Friday, August 31, 2007
Auf Wiedersehen, Lowenbrou Keller
The Militant parked his bike in the restaurant's lot, which was unusually full. Though it wasn't packed, it had perhaps eight times more people than there were the first time the Militant ate there when he used to work nearby.
The restaurant, which was supposed to close down on Friday, is staying open a little longer -- "until the food runs out." For those of you planning to bid them a final guten nacht, please make dinner reservations in advance or come in a small group. A group of about seven people got turned away.
There was no menu, but instead the waitress gave us the choice of either the Farmer's Plate (smoked porkchop, ham and sausage), the Chicken Schnitzel, Bratwurst or Hungarian Sausage. I opted for the Farmer's Plate (pictured right), the operative had the Schnitzel.
The food took a while, but the kitchen staff of two people were already overburdened. The Militant didn't really care for the porkchop and the ham, but the sausage was great and so was the schnitzel. The grilled potatoes were a nice bonus, as well as the sauerkraut.
A photographer for a major area newspaper dropped in and snapped photos of the ornate, Teutonic-themed interior, a quasi-kitschy collection of woodcarved beer barrels, elk busts, stuffed birds, armored knights, cherub statues and travel posters promoting Bayern (das ist Deutsch für "Bavaria") designed by movie set designer George Eder, who opened the restaurant 40 years ago. His widow, Renate Eder, the owner, urged the photog, "No more photos!" and even offered him a free pint of beer to make him stop -- apparently the sudden surge of word-of-mouth publicity has been too much for them to take.
Much has been discussed about the fate of the restaurant and its surrounding land parcel, which is being sold to its new Korean owners (trust the Militant, they are not "Chinese," as other blogs have reported). Word is that the decor will remain, but that the place will reportedly be renamed "Medusa Lounge." For those of you worried about the name, fear not, it will most likely change its name after six months of opening (a well-known secret in the expatriate Korean business community timed in accordance with the terms of small business loans and the expiration of B-1 visas). Whether the new incarnation of Lowenbrau Keller will be a publicly-accessible bar/lounge or a private-membership club remains to be seen.
The Militant is fully aware that the near future will see a land-grab war in the gentro-vulnerable west-of-Downtown area which encompasses Historic Filipinotown, Westlake and parts of Pico-Union. White hipsters seek to see an expansion of all that is "Silverlake" and expatriate Korean investors seek an expansion of all that is "Koreatown" (and operate under an entirely different set of rules than celebrated Korean American entrepreneurs like Pinkberry's Sherry Hwang or ice cream guru Tai Kim of SCOOPS fame - both of which have built their respective successes through a more mainstream clientele). The Militant takes no sides, of course, but would just [sarcasm mode: on] love [sarcasm mode: off] to see how this battle turns out.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Take The Militant Challenge!
Today was a good day.
Yes, the Militant could write more about his urban adventure in detail, as he is prone to doing. But some things are better left unwritten. And of course the mention of names and groups might therefore tip off people to the Militant's identity (Do not want!).
Besides, it's hot, it's humid, he's lazy.
But here's something -- the Militant has been flexing his artistic skills lately and played around with the banner up on the top of this here blog. Today he's made a "ransom note" collage made up of bits and pieces of famous Los Angeles signs and logos, from the present and past. Some are plainly obvious, some more obscure.
The letters are M, I, L, IT, A, N, T and A, N, GE, L, E, N and O. Two pairs of letters have been combined, so there are bits of 14 local signs/logos.
The first person to comment and identify the correct sources of all 14 gets to learn the Militant's identity.
No, just kidding. Actually, this is all for fun. Maybe he'll come up with a prize. Who knows?
So c'mon...step up to the challenge. You can't win if you don't play!*
*Please play responsibly.
Congratulations to Will Campbell for winning the first Militant Challenge! He receives an authentic 99 Cents Only Store Beach Ball.
Even though we have a winner, play this challenge for yourself to test your skills. The answers are in the #2 comment.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
The Militant's Home Run: Dodger Stadium on Bike
So when a member of the Militia gave away an extra free single Top Deck ticket to the Militant for Tuesday's game, the Militant was so there. Besides, so far the Militant's home game record has been 0-2, devoid of the experience of seeing a Takashi Saito fist-pump and hearing Randy Newman blaring in the stadium speakers. It was time.
Yes, the Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals 4-3. It might have been because of Chad Billingsley's inconsistent, yet still decent start. It might have been because of Jeff Kent's solo homer. It might have been because of Shane Hillenbrand's two RBIs and awesome line drive catch. It might have been Andre Ethier's sac fly in the 7th, or it might have been because the Militant decided to wear his grey "Los Angeles" road jersey rather than the white Dodger home jersey he happens to wear during games where the Boys in Blue add another in the "L" column.
There was a victory tonight, but not just a Dodger victory. A Militant victory.
This being the first Dodger game attended since the Militant Angeleno went to press, er, web, the Militant wanted to do something, well...Militant.
So he rode to The Stadium...yep, Militant style.
It took him about 30 minutes to travel the 3.5 miles from his compound to The Stadium. Yes, he rode down Sunset. Yes, he biked up the hill on Elysian Park Ave. Yes, he rode through the parking gates.
Once inside, one of those Standard Parking folks tolk him to walk his bike. (Damnit...) But the Militant politely complied. After locking his bike against a light pole near the Top Deck turnstiles, a fellow Dodger fan asked the Militant, "Did you have to pay to get in?"
"Nope," the Militant grinned. "This isn't a car."
"Because my daughter lives real close to here, maybe I can ride my bike up here myself!"
"Go for it," the Militant replied.
The Militant then told him about his plan to one day have at least 30 two-wheeled Dodger fans take to the stadium on bicycle and purchase game tickets at the group rate (30 or more). Also, in a polite, but still no less Militant gesture, the bicyclists would chip in about 50 cents each so all bicycles would park in a single $15 automobile parking space.
The Dodger fan told him that he would definitely want to be a part of that.
Since the "parking" was free, and the ticket was free, the only cost on the Militant's behalf was on a large drink and a Saag's Louisiana Hot Sausage (the Militant loves Dodger Dogs (grilled only), but the Louisiana dogs are just, well, as they say in that state, lagniappe) - together, $12.50.
The game itself was a pleasurable experience, the view from the extreme third-base-side of Top Deck wasn't that bad, the moderate attendance of 49,698 left a lot of room for the Militant, who was surrounded by a family of three, a group of mostly Latino and black friends enjoying a game together (the racial tension-seeking mainstream media might wanna take a look at this for a change...), a quartet of hipsters who only stayed for about three innings before leaving and one real (quiet) drunk guy who spent most of the game slumped over on his seat, asleep. Yes, there was the ubiquitous 99 Cents Only Store beach ball thrown around our section, but no wave tonight (not even a slow-motion one).
After treating himself to the Saito mound walk (and accompanying graphics), the Saito strikeout, the Saito fist-pump and the Randy Newman tune, it was time to ride...
As the Militant unlocked his bike, he overheard the comments:
"...take your bike?!?!?"
"...ride a bike in here?"
The comments mattered to the Militant like Eric Gagne still matters to the Dodger bullpen. He set his cellphone stopwatch feature on...
Zooming past the long, slow queue of cars, the Militant zipped down the hill like ice cream down a cone on a 110-degree summer day. After he cleared the Sunset Gate, he checked the stopwatch. The time it took to leave the parking lot:
Now it was time to head down Sunset. By the time the Militant crossed Echo Park Ave., he had already left any stadium-related traffic behind. He zipped through Silver_Lake with ease.
By the time the Miltant arrived back at his compound, he checked the stopwatch counter:
If he were in a car, the Militant would still be in the Stadium parking lot, listening to the first callers on KFWB's Dodger Talk. So yes, people, it can be done. Walter O'Malley's automobile-accessible cathedral of baseball became little more than a mild uphill challenge on a bike, not to mention a good way to work off those hot dogs.
If you were at the Ravine, waiting to slowly funnel out of the parking lot, and saw some lone, daring bicyclist zipping past you...well, that may or may not have been the Militant. But more likely the former.
Vinny, please do the honors:
"Home run Militant Angeleno! In a parking lot of the improbable, the impossible has happened!"
McCourt Reveals This Year's Offseason Stadium Improvements
The over-$60 million renovation will have state-of-the-art ergonomically-designed kitchens in the concession stands which would HOPEFULLY speed up food transactions and best of all: all field level concession stands will have grilled Dodger Dogs. The restrooms will reportedly sport waterless urinals, which management says will save up to 2.4 million gallons each year in the field level alone. Whether the notorious troughs will remain, who knows. The restrooms will also have hand dryers.
There will also be new club seating for season ticket holders in the Field level on the first and third base sides, which include buffet dining, a fuill-service bar and private restrooms.
Renovations will also include a high-tech cooling system for The Stadium which consists of a centralized chilled-water system which is designed to be integrated with the concession kitchens.
What about all us Loge, Reserve and Top Deck folks? Guess we'll have to wait till the next off-season.
Speaking of which, the Militant will be in Top Deck tonight...GO BLUE!
Sunday, August 26, 2007
Some Love For The Yellow Cars
"Yo Militant!" the spirit of the narrow-gauge trolley cars which ran primarily within Los Angeles city limits until 1963 said, "You give props to the PE, but why you ain't givin' no love to us Yellow Cars?"
The urban-speaking spirits of the trolleys were right. After all, these were the trolleys Angelenos dodged when the Trolley Dodgers of Brooklyn moved into town almost half a century ago (incidentally there were no more trolleys in Brooklyn in the late 1950s). So in order to not only satisfy them but save the Militant from further hauntings, the Militant Angeleno offers some Yellow Car love:
- At 01:33 the trolley crosses on the 1st Street Viaduct -- a route where the (M) Gold Line will run in 2009.
- At 01:19, the trolley passes in front of the future site of Pollo a la Brasa. If only they knew.
- At 01:01, with Celeveland Chiropractic College in the background, the trolley crosses over the 101 Freeway on Vermont Ave.
- At 00:46, the trolley passes what is now the (M) Blue Line Vernon Station.
Xavier Self A Merry Little Coffee
Okay, okay, the Militant will offer full disclosure: He is a resident of the 31st Congressional District (you are required, though, to publicly deny ever having read that sentence). Good luck finding the Militant, though. The Militant attended one of these "coffee" events a couple years ago when the congressman hosted one fairly close to the Militant's compound. The Militant was glad that reapportionment made him a Becerra constituent, as his previous congressman under the old district map would never do one of these events as he only cares about the more economically-advantaged members of the district.
The constituents present represented the broad diversity of Becerra's district, with a number there requiring Spanish translation equipment, and a little on the older side, yet still not that old. A line of over 30-deep lined up to ask questions of the congressman, which doubled the length of the event which was originally scheduled for one hour. Thankfully for Becerra they stuck to House-relevant issues like the Iraq war, immigration, health care, the economy and transportation. A few constituents even impassionately urged him to support the impeachment of Bush and/or Cheney, which the Democratic representative, though heavily critical of the Bush administration, felt there's no time for Congress to pursue that route. He also blamed the Republican-mandated "supermajority" rule in the Senate, which now requires a 60% approval rather than the usual 51% simple majority to pass bills - a situation which requires any Democratically-supported measure to garner a number of Republican votes to pass.
Agree or disagree with them, it's a wonderful thing for members of Congress to have a one-on-one meeting with constituents. Too many elected officials out there - on all levels of government - like to feel important and avoid any contact with the people they were elected to represent (unless the constituents contribute mad moolah for them during election season). Also, a lot of politicos do things like this only when the media is present. The press was nowhere to be seen at Becerra's Saturday event - which the House representative actually preferred to avoid sound-bite posturing (ironic though for the venue since the elementary school was named after a Los Angeles Times editor who died in 2004).
If your representative puts on these kinds of events, do make it a point to go - they are excellent ways not to only meet your member of congress, but their staff and fellow people in your community as well. If your House rep hasn't done any events like this yet, the Militant strongly encourages you to demand them to.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Councilman LaBonge Backpedals (And That's A Good Thing)
About two dozen bicyclists that consisted of constituents, staffers, bike activists, three LAPD bike cops and at least two bloggers rode against the setting sun along 4th St. from Shatto Park in Koreatown, and up the socioeconomic ladder from the dense apartment blocks on the eastern side of the street to the stately near-mansions of Hancock Park, ending at Fire Station 61 near Park La Brea. Along the way, the police officers corked (velospeak for "blocking traffic to keep the mass of riders together") most of the cross streets, and even the councilman did some corking himself. An LAPD cruiser rode behind the pack to assist any possible flats or breakdowns. At the fire station, the riders were allowed to use "the facilities," as other participants chatted with officers, firefighters and fellow riders before riding through the station on the way back (pictured right).
The ride made a pit stop at Larchmont Village where most of the cyclists took over a metered parking spot (pictured left) right in front of the Above The Fold newsstand after an SUV just left.
"Let's see, how many bicycles can you park in this space?" the councilman asked aloud. "Seventeen!" he said, after tallying it himself, with room for a few more bikes to spare. The Bicycle Coalition folks got excited about not only the public demonstration of the bicycle-to-auto parking space ratio, but that a city councilman gave it his blessing.
At the pit stop, LaBonge treated the riders to a free cone of chocolate chip ice cream at the Larchmont Baskin-Robbins (the chain originated right here in Southern California) as the councilman chatted it up with not only the riders, but people who strolled along the village, including the daughter of KTLA reporter Stan Chambers. The councilman, wearing a light blue t-shirt and grey shorts, walked into the Louise's Trattoria next door, meeting and greeting folks. Los Angeles is LaBonge's small town as well.
The ride went along 2nd street for most of the way this time, the councilman calling out the route, and eventually landed back onto 4th Street at Kingsley Drive. There were definite signs of the "bike boulevard" concept in more than just the green "Bike Route" signs -- at Normandie Ave., the crosswalks were even outfitted with street crossing signal buttons for bicyclists! (pictured right)
The Militant even chatted with the councilman along the ride, telling the politico how he enjoys biking in streets of the Valley at night during the summer. It might have been because of the conversation, that near the end of the route, LaBonge announced to the riders that he would make this ride a monthly event, on the last Thursday of the month, and that the next one on September 27 would go from his Valley field office in Toluca Lake on through the Chandler Blvd. bike path in North Hollywood.
See? The Militant has proven he already has influence on our public officials.
Tom LaBonge's style has been described as loud, garish, grandstanding, extroverted, showy. But the Militant got to see another side of the councilman: The city geek. Which was a good thing, as a number of the riders were city geeks as well (most especially the blogging contingent). From mentioning the historical significance of nearby Hoover Street at the beginning of the ride (it was the original western boundary of the city when it was incorporated in 1850) to Western Avenue (the city's new western boundary in 1915) to chatting about the design of the Los Angeles River bridges, this guy not only knows the city, but seems to have fun with it. During the ride back, he led the pack, not just because he was the councilman but because he seemed so damn excited about doing this, including pushing the crosswalk buttons at major intersections. He even stopped to pick up a piece of paper left on the street and disposed of it in a nearby trash bin (of course, this was in Hancock Park...). Yeah, maybe he was showing off, but unlike many other local politicians who insist on getting chauffeured around town, LaBonge seemed to enjoy experiencing the city...which is probably as close to being Militant as far as a local public official can get...(well, for now, at least...).
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Boomer In Blue!
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Ethnic Iced Dessert Quest - Part 4: Shaved Ice, By Any Other Kakigori
[Reader 2: LOL, he's writing about his stupid little snowcone desserts again. I mean, I think this blog is cool and all, but I can't pronounce any of these desserts he's writing about! Why can't he just stick to writing about Pinkberry or the latest gelato joint, like all the other L.A. bloggers?]
[Reader 1: What do you expect? He's a freak. He probably rode his bike to his high school prom.]
[Reader 2: ROTFLMAO!]
Not only is it damn hot this week, but it's...Uhhh...did you hear that? The Militant could have sworn he heard some voices in the background...oh well...it's also Nisei Week, celebrating Japanese American culture, which means we head over to Little Tokyo for some more ice dessert goodness.
This time around, it's called kakigori (pronounced like a bloody horror flick that takes place at The Gap), a shaved ice treat found all over Japan. In its most basic form, it's usually made with finely-shaved ice, flavored with sweet syrups of various flavors and colors and is most likely the progenitor of the more famously-known Hawaiian Shave Ice. Other versions, though, include sweetened milk and sweet red beans.
Such a dessert can easily be found locally in Little Tokyo's Mikawaya pastry shop nestled in Japanese Village Plaza. As anyone who calls themself an Angeleno knows, Mikawaya is the home of mochi ice cream (and don't you forget it). But Mikawaya is no one-trick pony - they also sell Japanese pastries (wagashi), gelato (which the newly-remodeled establishment was freely handing out generously-sized samples of to plaza visitors on Friday) and shaved ice treats.
But here's the thing that gets to the Militant: They don't call it "kakigori." It's called...are you ready for this..."Italian Ice."
Yes, you heard it right. This intensely both puzzles and irks the Militant...here we are in the early 21st century, an era where Nihongo-derived words like "karaoke," "anime" and "sushi" are already firmly entrenched in the contemporary American lexicon, and some people still have to hide behind the Italian thing? (On that note, the Militant also wonders why other Asian ethnicities (i.e. Korean American-owned "Italian frozen yogurt" shops, Vietnamese soups bearing "vermicelli" noodles, etc.) feel the need to use the Italian ethnicity screen as well...)
Anyway, to Mikawaya's credit, you can get your "Italian Ice" in one or more flavors, or get them in the uji (green tea) or kintoki (red bean) variety, which are listed on the menu. The Militant, seeking consistency in all that is shaved ice, sweetened milk and red bean, naturally chose the latter.
To prove what the Militant goes through just for you folks, he made not one, but two reconnaissance missions to Mikawaya - on Friday and on Monday - in search of kakigoritalianice (okay, it's mainly because he forgot the memory card in his trusty spy cam on the first visit and no online stock photo would do).
On Friday, to reward himself after a bike ride to Downtown, he sampled a towering kintoki ($4) which consisted of a layer of red bean on the bottom of the dish, then a heaping, volcano-like mountain of thinly-shaved ice on top, moderately drenched with green tea and sweetened milk, and an extra serving of red bean placed inside the "crater."
Oh man, it was good.
During the second visit on Monday, the Militant tried the "kintoki w/flavor" ($5 - pictured above) which included the typical colored kakigori syrups (he selected cherry, lime and pineapple), with the dual layers of red bean. But this time, instead of getting Mt. Fuji he got Mt. Unzen instead, and it melted...fast.
So the lesson here is: kakigori - by any other name - is good, just don't go overboard with the flavorings. The extra dollar or so doesn't limit you to any number of syrup flavors - you can choose all or even just one if you wish. Actually, the Militant much-enjoyed the more subtly-flavored kintoki with just the milk and green tea added on.
There are other places in town to try kakigori (which may or may not...no, seriously this time...) be listed as such in the menu. Fugetsu-do on 1st St. in Little Tokyo has it, as well as Sakuraya bakery in Gardena. The Militant welcomes your comments on other recommended places to find kakigori. Or whatever they want to call it.
[Reader 1: Go ahead, post a comment! You know you want to!]
[Reader 2: Shuddup, fool! Hey, let's just go get some mochi ice cream instead. LOL!]
118 Japanese Village Plaza
(near 1st St. and Central Ave)
Item: Itali...uhhh...just ask for the Kintoki, $4 (regular) ; $5 (with syrup flavors, your choice and quantity)
The Militant would like to wish bon voyage, buena suerte and mabuhay to operative and fellow militia member Valleypinoy as he embarks today on his 4-year advanced militant training tour of duty in the Pacific Northwest. STAY MILITANT!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Ice Cream, History and Trolleys New and Old
Layin' Down The Line
Speaking of the Gold Line, the Militant snapped these pics of rail construction of the (M) Gold Line extension to the Real Eastside on his recent reconnaissance mission in the Little Tokyo/Arts district area:
recently-completed aerial structure that crosses over
the 101 freeway takes shape.
Looking towards the opposite direction, the Little
Tokyo/Arts District station platform comes together.
Looking west on 1st Street, a few tracks are
looking forward to...um...getting laid.
Construction dude welds the rails together.
On a hot Summer day.
When you take pictures in Downtown,
you're expected to make the obligatory skyline shot.
From looking towards our rail future, we now look back to our rail past in this rare YouTube video of the Pacific Electric Red Cars, which shows some of the trolleys in Downtown, Santa Monica, Venice and Culver City (which, as the video shows, was chosen by Henry Culver to be specifically located along the PE tracks (talk about a transit-oriented development before its time)). It was shot by a Culver City resident and filmed as a home video back in the day:
Hooray for segues!
Monday, August 20, 2007
National Blvd, which was once a fine, straight thoroughfare before the Santa Monica Freeway got built in the late 1950s-early 1960s, was forced to go all twisty, resulting in confusing directions and strange 90-degree turns in many places (which has caused many an accident, including one on this night, where a white Chevy SUV dented the driver-side doors of a black Prius - pictured above). One of them is just west of Motor Ave. where a neato little retail district has been built around the sharp curve. Here sprouts Cheviot Farms market and deli, an Indonesian restaurant (the consul general-approved Indo Cafe, where the Militant conducted some research for his little ice dessert quest) and an Indonesian Market and Cafe (Simpang Asia, where the Militant sampled some fried, filled appetizer goodies called risoles and krokets). The street also sports a vegan restaurant, a Szechuan diner, a bar/karaoke joint, a gelato shop, an antique store and a hipster-ish hat shop.
Around the corner on Motor Ave. was a little neighborhood pizza joint, an Iranian Islamic mosque and cultural center and an Italian Restaurant But the biggest surprise for the Militant was inadvertently stumbling into The Palmer Room, which adjoins the restaurant and is one of the up-and-coming venues for music and comedy in town. The Militant, though an avowed non-Westsider, grudgingly admits that if he was forced to live in the Westside (via methods that would warrant some sort of human rights violation), he'd choose this little neighborhood...but not until after the second phase of the Exposition Line gets finished out there.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Cool Like Dat(eh)
Dateh played to a well-packed house (a diverse crowd which seemed equally represented by close friends and new Internet fans), backed by a 4-piece band called The Live Movement, singing some tunes in the soul/funk music vein, and dropped in a set with his YouTube partner- in-crime, DJ inka one. The two pretty much performed a live version of their famous YouTube video, which now boasts over a hundred thousand views, and Dateh even mentioned that he will be featured this coming Tuesday night on ABC's "iCaught" Internet culture-focused television show. He even performed a few inka one-backed songs on sung vocals. He finished off his live set with a spirited cover of Jill Scott's "It's Love" and a latin-flavored tune to close (Dateh joked about the irony of a Japanese American like himself teaching the crowd to chant the song's Spanish-language chorus).
The Militant may or may not have chatted with Dateh after his show to give him props (Sorry Paul, that's just S.O.P. - hope you understand).
But yes, dude was the real deal. Check him out sometime before he blows up.
Driving Smart and Disposing S.A.F.E.
Yes, the Militant drove around town.
But of course, when the Militant drives, he drives efficiently, planning trips accordingly so as to waste as little gas, money and time as possible.
The Militant headed out on Saturday morning to Burbank, where two of his Valley-based operatives, who had been in a relationship for several years, finally tied the knot in a nice ceremony. So the Militant had to put his camouflage fatigues away for the day and don a sharp suit - which he bought at the Fashion District a couple years ago - for the occasion. You just had to see it (of course, you probably can't). The reception took place in Downtown Los Angeles, so the Militant took care of a few errands while en route.
First was downtown Burbank, where the Militant parked on the street and made a quick automatic withdrawal of his Militant funds. The Militant also realized he hadn't yet bought the wedding present yet, but never fear, he was able to walk to a nearby store where he was able to purchase the present. All of this convenience saved him the task of driving to separate places, hunting for parking at those destinations and stopping and starting his car several times.
Next, the Militant made a quick trip to a City of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation S.A.F.E. (Solvents, Automotive, Flammables, Electronics) Disposal center (pictured right). Say what? See, several days ago the Militant's cathode ray tube-equipped home television set - purchased in the late 1980s - passed away. After it was subsequently replaced with a brand-spanking-new LCD HD television set (HD TV is like, wow...), instead of leaving the deceased television on his curb (like many people do) and further adding to the blight in his neighborhood, he dropped it off at a S.A.F.E. center where they happily accept old electronics and toxic materials for proper disposal or possible recycling. If you are a Los Angeles city resident, please dispose of your old broken crap or motor oil here, and tell your friends about it. This particular center, located right at the Los Angeles-Glendale city border across the 5 freeway from Griffith Park, serves the Hollywood and Northeast Los Angeles areas, and is accessible from the Edenhurst Ave "exit" off of the 5 Freeway Colorado Blvd. on/off ramp. And yes, this meant that, due to the carefully-planned trip, the Militant drove to his friends' wedding with a dead television in the backseat. But hey - the Militant is always prepared...or at least most of the time.
So after the S.A.F.E. center visit, it was direct to Downtown via the 5 and 110. The newlyweds had their wedding reception at, of all places, the Music Center, which sports a few banquet halls within its structure. Even during a few hours of dancing, drinking and celebrating the beginning of the bride and groom's new life together, the Militant got to spend a couple minutes to enjoy the view of the Civic Center from five stories up (pictured left). The Grand Avenue redevelopment project intends to put a large public park in that area, stretching from the Music Center to City Hall. The Militant had to leave the ceremony a little early to make a work assignment in the Jefferson Park area, which he got to on time via the 110 and the 10.
Planning your car trips carefully saves you from much hassle - even though you're still on the road, by efficient planning of automobile trips, it saves you from being on the road when you really didn't need to be.
Friday, August 17, 2007
The Urban Renewal Ride
The first stop on this ride was the new Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles (pictured above), which, since August 8, has re-animated the formerly lifeless body of the MacArthur Park bandshell on the northwest edge of the park. Thursday night is "Dance Rhythms" night in the Pavilion's Wednesday- thru-Sunday concert schedule, and the Afro-Cuban sounds of Ricardo Lemvo and Makina Loca not only filled the northern half of the park, but got the crowd of some 200-plus Angelenos - many of whom live in the nearby neighborhood - of all races and ages into el ritmo. True to the day's theme, a good number got up in front of the stage and salsa-danced on the lawn, while small children ran and played. This energy was what had been missing from this park for so many years, and after the concert ended at nine o'clock sharp, some people in the crowd, including whole families, took the opportunity to stroll around the park, which is still shaking off its "hellhole of urban blight" reputation.
The Militant also took the opportunity to stroll (well more like pedal slowly) around the park, from the pedestrian tunnel cutting under Wilshire Blvd. on through the circumference of the lake. Though there was a certain amount of trash and questionable aromas, this really is a beautiful park, or at least it truly can be. The nightime view of the Downtown Los Angeles skyline and its reflection from the western shore of the lake (pictured left) is the closest one can get to a waterfront view of our city's skyline.
The Militant got back on the streets, heading east on Wilshire, passing the massive Home Depot shopping complex, which is also home to Pico-Union's first Starbucks. The Militant also saw the LAUSD's new John H. Leichty Middle School, named after a school district administrator who died in 2006, as well as a few condos. Then it was due south on Flower street.
Testing the Market
While Downtown blog-guerrillistas got the first dibs at covering the new Ralphs store on 9th and Flower during its long-awaited debut last month, the Militant gets his shot by visiting DTLA's first new supermarket in half a century (THANK YOU Ralphs people for the bicycle rack in front). Night time is the right time for this 5 a.m.-to-Midnight operation as the curb on 9th Street, which can accommodate about 15 parallel-parked cars, is the prime spot for shoppers -- even more convenient than parking at a standard supermarket lot. There is a larger subterranean parking garage though. But most of all, as the Militant rolled in, he saw some Downtowners walk home with their groceries, some using take-home carts. Now that's the spirit!
Now that the opening week mayhem has died down, the Militant got to stroll down the neatly-stacked aisles and counters with items bursting with color. Okay, the Militant will shut up now. Just look...
People over 4 feet in height are not allowed in the
Downtown Ralphs pharmacy after 9 p.m.
Even the designs on the walls make the Militant proud.
"No..." the Militant quietly grunted, more focused on taking out two dollar-bills and some change. "That's $2,91, right?" the Militant tried to confirm.
"$2.52," said the checkout dude. "I already rang up your Ralphs card."
"Oh?" Uh, OKAAAY..." the Militant said on the outside while saying a loud, resounding, "HUH?" on the inside.
Oh well, guess being a Militant does have its privileges after all...
After having his snack, the Militant mounted his two-wheeled chariot down Flower street, passing restaurants like the brand-spanking-new Liberty Grill and The Palm and followed the (M) Blue Line tracks. Though more industrial in nature, there's a lot of future potential on these blocks for some cozy next-to-the-tracks eateries, cafes or shops - familiar sights in places like Portland or Frisco. Down by Washington Blvd, Flower is partly cordoned-off with construction barriers, all in anticipation of the Exposition Light Rail line.
Live! and Colorful
With the (M) Grand Avenue station being the aphelion of the Militant's Urban Renewal ride, he headed back up Figueroa and got to check out the latest on LA Live's progress. The Nokia Theatre (pictured left) was slowly taking shape as the Militant was already imagining how integrated the new development would be with Staples Center -- especially on nights where there would be concurrent events in both venues. Heading up Fig, in addition to passing familiar institutions like Cafe Riordan, the Militant also biked by newer storefronts like the Downtown Famima!! Japanese export convenience store and Roy's Hawaiian Fusion restaurant a few doors down, where the Militant had some nice and memorable dinners within the past eight months.
Heading back due west on Wilshire, the Militant caught sight of the new Royale on Wilshire restaurant and lounge, apparently one of the up-and-coming music venues in town. Not much far up ahead was the new Wilshire Vermont Station TOD nearing completion, complete with its own spectrum-colored mural (pictured right). While Franklin Avenue ('Sup, Mike?) sees this as two murals (one being "The Wilshire and Vermont Fingernail"), the Militant sees it as one piece of art - the fingernail being part of a hand holding an empty bowl, presumably a metaphor for a melting pot, as the image is made up of various prismatic colors. The image is broken up by the view of the complex's housing, whose residents would represent be the ingredients of the great multicolored melting pot in the mural...
...At least, those who can actually afford to live there.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Militant Update: Two Months of Militancy, The Epilogue
- Not only has North Hollywood's Wat Thai food court closed down after over 20 years (the temple voluntarily shut down its weekend eats in order to iron out the apparent disruption it has caused to the neighborhood - or at least to the privileged, vocal few who live near there), but the dedicational stone plaque installed at the base of the apsonsi gateway statue in Thai Town is missing. Sheesh, won't someone give the Thai community a break?
- Paul Dateh, the hip-hop violinist - no wait - da hip-hop violinist be layin' down his vocal and violin skillz with his band, The Live Movement, this Saturday night at Santa Monica's Temple Bar - Check it (The Militant is currently trying to decide which disguise to wear at the show).
- Philippine boxer Rey "Boom Boom" Bautista, featured in the Militant's lame attempt at a Huell Howser segment, fought in a title match in Sacramento on August 11 against Mexico's Daniel Ponce de Leon, which was promoted by Angeleno Olympian Oscar de La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions and televised on HBO. But the Wild Card Gym boxer lost in a TKO in the first round and Ponce de Leon held on to his WBO World Superbantamweight title. Meanwhile, outside the ring, the promoter has pulled a Magic Johnson and bought the Boyle Heights Sears building in The Real Eastside.
- At least Bautista can now catch a break and watch, not too far from his local gym, the agile choreography of the dancing inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, who recently took their show on the road.
- "Berd" watch: The Berd that hung over Vermont and Melrose has since flown away. But according to Militant observations and reports from operatives new "Berds" have landed on Western and 5th Street, Western and 3rd Street and the uber-complex Hollywood-Sunset-Hilhurst-Virgil-Sunset Drive intersection.
- Apparently the Echo Park art installation that never was, according to one of the Militant's operatives, got shut down early in the evening by the cops for not having the proper permits. The artists plan another attempt, but the Militant still believes he is under surveillance. And those Echo Park lotus flowers? Forget it.
- Speaking of which, that Metro Toilet at the (M) Santa Monica/Vermont station? Forget it.
- But here's some progress for a change: 3rd Street has now been smoothly-repaved.
- And the Militant is not the only one to confront the GHP. New local blogger and fellow Militia member The Hollywood Jedi had his own encounter with those geriatric gangstaz.
- But most important of all, The Dodgers have finally gone on a winning streak. The Militant can finally end his hunger strike with a Dodger Dog...or maybe a ticket to one of those All-You-Can-Eat Pavillion seats.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Ethnic Iced Dessert Quest - Part 3: Shopping for Chhoah-peng
The island of Taiwan, once called "Ilha Formosa"(Beautiful Island) by Portugese explorers, lies sandwiched longitudinally between Japan and the Philippines, and off of the eastern coast of the People's Republic of China, who doesn't even recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation, but a rogue province or some prodigal child that will one day (after much bullying) come back to papa. That reason alone is why Taiwanese athletes compete under the "Chinese Taipei" moniker every four years during the Summer Olympics, which, incidentally, the next of which happens a year from now in - surprise - Beijing, China.
Speaking of summers, they do get pretty hot there in Taiwan, which means all the more reason to whip out the ice shaver. A popular seasonal dessert, chhoah-peng (pronounced kinda like "shopping"), which comes in several variations, usually starts with some form of sweet beans, fruits and jelly, topped with a tall mound of shaved ice and topped with sweetened mild and/or syrup. The name, "chhoah-peng" roughly translates to "hand-grabbed shaved ice," in reference to how its various ingredients are grabbed from buckets in the countryside stands where the dessert originated from.
The largest concentration of Taiwanese in Southern California is in the San Gabriel Valley, where the Militant spent a good deal of Wednesday afternoon with a member of his militia on a foodie quest of sorts in the 626. After one of the Militant's operatives in the Taiwanese community failed to fully cooperate ("Oh, there's lots of Taiwanese dessert shops in the San Gabriel Valley, you'll stumble into one of them," she said), the Militant was left to search fo a place on his own. After a Yelp and Chowhound tip, The Militant headed due east along Valley Blvd and ended up near the corner of Valley and Garfield Ave. to a place called Kang Kang Food Court. Not a true "food court" in housing a variety of different food vendors, but a fast food eatery that boasts a massive selection of pan-Chinese dishes, all at low prices. The most expensive thing on the menu was a little over $6.
A good 25% of the entire food counter was dedicated to chhoah-peng ingredients, which Kang Kang Food Court sells as "Taiwanese Ice Slush." Unlike the previously-featured Korean bingsu and Singaporean/Malaysian ice kachang, there is no set combination of ingredients here, you chose three or four items ranging from sweet red beans, sweet green beans, taro chunks and tapioca to fruits like pineapple, peach, longan, mandarin oranges and lychee to almond, grass and lemon jelly cubes. A three-item chhoah-peng is $2.77 while one with four items is only $3.50. Sweetened milk here comes optional, not standard, at 25 cents extra.
The ice variety here at Kang Kang Food Court is lighter, finer and fluffier than other shaved ices the Militant has experienced - more like little snowflakes. The taste of chhoah-peng, at least the one served here at Kang Kang is slightly more bland in flavor -- mainly due to the lack of syrups and sweetened ingredients. Even the sweetened milk got lost in that fluffy ice. The Militant stresses yet again, for the uninitiated, that the contents this iced dessert must be mixed before consumption, or else you spend 2/3 of the time just eating ice. But maybe for the diabetics out there, chhoah-peng might be your chance to enjoy some iced desserts without fear of getting rushed to the hospital. There are also those out there that like the fluffier, finer ice consistency, so this might be worth trying for you folks. Either way, it was still a great respite from that SGV heat.
Other places to try chhoah-peng? Like my Taiwanese community operative said, "There's lots of places in the SGV." But according to fellow local blog-guerrillista and 626-area informant LA Bus Girl, she tipped the Militant off to one Sinbala Restaurant in Arcadia, who reportedly sells a version of chhoah-peng, albeit under the mainland Chinese name "bah-bao-bing." Like Kang Kang, you select the base ingredients, but according to some Yelpsters, their version is doused with a brown sugar syrup, so all you cursed with the sweet tooth might wanna head there. The Militant welcomes your comments on other recommended places to find chhoah-peng.
Kang Kang Food Court
27 E. Valley Blvd.
Item: Taiwanese Ice Slush; $2.77 (three items), $3.50 (four items)
Monday, August 13, 2007
Overlooked Los Angeles: World War Memorial, Mid-City
But this pillar, obviously neglected and weathered over the years by sun, pollution and graffiti has some significance behind it -- it is Los Angeles' World War I (and II) memorial.
Erected in 1936, this memorial was originally established to honor the fallen from "The World War" of 1917. The inscription reads:
SONS AND DAUGHTERS
WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES
IN THE CAUSE OF
THE WORLD WAR
The memorial was built by The American Legion, as indicated by a small bronze plaque at the bottom (pictured right). It credits the Legion's "Greayer Clover Post No. 254." Greayer Clover, for some of you who know your history, was the namesake of Santa Monica's Clover Field, a.k.a Santa Monica Airport (hence "Cloverfield Blvd"). Clover lived in Los Angeles since youth and was killed in an air accident in France during World War I. Clover Field was originally a U.S. Army air field that went civilian after World War II.
"...the architecturally historic landmark that now houses Fais Do Do was constructed in 1930 at the height of the Art Deco period in Los Angeles. As Los Angeles spread west, eastern industrialists, silent filmmakers, and other early hipsters took over the tiny Mid-City area which soon became known as the Sugar Hill District."
Hipsters? LOL. Guess things never change. Los Feliz and Silver Lake, behold your future!!!
MA Interactive: Sick And Tire of All This!
The Militant asked some of the locals for a convenient (and affordable) place where one can get a flat patched and was directed to a tire sales/repair place nearby on Washington Blvd. and Redondo Ave. But alas, the place was closed for the day. The Militant had to slowly drive down Redondo, then Venice, then up Western to near Pico where he finally found a "Llantas 7 Dias" store with bright yellow and red signage in English, Spanish and Korean. For $10 and some 20 minutes later the Militant was rolling on the streets of the city again.
The Militant's go-to choice for getting a flat car tire patched is Mexicali Tire on 5150 Santa Monica Blvd., at Ardmore. For just $8 and 15 minutes, you're rollin' again. Yet another reason the Militant eschews the suburbs or even the more snobbish parts of town - he is never far from quick, affordable tire repair.
Where are some of the best places in town to get a flat fixed? Post them as a comment. They could come in handy next time you find yourself limping in the vicinity. The only rule is that the repair cost must be less than $10 per tire.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
I Saw the Sign, And It Opened Up My Eyes...
Some 100 feet beyond that, right at Wilshire and
Some 200 feet east of
Several blocks east, the Militant saw, “
A half mile beyond that he saw another sign reading, “
Okay, first off…these signs seem to be placed without any proper logic to them. Park Mile is less than a block long?
Designated community names are meant to instill a sense of community identity and pride, but most of all they were meant to be *used.* Who ever uses the antiquated “
On the flip side, there are certain community names that are used by locals, City services or the media – yet do not have a designation. “Mid-Wilshire” is the first to come to mind. “Fairfax District” is another. The “Byzantine-Latino Quarter” has its own large neon sign atop a self-storage building towering above Pico and Normandie and its own state-funded freeway "next exit" signs -- yet no community-name designation.There seems to be no average size for designated communities. They can range from city-sized portions to something not more than a block large.
Ethnically-designated communities range in size from Koreatown (which is larger than some SoCal municipalities), the average/ideal sized Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Little Armenia and Historic Filipinotown, and the short, half-mile restaurant strips of Thai Town and Little Ethiopia.
Not only is there a lack of logic in the placement of the signs, or the under-use of their names, but the signs themselves have seemingly been placed in too many places.
The area known as “Downtown Los Angeles” has gobbled up way more than its share of designated communities: Civic Center, Central City, Downtown Center, Historic Downtown, Gallery Row, as well as many commercial “districts”: Broadway Theater District, Historic Core District, Arts District, Fashion District, Toy District, Old Bank District, Jewelry District, Furniture & Decorative Arts District (phew!). But what about the City’s own birthplace – El Pueblo? The City’s first and oldest community has no designation. Neither do commonly used places like the “Central Business District,” “Financial District” or the development-heavy “
Of course, “Downtown Los Angeles,” per se, doesn’t even have its own sign.
Other designated communities, especially those in the Valley, carry grandfathered U.S. Postal Service recognition from the pre-annexation era. Ergo, You have “
Some names seemed to be pulled out of people’s asses just to complicate matters or make realtors horny. The Militant is sorry, any designated community which has the word “Heights” in its name that does not follow “Lincoln” or “Boyle” is a nothing but a load of crap, meant to artificially increase property values. The use of the term “Village” can also be suspect – what really separates
Other names are awkward-sounding and superfluous: University Expo Park West (is there even a designated
Certain designated community names are used, yet their boundaries are a little too ambitious. Melrose Hill, which is designated as the triangle between
Some designated names, though real places, don’t seem to warrant a community in the geographical entity sense: Mariachi Plaza, though a wonderful historic and culturally-significant public space in The Real Eastside, is not a community the way, say, Pico-Union, Eagle Rock or Pacoima are (Boyle Heights is somewhere, saying to the Plaza, “Uh, hello?”)
Maybe next, you’ll see a blue sign reading, “Linda’s Front Porch.”
The system of the City’s 89 certified Neighborhood Councils, the first of which have existed since 2001, are made up of entities with boundaries drawn up by the communities themselves. A few adhere more or less to actual designated communities, such as
The blue signs seem to imply these designated entities are more or less equal in size or function. Perhaps the City should make distinct definitions between a “Community,” a “District” and a “Neighborhood.” Maybe a different color of sign should be given to denote business-oriented entities (i.e. Fashion District, Toy District), for example. The City should also gradually, over time, re-assess these borders and the locations of these signs.Then again, maybe the Militant is wrong about this whole thing, and perhaps there really is a mile-long park around Wilshire with a brook running by it.