Sunday, June 27, 2010

Night Magic Comes To Chinatown

As announced on Friday, the Militant went to the Chinatown 72nd Anniversary Festival on Saturday night.

It was a modest festival, which generally featured Flattop Tom and his Jump Cats playing 40s-style swing music, with a dance floor full of locals and visitors cuttin' up a rug (okay, well a linoleum dance floor) in the middle of Chinatown's central plaza, in the presence of the bust of Chinese hero Dr. Sun Yat Sen. There were probably only a couple hundred people there, and some of those were probably already there to visit the Mountain Bar or the Grand Star Club. The supply of the much talked-about strawberry cakes were already long gone for the night, though the Militant was able to run into some of his operatives who were in attendance.

But the most amazing thing the Militant saw there was foretold in that great Los Angeles invention and Chinese American icon: the fortune cookie.

No, really.

See, a booth run by the Chinatown Business Improvement District had a plate of wrapped fortune cookies on a plate, and the Militant, who loves anything and everything free and swaggy, instinctively open and ate one. It read:

Summer Light Festival & Night Market
Every Saturday in August 2010

A night market? No way!

See, the Militant may or may not have traveled the world and may or may not have been to Hong Kong, which boasts a legendary nocturnal bazaar in its Kowloon district. Everything from souvenirs to clothing to knickknacks to arts & crafts to electronics to, yes, pirated music, movies and software are sold there. "What an awesome thing to possibly have in Los Angeles (sans the pirated CDs and DVDs, of course, heh)," the Militant, assuming that he did, in fact, ever visit Hong Kong.

The Militant chatted with one of the Chinatown BID representatives there who gave him the skinny: In August, every Saturday night will feature an outdoor night market bazaar located in Chinatown's Central Plaza (between Broadway and Hill Street), West Plaza (Chung King Road, where the art galleries are concentrated) and Bamboo Lane alley (where the Phoenix Bakery is located). There will be arts and crafts vendors, food demonstrations, food trucks and other merchandise vendors there. Hours are yet to be determined. There will also be live entertainment. If successful, the Chinatown BID, who is organizing the night market, may establish the night market year-round, or at least for a longer period of time. The info on the night market is not yet on the website. For those of you who go to the monthly Downtown Los Angeles ArtWalk, the night market atmosphere is expected to be similar to the activity on the parking lot near 5th and Main.

This is pretty awesome stuff, folks. You heard it here first from The Militant. We need more public night events like this to keep our streets vibrant, this is definitely a step in the right direction. Let's hope this fortune becomes good fortune for Chinatown and our City in general.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Damn Yankees In Dodgertown

When the Militant was a wee young lad (back then known as "Lil' Mil"), his love of the Dodgers went hand-in-hand with his hatred of the NY Yankees. It was, after all, the late '70s, when the Dodgers made it to back-to-back World Series appearances with the despised ones from The Bronx, only to suffer back-to-back October defeats.

In 1981, though, justice was served, the Dodgers took home the shiny trophy with those tiny pointy flags on top, and Lil' Mil became a happy kid. Even with its iconic walk-off pinch-hit homer, the legendary vanquish of the Oakland A's seven years later was merely icing on the cake.

The Dodger vs.Yankee matchup has been the stuff of legend for baseball fans for generations. The basketball equivalent, of course is the Lakers vs. Celtics, and we all know how that went down a little over a week ago.

So how epic was it that Los Angeles gets to see two of its greatest sports rivalries play out in the same month? Thanks to the magic of MLB interleague play, here we are.

The Militant got tickets for him and three other operatives to catch the Dodgers vs. Yankees game on Friday. Having missed out on the series back in '04 (the last game of which was won via Lima Time (moment of silence, R.I.P.))...

...he had to go this time around. Not only did the Dodgers win 2 our of 3 back in '04, but the Yankees have a 4-10 record at The Stadium. YESSSS!

Of course, the Militant had to expect the inevitable: Throngs upon throngs of vociferous transplanted Yanks fans, wearing those "NY" hats in the french-fry font, attending the game en masse (The Militant has concluded that of people who wear a "NY" cap, 1/3 are diehard fans, 1/3 are bandwagon fans, and the 1/3 are people who have no clue about baseball, but just wanna look trendy (i.e. foreign tourists, celebrities)). But if war is what they want, the Militant is here for combat!

They handed out "This Is My Town" rally towels to all who entered. The holographic MLB sticker attached to it read "World Series 2009" on it. They must have gotten them from The Alternate Dimension (sigh).

Before the game, it seemed like we were ready to put an all-out Angeleno assault on the invading Yankeedom: Flea and Josh Klinghoffer from Los Angeles' own Red Hot Chili Peppers doing a bass-and-guitar rendition of the national anthem, and Pau Gasol from the 2010 World Champion Los Angeles Lakers (pictured left) throwing out the first pitch. Video highlights from the 1981 World Series were shown on the DodgerVision screen, as well as a shot of several Dodger stars from the '81 squad in attendance. Hell yeah! Bow down, MFers!

During the game, we were treated to a 1-2-3 inning by Vicente Padilla, who knows how to step up in big games, including a strikeout of Derek Jeter. YEAH!

Then Manny drives in an RBI single to drive Rafael Furcal home! TAKE THAT!

Of course, the Yankees matched us in the 2nd, and A-Roid hits a homer. Ergh.

At the Militant's infield reserve section, a group of people attempt a "Let's Go Y*nkees" chant, which is quickly drowned out by a much louder "Yankees Suck!" chorus. WHAT PART OF "THIS IS MY TOWN" DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?

Eventually, ugh. The Dodgers lost 2-1. Damnit. Randy Newman does not many any royalties this night.

Bummed, the Militant left the stadium, feeling pissed off for the rest of the night. But hey, that's sports. And on a grudgingly-purely-objective-baseball-fan-level, it was...interesting to see such players as Jeter, A-Rod, Texeira and Mariano Rivera in person for the first time.

Nevertheless, The Militant's love for the Dodgers and hate for the Yankees remains as strong as ever.

Flea and Josh Klinghoffer from RHCP rock the anthem Los Angeles style.

Joe vs. Joe.


A fellow Dodger fan brought his "Rally Homer" doll to the game. Woo-Hoo!
Unfortunately, it didn't work tonight. D'oh!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Remember The Time - Michael Jackson's Death, One Year Later

It's hard to believe it's been one full year since the tragic demise of The King Of Pop, which happened right here in the City of Angels. Surely fans will mark the occasion by visiting (the area of) his grave at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, visiting his family home in Encino or keeping vigil at his star on Hollywood Boulevard (not the wrong one this time). Maybe we'll even see a few "Thriller" or "Beat It" flash mobs.

Whatever the case, commemorate responsibly and with dignity...okay, we won't have to worry about that, but however you observe this anniversary, do refer to the Militant Angeleno's Michael Jackson's Los Angeles map, which details key So Cal locales in the King of Pop's career:

View Michael Jackson's Los Angeles by the Militant Angeleno in a larger map

Get Down In Chinatown This Saturday!

You may or may not know that Los Angeles' Chinatown is celebrating its 72nd birthday on Saturday, with a big '40s-themed bash in Central Plaza on Broadway.

The party lasts from 7 to 11 p.m. and will feature Chinese, American and Chinese American entertainment. The price? Like totally free!

Operative reports relayed to The Militant indicate that free strawberry cakes courtesy of Phoenix Bakery will be given away as part of the celebration.

According to, there will be free valet parking at 950 N. Hill St starting at 5 p.m., but of course, that's gonna be crazypackedbackeduptrafficlongwait, so you're gonna be taking the (M) Gold Line or riding your bike there, right?

Los Angeles history buffs know that the 24-block Los Angeles' Chinatown is actually Chinatown 2.0, dedicated in 1938. Chinatown 1.0, established circa 1870, was originally located a few blocks to the southeast, on the other side of Alameda, and was moved to make room for the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, otherwise known as Union Station.

Today, Chinatown is still going strong as a cultural tourism destination, with a handful of late-night eateries, bars and art galleries. Plus there's this real cool park next door.

Check out this FunnyOrDie.Com video from Hollywood stuntman Steven Ho (a recurring guest on the now-unfortunately-defunct Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien), who made this viral flick for the Coco crowd in April. You'll see some very familiar sights:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

GE3kin' Out At The Convention Center: The Militant Takes On The E3 Expo!

This week the Militant satisfied his inner geek as the Electonic Entertainment Expo, otherwise known as E3, descended upon the Los Angeles Convention Center.

The international trade-only convention, geared towards the video game industry, is one of the largest annual events at the Convention Center and has taken place here in DTLA for most every year since 1995 (it was held in Santa Monica in 2007).

Admittedly, the Militant may or may not be a diehard video gamer (well, he definitely was one back in the day), but definitely wanted to see what all the noise was all about, especially since an unspecified sibling of his got him a convention badge hookup on Thursday.

The West and South halls of the Convention Center were a whiz-bang whirlwind of lights an noise, as if a thousand video arcades blew up at the same time. For the past few years, the focus has been on the Big Three video game console manufacturers: Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft (makers of the Wii, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, respectively). This year, Nintendo showed off their new 3DS portable gaming system; Sony unveiled its PlayStation Move motion controller (pictured right) and MS wowed all geekery by one-upping Sony with its Xbox Kinect controller-less motion controller.

One of the highlights of the convention were the premieres of cinematic-style video game trailer presentations (much to the same degree movie trailers are presented) -- most notably, the Tron Evolution and Star Wars: The Old Republic game trailers had the most OMG factor in the show.

The rest of the show featured free swag (the black convention bags were of the same design as reusable shopping bags -- the Militant grabbed a few!), hot chicks passing out free swag, robot statues, and even the random celeb sighting (LeVar Burton of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Reading Rainbow fame was spotted hanging out at the IndieCade booth, pictured left).

It wasn't just the Big Three consoles represented, though, video games of all platforms and genres were featured, from PCs to iPads to a few arcade games (such as the 4-player Pac-Man game - now there's some games the Militant is familiar with...uhhh wait, did he just give away his age there?).

The Militant also found the time to meet up with some of his operatives who work in the video game industry. No word yet on whether a Militant Angeleno video game will or won't be released (but if it will, expect some freaking awesome combat action against a backdrop of beloved Los Angeles locales).

Thursday being the final day of the convention, come 5 p.m., the noise died down, the colored flashing spectacles gave way to the sobering houselights and the throngs of attendees spilled out of the Convention Center, only to cross paths with the throngs of purple-and-gold-clad ticketholders bound for the Staples Center to witness the Lakers usher in a back-to-back NBA championship. In other words, the scene on the street at 5:30 p.m. was, "LAKE3RS."

Next year, the mighty Lakers may or may not Three-Peat. But E3 will return, June 7-9, Twenty-Eleven.

The Militant's Suggestions On How To Prevent Post-Laker Championship Rioting

It's that time of the year, peoples. The Lakers may or may not have it in the fridge with the jello jiggling and alla dat, but some stupidass muddafuggas be knockin' that fridge over and setting it ablaze, thereby confirming the notions of East Coasters, Midwsterners and Northern Californians that Angelenos are some sort of inferior life form.

On Thursday, the LAPD plans to have the entire DTLA South Park area on lockdown, preventing people without tickets from entering the vicinity (But what if you were in the area for the big E3 Expo next door?).

Well, the Militant, who knows Los Angeles like no other, has a few fail-proof suggestions for y'all to avoid harm, destruction and further damage to our collective urban reputation. Mr. Mayor, City Council, Chief Beck, AEG and Jerry Buss -- the Militant Angeleno hereby asks you take heed of the following:

1. Get Kobe Bryant to go out after the game, address everyone outside and say, "Yo, if you''re gonna riot, there won't be no Laker parade." But he gots to be dressed up like this.

2. Hand out free vuvuzelas to everyone. Sure, there will be one loud, annoying, buzzing, B-flat drone emanating from Downtown Los Angeles for an hour and a half, but let's face it, no one's gonna be smashing windows, torching trash cans, overturning cars or stealing merchandise when they have a vuvuzela in their mouth.

3. Show Lady Gaga's "Alejandro" video up on those big-ass LA Live HD video screens. Just sayin'.

4. Stage one ginormous Michael Jackson "Thriller" flash mob right there at Figueroa and Chick Hearn Ct. Come on, it's Michael Jackson.

5. Send in the food trucks. All of them. Everyone loves food trucks. Okay, well, except these guys.

6. Send in the cast of "Glee" to do some cheesy song-and-dance routine to a popular cover song. That seems to make people happy for some reason, so inevitably it will curb one's spontaneous urge to engage in violent activity. Hard to believe? Don't stop believin'!

7. Project the movie "Sex and the City 2" on the Ritz-Carlton Building. If that don't work, nothing will.

8. Have Mayor Villaraigosa show up in front of the crowd so everyone will boo him. People will spend all their energy booing, no one's gonna riot. They're gonna be doing that during the Laker Victory Celebration anyway, so we might as well let everyone get it out of their system.

9. Blank out the entire 4th quarter of the game on TV and Radio, and make everyone believe the Celtics won the game. Then at 7 a.m., make a public announcement that goes, "Just kidding. The Lakers are NBA Champs!" Everyone will be able to watch the 4th Quarter on YouTube later on anyway.

10. Have everyone there mutually agree not to riot, but send Tweets/Facebook updates/text messages telling people as if they were. Their friends aren't gonna know the difference.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Sharrow Is Born!

Last night, as the Militant was riding his bike along Fountain Avenue in East Hollywood, he saw something truly cool - subcontractors for the City painting shared-lane markings, also known as "sharrows," meant to indicate the shared use of a traffic lane between autos and bicycles. A familiar sight in places like Portland, Oregon, Los Angeles is finally looking at implementing these citywide via a pilot program, installing them in four locations. These Fountain avenue sharrows were first applied on Friday, and the job for the one-mile section of Fountain between Vermont and Western was completed on Tuesday night.

The Militant chatted with one of the crews who applied the sharrows, who worked for a company called SEI, subcontracted by the City of Los Angeles' Bureau of Street Services. He said it takes about 10 to 15 minutes to apply each sharrow, which consists of three templates (the left and right sides of the bike icon and the double arrow chevron), which are lined up against reference markings on the road. A paint roller cart does two passes over each stencil and some magic pixie dust is sprinkled over the whole thing.

Okay, okay, it's not magic pixie dust, but "glass beads," the crewman said, which adds reflective properties to the sharrow. Check out the video above to see how they do it!

The crews had a busy night ahead (the Militant was there at about 11 p.m.), they were off to 4th Street between Western and Normandie to paint some sharrows there.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Atwater Villagers Celebrate A Century

The Militant spent a good part of his sunny Sunday afternoon partaking in the Atwater Village Centennial Street Festival.

Several hundred people descended upon the 3100 block of Glendale Blvd, where the southbound lanes were blocked off for the fest (street traffic was routed through Larga and Glenhurst avenues).

It was a neighborhood festival in every sense of the word, bringing out the Friends of Atwater Village, the local neighborhood council and the local residents association. There were arts and crafts vendors, music and dance entertainment, a trackless train ride and food (the weekly farmer's market at the nearby Wells Fargo parking lot ran a little longer on Sunday, and the Vesuvio, Baby's Badass Burgers, Kabob N'Roll and King Kone food trucks represented.

There were even pet adoptions, and local issue-oriented booths from California High-Speed Rail (which will run along the AWV's northern border) to saving the Van De Kamp's Bakery site. And yes, what would a street festival be complete without an appearance by councilman Tom LaBonge (pictured right) - who represents a portion of AWV.

There are neighborhood festivals all over this great city, but this one was centered around history (which is the main reason why the Militant made it a point to bike his ass over here).
The AWV is celebrating its 100th anniversary, which actually came in February, when the community at the time joined numerous towns and unincorporated areas that year in voting to annex themselves into the City of Los Angeles to gain access to summadat Owens Valley water. Incidentally, for most of the past century, the AWV was actually known simply as "Atwater," and it wasn't until the late 1980s when the name "Atwater Village" came into use (derived from a community sign once placed on the Glendale Blvd median which read, "Welcome to Atwater: A village within a city").

There were pictures galore of things like old Red Cars running through Glendale Blvd, and advertisements of old businesses in the Village. The nearby Artology 101 gallery had several historical pictures on display. The Friends of Atwater Village was also promoting the production of AWV's own Arcadia Publishing "Images of America" book, slated to be published by early 2011.

Pictures are always fascinating, but the best kind of history is the kind that has been passed down for generations - oral history. The Militant met a native Atwater Villager named Michael who recalled a time when he and some friends rode their bikes through the concreted Los Angeles River bed in his youth, and would race against the rich kids who biked down from Los Feliz. But the more working-class AWV kids knew where all the potholes in the concrete were, and when challenged by the rich kids, they would pick the course, only to sabotage the Los Feliz kids to win the race.

Years later, Michael met someone through his professional work who engaged in a conversation about growing up near the Los Angeles River. Turned out the other person was one of those rich Los Feliz kids.

Like the Militant always says, Los Angeles is really a small town. It just happens to have a lot of concrete.