Monday, December 31, 2007

The Militant is Still Stuck in 2007!!!!

While the lot of you are back to work, are already using the numbers "2008" on your checks and are going to be watching coverage of the Iowa Caucuses tonight, the Militant is...how does he explain this...he is still stuck in 2007.

It all started New Year's Eve night, which for the Militant, is still tonight, as the Militant's operatives counted down the seconds, after the countdown went down to "1," suddenly everyone vanished and it was Dec 31st again. It's like that movie "Groundhog Day," but worse. Well, not that worse, since the Militant has been having a New Year's Eve party (well the same one) for the past two nights. Which is cool, but the same stuff keeps happening. So let the Militant know how things are going there in 2008, he eventually wants to cross over to the future (or the present, for you guys). Oh this isn't good...

What Angelenos Do For New Year's Eve

A major cellphone company claims that Angelenos spend New Year's Eve sitting on the couch. O RLY? Many lament the lack of a singular event in the city to usher in the New Year (including an attempt some eight years ago to do something along those lines). But the Militant won't be sitting on his couch (or even worse - blogging for that matter).

So what will the Militant be doing for New Year's Eve? Before your mind conjures up images of him standing on top of Mt. Hollywood in Griffith Park, firing rifles into the air at the stroke of midnight, the Militant will let you know that he plans to spend it with several of his operatives at one of their houses in an unspecified part of the Valley (where there will be much alcohol, food, music and alcohol).

But that's generally what we do (aside from the 50,000 who are headed to the QuasiRaveMassives in Downtown or the million-plus (again, mostly tourists) playing homeless for the night on Colorado Blvd in Pasadena), spend it with friends or family, people who are close to us (so much for the theory that Angelenos don't care about each other). Besides, pretty much all of those folks freezing their asses off in Times Square three hours earlier are tourists - real NY locals don't really bother with the ball drop (unless they happen to have access to a hotel, apartment or office right at the Square where they can enjoy the moment without dealing with barriers, crowds, porta-potties and the cold). They're just partying with loved ones as well.

That's pretty much it for 2007, readers. It's been a landmark year for the Militant in many ways. But don't expect a "Top 10 Militant Angeleno Post" retrospective; the Militant ain't about looking back (though he does appreciate the history), he's into looking at (and fighting for) the future. Besides, in that green box to your right are 162 of the Militant's Greatest Posts of 2007 - in chronological order. How bout that, huh?

Have a great '08 everyone. Seeya next year!

(And don't drink and drive tonight - Go Metro!)

Downtown On The Last Day Of The Year

There's a long-standing tradition in Downtown Los Angeles that on December 31, office workers would dump the pages of their daily desk calendars onto the streets, a ritual symbolizing an "out-with-the old" cleansing of sorts (though an even bigger cleansing job for the Downtown BID cleanup crews).

The Militant wanted to capture this phenomena, so he hopped on the subway today to check out all the action, albeit with that voice inside of him reminding the Militant that in this age of PCs, laptops, Treos and Blackberries, people hardly use daily desk calendars anymore (that same voice is also the one that usually speaks when statements on this blog are enclosed in parenthesis).

As the Militant emerged from the 7th St/Metro Center station, he figured that voice was correct after all. The streets of Downtown were pretty much clean. But he wanted to take a longer walk to find more. Obviously in the Financial District, none of the highrises there have any windows that can be opened, so perhaps near the mid-rise structures can these discarded calendar pages be found. So from Flower Street, he rounded the corner from the Central Library and headed east on 5th, past the Pershing Square ice rink.

Children waiting to get on the ice at Pershing Square are fascinated by the Zamboni.

Now of course everyone knows that the old early-20th century Downtown office buildings are all loft apartments now, and the people who live there would obviously have more sense than to dump stuff onto the street (Especially since they pay mucho dinero to live there in the first place).

But still, the Militant, always wanting to make lemonade out of lemons, wanted to see some more of the ongoing adaptive reuse going on in DTLA. After all, it's been a long while since he's walked the streets of this part of Downtown.

He did get to see the sparking new Rite Aid on 5th and Broadway, which seemed rather out of place there, but hey, that's progress for ya. He continued on to Spring and took a right. The seemingly renovated sky-lit ground-level shops of the Spring St. Arcade Building (no, not that kind of arcade) was something the Militant had seemingly overlooked all these years. At least this time around, he did stop periodically and look at all those early 20th century 13-stories-and under wrought-iron buildings and appreciated their individual character.

He went further south on Spring then back west on 7th, passing by the new-fangled urban 7-Eleven that opened recently. He then found his way on to Olive St, and decided to pass by the much-celebrated Downtown Ralphs for good measure as the sky turned orange for the last sunset of 2007.

But hey, what's this? The Militant finally sees them! Discarded desk calendar pages! The Militant's trusty digital cam immediately went into action (Pictured above).

He realized though that all of these calendar pages were all found in the same location - around the vicinity of Macy's Plaza - and judging by their sheer volume (or lack thereof, rather), it's quite likely that they came from the same person's desk. And to make things even stranger, some of the calendar pages had a 2008 date on them(!). Oh well, beggars can't be choosers. Guess that just goes to show, if you keep looking, you'll eventually find what you've been searching for.

That, and at least one person out there decided to keep up with a dying tradition on the streets of Downtown Los Angeles.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

We'll Miss You, Stu

The Militant is surprised that no one in the local blogosphere caught this, but considering the fact that most of the transplant-dominated local bloggers are out of town, the Militant assumes control! Power! Absolute powah!

But seriously now, the Militant mourns today's loss of local broadcasting legend Stu Nahan, 81, who succumbed after a long battle with lymphoma. A Los Angeles native, he grew up in Canada where he became a minor league hockey goalie and eventually started his broadcasting career in Sacramento and Philadelphia before coming back to his hometown in the late 1960s.

Locals remember seeing him on KABC Channel 7, KNBC Channel 4 and KTLA Channel 5 and hearing "Silver-Tipped Stu" on KABC 790, Xtra Sports 690 and KFWB 980, where we last heard him as part of the Dodgers pregame show before his retirement three years ago.

He was known to non-locals too, as the boxing commentator in the Rocky saga, but many an Angeleno will forever have his spry, concerned and authoritative baritone embedded in their minds for the rest of their lives.

Things To Do During Limbo Week - Wednesday

Greetings, Angelenos! Hope you had a great Christmas. This is the time of the year where we're faces with two holidays within a week of each other, and we're either on a short vacation/break or forced to go to work with very little activity, much less productivity. The Militant calls it...Limbo Week!

For the rest of the week, the Militant will offer suggestions on how to bide your time, whether you have the whole week off, or whether you're forced to hold down the fort at the office. True to Militant style, the following suggestions are either free or come at very little cost (you need it since you've probably accrued additional credit card debt the past few weeks anyway).

Wednesday's Vacation Option: humor us Exhibit at Barnsdall Park's Art Gallery

Whether you got some free time on your hands, or want to entertain out-of-town guests (remember, people might have left town, but others have come back home for the Holidays), go check out an exhibition called humor us at Barnsdall Art Park. It's a multi- and mixed- media exhibit of over 100 works by twenty Asian American artists with ties to Southern California, which explore the all facets and interpretations of humor, while exploring issues of cultural identity, race and representation. According to the exhibit's literature, "Often the butt of jokes or the comic relief within mainstream media - from Fu Manchu to William Hung of American Idol notoriety - Asians and Asian Americans are often stereotyped as eternal foreigners, model minorities, inscrutable, nerdy and yes, humorless."

The works consist of everything from paintings, photographs, sculpture, industrial art, videos, audio and even a large snail rollercoaster and a rock that thinks via an LED thought bubble. Interesting stuff that's very scant on the usual cliches of this kind of art, and most of all the Militant doesn't know any of the artists personally, which means that it the exhibit won't suck.

humor us is free and runs until December 30.

humor us
Municipal Art Gallery
Barnsdall Art Park
4800 Hollywood Blvd
Los Feliz/East Hollywood DMZ
Open daily, 12 noon-5 p.m.


Wednesday's At-Work Option: Check Out the UnHipLA Blog

Stuck at work? Workload is close to nil? Wondering why you're even there in the first place? Open your browser and check out a new blog! Thanks to a tip from one of his most trusted operatives, the Militant adds another approved guerrilla faction to his blogroll in UnHipLA, written by a SGV-based Un-Hipster who has actually been blogging for a little over a year and covers largely food, shops and events in The Other Valley. Recent entries: 90-cent pumpkin empanadas, the new Whole Foods Market in Pasadena and a little-known, but mega-affordable Taiwanese street food eatery in San Gabe. The blogger also makes a lot of allusions to biggestmenu.com, which is also the reason for the abundance of food-related topics (though it's UnHipLA is not strictly a foodie blog). It's also not strictly an SGV blog either, as some of the posts also cover events and places in Little Tokyo, Historic Filipinotown, Miracle Mile and even Hong Kong.

In some ways, it's kind of like the Militant's blog, minus the activism and militancy and plus more food and 626-related subject matter. Drop on by and tell UnHip the Militant sent ya!

UnHipLA (www.unhipla.com)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Militant Greetings

Christmas in Los Angeles...there's nothing like it. There's hardly any traffic, the streets are quiet, the city is at peace. Do you hear what the Militant hears? Yep - no whining. Enjoy it as much as you can - the Militant sure will.

Merry Christmas from the Militant Angeleno (if you celebrate Christmas in early January, then Merry Christmas in advance, and if you don't celebrate it at all, well, then just have a nice day).

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Militant Update: DWP Light Festival Invasion - Miracle or Meh?

The Militant joined over 50 bicyclists who gathered at the Kool-Aid Fountain and headed down Crystal Springs Drive to the bikes-not-allowed DWP Holiday Light Festival and invade it as a show of protest against velo-oppression and utter disregard for vehicle codes.

We rode through the park, pedaling past the long, red-light-stringed queue of cars, with one of the members of the pack pumping out heavy metal Christmas carols from his portable sound system, ready to Stick It To The Man. Grrrrrr!

And when we went in...

...well, "the man" just pretty much stood there, and didn't really care. The pack weaved in between and to the left of traffic. The organizers encouraged us to adorn ourselves - and our bikes - with lights, preferably of bright, colorful and flashing variety, and we also whooped, hollered and chanted, "Ho Ho Ho!" at the motorists, who honked at us - not out of scorn, but out of admiration - they too whooped and hollered along with us.

That didn't work out the way it was planned. So at the Los Angeles Zoo parking lot, the pack regrouped and took a break (which the Militant welcomed as it allowed his nearly-frostbitten fingers to regain sensation and bloodflow), then rode back the opposite way. We're riding against the flow of traffic! That oughtta get us into trouble, no question!

Uh, maybe not. There was even a traffic officer at the Zoo parking lot (pictured left) who just stood there and even chatted with other cyclists. And when we did ride against the flow of traffic, that just gave the motorists a better view of us - and us of them - and their visual and audible demonstrations of Holiday cheer.

Obviously the bike ban was not enforced at all (not that the Militant is complaining), but perhaps the real test is whether or not the velo-prohibition (on paper, at least) will still be in effect for next year's festival.

We regrouped again, just outside the Festival's entrance, and the group dispersed, most of them joining the Sins and Sprockets ride to Chinatown, and the rest headed home...in the fros-ty air!

So take your pick, this act of defiance was either a dud, or the Christmas spirit in everyone filled the place with peace and joy where everyone had a good time, no matter what mode of transportation they used to get to the Festival.

E-Ho Ho Ho!

Over two hundred families and some 600 children were treated to toys, joy and a photo-op with Santa on Friday afternoon at the City-run Hollywood Youth and Family Center in East Hollywood during their annual Toy Giveaway. Toys donated by Aztecs Rising (an intervention program that turns gang members into firefighters), FilAm ARTS and the local neighborhood council, distributed by volunteers from the City and Los Angeles City College, brought smiles to the faces of the children, who came from low-income families in and around the area. Children's reading books were also given away as well.

The Militant and a few of his operatives were able to donate some toys earlier in the week, so the spirit of giving also gave a smile to this Militant's face (which normally either frowns or sneers). The center, which is run by the City's Community Development Department and also houses various community and non-profit groups, has been running the program for the past five years and the organizers were worried that some families might be turned away, empty-handed. But this time, there was an excess of toys.

In a season where Holiday travel stress and shopping materialism make headlines, it's nice to see some of the more simple pleasures of this city unfold in front of your eyes.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Scenes From The First Day Of Winter

The first day of Winter, 2007, Los Angeles. A day after the rain, which was swept away briskly by high winds the night before. This is the kind of day that postcard photographers live for.

The San Gabriel Mountains are in the background (with Mt. Lowe and the antenna-topped Mt. Wilson to the left and the snow-capped Mt. San Antonio (stage name: Mt. Baldy) to the right. Los Feliz and the Franklin Hills sits in the foreground. Taken from Barnsdall Art Park.

Fight For Your Right To Bike To The Lights!

Bicyclists, who have been prohibited from visiting the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's Holiday Light Festival (no not that Festival of Lights - that already ended the other week...) in Griffith Park, will converge at the Kool-Aid Fountain (a.k.a. the William Mulholland Memorial Fountain) on the corner of Los Feliz Blvd. and Riverside Drive at 7:30 p.m. tonight to ride en masse to the Festival in solidarity to show that bikerzz can has Light Festival.

Aside from a token preview a few weeks ago, bikes, along with buses and RVs, have been banned from the Festival. But obviously unlike buses and RVs, bicycles do not pose a threat to the Festival's height clearance, much less pollute the air, so there must be some other conspiracy at play here.

The organizers encourage participants to dress up illuminated (anyone know where to find some glowsticks?) in order to become the light festival.

These folks are down. So are these folks.

The Militant may or not be there of course, but damnit, he probably will.

Mr. Mulholland himself once said, upon the opening of the great Aqueduct, "There it is, take it!"

And damnit, we probably will.

The Tannenbaum In Tinseltown - A Militant's Christmas Story

Gather around, kids, the Militant has a Christmas story!

Once upon a time, one mid-December day in the City of the Angels, the Militant Angeleno walked out onto his rain-dampened driveway and fretted, "Five days until Christmas, and there is still no tree in the compound. What ever shall a Militant do?"

So the Militant set out on that Thursday evening looking for a nice local Christmas tree lot, as he wanted to save on carriage fuel, not contribute to carriage traffic and support his neighborhood's economy in his tree-shopping trek.

But alas, all of the lots he was accustomed to in years past were no more! They had all been developed and there was no more space for seasonal tree lots. So the Militant, though wanting to buy local, was forced to drive a little farther.

He eventually hit the town of Glen Dale and saw a Christmas tree lot in front of Ye Home Despot on St. Ferdinand's road, but. to his dismay, the fence was closed - there were no more trees!

Chagrined, he drove back on St. Ferdinand's Road and headed the opposite direction, eventually finding himself in the Park of Glassell, still with no tree lots in sight. Then he arrived in the land of Silver's Lake, where he found a string of yuletide beacons announcing the presence of a tree lot!

This one was run by the Delancey Street Foundation, and the proceeds of the tree sales would go to helping out those in need, what a great gesture for the Season. The Militant found a stately Douglas Fir, standing about six and a half feet high. He looked at the price tag: "$71."

"Seventy-One silver coins?!?!?" the Militant thought, stunned. "Only the wealthy can afford to support such a cause! The Militant does not hesitate to help the needy, but the Militant is needy himself!"

He left the land of Silver's Lake and headed west, arriving at The Marketplace of Jonathan, located at the foot of Olive Hill upon which stood the House of Hollyhock. The Marketplace of Jonathan also had a small lot of trees, which the Militant perused. But the selection was rather paltry, and many a tree stood at an awkward angle. "Not good enough!" said the Militant.

So he once again hopped into his horseless carriage and headed west along the Boulevard of the Setting Sun, where he knew of another location of Ye Home Despot which might yield some yuletide arbor.

When what do his wondering eyes did appear, right on the corner of Boulevard of the Setting Sun and St. Andrew's Place, across the street from Ye Home Despot, in a plaza bearing a Ranch marketplace, the Three Latin Brothers' haberdashery and the Consumer Value Stores apothecary - was a considerably-sized tree lot! (pictured right) And one with an abundant selection, of various varieties and heights, all of seemingly good quality!

The Militant turned and saw a beautiful bright-green Noble Fir, standing stately in the lot. The Militant fell in tree love, he almost wanted to hug it. She was perfect! The Militant asked the lot's merchant how much silver coins the tree would cost him.

"Fifty silver coins...and these are forty-five..."

But the Militant asked the merchant what warranted the five-silver-coin difference between the trees, as they were of equivalent height. The merchant consulted one of his superiors, who explained that all of them in that row cost forty-five silver coins each.

"The Militant will take it!" he told the merchant, pointing to the love-at-first-sight Noble Fir beauty he first laid his eyes upon.

The Militant laid a tarpaulin atop his carriage and the merchant hoisted and secured the tree to the vehicle. After the monetary transaction, the Militant carefully drove his new acquisition home, to be festooned with ornaments in time for the Holidays.

Yes, the Militant bought his tannenbaum in the town of tinsel, which was but a short distance from his compound. But when all was said and done, he had traversed some 20 miles in his quest for this one tree.

The moral of the story: Get to know one's vicinity - even if you already think you do. It may just save you the inconvenience.

The End.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Down To Earth In The Eastside

Militant Operative Valleypinoy, home for the Holidays and on vacation from his out-of-state militant training, gave the Militant a call on Wednesday and asked if he wanted to do lunch. When the Militant asked the operative what what he was craving, the top of the operative's list was Mexican food, which made the Militant LOL as quality comida is difficult, if not impossible, to find where the operative is currently based.

The Militant proposed the legendary (Real) Eastside institution, El Tepeyac Cafe, a favorite of the operative's and, admittedly, a place the Militant has long desired to go to but never had the chance, until this day.

After a quick subway ride to an unspecified location Downtown, the Militant hopped in the operative's borrowed car and crossed the river, traversing the rain-dampened hills and past Ciro's (where the Militant and two of his Militant Operatives had lunch once), past the grand old cemetery to an unassuming block of Evergreen Avenue, with a nearly-full parking lot. We had made it.

The restaurant's namesake refers to the hill in Mexico where it is believed this guy first saw this lady; a place where miracles happen. The Militant, too, sees little miracles happen here (not to mention it would take a miracle for a single human being to finish a Manuel Special Burrito).

The indoor seating area was to capacity, filled with locals, faithful patrons and city/county/federal workers, as Militant Operative Valleypinoy pointed out. But we managed to sit in the patio tables and order from the outside walk-up window, across from the large menu on the wall (pictured above). The staff was decidedly 'tude-free and a friendly Eastside local who was eating at the table nearest to the window was willing to describe what a "machaca" burrito (largely the addition of scrambled egg) had to offer.

The Militant, curious about the baseball cap the local gentleman was wearing as it bore the name of the Militant's unspecified LAUSD high school. The man just said, unabashedly, "I just picked it up at the 99 Cents store." No materialistic frontin' here. The Militant totally dug that. They continued to have a brief conversation about local high schools.

The Militant decided to get the flagship Hollenbeck burrito (named after the LAPD precinct which serves the area - um, was it any coincidence that it's full of...pork?), machaca version
while the operative treated himself to an Okie Machaca burrito. We also split a 1/2 guac and chips, which was a generous freaking mountain of avocado. We also were only successful at consuming half of our respective burritos.

Now the Militant could have included this in his spinoff food blog, The Militant Angeleno's Mess Hall (BZZZ! cheap plug alert!), but El Tep's ginormous burritos have been well-documented in several places. The Militant would have nothing new to say other than his experience eating at Manuel Rojas' half-century-old Eastside landmark confirmed to him that Eastsiders - the real ones from the real place - are perhaps the most friendliest, down-to-earth folks in Los Angeles. No wonder others, especially those from points west, give no regard to the land on the east bank of the river -- their personality flaws would be obvious by comparison. So may be it's in their best interest to cover it up, by not recognizing the Eastsiders' existence, and deriding them as "dirty, untrustworthy vato gangster types" when they do acknowledge Eastsiders, because the discovery of any sort of down-to-earth folk- especially if they're locals - would run contra to their entire paradigm of Los Angeles life.

The Militant and the operative, weighted down like an anchor by the sheer quantity of consumed food (but 'twas good though!) finally left the restaurant, styrofoam take-home boxes in hand, walking across the rain-soaked pavement as the roar of a low-flying Boeing 777 jet on its LAX approach echoed through the hills, the plane re-entering the visual veil of the grey clouds that drifted above. The Militant loves the post-rain period in the city; we're all wet, we're all equal if for just this moment.

Life in the Eastside is by no means perfect, of course, but the miracle of interacting with such real folk in this day and age is one that can't be ignored.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Raining, Blaming, Maintaining, Hydroplaning

For some reason there's been lots of grey clouds in the sky, and there seems to be drops of water falling down...

Yes, it's raining again, and that means one thing: The time when our city's transplants (and transplant-biased media) love to declare that Los Angelenos cannot drive in the rain.

In addition to other things this native Militant
has to hear them beyotch and whine about (and those transies sure do love to whine!), the rain thing takes the cake (left out in the rain, in Macarther MacArthur Park, of course). First of all, it arrogantly absolves the person making the statement that they, and only they, are the only ones with teh l33t driving skillz in the entire region. Second, it's highly hypocritical on many levels, especially since many of the other drivers are transplants themselves, and there has yet to be any absolute scientific proof that any of them have never caused an accident (on another level, most transplants proudly declare that they prefer follow scientific logic and reason as opposed to faith or what others tell them, yet when it comes to matters regarding this City, they use anything but scientific logic and reason and rely on the preconceived notions fed to them by others...hmmm....). And lastly, it's ludicrously presumptive. So what, people from Los Angeles choose to drive bad in the rain? It's what we're taught in our Driver's Ed classes - to ignore all intentions of carefulness once the first drop of rain hits the road (If that's true, then NorCal people shouldn't be hatin', since they have the same Driver's Ed curriculum that we have)? Transie, please! With auto insurance costing as much as it does, do you seriously think we really want to get into accidents when it rains? And what is the crux of the problem? That we drive too fast? Or too slow? Make up your fuggin' minds!

The Militant Mythbuster says "Enough." Here's some food for thought.

Per Capita, Stupid. Of course, there's a lot more accidents when it rains here. Because there's a lot more cars and a lot more freeways. Duh. The Militant needs to see statistical proof of a higher per capita rate of automobile accidents during precipitation before he would consider lending credence to the generalization.

It's Not The Driver, It's The Tires. Here is one thing everybody, be they native, immigrant or transplant, totally neglects: Proper tire maintenance. You can be the best driver in history, but your l33t skillz won't mean jack if your tires have lost their tread, causing even the most adept driver to skid and lose control on wet pavement. Such is what caused an accident in late November which a local Jedi blogger experienced while riding in a landspeeder (but don't actual landspeeders, through the use of repulsors, avoid contact with the ground?). When it comes to auto maintenance, we seem to only be concerned with the mechanical well-being of the car and place things like tire rotation and replacement as a low priority. Los Angeles was once the largest tire-producing city in the country behind Akron, OH (hence the existence of places like this) - SO GET YOUR TIRES CHECKED, PEOPLE!
Lastly, and most importantly...

Suprise! Suprise! We are not the only place in the country where people cannot drive in the rain. When the Militant visited Portland, Oregon - a Pacific Northwest city with abundant rainfall - and rode their light rail train during one rainy night, he and his fellow passengers were forced to disembark and cram into a bus. The reason? A car hit a train further down the line. You'd have thought that Portlanders would have known better - because car accidents in the rain only happen in Los Angeles, right?

The Militant will now provide a (by no means comprehensive) list of sites and blogs from around the country, via his Militant research, which declare the drivers of their respective locales (including some known for frequent precipitation) as people who "Can't drive in the rain."

Richmond, VA

Texas

Maryland

Pittsburgh

Roanoke, VA

The Bay Area

The Bay Area again

Kentucky

Austin, TX (look out, Virginia, you got competition!)

Central Alabama

South Carolina, Alaska, Canada and New York


Phoenix

The South

Hawai'i (A state which is home to the world's rainiest place)

Springfield, VA (Way to go, Virginia!)

and finally...

SEATTLE!

You get the picture. You might even hail from some of these places. Pwnage is in effect. But on an objective level, it's all a matter of perspective. You don't see the problems of other cities in front of you every day; the only comparisons we are capable of are selective recollections and detail-deficient news reports (The Militant refuses to believe there were no auto accidents during the big Katrina evacuation in '05 - but you'd never hear of it, since that would have been only a trivial part of the bigger story).

So be careful out there (duh) and again, GET YOUR TIRES CHECKED!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

You're Not So Vain, You May Or May Not Think This Post Is About You

Forbes.com has recently done a report on America's Vainest Cities. Yeah, the Militant knows exactly what you're thinking, but sorry, nice try. The shock wasn't that Los Angeles only came in at number 8, nor that it wasn't even the most vainest city in California, but what the #1 vanity city in the report - which boasted six cosmetic surgeons per 100,000 people - came out to be.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Of Life, Love and Property in Culver City Adjacent

The Militant found himself entirely - save for an hour and a half in an unspecified area not so far away - in and around Culver City, for various purposes (thus cutting down unnecessary trips and saving gas)

Starting at noon he took one of his operatives, who was in the market for a condo, on an informal asset-mapping of the community she was considering moving to by taking a three-and-a-half-mile walk around. The Militant, notorious for being a multitasker, saw not only an opportunity to get to see (and write about) a community, but discovered an excuse to spend most of the day with her, as he has been pursuing her amorously (with various unspecified mixed signals) for an unspecified amount of time...which is actually quite a while, come to think of it.

The operative, which will be henceforth referred to as "A" (which may or may not be her first, middle or last initial, though the Militant is also comfortable knowing that she does not know he is the Militant, though there is a minute chance she might stumble on this here blog while doing more research on her potential community, but the Militant will take his chances lest he ends up professing his love to her through this here blog - regardless of the outcome, he would get quite a kick out of it, come to think of it), currently lives in a 562-area suburb, but was looking for a considerably more dynamic area and a closer commute to her Downtown job.

She told the Militant that the potential condo was located in Palms, but after Mapquesting it (So websites have become verbs now?) discovered that it wasn't really in Palms, but Palms-adjacent, specifically in the South Robertson neighborhood. He pointed her to the South Robertson Neighborhoods Council website for some community resources and while taking a glance on both sides of the cellphone signal, she read about the neighborhood's efforts to stop a strip club from opening near Venice and Robertson. As a potential property owner, she didn't think that was cool, and it added to her concerns about the neighborhood.

They convened at the condo just off of National on a beautiful, relatively warm late Fall Sunday afternoon and walked to nearby Hamilton High School where a parking lot full of cars got their attention and curiosity led them to a possible event on the campus, but alas it was simply just a weekend practice session for the school's basketball team in the gym.

They walked around the campus to Robertson, where she constantly commented how the nature of the streets dramatically changed from idyllic, quiet, tree-lined blocks to blighted areas
with graffiti tags, bulky items and badly-cracked pavement all within a small distance of one another.

They continued down Robertson, past the pair of gas stations on the street and crossed under the 10 Freeway to the other side, where by chance they found themselves across the street from ground zero in terms of neighborhood controversy - Skin Gentlemen's Club. The building surpisingly didn't look very assuming and we actually were more baffled by the lack of parking spaces it apparently had.

The two crossed Venice Blvd, where a pair of bicyclists rode westward. They passed an unspecified store (no, really, there was no signage, save for the words, "WHERE ONLY INTELLIGENT PEOPLE SHOP") which consisted of a shack which apparently sold miniature motor bikes in front and various trinkets inside.

Walking down Exposition and now entering the City called Culver, with its green street signs, they saw a run-down, debris-strewn empty lot, bordered with yellow "police" tape, which would, in three years, become the western terminus of the (M) Exposition Light Rail Line. Even a banner for the former business - Jungle Tropical Plants - bore the establishment's newly-relocated address on Sawtelle Ave. The Militant reminded her that come 2010, she can simply hop on a train to her job in Downtown, and if she plans to sell her condo in the future, its access to a Metro station would be a huge selling point, in addition to its added value.

A series of boarded-up, graffiti-tagged buildings down on Washington Blvd which made up a former used car sales lot caught A's eye, as she wondered why this particular part appeared so run-down. The Militant explained the area was ripe for redevelopment and that the Metro station's presence would likely transform the area into something else entirely.

A few entrepreneurs seemed ready to ride that redevelopment tiger already, as just a few blocks west, we randomly stumbled on a curiously-chic looking space - the kind usually found in ethnic neighborhoods as a gentrohipster establishment - yet in this relatively barren quasi-industrial zone of Culver City, everything was fair game. So stood Royal/T, a mixed shop/art/cafe space (the latter wasn't exactly ready yet as the establishment was only a week or so old) built on the former corporate office space of Burke Williams Spas, which bore a contemporary Japanese theme in the form of manga book displays and wall-sized images of gaudily-dressed Fresh Fruit/Harajuku types. The gallery spaces (pictured left) bore an exhibition called Just Love Me, which, according to Royal/T's literature, "explores the complexity of cuteness."

Speaking of cute, the quaint, colonialist facade of The Culver Studios stood just a short distance away, as well as the six-sided Culver Hotel (pictured right), where skateboarding teens rolled and jumped in the nearby plaza. Here in Downtown Culver City was were the urban experience was once had and is now found again in the form of entertainment, shops, bars and restaurants. A and the Militant took a break here on a sidewalk table to enjoy an unspecified dessert. She definitely likes this aspect of the neighborhood, though living on this side of the 10 Freeway was prohibitively more expensive for her.

We walked around Downtown Culver, right by the former Pacific Electric Red Car powerhouse known as Ivy Substation, home of The Actor's Gang. She also showed the Militant another potential condo property on a decidedly more quiet, tree-lined, naturally traffic-calmed street in Los Angeles city limits (where it's actually Palms) much closer to Venice, but the Militant warned her that it would have to come at a price. But if she were able to get a good deal on it, she should definitely consider that over the original property.

We headed back and though she got to know the neighborhood a lot more, she was still undecided, though did come to the impression that the strip club thing didn't seem like such a big deal anymore, but rather pedestrian access to Downtown Culver City, which was limited by a relatively unsightly freeway underpass.

She did tell the Militant that if she does live there, she would definitely get more involved in the community, which made the Militant smile for many reasons. Perhaps he can even help train her to be an actual Militant Angelena...sigh...

The rest of the afternoon was still spent in the area, where one of A's own operatives (she's quite Militant, or rather dedicated, in her own way in other unspecified volunteer activities) joined up at an unspecified sit-down restaurant further west towards Sepulveda. And later that evening, after A had to leave (and the Militant felt a little heartbroken), he joined up with a bunch of other operatives later that night indulging in food, drink, karaoke and more drinks at an establishment of that nature situated in a part of Palms that looked awfully familiar to the Militant.

Red, red wine....stay close to me...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas Shopping...in the Park?

Readers familiar with Siel (no, not Seal), a.k.a. Green L.A. Girl have probably noticed that the Militant asked her for some advice a couple weeks ago on her L.A. Times Blog looking for a local source of a composter for the Militant's mama for a Christmas present (the Militant's mama, though aware of his various militant activities, is not actually aware he is the Militant Angeleno per se, (she is only aware he has some website where he writes about the City) nor does she read blogs, so the surprise aspect of this present is in no danger of being diminished.

Her reply directed the Militant to the Griffith Park Composting Education Facility (pictured right) where on Friday the Militant picked up a composter usually sold for $85 for a mere Andrew Jackson, thanks to a city subsidy. He also got a free pair of gloves and a miniature blue recycling bin (presumably used for storing pens and pencils on one's desk, or maybe a good accessory to a little girl's Eco-Conscious Barbie playset) thrown in.

They only do these sales events once a month, so you probably missed out on the one on the 14th (as well as possibly catching the Militant - one of the reasons why he did not announce this previously), but the Los Angeles City Bureau of Sanitation has a schedule online where you might be able to take advantage of these sales as part of your 2008 New Year's resolutions (which should also include walking, biking, taking transit, appreciating the people and cultures of this city more and getting more involved in your community, right?).

Being this was the first time the Militant has been in the park since some dude decided to take a nap smoking in the brush last May, he had a chance to survey the damage from a much-closer view. To his surprise it wasn't as charred out as he thought it would be (of course all that hydromulching back in September probably helped things out cosmetically), and his cherished section through Mineral Wells (pictured left) seemed untouched, though from the photo as you can see, the charred-out section is on the ridge on the top, while the intact portions are at the bottom. And oh lookie - some deciduous trees with brown autumnal leaves. And they say the seasons don't change here?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Partyin' With Garcetti

Being an active member of the urban Los Angeles community, the Militant may or may not have been invited to (or, in true Militant fashion, may or may not have crashed) Council President Eric Garcetti's (pictured left, forgive the blurriness) Annual Council District 13 Holiday Party on Thursday night at the L.A. Derby Dolls' roller rink located in a former dairy processing warehouse in Historic Filipinotown near Temple and Alvarado.

Nevertheless it was a fine reunion of sorts
with the various operatives and community leaders the Militant may or may not have worked with over the years, especially folks from the Hollywood, East Hollywood, Silver_Lake, Historic Filipinotown and Echo Park communities. The Militant also ran into operatives and associates who work for the councilman, as well as for City Hall and even had a chat with City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, who, while meeting some neighborhood council folks, still somehow felt compelled to recite, by rote, the story of the origin of his name (his dad was a boxing fan, his mom decided to alter it to "Rockard," etc). But most importantly there was food, courtesy of the fine eateries from this diverse district, be it tamales, pad thai, lumpia, pizza, pita wraps and desserts galore.

The crowd of some 200 guests were entertained by a choir made up of of recovering substance abuse addicts who sang some lively Holiday favorites, kids from a local elementary school who sang and danced some Filipino Christmas carols, a drill team and finally (after moving the party to the bleachers in the adjacent area) an exhibition game from a pair of squads from the Derby Dolls, an all-female roller derby league.

When the Militant first heard of such a thing, he instantly dismissed it as some lame gentrohipster pseudo-retro, reclaim-your-lost-childhood activity. But when the ladies started their game, the Militant saw a little neighborhood girl at the party run towards the bleachers, chanting, "Derby Dolls! Derby Dolls! Derby Dolls!" in excitement. So it was probably a cool thing after all for little girls to get excited about a sport that's not a mere adaptation of the games boys play. And after seeing a round and finally getting what the sport was about, he admits it can get kind of exciting after all. But maybe they should have some chola-types on skates too, that would make it even more bad-ass. The Militant recommends that the Derby Dolls themselves ask a chola how to get something like that going.

In all, it was a neat little night partying with familiar community folks as well as the elected official who may or may not be his councilman (if you're keeping track, the Militant also gives another local councilman some press in this here blog, so draw your own conclusions).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

One Hot Mess - The Militant Goes Food Blogging

Just when you thought the Militant was going to post "Night Rider, Part 3" and write about his Tuesday night bike ride to and from Mid-City (though he did make it there this Tuesday night in record time -- 33 minutes! (It takes him 20 minutes by car)), the Militant throws you a curve, stops by for some hot soup after biking in 45-degree weather and blogs about a pho joint in Koreatown. But not just any pho joint in Koreatown!

Read all about it in the Militant Angeleno's Mess Hall!

Spin-off time, Baby!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Wesson's Learned in Mid-City

Your Friendly Neighborhood Militant has been extremely busy with both his Militant and extramilitant activities these past few days, making the blogging chore, er, responsibility a slightly lower priority as of late. But fear not, Militant readers, there's a huge backlog of stuff waiting to be committed to the Compose Window...

The Militant has partially disclosed to you readers that he has an unspecified connection to the community of Mid-City, semi-specifically in a neighborhood within a one-mile radius of the Adams Blvd and La Brea Avenue intersection (which happens to have an oft-overlooked war monument that might sound familiar to you readers). Because of the Militant and extramilitant activities he conducts there frequently, he was asked to attend a community action meeting in that area on Sunday that addressed a couple pressing needs in that low-income community.

While the rest of the local mainstream and online media seems fixated on some strike (Militant Say piss off both the writers and producers alike: Fileshare and pirate your TV programs!), there are people who are finding it increasingly impossible to live in affordable dwellings, and the youth who live in those communities lack very many choices.

And so was the focus of Sunday's meeting at St. Agatha's Catholic Church organized by LA Voice PICO, a (inter-)faith-based grassroots organization that seeks to empower communities with regard to social justice issues. Nearly five hundred community members, including representatives of labor unions, fellow community coalitions and nearby various Christian congregations as well as an Islamic mosque, many holding up signs pertaining to the affordable housing crisis, filled the church's pews to have their voices heard by 10th District Los Angeles City Councilman Herb Wesson (pictured left). The organizers also invited Mercedes Marquez, General Manager of the Los Angeles City Housing Department and LAPD Southwest Division Captain James Craig, all of whom were in attendance (and so were KABC 7 and KMEX 34 news cameras, their presence no doubt sealed the councilman's commitment to attend).

Representatives of the predominantly Latino, historically African American community made presentations about the need for a local youth center and more parks and recreation space (a familiar topic to the Militant) as well as for the need for more affordable housing units in the area. Others were tapped to deliver personal testimonies, including a woman who had to rent a $200-a-month room for her family at someone's house as she could not afford the rent of nearby apartments on an $800-a-month income with considerable health care needs taking up a chunk of her budget as well. A local youth with collegiate aspirations lamented the number of activity choices for people in his age bracket in the community. PowerPoint slides projected various statistics, including that of the 14,000 new housing units built in Los Angeles in 2006, 13,000 of them went to people with an income of more than $135,000 a year.

The Councilman was also called to sign LA Voice PICO's Housing Pledge which calls on the Los Angeles City Councilmembers to support not only more affordable housing, but a citywide mixed-income housing policy, a Housing Trust Fund and tenants' rights education. A three-foot-wide display already bearing the signatures of Eric Garcetti and Jan Perry was waiting for Herb Wesson's name to be added.

"Give me a pen!" responded the councilman, when asked to sign the pledge (pictured above). The roar of cheers and applause followed his imprimatur.

Of course, a politician's support of the faith-based coalition's pledge is likewise an act of faith - only time will tell whether Wesson - as well as his fellow councilmembers - will follow through with their promises.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Macarther Parc Iz Melltyng In Thuh Darc

Hai evreebodee. I'tz thu Millitunt agen. He jusst wantid tu sho yu sumthing he ubzurvd wen he whent tu tha Gmapz Pudomiter sight. Thu Millitunt notisd dat, wyle luking at thu innersexshun ov Wilshur an Alrvacado thay misssspelllld tha naym of Macarther Park, witch is weard sincs tha naym of thu Mettro stayshun iz speld korektlee. Alsow da aktual Guggle Mapz webbsight haz da naym ov thuh parck speld korecttlee. FUNY HUH?

Metro Passes To Be No Longer Accepted on DASH

For those of you who use your (M)etro passes to ride the DASH and Commuter Express buses run by the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), they will no longer be accepted on those services effective January 1, 2008. No. Not yours.

LADOT has just informed the Militant (wow, press releases sent to bloggers, what a concept...) that Metro told LADOT some time ago that they will no longer reimburse them for riders who use Metro passes to ride the City-operated buses.

It's no consequence to the Militant, who doesn't hold a monthly pass, but the majority of Metro riders who use DASH to get closer to their destinations would most likely not want to fumble for that quarter. Maybe this is all set up to prepare riders to use the countywide TAP-card fare system that Metro hopes to fully implement someday.

Or perhaps it's all because Metro needs the money to fund the $30 million to solve a $5.5 million problem.

Separated At Birth: Wilshire Vermont Station Apartments

The Militant just couldn't resist after taking his Vermont Bypass Bicycle Corridor ride on Wednesday night, but at the risk of treading on the turf of a certain local Jedi blogger, the Militant did notice the striking resemblance between the Wilshire Vermont Station Apartments
(pictured above, top) and a Jawa Sandcrawler (pictured above, bottom) from the Star Wars universe. Readers will recognize the Wilshire Vermont Station building as the site of Franklin Avenue Mike's favorite creepy digit mural (Damnit, that's two FA references in one day? Ugh, they owe the Militant big time).

Unfortunately, one cannot purchase droids at the Wilshire Vermont Station development, but women's shoes, and soon other things, can be bought there.

Proud of Our Routes: The Vermont Bypass Bicycle Corridor

The Militant can just hear it now: The thunderous sound of non-bicyclists (velo-disadvantaged people?) clicking to another site since the Militant wrote yet another entry about bike rides again, ho hum. Meanwhile the choir of bike rider readers read on attentively with a chorus of "Amen!"s as Rev. Militant preaches to them the (already-familiar) two-wheeled gospel.

But hey, the Militant needed to get his bike on late Wednesday night as some inclement weather the next few days is gonna make it difficult, if not messy (note to self: riding one's bike during the first day of a rainstorm is not fun, especially since road gunk splatters all over oneself and leaves a skunk-stripe trail of gunk all over one's back when the journey's done).

So enjoying the cold night air while the sky was relatively cloudless, the Militant decided to discover a new bike-friendly route through town. Though he blogged about such a thing before, he realized that it's best to spotlight one corridor at a time, and perhaps share part of his Militant observations with the readers.

This route (full detail map at: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=1486983) is a 4+ mile, bike-friendly, traffic-light residential route which takes a cyclist from Los Feliz Blvd in the eponymously-named community down along Edgemont Street through East Hollywood via Heliotrope Drive and into Koreatown along New Hampshire Avenue with stoplights and 4-way stop intersections all the way until one is forced to stop for all them cars at Olympic Blvd.

So what to call this route? The Edgemont-Heliotrope-New Hampshire Bike Boulevard? Too long. The EHNH? Hunh? Well, since those three north-south streets are parallel to and not too far away from Vermont Avenue, the Militant dubs thee The Vermont Bypass Bicycle Corridor (VBBC).

Like many north-south routes, it takes you up and down the socioeconomic ladder, runs through several ethnic neighborhoods, various commercial corridors, an art park, a community college, a bike-friendly corner, an elementary school, houses of worship, theatres and art galleries, bars and nightspots, is close to four (M) subway stations and most importantly is a nice pathway to some of the best grub in town.

Feliz Navi-gable

Starting at the north end in Los Feliz, along the cedar and pine tree-lined Los Feliz boulevard, Edgemont Street snakes slightly downhill through the well-manicured lawns and Mediterranean-style houses of the nearly- rich and almost-famous. Franklin Avenue (no, not that one) crosses your path and Los Feliz Village is just four short blocks to the east, so you can get your pie on, read a book, or have some mediocre Indian or diner food, among other things in this neighborhood. Look out for those hipsters though, you might run over one, lol.

E-Ho Le!

Further down is Hollywood Blvd. and one can pedal up the hill to Barnsdall Art Park and catch a gallery exhibit or just enjoy the view of Hollywood and the Westside. Hungry? You're in the right place. This is East Hollywood after all, so some great Armenian and Thai restaurants can be found just to the west along The Boulevard.

Next is Sunset Blvd. Though the Militant promotes bike safety at all times, if, heaven forbid, you do get into an accident here, you're in the best place. Three major medical centers are nearby. The Vermont/Sunset Red Line station is just blocks away as well.

Heading down Edgemont, you're only a couple blocks from the expensive-but-tasty Square One Dining. Next is a quiet street named Lexington Avenue. Don't tell anyone, but if you head east on this road and make a left on Bates Avenue, you'll find a nice, quiet, bike-friendly path that leads you directly into the Sunset Blvd Bike Lane which takes you to Silver_Lake, Echo Park and Downtown.

At Santa Monica Blvd, you're in the heart of Little Armenia. The Zagat-rated Marouch restaurant is here, as well as some great Armenian markets and bakeries. There's also some central American restaurants and bakeries nearby as well, and the Vermont/Santa Monica (M) station, along with the legendary 24-hour El Gran Burrito are just a few blocks to the east. And if you gotta go, there's a Metro Toilet right on the corner (it might be operational now...)

Heading down Edgemont, one can head west one block and get onto Heliotrope Drive at any of the cross streets. Los Angeles City College is here, and down at the corner by Melrose Ave. is the hip and hot corner of Hel-Mel, where one can get the latest Scoop, drink a pint or eat some vegan chow, buy a bike or get one fixed. And there's tons of bike parking horseshoes on the sidewalk as well. There's also an art gallery and a live theatre nearby. And if you got invited to a quinceaƱera in the area, chances are it's right here...in a Ukrainian Cultural Center.

Gettin' Down in Koreatown

Past the 101, as the houses give way to denser apartment complexes and multi-family dwellings, right at Rosewood is the community garden where the Militant once wrote about his professed crack addition. Head left on Oakwood where you'll encounter a slight hill and jog right on New Hampshire. At Beverly is another subway station, plus a certain eatery that's abuzz with Filipino fast food. Biking down this corridor at around midnight, he discovered that not every business is closed this time of night (pictured left) as a towing company takes care of scofflaw automobiles for the night (and maybe not coincidentally, just minutes after taking this picture, a white Parking Enforcement car rolls by - of no concern to the Militant at the moment, of course).

South of Beverly, the street, along with others parallel to it in this section of town, is lined with towering Mexican fan palm trees. This corridor is a quiet, welcome hush just a block away from the bright lights and heavy multi-vehicular traffic of Vermont. At 1st Street is a bright yellow schoolhouse where the Militant had coffee with his congressman a few months ago. After 1st street is 2nd and 3rd street (duh), and after that is the popular 4th Street Bicycle Boulevard
(but how can a "street" be a "boulevard," the Militant asks?) which takes cyclists all the way west in a similar uninterrupted fashion to Park La Brea.

At 6th Street, lots of Korean cafes, soju bars and even an iced dessert quest stop can be found within just a few blocks. And yes, you can has frozen yogurt near here as well.

Bustling Wilshire Blvd, even at this time of night, shines bright, with the former Bullocks Wilshire building looming like a proud beacon just a few blocks east. There's a Red/Purple Line station to the next block as well as a well-publicized big-ass transit oriented development right above it. Not far is a couple of pirate-themed bars like the Viking and the Crazy Hook, and there's even a movie theater at New Hampshire and Vermont showing both mainstream American as well as Korean flicks (pictured right). Even one of the 2008 presidential hopefuls has set up his Los Angeles campaign office just a couple blocks away.

Past Wilshire, New Hampshire becomes somewhat dark and spooky, with a brief jog at San Marino Street. But the lights return once Olympic is in view and a stop sign at the intersection signals the end of the party, where cyclists are forced to stop here and either wait for traffic to pass or venture east or west along Olympic. But at least here one can try the best Dol Sot Bibimbap in town or get their 24-hour Korean food on just around the corner or find the electronics parts that Radio Shack lacks these days without going to the Valley.

Damn, this is one long post. According to the maps, this stretch of New Hampshire goes all the way down to Washington Blvd, but that'll have to wait for another Militant adventure. Must...click on..."Publish Post"...now...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Night Rider, The Sequel

Yes, the Militant is up to his adventures again. Yes, it's another bike ride. Yes, the Militant remembered to bring his Militant cam. Yes, there's pictures this time.

The Militant took another 15-mile round trip ride from his compound to the Mid-City area and back. This time in the name of expediency, and to thwart those who might be staking out the previous week's route in hope of accosting and possibly unmasking the Militant, yours truly took an slightly different route, this time through an unspecified major thoroughfare, then down Western Avenue, west along Wilshire and down Crenshaw Blvd to Adams and then west for an unspecified distance. This time, it took about 40 minutes - not too shabby.

Before leaving his destination later on, people there still offered to give him a lift:

Person 1: Are you sure you don't want a ride?

The Militant: That's cool. But it would defeat the purpose of biking.

Person 1: Well you be careful out there!

The Militant: Hey, The Militant did it last week and you're still talking to him today!

Person 2: Well you sounded like you had a lot of fun on the ride over here!

The Militant: Uh-huh.

Person 1: Uh, [NAME WITHHELD] why do you keep referring to yourself as "The Militant?"

The Militant: Oh, um, uh, did the M...uh, did I...uh, was that what you heard? Oh um, no, what was said was, "The Milton!" As in Milton Bradley! Yeah, they make lots of great board games, ehh, heh heh heh (nervous laughter trailing off as Person 1 has a perplexed look on her face).

At any rate, the Militant was into some exploring on the ride back to his compound so he followed the advice of a certain two-wheeled blogger who recommended to the Militant last week that he use Redondo Blvd as a bike-friendly north-south route. The Militant wanted to try it out himself and was pleased. Light traffic, and a mix of traffic lights, 4-way stop intersections or 2-way stop intersections in the road's favor. The route was mostly flat save for a slight, but totally navigable incline north of Pico.

Speaking of Pico, the Militant also noticed a Jamaican restaurant and a reggae record shop near that intersection, which might be a likely candidate for a future Militant adventure, as well as the overall morphing of the socioeconomic from lower-income south with its duplexes, apartments and auto body/tire shops to upscale north with its abundance of tree cover and presence of Mediterranean-style houses. And Pico Blvd seemed to be more or less the dividing line here.

Redondo ended near the intersection of La Brea and Olympic, which took the Militant past of his workplaces on to Wilshire Blvd, where he veered east through Brookside/Hancock Park/Wilshire Park and on to K-Town, where he saw throngs of people pour out of the now-naming rights-free Wiltern Theatre (pictured right) who caught the Motion City Soundtrack concert there.

The Militant was supposed to head north on Western but, enjoying the ride and the urban amenities of Wilshire, decided to alter his route a bit.

When the Militant started on his trip back from Mid-City, he was shivering in the cold night air and hastily pedaled just so he can generate enough body heat to keep himself warm. But now on Wilshire, he somehow realized the cold air was suddenly gone and felt as warm as it was when he initially left the compound. Perhaps it was the whole urban heat island effect going on.

The Militant finally arrived at the compound nearly an hour after he left, but unlike the usual 25-minute car trip that he usually takes to and from Mid-City, he felt a sense of relieved accomplishment, not unlike scaling a mountain that can be ascended by other means. Why? Because it's (the route) is there.

Some other pics:

Attention all you fro-yo fans! Guess what's coming to Wilshire Blvd!
(Wilshire near Mansfield Ave at the Avalon Wilshire mixed-use condoplex)

See? This is the kind of crap we gotta deal with all the time.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Dog Day Afternoon in December

It's December now?

How time flies. Of course, this is a Southern California December and Monday's high was in the low 80s, so the Militant decided to walk his K-9 unit around the area on Monday afternoon and having been in a park-advocating mood in the past week, decided to visit one of the few parks within a 2-mile radius of his compound - Barnsdall Art Park.

Not only was this the first time he took his K-9 unit to the park, but this was the first time in a long-ass time the Militant visited the park for the specific purpose of enjoying it as a park. Sure he went there over the past few months to cover a Thai cultural festival, to try to understand the purpose and theme of the Swerve Festival and may or may nor have voted for his operatives at a recent neighborhood council election which took place there several weeks ago. But this time he just went there for no particular reason other than enjoying the park.

He took his K-9 unit on a long climb up the stairs in the park's southern entrance and even further up to the top of Olive Hill, where they went to the park's west-facing Great Lawn which afforded a killer view of the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory to the north (pictured above -- pic is a file photo taken in September - lest you notice the absence of the currently-yellow hydromulched areas in thar hills - as the Militant neglected to take along the Militant Cam this time around).

The Great Lawn, whose renovation was completed this past Summer, furnished the neighborhood-jewel and Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Hollyhock House with a drought-resistant native plants (the Militant doesn't just give the native homo sapiens a voice, but the native flora as well) and a water-saving smart irrigation system for the green grassy area.

On the lawn, the Militant's K-9 unit ended up trying to socialize with another person's bulldog mix (of the opposite sex), with the two human leash-handlers exchanging humorous and sometimes apologetic comments regarding canine behavior as their respective pawed ones growled and barked at each other. The Militant's K-9 unit isn't the most sociable dawg, so the Militant tries his best to acclimate it to (dog) society. It doesn't always work though.

The Militant even tried to calm the K-9 unit down as it continued to bark and pull on the leash as the Militant looked west, covering the almost-setting sun with his hand, and enjoying the unobstructed view of the Baldwin Hills and the silhouetted Century City-Westwood skyline. He could even see the whitish glow of the marine layer looming in the distance where the ocean would be. And the first thing going on in the Militant's mind was, "This is going in the blog."

The Militant took the K-9 unit elsewhere in the park, especially to the art park's main gallery which was sporting an exhibit which runs until the end of the month. Naturally, the Militant's first inclination would be to cover it, but not only would he worry about where to park the K-9 unit, or remind himself that he forgot to bring the Militant cam again, but the gallery was closed for the day. But the Militant shall return.

In today's 21st century urbia, our lives get too busy with responsibilities and purpose, sometimes it's worth it to take a "stop and smell the roses" kind of moment with even a familiar area institution, to see it from another perspective. Maybe that's why this city never gets dull or boring for the Militant.