Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Go Retro: Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

For natives and longtime Angelenos, she needs no introduction. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark's Movie Macabre, which featured kitshy, B-movie horror flicks, was a local staple on the old KHJ Channel 9 (now known as KCAL to all you n00bs) and was syndicated nationwide. She became a local cultural phenomenon - she played a cameo role in this Cheech & Chong video glorifying The Real Eastside, hung out with the likes of this dude, and was even a good personal friend of the Militant's high school English teacher. But none can compare with the Halloween of 1982 when she aired her first and only episode in 3-D: Over 2.7 million cardboard duo-toned shades were sold at local 7-11 stores and practically all of Southern California watched Elvira bust into their living rooms (pun intended). The YouTube clip above shows the intro to the 1954 3-D feature, The Mad Magician, which starred the now-dead Vincent Price (who, going along with this Halloween theme, did the "rap" for Michael Jackson's hit 1983 song, "Thriller").

Happy Halloween, Angelenos! The Militant will be dressing up as a hipster tonight. So if you see a hipster walk around Silver_Lake or Los may or may not be The Militant! MUHAHAHAHAHAHA!! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA! (cough, cough, cough...)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Yeah, I Tell Ya What...YOU'RE FIRED; Torre, Mattingly Head West

The reports are coming in!!! This page says so. Fantasy sports aggregator Rotoworld is reporting it. ESPN is reporting reports of it...can it be?

Looks like Frank McCourt is pulling a Donald Trump in telling beleaguered Los Angeles Dodgers manager Grady Little, "YOU'RE FIRED!" and hiring former Stankees manager and Brooklyn native Joe Torre, effectively following in the footsteps of another native Brooklynite - the Dodgers themselves - in moving to Los Angeles 50 years later. The Dodgers are reportedly also hiring former Stankee All-Star Don Mattingly as bench coach. True Blue fans already know that Mattingly's son, Preston, is an infielder for the Dodgers' Single-A franchise, the Great Lakes Loons.

The Militant blogged it first. Or he was one of the first. Whatever...UNLEASH!

Props to Militant Operative Blackbird for the tip-off.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

GASP! SHOCK! The Militant Rides Transit To Work - For The First Time!

The Militant would like to make a humbling confession - despite all his Militancy, before today, he has not taken transit to his current workplace.

Now, the Militant has taken transit to work before. He has worked various jobs in Downtown Los Angeles in the late '90s and gladly rode the subway there. More recently, in a job he worked at up until summer of last year, he was known around the office as "the dude who rode his bicycle to work."

But he has an excuse. Without giving away exactly where or what line of work he does, it is not a regular 9-5 job, and most of it is done during the weekends. So when he drives to work, there is usually very little traffic congestion on the road.

Having said that, the Militant has a bad habit of leaving the compound at the very last possible minute, which usually results in dangerously fast speeds, risky turns, cutting lanes, and various cuss words. It's actually a miracle he has never gotten involved in an accident this way.

But fortunately for the people on the road, the Militant had a $5 (M) Day Pass in his hand today and thought, "Why the heck not." With a Day Pass, there's no stopping the Militant.

The commute involved a ride on the Red Line, a transfer to a Metro Rapid line, and if necessary, a short ride on a connecting line, although the last bus trip was walkable enough that it was just an option.

The Militant rode past an unspecified number of stops on the subway, finally alighting at the Wilshire/Vermont station, emerging from the shadows of the brand new transit-oriented development there to hop on to a (M) Rapid 720 bus, which had just arrived. Yes, it was crowded and packed, but the Militant still found ample room to stand comfortably. He actually liked the very urban rush and felt like an active participant of the city (not that he never is). He could have taken a Purple Line transfer at Wilshire/Vermont to get to Wilshire/Western quicker, but at least this way meant one less transfer to worry about. The bus trudged on slowly in traffic in the one mile between Vermont and Western, but after leaving the density of K-Town and into Hancock Park, the bus picked up speed dramatically. In no time it had arrived at La Brea Avenue, right next to the (M) Customer Service Center (pictured above - hey, what's that little orange critter doing up there?). The Militant could have walked the next few blocks to his workplace, but it had started to drizzle at that point (to the Militant's delight, as the rain would have helped clear the air and hasten the firefighting efforts of the wildfires), so he caught the (M) Local 212 La Brea bus to his final destination.

Of course, what a wonderful would it would be if the Purple Line went that far today. Still, though the bus still pales in comparison to a nice, smooth electrically-propelled train ride, riding the bus these days is waaaaaaay more enjoyable that it was in the days of the era of the Rough, Tough and Dirty's annoyingly vibrating buses with the "cockroach brown" interiors (not just their color, but their ability to camouflage such vermin). Also those buses of yesteryear had pushbutton strips that hardly ever worked, so missing your stop was a common occurrence, even worse when the bus was so packed you couldn't even reach the exit in time.

Today, buses have clearly articulate pre-recorded "next" stop" announcements, have much more brighter interiors and though those TransitTV LED screens on buses are an annoyance in themselves, they're actually not that bad in helping pass the time away. So bus riders of today: You actually got it good.

When all was said and done, it was 30 minutes, only 10 minutes longer than driving, and minus the potential stress and risk of getting into an accident. Plus, he arrived earlier than usual.

Getting to work was a breeze, but heading back to the compound wasn't as convenient, though he was in no immediate rush anyway. Two 720 Rapid buses, both packed to the gills, passed by him and the crowd of people waiting at the La Brea/Wilshire Rapid stop. Ad to that the fact that for the does the Militant put this...nature not only called, she was blowin' up his gastrointestinal cellphone. There was none of those JCDecaux self-cleaning Metro Latrines anywhere in sight (the closest one was in Downtown), so he just held it steady for a while.

Eventually the Rapid came and the Militant alighted the bus at Normandie where he crossed the street and headed to the Wilshire Plaza Hotel (formerly the Radisson Wilshire). Urban Survival Tip #1: When ya gotta go, hotel lobbies have the cleanest public restrooms anywhere.

Finally, after having completed his, er, business, he walked around Wilshire for a bit, hitting up a nearby ATM and hopped on the Purple Line for a stop before heading back to his compound on the Red Line.

Later that night, he had to attend the birthday festivities of an operative in the West Valley. Certainly he could have continued the use of the Day Pass and taken the Red and Orange lines there, but he knew he would have been out past the end of the operating hours of both lines, so he drove there, and there was no traffic whatsoever to worry about at that time. But doing so wasn't hypocrisy at all, as the Militant is not dependent on a singe form of transportation, and embraces all the choices he has at his disposal.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dodgers to Host Red Cross Fundraiser at The Stadium

Talk about the stars aligning - the Militant's previous two post subjects find a connection! One of the Militant's Militia operatives with decidedly Blue connections forwarded this...

In light of the terrible fire tragedy that has displaced thousands of Southern California families, the Los Angeles Dodgers have partnered with KCBS2/KCAL9 to have a day-long fundraiser at Dodger Stadium tomorrow, Friday, October 26th and Monday, October 29th from 5:00AM to 11:00PM. All monies collected will go to the American Red Cross to aid in their humanitarian efforts towards this disaster.

The fundraising location will be inside of our Sunset Avenue Gate (located at Stadium Way/Elysian Park Avenue). Set-up will commence at approx 3:00AM with vehicles being allowed to line-up starting at approx 4:30AM. Prospective donors will drive up into the Stadium, make their donations and then circle back out of the property. The event will also have live television and radio remotes taking place, also from inside the property.

Finally, if anyone is interested in generously donating their time to help staff the donation booths during the day, please contact Noel E. Pallais at or 323.224.1466 with your availability.

Fundraiser website:

The Militant certainly admires the organization's generosity in staging this event, but our air is already fux0red up as it is this week. Can't they set up donation booths in more pedestrian- or transit- friendly locations as well (apparently four Stater Bros. markets are also donation centers, but they're all located in the even more auto-centric boonies anyway - and isn't that the reason why people lost their homes in the first place, because of exurban sprawl)?

'08 Dodgers To Play In China, Coliseum? '07 World Series - Go Rockies?

Believe it or not, Angelenos, it's still baseball season...

First and foremost, the Dodgers. Now follow the Militant: Close your eyes, take a deep breath, inhale...exhale...think positive thoughts...ease your mind...forget about the second half of the 2007 season. There you go.

We all know that 2008 marks the 50th anniversary of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and that a Dodger float will run down Pasadena's Colorado Blvd. on New Year's Day. But according to, some interesting preseason games are currently in the works.

First off, the MLB is working out an exhibition game in Beijing, China between the Daygo Padres and the Dodgers, at the 12,000-seat Wukesong Baseball Field, which will be a venue for the 2008 Olympics later that year. Should be even more interesting if Taiwanese players like Chin-Lung Hu, Chin-Hui Tsao or Hong-Chih Kuo are still on the team and get to play in the Mainland next March.

Next, the report goes on to reveal that the "home" games of the annual Exhibition Freeway Series against the Angels are slated to be played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (pictured above), right where they first played ball half a century ago. Generations of Dodger fans, including the Militant, never got a chance to see a baseball game at the Coliseum, so this would be one totally awesome opportunity - left field screen and all - for today's True Blue to have that experience. Too bad this thing won't be open in time so that Los Angeles Dodger fans can finally dodge a trolley to see a game. But perhaps the Exhibition at Exposition will either open the dialogue on transit access to Dodger Stadium or even resurrect the idea of replacing the outdated Memorial Sports Arena with a new stadium for the Dodgers. Oh well, at the very least there's always Metro Rapid.

Perhaps the Dodgers should take it one step further in '08 and have their season opener at the Coliseum and an actual home opener back at the Stadium - that way we'd have two home openers in the same season.

Heck, if this offseason's Stadium renovation takes too long, that might just happen.

Rox, Not Sox!

The Militant just found out today that there's still some baseball being played somewhere in some old-ass green-colored stadium Out East. Though those Purple Pebbles have annoyed the hell out of this Militant all season long, especially having players with equally annoying-sounding names like Hawpe, Spillborghs, Tulowitzki and some dude named Yorvit, if they do win the World Series this year, they'd join the Dodgers (5 titles) and the Diamondbacks (1 title) as the only National League West teams to have ever won a World Series. And guess which NL West teams have an empty trophy case?

That's right...the Frisco Giants and Daygo Padres. Great way to stick it to 'em next season!

Oh yeah, one more reason for rooting for the Rockies right now: They're playing against the BoraSox. That's right, a team filled with hos that work for their pimp, agent (and baseball antichrist) Scott Boras. Especially when those hos have familiar names like J.D. Drew, Julio Lugo, Alex Cora and that skanky, gold-digging ho...ER*C G*GNE! (cough, cough, cough...damn, that smoke's still bothering the Militant...). 'Nuff said. Oh yeah, that and BoraSox fans are one of the most annoying in baseball. Yes, the Militant was on their side in the '04 World Series, and would be on their side anytime they play against a team from NYC, but sheesh, winning one title for the first time since before radio was invented does not automatically make the BoraSox baseball gods. Enough already.

Although the Rox were humbled by the BoraSox on Wednesday by losing their first game since September 28, maybe they can make a comeback. So go Rox! The Militant would really want to stick it to those Giants and Padres fans next season.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

The Militant is not one who easily jumps on the bandwagon, nor follows the crowd. In fact, his very existence on the Los Angeles Blogosphere is specifically because there are perspectives, views, events, people and places that are largely ignored, if not misunderstood, so the Militant naturally goes against the grain to bring those things to you on this here blog.

The Militant didn't want to write about these fires mainly because not only do the mainstream news sources already have it covered, but the local Blogosphere seems to have it covered as well.

But when the Militant started to feel somewhat lethargic this afternoon and almost felt a shortness of breath, that's all he can stands and he can't stands no more...
...okay, other than spending the next few days in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, there's nothing more he can do, except...

BLOG!!! (cough, cough, cough)

Damn, that didn't turn out so good.

But yeah, even though the Militant isn't exactly the only blogger feeling the weird-ass effects of inhaling cremated homes, trees and dry brush from our suburbs and exurbs, perhaps ranting on a Create Post window can be cathartic. After all, he can't ride his bike (well, technically, the Militant still can, it's just that his lungs would protest), take long walks around the vicinity of his compound, or the like. For some reason, this was much worse than the Griffith Park Fire, which was much more closer in proximity, but the smoke and ash didn't linger for as long.

Speaking of proximity, we all know that, aside from the environmental and visual impact, us city folks are largely spared from the effects of this fire (count yer blessings). But the constant media bombardment of "CALIFORNIA FIRE!!!" (cough, cough, cough) on newscasts and headlines, would probably make people Out East think the entire Golden State - all 158, 302 square miles of it - is conflagrated (to either their delight or chagrin). Yesterday evening, the Militant got a call from his cousin in Queens, NY who was wondering if all her Los Angeles-based relatives were okay. The Militant assured her that all the fires were burning miles away in outlying areas and that the only effects were the aforementioned smoke-related ones.

Of course, the Militant wasn't immune from the hype either; a few hours earlier, after learning that SD's Jack Murph, er, Qualcomm Stadium was being used as an evacuation center, the Militant called his Daygo-based operatives, who likewise assured them that they were just fine, and in fact people who fled the fire-ravaged areas sought refuge in their part of town. After all, they had already suffered their own inferno four years ago.

This all started with some wild Santa Anas, right? As a great native Angeleno songwriter once expressed in song, the blow hot from the north. The Militant considers the winds themselves to be a stunningly beautiful thing, almost romantic even. At least to this Militant, they bring back fond memories of a time years ago in his college days when he was dating someone who went to an unspecified California State University and had to trek through the parking lot, hand in hand with her, as the winds seemingly beat the two young lovers like a raging storm while they sought refuge in her dorm.

But that was then. These days, the Santa Anas are weather pr0n that give arsonists hard-ons, and now these domestic ter'rists are public enemy #1. Can America try to allocate more money into institutionalizing and taking care of its mentally ill so they aren't out there playing with fire in dry brush, resulting in people losing their homes and lives? Oh yeah, the US government has priorities (cough, cough, cough). Uh-huh.

Some have likened the fires to be "Our Katrina." Uh, not even close. Maybe when The Big One comes. But perhaps events like these test the resilience of people - transplants and natives alike - and weed out the ones who only come here for "The Weather" (that makes about 95.3% of all East Coast and Midwestern transplants, right?) - perhaps certainly a semiarid Mediterranean climate with a relatively low annual rainfall has its downsides, after all, so run along), and make for a stronger, thicker-skinned populace.

In the meantime, GO AWAY SMOKE (cough, cough, hack, hack, cough)!!!! The Militant wants his normal smog back.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Angels and the Santa Anas

The Militant had to leave the camo at home on Saturday as he attended the wedding of an operative at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Downtown. Of course, though he wasn't dressed as a Militant, the Militant was able to arrive at the wedding Militant-style, as he rode the (M) Red Line to the Civic Center station and simply walked across the street (leaving the car at home also had a practical reason, as you'll find out below).

The Militant had mixed feelings about this wedding, as he wasn't exactly 100% supportive of the primary intent of the union, but what's done is done, and all the Militant could do was wish the operative and his new bride well.

No, the Cathedral wasn't filled to its 3,000+ capacity, only the first section of pews had people in it, with much room to spare, plus a small "spillover" crowd scattered in the next section. During the ceremony, a group of tourgoers in the back looked on with much curiosity.

It had been a while since the Militant had stepped into the characteristically 21st-century Cathedral, and for some reason he never fails to find inspiration in the tan-toned tapestries that hang along both sides of the Cathedral's nave, appropriately designed by artist John Nava. The tapestries depict members of the Catholic Church's Hall of Fame from every race and walk of life walking along average people, likewise from every race and walk of life (pictured above).

After the ceremony came the requisite photography sessions in the courtyard garden between the Cathedral building and the campanile, with the muffled white-noise roar of 101 Freeway traffic blaring from just over the wall. The construction crane and launchpad-like girders of the under-construction school currently known as Central LA New High Schoool #9 loomed over the Cathedral plaza's walls, a telling sign that the presence of redevelopment is inescapable in Downtown.

The Militant carpooled with another set of operatives to an undisclosed location in the San Fernando Valley where the reception took place. The roaring Santa Ana Winds nearly beat us into submission as we navigated through the parking lot into the reception hall. Of course, whern there is a wedding reception, two magic words pique the Militant's interest:

Open Bar.

Needless to say, the Militant didn't seem to remember much throughout the rest of the night, other than that it included a lot of hollering, dancing and doing rather stupid things while the room appeared to be spinning. He did remember looking out of the window into a panoramic view of the Valley, on a night designated as "Lights Out LA." Of course, even if every household complied by turning off all unnecessary lights for an hour, the visual impact could not be seen as most lights seen from a distance were streetlights.

As the Militant imbibed himself into a drunken stupor, he couldn't help but wonder when or how or if his big day will come when he ties the knot with his own Militant Angelena, wherever she is. The Militant has to admit, being a Militant can get rather solitary at times. Okay, maybe she doesn't have to be a Militant Angelena herself (Come to think of it, the Militant seems to think that kind of marriage would would be filled with constant arguments as to who would be more Militant than the other), he'll settle for a regular Angelena, who would be at least supportive of the Militant's lifestyle. Until then, he'll just have to leave you with a quote from the great Los Angeles band, the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Sing with the Militant now:

Sometimes I feel like I don't have a partner
Sometimes I feel like my only friend
Is the city I live in, the City of Angels
Lonely as I am, together we cry...

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Los Angeles, The Small Town

Being a native Angeleno, especially a Militant native Angeleno at that, has its unique advantages. As many transplants as if on cue gripe and whine how the entire city is "too spread out," "too large" and "too impersonal" to be of any social use, the Militant sees it in a totally different way. In fact, the Militant sees Los Angeles as just a small town...that just happens to have a lot of concrete.

On Friday, as the Militant was making his militant rounds in the neighborhood, while visiting a local school, he asked to meet with the principal. He had spoken to her in the past, but had never met in person. After patiently waiting for some ten minutes for the principal to finish her phone call, she stepped out and introduced herself and said to the Militant, "You look very famliar..." The Militant, noticing the same thing, replied, "You look very familiar too..." As his mind raced to find out where exactly he saw her before, he blurted out the answer. Her face lit up. It turns out that she volunteers at one of the places where the Militant works. The Militant had seen this volunteer, yet never knew that she was the principal of a school not far from his compound.

"Small world!" she said, about four times during the brief meeting.

But it didn't end there.

Later that evening, the Militant, seemingly on some live music trip this week, decided to check out an operative's band perform at a place called Room 5 Lounge on La Brea Avenue (pictured above; photo is a stock picture from the lounge's website as the Militant lent his trusty Militant Cam to one of his Militant Siblings as the said relative attended a concert at some brand-spankin' new theatre in Downtown that night). Being less than five miles away from the compound, the Militant got on his two-wheeler and huffed it down Beverly Blvd, past the scene of a car accident at St. Andrews Place, past the bend that bisects Wilshire Country Club, where, only on a bicycle, can one smell the aroma of the trees, thistle and other flora, seemingly unknown in this city - no - small town.

At the venue, located upstairs from Amalfi Restaurant (which the Militant once remembered, with various fond memories, as a similarly-themed eatery named Farfalla), a nearly packed house came to see the operative's band play some nicely-composed acoustic music. After the set and after the Militant gave his operative some props, a young woman approached the Militant.

"Hey, aren't you [NAME WITHHELD]?" she asked.

The Militant smiled and said that he may or may not be. No, just kidding. Yes, he acknowledged. He also noticed some other familiar places in the room as they happened to know the Militant's performing operative in a different capacity.

But it didn't end there.

Later on, as the Militant was about to leave and make a visit to the restroom, he was stopped by a couple sitting at the restaurant downstairs, who recognized him as one of their friends. The two were there to see a play at the theatre next door, and were there to have their dinner right before the show commenced. As the Militant chatted with them, he realized the last time he saw him was the day he wrote about this post, and the last time he saw her was the day he did research for this other post.

The "small world" trifecta was now complete...Excellent.

The Militant proceeded to ride his way back to the compound, this time heading north on La Brea, making a pit stop to try out some not-bad-at-all Fro-Yo at some ridiculously named joint and ending up on his favorite east-west Hollywood route, Fountain Avenue, which was a far more bike-friendly route than Beverly. But alas his route was blocked by a 4-square-block police blockade. So the small town ain't perfect, but it's home.

In the end, the Militant logged a 9-mile round trip around his immediate section of his small town. Not just knowing people, but people from different occupations and walks of life, and developing relationships with them, makes this town small, and getting to know the streets intimately without depending on a car makes it even smaller.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Jazz on Central Avenue...Central Avenue and 2nd Street, That Is

Since this is a blog post that's music- related, it would obviously do no justice to take a bunch of pictures, so this post contains some audio links. Yeah, the Militant's goin' multimedia on ya. Enjoy.

When the Militant was done wrapping up one of his extramilitant activities with an undisclosed number of operatives on Tuesday night in the industrial area east of Downtown, an SGV-based operative asked the Militant how to get to Little Tokyo. The Militant told him, "Easy. Cross the river, make a right on Alameda, then make a left on 2nd St. " The SGV-based operative clarified he was going to an event at a place called "2nd St. Jazz." The Militant replied, "Jazz, eh? 2nd Street Jazz is on 2nd, right after Central Avenue."

Those of you who know your Los Angeles history, know that the first thing to come to mind when the phrase "Central Avenue" comes up, is jazz music. From the 1920s to the 1950s, it was the literal heart and soul of Los Angeles' African American community and the epicenter of the jazz scene here (those of you who didn't know, well you just learned something new). Today, it sits relatively silent, and although it's slowly seeing some neighborhood redevelopment in the form of pocket parks and brand new low-income housing developments, the music and the institutions that fostered it - such as the Dunbar Hotel - are long gone.

A little over 60 years ago, Los Angeles was horribly segregated. Blacks were discouraged from living outside of "South Central" (which had an entirely different social as well as geographical definition back then). It was not so much a reference to "South Central Los Angeles" (which was then a predominantly white suburb) as it was "South Central Avenue." In the meantime, Japanese Americans were suddenly nonexistent at that point in history, as they were shuttled off to wartime internment camps upstate in Manzanar, Tule Lake or elsewhere in the west. The government, of course, considered them at the time to be "the enemy."

Today, if you go as far north on Central Avenue as you can, and make a left on 2nd Street, not only could you find jazz, but an incredible synergy of African American-originated music and Japanese American culture, as the Militant found out after tagging along with the SGV-based operative, and Stingray, one of his most trusted L337 militia operatives.

The event was 2nd St. Jazz's weekly Jazz Jam Session, which happens every Tuesday night from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Led by drummer Miles Senzaki and bassist J.P. Maramba, local jazz cats are welcome to sit in and jam on mostly bebop, cool jazz and Latin jazz standards. The musicians sitting in were all a truly diverse bunch - black, white, Asian and Latino - and to the Militant's surprise, they all appeared to be under age 30.

But age ain't nothin' but a number. These cats were serious, running down classics like John Coltrane's iconic "Giant Steps" and laying down solos with flowing ease. Maramba is an alum of USC's Thornton School of Music, and apparently a lot of USC cats come down here to play.

The venue itself (which until recently was known by many by an awkwardly placed sign that simply read, "LAND" - a remnant of its former "JAZZLAND" moniker, which was eventually dropped due to a cease-and-desist trademark violation order) is worthy of mention. Unlike many venues, the music was no afterthought, it was started back in 2000 by the late Kohei Matsumoto, a onetime jazz trumpeter who simply wanted a place in Little Tokyo where people can enjoy some great music. His son, Koichi, now runs the joint, which has music 7 nights a week, from jazz to rock to soul to J-Pop to hip-hop.

Jazz music made a distinct impact on Japan after its introduction, and even the most mainstream commercial pop music from that country is known to carry unexpectedly jazzy elements. The jazz clubs in Tokyo and elsewhere in that country are homes to some of the most seriously skilled cats anywhere in the world.

The jam session soon stretched out in to some amazingly wonderful sights. A 30- or 40-something Japanese woman got up on stage to sing the Gershwin standard, "Summertime." Not such a big deal, but on this night she held a microphone in one hand, while holding her year-old daughter in the other. And, she was obviously pregnant with another child as well. It made the song's line, "Hush little baby, don't you cry" incredibly valid and beautiful.

The place wasn't packed, there were no more than two dozen people in the place, but it didn't really matter as everyone was appreciatively into the music, even hollering towards familiar faces who got up on stage - like Lisa, the the bartender, who took a break to sing a jazzy rendition of a traditional Japanese lullaby...

AUDIO: Click here to hear Lisa, the bartender
sing that jazzy Japanese lullaby. Ain't this audio thing cool?

The Militant found this place to be a great hang with quality music and an unpretentious, familial vibe. Lisa, the bartender informed the Militant of other events happening at the place, which he plans or may not check out in the near or distant future. Heck, KTTV Channel 11 even nominated 2nd St. Jazz to be on the myfoxla's HOTLIST. The place also sports a full bar and a kitchen serving lunch and dinner menu. Or, you can just walk around the corner a few yards and eat some 'gina.

The Militant will leave you with one more musical tidbit recorded Tuesday night at 2nd Street Jazz that sums up the whole 2nd St. Jazz (and Los Angeles as a whole) experience. A Japanese dude in his late 40s wearing hip-hoppish gear, singing a jazz rendition of the song "Sabor a Mi." Yup, en Español.

The Militant would like to thank Militant operative Stingray for the use of his magic portable digital recording device which made these audio clips possible.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Here Come The Biters!

Yes, making three posts in one day is an excuse to make up for lost time.

But after the Militant returned from his Eastside (Happy now, El Chavo!?) adventure, while passing though the uber-hip(ster) Sunset Junction in Silver_Lake, after craning his neck to see the artificially-verdant hills of Griffith Park, hanging on overhead wires above Sunset Blvd, the Militant spotted the worst incident of bird-biting since Ozzy Osbourne's 1983 world tour (pictured right). that? Some stupid logo that looks like a backwards "k," an "l" and a forward "k." The Militant means, come ON! The original wire-hanging Berd was cool and all - the Militant took it as some sort of natural/pleasant contrast/commentary on those sneakers hanging on overhead wires (and the public perception of such phenomena). So little painted plywood Berds hanging on wires, secured by padlocks (perhaps representing some sort of confinement or imprisonment) were a cool thing. But really, this has got to stop. Whoever you are "klk"...really, give it up before you embarrass yourself further. Seriously.

Ethnic Iced Dessert Quest - Part 6: Raspados...Yeah, Raspados!

The Militant usually employs witty/corny puns for the titles of his Pulitzer-Prize* winning series on Ethnic Iced Desserts, but he was simply at a loss to find one for today's entry. But oh well. He figured it was best to go ahead and write the damn post than to mull about which pun to use for the title of today's entry. After all, that might cost him another week of not posting...

Respecting The Raspados...?

Lest you think that shaved ice desserts were strictly an Asian phenomenon, the Militant was happily pleased to find one from Latin America, namely Mexico. It all started at a conversation the Militant had with a woman at the Bhan Kanom Thai dessert shop in Thai Town as the Militant extolled the virtues of shaved iced desserts found in various Asian countries. The woman tipped the Militant off to Latino shaved ice treats, namely this particular location in East Los Angeles. So the Militant made sure to drop by during his recent Sunday adventure in The Real Eastside.

R-A-S-P-A-D-O, Find out what it means to...yo...?

In Mexico, raspados are basically snowcones. The term originates from the Spanish verb raspar, which means, "to scrape." So they literally mean "scraped ice." When the Militant got on Ford Boulevard, he made a beeline to Raspados Zacatecas, a HITW (that's acronymspeak for "Hole-In-The-Wall") wonder in Eastlos, worthy of coverage by this guy (who already covered it in an episode that aired this past July and August - a poster in the store said so). Named after the central Mexican state, this little stand - perhaps no more than 12 feet wide - sells raspados in over a dozen different flavors for just $3 each. The Militant asked the lady at the counter (well, she was like the only person running the place) in Spanish if they raspados were available in flavor combinations, or one flavor only. She replied that you can order up to two different flavors. So the Militant ordered the mango and the piña (pineapple) flavors, and she proceeded to get a plastic cup, fill it about halfway with ice from a shaving machine, then grab a ladle-full of mango chunks suspended in some sort of jelly-syrup from a barrel-shaped container you usually see aguas frescas vendors use. Then she took a second trip to the ice shaver and managed to make a volcano-like mound topping the cup with a crater in the middle and filled that with a similar pineapple jelly-syrup suspension, put a dome cap on the cup and spoon inside, and voila - raspados!

Domo Arigato, Mr. Raspado...?

So simple - shaved ice and fruit chunks in natural fruit syrup - yet so good. This really hit the spot on a warm Sunday afternoon. Locals walked in or parked right in front to grab some raspados, even getting multiple cups to-go in cardboard drink holder trays. They knew what was up long before the Militant did.

A Whole Lotta Raspados...?

Raspados Zacatecas is so small you probably can't eat inside. They have a couple tables right on the sidewalk, but most customers ordered theirs to-go. The place is adorned with maps and Mexican history posters, and a couple native Mexican dolls stand guard on the counter. There's a TV that shows one of the Spanish-language TV networks and a sign above the main door which reads, in Spanish, "Through these doors are the most beautiful women in the world," though the Militant wasn't sure if that was a reference to the staff or the customers (if it was the latter, that certainly rang true for one such patron!).

Resplendent Raspados...? (Actually that one might have worked, but at that point it was too late to change the format of this post)

Raspados Zacatecas serves their eponymous specialties in about 14 different flavors: coco (coconut), nuez (walnut), vanilla, rompope (Mexican eggnog with ground almonds), durazno (peach), fresa (strawberry), limon (c'mon, you can figure that one out), cafe (that too), jamaica (hibiscus tea), tamarindo, piña (pineapple), mango, guayaba (guava) and cajeta (sweetened, carmelized milk). Raspados can be found all over The Real Eastside as well as certain places scattered around Los Angeles County. There was even another raspados stand spotted by the Militant in his recent Real Eastside journey, at the corner of East 3rd St. and Indiana Ave. (this one even having the cojones to boast the words "Home of the Original Raspado" on its wall). If you know of any other good places to find raspados, please comment!

Raspados (Mexico)

Raspados Zacatecas
422 N. Ford Blvd (near Cesar Chavez)
East Los Angeles

Item: Raspados, $3.00

* In the Militant's dreams.

(About to Be) Born In East L.A.

Last March, the Militant took a bicycle ride from his compound all the way to The Real Eastside and back one afternoon. After he told a decidedly non-militant friend (as in, "does not qualify as an operative") bout his trek, the friend asked the Militant, "Weren't you afraid?"

The Militant replied, "Afraid of what?"

The decidedly non-militant friend answered, "All those gangsters in East L.A."

And he was actually serious.

The Militant followed up with a long-ass explanation about fear, perception and stereotypes. That and the fact that the Militant has biked through many a "rough" area and has never been shot at or "bikejacked," if ever such a term existed. Plus, who would really want to shoot at a Militant (The Militant, of course, asks this rhetorically)?

The Militant had to run an errand today in Monterey Park, and when he looked at the little MapQuest image, he exclaimed,"Score!" and soon proceeded to his ELAA (East Los Angeles Adjacent) destination.

Yes, the Militant didn't just go to The Real Eastside, he went to the actual East Los Angeles.

His first stop after his errand was the end of the (M) Gold Line Eastside Extension (pictured above), which terminates at the corner of Atlantic and Pomona, just a few blocks south of East Los Angeles College. Come 2009 , Angelenos will discover The Real Eastside, as well as East Los Angeles proper, and discover that their perceptions of some sort of ghetto hellhole were waaaaay off the mark.

The Militant didn't even have to wait until '09. He saw it here today. The place was clean, sidewalks not only low in litter content, but in prime condition (Actually, in terms of cleanliness, East Los Angeles proper looks much nicer than Boyle Heights (which is within Los Angeles city limits), so perhaps being part of unincorporated County land has its advantages?). A Kaiser Permanente clinic stood right next to the station construction site, with a possibly prophetic banner ad on the wall with the Spanish version of the HMO's slogan, "Viva Bien" (Live Well) - pictured left. Hole-In-The Wall restaurants like Maria's Corner and El Loco #1 lay in wait nearby for the throngs of people who will arrive in light rail cars in two years' time who have never been there before.

But there was so much more to see here than mere restaurants and health care institutions.

Heading west along the light rail construction route, the Militant hit the next station site - the East L.A. Civic Center, which sports a library, courthouse, other government buildings and the crown jewel: A beautiful city park centered around a picturesque lake (pictured right) - the southern annex of Belvedere Park. He would have loved to have shown his decidedly non-militant friend this place, which looks more at home in some hoity-toity suburb than in Eastlos, but here it is, right in the center of East Los Angeles, with parents lounging, children playing and the occasional food vendor cart making their rounds on a warm, sunny Southern California autumn Sunday afternoon. The park is also home to the East Los Angeles Farmer's Market, which is run here on Saturday mornings.

(The Militant was not aware that duck molestation
was such a serious issue in East Los Angeles)

Interestingly, the 60 freeway runs just yards from the park, but the depressed elevation of the freeway and a soundwall keep this beautiful treasure out of the view of freeway traffic -- the only way to see it is from the street (and soon, from a train). Fortunately, for the people enjoying the park, the freeway is out of sight, out of mind, thanks to the soundwall, with only the muted roar of traffic coasting by being any sort of reminder the freeway is nearby.

As the Militant ventured westward, he took a little detour, past the 24-hour King Taco location on 3rd and Ford, where a future station called Maravilla (which means "marvelous" or "wonderful") is being built. You can read all about that little detour in the next blog entry.

The Militant followed the right-of-way into Los Angeles City limits, where the only danger he faced was almost running over a stray dog walking on the street (the dog being more in danger than the Militant of course), as families crossed the street from their cars, parked in makeshift parking spaces carved out of the light rail construction zone in between the zone road stripes and the k-rail barriers that concealed the new tracks embedded in the street. The Militant followed the tracks north on Indiana and west on 1st St., where the rail route buried itself in a tunnel next to Evergreen Cemetery, where thousands of Angelenos - from all literally walks of life - have been buried since 1877 - with room for more.

The tracks emerge again from subterranea just a few blocks west of Boyle Heights' Mariachi Plaza, where a few musicians were gathering, just to hang out, but no one was playing in the plaza's gazebo at the time (Readers, help the Militant out - what day and what time are the Mariachi performances there?).

The Gold Line Eastside Extension is more than just "a rail line serving a economically-disadvantaged, transit-dependent community;" it's a link to a relatively undiscovered and sorely underrated area of Southern California that has probably been more of a victim of outsider's fears and perceptions than actual crime itself. The Real Eastside isn't just homogenously Mexican or Chicano in flavor either; the Militant's Real Eastside Adventure passed by a Serbian Cemetery, Japanese Buddhist and Tenrikyo temples (Boyle Heights still sports vestiges of a strong Japanese American community), Chinese restaurants and markets and at least two Hawaiian BBQ joints.

Amazing the things people miss when their only world is home, work and the freeways. And even more when their urban life is ruled by fear, stereotypes and perception.

But there's no need to wait until '09 to see The Real Eastside "happen." - It's there now, and it's already been happening.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Find One Hundred Ways

Wow, lookie here. The Militant turns 100. Posts, that is! Yes, this here is the Militant's hundredth post. Of course, his rival guerrilla factions have chided him for celebrating his milestones, but hey, a Militant's gotta do what a Militant's gotta do. So, in true Hollywood fashion (the industry, not the community), the rest of this post will be comprised of clips showing the best moments from the Militant's past 100 posts...

[Reader 1: Oh, a clip show. This is gonna suck.]

[Reader 2: Majorly.]

Hey, who said that?

[Reader 1: I did, Commando Boy.]

[Reader 2: LOL!]

Who are you?

[Reader 1: I'm Reader 1, your worst critic.]

[Reader 2: And I'm Reader 2, I'm just doing this just to antagonize you.]

How'd you get in here?

[Reader 1: may or may not want to know.]

[Reader 2: ROTFL! "May or may not!"]

What are you guys doing in my blog?

[Reader 1: AHA! He's broke his third-person character! He said "My!"]

[Reader 2: High Five!]

Okayokayokay, what do you want from the Militant?

[Reader 1: Reveal yourself, to the public.]

[Reader 2: Yeah!]

Hell no! The Militant's not going to do that...right now.

[Reader 1: So you will reveal yourself one day?]

He may or may not.

[Reader 1 and Reader 2: ROTFL!]

Okay, aside from that, what do you want from the Militant?

[Reader 1: Okay, you think you know everything about LA, right?]

Los Angeles.

[Reader 1: Yeah, whatever, Commando Boy. How many tunnels are there on the northbound 110?]

Uhh...three. Four. Five. There are five tunnels.

[Reader 1: EHHHHHH! Wrong, Commando Boy! There's FOUR!]

[Reader 2: You suck!]

Alright, okay, so you stumped the Militant. Now go get your own damn city blog.

[Reader 1 and Reader 2: WE MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE ONE ALREADY!!!]

Okay, it's time for you guys to go.

[Reader 1: Hahaha. Make me!]

[Reader 2: Yeah, make me!]

Hmm...Reader 2, you don't ever seem to have anything original to say. Are you just Reader 1's lackey?

[Reader 2:]

[Reader 1: Yes you are.]

[Reader 2: No I'm not!]

[Reader 1: Remember when I told you to take a leak in the Militant's shaved ice dessert when he wasn't looking?]


[Reader 2: Hey, that was my idea, ass-wad!]

[Reader 1: Who you calling ass-wad?]

[Reader 2: You are! And you haven't paid me in over a month! And the last check bounced!]

[Reader 1: B-b-but...]

[Reader 2: YOU suck. I wanted to be "Reader 1" but noooo...]

ROTFL! I love this. Okay suckas, time to say goodnight. Hey, what's this tab here? "Edit Html"


Ahhhh, there we go. The Militant loves control...and you didn't see nothin'.

Change is Gonna Come

Okay, now that most of the Militant's 100th post has been wasted already, let's cut to the chase. Today, the Militant will take this opportunity to announce a couple new additions to this here blog, as he makes his way towards world domin...uh...heheh. The Militant means, as his blog evolves.

1. Ask The Militant!

Ever since the Militant got his first comment back in June, it felt like little Christmas presents under the tree. But beyond that petty selfish psychological need, he would like to do a greater service to all of Los Angelesdom. Or...blogdom. You know that the Militant is talking about. So in the tradition of Ask-A-Ninja (who isn't quite anonymous anymore), Strong Bad's E-Mail and to make a rather cheap attempt to capitalize on the absence of the Los Angeles City Nerd, the Militant will welcome any city-related questions from all you readers* out there in the interest of informing and/or entertaining (which probably means if the Militant cannot answer it, he'll at least make the response somewhat entertaining).

To ask the Militant a question, simply email the Militant at militantangeleno at gmail dot com (suck it, spambots!) with the Subject line: "Ask The Militant."

2. Coming Soon: Militant Angeleno's Mess Hall!

Yes, folks, it's a spin-off. Soon, the Militant will launch Militant Angeleno's Mess Hall, a food blog unlike any other. Okay, it's just a food blog - but from a decidedly Militant point of view. Read the first post to get an idea of what the food blog will cover. Of course, the Militant has his hands full with his various Militant activities, so this blog will be open to contributors with a login. So far, fellow guerrilla factions The Hollywood Jedi and Miles of Miles Think have signed on as contributors. Email the Militant if you would like to contribute, along with a short paragraph or two explaining to the Militant why you deserve to be a contributor to the Mess Hall (Of course, if you're already a frequent reader*/commenter, you already get first dibs...).

*Except you, Reader 1 and Reader 2.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Chillin' in da BLQ

The Militant was driving home after work on Saturday evening when he passed in the vicinity of the landmark Agaean blue neon sign bearing the name of the community's name: "Byzantine - Latino Quarter." Having not been here in a while, the Militant figured, "What the Hellas?" and decided to drop by for a visit.

The hungy Militant got a bite to eat at the most popular eatery in the area, Papa Cristo's Taverna, where, seated at a table with an Agaean blue checkered pattern tablecloth, he enjoyed a tasty gyro and a spanikopita while reading this week's LA Weekly (and finally coming to the conclusion that the only thing worth reading in that paper is the Pulitzer prize-winning Jonathan Gold). He also bade his time watching the Metro Local line 30 and 31 buses zip by through the window like a moving picture frame as well as observing the fellow clientele getting their Greek grub on - A Filipino couple, a trio of middle-aged Greek dudes having a chat, visitors from the La Brea Tarpits' Page Museum (still wearing their museum guest stickers), and a table of black, Asian and Latina women, all sharing laughs and exchanging stories with one another...okay, so the Militant had his eye on one of them.

After leaving the restaurant and its adjoining market, C&K Importing Company, which has been at the Pico-Normandie corner since 1948, the Militant wanted to take a little walk around the neighborhood and explore more of the Latino side of the area. Walking westbound, he passed a large Central American market, a taco truck parked on the corner, and another market, sharing the sidewalk space with the cris-crossing pedestrian traffic - 40-something men at the taco truck chatting in Spanish, a group of teenagers standing in front of a market chatting in English, all during that crucial time of the day when the setting sun yields way to the purplish sky, ready to transition into the dark of night. But here in the city, the sky remains bright.

Before even venturing a full block, the Militant headed in the other direction because the amount of streetlife, and open businesses, suddenly tapered off at that point. The Militant crossed Pico to step into the aesthetically-pleasing (and rather immaculate) pocket park, built about a decade ago as part of a Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative project, which helped name the area and furthermore develop empowerment among its residents and revitalization among its businesses. But though the BLQ name is a known entity among the neighborhood and in the state (Caltrans put up freeway signs for the BLQ off of the 10's Normandie exit), it is not an officially-designated community in the City of Los Angeles, or at least yet.

The park (pictured right) had locals sitting on the dark green street furniture, some waiting for the Metro Local line 206 bus, others just chillin'. A four-sided clock stood as a practical landmark for the park, which looked like something straight out of Europe (okay, more like Mediterranean Europe, because of the palm trees), or even Latin America., or any other country really where public space is celebrated and not disdained. The park lies in the shadow of an eight-story public storage building (of which the neon sign is situated upon) and bears a large "angels" mural with the neighborhood's motto:

"We are each of us angels with one wing. We can only fly embracing each other."

On the other side of Normandie stands two churches - St, Sophia Greek Orthodox Church and St. Thomas The Apostle Catholic Church, both quiet on this Saturday evening but will be ready for a busy day tomorrow. On the north side of Pico in that direction, the Militant strolled by another market, an El Salvadoran pupuseria, a small Mexican restaurant, a religious bookstore and a sporting goods store. There were even some Korean businesses along Pico and a few Korean locals walking down the street as well, adding to the cultural mix of the neighborhood.

As far as pedestrian activity, the BLQ has it down right. Next time, the Militant will visit the area Militant-style (it's both a bikeable distance and the 206 runs not too far from the compound) and check out some of the other restaurants. In the meantime, the Militant bids the BLQ a kalinishta and a buenas noches.

Overlooked Los Angeles: The Washington Blvd. Buddha

Washington Blvd., obviously named after the first President of the United States, was part of the City of Los Angeles' plan to designate a series of major east-west thoroughfares after every U.S. president (hence boulevards Adams and Jefferson), but eventually hit a snag in 1912 when the City annexed the town of Colegrove (now part of today's East Hollywood and Koreatown districts), which already had streets named in honor of presidents Madison and Monroe (plus, how would the city honor the nation's 5th president -- another Adams Blvd?).

With Washington having been somewhat of an industrious man, it was perhaps a lucky coincidence that our street named after him would be somewhat industrial in nature, with large bakeries towards the western end, mortuaries (serving the nearby Rosedale Cemetery) in the middle, and more heavier industrial warehouses towards the east.

The other week, the Militant biked down the latter portion of Washington, where the rows of tacquerias and pupuserias transition into more bulky, spartan facades. Here, at the corner of Washington Blvd and Long Beach Ave (in a neighborhood known as Menlo Park), where (M) Blue Line trains snake through the middle of the street on their way to and from the high-speed dedicated right-of-way, stands a nondescript red brick building displaying nothing but a big blue and white sign bearing the name "Hanson Tank" in large block letters -- and a curious weathered concrete object, just a little over a foot tall, nestled in its own little alcove, above a doorway. Whatever could it be?

Years ago, a slightly younger Militant took a makeshift Blue Line tour with a handful transit enthusiast friends and acquaintances. One of them invited a tour guide, whom the Militant will call the Militant Elder (really, his name slipped from the Militant's mind), whose descriptions of otherwise overlooked structures, objects and sights helped change the way the Militant Angeleno sees the city.

The Militant Elder stood up in the aisle of the moving light rail car and pointed to the object in the Hanson Tank building. He told the group that during World War II, when most Japanese Americans were put into internment camps, there were some who avoided being sent to camps and lived secretly among society. So this building, during the War, served as a clandestine temple where Japanese Buddhists were allowed to worship in secret.

The Militant was blown away for many reasons - that in a country where people were supposedly guaranteed freedom of religion that they had to worship secretly, that Japanese Americans had to go through so much during the war, whether interned or not, and that there were little nooks and crannies overlooked by Angelenos every day, only after being discovered did they yield stories unto themselves. But the most amazing thing was that the Washington Blvd Buddha was not a victim of erased history. The Roy E. Hansen, Jr. Manufacturing company, which sells pressurized tanks for industrial use, deserves a lot of credit for letting that little tidbit of culture, faith and history remain, especially when they could have easily removed the statue and covered the alcove with bricks like what was done to some of the windows in the building. But then, that would have just been bad karma.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Take a Walk Down Chinatown, Saturday October 6!

The Militant interrupts this lag between postings to bring you an announcement: There's a very edjumakational tour of Chinatown this Saturday morning, and it's FREE! GRATIS! Description goes as such:

Led by Sharon Sekhon, executive director of the Studio for Southern California History, this Walking Tour explores the different generations and re-generations of communities comprising this vibrant and now Chinese neighborhood. This neighborhood also hosted Italian, Croatian, French, & Mexican American communities throughout the late 19 th and 20 th centuries. Los Angeles' original Chinatown was razed in 1938 to make room for Union Station. As a result, this Chinatown was a planned community that attempted to reflect the Chinese community that was displaced here.

This event is free but reservations are required by e-mailing or calling 213-229-8890.

Date: Saturday, October 6, 2007
Time: 10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Location: 525 Alpine Street, Suite 103, Los Angeles, California 90012 (the Studio for Southern California History)
Cost: Free

For more information, visit:

The Militant may or may not be there. No really, he has a lot of militant business to do that day. But if you go, just know that this event has the Militant Angeleno's Seal of Approval. The Studio for Southern California seems to be doing very militant things in preserving the histories - especially the untold ones - of this region. So just tell them the Militant Angeleno himself sent you (they're probably gonna say, "Huh? Who sent you?" but just tell them anyway just to see their reaction)!

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" 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 front of a privately-owned establishment.

Hey, it's just another night in DTLA.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Hey, Padres Fans!

Yeah, the Militant shouldn't have to be talking about baseball right now, especially about a game going on in another city, but at least there's some schadenfreude consolation in the eternally annoying San Diego Padres being eliminated from post-season play by the currently annoying Colorado Rockies during a 163rd-game todo-o-nada playoff to determine the NL Wild Card. Of course, this game might never have had to happen in the first place if it weren't for this guy. So maybe, in a way, Dodger fans need to give him some unintended props.

Remember Los Angeles Dodgers fans, the next time a Padres fan disses you, your team, your city, all of the above or a combination thereof, just ask them this one simple question:

"What's your favorite basketball team?"

There's a huge chance their quiet, feeble, shoegazing reply would be, "The Lakers..." It might even be "The Clippers..." Either way, they're guaranteed to STFU.

It Was 20 Years Ago Today...

Longtime locals and natives at least 25 or so years old on up should remember what happened on the morning of October 1, 1987 when the magnitude 5.9 Whittier Narrows Earthquake rattled SoCal and became the first large earthquake in nearly a generation to strike the area.

The Militant remembers it well: Waiting at an RTD bus stop on the way to school, the young Militant was kicking back, listening to The System's Don't Disturb This Groove cassette on his Walkman headphones, when at precisely 7:42 a.m. he heard what sounded like a huge swarm of pigeons fly off into the sky, then the rattling of storefront accordion security gates, then someone screaming, "GET AWAY FROM THE BUILDING!" Looking westward down the street, he seemed to remember it...rolling.

More rump-shaking than the late '80s funky pop music in the young Militant's headphones, this was the ultimate disturbance of an even bigger groove.

"This is an earthquake!" the young Militant finally realized.

Having been born an unspecified measure of time after the 1971 Sylmar Earthquake (and perhaps even conceived due to it), he had never seen or felt this phenomena he had been raised to fear and prepare for. For years he was taught to duck under the tables at school, hands covering the back of his neck (to help shield vital nerves and arteries and minimize further injury), or stand in the middle of a doorway...but none such event came. Now he was outside, nowhere to go really, so he just stood on the sidewalk by the bus stop and rode it out.

The rest of that day was crazy none the least, including checking on one of his younger siblings at the local elementary school, having his boombox radio, still blaring KFWB updates, stolen from the front yard when he wasn't looking, and a bizarre and potentially dangerous family car trip that night up the Angeles Crest Highway to check on the Militant's other sibling, who was at a school camp up in the mountains at the time (remember, this was before everyone had cellphones...)

Everyone was safe and nothing was really damaged aside from a vase here and there and some cassette cases careening down to the floor, and a noticeable fracture in the chimney (which still stood after the even bigger 1994 Northridge Earthquake and still stands today). But still, it helps to be prepared for The Big One, or any major emergency.

And that's one to grow on.