Thursday, April 29, 2010

Curbed LA Out Of Ideas, Rips Off The Militant

Yesterday, the development blog Curbed LA put out an open call to rename the area formerly referred (and propagated) by them as "The Eastside." They also claimed to end the long-standing debate as to where the Eastside is, and whether brown-skinned folks should be considered actual human beings that are worthy of recognition and interaction.

Well la-di-da, not only did the Militant actually end that debate two freaking years ago, but he also put out the same call to rename the same said area, and even demarcated it with three question marks. A total rip off? Ya think?

Though maybe the Militant shouldn't be angered. After all, this is a major admission (some would call it surrender) by one of the worst perpetrators of mis-naming the "Eastside." And of course, the blatant rip-off is indisputable proof that the Militant is ahead of his time. Lastly, when reading the comments between Curbed and the Militant, it's easy and plain to see that readers of the Militant - even the transplanted ones - are so much more creative, intelligent, insightful and englightened.

On the Curbed forums, an example of their readers' collective ignorance and arrogance is perfectly examplified by the comment made by one such reader named "Sparkletime":

"so tired of all the "i grew up here so i know" argument. who cares. i live here now and i'm fine calling it the east side."

The Militant is sure that "Sparkletime" would be perfectly fine with Angelenos moving into their little Podunk backwards hometown and re-naming everything because they feel entitled to it. Of course, "Sparkletime" probably comes from the kind of town where the biggest weekly event is the Klan march.

Just proves that there's some real ignorant motherfukkkers out there. Even more reason to STAY MILITANT!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Go Retro: Whitney And The Robot!

Before Nickelodeon, and even before PBS, there was a time when local television stations around the country aired locally-produced children's programming.

Here in Los Angeles, locally-produced kids' shows aired largely from the 1950s to the early 1990s, stretching from Sheriff John to Hobo Kelly to That's Cat (Raise ya fist up if you remember any of those!).

The Militant did some reminiscing as well. When the Militant was young (a.k.a. Lil' Mil), he watched a show from the late '70s called Whitney and the Robot which aired on - and was produced by - KNBC 4.

The show featured an unabashedly blatant R2D2 knockoff robot named 4U2, who came from a planet named Zeda and was sent to the planet Earth to learn more about it, under the care of a whimsical taxi cab driver (not a very busy or lucrative profession in Los Angeles) named Whitney. Whitney's good pal, the red-headed Corky, would join them on their various adventures, and would frequently break out in song.

So what's so militant about this? Well, each episode featured a different locale, filmed around the Los Angeles area, where the child-like robot would learn about things or experience them, from visiting the city dump to learn about recycling and where your garbage goes (the one episode most people seem to recall) or taking a train ride at Union Station or learning about horses at a ranch (filmed at the Old Rex Allen Ranch in Calabasas). Did this show fuel Lil' Mil's budding Angeleno knowledge? It may or may not have...but he tends to think it did.

The show was created by its (human) actors, Whitney Rydbeck, a local actor with a mime background (having performed in the Richmond Shepard mime troupe in Los Angeles in the 1960s), and Robert V. "Corky" Greene, another local actor with a musical background. Both have done bit parts in television and movies since Whitney and the Robot - (Whitney even sealed his place in Star Trek lore), and Rydbeck currently works as a performing arts professor at Pasadena City College. Greene, a Van Nuys High alum, got into directing and producing and seems to be enjoying grandfatherhood these days. He's been known to lurk on teh Interwebz so he might very well stumble upon this here blog post! (Whatup, Corky?!)

Anyway, here's what the show's opening looked like (rather long by today's standards...):

You can watch one of the episodes here - if you were a kid in the late '70s, it may or may not take you back!

There were only 14 episodes made, from late 1978 to 1979. KNBC aired the show on Saturday and/or Sunday mornings up until the mid-1980s, but the show was also syndicated to other cities and aired at one time or another on television up until 1990.

For the Militant, and those around his age who remember this show, it was a way to learn about things and places and present Los Angeles as a familiar place, free from the usual cliches and stereotypes one would eventually pick up later on in life. It's a crying shame the kids of today have no equivalent.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It's Time For Dodger Baseball Again!

There comes a time every Spring where the Militant not only gets excited about sports, but about life in general. A time where renewal is abundant, and familiar sights, sounds and scents fill the air.

That day is Dodgers Opening Day.

The Militant hasn't missed it since '07; in fact he even covered it in This Here Blog in '08 and '09.
But the Militant was definitely there at The Stadium on Tuesday, watching his team initiate their 52nd season of professional beisbol in Los Angeles.

Instead of one characteristically long MA blog post, he's just gonna break it down:

Dodger Stadium Express: Transit makes a triumphant return to The Stadium, the first time since the second half of the '08 season and for the first time covering the entire season, one can take a bus to Dodger Stadium directly from Union Station. The Militant, long known of being a champion of transit, naturally decided to partake in this new service on Opening Day.

Big Mistake.

The Militant got off of his Red Line train at approximately 12:22 p.m. and headed up the escalator to the Patsaouras Transit Plaza at Union Station's east end. There, he was greeted with a queue approximately the same circumference as a baseball diamond. Nice to see the demand there, but the first pitch was only some 40 minutes away. The previous "Dodger Trolley" of 2008, though not as conveniently close to the Red Line, was extremely painless, getting one from the Station to the Stadium in some 10 minutes time. But that was not on Opening Day.

Metro, who operates the service with their own Metro Local buses, was, however, able to rush a bunch of buses from their nearby yard to fill the demand. The long line quickly shrank and the coordinators even encouraged people to board Orange Line-style. Supposedly passengers without a ticket to the game would have to pay $1.25 to board, but for the virtually sold out home opener, it was safe to assume everyone had a ticket to the game anyway.

Getting to the stadium was another matter altogether.

The bus crawled for some 40 minutes through Cesar Chavez and Sunset in embarrassingly slow surface street traffic, which the bus was not immune to. Just blocks shy of Elysian Park Ave, the bus driver did some lane hustling and was able to make the right turn up the hill, but numerous riders, antsy because they did not want to miss the first pitch, yelled, "LET US OUT!" But after that point the bus maneuvered rather rapidly into the parking lot and outside the pavilions' Lot G.

Approximately one hour after the Militant left the Red Line, he took his seat at the Stadium. Phew.

Now, this isn't a bad service at all; in fact, Metro was rather quick to respond to passenger demand (they even ran all articulated buses after the game on the return trip back), but for Opening Day, he should have just ridden his bike to the game.

The Game. Now normally, the Militant arrives at Dodger games early, and by early, he means before the National Anthem is played. Enough time to grab a Dodger Dog (grilled, of course) or just sit in his seat and get that warm and fuzzy feeling listening to the organ stylings of Her Majesty, Nancy Bea Hefley.

But thanks to horrific street traffic, the Militant missed out on:
1) The team intros
2) The big-ass U.S. flag on the field
3) The National Anthem (sung by Busta Rhymes Lee Ann Rimes)
4) The fly-by of an government-owned aviation vehicle of some sort
5) The Ceremonial First Pitch (by the talented Los Angeles native, Will Campbell .I.Am)

Yeah, the Militant didn't get to see none of dat.


He also missed the starting lineup. But then he realized that today's starting lineup is really no different from that of last season...

But he did get to see a great start by Clayton Kershaw, a pair of doubles by James Loney and not one, not two, not three but FOUR homers, lobbed in courtesy of Manny Ramirez, Casey Blake, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, respectively, all to the tune of Gary Glitter's plodding, "Rock And Roll, Part 2" stadium anthem (replacing the pulsating techno sports anthem of Zombie Nation's "Kernkraft400" - The Dodgers' homerun song since the 2004 season). The Miltant prefers the latter, and isn't Gary Glitter a convicted freaky pedophile or something? Ew...

Anyways, when all was said and done, some 3 hours, 42 minutes later, the Dodgers win their home opener, 9 to 5 over the Arizona Diamondbacks. Can we get a w00t-w00t?!

The Believin' Picks Up Where It Left Off: Come the middle of the 8th, familiar piano chords fill the Stadium's P.A. system and the wailing voice of Steve Perry commences. Is he there? Where is he?

He's baaaack. The lip-sync rocker and Dodger fan extraordinaire Jameson Moss, the biggest thing to wow a baseball crowd since Dancin' Homer, has returned. All is good in Dodgertown.

The Promos: WTF?!

(Wonder if Rihanna likes playing with the green one...)

Best Reference To "The Divorce":

(But pleeeeease, not Mark Cuban...)

Remember Me?:

(Dodger Stadium Bike Parking is still there...sorta...)

Now That's What I'm Talkin' About:

Enjoy the season, fellow Militant Dodger fans!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New At The Stadium: FRESH PAVING! WOO-HOO!

In recent years, the Dodger organization has brought some wonderful and awesome changes to our beloved 48-year old baseball cathedral -- the second-oldest stadium in the Major Leagues.

Dodger fans and visitors have been treated to all-new seats and renovated Field Level concessions and restrooms. Heck, they even installed bicycle parking...once upon a time.

In the 2008 season, the Dodgers unveiled an ambitious "Next 50" plan for the Stadium which would add physical enhancements to the stadium property while keeping the actual venue mostly intact.

So, Ladies and Gentlemen, for the 2010 season the Dodgers are proud to unveil....

...fresh new asphalt in the parking lot.

Yes, True Blue fanatics! Upon entering the stadium you will see fresh, smooth new blacktop, free of potholes, and clean, bright markings on the road, lest you veer into the wrong lane! Life couldn't get more exciting than this!!!!!1


Oh who is the Militant kidding? In the 2008-2009 offesason, the organization was supposed to install a brand new HD Dodgervision screen and a new scoreboard. They attribute the long offseason and the World Baseball Classic in early 2009 as impediments to the construction timeline, which may or may not be true, but The Economy Thing might have something to do with it. And of course, there's...The Divorce Thing...

...Which is but one of the reasons this 2010 season isn't quite starting with the same level of excitement as the past few. Talk about a major buzzkill. That and the fact that there was no major offseason signing on the roster to get everyone excited (oh wait, Garret Anderson - woopee...) And the fact that the Dodgers are starting off their 2010 season at home with a 2-4 record - last place in the NL West. And when the hated Frisco Giants are in first place, you know that something is not right in the world (Y'know all those earthquakes the Earth has been having?).

Yes, the Militant will be there on Tuesday, taking the new Dodger Stadiun Express from Union Station, right after he gets off the Red Line from the vicinity of the Militant Compound. Yes, he will be clad in Dodger blue as usual, Yes, he may or may not partake in a Dodger Dog (though not his first for 2010). Yes, he will be cheering for his team at every defensive strikeout, diving catch and double-play, every hit and every run scored, cos that's how the Militant does it - and always done it.

But something just doesn't feel right this time around.

He just hopes the Boys in Blue can prove him wrong.

Makin' The Switch

It's finally here. After several weekends of service delays, Exposition Construction Authority
crews have finally constructed the switch trackage connecting the existing (M) Blue Line with the under-construction Exposition Line (officially dubbed the Metro Rail Exposition Corridor) by Metro.

This is pretty exciting stuff. It's the first time the alignment of the 20-year-old Blue Line tracks have been altered, for a line that was initially conceived of in the early 1990s as a mere branch of the Blue Line going to Exposition and Vermont.

As you can see from the tracks, the paving over the tracks have been removed, and the rails replaced with two switch tracks and a crossing track, with the curved tracks belonging to the Blue Line veering east to the Grand Station and beyond; and the straight tracks heading due south on Flower to the 23rd St station and beyond.

The trains are expected to be operated in a similar fashion as the Red and Purple lines -- with alternating trains from each line running down the tracks. Like the switch track at the Wilshire/Vermont station, this switch here at Flower and Washington will also be automatically operated.

Construction crews have yet to connect the switch tracks with the existing Expo Line tracks on the other side of Washington Blvd, which will happen soon, creating a physical rail connection between Downtown and the Westside.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Sigh'ns Of Life In Echo, uh Elysian Park

The Militant was driving back to the compound late Tuesday night and spotted these fancy new electronic gateway signs on Sunset Boulevard, that proudly display the community name of "Echo Park." Like similar signs in Downtown, it's meant to relay traffic conditions, road closures, and possibly community announcements or even maybe the occasional Tweet.

Only problem are their locations: One is located on Sunset and Everett St.; the other is located at Sunset and Sutherland St. Doesn't that technically make the signs heralding the entrances to Elysian Park? Looks like some messed up geography there. That's what you get when you have transplants make decisions!

Echo Park, as you may or may not know, is the community just northwest of Downtown Los Angeles that is oft-mistakenly identified as "The Eastside," mostly by the transplanted hipsters that have kind of taken over the place in the past decade. Of course, they do have a lovely eponymous park, which will once again host the Lotus Festival this July.

The Militant saw the signs yet again today on his way to the Stadium to pick up his Opening Day tickets, and was thusly inspired to write this here post. He thought about bringing this up with the local neighborhood council, but the geographical issue is apparently meaningless to them.

The Militant only hopes this is only phase one of the electronic Twitter sign project and that at least two more will pop up further west on Sunset, between Sutherland and a few yards east of Coronado. Otherwise, Epic Geographical Fail!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Name Is Alfred Mahanta, And I Am The Militant Angeleno

Whatup?! This is the Militant here, and he may or may not have something to say.

In a week where a certain celebrity has decided to openly reveal his sexual orientation, the Militant felt moved and inspired to reveal a little something about himself of his own -- himself.

He's usually not inclined to speak in the first person, but he'll make an exception just this once:

My name is Alfred Mahanta, and I am the Militant Angeleno.

I was born on December 3, 1972 at Ross Loos Medical Center (now Silver Lake Medical Center) in what is now known as Historic Filipinotown. I grew up in parts of Los Angeles that were for the most part "unspecified" during my youth -- today they are parts of Koreatown and Los Feliz.

My parents really did come from an "unspecified 3rd world country." Well, two of them - My dad came from India and my mom came from Indonesia. I went to Alexandria Avenue Elementary School, Bancroft Jr. High School and Fairfax High (Go Lions!), class of 1990. I spent two years at Cal State Northridge before graduating with my communications degree from UCLA.

I really didn't know where I fit in. There weren't many Indian-Indonesian-Americans I could identify with. So really I was cool with everybody and tried to learn a little bit from my Latino, Jewish, Asian and African American friends at school. One of my best friends, Roel, whom I've known since the 5th grade, introduced me to his own culture and I had Filipino food every time I hung out at his house. That led to a lifelong fascination with foods from different countries of the world, and a place like Los Angeles certainly has an abundance of that, which is but one of the reasons why I love my hometown so much.

So how did this Militant thing start?

My life changed forever when I picked up a Los Angeles Reader from the Music Plus store (remember those?) sometime in the late '80s and the cover story was the Pacific Electric Red Cars, and what caused their demise. That just like blew my mind. I had no idea this City had a rail transit system, running through streets I've driven, walked, biked and ridden the RTD bus on. There was much more to this City than I thought there was.

That led to an obsession with Los Angeles history, which grew and grew and remains with me today. That this City has all sorts of amazing layers of history and human stories, it had a real soul, contrary to what many others think.

It wasn't until I got to UCLA when I learned about transplants...For the most part, everyone I knew up until college was either a native, an immigrant or arrived here before they attended school. There was no "out here" or "spread out" or other transplantspeak for me growing up. So to hear these words from others, it felt very foreign to me.

I had done some video projects back in high school, and was a frequent contributor to the Daily Bruin. I found myself doing all sorts of Los Angeles history topics or writing about current developments at the time, namely the Downtown Los Angeles skyscraper boom and the nascent Metro Rail system. I dunno, those things just fascinated me.

I had done some internships and part-time jobs at places like KCET, KCOP, the LA Weekly and even the good ol' Recycler. Working in the TV field especially exposed me to more and more transplants who were here to fulfill their showbiz dreams, and over time that shit just got to me.
Furthermore, I had an ex-girlfriend who hailed from Queens, NY and was a diehard Mets fan. Bet you can guess how that turned out!

I had thought of doing a "Militant Angeleno" ("MA" is my initials reversed) website for the longest time but work and other endeavors got in the way. Finally in June of 2007 during a period of unemployment, I suddenly felt inspired with new things happening in the Hollywood area and my home neighborhood of Los Feliz (yes, that is where the Militant Compound is located; no, I'm not giving you the exact address - I still have a right to privacy!) that I just decided to take a cue from an unspecified athletic shoe company and Just Do It. Ergo, the Militant Angeleno blog was born, and the rest is history.

So there you have it, everything you wanted to know about the Militant. He...uh, I am full aware that the mystique has worn off a bit, and part of me regrets revealing myself at long last, but on the other hand, I've probably gained some new friends (hopefully). So feel free to add me on my real-life Facebook page. I'll look forward to meeting you all in person one day.

I may no longer be anonymous, but I will always...

MA a.k.a. Alfred M.

[April Fools, suckazz!! Thanks for reading though!]