Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Take A Ride On The Trus!

Many transit proponents want more trains. Other transit proponents want more buses. So...why not...both? This contraption from the Land of the Rising Sun, called a DMV (Dual Mode Vehicle) operates like a conventional bus on the streets, but rolls on a rail guideway like a train, LRV or streetcar. This form of technology is not new, and even exists in this country today as a Hi-Rail Vehicle, usually in the form of a pickup truck with railroad-compatible wheels used as a maintenance vehicle for the railroads. So can you picture this thing rolling on the streets (and tracks) of Los Angeles? This "DMV" thing may or may not be the future, as long as they eventually make them much less butt-ugly.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

AND NOW...HERE'S YOUR LOS ANGELES DODGERS...uh...Bike Parking Smoking Section

Wanting to see the major league debut of this particular rookie, the Militant decided to head on over to The Stadium on Sunday, inspired by this blogger who recently made his first two-wheeled foray to the game, who was in turn inspired by yours truly, who may or may not have been the first person evar to lock their bike onto the Dodger Stadium bike rack.

The ride to the compound was a steady half-hour, and the Militant got no heat from the Standard Parking drones who have in the past told him to dismount. After buying his game day tickets at an unspecified Reserve Level ticket window, he carried his bike up the stairs to the Lot P bike rack, ready to make his first regular season lock-up to the aluminum apparatus.

Imagine the Militant's surprise when he discovered that not only was it fenced off from accessible entry (the Militant had to DIY his way in, lifting off part of the steel crowd barrier to enter), but the entire damn bike parking area had been turned into the SMOKING SECTION (pictured above). Double-u Tee Eff?!?!?

Unlike previous reports on the bike rack, the Militant may or may not have been the only bicycle locked onto it today, which may or may not have prevented him from taking a photo of it. But the Militant was pissed nonetheless, but had to quickly check his pissitude at the door to give way to Kershaw time.

Lasting 6 innings and getting a no-decision, the kid threw seven strikeouts and hardly threw anything below 92 mph. His left arm is hot stuff indeed, though he still needs to develop some more fielding smarts, like the moment at the top of the 1st when he failed to notice the Cardinals' Albert Pujols attempt to steal third. Nonehteless, the Militant got to see Kershaw's first-ever major league strikeout:

...right before he gave up his first major league run.

Speaking of big league firsts, fresh-from-the-minors 2nd Baseman Luis Maza, filling in for Jeff Kent, knocked his first MLBomb into the left field pavilion and got the "Kernkraft 400" treatment as well as the roar of the crowd.

In a 10-inning game of catch-up with the redbirds, The Militant and 46,565 others were finally treated to two innings of Saito action and Andre Ethier's walk-off RBI in the bottom of the 10th, giving the Dodgers a 4-3 win. Cue the Randy Newman!

With the Smoking Section barrier finally gone, the Militant got from Lot P to the Stadium Way gate in 1:59 and back to the compound in 35 minutes. With the money he saved on not having to pay parking, he used it on overpriced, slowly-served Stadium food.

Additional images from the Militant Cam:

Man of the Hour: Kid Kershaw and Russell Martin get ready for the game.

AT&Tree: Can you spot the cell phone tower disgused as a palm?

L3337: Dodgers Terry Tiffee, Blake DeWitt and James Loney in the dugout.

Can't Handle Anymore: With seven of them contributed by Clayton Kershaw alone, the CPK Strikeout Meter gets maxed out.

PRICELESS: None other than Mr. Andre Ethier himself raises his fist to the Militant!!!

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Militant Shopped At HK...Today Was A Good Day

You know it's a slow blogging pre-MemDay weekend Friday when the Militant's topic is something as mundane as grocery shopping. But it doesn't matter, most of you probably won't get to read this until Tuesday, and no one seemed to be interested in the last two posts anyway, and only now has the local blogosphere started to notice a post the Militant wrote over a week ago. Bleah, you people...

...Where was the Militant? Ah yes, grocery shopping. Anyhu, the Militant decided to go pedal on down Oxford Avenue to K-Town and into one of his favorite Korean markets right at 1st and Western, HK Super Market (an acronym which, if it were located in the SGV would stand for something else, but in this case, it stands for "Han Kook" (Han-guk) which in Korean is the commonly-used nickname for the Republic of South Korea, and is probably the main reason why Korean immigrants in the late '60s decided to build their community more or less where it is today - in close proximity to Hancock Park (betcha LAist wasn't even aware of that)).

As the Militant locked up his bike, he saw a Latino grocery store employee playfully converse with a departing female Korean customer in her native language. If that doesn't exemplify Koreatown, the Militant doesn't know what does.

The Militant took along, and for the very first time, his freebie Belmont Station reusable grocery bag he got at a nearby event about a month ago and bought some strawberries and cherries (which cost way less here than in some other markets). But there was something here which the Militant totally dug - FREE SAMPLES!

Bookending some of the aisles there were salesladies giving away free samples (pictured right) of tofu soup, udon, soba, sushi, plum juice and many other food items co-opted from Japan. Some of them insisted on speaking Korean to the Militant (which he may or may not be, in whole or in part). Of course it's a marketing ploy, a tasty, delicious marketing ploy. So the Militant bought a soba noodle "kit" and a package of laver (seasoned dried seaweed). Sold!

When the Militant went to the checkout counter, he didn't know what to expect. The grocery bag dude was reaching for the plastic bags and the Militant was expecting a "WTF?" look from him. It was now or never...But as soon as the Militant reached for the big green reusable bag, the grocery bag dude held out his hand, received the reusable and nonchalantly loaded it up with the Militant's purchases. The future is now, folks.

The Militant rode back to the compound, but the weighty bag, slung through his shoulder as he was pedaling, was a tad bit awkward, as his leg brushed against the bad on every up-pedal. The Militant sees a lucrative future for anyone who designs and markets a reusable grocery bag with backpack straps...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Other Los Angeles Bike Culture

With Wednesday evening's Santa Ana windstorm making it too dusty ride his bicycle, the Militant took a drive along Santa Monica Blvd and unexpectedly saw them -- quickly filling up the strip mall at Van Ness Ave, the one that unceremoniously fronts the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. They came in packs of a dozen or so, a long string of white headlights streaking into the otherwise empty parking lot, engines roaring like thunder in ascending pitches, loud enough to rattle the bones of the deceased buried in the grounds behind the stores.

For they are motorcycles and tonight is Wednesday night -- Hollywood Bikenight. Welcome to Los Angeles' other bike culture.

Lest you picture tubby, hairy, Hells Angelenos decked in leather jackets and riding Harleys, this is specifically the sportbike culture. Virtually every motorbike is of Japanese manfacture -- Hondas, Suzukis, Kawaskis, Yamahas -- and the hipster-free crowd of some 200-plus, though predominantly 20s-40s males, reflects the same racial demographics as Los Angeles itself: majority Latino, with sizable white, black and Asian representation. Though a seemingly intimidating scene to on-lookers, this is strictly an amicable, social gathering of sportbike enthusiasts, where solo bikers and crews converge to form a weekly community.

"They just come out here to hang, to check out each other's gear, share tips, that's all. Many of them just roll with their crews," said one sport biker, unaffiliated with a crew and relatively new to the scene as he stood next to his 6-month-old lightning-blue Kawasaki. "Most of them here are from the [HollywoodBikenight.com] forums."

The Hollywood Bikenight tradition actually started in front of a Canoga Park Starbucks by half a dozen sportbikers in late 1999 as a weekly hang, which turned into a group dinner ride to Hollywood or Santa Monica via Mulholland Drive or the Sepulveda Pass. The group grew exponentially in size via word-of-mouth just months later and became known as the SFV Bikenight. By 2001 the event grew large enough to take over the Carney's Hot Dog stand parking lot on the Sunset Strip, and the creation of a website for the event brought even more sportbikers to the fray, eventually being given the boot by the Sheriff's Department for loitering. The event became legit with a partnership with Impact Motorsports Promotions, who brought more structure as well as marketing to the Wednesday night ritual.

By summer 2003 the promoters struck a partnership with Fatburger and moved their gathering spot to the burger stand's East Hollywood location by Vermont and Hollywood. But the event's popularity with nearly 400 motorcycles and nearly as many friends and spectators got them kicked out within a year later and SFV Bikenight, eventually renamed Hollywood Bikenight in 2006, settled into various locations in the Hollywood area. The current Santa Monica and Van Ness location has been the Hollywood Bikenight spot since 2007.

Unlike the bike events that the Militant is typically used to, there's no singular mass ride where the roaring engines all head to (that, and all the *cough* exhaust -- eco-friendly this is definitely not). The sportbikes started to arrive at around 9:30 p.m. and by 11:30, many of the crews rode off into their own trips, usually around Hollywood or on to the Valley, sometimes with unaffiliated bikers joining in.

Even after the Militant arrived at his compound, the sportbikers' presence was felt even there, as the growling chorus of motorcycle engines was easily heard in the distance.

It's just another Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

May Or May Not - A Month Of Militancy, Part 3: Drive Like The Militant!

Throughout the Militant Angeleno's 11-month blog journey, he's put an extremely disproportionate amount of subject matter on riding his bicycle, leading many, especially those in the bike community, to assume he's another "bike blogger." Well, kinda sorta. Again, the Militant reiterates that he is not necessarily pro-bike or anti-car, he uses and celebrates all modes of transport (though he's yet to take to horseback, maybe the LA Cowboy can led some pointers). So this time around, the Militant will share with you his driving tips and techniques.

1. Drive Less - Well duh. It's the latest craze sweeping the nation! So what's the point of driving less when you own a car? Simple economics. You'll spend less money on gas and maintenance (due to less wear-and tear on your car both inside and out). Driving less also decreases the likelihood of you getting in an accident which in turn potentially lowers your insurance costs. And when you do drive, and hopefully not when everyone else is, your driving experience will be less chore and more of the recreational pleasure it was originally meant to be. Be like the Militant and take advantage of every mode of transportation available to you: walking, bicycle, bus, train, razor scooter, rollerblade, skateboard, Segway, pogo stick, whatever. Map out where you live and set a radius on how far you should walk, or take transit or use other modes. Beyond that distance, only then would driving would be allowed. Since the Militant adopted this system, he now only fills his tank every 2-3 weeks.

2. Drive Only During Longer Trips - The Militant has a 10-mile rule: The car, as much as possible, is to be used only for trips exceeding 10 miles. The internal combustion engine is most effective when going for long, uninterrupted trips, and not when you constantly make cold stops and starts, which is why you use up way more gas when making 285 miles of trips around town than heading straight to Vegas (but not on a Friday evening when the 15 is just as congested).

3. Cheap Gas? It May Not Or May Be Worth It - That $2.49 gas out in La Freaking Habra that you heard about on KFWB sounds awfully tempting. But is the drive from Hollywood really worth it? You're gonna waste more gas getting there than recouping your savings. The Militant advises you to fuel up at the cheapest gas station within a 2-mile radius of your home or workplace, as you're really not gonna save anything in the end.

4. Zen and The Art of Road Rage - When someone waves to you on the road with 1/5th of their hand, IGNORE THEM! They do that to illicit a reaction from you, usually to get you just as pissed off as they are. So even if you find yourself getting flipped off, avoid eye contact, and even pretend you never saw them. Seriously. Because you don't know them, they don't know you, and it's probably ideal to keep the relationship that way. Because if this escalates into a honking match to a shouting match to "I'm pulling over and getting out of my car and kicking your ass" match or even an accident, you really don't wanna have to see that person again, especially in a courtroom setting. Ignoring someone is worse than openly expressing your dislike towards them -- you are refusing to acknowledge their existence, hence not being worth your while, which makes all their effort into displeasing you a total waste of time. Ignoring people WORKS. After all, the mainstream media does it to non-black minorities all the time.

5. DE-FENSE! (clap, clap) DE-FENSE! (clap, clap) DE-FENSE! (clap, clap) - ALWAYS DRIVE DEFENSIVELY and check your ego at the door. If some cartard insists on getting the right-of-way even though they aren't legally entitled to it. Stop or get out of their way. Again, you really don't want to get to know this person (see above). Treat those kinds of drivers like inanimate objects. If a boulder rolls down on the road in front of you, are you gonna honk your horn at it, roll down your window and drop verbal f-bombs at it and drive towards it, hoping it'll keep rolling out of your way? It's a f-ing boulder. You notice it, react and swerve out of its way, and continue on with your day. Don't let any fools on the road bring down your day.

6. There Is A Season, Turn, Turn, Turn Signals - Once you've decided you want to change lanes, use them. You'll get better value out of your car. After all, your car was built with the assumption that you'd actually use it.

7. Combine Those Trips - If you live in Echo Park, and suddenly decided you want to go to Fry's in Burbank on a Friday night to pick up that limit-one-per-customer widescreen 24" Samsung LED monitor you've been pining for, and then have to visit your sister in North Hollywood on Saturday, um...why not move one activity over and do both on the same trip? You'll save on time, money, hassle and gas. Zipping back and forth around town not only wastes the aforementioned time and gas, but then you're just another fool taking up needless space on the road.

8. Very Be Carpool - It's okay to drive if every seat in your car is full, because you're using your vehicle to its designed capacity. Driving solo in a minivan or a gas-guzzling SUV? Stupid. If you live in Koreatown and your friend in Irvine is having a party at the Dave & Busters out there, and your other friends in North Hollywood, Silver_Lake and Boyle Heights are going to the same party...then you should all get together, meet at one of your houses and roll down together. Again, saves money, saves gas and takes cars off the damn road.

9. American Idle - The Militant did get to carpool with a nearby operative recently on a day trip to San Diego. The Militant suggested the fastest way to SD, as he always does, was to get on the 60 East and take the 15 south - the destination was near the 15 and the 8 in SD anyway. He decided not to, citing that it's gonna use up more gas to get out there, so the operative opted to take the 5 straight down. On a Saturday. So there we were, hitting Los Angeles traffic, hitting the Commerce-to-Cerritos traffic, hitting south Orange County traffic, hitting North SD County traffic. The trip took 3 1/2 hours (Los Angeles to SD via the 15 takes 2 - 2 1/2 hours guaranteed). Moral to the story, you're gonna waste more gas idling in traffic than taking a longer, but faster route.

10. Know Thy Shortcuts! - The Militant's system of local shortcuts, like his identity, is a closely-guarded secret, so he ain't gonna give them away. But if you read this entry, you could easily find The Road Less Traveled for your commutes and find your away around town in a more efficient manner. Most fools stuck on the freeways don't really know this City very well, and only stick to the route familiar to them. So any Militant driver knows that the best way between Downtown and the Valley during Friday evening rush hour is to take the [classified information] to the [classified information], make a left at [classified information] and take [classified information] all the way into Burbank.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Playing Catch-Up: I Get Around

Sometimes life just goes way too fast for the Militant to log in and post. He needs to sign up for that Militant training course where one can blog faster than the speed of sound. Until then, here's a few glimpses from the past few days:

Sunday, May 18:

Hundreds of Angelenos got their salsa on at the Cuban Music Festival in Echo Park, dance floor and all. Like wow! The music was great, the food was kickin' (the long wait for a plate from the Sabor y Son Express booth was well worth it) and he even spotted a few operatives, both expected and unexpected, at the fest.

Looks like the Militant also got himself a new desktop background in the process as well.

The weather was hot that day, and so are bikes it seems. While riding back to the compound along the Sunset Blvd. Bike Lane, he noticed this van parked on Sunset Blvd. right on the Silver_Lake - Echo Park border which sells used bikes and does bicycle repair.

Later that evening, the Militant decided to follow the example of these folks and ride his bike down the 405 in the Sepulveda Pass into the Valley. No, no, no, just kidding. He was in his car. He does dig the view of the Valley from the Pass though.

While traveling westbound on Victory Blvd. at Woodley Ave. in Van Nuys/Lake Balboa, something was up by the Woodley Orange Line station and the Sepulveda Dam recreation area with lane cones, LAPD squad cars, Parking Enforcement vehicles and whatnot.

Monday, May 19:

Holy Jacarandas, Batman! The Militant saw this biking up Westmoreland Ave. north of Pico. They say Pico-Union is one of Los Angeles' ugliest-looking communities. O RLY?

Tuesday, May 20:

In Hollywood, Capitol Records unveils its latest wrap act. Actually the banner on the iconic building's crown reads, "Welcome Home Brian Wilson!" celebrating the former Beach Boy's upcoming album to be released on his old label in September. Proving once and for all, that what comes around, gets around round round I get around.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cool Stuff For A Hot Weekend

Want to know what to do this weekend (or what's left of it, at least) besides melt? Let the Militant tell ya...

1. Cuban Music Festival, Echo Park - The 2008 Presencia Cubana en Los Angeles is a free fiesta of Cuban music, food and fun right by the lake in Echo Park Park, which is also home to Plaza de Jose Marti, dedicated in honor of the 19th century Cuban national hero. Echo Park, as well as today's nearby Historic Filipinotown, once comprised the heart of Los Angeles' Cuban community (before they all went suburban after the 1970s). The festival celebrates Cuba's independence from Spain on May 20, 1902. The festival happens Sunday, May 18 from 12 to 7 p.m.

2. California Strawberry Festival, Oxnard - Oxnaaaaaard?!?! Well, it's still SoCal. If you dig strawberries, this is the place, though from past experience going to the fest he had to contend with the dusty parking lot and kinda overpriced stuff. But there's strawberry-topped funnel cakes, strawberry ice cream, strawberry beer, anything strawberry-related can be found there. One tip, though, don't bother buying the big boxes of berries on the festival grounds, which are by Oxnard College. You can find better deals on the roads leading to the festival. If filling your gas tank and parking in a dusty lot aren't your thing, you can always take Amtrak there (kids ride free), which runs a free shuttle to the festival grounds. That dusty parking lot is of rather limited capacity, so they also encourage off-site parking and provide shuttle bus access to the fest. The fest runs Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Admission is $5-$12.

3. Staying put? Try a nice cool ethnic iced dessert. The Militant will continue this quest soon!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

May Or May Not - A Month Of Militancy, Part 2: F/Buck The Stereotypes!

You've heard them all before. And maybe you may or may not have spouted some yourself (shame on you). But hearing all the lame cliche preprogrammed stereotypes about this great city is one of the realities of being an Angeleno. Fortunately, one of the realities of being a Militant Angeleno is knowing how to debunk them. So in this second (yes, the Militant has been behind again, but think of this as ten posts in one!) installment of May or May Not - A Month of Militancy, the Militant presents, in no particular order, the most commonly-heard Los Angeles stereotypes and his responses to them, so you can prepare yourself for delivering some serious pwnage to the next whiny transy you encounter.

Yes, nobody in Los Angeles takes transit. Every one of those people were Photoshopped in. Yeah, Uh-huh.

1. "Nobody takes transit in L.A./This is L.A., everybody drives a car." Sarcasm aside, that was an actual photo above of the Red Line at Union Station. Shouldn't it be empty or something? If nobody takes transit, then why do these people (however misguided) gripe about overcrowded buses? Yes, this is "L.A.," but even more importantly, this is the 21st century. Gas is currently around $4, and according to a recent Cars.com survey, 66% of drivers are driving less these days. Is our transit system perfect? Of course not. But it's not gonna get any better if you discourage people from taking it. The Militant supports all modes of transit, and isn't necessarily anti-car. Driving a car is meant to be fun. But it's not fun when you're stuck in traffic. So a real Militant Angeleno only drives when the conditions are present where it's less hectic.

2. "L.A. is sooooo spread out." The Militant swears that most transplants are not actually humans but robots; because they come equipped with pre-recorded voice playback systems that seemingly repeat that phrase on cue. Perhaps they come here to assimilate Angelenos into their Borg or are part of the robotic insurrection that John Connor (a native Angeleno, after all) must defeat. The large size of the region can't be argued, but why the loaded "spread out" instead of simply, "large" and "grand?" Nobody ever says the United States of America is "sooooo spread out." Nobody ever says the state of Texas is "sooooo spread out." But they are. So why does only Los Angeles get this negative distinction? Well all the Militant will have to say is that people fear the unknown and dislike what they fear. They like to point out its spreadoutedness as if it's the way Angelenos originally planned it. But in reality, it's people originally from the East Coast who designed Los Angeles the way it is.

Los Angeles started as a tiny pueblo along a river by Spanish pobladores in September 1781. For more than 100 years it remained a tiny pueblo, and even until as recently as the turn of the 20th century it was just a little 25-square mile patch centered where Downtown is today (denoted by the yellow square in the map). Who made it spread out? People like Phineas Banning from Wilmington, DE, who built a railroad from Downtown to San Pedro and created a harbor (the harbor was supposed to be much closer in Santa Monica, but Banning, in his spreadouted wisdom wanted it over 20 miles south). Or Henry Huntington from Oneonta, NY, who acquired, developed and sold land all around Southern California and built his own electric railway to connect everything together. Come to think of it, lots of people rode around in that thing back in the day, which was larger than the NYC subway system, and Southern California was waaaay less dense than it is today. Take that.

3. "L.A. will never be a bicycling city." Yes, the Militant knows what today is. But he isn't celebrating it with any special fanfare since, well nearly every day is BTWD. But seriously now, have you noticed the increased number of bikes on the road? And why are things like this and this suddenly getting attention lately? Hmmm? Even more important, Los Angeles has more or less a grid system of generally wide-enough roads, relatively flat terrain (who wants to bike in Frisco with all those hills?) and FAVORABLE WEATHER (which is the reason why most of you fools are here in the first place). Things like ignorant drivers can always be mitigated. Besides, around a hundred years ago, long before we had freeways for automobiles, they built this thing just for bicycles - the first of its kind anywhere - in what is now NELA.

4. "L.A. food sucks. You can never find a decent ______ out here!" Oh, poor you. You came "out here" to be famous/work in the industry. You came "out here" because you like the weather. But gasp! The food isn't to your liking! So the whole place sucks now! Oh the horror!
Now if that were a real whiny transy speaking to the Militant, the bitch-slapping would commence right about now. But this is only a re-enactment. Okay, so transplants come here and expect everything to be in its proper place, and in their little idyllic, myopic world, life has the best of "out here" and the best of "back home," and you never have to work hard, be concerned or worry about anything ever. Yeah. Okay. So the best pizzeria in town, despite their efforts to be authentically NY/East Coast, still does not pass muster. Well there's a scientific reason for that. Social scientists have hypothesized that food is intrinsically linked with nostalgic emotions. In Deborah Lupton's book Food, the Body and the Self, she writes:

"Commodities such as food act as "storehouses" for meaning, serving as reminders of events in one's personal past. Personal nostalgia sacralizes commonplace food items whose consumption revives memories of good times. Personal nostalgia may be defined as a kind of homesickness, a sense of loss, a rosy memory of childhood as warm and secure. It involves a bittersweet longing for home."

So there you go. A decent slice of NY pizza isn't necessarily Los Angeles' weakness, it's a mere security blankie for the thumb-sucking transplant. So in reality, it's not that Los Angeles is in need of better pizza, but that these people really just need to see a shrink.

And yes, the same gastronostalgic emotions overcome many immigrants as well. But unlike transplants, they actually get off their asses and learn how to make the damn food themselves.

5. "There's no places to eat past 10 p.m. out here." Where the f do you live? Orange County? That's just as Los Angeles as southwestern Connecticut is to NYC. Same region, not the same lifestyle. Aside from the expected, try Thai Town or Koreatown, where most establishments are open until 4 a.m. or 24 hours. And if you're too lame for ethnic food, the Militant spotted one place on Cahuenga in Hollywood opening soon (pictured right).

6. "L.A. people are self-centered, fake and superficial." If Angelenos were really that self-centered, fake and superficial, then why are there, according to volunteermatch.org, at least 2,300 (there are much more in actuality) 501(c)3 non-profit organizations in the Los Angeles area whose collective missions are to serve various issue-, geographic-, faith-, ethnic- and needs-specific communities? And to help fulfill their missions with volunteers -- you know, people who do stuff for free? Doesn't sound characteristic of a land fraught with superficiality. Maybe people who say that just need to meet people in another part of town, or learn to actually learn to actually interact with people outside of their limited social sphere (which may actually include the self-centered, fake and superficial, but is in no means representative of the populace at large). You are what you know, and if all you know are self-centered, fake and superficial people, then maybe that self-centered, fake and superficial Angeleno is looking at you right in the mirror.

7. "People from L.A. don't know how to drive in the rain." Already covered it.

8. "L.A. is a one-industry town." Um, according to this site, these are the largest industries in Los Angeles, in order of employment:
  1. Direct international trade
  2. Tourism
  3. Technology, including aerospace
  4. Motion picture/TV production
  5. Business and professional services
  6. Wholesale trade (excluding autos, apparel)
  7. Health sciences/biomedicine
So gee, why is "our one industry" ranked #4?

9. "Everybody out here is from somewhere else." People who say that probably never read this here blog. One of the largest industries, listed above, is the health-related industry, which means we have a bunch of, you know, hospitals? And people are born in hospitals...so therefore, all these babies born in local hospitals are, you know, born in Los Angeles. Imagine that. Aside from yours truly, here's a list of other people you might have heard of who are actually from here.

10. "L.A. has no history." The Militant addresses this at length about every four posts, so no need to revisit that. But this page (select "Photo Collection" in the pulldown menu on top, and search at your heart's delight) will prove all the lackshistorytards wrong. So very wrong.

Oh there's more, and the Militant may or may not write an entire book debunking every stereotype about Los Angeles (hmmm...not a bad idea). But since the Militant's been lacking on posts lately, this'll do for now. Stay armed and stay Militant!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Militant Activities This Weekend!

Coverage of large public events usually make up the bulk of posts on this here blog, but many of you have griped to the Militant, going, "Yo Militant, I dug the article on the event this past weekend, but how come you don't announce it in advance?" Okay, just a few of you. Alright, it's just the Militant wondering about this since he is his own worst critic.

Anyway, one of the reasons is to maintain the Militant's anonymity by reducing the chances of him being found in public. But then, these are large public events, in excess of a thousand people, so finding out who the Militant is would be like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.

As you may or may not know, the month of May Or May Not is the Month of Militancy! So here's a trifecta of events where the Militant may or may not attend...but you definitely should!

Friday, May Or May Not 9 - Midnight Ridazz: The 'Jedi Mind Trick' Ride: The Militant used to live for MR, but riding around with a bunch of drunk hipsters on their brakeless, fixed wheel velocycles got old and the Militant found solace in the more cerebral, more manageably-sized Ride-Arc rides. But still, like it or not, the Militant is a part of this bicycling community and among the annoying types he does spot some of his operatives as well as some unexpected familiar faces. Besides, it's a Star Wars theme and the Militant may or may not whip out his Boba Fett costume for the ride. The ride meets at 9:30 p.m. at Olvera Street and begins around 10-ish. Take the (M) Red, Purple or Gold lines there (Union Station), or just ride. May The Forks Be With You.

Saturday, May Or May Not 10 - National Train Day Los Angeles: The National Rail Passenger Corporation, otherwise known as Amtrak, has dubbed May 10 as "National Train Day" to commemorate the May Or May Not 10, 1869 anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad at Promontory Point, Utah and to drum up support for rail travel nationwide (not hard to do as gas has reached $4 a gallon and American rail travel has already increased 15% in 2007). Locally, the celebration will take place at the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, otherwise known as Union Station. The celebration includes life-size and model train exhibits, contests, booths, kids activities and everything else to satisfy your inner rail geek. Amtrak will also offer 25% off of train travel to its California destinations that day, which is cool, but would prevent one from enjoying the events of the day as well. Oh well, you might be able to ride Amtrak or Metrolink to the other NTD celebrations that day at the Anaheim, Irvine, Santa Ana, San Juan Capistrano and Van Nuys stations. Take the (M) Red, Purple or Gold lines (Union Station, duh!). All aboard!

Friday-Sunday, May Or May Not 9-12 - The City of Compton's 120th Anniversary Celebration: The Hub City is celebrating its 120th birthday with a big bash at its city hall (pictured above). Music entertainment includes Lowrider (featuring original members of the classic Angeleno band WAR), Confunckshun, Mikki Howard and Tierra. Food, games and fun for the whole family will be offered. The event concludes with a fireworks display on Sunday night. And the event is FREE (well you might have to pay for summa dat food and games and rides and such). Now, the Militant already knows what you're whinin': "Ack!!! I'm not going to Compton! It's sooooo dangerous! Gang members will open fire on me right away and the homeless will eat my bullet-riddled carcass before it falls to the crackpipe-littered ground!" Oh, puh-lease. As someone who's actually been there, Compton's a very different place than what you may or may not have heard on news reports or rap tunes. And the Compton Civic Center area is really no different than any other smaller city center in Southern California. In fact, the city that gave birth to Duke Snider and Venus and Serena Williams is rapidly shedding its gangsta image (more on this later). Seriously, check it out. Take the (M) Blue Line there (Compton Station); City Hall is right across the tracks.

Have a Militant weekend, folks!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Militant's Emo Ride

The Militant, who has been rather upset at an unspecified person in his life (or at least someone he wants in his life [WARNING: TMI ALERT! CEASE AT ONCE!]) decided to handle this situation the only way a Militant can...

...with a bike ride.

Besides, he also wanted to test out his brand-new, like totally bright LED headlight, which replaced the one that got stolen recently.

So the Militant Angel-emo, pouting and pedaling, set out on the streets of Los Angeles on a 12-mile, one and a half-hour journey to collect his thoughts (and brought the Militant Cam just in case there was something along the way that would make great blog fodder).

He wanted to cheer himself up with some nonfat, non-berry-suffixed frozen yogurt, so he went off to the Miracle Mile Red Mango (lameberries bow down), making his way from the compound to the vicinity of Western Avenue, where he took his favorite new north-south route of Oxford Ave., which makes an excellent Western alternative between Hollywood and Koreatown).

Then he headed due west on the 4th Street Bicycle Boulevard Bikeway, enjoying the solace of the nearly-car-free street, the aroma of the flora, and the sight of his new illuminated toy creating a flashing oval on the road as he traveled.

He approached his yogurty destination, but alas, it was three minutes to closing time, and the froyo-istas where packing up their containers of sliced fruit, nuts and cereal. No Red Mango fro-yo fo' this mofo. Oh well, time to move on.

So the moping Militant continued west along Wilshire past La Brea, hoping for some miracle to happen along this mile, recalling the time earlier this decade when he may or may not have worked at an unspecified company in the area, now realizing that it only takes about half an hour to get there by bike and that maybe his job might have been a lot less stressful had he pedalled it to work back then. But that was a different era, and the Militant, though still unabashedly Angeleno back then, was reluctant to ride his bike outside of the coastal South Bay Bike Path, much less as a means of commuting. My, have times changed.

It was at that point the Militant finally saw the light.

Or rather a whole damn lot of them. Some 200 of them, in fact. Right in front of the newly-renovated LACMA campus, stood artist Chris Burden's landmark Urban Light (pictured above) installation (looks familiar though), so the Militant just had to take a gander. Awe-inspiring for this urbanite, who walked his bike amidst the field of cast iron soldiers standing at attention on Wilshire. As the security guard minded his own business several yards away, the Militant immersed himself in the illumi-nation, snapped a few photos and continued his journey.

But not before taking just one more pic. Much respect and all apologies to fellow Angeleno blogcyclist extraordinaire Will Campbell, the Militant just couldn't resist getting his own version (pictured right, bicycle partially pixellated for security reasons) of this shot taken last weekend by the Will Cam (Sorry Will, the Militant just had to do it...besides, it was a fitting way to celebrate the Militant's new headlight).

Back on the road, the Militant did reflect back on his little dilemma, and sight puns aside, he did, just a few blocks later, at the ride's aphelion, decide on a course of action towards handling this situation.

Taking yet another Campbellesque cue, the Militant decided to test out the bikeability of Crescent Heights Boulevard, and that he did from Wilshire up to another bike-friendly corridor -- Willoughby Avenue, which he headed due east back to the general vicinity of the compound.

Back at the compound, the emo-ness had worn off, he had taken in some new sights and routes and felt somewhat better about himself. The fro-yo can wait another day. The physical exertion of the ride melted away summa dat stress. And most importantly, the Militant had something to write about.

So take a ride sometime. It's good for the mind, body and soul.

Islands In The Street, That Is What They Are

The Militant has to be very careful when writing anything Downtown-based. Why? Because but a few seconds after clicking on "Publish Post," any one of the various Downtown Los Angeles-based bloggers will be ready to pounce on you with a "Been there, done that" and a link to their post, perhaps written decades ago, covering the very same topic. But hey, the Militant is citywide, and means to stake no claim into their urban fiefdom, and his likewise citywide (even statewide, heck, nationwide) readership are there specifically to read about the Militant's take on a little slice of El Pueblo.

So enough of the needlessly lengthy intro...

The Militant, who was in DTLA late last week, took a little jaunt from Little Tokyo to Union Station and happened upon this curious brown sign (pictured above) on a traffic island at Alameda and Aliso streets, right in the shadow of the (M) Gold Line Eastside Extension aerial bridge.

It read, "ISLANDS OF LA NAT'L PARK" along with a url fo' mo' info fo' all yo' mofos.

The www.islandsofla.com website explains that it's all part of a DIY idea for, "revitalizing public space by turning traffic islands into territories of art...The intention is to use art as a vehicle to promote community, discussion and cultural interchange as well as explore the use and availability of public space."

Sounds kinda familiar. don't it? But hey, it's a 21st century thing. The Militant, who has roamed these environs for nearly four decades will let you know that this whole public space-public art synergy is something that's only been talked about in the past few years. Back then, "public art" was just a mural, and not anything conceptual or three-dimensional.

The project even has its own blog as well, which exists mostly for the purpose of discussing public art/space issues and add a literary bent to some of the created and proposed traffic islands in the "National Park" (wonder if the U.S. Dept. of the Interior knows anything about this...).

The Militant doesn't have to tell you what he thinks (but he will anyway). This gets the Militant's Seal of Approval. As someone who's dabbled in public art as well, the Militant looks forward to more, and perhaps seeing more of these islands citywide.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

(Minus) One Headlight

The Militant spent his Monday evening attending a community meeting of an unspecified nature, which he traveled to, as he usually does, on his trusty bikecycle. After locking it securely to one of the wonderful black horseshoes provided by the City for bike parking, he went to his meeting and didn't give anything else a further thought.

After emerging from the building hours later, he found that his trusty Planet Bike Dual Spot headlight, typically attached to his handlebars, was, for some reason, gone.

As in, stolen.

Unless these things are known to detach on their own and, say, migrate south with other bicycle headlights in order to mate and produce little bike headlights (admit it, you just had a fleeting thought of bicycle headlights having sex with each other, you pervert you...).

Interesting because, after three or so years of riding with the light (then on his old bike, and later on transplanted to his current one), after locking it onto various horeshoes, wheelbenders, parking meters, streetsigns, trees and light standards, despite the fact that it's like right there for anyone to take, it was still on the bike.

Okay, good, it was (relatively) theft-proof, or so he thought. Yes, the Militant could easily un-clamp it from the handlebars and put it away...but if he's in a rush, it can be, and usually is, a time-consuming process, so he just leaves it on. Of course, the fact that it protruded somewhat from the handlebars and would be an easy, "Take me, I'm yours" invitation to any passer-by led the Militant to simply point it down when not in use, so as to be a little more inconspicuous.

Nice try, Militant. Didn't work this time.

Now, the Militant isn't gonna place an all points bulletin for the headlight. The thing was less than $20. Besides, if any of you found it (or worse, took it), or even took up a collection for the Militant to get a new one (though that would be a neato gesture that would create some eyeball precipitation on the Militant's behalf) that would have to mean the Militant would have to reveal his identity to someone. And we wouldn't want that, would we?

And no, the Militant isn't gonna put blame on those [insert scapegoated demographic group of choice here]. What good would it do?

Still, the Militant does feel a wee bit violated (you perverted folks again, stop that!), just like the last time this happened (Long story short, it was stolen while the Militant was at work over three years ago, and the bike wasn't even easily seen from the street, so that one was a more concerted effort on the part of the thief). And it could have been worse; at least no one took his bike.

Perhaps this is all a sign of the economy. As things get worse for people, folks just resort to stealing stuff. So maybe someone really needed a headlight for their bike (all you motorists, just you watch, someone's gonna siphon your gas soon. That would really suck...er, literally). Or it could have been some bored kid who either went on a dare from his pressurizing peers, or just wanted something to do.

Either way, no point in moping about it. Besides, the Militant really digs those uber-bright lights he sees on some of the bikes on the nocturnal Ride-Arc or Ridazz rides that perhaps this is a perfect opportunity to upgrade.

But then in that case, it might be wise to learn to store the headlight away from now on.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Flippin' Off The Freeway

Okay, cue the timpani drums and orchestral horns, and imagine that clickety typewriter sound effect as each letter appears...

Los Angeles, CA, Thursday, May 1, 2008, 7:29 p.m.
Destination: Van Nuys/Lake Balboa area
Purpose: Classified extramilitant activity with operatives

The Militant set off in his car to the Valley as his operatives suggested he arrive at 8 p.m. Being it past 7 o'clock already, heading to the Valley should be a bree...uh-oh.

Upon entering the northbound 101 Freeway, traffic was crawling at snails-pace levels. A sea of read taillights could be seen as far down as the eye can see.

Not good. So the Militant headed into Shortcut Mode and traversed the sidestreets, hopefully entering the freeway onramp by Franklin & Gower.

No such luck. Upon reaching Franklin, there was another sea of taillights greeting him. Same for Hollywood and Sunset boulevards, and even Fountain Avenue (so much for cutting through Laurel Canyon...).

He spotted a fair number of bicycle commuters during his futile shortcut hunt. Wonder if they're trying to tell him something.

The Militant turned on KFWB and lo and behold, there was a fatal crash and an overturned truck on the northbound 101 at Barham - right smack dab in the middle of the Cahuenga Pass - the oh-so delicate artery of the circulatory system known as the Los Angeles freeway. Southbound traffic was free-flowing. The other way, not so much. Traffic backed up as far as Alvarado. This artery was blocked, and the City's having a heart attack right now.

Canceling the activity with operatives was an option, but not a wise one, as it was a rare opportunity that all parties involved were available this night, and rescheduling would throw another wrench into the Militant's plans.

The time now: 8:01 p.m..

Yes, the Militant spent half an hour in his car, navigating a 2-mile radius area fraught with impassable westbound congestion. Even if the Cahuenga Pass accident got cleared up at this point, this is gonna take a while.

Evasive measures were called for. The Militant headed straight back to the compound, parked the car and grabbed his backpack, iPod, jacket, gloves, helmet and bicycle. That all the Militant can stands, and he can't stands no more!

He pedaled straight to the nearest (M) station, got his daypass, and got on the platform.

Within seconds, he heard the rumble and hollow whoosh of a northbound Red Line train.

"Woo-Hoo!" the Militant exclaimed.

As it passed, the lights were off and the headsign read: OUT OF SERVICE.

"D'oh!" the Militant added.

But within a few minutes, at 8:35 p.m., an actual train arrived, full of passengers and with even three other bicycles in his subway car.

It was an odd ride, as the train screeched to a sudden halt in the Cahuenga Pass tunnel (don't tell the Militant that the accident up on the surface had an effect...), then stopped and started up again like an Elvis tune. The same thing also happened between Universal City and North Hollywood.

Upon reaching North Hollywood, he rushed to the elevators to the surface and joined the crowd of people waiting across Lankershim for the next Orange Line bus. But there were two other bicyclists already waiting on the platform...something's gotta give, and it was 8:53 p.m. already.

In a serendipitous turn of events, the arriving bus' front bike rack was able to hold all three of us cyclists. Awesome.

The Militant arrived at the Woodley station at 9:15. In four minutes he rolled his bike into the front yard of his operatives' house.

The entire 16-mile rail-bus-bike trip took 44 minutes.

30 minutes were wasted earlier in navigating the side streets in snarled traffic via car, a waste-of-time trek totaling almost 10 miles.

You tell the Militant which was the more efficient trip.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Or May Not - A Month Of Militancy, Part 1: Know Yer Geography!

Hard to believe, but we've already reached the fifth month of the year (Or rather, the FIST month of the year?)

Yes, this is the first day of the month of May Or May Not. And to celebrate not only the merging of one of the Militant's favorite phrases with the new calendar month, as well as as significant day for Militants of another kind, the Militant will commemorate the month with a series of edjumacational posts.

Yes, you may or may not know the Militant, but nearly every day the Militant gets emails asking, "How can I be a Militant Angeleno too?" Well look no further. This entire month of May Or May Not, the Militant will offer posts on how you, yes, you can be a Militant too. Or if you're a transplant whose been here for a number of years and wants to make a lifelong commitment to be a real Angeleno, how to raise your militancy level. Or at the very very least, like if you just got here off the Greyhound last Friday, how to not whine so much.

Part 1: Know Yer Geography!

- The View From Here: It's a well-known fact that most Americans can't place the US on a map, or even recognize states within the country. Or even make sense of any of it. If you're on the Space Shuttle, can you spot Los Angeles?
It's quite easy. Look for the Palos Verdes Peninsula - which looks like a big clenched fist punching through the west coast. That's right, suckas! This land was made for Militants!

Can you tell the difference between the Santa Monica, San Gabriel and Santa Susana mountain ranges? Do you know that they all envelop the San Fernando Valley?

- Study The Guide: A staple for many Angelenos is El Guia de los Hermanos Tomás. But most (non) Militant Angelenos simply keep it in their cars and only refer to it when they get lost, wasting time in the process flipping from page 512A to 512C with the book in their lap while driving. A MILITANT ANGELENO NEVER GETS LOST! Instead of keeping it in your car, study it! Read it on your Metro commute. Read it while in the waiting room of your doctor;s office. Read it in the bathroom when you take a dump. Doesn't matter. Once you learn that west of Beverly Hills, Santa Monica Blvd. is south of Wilshire, or that Whitnall Highway in the Valley is not really a highway, or that we got numerical avenues 2-12 in the West Adams/Mid-City area and 16-67 in NELA (But why no avenues 1, 13 or 15 anywhere?), then you will know where things are.

The Militant spent years studying The Guide, so much that if he were to be blindfolded and dropped off anywhere in the City of Los Angeles, he can make it home, without the use of a map, in less than an hour and a half ( Of course, if you ever met the Militant, which may or may not ever happen, this is not a direct challenge you to blindfold him and drop him off at an undisclosed location. Nor is this an invitation for any of his operatives to pull anything similar). And yes, you L337 G33Kz, you can use Mapquest, Google Maps, Gmapz Pudomiter or Google Earth, which is a fine substitute, but there's something about taking in chunks of the City framed by a single page that you can't get by dragging your mouse. PLus, if you do have The Guide memorized, how much faster it will be for you to navigate an online map.

- Explore! Via Different Means! The Militant also got to know his City real well by getting around strictly by bus for nine years before getting his driver's license. His $4 Monthly Student Pass (yea, the Militant is blatantly dating himself) was like a passport to the world. And that was before we had any trains or rapid buses. So you got no excuse! And yes, bike riding's the big rage now. Truth be told, when you're driving in your car, any street that doesn't have a signal doesn't really exist to you unless it's your origin or destination. So you're missing out on a lot. And walk around town too! We've got great weather for walking...Either way, you'll see streets you never knew, much less heard of, before. Streets that can bear history, architectural significance, or even a creek. You'll never know unless you get to know 'em.

- Know Your Directions! There's always gonna be mountains to the north or east of you, and ocean to the south or west of you. Unless you're in the Valley, whereby you would replace "ocean" with "not-so-tall mountains." The sun always sets over the ocean, except in the summer when it sets over western Malibu due to the Earth's axis.

- That Whole Eastside/Westside Thing: Already covered it, thank you.

- Know What City You're In! Look at the street signs! If it's blue with white lettering or black with all upper-case white lettering (old school), you're in the City of Los Angeles. Glendale has off-white with black lettering. West Hollywood has blue also, but with the city's outline logo on the left side. Santa Monica's is blue too, but with a yellow bar. The list goes on. Sometimes the street signs on both sides of a street will differ. You're on the border. Try not to call the police at that point. If something happens, move over a block before calling.

Yes, this is all basic stuff, but ya gotta have the foundations before you move ahead. So get with it, militants-in-training!