Friday, November 30, 2007

The Blogosphere Expands

Some five-and-a-half months ago (is that it? seems like forever), the Militant Angeleno burst into the scene and the Los Angeles blogosphere hasn't been the same. The Militant is also a legend in his own mind.

But seriously, the purpose of the Militant is to deliver a voice that's usually never heard, to feature perspective, communities, people and urban adventures many people never even consider.

But the blogosphere is one symbiotic environment. Other blogs like the now-dormant, reportedly formerly-anonymous (!) Los Angeles City Nerd (don't bother clicking, nothing's changed since when you last been there...) and Ed Fuentes' observant Downtowner blog View From A Loft deserve tons of props for initially spreading the word about the Militant's presence, as well as the other blogs listed in the blue box to the lower right side of this here page.

So it's only fitting, that the Militant, now a part of this symbiotic eco-systemic biosphere environment universe thing, do his part and give props to some other newer blogs that deserve attention.

MetroPed-agogy

The first is MetroPed (metroped.net), a site run by a dude named Anh and a dudette named Meghan who are both active bicycle commuters and participate in the city's growing bicycling community. The site recently came to the Militant's attention via an unspecified member of the Hollywood chapter of the Los Angeles Burrito Project.

According to the site, "Metroped is a blog dedicated to bicycling, pedestrian, and public transit advocacy in Los Angeles. In a vast city ruled by the automobile, we will strive to explore the many facets of using alternative modes of transportation, in the hopes that readers will be encouraged to leave their cars at home, reduce fossil fuel consumption, and become involved in an ongoing dialog about improving our quality of life on this planet."

The latest entry to date features some upcoming bike rides, but most importantly thje recognition that bicycle culture is growing in the City. "Is it the fact that bicycles and bike culture are becoming “hip” and “stylish?" the blog asks. Who knows? But if this is the newest trendy thing, then so be it. It's probably the best urban trend here since...breakdancing (uh, that probably dates the Militant's age right there...).

The blog began on November 12 and initially looks like a cross between MetroRiderLA and Bikeboom.com, most of the posts are about upcoming events. But hopefully we'll get to see more perspectives and stories from the saddle (and the sidewalk and subway) and advocacy pieces. Of course the blog's identity happens (and evolves) over the course of time, and even the Militant himself is still experimenting with different approaches and focuses (focii?). But the Militant, being a multimodal kind of person, sees the potential there, and will be looking at their career with great interest.

Fly The Chicana Skies

The other featured blog is written by an LA transplant - of a totally different kind.

The vast majority of Los Angeles blogs are written from the point of view a (usually relatively new) transplant from points east who blog their discoveries, observations, generalizations and hangups in dealing with what really is culture shock. So what happens when you take a Los Angeles native out of the Southland and bring them "Out East?"

Chicana Skies (chicanaskies.blogspot.com) describes itself as, "The musings of an LA native recently uprooted to Philadelphia." Apparently the (anonymous) Angelena blogger is 20-something, Chicana (duh :)) and who is out there to attend school at an unspecified institute of higher learning in Southeast Pennsylvania.

She also has only been blogging since mid-November but she's already been to NYC and Jersey and offers the unique perspective of a Los Angeles native dealing with life Out East, blogging her discoveries, observations, generalizations and hangups in her own culture shock.

She started out as a commenter on this here blog. Her latest entry discusses the varying perspectives between people of different regions (and climates) regarding the Fall season and observes that many East Coasters have a "Manifest Destiny" mentality that remains with them (and especially so) when they transplant themselves west. Militant approved!

She hasn't been posting too much, but cut her a break - like LA Bus Girl, she's focused on her studies (we hope!) and blogs whenever her busy schedule allows her. If the Militant were Batman (in many ways, he is...well except for the wealthy part), then Chicana Skies is Batgirl.

Honorable Mentions

Some other honorable mentions -- Chimatli, also a frequent reader of the Militant, has actually been blogging since April and brings another (real) Eastside voice to the table. The Hollywood Jedi is a community blog written...from a Jedi's point of view, which also employs terminology from the Star Wars universe. Also from that part of town, Hijo de E-Ho is written by a community leader from East Hollywood who's writing about all the cultural events, development and streetlife in his 'hood. An unspecified number of those just- mentioned bloggers may or may not be operatives of the Militant, but he will likewise protect their operative identities as they have protected the Militant's. The Militant also hopes they get off their asses and try to blog more frequently, since he digs their perspectives on their respective communities!

The Militant does not know whether this here blog was an inspiration for any of the aforementioned bloggers to get-get crackin', but regardless, he's still proud - and glad - we have some more voices that deserve to be heard.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Happy 80th, Vinnie!

So the exhibition game at the Coliseum will be on March 29 against the World Champion Boston BoraSox, and Chan Ho Park has decided to play for the Korean Olympic team instead of returning to the Dodgers, and A-Rod's 10-year $305 million contract won't put us in the red had he worn Blue, but today we're celebrating something.

The man who's been with the Dodger organization longer than anyone, the man, who along with the late Chick Hearn, spoiled Los Angeles sports fans for generations with their untouchable play-by-play and rendered any other broadcaster as unsatisfactorily mediocre by comparison, the man who even inspired X-Files creator (and Dodger Fan) Chris Carter to name a main character after him, is celebrating his 80th birthday today. Happy Birthday, Vinnie!

CAN I HAS SUM MOR PARKZ????

The Militant is back to his community-oriented bizzizzle again, this time having attended the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Recreation and Parks Citywide Community Needs Assessment workshop on Wednesday night at the City-owned Friendship Auditorium, situated at the extreme southeast corner of Griffith Park.

The purpose of the workshop, which was the first in a series of 15 currently being conducted in each of Los Angeles' city council districts, is to gauge the community's feedback regarding the current quality of facilities and programs at its system of 390 recreational sites around Los Angeles, as well as any issues regarding expansion of the park system. You just know the Militant, as well as two of his community-activist operatives, were there to make their voices heard regarding the last part.

The gathering had an attendance of at most 50 and the attendees were predominantly white and at least 50. Years old, that is (So either way, the typical reader of this blog, or any blog, for that matter, was most likely not represented there - though the one cool thing about attending meetings with a bunch of old-timers there is that the Militant's identity is in no danger of being revealed). A classic moment also happened when one of the presenters asked - in English - if anyone needed any Spanish translation. Heh heh. He did use the words "Español" and "necesita" eventually, but even by then it was fairly evident that no one there was in need of translation headsets. Later on the consultants did admit they didn't do enough outreach (the Militant only heard about this second-hand) and to their credit, it's awfully hard to get people to any sort of community meeting between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day.

The meeting was formatted just like nearly all community workshops the Militant has attended: A droll, monotone introduction by a city official you've never heard of, the introduction of the consulting team, the introduction of an elected city official many people have heard of (in this case, a dude the Militant has not only heard of, but even biked with - Mr. "Los Anga-les" himself, Tom LaBonge), followed by a set of PowerPoint slides (to this meeting's credit, they were kept to a necessary minimum) and finally the "Look at your nametags, there's a colored dot on it, it's time to split up into groups!" section.

So we were split up into three groups (pictured above) where we were asked about our impressions of the City's Recreation and Parks system, which parks we use, issues regarding accessibility, the possibility and need for expansion and short-term and long-term goals and priorities.

Profiles In Taxpayer Spending: This dude was just doing his job at the parks workshop, but for a community meeting attended by some 50 people where they only used one microphone to hear just a couple people speak for half of the meeting, did they really need an audio tech with enough equipment to run sound for a Rolling Stones concert?

At the Militant's group, there was much talk about Griffith Park. In fact, most of the conversation dealt with the park, though strangely enough hardly anything was mentioned regarding last May's char-broiling. The park itself encompasses more than a quarter of the City's 15,600 acres of parkland and is located right in the 4th council district where this meeting was intended.

One of the other people in the group, a Silver_Lake resident, actually said he lived in a park-rich area, being in close proximity to the Silver Lake rec center, Griffith Park, Elysian Park, Echo Park and Bellevue Rec Center, as each of those places were a quick drive for him. But one lady, an accent-intact NY transplant (though one who has probably lived in Los Angeles much longer than the Militant has been alive) who reminisced about going to Central Park as a girl, did call for the need for more parks within walking distance of families, as well as better access by transit.

The Militant agreed with her, told the group he lives in a park-deficient hood and even was the first to declare "More parks in park-poor areas!" as the City's #1 short-term priority for the Rec and Parks system. He even talked about the proposed Hollywood Freeway Central Park (which he raved about here back in his first-person days).

Even after the workshop concluded, the Militant had a conversation about methods to attain more park space, including land-swapping, especially with Caltrans, and partnerships with the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, which helped to build one of the new parks that has been featured in this here blog.

So you want more parks in Los Angeles? One Militant and his operatives can only do so much. Get your voices heard! Go to some of these workshops and demand that more parks and open space be a priority for the department and the City's budget. The workshops continue until February of next year. And if you can't make it, THE MILITANT WILL KILL YOU!

Okay, just kidding. But you can still participate by downloading this Petey Yeff file, completing it and faxing or postaling it in.

Either way, help make the decisions before others make them for you.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Proud of Our Routes: West/Central Los Angeles

The Militant didn't think people would bother to comment on his little night trek from his compound to Mid-City and back (especially being a picture-less post). Or maybe people were just hungry for a new Militant Angeleno post? In any event, commenters like Chris and Will Campbell (a Militant velocommuter in his own right) offered suggestions for their own routes to get through long distances in this City. As any cyclist (or non-braindead motorist) would know, each street has not only their own vibe, but infrastructure characteristic -- some are wide, some are narrow, some are flat, some are hilly, some are dark at night, some are well-lit, some have stop signs, some have traffic lights, some are blocked by constant cross-traffic, some are well-paved, and some have enough potholes and paving distortions to overwhelm the local councilmember's office (if they do care).

So the Militant will throw this out to you readers of the two-wheeled persuasion (as well as those who are bike-curious): What are your favorite cross-town routes to take when traveling distances of over 3 miles? Today, we'll tackle the West/Central region of Los Angeles. The Militant knows any notion of "Westside," "Eastside" etc. etc. is gonna cause some varying opinions among people (Though th Militant will let you know that the Westside begins at La Cienega, the Eastside begns at the Los Angeles River and everything in between is the creamy, juicy Center of this town!), so in the spirit of transportation and mobility, we will more or less follow Metro's Westside/Central sector: The Santa Monica mountains to the north, The Los Angeles River to the east; Slauson Avenue on the south and the Pacific Ocean to the west (pictured above).

Comment on your favorite long-distance routes and the Militant will come up with some sort of map in the near future. Use the handy Gmaps Pedometer site to mark your biking thoroughfares of choice and post the links in the comments. Also try to note street width, road conditions, terrain, night conditions or other factors. These apply to major arterial streets as well as residential streets, and designated as well as non-designated bike lanes. Get to it!

The Militant will follow this up with a map of the routes, as well as future calls for recommended routes in the SFV, the SGV, the Eastside and NELA, South Los Angeles/South Bay and the 562.

Night Rider

Yes, the Militant is up to his adventures again. No, there's no picture this time. Yes, he forgot to bring the Militant Cam. Yes, he couldn't think of a better headline. No, this isn't about the Entertainment-industry-is-out-of-ideas rumor that there's gonna be a new Knight Rider TV series and a Ford Mustang will be casted as the new KITT (Okay, we're supposed to be supporting these striking TV writers just so they can re-hash old ideas?).

The Militant digresses. Yes, he took a bike ride on Tuesday night, but this was one he was especially proud of. He visits an unspecified place in the Mid City area twice a week as part of his extramilitant activities, but he has always taken the car there - despite the fact that it is a little less than his 10-mile no-drive limit. D'oh! Okay, so now the Militant comes clean.

But after adding an unspecified amount of pounds these past few days after consuming mass quantities of rations on his Thanksgiving table (turkey, stuffing, lasagna, fried wontons, pumpkin bread, you name it), the Militant felt compelled to shed these pounds somehow. So he biked it there.

Leaving at 6:50 p.m., He headed south on an unspecified residential street, which was problematic especially when trying to cross Beverly Blvd, where evening rush hour traffic was heading both directions, and although the nearest red lights slowed down traffic, there was still no opportune moment to cross, so he relented and used a stoplight at the next block.

Finding his way down to the urban cyclist's crosstown jewel, the 4th Street Bike Boulevard, the Militant lived the dream and coasted through its numerous 4-way stop signed intersections.

He continued on to Rossmore where he headed due south but was stopped by a long-ass red light at Wilshire. As he was joined by several automobiles also waiting for the light to change, the Militant felt a little proactive and taking advantage of his position as a cyclist, he pedaled to the nearby crosswalk button to expedite the green light. See? Cyclists can be of use to motorists too.

But lacking the right amount of route planning, the Militant had to back-track it east for a few blocks in order to hit Crenshaw, which ends at Wilshire. Had he used Irving Blvd to get to Wilshire and Crenshaw, he would have shaved a few minutes off of his trip.

Crenshaw was a breeze and its width and well-lit nature made it an ideal route towards the Militant's destination, rapidly passing by the less-dense middle class neighborhoods of Koreatown. The downhill natures of this route made it an even more pleasurable corridor to use.

Once he crossed the 10 Freeway, it was the home stretch, heading right on Adams Blvd and enjoying the flat terrain to his destination, which he reached in roughly 50 minutes.

There, many were predictably flabbergasted that this person rode the 7-8 miles to that place on a bicycle. He had a conversation with someone else there and talked to someone who limits his bike travel to the South Bay Beach Path about the city's growing bike culture. The Militant explained, too that he limited his bike rides to that very path, but things changed when he decided to travel from his compound to Venice Beach - a 14-mile journey that took him an hour and a half one summer day in 2002.

When he left, choruses of "Be careful out there" and offers to give the Militant a ride in their car or van hounded the Militant, who politely refused the rides, trying to shed the notion that not traveling by car represents a form of vulnerability.

On the way back, the Militant decided to take a much more simpler route and ride Adams, which was also a corridor that didn't have very many speeding vehicles to worry about, eastbound to Western, then Western north for a few miles and then on to his nearby compound (You thought you could figure out where it was, huh?).

Western was well-lit and didn't feel threatened by the cars. There was also no curbside parking for most of the way, which gave the Militant one less thing to worry about, and by the time he reached Wilshire and Western, he'd reached the home stretch, as he's biked from the compound to that intersection many times before.

After a quick 15-minute stop at Koreatown's California Market (a favorite of the Militant's) to buy some inexpensive prepackaged Korean goodies from the deli section, he continued up north on Western.

Not more than a mile later, he saw something -- the sight of red blinking fireflies in the night several blocks up. Could it be?

As he raced closer, clutching his double-bagged groceries in one hand, he saw a multiethnic pack of eight bicyclists making their way up Western.

"Hey, what ride is this?" asked the Militant.

One of the cyclists replied, "The LA Burrito Project. We're going to Hollywood."

"Oh!" the Militant replied, having first heard about the altruistic cyclists who dole out homemade burritos to the homeless at this past Summer's Bicycle Film Festival, where a short documentary about the LABP was shown.

One of the LABP cyclists offered the Militant to join them on their ride, which a nice gesture, though the Militant told them he was just on his way back to the compound, so he wasn't able to ride with them for very long. The pack split up about a mile up Western, with some of them waiting for others to meet up with them at a certain location.

A bit exhausted, yet still energized, the Militant, having burned an unspecified amount of calories (actually, he doesn't know really), was proud of his 15 mile roundtrip achievement, which took him precisely 45 minutes on the return journey (not including the supermarket stop). Another location he thought was un-bikeable has been conquered yet again on two wheels.

Oh yeah, belated Militant birthday shout-outs to two of the Militant's trusted operatives, Valleypinoy and Stingray, who each blew out their own set of candles within the past few days. The Militant may or may not be observing his own cumpleaños around this time of year as well.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Just Be Thankful...For What You Got

Instructions: Play the embedded YouTube video (it only shows a still image but will play audio) then continue reading, listening to the music as a background soundtrack to this blog post.



Though you may not drive
A great big Cadillac...


The Militant is thankful he's been able to save an unspecified amount of money this year on gas, maintenance and insurance on his car. He's also thankful that he's not a slave to his car, nor over-materialistic with his 2005 model auto. It's no Ferrari, it's no Mercedes, it's no Beemer, yet he doesn't care for those kinds of cars anyway.

...gangster whitewalls
TV antenna's in the back...

The Militant doesn't have a TV antenna in the back of his car, nor even GPS (if you're a Militant Angeleno, you don't need GPS, or even a Thomas Guide - you know practically every street by memory), but he is thankful for this age of communication, despite how its warped society, there's also some definite benefits as well. Blogging has evolved from a mere amateurish vanity journal to a more or less legitimate source of information.

...you may not have
a car at all...

The Militant has a car, but he is still very thankful for the fact that he lives in the middle of it all, a relatively central part of town where he has the luxury of walking, biking or taking transit to get around, without being part of the mass hassle.

The Militant is also thankful for recently finding about - and participating in - the bicycle culture in this city. Though he doesn't exactly fit in 100%, he's glad that it's more than just a trend, but a movement and a lifestyle that will definitely re-shape the way this city lives and moves in the future.

...but remember, brothers and sisters
you can still stand tall...

The Militant is thankful for those of his readers who have their own Militant tendencies or have been voiceless in the Evil Mainstream Media or the gentro-hipster-dominated local blogosphere; he has even seen some of them take the initiative and gone to blogging themselves. And if you haven't yet, maybe you should. Your own Militant adventures are just as valuable as those of mi, er, this blogger's. The Militant is really concerned less with being The Militant Angeleno, but rather A Militant Angeleno, one among hopefully many.

...just be thankful
for what you got...

The Militant isn't rich or famous or successful, but looking back, he's been blessed with things that others have not been able to have. He grew up in a diverse, multicultural environment and his early experiences with others allowed him to be free from the chains of prejudice, or at least easily free himself from the prejudices he did have. For a kid who grew up in the City -- a place where others fleed from as they assumed it wasn't a good place to raise their children -- he turned out just fine.

...Diamond in the back, sun roof top
diggin' the scene with a gangster lean...

The Militant is thankful he lives in this city free from the preconceived, pre-programmed notions, expectations and stereotypes most others who come here - and even come from here - have. Without that baggage, he can roam free and just enjoy, observe and most of all take part in the action. That's what it's all about, really, it can't get any simpler than that. Yes, things do bother the Militant, not everything is hunky-dory of course, and there are definitely many things in life that are hard, but the Militant doesn't use this city as his scapegoat. What good does that do, really? If anything is wrong, maybe it comes from within, and that goes for the Militant as well.

But most of all, the Militant is thankful you've heard his voice, and that you've offered your voice as well. Happy Thanksgiving from the Militant Angeleno.

Music and Lyrics: "Be Thankful For What You Got," by Wiliam DeVaughn, © 1974

Give Us This Day, Our Pumpkin Bread

Hollywood locals have been buying - and eating it - for years. A certain local politician gives them away as Holiday gifts to constituents annually.

On the Militant's Thanksgiving table will be a loaf or two of a very Los Angeles tradition, the very heavenly, divine Monastery of the Angels pumpkin bread, made by Dominican (no, not that Dominican, the other kind) nuns in Hollywood.

The Militant heard about this tradition but more recently, Militant Operative Blackbird, who has been deployed on various airlift missions to deliver them, told him exactly where to find it.

The Monastery, located a few blocks north of Franklin and Gower, near the Franklin Village neighborhood, is located not far from the bright lights of The Boulevard or the usually molasses-like flow of the 101 Freeway. It has been there since the 1930s when the nuns moved from the USC area and bought out a mansion for a sweet deal.

The Militant rode his bike up to the Monastery and picked up his loaves on Wednesday afternoon at the gift shop where they already had several boxes of the good stuff waiting for purchase.

The walnut-topped semisweet, moist goodness that is the Monastery pumpkin bread costs $8 a loaf at the Monastery's gift shop, open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. They're closed today of course, but you can always get some for Christmas, or any other time. Demand is high during November-December of course, but it all works out since there's an abundance of source material right around this time of year.

Some of you Iron Chef types or Rachael Rays in waiting can try to make this treat by yourself, but hey, these sistas have been practicing a form of sustainable living for ages, so the Militant supports their habit. Besides, though priests might have gotten a bad rap recently, nuns can do no wrong. They're more Mother Teresa than Mother Superior these days anyway.

[Militant Update, 2009 - They are now $9 a loaf...oh the inflation!]

The Whole Town To Ourselves

Despite the colder weather, the Militant cherishes the Holiday season. Why? Because most of those rootless, SoCal-hating transplants have gone back to where they came from (Okay, so a few natives are part of the huddled masses yearning to leave town). There's less traffic, less hassle, less 'tude, less whining and overall less negativity in the air. Seriously, you can feel it. It's like the natives have taken back the town for a while. Most of all, it's nice, quiet and peaceful.

Some of us natives have our own T-giving traditions. In the Militant's familiy, he and his siblings usually go to Hollywood to watch a movie on Thanksgiving night or on the Friday after. One of the Militant's operatives hosts a little "Trivia Party" on the Friday after where we whip out the Trivial Pursuit and related games and have a go at it. Any of you stay-in-towners have your own traditions? Comment and share.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Can I Get An Amen(ity)?

The Militant took a good healthy walk with his K-9 unit on Tuesday night along Vermont Avenue when he had a "Hello, what's this?" moment as he passed a Metro Bus stop near Los Angeles City College. The first thing he noticed was that the bus stop sign had a 7-inch long panel box attached to the side of it (Pictured left). Whatever could this be?

Upon closer inspection, the panel (pictured right) had two aluminum dome buttons, similar to those in the (M) station elevators, but larger, with one reading, "LIGHT" and the other labeled, "BUS SIGNAL." Immediately below the labels were their respective Braille interpretations.

Well, curiosity may have killed the cat, but it's kept the Militant alive. So he pressed the "LIGHT" button and a set of three high-intensity LED lights shone from a white plastic cap placed atop the bus stop sign. Afraid of the dark? Let there be light.

The second button was more cryptic. "BUS SIGNAL." Can one request a bus to come arrive at their command? Or does it trigger a random busy signal on one's cellphone?

So the Militant pressed it.

LO AND BEHOLD, OUT OF NOWHERE CAME A METRO LOCAL LINE 204 BUS!

Naw, just kidding. But what happened was that another high-intensity light, shining towards the north, pointed in the direction of an oncoming bus, commenced blinking, most likely to give bus drivers a, "YO! STOP HERE DUDE!" signal to people who are not able to merely wave to the bus to get it to stop (of course, as long as the bus doesn't arrive in the form of a large sardine can on wheels).

How awesome.

The Militant snapped a photo on his Militant cam, at the same time commanding his K-9 unit to keep still as the Militant held the camera. He did notice, thought, that the light stopped blinking after about two minutes.

The Militant wonders if Metro plans to install these interesting amenities on every bus sign in the county, a rather ambitious task, but remembered that along this stretch of Vermont, crosswalk buttons vibrate, stoplights tweet and make "cuckoo" sounds as it is in close proximity to the Braille Institute 's Los Angeles Sight Center a couple blocks down the street. Amenities like these are neat bells and whistles to able-bodied people, but are necessary apparatuses for people who are benefited by the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Militant Update: Oh Crap! Progress At Last!

Speaking of transit amenities along Vermont Avenue, the Militant has been closely following the progress of the JCDecaux Automatic Toilet at the (M) Vermont/Santa Monica station, which has apparently remained in the same unfinished state since the Militant first noticed it way back in June (when a n00b Militant used to write in the first person, that silly self-centered fool).

The Militant is pleased to report that the said toilet (pictured left, taken November 12) now has a complete concrete base and the construction fence has been removed - five months later. It is still not yet operational, but judging by its 5-month-latency timetable, pedestrians and Metro riders who want to take the #1 and/or #2 (and we're not talking about buses here) will probably get to do so by April. So can you hold it that long?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Just Can't Pass This Up

The Militant is in busy mode again, with both Militant and Extramilitant activities under his belt. Sometimes there's just not enough time to blog, especially in the Militant's characteristic word-dense style.

Sometimes the Militant is a slave to his little Militant-cam. He feels he's obligated to take it everywhere he goes, just to capture something that's worthy of interest to you readers of This Here Blog.

So on an unspecified evening last week, the Militant went to some event in the Cahuenga pass, expecting the miniscule parking lot to be more-than full, and likewise the preferential parking district to be restrictive. So what's a Militant to do? You know.

A quick subway ride to Universal City and a short bike ride up the Pass got the Militant there for an activity, recommended to him by Militant Operative Blackbird. When it was finished, he decided to ride the rest of the way back to the compound, it was mostly downhill anyway.

The Militant passed the entrance to the Hollywood Bowl (pictured above), most notably, the illuminated 67-year old George Stanley art deco fountain, upon which stood the Muse of Music statue, recently restored to beyond-its-former-glory (of course the Militant, nor even his parents, were even alive back in 1940 to know).

Of course, appreciating it from a car is but a brief, fleeting glance (unless you were stuck in traffic there), forced by the combination of downhill gravity along the northern end of Highland Avenue and the low-level of traffic that night.

On a bicycle, of course, it was a quick, spontaneous U-turn, and the Militant was even able to witness it from a different angle.

Granted, the Cahuenga Pass isn't the most bike-friendliest of routes. A certain sidewalk-less section where cars zip by at near-freeway speeds feels harrowing to even this Militant. Other notable two-wheeled bloggers have faced other kinds of challenges on their own just a few miles south.

But history points out the full perspective: For the early pioneers of this town, traversing the Pass on stagecoach wasn't all that easy, either. Boulders and rattlesnakes stood in their way and many were thought of as crazy for riding through the pass. Yet they literally and figuratively paved the way for Angelenos today to travel "over the hill." So maybe for us bicycle folk, we are urban pioneers in our own right, riding on the difficult path to make it easier for those in the future to ride on.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Militant's Take On The Writer's Strike

So the Militant was going through his blogroll this morning and found a nice alternate viewpoint on the WGA Strike on Blogging.la. The Militant was so inspired he was gonna comment, but decided to put his statements on his own space.

But OMG Picket lines! Stop the world! Oh, the horror! THERE'S NOTHING TO WATCH ON TV! No more Desperate Housewives! (at least Filipino people can rest easy now that the show won't make any insensitive remarks towards them for the time being).

The Militant will keep this quick, after all, it's nothing he needs to be overtly concerned with.

So the writers want a fair share of their work...so they can continue to stereotype and disregard people - people who actually watch their dreck - so they can live comfortably in a nice Sherman Oaks townhouse. Uh-huh (The Militant doesn't at all dispute the fact that the producers are greedy, of course.)

The Militant cares absolutely nothing about this strike, as there are other people in this city who are struggling even more (an unbeknownst to the writers, producers, or anyone else in the entertainment industry, yes, there are other industries in Los Angeles (the health care industry is actually the largest in Southern California) this is not a "one- industry town" as those transplanted industry types constantly mumble through their culture-shocked generalizing mantras and likewise drill that point in our heads through their so-called "work"). Of course the real people (and yes there are real-down-to earth people in the City, though the industry refuses to acknowledge that) struggling in this City are people the entertainment industry purposely ignores and overlooks, simply because they don't consider them "people" in the first place.

Have fun out there, writers. After all, this is the only chance you'll get to "walk in L.A.," right? At least the weather is nice...just the way you like it!

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Final Farewell To The Boss

The Militant is known for talking about streets, buildings, modes of transport and anything that fits the urban grid. But maybe it's a good thing once in a while to talk about more deeper, meaningful topics.

Earlier this month, the Militant's boss died. He succumbed suddenly due to a cardiovascular condition, and he was only in his middle-age years, so his loss came as a big shock to all.

The Militant bid his final farewell to the boss on Monday, attending his funeral and playing an unspecified participatory role in it.

Now without giving away the Militant's place or line of work, the Militant is more of an independent contractor than an actual staff member, and this boss wasn't the kind of person who was breathing down your neck every minute, nor the type of person you had to scramble to look busy for when he walked into the room. But in this particular place of employment, he wasn't that way, even to the full-time staff there. He was well-loved, well-respected and well-admired by all. And during this time of sorrow, everyone was part of the family.

The Militant last saw him two days before his passing, on November 1. He looked perfectly healthy and active that day. Ironically, he brought up the topic of Dia de los Muertos and mentioned how some of the families who visit the workplace celebrate their cultural holiday, by praying and paying tribute to the souls of their departed loved-ones.

On that Saturday, the Militant got his paycheck in the mail. A couple hours later, a fellow independent contractor-type there called the Militant and told him the news.

The paycheck had the boss' signature on it. It might have been one of the last things he ever signed. A simple scribble of lines, curves and dots which combined become a person's name suddenly represented something much, much more than that.

The Militant still hasn't deposited the check, it just wouldn't feel right (he decided to wait until after the funeral).

The boss also happened to be a native Angeleno, who, like the Militant, grew up in the Hollywood area, albeit in a different part (not to mention a different era). During one of the eulogies, it was mentioned he had a fondness of classic comedy films from the likes of Laurel & Hardy and the Three Stooges, perhaps because, according to the eulogist, the familiar locales depicted in the films reminded him of the streets he knew growing up.

The Militant could totally identify.

The Militant, however, had a small regret. When he leaves the workplace, he normally greeted the boss with a handshake and has a brief chat and a simple "bye" before walking out the door. On November 1st, the boss seemed to be briefly preoccupied in another conversation, so the Militant just decided to go, assuming he'd have his handshake-and-chat next time.

But there was no next time.

Us 21st century humans, spoiled by the highest technology, modern conveniences and endless streams of information, tend to think we're indestructible, permanent, important. But nothing in this life has an absolute guarantee.

Rest in eternal peace, C.S.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fantasy On Figueroa: A Night With The Comeback Kings

The Militant's fanaticism for the Dodgers is well-documented, he digs the Lakers of course, and is a loyal fan of the football team of the unspecified local Pac-10 university of which he is an alumnus of. But the Militant also roots for the Kings.

On Friday, an operative sent the Militant a text message saying that he got free tickets to Saturday's Kings game against the Dallas Stars, and the Militant, in search of a post-Dodger season sports high to get into, told the operative he was down. So the Militant carpooled with him and two other operatives to Staples Center, and continuing the "free" theme of the night, scored a curbside parking space and walked two blocks to the downtown arena.

Forgive the Militant, for it has been eight years since his last Kings game - an exhibition game against the Anaheim (Mighty) Ducks of Anaheim during Staples' inaugural season (which he also got free tickets for). The Kings won 1-0 in that one, which was an interesting first hockey experience for the proto-Militant back then, as he was puzzled when everyone started to leave the game after the "Third Quarter."

On Saturday night, the Militant and his operatives sat in the nosebleed seats oriented towards center rink, which wasn't that bad of a view. Still being relatively new to the hockey world, it was a different experience for the baseball-oriented Militant, who recognized the olfactory familiarity of Farmer John hot dogs wafting throughout the venue, yet felt the uniquely unfamiliar sensation of cold air emanating from the rink below. Equally unfamiliar was the hockey vocabulary or penalty boxes and power plays, not to mention players whose names were not "Gretzky" or "Robataille." The sight of the swift, bee-swarm movements of the players and the auditory slapping of sticks and slamming of bodies on plexiglas rounded out the sensory experience.

It also didn't help that for the first two quarte...er...periods, and much of the third, the Kings were scoreless, trailing the Stars and their seemingly impenetrable goalie, Marty Turco, by four points. The Kings made lame, incompetent shot attempts to the chagrin of the impatient home crowd. The Militant's operative asked him at the end of the 2nd period, "Dude, you wanna leave now?"

But win or lose (or shutout, even) the Militant wanted to stay, just for the experience. Besides, he never leaves a Dodger game early, so why be any different for any other local team?

What happened next was unbelievable.

With 7:14 left in the 3rd period, left wing Dustin Brown scored the Kings' first goal, and the Staples crowd went nuts, with the sound of a loud diesel locomotive horn and snippets of Randy Newman's "I Love L.A.," Zombie Nation's sports anthem "Kernkraft 400" and Gary Glitter's uber-sports anthem, "Rock & Roll, Part 2" heralding the scoring play throughout the arena. The Militant and his operatives jokingly cheered for four more goals to win the game.

Then came the second goal.

And the third.

And the fourth.

And the fifth. All five were scored within a span of five minutes and seven seconds. To say that the Kings were on a roll was the understatement of the night.

The Stars came back to tie the game at five apiece, but the Kings relied on sudden death overtime to settle the score. Then center Anze Kopitar made the winning goal (his second of the game) 2:34 into OT.

The crowd of some 18,000 fans erupted into a deafening roar and didn't want to leave. There was already talk of this being the most amazing Kings comeback victory since 1982's Miracle on Manchester. The Militant dubs this one the "Fantasy On Figueroa," or the Kings' equivalent of the 2006 Dodgers' "9/18" game (aka the back to back to back to back home run victory against the Padres). The streets of Downtown's South Park (and spilling into the Financial District via subway -bound fans) were alive with hollering crowds and cars honking horns, as if the Kings won the Stanley Cup or something. Imagine an already-completed LA Live abuzz with this electricity.

The Militant got to see a great hockey game and an even greater comeback victory, all for the price of free. The Militant will be sure to pay for his ticket for the next game, hopefully someday soon. Go Kings Go!

Highlights of the game right here:

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Graf Of Ages

Taking a cue from Blogging.la's "ICME" (It Caught My Eye) series, while the Militant took his taking-advantage-of-the-clear-sunny-day afternoon stroll, the sight of a building under construction in Hollywood on Santa Monica Blvd near Serrano Ave caught his eye. Sure, buildings get built all the time in development-targeted Hollywood, but apparently this building is being constructed on a formerly-empty lot which afforded taggers and graffiti artists alike to spray their wares - only to have it covered by the adjoining structure.

The Militant, who has been described by some as having the Native American-like ability to think seven generations towards both the past and the future, wonders whenever this new building sees the wrecking ball (in favor of overpriced market-rate so-called "loft" apartments - probably not more than one or two generations away), the urban archaeologists of the future will notice the then-antiquated aerosol markings made by those in a bygone era. That is, if the adjoining building doesn't get hit by the wrecking ball (or a large quake) itself. Only time will tell...

Here Comes The Sun

Damn.

Sure the Autumnal Equinox came and went back in September, the Militant has been wearing camo pants rather than shorts lately and the baseball season has been officially over, but nothing hits the Militant like that damn Standard Time.

The Militant has switched his clock back an hour for nearly a week already (well, his cellphone and computer did it all by themselves, at least) and though he can tolerate the colder temperatures, he sure couldn't stand the very limited hours of daylight, especially since it's been sorely overcast for the past week.

All of this takes a psychological toll on the Militant, he has lost some of his adventurous nature, he stays indoors all day, he even decided to opt out on last night's Midnight Ridazz bike trek, for no particular reason than he didn't feel like it (though it would have helped had the starting point been either within the vicinity of the compound or been easily (M)-accessible. But oh well.

Now, the Militant can already hear you transplants calling the Militant a "Typical California Weather Pussy" and making other self-aggrandizing comments like, "Oh, you've never shoveled six feet of snow off your driveway before" yadda yadda yadda yadda. But why are you here? "Oh, the weather! Everything sucks about La-La Land except THE WEATHER!" Pffftht. The weather pussy is looking straight at you...in the mirror. Besides, over 2.5 billion people in the world live in tropical climates, and you've only complained about your humidity during the Summer? Stick that in your Midwast/East Coast-centric a...

...Oh hey! We were talking about the change of seasons. Yeah, so this being the first cloudless day all week, the Militant took a long stroll around the vicinity of his compound to soak up some rays, however little warmth they emanated. The Militant gets his strength from the sun, so he must be solar-powered or something. Nevertheless, this is usually the low point of the year for the Militant; last fall was pretty rough. But just like the clock he'll just have to adjust...until Spring comes 'round.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Back In Blue: Chan Ho Park Returns to the Dodgers

After a six-year tour of duty that brought him to the Rangers, Padres, Mets and Astros, Chan Ho Park signed an unspecified (no, really) one-year contract with the Dodgers today.

True Blue fans remember that Park, the first South Korean ballplayer to play in the Major Leagues, pitched for the Dodgers from 1994 to 2001.

The now-33 year old player will show up at Vero Beach in February in hopes of making Joe Torre's team.

While it's true he's pitched his best at the reputed "pitcher's park" of Dodger Stadium, the place he once pitched in is not exactly the same, with a much smaller foul territory than in his Dodger days. But here's hoping he can finish out his career in Blue, like Orel Hershiser and Don Sutton did, with at least some semblance of his old magic. Who knows? Maybe the City can re-name the Dodgers-sponsored baseball field at Seoul International Park in Koreatown after him.

'Homies' Do Play Dat!

Way back In The Year 2000, when the Militant worked some awful cubicle jorb, one of his Chicano-bred co-workers showed him these little cartoonish, 2-inch Choloesque figurines gracing his computer monitor. The then-corporate slave proto-Militant thought it was like the coolest thing evar, since they worked at an unspecified evil, East-Coast-owned entertainment industry-related company, especially one where the proto-Militant was forced to deal with the oh-so-short tempers of impatient, New York-accented writers and producers day in and day out. So anything in the cubicle that gave a nod to Eastlos street culture, the proto-Militant thought, would be a defiant, (albeit strictly symbolic) "Stick it to The Man" kind of gesture. Si se puede!

The proto-Militant was introduced to the world of Homies, which since their creation almost a decade ago, have grown from little toys one finds at local supermarket and carwash vending machines, to a mini-empire created by artist David Gonzales, who initially created them as a comic strip in Lowrider magazine.

The figurines, which were originally derided by certain parents' groups and law enforcement as "glorifying gang violence," got a second shot when Gonzales began to write bios for each character on the Homies.tv website and on merchandise packaging which gave each of them a more positive, yet still very street-cred-heavy persona. Now, even police officers ask Gonzales to autograph Homies merchandise. The line has even spawned a few spinoffs: children (Mijos), circus clowns (Homie Clowns), an East-Coast counterpart (an Italian American mafioso brood called The Palermos) and even a white-trash equivalent (Trailer Park). And the spinoff figurines are by no means limited to humanoid forms; there's even streetwise vermin (Hoodrats) and canine (Dogpound) versions as well.


The little plastic vatos fell off the Militant's radar over the years but registered a blip recently when the Militant found out they now have their own "animated" TV shorts.



As you can see, it's decidedly low-tech "animation" done by manipulating the figurines themselves using stop-action techniques. Very ghetto? Sure, but hey - no one can accuse them of not keepin' it real!

The Homies Hip-Hop Show, which debuted in September, is a new program on the syndicated LATV bilingual network. You can catch it Tuesday and Thursday nights at 9 p.m. locally on KJLA, channels 57 and 33 (on both analog air signal and digital HD). Those of you with DirecTV, it's on Channel 57 or 962 and Dish Network folks can see it on channel 8022. Check it out, homes!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Militant Goes Where He's Kneaded Most

Being a Militant has its rewards - like experiencing the City with a perspective and an appreciation few can have - but it also has its challenges. Yes, being a Militant - especially one who is heavily involved in his city and community - can sometimes be busy, stressful and hectic. So taking a cue from The Simpsons' Ned Flanders, "Sometimes you just gotta spoil yourself...spoil yourself...spoil yourself..."

And that the Militant did.

One of the Militant's Valley-based operatives is a licensed massage therapist and pays her a visit at least twice a year, and this was visit number two for '07. So on Wednesday evening, the Militant headed to her Ventura Blvd. office in Encino. But he soon realized that the timing of the visit wasn't the greatest, traffic-wise, as the 101 was rather slow. But the Militant didn't care, as he would soon indulge himself in total relaxation.

"Bring it on!" the Militant said to the traffic.

In hindsight, it wasn't that bad, it took the Militant about 45 minutes to get from his compound to Encino.

For the next hour and a half, in a dimly-lit room with calm, new-agey music playing in the background, the Militant's tense muscles were being worked on by the masseuse operative. Especially his right arm, which was injured during a well-publicized bicycle accident. She told the Militant that he really needed to be kneaded as his lower back and shoulders were so tight and tense, she had to spend extra time working on them, only to discover that the clock was ticking and she had to go work on other areas. So maybe all that biking and blogging really takes its toll on the body.

The Militant left her office nice and relaxed, and wished he didn't have to go (damn you, time!). She reminded him to make sure he's getting an adequate supply of vitamins these days, as the weather's getting colder and people tend to get sick because of that. The Militant also stopped by a Rite-Aid on Ventura and got a big-ass bottle of water, just to ensure all those toxins get flushed out.

The Militant drove the rest of the way home, not on the freeway, but strictly down Ventura, where he realized the street probably comprised the world's longest restaurant row. The flow was even and easy and it took him right into Cahuenga through The Pass and into Highland where he took an unspecified street back into the compound.

Even for an urban-embracing Militant, it's worthwhile to take some time out and ease yourself from all the tensions and stress of city life. So, for your own sake, make it a point to once in a while just spoil yourself...spoil yourself...spoil yourself...

Monday, November 5, 2007

Bustin' Into The 'Burbs: The Militant Goes To Azusa

When the Militant was a kid and his parents would take him on visits to family friends and relatives in unspecified suburban areas located well outside of Los Angeles city limits, the young Militant's initial reaction was of awe, wonder and envy.

Immaculate streets, the lack of graffiti, well-manicured lawns, lots of open space and - oh - all the houses look alike! Was his reaction back then, wondering why his folks had not decided to move to the greener pastures farther north, east and southeast of the city.

Now that the Militant has grown, and has developed his Militant sensibilities, he has since learned to embrace and celebrate the urban landscape. Despite the apparent aesthetic disparities, the city is full of life, diversity, activity and is central to everything. And best of all, Dodger Stadium is a mere 15 minutes away.

On Sunday, the Militant was invited to a house-warming party of an operative of his, who recently relocated his wife and two children from an apartment in the SGV's Duarte out a few miles farther to nearby Azusa.

But a funny thing happened when the Militant inputted the house's address into the MapQuest page:

"MapQuest found a similar location for "[Address Withheld], Azusa, CA". Please select or revise your search."

Hmm, that's weird. Might be an error. So he tried again on Google Maps:

"We were not able to locate the address..."

Uhhh..say what? The Militant knows that this particular operative isn't the practical joker type. So, plotting it on an online map, he used the directions from the 210's Azusa Ave. exit: Left on Azusa, check. Right on 9th St. Check. Left on...hey wait a minute...there's nothing there!

Sure enough, the Google satellite map feature showed a huge-ass expanse of land extending from Foothill Blvd to the actual foothills of the Sierra Madres. How odd...whatever could this have been?

The answer unfurled itself when the Militant took his 35-minute, traffic-free drive down the 210 to the land of "Everything from A to Z in the USA." Along the way, perched on a billboard alongside the dist-dry riverbed of the San Gabriel River, was a sign touting the availability of homes in a new housing development in Azusa called "Rosedale."

When he finally used those directions given to him, it all made sense. After shooting up straight through the village-like setting of Azusa Avenue, and making a right on 9th Street, after half a mile, the 1950s-era residential neighborhoods suddenly shifted into dirt hills and dark-tan stucco structures. So this was it.

After arrival, the operative told the Militant that the still-under-construction planned community of Rosedale was built on 500-acres of land formerly owned by the Monrovia Nursery (still operating nearby in a much smaller parcel), which used the land since 1926 to cultivate its trademark brand of potted plants. Further Militant research discovered that not only was the development named after nursery founder Harry Rosedale, but in 2003 some of the nursery's popular camellia flowers were tested positive with a deadly plant pathogen which scientists feared would cause plant devastation on the scale of Dutch elm disease. As a precaution, hundreds of thousands of camellias were destroyed and the company relocated its main growing operations to central California.

In 2004, the city of Azusa found a unique development opportunity for up to 1,250 homes, a K-8 school, several parks, a commercial zone and - the clincher here - a future (M) Gold Line station for its as-yet-to-be-funded Foothill Extension.

Yes, friends - out here in the 'burbs of the SGV - a transit-oriented development. Granted, it's not at all like this one, nor will there be a major television network operating there, but it's a TOD. Of course, the railroad track that runs just yards from the development lies fallow, and no one knows when construction crews will actually lay new track and sting up electric wire for the supposed light rail line.

Other TODs are springing up down the line, which causes the Militant to think critically here: Are such developments marketed with the transit-oriented label to expedite their approval process? Especially when no line exists or has yet to even be guaranteed to exist? Most importantly, will its residents actually use the rail? Granted, the operatives home (which cost about $600,000), along with others that currently exist, are built on much smaller, row house-style foundations with a common bungalow court-like shared entryway and no front lawns. And the garages only hold two cars each. The community's map boasts enough parks and open space to make this Hollywood-vicinity Militant insanely jealous, but there doesn't seem to be any provision for small pockets of retail like mini-markets, video stores, cafes or the like.

But this seems to be the shape of things to come. Granted, it's not as wastefully sprawling as the carbon-copy subdivisions of Santa Clarita or The Far East, yet this is the 21st century, and what they have is still lacking even something that would benefit from their supposed "small-town-feel" they're supposedly going for.

But what the hey, the Militant's got the city. And he wouldn't wanna be anywhere else.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Waiting For The Angels...

It has been six years, nine months and three days since the fateful February day in 2001 where the gear system of the Angels Flight funicular railway failed and killed one person while injuring seven.

But while the adjacent pocket park is being renovated, renovation and reconstruction of the Flight itself has yet to happen.

The update remains the same from Angels Flight Railway Foundation president John Welborne: "Angels Flight will reopen in __(insert arbitrary month here, which inevitably passes by)__, once we have our funding." The response, aside from that arbitrary month that inevitably comes and goes, had been uttered by Welborne so many times, it's made scratched records jealous. Welborne's constantly-revised advertisement in the pages of the Los Angeles Downtown News boasting the constantly-revised re-opening date is worth a chuckle in tiself.

The issue has been complicated by a seemingly possessive power-struggle between Welborne and the MTA, which had offered to assume the renovation costs and operation of the funicular. But Welborne, who was informally "knighted" by Mayor Tom Bradley to lead the Flight's pre-1996 rebuilding effort during his suggestion to the mayor at the City's 1981 Bicentennial festivities (hence Welborne's insistent entitlement to the railway), simply would not let "his" baby go without a fight.

The only renovation and repair that was actually completed was that of the railcars themselves, Sinai and Olivet, which are now being stored at the (M) Red Line Yard and Shops along Santa Fe Street in the Arts District (pictured above), waiting for their wings (okay, in their case, wheels) to be re-fitted on.

Since Downtown has gone on without the Flight for nearly seven years, should this all be an issue before all those big-ass Grand Avenue developments come to fruition? The flight had already missed out on its own centennial in December 2001. Or should Angelenos wait for another century (with constantly-updated arbitrary opening dates which inevitably come and go) before all this happens again?

Enough of this childish possessiveness, says the Militant. Welborne's initial resurrection of the Flight after nearly three decades was commendable, but it's time to let go and give in for the greater good of the City.

MILITANT UPDATE: Is the Militant psychic or what? The Los Angeles Downtown News has just reported that the Angels Flight Railway Foundation has already raised 88% of the $3.3 million required to reopen, with the latest arbitrary changeable date set to "December 31, 2007," pending the raising of the remaining 12% of the funds.

The Militant will believe it when he finally sees a crane lowering Sinai and Olivet onto the tracks.

Angels Flight (in exile) photo by Tim Quinn.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Militant's Friday Adventure, Part 2: Pedalling for Sustainability

The Militant joined around 200 other Angelenos on Friday night as they participated in Ride-Arc's educational and informative monthly themed ride throughout this city's streets. This time, the topic was "Emerging Sustainability in Los Angeles," a ride that pointed out various real-life examples of sustainable living that are taking place in this city.

The ride started at City Hall East, where tour guide Ron Millam (who apparently couldn't be heard by everyone in the crowd, even with the aid of a megaphone), co-founder of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition pointed out a monument with a seemingly prophetic quote by the late Mayor Tom Bradley which alluded to the city's influence and potential. The ride went down to the very green (and very expensive) Elleven South Lofts in Downtown's South Park district, turning heads in the post-concert crowds spilling out of the Nokia Theatre (where at one point one of the concertgoers yelled, "Get a car!" to which the Militant yelled back, "[The Militant's] already got one, fool!" The Militant could add more to that but he would be past the 110 by the time he was finished). Examples of street furniture at 7th and Witmer were pointed out, and the group stopped near the Levitt Pavilion Bandshell at MacArthur Park right by 6th Street ("We love it!") to do an extremely pitch- and rhythm- deficient rendition of Randy Newman's "I Love L.A." (hence the reference). The pack headed north and went up the track-cracked pavement of Bimini Place to stop by the Los Angeles Eco-Village commune and up to East Hollywood where they stopped at the Hel-Mel corner in front of Bicycle Kitchen and rode through the Los Angeles City College campus, which was where a couple of LEED-certified buildings were under construction.

Heading back towards Downtown via Sunset/Cesar Chavez, the ride went through Chinatown and the Los Angeles Historic State Park to the under-the-bridge headquarters of Farmlab (pictured left), finally stopping by the under-construction Fuller Lofts building in the industrial corridors of Lincoln Heights.

As Millam alluded to in the tour, Los Angeles has a ways to go before being a true sustainable city, but the potential is definitely there. It was also interesting to note the route, which was limited to a 5-mile radius area stretching from the (north) Eastside to the edge of Hollywood. Los Angeles lacks a center, you say? Newsflash: That's the center right there.

The future Los Angeles will no longer be the traditional "Westside-Eastside" dichotomy: It's going to be Downtown, Hollywood and everything in between (or immediately next to it). And everything outside of that won't really matter.

The Militant's Friday Adventure, Part 1: Transit Adventures in the SGV

One of the reason why the Militant takes the Metro is that it just makes for a better story.

Seriously, had he taken the car, the post would have turned out like this:

The Militant decided to visit a store in Temple City, out in the SGV, which he hasn't been to in several months. So he drove down the 210, but it was slow. Then he went to the store. After he left, he hit more traffic. !@#$%^ traffic!!!

See what the Militant means?

So he got on the (M) Red Line, iPod in ears, and headed Downtown. After boarding, he saw three dudes bide their time on the subway by playing a game of cards (pictured above). It just looked so interesting that the Militant couldn't resist snapping a photo. "Smile! You're on Militant Camera!"

By the time he reached Union Station, already plastered with those huge-ass Latino 96.3 FM ads, he headed up to the ground level of the station and was greeted with the mad rush of people heading to, leaving from or transferring between trains (pictured right). People in Los Angeles don't take mass transit? LOL.

The Militant was one those people, transferring to a Gold Line train, as the squeals and clatter of the much-larger Metrolink commuter trains rolled into and out of the station, adding a semblance of old-school railroadiana to the environment. As his connecting light rail trip headed north, the Militant visually recited the various sights along the way: The private rail coach yard below at Union Station, the new Homeboy Bakery near the Chinatown station, the swallows' nests along the walls of the Broadway viaduct, the new Italian-made rail cars waiting in the Gold Line yard, the "UFO" sitting in a Cypress Park junkyard, the "bird zoo" in the backyard of an apartment just before the Southwest Museum station, the Avenue 50 art studio just before the Highland Park station...though it's sadly the least-patronized line, it's the most visually interesting line in the entire system.

As the train rolled into its terminus at Sierra Madre Villa, there was already a long, painfully slow line of cars packed on the eastbound 210. The Militant was glad he decided not to be a part of that crowd. He also noticed that nearly all the Gold Line cars now have these orange AT&T (oh sorry, at&t) wireless ads (pictured left), touting reaching places like "JAPARIDELPHIA" or "NEW LONDAKOTA" (what, no "LOS MEXIKONG?" damn their bias!).

The Sierra Madre Villa station (or "SMV" in the Militant's shorthand, not to be confused with "VSM," which is the Vermont/Santa Monica station on the Red Line) is one of the most unsusual in the entire system, as most of it consists of a parking structure, which is more of a familiar sight in Frisco's BART system up north (ironic, eh, in the supposed "land of cars"). After a 4-level elevator trip down to street level, and a short wait, he boarded a (M) Local Line 266 bus headed to Lakewood.

Of course, he wouldn't go nearly that far. Instead, it was a 15-minute trip down Rosemead Blvd to Temple City.

The Militant was pleasantly surprised at what he saw - people riding bicycles! In low-rise suburbia! And these weren't just neighborhood kids going for a joyride. He spotted a bicycle commuter, with bags hanging on both sides of his rear wheel, riding westbound down Huntington Drive. The Militant only thought city folks did that. Amazing...

He disembarked just past Las Tunas Drive, which was a little bit too much past the intersection than he would have preferred, but this is the SGV, so one can't complain here. After a few blocks walk, he had reached the store, run by an acquaintance of the Militant's, who said, "Now there's a face I haven't seen here in a long time!"

For reasons to protect his identity, the Militant could not divulge the name or nature of this shop (lest you think it's a pr0n shop, just remember it's in freaking Temple City, aite?) .

But after all, it's the not the destination that's important here, it's the journey.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

That New Theatre Smell

Last Saturday, the Militant had a chance to step right up to the new-fangled event venue, the Nokia Theatre (Is it pronounced, "Noh-kya" or "No-KEE-uh?" and on that note, is "Theatre" pronounced "Thee-ATE-her" or "Thee-tur?"). It's a stunningly beautiful building, which blends in well architecturally with its next door neighbor, STAPLES Center (also an AEG creation).

It's a truly unique venue, with stunning visual aesthetics, but is it really that unique? Turns out there are other Nokia Theatres out there, including one in that other major US city, so this one is specifically called, "Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live." But it's the largest one in size and capacity (7,100), larger than the Dallas (6,300) and NYC (2,100) versions. Speaking of naming rights, if certain artists ban camera phones at their concerts, what if the concertgoer has a Nokia model?

The sheer size and expanse of the theatre as well as the abuilding L.A. Live complex seemingly turned Chick Hearn Court from The Street Formerly Known As 11th to a true court, which tempts one to jaywalk between Staples and Nokia, though a row of "Use Crosswalk" signs on either side of the Court discourage shortcutting and forces people to head all the way over to Figueroa. The only downside to the new configuration is that in the event of another Lakers championship, where would the large victory celebration take place? Of course, with the way the team is going right now, that probably won't be an issue for a long time.

Though the Militant has yet to go inside, one of the Militant's siblings got to check it out on Day Two of Nokia's debut season, watching the Video Games Live concert on October 19. When the sibling was asked on their impressions of Nokia, the sibling simply shrugged and said, "It was cool."

But by far the biggest visual impact of Nokia is the building's chameleonic ability to change into all them pretty colors. The visual landmark of Nokia's plaza is the set of six pylons that emanate sound and vision into the immediate area. But wait a minute here...a vertical structure...changing colors...bright visuals...an audio system that projects sound towards all directions...hmmm...now where exactly has the Militant seen something like that before?

Today's Dish: Dodgers Catch-A-Torre

By now everyone has heard that Joe Torre is the new skipper of the Boys in Blue. Even the Dodgers.com website has updated their coaching staff information. Though Torre has a recent affiliation with the Evil Empire, he's no stranger to the Dodgers or the Los Angeles market. Like the Dodgers, he's a Brooklyn native whose move to Los Angeles was the cause of much fanfare as well as commotion. And he's no SoCal n00b, either; longtime SoCal sports fans can recall that Torre was once a broadcaster for the Gene Autry-owned California Angels from 1985 to 1990 (the era of people like Doug DeCinces, Wally Joyner and Brian Downing) when their games were aired on the Autry-owned KTLA.

So now that we have an Irish American owner and an Italian American manager again, might we see those halcyon days of pennants, rings, trophies and parades through Downtown Los Angeles? Only time, money and the acquisition of a high-profile big bat will tell. But for now, all is good in Dodgerville.

As for Grady Little? Will he follow another embattled ex-Dodger manager and manage the Pittsburgh Pirates? As he would often say, "Well, I tell ya whut," according to the most awkwardly-staged teleconference call in the history of modern telecommunications (visit Dodgers.com and search for "Grady Little Conference Call" (can't be hotlinked, sorry), he has no plans to return to baseball next year, and former Oakland A's manager and Pittsburgh-area native Ken Macha is currently in talks to commandeer the Pirate ship.