Sunday, June 29, 2008

Rated Expo - Gettin' Laid (Tracks, That Is)!

The Militant found himself traveling along Exposition Blvd on Saturday and pleasantly found what used to be the long-abandoned stretch of Pacific Electric track along the boulevard's median to be replaced by a shallow trench guarded by k-rail barriers and fencing, all, of course, for the much-anticipated (M) Exposition Light Rail Line. But...hello, what's this? Though the project is still in its early phases of construction, behold, we have crews working on the very first stretch of track ever laid on the Exposition light rail line (pictured above)! The photo was taken at the intersection of Exposition and Denker Ave., right between Western and Normandie. Talk about progress!

Of course, not everyone is pleased. In fact, this would downright piss them off (maybe that's why this section was the first to have track?). But, too little, too late, the Militant says. Such issues should have been hammered out years ago.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Holding Out (As) A Hero?

The Militant already knows he's a hero of sorts to the overlooked native Angelenos whose voices remained drowned out by mainstream society.

But on a much more serious note, what really qualifies for true heroism?

On Wednesday night, the Militant took a little walk with his trusty K-9 unit, for both the K-9's sake and to make a delivery to a nearby operative.

When he finally returned to the compound, the Militant spent some quality time with the K-9, brushing its fur on the compound's front grounds. A man in an orange t-shirt stood across the street, chatting on his cellphone, next to a row of trash bins, set out for the next morning's pick up.

An attractive young woman walked by, overburdened by several shopping bags, and she displayed a brief smile to the Militant and his K-9, and the Militant smiled back.

But after she passed by, the cellphone-talking man in the orange shirt walked across the street and said something that sounded like, "Hey, what are you doing tonight?" and walked briskly immediately behind her.

The Militant, still holding the K-9's leash sprung to attention with this situation. Did this guy know her? Or was he up to some trouble? The Militant did not want to see someone in danger -- especially someone walking in the vicinity of his compound.

The woman continued to walk briskly, and didn't seem to acknowledge the guy, who was either walking beside her or immediately behind her.

The Militant and the K-9 started to follow, ready to loudly shout a commanding, attention-getting, "WHATUP?" as he was waiting for some certain cue, like a sudden flinch or a scream even...but they just keep walking. The Militant was still wondering what exactly was going on...

...until he and the K-9 got distracted by a small dog that broke loose from its owner's leash, and the Militant saw the owner catch up to the little thing and grab it before the Militant's K-9 went buck wild.

At this point the two walking figures had seemingly disappeared at the end of the block, where an apartment building stood. He and the K-9 ran to the end of the block, looked around...

...and they were gone.

The only thing the Militant saw was a car in the middle of the cross-street around the corner, which backed up suddenly, then stopped briefly, before charging forward.

It was an LAPD cruiser.

So what happened? Was the dude someone the women knew, but wasn't on good talking terms currently? Was he ready to assault her, but gave up his effort once he saw the police car? Did the police car see what was going on and took care of the situation? Was the police car there for totally unrelated reasons?

The Militant certainly hoped that woman made it home safely and wasn't in any danger. But he can't help but wonder that if she was, that he should have stepped up more to keep her from being in the situation. Nobody messes with a person walking a dog, and certainly a would-be mugger/attacker/rapist wouldn't want to be in a situation with someone suddenly walking their K-9 unit messing up their intended diabolical plans. The Militant knew he did the right thing, but did he do enough of it?

The situation seemed to vanish into the night, Maybe it was just an illusion. Whatever it was, he hopes it just vanished, period.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Welcome To The Los Angeles...Hair District?

Los Angeles has many communities, over 170 of them made official by City designation and a neato blue sign. You got ethnic communities like Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Tokyo, Historic Filipinotown, Little Armenia, Thai Town (how's that for pimpin' the archives?), and you have those that reflect the local industry. The Toy District is one, and the Furniture & Decorative Arts District, south of Downtown, is another.

Well, the Militant would like to propose another one to that list. While combing the art-deco strand that makes up the Miracle Mile on bike, he wigged-out on a storefront bearing the words "HUMAN HAIR" (pictured above) on the northeast corner of Wilshire Blvd. and Cloverdale Ave. The business in question was called Precious Hair and Nails, which also boasts a factory outlet. It was closed at the moment, sealed by a set of locks. But at this point, the Militant barely scratched the surface.

As the Militant waited for his light to turn to green, directly across the street was something that m The Hair Shop (pictured right), an establishment specializing in hairpieces. How could such competition exist in such clsoe proximity? The Militant guesses competition must be one close shave, or there must be hell toupée.

Perhaps this was all a coincidence. But the Militant can't 'do no wrong, he thought. Still, it was impossible to part with his instincts here.

Even for those who wish to care for their naturally-grown set, Wilshire Beauty makes the cut, located right there in the next block.

Pedaling west a few blocks, and after a scary brush with a Metro Rapid, and past The El Rey Theatre, where a few people outside were scalping tickets for tonight's concert, the Militant saw yet another perm. fixture on Wilshire that lent itself to the artificial hair industry: His & Her Hair Goods Co. (pictured left), right besideBurnside Ave. now everything seemed to follicle into place: This is truly our City's Hair District.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Just 72 hours after the train arrival times went on the air on the Metro Rail subway TransitVue screens, they have suddenly vanished (pictured right)!

The Militant broke the news first, and a few other blogs caught wind of the story as well. But apparently it's caused a flurry of stinging criticism, and it looks like those little numbers got so hurt and offended, they all decided not to show up for the P.M. (or is that the 1500-1900?) commute. Even their alphabetic co-workers who daily assume the roles of such words as, "Union Station," "North Hollywood" and "Wilshire/Western" have all walked off the job in solidarity. LOOK WHAT YOU ALL HAVE DONE!!!

Okay, the Militant was not without his own nitpicks, sure. But some of you better apologize to those little numbers. They just want to feel appreciated, that's all.

The Militant's Fi(r)st Annivasary Roundup: The Impact

Being a Militant may have its fun and laughs, but there's a definite serious side to all of this.

See, the reason why the Militant is here in the first place is because he was totally upset at the way this City was being depicted in the blogosphere -- by certain bloggers who claim to speak on behalf of it. Certain people who lack the knowledge, or don't even care to even attain the knowledge, to provide a truly informational - dare the Militant say, educational - resource for their readers. For example, aside from the incessant Eastside/Westside shebang, the sheer cultural ignorance displayed by one unspecified blog in calling an ornate Hollywood-area Russian Orthodox church "Aladdin's Church" and "Arabian-nights themed" this past February was beyond asinine. This City deserves better.

Not to mention the various underrepresented voices of people who certainly have access to blogs, and who are experienced and skilled enough to share their perspectives, but for whatever reason, their voices are left unheard.

And even worse, the cadre of people who dare to call themselves L.A. Bloggers who incessantly bitch, whine and groan about a City they moved to that they are too ashamed to admit they made a bad decision in coming here in the first place, only grasping on the oft-cliched "But I love the weather" response to justify their meager presence here. That aside, if your blog link is located in the right-hand column, it's safe to assume that most likely, the Militant doesn't think you're one of these folks. Actually you're really on there because you've mentioned or linked to the Militant Angeleno in the past, and it's great to reciprocate.

No, this isn't a bash-the-other-bloggers kind of post, the Militant was merely offering perspective. Ultimately, the Militant has been pondering whether his presence has actually made a difference round these here parts.

The best example the Militant can think of is a relatively new blog called LA Eastside which only started this past April. A collective-type blog whose contributors comprise of contributors to other collective blogs, established local bloggers and others who were previously relegated to the comments section of other blogs, the Militant, who is not an Eastsider per se, but very Eastside-friendly, is glad to see such a site exist and present perspectives and stories about a previously underrepresented part of town (blogwise). Even this Militant, who knows quite a bit about this town and its neighborhoods, gets to learn a thing or two by the posts, which really do go beyond the usual, "Hey check this out" or whiny complaint post found elsewhere but delve into deeper issues, such as perception vs. reality of crime/public safety, gentrification, cultural dynamics, and people just living their daily lives (and historical posts always score highly with the Militant as well). So way to go LA Eastsiders! The Militant may or may not have inspired you folks, but he's glad you're around regardless.

Now looking for a South Los Angeles collective blog...

As far as the more established players in the blogosphere, the Militant would like to give props to LAist for, well...improving. The Militant gives credit to that blog for being one of the first blogs to break news of the Militant's arrival (in a post that came out exactly one year ago today), but found some of their coverage rather limiting and in some cases annoying and borderline ignorant. Not so anymore. It's tough to be all things to all people, but they've struck a pretty good balance between news, lifestyle posts, sports, entertainment and arts and local issues. The coverage is much more diverse now and overall the Militant really does see his City in that blog now, as opposed to the somewhat alien perspective he saw in the past. So keep up the good work LAistas! Again, the Militant's influence may or may not be debatable here, but he's grateful for the more positive change nonetheless.

Incidentally, both LAist and LAEastside in the past have asked the Militant to be one of their contributors. The Militant was flattered but had to respectfully decline in both cases...The Militant was, is and will always be independent.

There's really no way the Militant can accurately gauge his impact on the Blogosphere. Maybe one day he'll hire a research team to conduct random polls and find out. It's all up to conjecture, really. But if you wanna ask the Militant, hell yeah he's made an impact! Yet there's still much, much more work to do.

Right now, though the Militant would like to take this time to tip a 40 to the local bloggers who have since fallen during the course of this year. Shall we observe a moment of silence? Cue the sentimental soundtrack and memorial montage...

LA Bus Girl...


Eye On LA...

and of course...LA City Nerd...

Rest in peace, folks. You may or may not be always remembered.

Now, on to year two!

Friday, June 20, 2008

NEWSFLASH! Metro Rail Subway Arrival Displays Now Operational! (Albeit Kinda Buggy...)

The Militant had some unspecified business to do Downtown, and armed with his trusty TAP card, he hopped on the (M) Red Line en route to his compound this evening.

When lo and behold, he saw it. He finally saw it.

The long-awaited arrival displays on the recently-installed TransitVue LCD video screens now display the arrival times of subway trains on the Red and Purple lines (pictured above). Yesssss!

The empty "Train to" column has now been filled in with the expected times the next trains to the respective destinations will arrive.

Although, as you can see, it's displayed in Militant Military time. Which is fine for this camo-adorned urban assault soldier, but not so convenient for the gas price-oppressed Civilian Angelenos on the platforms (Say what? Next train coming in 16 minutes 45 seconds?).

No make matters worse, the actual time/date display on the upper left-hand corner of the TransitVue screen shows the usual 12-hour civilian time. Very inconsistent! The Militant thinks, or at least hopes, the folks at Metro will change a few settings there.

And to be even more nitpicky about this, the Militant took another picture of the display, this time on the platform level, just prior to boarding the North Hollywood-bound Red Line train. As you can see, the time is off by 10 minutes from the mezzanine-level photo at the top of this post:
(And by the way, way to go with the cutesy cartoonish subway train icon. Does it have a name? Look out, Thomas!).

The Militant, being of the curious sort, wanted to see if this display was an accurate reflection of the train movements. So he disembarked at an unspecified Red Line station, and, taking advantage of a not-in-service escalator, got this vantage point of an arriving train:
Hmmmm. As you can or cannot see (click on picture to enlarge if the latter's the case), the time was 5:34 p.m. but the Union Station-bound train's arrival is listed as 17:35 (5:35 p.m. for you civilians). Which means they only use the predetermined timetable, and late/early/delayed trains are not reflected in the display!

What's also not cool is that there's no flashing "Train Arriving" notice anywhere (the Green Line and even the light rail wannabe Orange Line, both still bearing the archaic "silent radio" LED displays, though, do announce arriving vehicles, go figure...). When the displayed time passes, that particular display simply updates to the next train.

So as you can see, it's not really a user-friendly system. Military time aside, even if the 12-hour clock time was displayed, you still have to refer to the time/date on the upper left, or your own watch/cellphone/iPod. Why not "5 minutes" or "20 minutes" on the display? Talk about lazy!

The Militant has mixed feelings. He is obviously disappointed at a long-awaited transit amenity appearing so flawed, yet he thinks despite the flaws, it'll save him the Indiana Jones-like rush down to the train to beat the closing door (which may or may not have actually happened...more than once). To sum it up...and here comes the pun people...

...It's about time.

The Militant's Fi(r)st Annivasary - "Life Is Still Pretty Good in Hollywood"

One of the Militant's first blog adventures happened exactly a year ago today when he blogged about attending a meeting on the proposed Hollywood Freeway Central Park, visiting a popular Huell-approved juice joint on the Boulevard and simply taking in the day (and not long afterward, some curious blog readers posted these things called "Comments" on the Militant Angeleno's then-nascent blog, thus making the Militant realize, "Hey, people actually read this thing...Awe-some").

Well you don't know how far you've gone unless you look back on how far you've been, or something like that, so the Militant will revisit his little Hollywood adventure. Or, mind you, the Blockbuster Hollywood Sequel (Hey, The Militant can have fun with cheeky showbiz media cliches, too).

Earlier this month there were a pair of meetings on the proposed freeway cap park to wrap up community feedback on the project, which the Militant is glad to report is progressing nicely. The duplicate meetings, done on a Saturday morning and a Wednesday night, respectively, were held to accommodate people's schedules. Large-sized concept illustrations (pictured above) and descriptions of the park's design (all recommended and subject to change, of course) were shown to the community -- of which a neighbor of one of the Militant's operatives - mind you, this neighbor is a white male homeowner in his late 50s - said, "Judging by the faces in the room, this doesn't look like it's representative of the community." Hey, his words, not the Militant's!

Anyhu, the design included elements like art features (sculptures and murals), an amphitheater, multipurpose sports fields, a water feature, a viewing place for the Hollywood sign, a restaurant in the park, a dog space and an emphasis on greening the residential streets directly adjacent to the park.

Transportation was important, and some community members voiced their support and the need for an uninterrupted bike path, a DASH-type line and overall pedestrian-friendliness, including access to the Hollywood/Western (M) station - the closest to the park.

Even some Hollywood Hills-billies wanted a piece of dat park action, requesting that some of the park be extended north of its intended Bronson Ave. limit. Not so fast there podner -- the freeway no longer runs below ground level at this point!

The 34-acre park is expected to cost more or less around $1 billion, which is still cheaper than acquiring the equivalent amount of existing land at today's property values, and is expected to be 80% funded by federal moolah, and the remaining 20% by state funds, which includes a possible public-private partnership. And speaking of which, with the Speaker of the House being a Californian and the Speaker of the California State Assembly an Angelena, now's the time to work it (gurl)!

With a projected (optimistic) timeline of around 10 years , two down, eight or so to go...

All The Hollywood Juice

Wow, a sub-headline. The Militant hadn't used one of those in a long-ass time. Anyway, a year ago, the Militant paid a visit to the Juice(s) Fountain (pictured right, and BTW, WTF is up with that "C" in the window?), which he had stumbled upon for the first time since they moved from their old location on Vine Street. Unfortunately, on this recent return visit, as he was ready to come in, a fellow pedestrian said to her walking partners, "Sorry, were closed?"

The Militant went into worried shock mode, up until he read the sign on the door showing the closing time as 5 p.m., which was about an hour and a half ago at this point. Fear not, for he shall soon return to that blended fruit juicy goodness.

Though speaking of fruits...or at least wannabe fruits, or more specifically, fruit-topped chemically-composited fro-yo with a name making a reference to a type of treegrown fruit, which has subsequently spawned thousands of imitators referencing that very same fruit, is coming to the Boulevard. Yes folks...

...Pinkberry is coming to the Boulevard (Full disclosure, though the Militant was admittedly a fan last year, he has since Seen The Light in the form of Red Mango. It's all about the creamy, certified active yogurt-cultured Red Mango, baby). Too little, too late. Insert disappointed, jaded sigh here. Of course, they knew full well that they were trumped by another competitor looong ago as staking a claim to the World's Most Famous Street.

The Militant headed to the general area of his compound, not on two wheels this time, but on 48. But first he had to reach his subway train through a rather busy, scaffolding-inundated environment in the form of the gargantuan Hollywood Dubya Hotel, now very much under construction.

Ah, Hollywood. Pardon our dust. The Militant will retrace his Walk Of Fame steps yet again, for his second anniversary.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Today marks one year since the Militant Angeleno joined the blogosphere (Hey, that rhymes), where he humbly started out writing, in the first person even, about a bronze statue in Thai Town. A lot has changed in both the Militant and this great City since that fateful day. Now, you would think the Militant would make the usual extremely long post about the road he's traveled, whether on foot, train, bus, car or, of course, bike and whether he may or may not have made an impact on the local blogging scene, and a bunch of mushy congratulatory credits, inside jokes and props to various operatives out there, yadda yadda.

The Militant will do that later. But today he's got a lot on his plate. For one, it's Father's Day, and though the Militant may or may not be a father himself, he may or may not also spend some quality time with his own father, be he biological, adoptive, foster, or step-. And not only that, there's a do-or-die basketball game going on in Downtown Los Angeles this evening.

But here's the good news: Think of it like Chinese New Year. The celebration lasts not one day, but A WHOLE FREAKIN WEEK! Go Lakers, Stay Tuned and STAY MILITANT!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Land O' Lakers

Seems like everyone's wearing their Laker pride these days. On their cars, on their bikes, on their heads, on their backs. Even the Militant has been wearin' the purple and gold with his usual camo. But the tallest Angeleno of them all (Yes, the Militant is aware it's an inanimate object, but bear with the Militant, okay?), The Building Formerly Known As The Library Tower as well as the First Interstate World Center, a.k.a. The U.S. Bank Tower, is sporting its Laker pride high above the City for the homestand games in the NBA Finals. Many people wonder if some of our other highrises would be showing off their Laker Pride as well, but you know the rules -- There Can Only Be One.


Besides, oops, hold on...okay there. Besides, what's Boston doing to show it's team's pride in its skyline? Oh yeah, they don't have one.

And yeah, though these guys already covered it, the Militant has a much closer shot. :P

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wide Open Spaces

What an exciting time to be an Angeleno. For those of us focused on Downtown, among other places in the city, you are witnessing urban evolution in action. Consider one tri-street junction on the northern edge of Downtown, just north of Union Station. Where Alameda St., North Main St. and the former Alhambra Ave. once converged, a new open space has sprung up where it was once a tangle of tattered asphalt and partially-exposed freight railroad tracks, and worse - a part of town where, due to location, aesthetics and perception, people have absolutely no interest in going to as a destination.

But it's close enough to Philippe's The Original to sit down and enjoy a French Dip, close enough to Chinatown to enjoy your little box of dumplings to go. People who work at The California Endowment may very well call it an extension of their postmodern, high-tech campus.

The folks at Angelenic tracked its progress at the beginning of the year, and now it's pretty much complete. It's certainly got the recognition of the "Islands of LA Nat'l Park" folks (pictured right), who have something to brag about for this particular concrete-bordered island.

The triangular park has nascent trees, a patch of grass, a circular path and some benches. So what's missing? People...or at least people for whom the park was intended for (pictured left).

It's a typical urban renewal conundrum: Build It And They Will Come. But if "those other people" come, then "They" won't come. And if "Those Others" are there already, then "They" pretty much give up on "It" and in effect give it away to "Those Others." The same equation plays itself in many a neighborhood where personal safety has been a realistic question.

But friends, that's the nature of public space, or anything public. It belongs to those who stake their claim to it. Use it or lose it. So stake your claim. Use it.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Supermarket Shopping Sans Soul

Forgive the Militant for being a late bloomer, but he had the sudden urge to check out the Hollywood Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market (and the chain itself) for the first time this weekend.

He took a quick Metro trip (the Militant will tell ya, having a monthly TAP card does wonders) over to Hollywood and Highland and two blocks later he descended the stairs down to UK supermarket giant Tesco's little experiment across the pond.

It certainly looks and feels different than a usual supermarket. Meant to be smaller in size, everything looked rather bland and uniform. Everything can be summed up into about 4 or 5 colors.

The weirdest part were the aisles; everything was uniformly placed into very-alike looking packages (pictured left). Surveillance camera pods hung overhead. Were they going for the Orwellian thing here? Double plus ungood.

But oh the prices! $1.99 for a pound of strawberries? Into the basket you go. Twice! Also got a container of sliced pineapples. Blue corn tortilla chips for 99 cents? Hola! Same goes for the bag of granola clusters...French Vanilla and Almond? Oui! And just for shitsandgiggles, a bag of F&E's white cheese puffs, which inevitably have to have a pirate-themed name which references the original product.

Checking out was...a lot like Home Depot. They had those self-service checkout counters (pictured right), which unlike most markets, are the rule here rather the exception. But boo on F&E for more annoying plastic bags (yes, the Militant forgot his reusable bag...) rather than having a paper option (which he loves for sticking junk mail and newspapers before going into Le Bleu Bin.

Many people have indeed drawn up the comparison between F&E and the Native Southern Californian Trader Joe's. The Militant will tell ya, THERE IS NO COMPARISON (well, except maybe for some produce prices...). TJ's has humor, personality, character...and Fearless Flyers. They also got free samples (The Militant has heard of free samples at F&E but they weren't there when the Militant came by...) and wonderfully-decorated locally-themed stores that exude community pride and flavor. And TJ's doesn't look as sterile and bland as a pharmaceutical lab. And did the Militant mention TJ's is a native Southern California product? Oh yeah, he did, but he just wants to stress it again for all those East Coast people who think TJ's originated out there (and who might be predictably inclined to think the SoCal TJs are inherently inferior to the ones "Back East," lol).

Fresh & Easy is alright, but they've been having trouble establishing market share for obvious reasons. Still, to their credit, it was interesting to see a chain supermarket in Los Angeles without an obvious parking lot, as the majority of F&E customers (at least here in Hollywood) make relatively small purchases on foot. But then, what other F&E anywhere can give you the experience of walking through the tourist/street entertainment mayhem that is Hollywood between Orange and Highland? Though a tired, cliched scene, it brought a smile to the Militant's face as he schlepped his two (plastic, damn them) grocery bags down to the Red Line station.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Straight Into Compton

Pssst...Downtown/Hollywood condo prices too ridiculously expensive for you? Looking for a new-construction, 2 bedroom, 2/12 bath townhome...for under $300K?

It can all be Compton.

The big hubub in The Hub City is not only its new wave of community revitalization, but its new housing boom and affordable existing properties.

An operative of the Militant, who is a longtime resident, even says that the formerly- predominantly white suburb might be regaining a lost demographic.

"I see them driving around town all the time," said the operative. "So whenever I'm watering my lawn, I look at them and go, [wagging his index finger, half-jokingly] 'Nah-uh!'"

The operative said its primarily the large lot sizes -- one can buy a huge residential property for under $400K -- as well as Compton's relatively centralized location between Downtown and the harbor.

But the civic leaders of this 120-year-old municipality are banking on new retail and residential development, such as Olson Homes' Willow Walk townhouse development, located right next door to the Martin Luther King Jr. Transit Center and directly across the street from the Compton (M) Blue Line station in the city's civic center (pictured right)

So the Militant, armed with his TAP card and Militant Cam, rode the Blue Line down to the city of Venus and Serena Williams and N.W.A. (speaking of that video, since when did the LAPD have jurisdiction in the city of Compton?) on Saturday to see the place for itself and perhaps gather some additional perspective from the Comptonians.

After stepping off the train, he found a relatively quiet, laid-back, yet rugged place as his fellow passengers dispersed into various directions: walking due east to the transit center, due southeast to the shopping center, due north to the residential areas or staying put to wait for a connecting bus along the east side of Willowbrook, which, right at the train station's bus plaza, ironically appears dry, dusty and with dead landscape vegetation.

It was certainly a late-afternoon streetscene that was slightly different than what he's accustomed to: the relative lack of SUVs and luxury cars passing on the street, for one. But in his observations of the locals, Comptonians appear to be good users of public space who like to talk.
He saw people chatting by the Blue Line tracks, people on opposite sides of a street conversing at a loud volume, and people hanging out on a bench in the vacant civic center plaza area - an area which includes the Compton Post Office, its city hall, the towering courthouse and the angled spires of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial.

As the Militant snapped a picture, pityingly, of the Compton public library, with a banner reading, "LIBRARY CLOSED," he heard the voice of one of one of the two dudes hanging out nearby yell over to him:

"You're taking pictures? You must work for the po-lice!" said the male in his early 20s, holding a skateboard.

"Now why would the police want to take a picture of the library?" The Militant replied.

"I thought you might be with the police or something," said the young man.

"The Militant is just a writer, that's all...So what happened to the library?" said the Militant, assuming some shameful city budget crisis that would deny such a resource to Comptonians.

"It's gonna open in July," said the young man. "It's having a...what's the word?"

The Militant proceeded to fire off various words pertaining to budget crises, but right after the reopening registered in his head, he suggested, "Renovation?"

"Yeah, that's it," said the young man. "It's being renovated."

The Militant was somewhat relieved to hear about this, which meant that this "New Compton" thing was serious business.

"Aite, thanks man," said the Militant.

"Yo, you take care, dawg!" said the young man.

Further down Compton Blvd., the Militant spotted the supermarket, the Wells Fargo, the Circuit City and other retail chain establishments that were all built in anticipation of the rapid transit line built 18 summers ago, but he had to hop back on the Blue Line to continue his Militant mission, while still yearning to absorb more of the Hub City history and vibe.

Fortunately, on the station's platform was a series of murals and related art pieces (pictured right) that depicts the town's history from Spanish conquistadores to late 19th-century white pioneers to African American families to Latino youths. Personal perspectives of local residents reminiscing the mom and pop stores of yesteryear to an image of rapper Ice Cube holding a microphone to an honest account of Black and Latino racial tensions -- written over 10 years ago -- decorate the platform.

Though not nearly the hell-on-earth warzone many imagine it as, Compton still lacks the aesthetic beauty many seek in a desired livable environment. Yet underlying it all is an unyielding faith and pride that its civic leaders and longtime residents alike share that drives this potential urban renaissance.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Red Line Busker, You've Got Talent...NOT!!!

The Militant normally bides his time on a Metro Rail ride by listening to his iPod. But for those without the earbuds on, our subway is a rhythmic cacophony of beeping doors, the whistling of the rushing train, the occasional track rumble, the train's horn, the sporadic murmur of passenger conversations and the unintelligible midrange chatter of the train operator's stop calls.

But if you're unlucky, you'll get to hear this dude:

The Militant does not know his name, but he may or may not have seen him "perform" before. He is this skinny dude with a blond semi-mohawk and carries an el cheapo acoustic guitar, slightly out of tune, sans protective case or bag (just goes to prove how dedicated he is to his instrument, right)? He stands, usually near a doorway, announces his name and calls out song titles, as if it were a real gig. Then he sits down on the floor and starts "playing," which is in the form of rapid 16th-note power-chordish strums on the guitar, full of repetition and devoid of melody, structure, dynamics or fretboard prowess. And ALL HIS SONGS SOUND THE SAME.

To his credit, perhaps the most redeeming aspect of his "performance" is that he does not sing.

Thank Gawd!

But yet this n00bador has the audacity to ask for money from the riders for his, er, "display of talent." Thankfully, no one gives him anything. Which the Militant is glad for. Because this valedictorian of suckitude probably arrived into town via the Hollywood Greyhound station five months ago thinking he'd be some sort of rock star, probably after playing way too much Guitar Hero, yet he's so bad that no one wants to be in a band with him, so he busks on the Red Line, perhaps to feed his meth addiction.

Now, the Militant isn't opposed to busking or the display of performance of any art on our transit system. The Militant loves that kind of stuff.

But if you try to pull off any of that, please make sure you have at least a decent amount of um...TALENT?

The Militant would rather hear something like this on his Red Line trip (American a cappella group Naturally Seven performing in the Paris Metro):

So if you ever see ol' B.B. Stink sit down on the subway car floor and do further injustice to all that is six strings, please let him know openly that he sucks. Or better yet, tell him, "The Militant Angeleno says you suck!"

Friday, June 6, 2008

A River Ran Through It: In Search Of Arroyo De Los Jardines

No one can accuse the Militant of not listening to his readers. In an entry last year where the Militant ranted about the proliferation of designated community names in Los Angeles, reader Bert Green pointed out that there was, indeed a "Brook" in Brookside and left a location of the stream which may or may not exist.

This trickled through the Militant's mind over the months so he decided to get on the bike and check the damn thing out. But what was it called?

After retracing the path of the long-lost Sacatela Creek from Los Feliz to Koreatown, he wondered to himself, "How is the Militant ever gonna top that?"

Well, he can't. But he still found the stream nonetheless.

After some Militant research, he discovered the stream was called "Arroyo de los Jardines" (Creek of the Gardens), and the name pretty much holds true today, at least where it's visible.

Unlike, old Sacatela, there are sections of the old arroyo which are not only visible, but carry fresh running water. And we're not talking gutter runoff here.

According to a Los Angeles Times article on the Brookside community, the Arroyo de los Jardines runs from an unspecified location in the Hollywood Hills and ends up in Ballona Creek.

The article also mentioned that the stream is home to "koi, goldfish and crawfish." Hmmm. Many people who settled in the Mid-City area in the mid-20th Century had roots in Louisiana...coincidence?

Militant research to locate the creek's Hollywood Hills source turned up futile and calls made to the creek's publicist were unanswered.

But the creek does daylight itself just south of Melrose Avenue where it runs through the middle of Wilshire Country Club. So yeah, only the privileged few can enjoy this thing (shyyeah, as if they care...). But the average Jose can get an easy glimpse of it at 3rd St. and Hudson Ave. (pictured above, right), where one can see the creek empty into a culvert that runs south-southwest on Hudson (Could the street's name be attributed to a NY transie of yesteryear who named it so because it was a river?).

It emerges south of Wilshire in its namesake community, where it again flows for the privileged few, this time in the backyards of some pretty well-to-do mofos. It can be seen over an un-barred masonry fence just west of Longwood Ave. and Olympic Blvd (pictured right). As traffic rushes by on Olympic, one can hear the trickle of Arroyo De Los Jardines, at this point truly living up to its name, nestled in there amidst the abundance of lush greenery found there.

From there, in the neighborhood of Longwood Highlands, the arroyo plays peek-a-boo in seemingly random backyards before disappearing completely. There's no real evidence of the stream save for a few curious-looking channels of greenery running to the southwest, as viewed from an aerial map.

Somewhere near there, beneath Venice Blvd. and Cochran Ave., our little brook friend unceremoniously merges with Ballona Creek, which does not have a source per se, but was originally fed by the various wetlands and swamps (Cienegas in Español) that used to dot the Westside (and the reason why buildings on that part of town are susceptible to liquefaction during earthquakes - remember the little section of the 10 Freeway by The Swamp Blvd that was badly damaged in the 1994 Northridge quake? Of course most transplants don't...).

From there, the Ballona, a.k.a. The Mini-Me to the Los Angeles River's Dr. Evil), as we all know, flows into the great Pacific. No need for the Militant to retrace that, though you're more than welcome to on a bicycle. Just be careful if the fences trap you in.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Militant TAPs Into The Future!

TAPped for the very first time!

TAP card, take two, at Universal City station.

The Militant leaped in to the 21st Century on Wednesday afternoon when he bought a Metro TAP Card monthly pass at Union Station's (M) Customer Service Center. He then proceeded to the Gold Line's TAP terminal where he popped his TAP cherry, so to speak. Having done this sort of thing in other countries, this wasn't a total paradigm shift for the Militant, but it is a different way of doing things in his native environs. He simply held the card with one hand, brought it close to the circular TAP sensor on top of the terminal, and one sweet beep and a couple LED blinks later, he's in.

Metro only offers TAP cards for weekly ($17) and monthly ($62) passes, but they are eventually meant to be reusable, stored-value cards which can be recharged at Metro Customer Centers and ticket vending machines. The Militant plans to do a lot of Metro riding this month so he's taking one for the team.

What's interesting is that the card looks the same whether it's the weekly or monthly pass. At the moment, it's a "use it or lose it" policy where it can't be TAPped beyond its weekly or monthly expiration date; but if a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Dept. Deputy asks to see your proof of fare payment, how can they tell your TAP is valid? The Militant has yet to see them hold handheld TAP scanners, so maybe this might be one way you can get away with things, for the time being (you didn't hear it from the Militant, though...and if they do have TAP scanners, well, you're SOL).

The Militant wonders what the future of TAP will be. Its integration into the much-talked about fare barrier system that Metro may or may not implement in the near future has already been discussed. But Hong Kong's Octopus Card allows users to use their stored value card on not just trains, buses and trolleys, but taxis, ferryboats, vending machines, fast-food restaurants, convenience stores and even parking meters and parking lots. Hmmm... Imagine...

Culver City's municipal transit agency also uses the very same TAP card, though the Militant isn't sure whether a TAP bought from a Metro Customer Center can be used on a Culver Citybus. Their website says you need to get a transfer to "other agencies" when you TAP, though Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus, which uses the Little Blue Card, is one such agency that connects with the Culver buses but isn't yet TAP-ready.

The Militant spent the rest of the day, bike in tow, riding various trains, delightfully TAPping away and making a biking/shopping trip to Sherman Oaks before heading back to the can say he was all TAPped out.

Speaking of firsts, the Militant also got to ride one of these babies today:

Overlooked Los Angeles: A-Pagoda

Standing on a triangular property at the northeast intersection of Normandie Ave and Olympic Blvd in Koreatown stands a curious structure (despite the Militant's usual attempt-at-a-pun title, it's technically not a pagoda, since it's not a multi-tiered structure) that paradoxically looks out of place with its western urban environs (especially the neighboring day-glo LAUSD-moderne Mariposa-Nabi Primary School), yet is totally at home with the cultural identity of the neighborhood.

The Militant has passed this property by car countless times and has seen it in various stages of construction, yet never had the opportunity to visit it up close until he made a Militant bike mission to it recently.

The property is the Korean Pavilion Garden, dedicated in 2003 to commemorate the centennial of Korean immigration to the United States. The structure, which is referred to as a pavilion, is an exact replica of the Aeryunjeong Pavilion on the grounds of Seoul's Changdeok Royal Palace and was designed.

According to the descriptive marker on the property, the pavilion celebrates Korean American heritage but also symbolizes harmony with the other cultures that represent Los Angeles. On the south side of the garden are twin pillars of light which symbolizes the Korean community's partnership with the other cultures of the region. Hmm, wonder if the new owners of Little Tokyo Shopping Center across town embrace that same message...

The garden, sponsored by individuals and businesses in the local Korean community, whose names are all graciously immortalized in marble, is protected by an iron fence, built low enough not to detract from the aesthetics of the public space. The fence is also open during business hours for people to walk through and visit.

Just another example of the overlooked gems of this town that one tends to miss while encapsulated in an automobile.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

'Brand' New: The Militant Takes On The Americana

The Militant's curiosity can't stands no more, he just had to get on the bike on Monday afternoon to check out the brand spankin' new The Americana at Brand in Glendale, a.k.a. Carusoville II.

First off, the Militant rode the 11-mile round trip trek and decided to count every riding cyclist he saw. When he got back to the vicinity of his compound, his tally was 25 bicyclists -- averaging about 2.27 bicyclists per mile. The Militant plans to do this for every solo bike trip he takes to demonstrate how many more people are biking these days.

As the Militant passed the blinking pedestrian crosswalks and car dealerships on Brand Blvd, there it was, developer Rick J. Caruso's $400-million Grove twin, and the mofo's even got a street named after him.

First off, the Militant was eager to find bike parking. He heard about some law that developers are required to put x-amount of bike parking in their new projects -- but that's only a City of Los Angeles requirement. We're in Glendale (a.k.a The Jewel City, a.k.a Big Armenia) now. Though where is the bike parking at the Grove? Oh yeah, it's in Farmer's Market.

Having found no easily visible bike parking, as he ventured towards the west end of the property, he found two bikes chained to the railing. Grrrrreat. So the Militant had no choice but to follow suit.

The Militant took a walk amidst the dancing waters pools (pictured left), which apparently does "water shows set to music" every half-hour. At one point, the water jets did a number to Barry White's "You're The First, The Last, My Everything" in true orgasmic fashion, the Militant kids you not.

Yes, the water pool, the grassy "park" and the Pacific Theatres multiplex had the Militant wondering where was The Apple Store, but of course it was across the street, at the venerable Glendale Galleria.

The Galleria folks probably initially thought their newer, flashier, outdoor neighbor would cut into their bees-knees, but the throngs of people traversing the Central Ave. crosswalk demonstrated otherwise. If anything, it probably even helped business, and in fact, on this day, the Militant found absolutely nothing of use to purchase at Carusoville II and instead bought something at the Galleria. Because he's old school like that.

The one cool thing about the Americana was the little (battery-powered) electric trolley (technically, though it's still on rails, it's not a trolley, since a "trolley" refers to the mechanism that picks up power from an overhead line, of which there is none here). Funny, as it rides on the west side of Brand Blvd -- the same thoroughfare which carried the Pacific Electric Red Cars. Incidentally these trams are too of a reddish color.

The one-way ride lasts about eight minutes, and you can get your own ride here:

In all, the Militant wasn't that wowed with The Americana. It looked a lot bigger on TV when the local news stations covered its opening. In short, the Militant came to the following conclusions:

The Americana At Brand is teh r0x0r cuz...

- If you live too far from the Grove, it's a reasonable substitute.

- The dancing-waters pool is now the largest body of water in the Glendale area.

- If you're the kind of guy who's into looking at hot MILFs, then this is definitely the place to be.

- The "trolley" is slightly less Disneylandish.

- The mixed-use nature of the place is an interesting touch to Glendale.

- Between it, the nearby Galleria and the nearby Exchange, the city of Glendale can claim to have pretty much every chain store in existence.

The Americana At Brand is teh sux0r cuz...

- It's a total faux public space.

- Aside from possibly the movie theatres, and the initial novelty of it all, there's no real reason to go there.

- It's got a Pinkberry and not a Red Mango.

- The lack of retail frontage on Central Ave. makes it into a dead zone.


- The mixed-use nature...who the @#$% can afford to live there?

- There's no Farmer's Market next door.

- It's got a Caruso Avenue.

- Between it, the nearby Galleria and the nearby Exchange, the city of Glendale can claim to have pretty much every chain store in existence.

More shots and wise-ass captions:

Wassup with the chandelier?

The Americana's idea of bike parking. Yay.

Meanwhile, across the street, at least the Galleria knows what bike parking is (even though it's a wheelbender).

Monday, June 2, 2008

Everyone Is Welcome

Skywriting is a difficult art, especially done with a single airplane. One must use precision, patience and speed, as the wind is already blowing out your first characters as you write your last. And there's no delete key or liquid paper up there, so you can't make any mistakes (Imagine if the Militant wrote a blog entry in the sky...No please don't.)

A single-lane skywriter rushed in the skies directly above the Miracle Mile area on Monday (pictured above) to show that everyone, regardless of chosen profession, is welcome here.

(Actually, the finished writing read, "WELCOME HOME TORI & DEAN." How sweet. Wait a minute. Oh no, not that Tori and Dean!" Ack!)

Gasoline - No; Gasol - Yes!

Certainly more and more people are driving less these days due to skyrocketing gas costs. But how does a veloangeleno show their pro-Lakers fervor during NBA Finals season without a car flag wedged in one's side windows? This enterprising cyclist who parked their ride in front of East Hollywood's Bicycle Kitchen MacGyver'ed a car flag mount to the rear of their bike frame using electrical tape and plastic, thus demonstrating a lessened car-dependence on a totally new level.

Oh yeah, LAKERS IN 5, BABY!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Militant Anniversary, The Prelude

The Militant Angeleno busted onto the scene in June of 2007 so he may or may not do some interesting things this month, peaking on the week of June 15-20, the real first anniversary of this here blog. The slightly-altered MA logo at the header of this page shows a big red "1" commemorating the first year. But please, hold off on any "Congrats"-type comments for now, cos the party's barely even started...

Riding Hye in Little Armenia

The Militant spent part of Sunday checking out the Armenian Independence Day Festival on Hollywood Blvd, in front of Barnsdall Park. The festival commemorates Armenia's May 28, 1918
independence from the Ottoman Emprire and the creation of a Democratic Republic of Armenia, (which was short-lived after its annexation into the Soviet Union two years later). But hey, any cause for celebration is something the Militant is down for.

In its third year, it's nowhere near the size and scope of the nearby Songkran (Thai New Year) Festival, though an Armenian community operative who was somewhat involved with the festival informed the Militant that previous years had a much larger attendance.

It was largely a chill affair, with an entertainment stage on the east end with traditional Armenian music and a lively line of people dancing along (pictured right), two rows of food, information and product booths in the middle and a kids' area on the west end.

The Militant spent most of the time hanging out with his Armenian community operatives in an unspecified booth as he ate his chicken/lule kebab combo plate from the kebab tent. There weren't too many choices, but aside from the kebab vendor, the soujouk (think Armenian torta) booth was pretty happening.

The one thing that the Militant found intriguing was that a row of tables and chairs were placed in the middle of the street, and many people took to them, just to converse (one of the Militant's operatives was caught up in a 2 1/2-hour socio-political conversation with a local resident) -- a fairly common scene in Armenian cities as they are great users of public space. The Militant noticed that this cordoned-off section of The World's Most Famous Street functioned as a bona-fide public space, if only for a day.

The Militant took a relatively short ride over to the festival, but saw many other people walking their bikes through the festival area and notices a few other operatives doing the same. Speaking of bikes, there was a booth for the other kind of bikes (the big, noisy ones) organized by an Armenian American motorcycle club called the "Hye Riders" (pictured left). Too awesome.

The nearby Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center had a health info booth and gave away free HPMC t-shirts in Armenian (incidentally the logo of the hospital's Korean owner, CHA Health Systems, bears the same red-orange-blue tricolor as the Armenian flag). One of the Militant's operatives informed him that it just read, "Together we're Little Armenia." And yes, the Militant, ever the lover of free swag, got one.