Friday, June 26, 2009

Wacko For Jacko: How A City Reacts To A Pop Icon's Death

It was hard to escape the news of the death of pop star Michael Jackson on Thursday. After all, it happened right here in Los Angeles. From Twitter tweets to Facebook updates to web sites to TV news coverage, what people heard from all corners of the world unfolded right here in our backyard.

The Militant even caught sight of the Sheriff's Department helicopter that carried Jackson's corpse from UCLA Medical Center in the Westside to the Coroner's Office in the Eastside. He even snapped a picture of it (pictured left) from the Militant Compound as it flew in the skies over Koreatown at about 6:45 p.m.

Prior to that, a crowd gathered in Westwood, outside the Medical Center to either stand vigil, find out news, pay their tributes or offer prayers (The Militant was also at that point praying that there would be no Michael Jackson-related rioting...hey, prayers answered).

Then later in the evening, fans gathered on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where a sidewalk star bearing Michael Jackson's name was found on Vine Street between Sunset and Selma, and soon flowers, cards and candles found their place there.

Unfortunately, it was for the other Michael Jackson. Oops.

The recently deceased pop icon's star is on Hollywood Boulevard, right by the equally iconic Mann's Chinese Theatre, which was cordoned off for the already-planned premiere festivities of the Sacha Baron Cohen movie, Bruno.

But that didn't stop fans from gathering there, and the media from flocking there to cover the gathering. The Militant, en route to a planned activity elsewhere in Hollywood, dropped by to see what was going on. There were reporters, cameras, bright lights, and crowds with people offering quotes. There was even one dude in an '80s zipper jacket, with a "Bad" tour t-shirt underneath.

The Militant also had a chat with KTTV Channel 11 reporter Hal Eisner and another onlooker regarding the "wrong star" fiasco. Eisner said "It doesn't really matter where people want to show their feelings [for Michael Jackson], as long as the personal emotion is there." He also said that the fans who built the makeshift memorial "Probably just saw his name and decided to make a memorial there." But he noted that it probably didn't really matter to the fans whether it was the correct star or not.

The Militant made a comment about people having the need for some symbolic location with a connection to the deceased, but Eisner recalled that when John Lennon died in 1980, there was no such gathering at the Beatles' star in front of the Capitol Records building up the street (The Militant will not specify whether this exchange with Eisner was made on- or off- camera).

The Militant also asked Eisner whether the living Michael Jackson could be asked to comment on the "wrong star" issue. He said "That might be a touchy subject."

Fortunately, the living Jackson, on his website today, offered a heartfelt tribute to the deceased Jackson, from one MJ to another, and said of the "wrong star" fiasco: "The fans have gathered and placed mounds of flowers to pay respects to him at my star. I am willingly loan [sic] it to him and, if it would bring him back, he can have it. He was a real star."

As we have seen in the past few weeks, the people of Los Angeles are hungry for proper gathering spaces, whether it's to celebrate a sports championship or to mourn the passing of a celebrity icon. Whether to share elation or sadness, it's for the purpose of connecting with each other. By not having proper public gathering spaces, people will either take them over by brute force, or naive misunderstanding.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Streets Are Not That Alive With The Sound Of Music: Make Music Pasadena Festival 2009

The Militant headed over on Sunday to the exotic land known as Pasadena as the city hosted an event called "Make Music Pasadena," a one-day music festival that made its debut last year (which the Militant regrettably missed). The festival is the local component of an event called Fete de la Musique, which started in Paris, France in 1982 on the day of the Summer solstice. The event is now held in over 300 cities worldwide.

The whole premise of Fete de la Musique is to celebrate and encourage music in a daylong event, with organized stage performance venues and impromptu sidewalk performances, all of which for free. Sounds pretty militant to this Militant's ears! So yours truly brought along Militant Operative Stingray, an operative who knows a thing or two about music, to help guide him.

After they disembarked from their Gold Line train, they walked up just yards from the station to Pasadena's Levitt Pavilion to check out a performance by Chase Allen in the Hollywood Bowl-esque bandshell. Fete or no Fete, the bandshell hosts regular performances during the summer. So far, so good, but something seemed to be missing here - some sort of, ne sais quoi.

We then headed over to the next venue, the Pasadena Central Library, a few blocks away on Walnut Street, to catch some more performances. Unfortunately, the library remained like a library normally behaved: very quiet. In fact, there was no stage nor sound equipment anywhere to be seen!

They did see some action down Garfield, which, after reaching it, turned out to be the Pasadena Chalk Festival, a totally separate event, which had a music stage of its own, but was not an integrated part of Make Music Pasadena.

Another MMP venue was found at One Colorado a few blocks to the west, tucked away in a courtyard adjacent to the movie theatres, with the dark downtempo vibe of Eliza Rickman performing.

Around the corner, we stumbled upon a MMP sign on the sidewalk and to our right was an alleyway decently crowded with folks. Another venue! This time it was the Lycee International Los Angeles elementary school band (pictured left), with little tykes playing the jazz standard "Fever," some of which sounded pretty advanced for their age! Not only that, but the alleyway, part of the Alliance Francaise center, captured more of the Fete de la Musique spirit the Militant was looking for.

Hunting around for the next venue, we found the Armory Center For The Arts, with the sounds from the Levitt Pavilion echoing in the distance. The art center hosted an indoor venue, where the Militant caught the bluegrass trio The Black Sheep (not to be confused with these guys, lol) do their thing in front of a graffiti-inspired mural (pictured right).

After finding the next venue. the Cote d'Azur spa, almost by accident (it was mis-labeled on the map to be next door to the Armory Center), where yet another parallel event was found, this time Pasadena's LiveH20 festival, which wasn't mentioned in the MMP literature but this seemed to be the venue. Needless to say, there was no music playing here, just some woman making some new-agey chants, though a few people holding guitars were found.

We did not stay long.

A couple venues, such as Old Town's Twin Palms, Redwhite+bluezz and POP Champagne and Dessert bar, did not have any performances during the Militant's and the operative's visit, so those had to be skipped.

The last venue before we hopped back on the Gold Line was Mercantile Alley, next to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, where singer/pianist Theresa Flaminio was performing, out in the sun, next to a parking structure (pictured left). Guess this went more in line with the Fete spirit, which was the great thing about it, but there was something odd about the location nonetheless, with passers-by constantly walking in between the performer and the latte-sipping audience.

So Make Music Pasadena seemed to be, despite its wonderful intentions, somewhat of a dud, though after a little Militant research, it sounded like the economy was more to blame,
along with the day being Father's Day, as well as the adjacent Chalk Festival down the street (which, admittedly, seemed to have more energy to it). Still, for an event whose energy traditionally relied on the grassrootsiness of spontaneous human participation rather than organized performance venues, the Militant saw very little of it.

The Militant and the operative did spot one or two street performers, but they were probably going to be there, MMP or no MMP. And from the sound of one trumpeter situated across the street from the One Colorado entrance, listening to him struggle painfully getting a sound out of his horn didn't sound very festive at all.

Militant Operative Stingray was keenly intent on attending MMP this year to do some research on a little project he would like to pursue, which may or may not entail organizing his own Fete de la Musique event in an unspecified part of Southern California. From what he's divulged to the Militant, it sounds like he's got a plan, and the Militant wishes him the best of luck. Showing initiative - now that's music to the Militant's ears.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Contest: Who Wants To Be A Militant Angelena?

The Militant, currently celebrating his two years rocking the blogosphere, knows well enough that things have been a little too testosterone-fueled in here during that time (and we all know what happens when there's too much testosterone), and wants to do something different to commemorate this 2nd Anniversary of Militancy.

So here it is:

The Militant knows there's quite a few women who read the Militant Angeleno's blog, and quite frequently, too. He also understands that quite a few women out there may or may not have Militant tendencies of your own, with regard to this great City!

So he would like to host the first-ever MILITANT ANGELENA COMPETITION!

The rules are such:

- The contest is open to all females, in or from Los Angeles. Native status not required (but it helps!)

- You will be given one week, with the submission deadline 11:59 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Saturday, June 27, 2009, to write and submit a Militant Angelena post!

- The post can cover an event, a place, or opinion on a subject pertaining to Los Angeles. Just like the Militant! Think of it as if YOU were the Militant for one day!

- There is no limit on length, but if your entry induces scroll fatigue, then that's a pretty good indicator you might not win.

- Pictures will be accepted and are encouraged. They must be 640 pixels wide by 480 pixels high , 72 dpi resolution. They must be original photos taken by yourself, or your trusted operatives (credit must be given if operatives assist).

- Video or Vlogs will be accepted as part of a written post. Please upload to YouTube and submit the URL in your entry.

- Also include a short 1-2 paragraph bio about yourself.

- Entries must be submitted via email on MS Word or plain text file (.txt), along with any photos. Entries must be emailed to militantangeleno [at] gmail [dot] com with the topic, "Militant Angelena."

- Entries will be judged by the Militant and his operatives on the following criteria:

- Originality
- Writing quality
- Militancy
- The ability to encourage behavior that results in positive change in current Angeleno attitudes
- Local/historical knowledge
- Ability to teach the reader something new about Los Angeles
- The ability to kick ass!

The winning entry will be published on Tuesday, June 30, 2009 and the winner will also go on a date with the Militant Angeleno receive a nice prize!

Are any of you ladies Militant Enough?

Best of luck! WRITE MILITANT!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kobe Diem at the Coliseum a.k.a. LAKER-CON '09!

Before the Militant talks about his Wednesday celebrating All Things Lakers, he would like to tell all the celebrationphobes out there one thing:


Okay, now that he's gotten that out of the way, he'll run this real quickly, since by now you probably saw and read the Twitter tweets and Flickr albums containing various angles of the same thing.

The Militant, along with Militant Operative Valleypinoy joined some 94,998 others at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to celebrate the tema's 15th NBA championship victory. Though many wussies out there feared teh worst, it was a largely positive, joyous event with people of all ages and ethicities, especially children, and women (Because let's face it, Sunday night's Kunckleheadfest was a bit too testosterone-driven)
in the house (and the Militant was quite glad to see some of the ladies there, rawwrr!).

You all know what happened, and the Militant was certain people in Orlando could hear the faint sound of the word "RING!" echoing from the west. The Militant was most fascinated by the sight of the actual Staples Center Lakers court floor, set up by the eastern end zone of the Coliseum (where the Sun Deck is for you USC Trojans fans). Just think, this was probably the very first time that the floor has seen the light of day (and what a day, in terms of weather - warm enough to be a Summer day, but cool enough for some nice breezes to blow through. And to boot, this was by far the largest assembly of Laker fans evar in one place. LAKER-CON '09!

Could this be the start of a new tradition? Say, in the near future, the first-ever outdoor Lakers game, with the court floor set up in the middle of the Coliseum field? The NBA's 2010 All-Star Game will take place in a football stadium, and we all know the Lakers' professional sports franchise neighbor up the 110 brought in 115,300 people for a baseball game last year (the Militant was there, of course!). Add to that the fact that the Lakers made Exposition Park their first home, and you can assume the Purple and Gold will one day play a special game in the home of Los Angeles' Olympic Gold.

Maybe LAKER-CON '09 was a big selling pitch for the Coliseum, which may or may not go on sale soon to the highest bidder as the State of California is desperately seeking to some revenue. Sale or not, the event did further solidify the venue as the heart and home of Los Angeles sports.

And if the Lakers do a back-to-back again next year, let's hope the (M) Expo Line gets finished early!

MORE PICS!!!!!!!1
This dude had the best hat in the entire Coliseum.

We're not 'Worthy!' This dude rocks it old school with a 1988 World Champs banner and cap, both signed by James Worthy!

Derek Fisher tells Laker fans to STAY MILITANT!

Phil Jack"X"on, riding in the Coachmobile.

Though there were a few minor incidents, the mood was cheerful and positive, even as people left the Coliseum.

Tons of Los Angeles sports fans in Exposition Park, not there for a football game. Now where has the Militant seen that before?

The people's parade: After the celebration, the fans made their own!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Your Fear Of Celebration?

The Militant feels compelled to make this one extra post tonight because he's been hearing this from a lot of folks:

"I'm gonna pass on the Laker parade tomorrow. Don't want to deal with the knuckleheads."

"I'm just gonna watch in the safety of my own home. Too many knuckleheads tomorrow."

"The Coliseum!? That's the worst part of town. F--- that! Stupid idea to have the celebration there. I never go to that side of town!"

What you have here folks, is the "F" word: FEAR.

Look, the Militant distinctly remembers going to Staples Center after the Lakers won the 2000 NBA Finals, and got out of there quick because of what went down (which apparently was much worse than what we saw on Sunday, but thanks to people's short-term memories, no one knows that). More people were arrested and more vehicles were destroyed on June 19, 2000 than on June 14, 2009.

That also didn't stop the Militant from attending the Laker parade a few days later, which went off without a hitch, and save for a handful of arrests, it was a peaceful and jubilant celebration for a team that brought back the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy to Los Angeles after 12 long years.

For those of you who didn't understand what the Militant said in the past two paragraphs, the Militant will break it down in terms that you can comprehend:

2009 Laker Riot: BAD!
2000 Laker Riot: MORE BAD!
2000 Laker Parade: NO RIOT! STILL GOOD!

The Militant hopes you have the mental capacity to digest such complex axioms.

If you're not going to the Laker Parade tomorrow because you can't take the day off, no problem! But for those of you who are afraid of "the knuckleheads," then you're part of the problem! Basically you're letting them take over the event, much like people's attitudes towards neighborhoods, parks, and urban nightlife. If you truly are a Laker Fan, then don't let these punks take over YOUR event. This is YOUR event! Don't let them represent YOUR team! Take ownership, have no fear (As a certain Jedi Master once verbalized, "Fear is the path to the Dark Side...") and STAY MILITANT!

The Militant WILL be at the Laker celebration tomorrow at the Coliseum! (Remember to get there Militant Style: Ride your bikes or take the Metro Bus, folks!)

The Militant will leave you with this awesome Laker, the hero of Game 4, known for his class as well as his clutch, speaking from his purple and gold heart:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Two Years Of Militancy!!

Two years ago this week, the world local blogosphere changed forever.

For what was once a virtual land ravaged by historically and culturally-disadvantaged hipsters chopping away on Mac Books, claiming whatever they wanted to be "The Eastside," the landscape has changed, with some local standard-bearer blogs featuring more historically- and culturally- relevant posts than before, and even some of the formerly voiceless finally becoming empowered.

The Militant's job isn't done, of course, as evidenced by the behavior of some punks in the Downtown area on Sunday night. The Militant still forges on, even through what may or may not be career, time, health or unspecified issues. The Militant knows full well that his lack of prolificity withing the past year has become an issue, both public and personal, but the Militant still lurks amongst the multitudes in the City to bring you what you might not find anywhere else!

The Militant would like to thank each and every one of you for your time, your comments, including the Militant Angeleno's blog in your RSS feeds, your Facebook friend adds and Twitter follows! Much is truly appreciated from the very Angeleno heart and soul of this Militant! If he could bump fists with each and every one of you, he could (but of course, doing such a thing might give away his identity, so unfortunately it ain't gonna happen)!

The Militant has some surprises up his sleeve, so hang on, Angelenos and...STAY MILITANT!!

Episode I: The Fandom Menace - The Militant's Thoughts On The Post-Championship Melee

On Sunday night, hundreds of rowdy Laker fans took to the streets, and wreaked havoc on vehicles and property near the Staples Center.

And oh yeah, the Lakers won the championship.

Meanwhile, lots of smug transplants walk around town with huge smiles on their faces, going, "I told ya so!" and texting their friends and family back home how retarded Los Angelenos really are (yet they still won't leave because they like the weather).

Okay, historical perspective folks.

The Militant was there in 1992 and saw the You-Know-What happen in front of his eyes. More recently, nine years ago, the Militant wanted to celebrate, in the most sincere and joyous way, the Lakers' defeat of the Indiana Pacers, and took the (M) Red Line to Downtown and walked to the Staples Center.

There, he saw some Laker fans honk their horns, screaming with joy. But then he was ready to join one crowd, and then heard police fire rubber bullets.

The Militant fears very little in this world, but nevertheless, he got his ass out of there ASAP.

Naturally, the Militant will point out that these sorts of sports riots happen in other cities as well; In Chicago, back in 1992, over 1,000 were arrested in riots that erupted after the Michael Jordan-era Bulls won their championship (Hmm, Phil Jackson coached that team too...maybe the Zen Master is to blame? lol...) And in 2003, for one sports team up north that some of us used to know, the fact that they didn't win the championship one year didn't stop them from going crazy destructo nucking futs in the streets.

People like to pole fun, or point shameful fingers at this City and its citizens for riotous behavior, but no one wants to talk about WHY these things happen.

Case in point: The Lakers won the NBA Championship in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988.

Nobody caused a riot back then.

So what is it about contemporary society that drives people to act like assholes and burn shit (the Militant normally refrains from excessive swearing, but when he's this pissed, he's wired the censor button shut)?

The Militant has three possible explanations:

1. The Media. People do stupid shit in front of cameras. Ever see a high-speed chase on TV? Don't say you don't watch those things, because you know you do. Well, drivers in those chases know the chopper following is shining the spotlight on them - in more than one way. The Militant remembered watching TV one afternoon in 1998 when a man drove his car onto the northbound 105-110 interchange, parked his car, unfurled a blanket that read, "HMOs Are Only In It For The Money" and, as TV live cameras were watching, he pulled out a gun and shot himself dead.

There is a gross disparity of the "haves" (who have a lot) and the "have nots" (who inversely have very little). For many of the "have nots," the apparent privilege of the "haves" is justified by their celebrity status. So by being in front of a camera, whether they make money from it or not, creates an instant ego trip.

The Militant blames the media on Sunday night for expecting the melee and egging on the rioteers by their presence. The helicopters and news vans were there. So the "knuckleheads" wanted to do some "Showtime" of their own. There were even news vans deployed to East Los Angeles and the Crenshaw district. Gee, wonder why? (Eventually they reported very little).

Most of the "action" in Downtown died out by 1 a..m.; the cameras had already left. Coincidence?

2. Some Real Fucked up People Out There. No, not necessarily talking about their alcohol- or drug- induced states, but the fact that a lot of the rioteers have pretty fucked up lives to begin with. The Militant doesn't justify their behavior by any means, and doesn't want you to feel sorry for them, but let's face it, a lot of them never really experienced any genuine joy in their lives. Whether it's through poverty, faulty education, or abusive upbringing, when they do feel the joy and elation brought on by a Laker championship, they're gonna celebrate the only way they know how - by destroying shit.

Point is, there's some real social problems that we need to work on as a society, and the Laker riots are an obvious symptom of that.

3. Midwestern Mentality. Los Angeles, was once part of Mexico, a country known for tis fiestas and public celebrations. So much so, that a plaza was built in what was then the middle of town for such festivities. In the next century, the influx of white rural Midwesterners transformed the old Mexican village into a re-creation of the farmlands they knew, spreading its people out (yes, Midwesterners are to blame for our sprawl), and changing forever the way the city conducted itself with regard to public space, gatherings and social conduct. In the Mexican-era Los Angeles, gringo and Indio walked side by side. In the early 1900s Indiana-By-The-Sea, Midwesterners only socialized among their own kind and shunned others out. Even before the automobile isolated people from human interaction, the wide-open spaces created by our agricultural landscape created divisions among people. From then on, people are to be feared, and not interacted with.

Flash-forward to a century later. With the influence of Pacific Rim cultures, along with those of other parts of the world, we are supposed to be a global, cosmopolitan urban center, but the Midwestern Mentality still sticks around.

So what's the Militant's point?

The Midwestern Mentality frowns on public gatherings, especially spontaneous ones. It closes our parks and beaches at 10 p.m., it makes people want to instinctively dial 9-1-1 when over a dozen people are gathered somewhere.

Many people correctly state that Sunday night's melee is "The wrong way to celebrate." Sure, but what is the right way then? Other cities have sports victory traditions where they gather around a certain public space, and possibly engage in traditional celebratory rituals. Our public space (L.A. Live, right? Wait, "public?" It's privately-owned!) is still too new. So why can't people organize spontaneous victory celebrations "the right way?"

Unfortunately, any sort of spontaneous victory celebration is either "bad," or "potentially bad."
So let's be creative, claim public space and teach each other through tradition "the right way" to celebrate, from now on.

Failing that, let's just give an ultimatum to any future would-be rioters: You riot, you loot, and there will be no victory parade for anybody.

There's another professional athletic team in town that happens to have the best record in its sport at the moment. They may or may not bring home a championship of their own come October. So let's start to get our act together right now or else we'll never learn from experience.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

We Are The Champions!

In case you've been in a bunker, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Orlando Magic 99-86 to win their 15th NBA championship title. As of this writing, Lakers fans are celebrating in a fairly civilized manner for the most part, and the city is abuzz with the thrill of victory (Unless you're a transplanted hater trying hard to tell people how much you don't care, lol, sucks to be you).

And despite reports of the City's budget hindering the championship celebration, the Laker Organization is going dutch with the City to pay for the parade, which is scheduled for Wednesday at 11 a.m. from Staples Center at Figueroa and 12th streets down two miles to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, with a noontime celebration. The Coliseum's gates open at 9:30 a.m. and admission is free. The Militant may or may not will be there!

This one's for you, Laker fans:

Friday, June 12, 2009

The End of a Rabbit Ear-a: The DTV Transition Begins!

Welp, Angelenos, the time has come. Are you ready for the DTV era? If not, the Militant hopes you know where to turn and what to do.

Today, various local televisions made the switch and shut down their analog signals forever, at their own specified time schedules. The Militant discovered that KABC had already made the full switch, and in the process, changed the frequency of its DTV channel so that it also no longer works. You have to re-scan your HDTV/DTV's tuner to pick up the new frequency.

At 1:10 p.m. today, the Militant witnessed history as KCAL 9 switched off the analog signal it has been broadcasting since August 25, 1948 (as KFI-TV, then KHJ-TV in 1951), and captured it on his Militant Cam!

Missed it? Watch the YouTube video below taken by the Militant himself to see it happen!

After KCAL switched, he also found his previously-viewed DTV Channel 9-1 was no longer viewable. A simple re-scan brought back KCAL 9-1 at the new frequency. Apparently you're gonna have to do the re-scan boogie for the next few days.

The Militant has been enjoying digital TV since he got the new Samsung HDTV set to replace the old cathode ray tube at the Militant Compound last year. He loves the new sub-channels, and awaits the creation of a few more in the near future. Being that the Militant does not have cable (Paying for TV that shows commercials is teh 'tarded, and honestly, if the Militant had cable, he would be more of a Militant Couch Potato than anything else...).

Emergency! Emergency! Cardiac Arrest? No, Just Cards

On Thursday night the Militant was hanging out in an unspecified location in Silver Lake with Militant Operative Blackbird when the two of them happened upon a a Los Angeles Fire Department paramedic ambulance nearby, lights flashing. The operative glanced through the side window and commented, "Is that Solitaire?" The Militant decide to take a closer look, and saw a screen with a green background, and rows of computer-generated images of playing cards moving around. So he snapped a pic with his Militant Cam and confirmed it: The EMTs play Microsoft Windows Solitaire on the ambulance's computer! (Pictured above, with inset)

The Militant wonders what the appeal is. Really, it's like the most boring computer game evar. Look, if you're gonna play a computer game on the job, why not go all the way and play Final Fantasy or World of Warcraft or something? Or why not a PS3 for the LAFD? Come on! Los Angeles just hosted the E3 convention, after all! Oh well. It may or may not be better than being on Facebook all day (as the popular social networking site is seemingly not blocked by the City's internet servers, where sites like YouTube and MySpace are).

The Militant didn't check to see if there was a person on a stretcher inside, nor did he want to know.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hang In There, Laker Fans!

Okay, so the Lakers were humbled in Game 3 of the NBA Finals as they fell 108-104 to the Orlando Magic.

Whatever, that's fine. No sweep? No problem. It was a home game for the Magic after all, and let's face it, it was their first-ever Finals win in the history of their franchise, which means this could be as good as it gets for those poor, championship-deprived Magic fans.

Besides, the Lakers still lead 2-1, which means, even with another loss on the road, the Lakers can still wrap it up, according to executive orders from the White House.

Not to mention Lakers legend and NBA Hall-Of-Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did a cameo last week on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, in a Lakers shirt, no less.

The stars are aligned, folks. All will be fine. Take a gander at that Los Angeles skyline, witht he US Bank Tower's crown glowing purple and gold (pictured, right). Start staking your place on Figueroa for the Laker Parade. It's a matter of when, not if, folks!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Notes From The Metro: More Bike Space Fail

After much talk last year about expanding bicycle capacity on Metro Rail trains, the Militant noticed while riding the (M) Red Line late last night that at least one of the cars had another set of seats removed, assumingly to create more space for bicycles in the subway, right? Well maybe they should be a little more obvious with it, as not every cyclist is using the space as intended (pictured right). EPIC FAIL!

Maybe they just assume they need more standing space, which isn't all that bad since more standee space is a mark of a heavily-used rapid transit system, as anyone who's ridden NYC's subway knows.

Of course, it would help if they put a sticker with a bike icon in that space, y'know, just to let cyclists know that the space is dedicated for them. Otherwise, it's just a waste of underutilized space.

Not even a zamboni would use the space!

(Yes, the Militant knows it's really a floor polishing machine, but let's face it, a zamboni is much more funnier...)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Militant Gets His Lummis On: Lummis Day 2009

The Militant first heard of this "Lummis Day" event a couple years ago, and kept missing it each year due to his various militant and extramilitant activities. However, he made it a point to go this year, taking the Gold Line on Sunday to the Southwest Museum station.

For those of you who may or may not know your Los Angeles history, the day was named in honor of Charles Fletcher Lummis, a late-19th century renaissance man of sorts, who was famous for not one, but many things: the first Los Angeles Times city editor, Los Angeles city librarian, writer, photographer, connoisseur of everything Southwest, the list goes on. No, he was no native, but he did something truly hardcore -- he walked the 3,507 miles from Cincinnatti, OH to Los Angeles, and wrote about it in weekly dispatches to the Times and other newspapers around the country. Guess you can say he was the first blogger!

The Militant will be honest: He was a little let down by how the festival came to be compared to his expectations. He thought locals would do total Lummis cosplay in 1890s garb, while schoolchildren would read some of his poems.

Instead it was a neighborhood festival, celebrating all things Northeast Los Angeles. He did dig the total local vibe - local food, local bands, local artists. The festival was spread out among three locations: Sycamore Grove Park on Figueroa Street, the normally-closed Southwest Museum's Casa de Adobe, adjacent to the Gold Line station and of course, Lummis' famed residence, El Alisal, (a.k.a. Lummis Home, pictured above). This was the Militant's first opportunity to check out Lummis' humble abode, which he built with his own hands. The home is now a museum to Lummis-bilia, as well as the home of the Historical Society of Southern California.

A half-mile walk to the north was the main festival site, Sycamore Park, which featured three stages of entertainment, which included artists like Carlos Guitarlos, Wil-Dog Abers from Ozomatli and 2/3rds of Culture Clash. There was some great chow to be had, from Korean BBQ, tacos (but not Korean BBQ tacos), shaved ice and baked goods.

Across the street, the Militant climbed up a stairway which lead to a parallel sidwalk path elevated above the regular sidewalk on the west side of Figueroa (pictured lower right)! Others walked along this path, from couple to parents with their kids. It was a nice, only-in-NELA experience, though that path is long overdue for a re-paving.

The Militant walked past houses and apartments, but was eventually led to the festival's third venue, the Casa de Adobe, which was transformed into a makeshift gallery for the day featuring work from local artists. The Militant stopped to say "hi" to an unspecified artist operative there.

The Militant unfortunately had to leave early due to some militant commitments on his militant calendar, but did stay long enough to chat with some locals in the community to learn more about the NELA vibe.

This year was the fourth iteration of the festival, so make it a point to check it out in 2010. The Militant May or May Not Be There!

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Militant's Mess Hall: We Want (Kogi) Ta-cos! Clap! Clap! ClapClapClap!

Much has been said about the Los Angeles mobile food sensation known as Kogi. So much, that the Militant need not repeat what's already been said (or even re-tweet what's been on Twitter). But one thing he needs to say is that he's a Kogi late bloomer, and didn't get the opportunity to try one of them Korean-style tacos until Thursday night.

After relishing in the post-NBA Finals Game 1 Lakers victory (Whatup, all you Laker fans! Caaannn yoooouuu digg itt?!?), the Militant decided to take a bike ride for an unspecified distance and celebrate by partaking in all that is Kogi tacos. After all, aren't tacos synonymous with wide-margin Laker wins? It was a night of Kobe and Kogi, in other words.

He learned via Twitter that one of the trucks, "Roja" would be parked at Silver_Lake(r)'s 4100 Bar on Sunset. Fearing an onslaught of hipsters (especially anticipating a long line of 'em while waiting for his tacos) the Militant brought some protective gear.

When he got there, he discovered he needen't need the gear, as the line was only about five deep, and it was just a bunch of different kinds of folks more or less in the Militant's age bracket. Phew on both counts!

So the Militant ordered two Korean short rib tacos, one Korean spicy pork taco; a kimchi quesadilla and a Korean short rib burrito to go for one of the Militant's unspecified siblings.

Fearing his identity might be revealed, the Militant left the scene and headed back to his compound to consume his provisions.

The tacos were mighty tiny! But smelled amazing. It was like a whole new world. Yes, the Militant has had Korean food before, but not packaged like this. He took a good whiff of the tacos and the quesadilla before chowing down.

The Militant really wanted to see if Kogi is worth the hype. The Miltant can confirm that, yes it is (especially since he only had to wait all but 5 minutes from getting in line to getting his order, though the line grew to 18 deep by the time he left).

One little complaint; Kogi seems to pride itself in its Korean BBQ meats. After all, the name is a variant of "bulgogi." But the little tacos (pictured, right) are so covered in cilantro, onion, cabbage and spices that you hardly can taste the BBQ. Well you can, but the spicy pork and short rib tacos kinda tasted indistinguishable. They were still good though!

Same with the quesadilla. The cheese seemed too overpowered by the kimchi. Which is not to say that a kimchi quesadilla doesn't work, maybe they just need more cheese in there! Again, not bad stuff at all! Just nitpickin' here! The kimchi sauce and sesame seed on the outside is a nice touch though.

Despite that, the roving Korean taco truck has officially gained a new fan in the Militant. But mostly because of what it stands for. This is true fusion cuisine, and best of all you don't have to sit down in a hyper-pretentious upscale eatery to try it. It's street food, after all! Also, while it's great that Los Angeles can take pride in its In-N-Outs and french dip sandwiches, the Kogi experience is something truly, uniquely Angeleno. Surely the concept has already been imitated, and it's only a matter of time before you can find Korean tacos out in Queens (of course, they won't be as good), it's great to know that the concept originated right here, and that we're pioneers in this high-tech, mobile, multicultural fusion cuisine revolution.

It can't get any more real Los Angeles than that. Savor it, Angelenos.

Locations vary; two taco trucks, "Roja" and "Verde" operate simultaneously in different parts of town.

Open Tuesday-Saturday

Items: Korean short rib taco ($2); Korean spicy pork taco ($2); kimchi quesadilla ($5)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Los Conangeles

As you may or may not know, last night, Conan O'Brien finally brought his Late Night antics westward to become the fifth host of The Tonight Show.

For the Militant, who admits to being a Conan fan since September 1993, the thought of bringing the show here to Los Angeles is an awesome opportunity (for Triumph to poop on!), the ability to go see a taping notwithstanding.

Of note to the Militant is his amazingly beautimous set, which includes the requisite cityscape/skyline talk show backdrop, but prominently features well-known local edifices as the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills city halls, the Hollywood Bowl, Mann's Chinese, the U.S. Bank Tower and Bullock's Wilshire (which seems to tower over all the others). Above the backdrop is an art deco-style mural with So Cal iconic images (beach lifeguard station, etc) - a nice nod to one of the world's capitals of Art Deco.

Of more note to the Militant is how the City gets portrayed to the national audience. Granted this is a comedy program, so people, places and things will no doubt get lampooned, but surely one can be ROTFL funny without resorting to tired old stereotypes. O'Brien's predecessor, Jay Leno, initially relied on poking fun at the usual showbiz/superficial/cosmetic surgery-obsessed jokes posted at Angelenos, though in later years it's either been tempered down, or re-focused (i.e. the same jokes, but pointed at Beverly Hills). The intellectually-challenged interviewees from Leno's "Jaywalking" bit also inadvertently depicted Angelenos as clueless buffoons at first, but eventually the segment was taken nationwide and demonstrated that clueless buffoonery was simply an American phenomenon.

The Militant already has high hopes; so far O'Brien has employed the usage of "Los Angeles" far more times in the first episode than simply "L.A." (A pet peeve of the Militant, especially since you never hear those Frisco people say "S.F." when both cities' names contain the same amount of syllables). Plus, O'Brien's trademark non-sequitur/referential humor would likely offer something more than the expected stereotypical humor. The reference to the 99 Cents Only store (especially in the obscure products found there - in contrast to Leno's approach to 99 Cent store items) in the Universal Studios tour bit was a good indicator of what may be to come.

One thing, though that irked the Militant was O'Brien mentioning that guest comedian Will Ferrell "Lived in Los Angeles for quite a while." For quite a while? Um, the dude's an area native! Ferrell's from Orange County and all of the Militant's USC operatives know that he's a Trojan alum.

So welcome back (O'Brien lived here in the late '80s-early '90s, just prior to starting Late Night) to Los Angeles, Conan! Maybe the Militant can show you and your crew around!