Monday, September 29, 2008

Sunday Rally Sunday: The Dodgers Kick Off The Playoffs

The Militant joined about 10,000 fellow True Blue Dodger fans at the Stadium on Sunday evening for a rally to usher in the 2008 postseason.

Though parking was free, the Militant didn't want to deal with any parking mess, so he opted to take the Metro bus instead, and walked it up Elysian Park into the stadium. Interestingly, despite the crowd, only about a fifth of the entire parking lot was taken up.

The fans were similarly treated to other perks: $2 Dodger dogs (and grilled, at that!) and other food items ( pictured left) for that price, free posters and calendars, free field and loge level seats and the free throwing of beach balls without the usher puncture.

A stage was set up over the visitor's dugout and a good 1/5th of the stadium was filled up, all on the first base/right field side. The 1981 and 1988 World Series trophies were displayed like sacred relics. A mediocre classic rock cover band played (the media reported that native Angeleno songwriter extraordinaire Randy Newman himself would perform "I Love L.A." live, but apparently it never happened, damn..). Dodger legends from the early years (Don Newcombe, Maury Wills, Sweet Lou Johnson) and a trio of Los Angeles natives who all played on the '81 world championship team (Kenny Landreaux, Bobby Castillo and Derrell Thomas) spoke about their experiences and commented on the current team (a certain former Dodger by the name of Gibson was also announced prior to the event to show up, but oh well...). And an 81-year-old Tommy Lasorda spoke like a fiery reverend, preaching the gospel of Dodger Blue to a revival crowd (and yes, he even had to come to the defense of the beleaguered Andruw Jones).

The highlight of the night was, of course, the 2008 National League West Champions themselves, returning from a losing-but-what-does-it-matter-anyway series in Frisco. The emcee gave contant updates on the team's whereabouts (in the air, just arrived at LAX, on the bus, on the 105, on the 110, on Sunset...).

Finally, the front end of a charter bus peeked into the centerfield area, and a group of finely-dressed men in suits walked out and marched through the outfield towards the stands in dramatic fashion (pictured right). Torre, Colletti, Monday and Jarrin (Interestingly, no Vin Scully...) headed the delegation, followed by the players themselves: Garciaparra, Furcal, Ethier, Maddux, Ramirez, of course, and the rest of the team. To say the crowd went nuts was an understatement.

It was a largely civil event, mainly because unlike previous postseason rallies (The Grove in 2004 and Universal CityWalk in 2006 -- and yes the Militant was there for both of them as well), people didn't have to endure long waits on their feet. Of course in the 2006 rally, the Militant met his childhood hero Steve Garvey, and was on television for a few seconds (you'll never know, of course...). The only snag here was crowd flow problems in the field level: There was only one entrance (and exit) and people moving to and from their seats had to cross the long-ass concession lines (so what's new...okay, besides the low prices). It also took a good 15 minutes to get out of the actual stadium structure because of the limited access points. But everyone was civil (except for the one dude who decided to run into the field (after the program was over) and was inevitably manhandled in a prompt manner by several LAPD officers.

The Dodgers face the Cubs starting Wednesday. Will they make it? Or will they get eliminated? Hard to say...the Cubs have been strong, but this certainly isn't the same team that they beat in May and June. The Injuries That Matter aren't an issue (we can certainly do without Jones and Jason Schmidt of course, lol), which results in a team with lots of depth and lots of options for Joe Torre. And the Manny Factor needs no mention. Lowe, Billingsley and Kuroda form the formidable rotation for this series (with Kuroda pitching at the Stadium for game 3, of course), so consistency is key for them. All the Militant has to worry about is winning more than one game, ...and scoring tickets for Saturday's match. GO BLUE and BEAT THE CUBS!!!

More rally picturetude:

Rev. Lasorda testifies!

Nomar and Manny share a laugh, after the dreadlocked one says, "We're gonna win it all...if not, you're gonna have to bring me back next year!"

Fans go all out in Dodger pride.

The 1988 trophy. Kneel before it.

Aw hell yeah.

Love the shirt.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Militant to Target: YOU SUCK!

Anyone here shop at Target Stores? Hey, the Militant seems to like that store...up until now. Low prices, stuff is easy to find, relatively good selection, and even that cute TV commercial with the two college freshman dormmate girls dancing around to some catchy dancehall tune, why not? And though the proliferation of Target stores in Southern California has gone seemingly out of control, and contributing to the generic chain store homogenization of the area, well at least using less gas (or no gas at all) in traveling to a conveniently-close Target store must make sense.

On Saturday night, the Militant went to the Target "Greatland" store in Burbank to make about $300 in unspecified purchases. When he asked one of the electronics department dudes to open up the case so he can get a relatively pricey item, the electronics dude asked him, "Would you like to save 10% on your purchase?"

"Um," asked the Miltant.

"All you have to do is sign up for a Target Card," he said.

"Um, no thanks," replied the Militant, not at all interested in adding any sort of line of credit. With the way the financial situation is going in this country, having your money float around in credit isn't such a smart move. And besides, the Militant hates using credit cards, except for emergency situations. Instead, he prefers to make purchases using his bank's ATM/Check Card, which doesn't involve bills or interest rates - it just deducts it from the existing money he has in his checking account (BTW, if any of you people use your bank's ATM'/Check Cards, ALWAYS select "Credit" rather than "ATM" or "Debit." That way the purchase will not incur any ATM or point of purchase fees). The Militant avoids credit like the plague, instead opting to save money up to a certain amount before he makes the actual purchase (gee, what a concept...).

The electrnics dude just set the item in the cash register clerk's conveyor belt, and the Militant, without having to give the electronics dude an answer, soon dealt with the clerk.

She asked him if he would like to sign up for the Target card.

"No thanks, I don't need any other credit card," the Militant firmly replied, as he swiped his ATM/Check Card in the card swiper terminal. The little screen gave him the PIN number prompt, and at that point he selected the "CREDIT" button. He then used the little plastic stylus to write his signature (more like a horribly-pixelated scribble) on the touchscreen, which almost always never resembles his actual pen-written signature.

Then it happened.

The clerk's computer terminal said, "CARD NOT AUTHORIZED. ENTER LAST 4 DIGITS." So she manually entered the last four numbers of the Militant's trusty ATM/Check Card.


WTF? Now wait a minute, he didn't have a problem using the card in the past few days. In fact, he just made an ATM withdrawal the previous day. And he didn't make any online purchases registered to another country, as what happened the last time his bank put a protective hold on his card's activity.

The Militant then re-swiped his card, selected "CREDIT," attempted to scribble his horribly-pixellated signature, and then the "LAST 4 DIGITS" prompt came back.

"Would you like to sign up for the Target Card? You can complete your purchase and save 10%. You can just pay it off."

The Militant again politely declined.

"You're pre-approved..."

Oh not not the "pre-approved" bullshiat again. Pre-approved the Militant's ass. How do they even know what his name is? The ATM/Check Card was "declined," after all.

The Militant just decided to cancel the entire order and walked out of that store, empty handed (yes, he did remember to get his card back).

On Sunday, the Militant went to a different store and purchased the same higher-priced electronic item there. No credit card BS, the card was accepted as normal.

The nerve.

Look, as a consumer you are supposed to have the right to not only choose what you want to buy, but how you want to pay for it. You can use your ATM card, a debit card, an ATM/check card, a store card, a credit card, a gift card or something called cash, which is actual, tangible money.

Rigging the cash register terminal to refuse other forms of payment is downright fraudulent (it could have been worse, the Militant could have actually been charged for those items (twice!). They've even gone so low as to decline gift cards! After swiping them more than once, but a quick check to his bank's online service revealed that no purchase had been made after all...phew!). Target clearly does not care about customer choice, and fools their customers to believe there is a problem with their credit/debit cards, and forces their customers to sign up for some lame store card, and even worse, more credit/interest fees to worry about.

Oh yes, the Militant is fully aware that the store forces its sales staff to push these card signups to customers. And it seems like they're really hurting for more card signups. But again, you have a right as a consumer to accept or decline it.

The Militant will not shop at Target anymore, which is too bad, since he likes what they have. But doing stupid-ass tricks to get you to sign up for something you don't really want is a major turn-off. The Militant urges his readers to NOT shop there anymore, and if you must, then ONLY pay in cash. Target sucks!

Friday, September 26, 2008


Saturday in Griffith Park is the 11th annual Great Los Angeles Ice Cream Party (any event that spells the city's name out gets an automatic Militant approval), a yearly fundraising event for a deserving local organization that involves prizes and lots free ice cream. The Militant talked about it last year and may or may not have been there. This time around, the beneficiary is LA Commons, a Leimert Park-based nonprofit that has been busy the past few years with programs that highlight the culture, food and art of the communities of Highland Park, Thai Town, Little Armenia and its own stomping grounds of L'murt. The Militant blogged about some of the events they did last year.

The party began 11 years ago by a Valley dude named John Bwarie, who currently works as a deputy for Councilman Grieg Smith's 12th District Office. This year's ice cream party will be right by the Merry-Go-Round in the Crystal Springs section of the park from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. The organizers recommend you RSVP so they know how much ice cream to supply. It'll be a wonderful day in the park (except for those f'ing annoying noisy inflating fans for those "bounce houses" that a lot of families like to bring to the park (uh, why? the whole point of the park is to get your kids closer to nature...MASSIVE FAIL!). The Militant hopes that those inflatable bounce houses will be banned from Griffith Park. But until then, enjoy the ice cream!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


The Los Angeles Dodgers are the 2008 National League West Champions, and didn't even have to lift a finger (good news for Nomar). The Arizona Diamondbacks were beaten decimated by the St. Louis Cardinals, 12-3 as the snakes were eliminated from the plane and Los Angeles can now get excited about yet another playoff-bound team.

Tonight, the Dodgers will play a sold-out game against the Padres with the Padres' Jake Peavy facing our very own Mad Dog. Even if the Dodgers lose, they've still clinched. Though the team plans to celebrate after the game win or lose, Joe Beimel is probably all fux0red up right now. Uh oh...


Mission West Farmer's Market: Don't Southpas It Up!

The Militant has been on a CFM (certified farmer's market) trip lately. Back in July, he took you to Highland Park, right off the (M) Gold Line to visit the Old L.A. Farmer's Market, which goes on every Tuesday. Today, he takes you to the next station up the line to the Mission West Farmer's Market in South Pasadena, which happens every Thursday (that's like, today).

Having passed by this FarMar (no, not that one) many times in the past, the Militant got off the train last week and wanted to see what all the action was all about. Unlike the laid-back neighborhood chill of OLAFM, this one's has a more dynamic, festive atmosphere, almost like a mini-town fair nestled in the small-town USA quaintness of Southpas.

Which is why the Militant visit this place with such curiosity - and scrutiny. The small-town USA quaintness of this little burg sandwiched between two of Los Angeles County's largest cities gives the place not only character but makes it a regional anomaly, especially since the town has been notorious for its reputation of racism and quasi-NIMBYness (which threatened to delay or impair the Gold Line prior to its opening, though they have STFU since then).

Needless to say, the Militant didn't see any problems here, at least not in the farmer's market. The Militant didn't stray far from the FarMar grounds, so perhaps he was in an oasis, who knows? A deeper examination of Southpas will undoubtedly become a future post for the Militant.

What the Militant found was hundreds of people, of all ages and colors, milling about the T-shaped market grounds. Despite the "Mission West" moniker, the farmer's market actually takes place on Meridian Avenue and El Centro Street. The Gold Line trackage runs diagonally to the northwest, and the mini-park right outside the northbound platform is family area of parents chillin' out with their little tykes, right next to a row of pi-shaped bicycle racks filled to capacity. Yes, tykes and bikes (The Militant admits that he thought of another demographic that rhymes which would complete the trifecta, but he didn't see any, so therefore he won't have to go there). On this last Thursday of the summer, the Militant basked in the undeniably positive vibe of this weekly gathering.

There were food booths galore: Mexican, Peruvian, Greek, BBQ, Vegan, Italian, Chinese, kettlecorn, corn on the cob...if you're hungry on a Thursday afternoon, this is definitely the place to be. There's live acoustic music performed in and around the Meridian median, and the "Watering Hole" stone structure situated there has been turned into a teen hangout of sorts - the Militant loves it when Southern Californians make use of their public space.

Along El Centro, the mainstay of the market, the produce booths, take hold. Here, most of the fruits are in the $1.50-$2/lb range. The Militant bought a bunch of huge-ass-sized white and yellow peaches, which he later gave some to his parents, to which Militant Mama was impressed by their sweetness.

Seen mulling about on the market grounds were campaigners for both of the major presidential candidates, this being a high-visibility area. He was accosted by one of them holding a clipboard, to which the Militant informed him that he was already supporting the unspecified candidate and was alredy registered to vote. But the campaign dude was knockin' the Miltant for a $100 contribution, and the Militant told campaign dude that he had already donated an unspecified sum of money to the unspecified candidate. Campaign dude kept drilling the contribution and listed several worst-case scenarios. The Militant told him he already contributed, and then ultimately told campaign dude to screw off. Besides, how can he guarantee the money would go straight to the unspecified campaign? So no matter who you support, just don't waste your time on these fools, and if you want to contribute, then do so on the candidates' websites instead.

One major complaint the Militant has to convey is the lack of restroom facilities onsite. After holding on to the bars and railings on the Gold Line car, the Militant really needed to wash his hands before he handled any food. Don't bother going to the nearby (fru-fru) restaurants on Meridian and El Centro, like a certain unspecified French restaurant, they'll just tell you to go focault. He was, however, able to find such a facility nearby at Buster's Coffee and Ice Cream Shop, a short walk across Mission Street. Their restrooms are upstairs and the people there were cool to the Militant. So if you take your break there, show them some support by buying a coffee or a scoop or two of Fosselman's ice cream.

With great food, a great crowd and a great vibe, Southpas' Mission West Farmer's Market is one happening place. The Militant will definitely return.

The Mission West Farmers Market is on every Thursday from 4 - 8 p.m. along Meridian Avenue and El Centro Street, next to the (M) Gold Line Mission Station. The Militant may or may not be there today - but you oughtta be!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

KNBC Shows A Little Censor-tivity

The Militant doesn't talk about television all that much, as he doesn't really watch that much television. In fact, this bike-riding Militant spends more time driving a car than watching TV (and that's really saying a lot). He would much rather write about real-life Angeleno adventures than stuff on the boob tube.

But check this out: While the Militant watched NBC's Late Night With Conan O'Brien on Monday night, at about 12:45 a.m., the host sets up a comedic bit about the recently-activated (and more recently-shelved) particle-smashing Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. O'Brien then exclaims, "Let's see what other things we can collide..."

Just then, the screen instantly cuts to the KNBC4 Los Angeles "Special Report" graphics, with viewers no doubt watching with a confused, "WTF is going on here?" sentiment and anchorwoman Colleen Williams greeting the viewers with this:

"We are live here at the news desk and we will return to Late Night shortly. Right now, Conan is showing a comedy sketch about trains crashing, and in light of recent events, we feel it's inappropriate to show it to you..."

Then she proceeds with a quick update story on the presidential race, a quick weather segment and a couple minor local stories before returning to Conan.

The Militant was like, "Whoa!" that's kind of different. For people watching in the Southern California area, memories of the September 12 Metrolink accident still linger.

Admittedly, it seemed a little bit of an overreaction; the Militant is probably sure the comedy skit might have lasted all but a few seconds, and that the offending trains resembling nothing like the rolling stock that 48,000 Southern Californians commute on daily.

But still, 26 people no longer have their lives, and over a hundred more are lying in hospital beds either recuperating or fighting for their life.

Of course, appropriateness rules supreme in these crisis-filled times. No doubt the Scorpions' '80s hit "Rock You Like A Hurricane" isn't getting any airplay right now in the Gulf Coast of Texas.

So did KNBC overreact? Or was it a justified show of sensitivity for the victims of Metrolink 111 and their families?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Preserving America In Thai Town

Sunday in Los Angeles was a huge-ass mutha of a day in terms of our multiculturalism. So much, that even the Militant couldn't even cover it all. There was Thai Cultural Day in Barnsdall Park, L.A. Commons' BBQ Adventure in Little Armenia, a Central American carnival on 7th Street in Westlake.

Ultimately the Militant settled on Thai Cultural Day, not only because of its relative proximity to the Militant's compound, but because one of the Militant's Thai community operatives invited him personally to attend an historical moment in the community.

In July, Los Angeles' Thai Town was given a nationally-recognized designation as a "Preserve America" community. That designation is a federal initiative, overseen by First Lady Laura Bush to support and recognize localities across the U.S. that preserve its cultural heritage.

Obviously you would think that various East Coast burgs named after battle sites that pop up in the Revolutionary or Civil War chapters of high school history books would be the sole recipients of such a designation. And they were probably the first ones named. But to have the federal government - mind you, a bunch of suits in the D.C. Beltway - recognize the part of Los Angeles known for silk shops, massage spas, pad see ew and Thai Elvis as a culturally-significant slice of the US of A is a HUGE deal. Heck, recognizing any part of Los Angeles in that way is a huge deal.

There are some people who dare call themselves "Angelenos" who aren't fond of the cultural enclave thing. They say it's "exclusive." They say those communities "build walls." They claim their denizens inherently "breed criminal elements." They believe such designated ethnic communities "discourage assimilation." They maintain such communities "divide" us.

The Militant knows they're all wrong.

Those kinds of people fail, or refuse to recognize that these communities never actually shut people out. Exclusive? These are low-income communities. The last thing they want is for others to stay out. Building walls? They build bridges. Criminal elements? Sometimes, but that's only because the powers-that-be want these places to be out of their radar. Discourage assimilation? Uh, these places are where assimilation begins (Los Angeles used to have a "Little Italy," which all but vanished because assimilation went a little too well). Divide? Why not see what these places have to offer -- they'll probably teach one that we're more alike than different. The only ones doing the "dividing" are the ones who shun these places out of fear.

The Militant's Thai community operative ezplained to the Militant that the application process for this designation was no easy feat, but Thai Town's application had enough substance to convince the feds that this was the real deal.

On Sunday afternoon, in the Barnsdall Gallery Theatre, a two-hour program featuring various politicos (Assemblyman Kevin De Leon, Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and Councilman Bernard Parks), various representatives and other community folk culminated in the unveiling of one of the signs (pictured right) that will welcome those who enter Thai Town in the near future, reminding them that this place is a "Preserve America" kind of community.

But aside from signage, these communities are also entitled to special federal grants for community development and tourism efforts. Thai Town may have been designated by the City nine years ago, but it's still a dynamic work in progress, especially in these economic times, and most especially since only two buildings in all of Thai Town are actually owned by Thai American entities.

Elsewhere in California, places like Monterey have already gotten this designation. Locally, it will by no means stop at Thai Town. Los Angeles' Chinatown has also gotten this designation, and the rest of the designated Asian enclaves (Little Tokyo, Koreatown and Historic Filipinotown) will follow suit.

Most Angelenos know that these ethnic communities are the benchmarks of our City's diversity. But for them to be recognized on a national level means so much more than pretty aluminum signs and a few redevelopment grants here and there. It means that they are benchmarks of this entire nation's diversity - forged right here in Los Angeles.

Though despite the federal accolades, it'll still be months before you'll see the signs go up on The Boulevard. See, there are these city signage ordinances that need to be followed, and another lengthy application process to get signage put up...and a budget to have the City install them...Yes, friends, City Hall can give you an even harder time than the White House.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

East Is East: The 'East of Eden' Art Exhibition At Barnsdall Park

The Militant isn't an art scenester, but he does appreciate a good exhibit when he sees one. When one of his operatives told him to check out this weekend's exhibition at Barnsdall (don't pronounce it "Barnsdale") Art Park's Municipal Gallery, a multi-gallery show entitled East of Eden, he decided to do some Militant research. So off to the website he went.

And there went the description:

"East of Eden will focus on contributions of Los Angeles galleries, the cultures from which they draw inspiration and the eastside of L.A. as an important source for contemporary art."

Uh-oh. The "E" word.

Then he did further research on the galleries represented: places like La Luz de Jesus in Los Feliz, Black Maria in Atwater Village, Ghetto Gloss in Silver Lake, Bert Green Fine Art (now why does that name sound awfully familiar? Hmmmm.... ) in Downtown...

Oh you know where this is heading!

But the Militant thought that raising a ruckus at this event over "The 'E' Word" would be self-defeating. Especially since ir would be that much easier to unmask the Militant. Bleah...

But the Militant went anyway, trying to apprehend the situation with an open mind...

...Disregarding the incessantly-annoying "'E' Word," the bigger question was...does this art represent contemporary Angeleno art? Or is it just a smattering of ironic hispter fodder?

The Militant is no art critic, nor does he claim to possess an art critic's vocabulary, but in short, the art was very representative of contemporary Los Angeles art. There were pieces that had obvious iconography or images like palm trees, coastal Malibu seascapes, or a painting of a trio of cholas hanging out, but even outside of that, on a more visceral level, there was an attitude that the Militant didn't have to find a challenge to identify with.

The biggest complaint was the duration of the exhibit. It opened on Friday and by the time most of you read this, it had already closed. Which is unusually for Barnsdall exhibits, which usually last a good three months.

The Militant hopes they do this again. He understands their intention is to promote the (cough, gag, ack) Not-Really-The-Eastside art scene as a reaction to the Westside arts "establishment." But Westsidecentrism is soooo late 20th century. Why not drop the "Eastside" thing, these artists can basically stake claim on the whole City now, Westsiders be damned.

Oh yeah, one more thing before this post closes. One of the pieces gave the Militant a "giant" smile:


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Park(ing) Day MA

Friday was Park(ing) Day LA, an event that the Militant is very familiar with. So he decided to look up the map and roam around town on bike and on rail on Friday afternoon to tour some of the temporary parks being set up on street parking spaces to call attention to the need for people-oriented public spaces. Pretty much the majority of the proposed parks were situated in the Central Los Angeles area, with a few in the Westside (Santa Monica to be specific), a couple in the South Bay, and a handful in the SFV and SGV combined. It seemed as if Park(ing) Day LA was less of a deal this year than last, and it did seem that there were less points on the map. Of course, the Militant still couldn't see 'em all, so here's the somewhat limited tour...

The Militant headed to one of the nearest parks to his compound (pictured right), in East Hollywood's "Hel-Mel Bicycle District" where a park set up by the Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust and the local neighborhood council yielded an inflatable swimming pool, a BBQ grill and some potted plants for decoration. A few people took a dip in the 80-plus degree heat, and others had their Scoops ice cream while chilling out at this location.

The Militant then headed to the nearest Metro station and took the12-minute ride Downtown where he disembarked at Pershing Square and..had to carry his ride up the northeast station portal (escalator was not in service, d'oh) to 4th street, where he headed due east. Near 4th and Spring, he saw a park ready to be taken down, with just a patch of astroturf marking the spot. Hmm. The Militant headed further and made his way to Main and Winston, where a rather large park installation was taking place.

Well, this was kind of cheating, as it wasn't the takeover of parking space but rather a (the Militant assumes, permitted) street closure. Winston, as some of you may or may not recall, is the tiny sidestreet upon where Blossom Vietnamese restaurant is situated, which the Militant covered in his long-dormant spinoff food blog, the Militant Angeleno's Mess Hall (wonder when he'll start that thing up again...).

This particular park (pictured left) was also organized by the local neighborhood council, this time the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council (which was cool since the Militant always thought that neighborhood councils were just comprised of a bunch of cranky-ass, quasi-racist rich white old farts with no lives who like to shout at each other, wank off to Planning and Land Use Management issues and cling to their little fiefdoms. Oh yeah, did the Militant mention they're OLD? We're talking Pre-Cambrian, stop-driving-your-car-or-you'll-crash-into-a-farmer's-market fogeyness here. But the Militant digresses...good to know there's some NCs who aren't as fogey-ized and dig the Park(ing) Day thang) . This park had the requisite astroturf foundation, but also bore an entertainment stage, a basketball court and a display of James Rojas' infamous "Lego Downtown." The Militant also may or may not have spotted another local blogger there, who apparently had no idea the Militant was in his midst. Muhahaha. The main theme though at this park was the $196 monthly cost of a parking lot space, and various posterboards gave a quantitiative indication of what can be purchased for that price (i.e. one park bench, seven basketballs, 174 tennis balls, etc.).

The Militant continued on to the Financial District where he was promised a bunch of parks. Unfortunately he wasn't able to see squat. One site (Melendrez) was supposed to be near Pershing Square (which is an actual, permanent park - aren't we supposed to be putting these things up where there is no park space?) but apparently they decided to shut down early, and no trace of it was found.

The Militant did get to see the Torti Gallas and Partners Park, on 6th and Grand, who cordoned off their area with a picket fencing and adorned the space with a realtor's sign. Their theme was a similar cost-analysis of space, this time treating the parking space as though it were real estate property (valued at $77,000) and "selling" a parking space-sized residential structure for that price.

The rest of the Militant's search wasn't very fruitful. Either these sites never sprang up or they shut down early, mostly due to parking lane traffic flow restrictions inherent in Downtown (booo...). The one park by the Central Library was gone, for example.

The Militant also made his was a little west to Pico-Union where a park site was to go up on Hoover and Alvarado, but the Militant found no trace of it whatsoever.

So that was one complaint of the day, either many sites only set up for a short amount of time, or not at all. That was pretty much it for the Militant's tour, though Damien Newton from Streetsblog seemed to have more luck than the Militant in his report.

At one of the sites the Militant visited, he did run into a couple ladies who told him they set up their own site in Little Tokyo, which subsequently got shut down at around 2:30 p.m. by the cops. BREAKIN' DA LAW! They also explained that earlier in the day, other officers would drive past and even wave, though they theorized one of the businesses in the area called to complain. But they shrugged it off as no big deal, as 2:30 was past their original time limit anyway.

Still, Park(ing) Day 2008 didn't seem to have the splash it had last year, when it generated some mainstream media attention. This time, it was strictly a blogging event, it seems.

The Militant also didn't go to the Miracle Mile afterparty, though it probably had better music than the parking garage festivities of last year.

Oh well, maybe we'll have a better impact next year.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

2 High (Militant Challenge Answered)

When the Militant asked his readers yesterday what was the second-tallest manmade structure in the Los Angeles area, he knew people would answer the obvious response of Downtown's Tower Formerly Known As The First Interstate Bank Building (a.k.a The AON Center). At 858 feet above the streets, it gets the silver medal in height in our skyline.

But a militant knowledge of this city yields familiarity with the unfamiliar. A reader named BradleyB was able to correctly identify the CBS Broadcast Tower atop Mount Wilson (the structure on the far left of the picture above) as the second-tallest manmade structure in the Los Angeles area. At 972 feet above Mt. Wilson's ridgeline, it's 114 feet taller than the AON Center and only 45 feet shorter than the US Bank Tower. The CBS tower, which is supported by guy masts, allows Southern Californians to watch KCBS 2 and KCAL 9 and listen to KNX 1070, KFWB 980, KLSX "FreeFM"97.1 and other CBS-owned broadcast stations. While it may not look that tall up there, it easily dwarves the other, older broadcast towers several yards to the east. The second-tallest broadcast tower on Mount Wilson, the NBC Broadcast Tower (on the far right of the picture above), is only 545 feet tall (a bit taller than the Ernst & Young Plaza in Downtown).

Our skyline in the sky, high atop the mountain named after a former mayor of Los Angeles is unique among most metropolitan areas. Whereas other cities rely on broadcast spires atop their tallest buildings (i.e. the CN Tower, The Sears Tower, The Empire State Building), and other parts of the country rely on even taller broadcast towers in the middle of the plains, Mt. Wilson is close enough and high enough to deliver signals to a large, expanse area. Which, in a way, it was partly responsible for. The broadcast power of Mt. Wilson helped define our megalopolitan sprawl, as it allowed cities far and away to be part of the Los Angeles media market.

So congratulations, BradleyB! You win a...a...uh...(the Militant, nervous, turns to his legal team). Um, well, sorry BradleyB, we didn't prepare an actual prize this time, but tell ya what - you're free to let others know that you possess l337 Militant Knowledge on our City. How bout that?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Militant Challenge: The Search For #2

Pictured is the Building Formerly Known As The First Interstate World Center Formerly Known As The Library Tower - otherwise currently known as the U.S. Bank Tower. At 1,017 feet high, as we all know, it is the tallest building in Los Angeles (as well as the tallest between Chicago and Hong Kong).

Aside from being the tallest building in Los Angeles, it is also the tallest manmade structure in the region.

So what, where and how high is the second-tallest manmade structure in the Los Angeles area?

Post your answers in the comments.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

First At Last!

The Militant didn't wanna let this slip by without mentioning it. After five months, the Dodgers are finally in sole possession of first place in the National League West. Finally. After losing 8 games in a row, they effectively nullified that losing streak with an 8-game winning streak recorded this weekend as they completed an uber-important sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks, whom the Dodgers constantly played a game of standings catch-up with for pretty much the whole season.

With just 19 regular season games to go, it's time to talk about magic numbers. As of today the number is also 19. N-n-n-n-nineteen. Any combination of Dodgers wins and D-backs losses will result in true pwnage of the Division. Go Blue!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Bikes *In* The Bus!

Much has been discussed recently about bicycles and the accommodation of cyclists on the transit vehicles of our region. The Militant recently took a ride on the (M) Orange Line busway, and on a late night ride back to the North Hollywood Metro station, he saw that the approaching bus' front rack, which can take three bikes, was full.

He paused there, wondering if he had to wait for the next one, or just pedal it east (at this hour of the night he didn't wanna miss the last train out) after the Militant said, "Can I..." to the driver, she pointed towards the back of the bus. Relieved, the Militant loaded his bike onto the front door, but soon heard her negatively nod, "Uh-uh!" - but that only meant that he was to load his bike through the rear door.

He had never brought a bike inside a bus before, so he snapped the above picture to capture the historic moment (rear wheel shown of course to conceal both the Militant's and his bike's identities). Other cyclists have alluded to this, and now the Militant was able to try and confirm it himself.

Thing was, he stood the whole while, holding the bike upright, and had to move it aside whenever the rear door opened to allow both boarding and alighting riders, and the swing of the door (they don't slide elevator-style like the trains do). But duuude. It's a bike. In a bus.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Get Cultured This Weekend!

It needs not be said that Los Angeles is the most ethnically-diverse metropolis in America, and perhaps the world. But the Militant said it anyway. This weekend, whether you want Southeastern Europe or Southeast Asia, or crave paidakia or pancit, this weekend is for you.

L.A. Greekfest 2008, Byzantine-Latino Quarter:
This festival celebrates a decade's worth of feasting and promises a Hellas-good time at the Byzantine-Latino Quarter; specifically on the grounds of St. Sophia's Greek Orthodox Cathedral on Normandie, near Pico. As usual, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson will kick off the festivities (despite the fact that Hanks has no Greek ancestry whatsoever - he's actually partly of Portugese stock - it's just that he and his wife are members of the St. Sophia's congregation). Friday 5-11 p.m. (free); Saturday 1-11 p.m. and Sunday 12-10 p.m. ($5, under 12 free).

Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture (FPAC) , San Pedro: Celebrating their 17th year, this festival, which the Militant covered last year, and even walked right past the Franklin Avenue crew (without them knowing it, lol), is an annual celebration of Filipino American arts which happens at the cliffside Pt. Fermin Park. Live music, dance acts, cultural presentations, former American Idol finalist Camille Velasco and even YouTube celeb Happy Slip will be there. Saturday-Sunday 10a.m. - 6 p.m. ($7).

The Militant's Quiet, Intimate Celebration at El Pueblo

The Militant made good on his promise to take a stroll through El Pueblo State Historic Monument and neighboring Olvera Street on the evening of Thursday, September 4, as a little celebration of Los Angeles' 227th birthday (at around 5:30 p.m...were you there? Because the Militant was, heheh)... Of course, only a Militant would take time out of his busy militant schedule to observe it. He had a lot on his mind that day, especially since the Los Angeles Times mentioned the birthday and our perceived collective attitude towards our own history.

Olvera Street was mighty quiet, ironically silent on the exact date emblazoned on the landmark cross at the street's southern entrance (pictured right). Still it emanated the familiar scent of leather goods, churros and roasted meats, the same way the Militant has always remembered it.

There was, however, a banner that read "Street Fair" on the southern end of the Plaza, and a bunch of people milling about. There was a popcorn cart and some barstools set up off to the side.

But alas, this was no real street festival. It was...the filming set of a Bud Light commercial. Yeah, go ahead, insert your favorite Los Angeles cliches here...

Yet that didn't dampen the Militant's spirits. He pondered about history and looked at the buildings surrounding the filming set. The Garnier Building. The Pico House. Historically significant buildings from Los Angeles' original town square dating back to the late 1800s that still stand today. He's seen them before of course, but perhaps for the first time he stood in awe of their architectural aesthetics. Granted, they don't have the historical maturity of, say, the Independence Hall or the Parthenon of course, but for all the talk about Los Angeles destroying its history - that's not totally accurate. Parts of the Ballona Wetlands near Playa Del Rey look the same as they did when the Tongva people roamed the land (of course, not all of it...). They're still there, waiting for your appreciation, ready for your willingness to fight to preserve them even further.

There was no huge celebration on Thursday, but perhaps that's okay. Have you ever been to a good friend's birthday party where multitudes of people were invited, and you only had a few minutes to spend with the celebrant? Conversely, a small, intimate gathering of close friends for a birthday celebration gives you ample time to spend with the celebrant, and you get their undivided attention. The Militant's little walk through Olvera Street was the latter.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Happy 227th, Los Angeles!

The City of Los Angeles' website might have forgotten its own birthday, but you know the Militant hasn't! Today he may or may not celebrate it by taking a ceremonial stroll down Olvera Street, which, as any militant Angeleno knows, is not the actual birthplace of Los Angeles, but an incredible simulation! At what time will or won't he be there? Of course he won't tell you. But feel free to drop by anytime today, knowing that the Militant may or may not be walking there with you.

Feliz Cumpleaños, El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles del Río de Porciúncula!

Some birthday visuals for ya:

An encore of the Militant's April 30th post, Blu & Exile's "Soul Amazing."

Needs no introduction.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Happy LAbor Day: A Few Suggestions

With MemDay the start of summer and July 4 as its midpoint, Labor Day ushers in the symbolic end of summer (boooo!), though the actual end of summer won't come for another three weeks (hoooray!!!). And for the Militant, who really wants the summer to last fo'evah, the absolute end of summer won't ccme until he sets his clock back an hour in the last week of October. Being Southern California, it might as well be summer, since we'd likely have a major heat wave that weekend.

So what to do on your Labor Day Monday? The Militant offers a few things to do:

6 a.m. - 2 p.m.: Pobladores History Walk, San Gabriel Mission - There are three kinds of people who do the annual 9-mile Pobladores History Walk, which reenacts the founding of Los Angeles: 1) Elected officials who like to show how hardcore they are, even though they don't have the cojones to even finish the damn thing; 2) Living descendants of the Pobladores and 3) Truly hardcore Angelenos/Southern Californians who wish to profess their unconditional love for this place. Since the Militant's name hasn't appeared on any ballots (at least none that you've heard of...), and his parents immigrated here in the 1960s, category 3 is the obvious answer (um, as if you weren't aware of that already).

There is nothing like retracing the steps of our City's founders by getting up early and walking west, in the heat, eventually getting blisters on your feet and cramps in your leg, but damnit, it's worth it. Plus you'll get to hobnob with categories 1 and 2, and meet others from category 3.

The Militant did the walk last year and had a blast. And not to worry, you get hooked up with free water and free food at the end when you reach El Pueblo State Historic Park, next to Olvera Street. He may or may not do it again this year. But you definitely may. San Gabriel Mission is located 428 S. Mission Drive, though the walk's start is at the intersection of Mission and Junipero Serra drives. The walk begins at 6:30 a.m.

11 a.m. - 10:30 p.m.: Angel City Jazz Festival, Barnsdall Art Park - Down for some music in your Labor Day? The Angel City Jazz Festival, at Barnsdall Art Park, sponsored by local beermakers Angel City Brewing, features a day of music, art, food and brews, of course, in one of Los Angeles' most underrated (and underutilized) public spaces. Performances are both indoors in the Barnsdall Gallery Theater and in an outdoor stage.

Caveat: The festival ain't free (the Militant only found this out like right now). It's $25 presale, $35 at the door (yet there's no actual door there, it's outdoors after all). Tickets can be purchased online here.

The Militant may or may not be at one or both of these events. Or maybe he'll be spending time with a few operatives at an unspecified local beach with its own municipal pier, enjoying himself some seafood and sun on the sand.