, and I've never had a problem with the guards while walking around the plaza at night so I will also see if that is a new policy.

As for your time line about when Spanish was spoken by non-Latinos... your time line is a litle off. But I'll address that later.

Militant Angeleno said...

Brady: The Militant had enough courtesy to walk his bike, and in fact was walking it across the "bridge" from the sidewalk to the main entrance level of the building when he was approached by the guard. Yet the guard seemingly pointed at the bike with the same trepidation as if the Militant was hauling a large bomb.

The Militant walked his bike since there was no place to lock it nearby.

As for pictures, perhaps the guard doesn't take too kindly to Militant types...