Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Militant's 2009 Round-Up!

Whatup?! Looks like another year is a wrap. So it's time to reminisce and look back on the year that was.

First off, the Militant would like to apologize to all his loyal readers for the lack of consistency/prolificity in his posts this year. Eighty-four posts? PATHETIC! That's inexcusable for the Militant! But alas, without revealing much, it may or may not had to do with one or more or none of the following: His busy schedule, work, lack of work, travel (yes, the Militant leaves town, he just won't tell you when), health, extramilitant activities, The Witness Relocation Program, alien abduction, pirates, zombies, vampires (none of that Twilight crap though), robots, ninjas, robot ninjas, pure laziness, or the fact that it's sometimes better to use your time to live live rather than write about it. But the Militant will resolve to do a better job in 2010 (how do you pronounce that anyway? "Two-thousand-ten?" "Two-thousand-and-ten?" "Twenty-ten?") Oh well, he'll worry about that tomorrow.


2009 began very foggy, but as soon as it cleared, he had himself a good meal at the Homegirl Cafe. The price of the Los Angeles Times went up to 75 cents, but sometimes you can get a copy for free if you just keep looking. For Martin Luther King, Jr. day, the Militant mapped out the places in town named after the civil rights leader. And speaking of leaders, as our country had a new one sworn in and made history, the Militant made another map where the one-time Oxy student named Barry Obama left his mark on this City.

The Militant also took a trip to the Grammy Museum at LA LIVE (gotta be all caps...), which was also an on-location filming site for the upcoming Iron Man sequel.

The Militant did a little re-branding for his 2nd year of operations. Techwise, he jumped on the Twitter bandwagon in April, but in the fall, Facebook booted him off, accusing him of being "fake" (like all the other Angelenos, that's what they all say, right?). Oh well, the solution? Just start a new account, lol.

The Lakers did it, and Angelenos partied hard (sometimes a little too hard). But he did get to see the Coliseum decked in purple and gold for the very first time. The Dodgers almost did it, but just like last year, fell short in the final four. Still, it was another great season that began with an "O"utrageous "O"pening Day, was marred by Manny's suspension, then celebrated his eventual return, and found them winning the West (again), sweeping the NLDS (again) and being beaten in 5 by the Phillies...again. But win or lose, this was Dodgertown, and the street signs prove it all.
In other sports news, the Militant threw the first-ever Militant Bowl, where Bruins and Trojans got to duke it out on this here blog. This time around, it went to USC.

The Big-Ass Station Fire (is it STILL burning?), among the many brushfires we see (and breathe) in Southern California was one of the huge local stories of the year. So massive props to the firefighters who put their lives on the line, and even pay the ultimate price.

Analog television signed off, and Michael Jackson was sent off, and the Militant was one of the 20,000 to be there at Staples Center for the star-studded memorial service. He even made a map of MJ-related sights and landmarks around town.

Conan O' Brien moved his show to Universal City, and further down the Cahuenga Pass, Gustavo "The Dude" Dudamel made his debut at The Bowl.

Also making its debut was the long-awaited (M) Gold Line Eastside Extension, opening up real rapid transit to The Real Eastside, homes. It was such a huge occasion, the Militant showed his face (well, kinda) again. The Militant also gave you an exclusive Militant tour of the O.G. Gold Line.

As usual, the Militant took you places, from Encino to San Dimas, dude, from Florence and Normandie to Figueroa and Sepulveda (yes, there is such an intersection), from the top of Mt. Hollywood to the beach by the Marina, and he will no doubt take you to more places in 2010.

Bar none, the highlight of the Militant's year was being interviewed in September by's website for their "Better Know A Blogger" series. Obviously he couldn't reveal that much about himself, but it was a huge ego boost for the Militant and was proof positive that the Militant Angeleno is a force to be reckoned with in this City. RECOGNIZE!

Who knows what adventures (or mis-adventures) we'll face in Los Angeles in 2010? Leave it up to the Militant to take you there.

Happy 2010, Angelenos! Hope it'll be a good one for y'allz.

Militant L. Angeleno

Friday, December 25, 2009

Go Tell It On The Mountain: The Militant's Mt. Hollywood Christmas Hike

First off, the Militant wishes you all a very Militant Christmas! There's nothing like Christmas in Los Angeles; the sky is clear, the air is clean, traffic is flowing and most transplants are out of town! It's rare days like this when the true Angelenos can have the City all to themselves!

The Militant has a holiday tradition of climbing Mt. Hollywood (and by meaning "holiday," it's not just the multireligious/multicultural confluence of feast days around year's end; the Militant has done this on other legal holidays, such as the 4th of July and New Year's Day). The peak is the highest publicly-accessible point in Central Los Angeles, roughly 600 feet higher than our USBank Tower and about the same height as Shanghai's World Financial Center (the world's 3rd tallest building).

The Militant decided to take a Christmas Day sunset hike up Mt. Hollywood, taking the drive up, up, up and up Vermont, parking in the Griffith Observatory parking lot (since the domes were closed today, everyone was there for the view). Within a few yards, he entered the Charlie Turner Trailhead for the hike up the mountain.

For those of you on street level, Mt. Hollywood's peak looks like an easy climb. But lurking behind the Berlin Forest (named after Los Angeles' Sister City 5,795 miles to the east; pictured right), is a winding, 1.5-mile trail that takes from 40 to 90 minutes to traverse, depending on your pace.

The Militant wasn't alone, as dozens of other Angelenos of all ages decided to make this their own Holiday tradition, some accompanied by their own canine companions.

As the Militant ascended, the sun descended, offering a free show for many who paused to watch the dusk (pictured left). Too bad the marine layer in the horizon muted the sunset in the distance somewhat, marring what could have been a clean orange disc lowering itself over the Pacific. But still a decent sunset nonetheless.

Almost halfway through, the Militant found a dirt ravine, of which he could possibly circumvent the half-mile of path towards the west slope of the mountain. So he did a little rock climbing.

Okay, it was kind of embarrassing, the Militant forgot to wear his boots and was wearing his sneaks at the time - which is fine for the trail path, but lacked enough tread for his little climb. So he made the 100-foot ascent making careful steps, getting his hands dirty, grabbing onto bushes and roots, and improvising stakes out of tree branches. But he made it, without succumbing to gravity and taking a shameful tumble.

Halfway up his shortcut climb, the Militant was reminded of the 2007 conflagration that charred this very hillside. But the natural growth within the past two years made it not-so-obvious; a lone burnt tree trunk (pictured right) became one of the few visible monuments of the brushfire.

The final 1/3rd of the hike presents one with the proverbial fork-in-the road: take the eastern path and you get up to the peak faster, or take the more lengthy western route and you enjoy the simultaneous view of Hollywood, the Westside, Mt. Lee and the Hollywood Sign and the San Fernando Valley.

Since it was already past dusk, the Militant wanted to just get the heck up there.

Walking along the eastern flank of the mount, the Militant found a nice view of the San Gabriels in the distance, Glendale down below and the DWP Holiday Light Festival - appearing as a glowing purple line from hundreds of feet up (pictured left).

Finally, he sees it - a sloping plain of bare dirt, bearing recent erosion channels from the recent rainstorms, and a small promontory with a few picnic tables, wooden railing and an elevation marker, indicating its 1,619 feet height above sea level.

It was already night, with only the faint orange glowing remnant of daylight looming towards the west. Before the Militant lay some 26 miles urban expanse. It was a perfect view for Christmas. Why settle for a light display made up of mere hundreds of lights when you can gawk at millions? What else could a Militant Angeleno do up there but pause, reflect, enjoy...and snap some pictures?

Aside from the muffled rumble of the city below, it was a perfectly "Silent Night" up there, but for the sound of the crisp, cold wind roaring occasionally.

It's a unique place in Los Angeles - where else can you look down on the Downtown skyline? Where else can you see Hollywood and Ventura boulevards from the same view?

There were a few people up there: A Korean couple pointing down towards Koreatown, a young boy using his dad's iPhone letting his mom know they've made it up the peak, a young woman on a solo hike, taking her own time to reflect about life from above the din of the City.

Though this is perhaps the fourth or fifth time for the Militant to ascend Mt. Hollywood, the wonders of the view never cease. He could stay up there forever if he could (of course, his blog entries wouldn't be as interesting...)

Then it was time to leave.

Though it was dark, the gridded glow of city lights below and the half moon shining above were enough illumination for the Militant. And what a juxtaposition of man-made and the natural: The Militant was treated to the sounds of a solitary owl, coyotes howling in the distance and the constant chorus of crickets.

It was only about 6 p.m., but the shade of night kept most people away. On his way down, only one ascending hiker passed the Militant. After the Militant passed the location of his 100-foot shortcut climb, he opted to just stick to the path on the way down. In retrospect, he probably didn't really shave off that much time. But hey, it was all about the experience, the experience...

After crossing through the wooded corridor that was the Berlin Forest, the Militant made it back to the Observatory parking lot, and back to the creature comforts of his car.

Once he was back on Vermont near Hollywood, the Militant reflected on being "back up there" and realizing he was now "down here." It helps to see the bigger picture. Your world can only be so small.

Since Los Angeles doesn't have an observation deck on it's highest structure, this is probably the equivalent. And best of all, it's free. And maybe it's the perfect allegory for Los Angeles life: Where in other cities one can take a quick, but pricey elevator ride to the grand view, it takes a little time, patience and work to get up to our promontory. No one's entitled to an easy break.

But when you do get there, the reward is breathtakingly priceless.

Monday, December 7, 2009


The Militant may or may not have missed yesterday's 65th Annual Northeast Los Angeles Holiday Parade, but thanks to NELA resident Cathy Davies, who sent the Militant this link, you don't have to either! And it only takes a minute! Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Militant's Excellent Adventure In San Dimas

Ask most Angelenos what comes to mind when they hear of "San Dimas," and they will list two things: Raging Waters and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.

The Militant found himself here Monday afternoon in the far-eastern stretches of the San Gabriel Valley (though he has been even farther east before) due to unspecified circumstances. Call it fate, or mere curiosity, but the Militant found a historically fascinating locale.

While most So Cal 'burbs mark their central business district with some faux-Main Street getup, or even worse, a large, auto-oriented retail development (anchored by one or more of the following: A Target, a Best Buy, a Home Depot and a smattering of fast food chains, including a Chick-Fil-A), San Dimas was surprisingly different.

From the moment one exits the 210 at San Dimas Avenue, the environs are different from most of the arid pueblos that lie in the shadows of the San Gabriel Mountains - there's considerably more trees and shade here. Part of that lay in the town's history as a former early 19th-century settlement named Mud Springs, and later named after this saint.

Bonita Avenue, the town's main street, boasts a total Old West flair, right down to the wooden boardwalk that lines the town's shopping promenade, the architecture of the buildings (even the local Thai restaurant doesn't look out of place in Old West San Dimas) and the large-serif fonts on nearly all of the street signs. Shops ranged from a vintage Ford automobile garage (pictured right), to a gourmet food market, to a pet store, a model train shop and a hardware emporium.

For history buffs (like the Militant), pictorial markers are positioned right across the street from various historic buildings, depicting them in an earlier life, and explaining their historic significance. Some buildings were relatively self-explanatory, like the old Santa Fe train depot that now functions as the Pacific Rail Museum. But next to it stood even more morsels of history: a restored water trough for horses, a stretch of the original Santa Fe railroad track first laid here in 1887 and an old water pump that once brought the plentiful groundwater up for human consumption.

Speaking of which, the town bears its own still-natural river, Cinnamon Creek, which runs just south of the city center. The street named Cataract Ave. refers not to an opthamologist's office but to a waterfall made by the creek.

Another surprise were the people of San Dimas: Expecting a total lilywhite town where the Militant would stick out like a sore thumb and may or may not feel welcome, at least from the people walking down the street it looked surprisingly diverse. A South Asian mother and daughter stroll through the shops on Bonita, while later down the street, an African American couple point to a new dessert shop and exclaim that "This used to be a Quiznos!"

Half-jokingly, and half-honoring his '80s nostalgia, lo and behold a few blocks east on Bonita yields - yes - a Circle K mini-mart.

[Say it with the Militant now: "EXCELLENT!"]

No, the Militant didn't notice any strange things afoot here, nor did he run into some dude named Rufus, but the Militant wouldn't be surprised if other non-locals would instinctively look for a Circle-K in San Dimas. Even though, in actuality, the "Bill and Ted" films were shot on Arizona.

[Say it with the Militant now: "BOGUS!"]

Heading back on Bonita, the Militant passed the San Dimas City Hall building and saw some sort of Jebediah Springfield-type statue (pictured left).

Which was all funny until he read the marker:


[Say it with the Militant now: "NO WAY!"]

Turns out Smith was an Old West explorer/hunter type famous for being the first American to arrive in California over land from the east (Yo transplants, there's your forefather! LOL) and lived to the ripe old age of...32. He led an exploration party from Utah, over the Nevada desert and California mountain ranges and into Mud Springs, 183 years ago last Thursday.

Even the accoutrements of the modern retail world did not feel out of place here. A shopping center blended with the local architecture without looking faux-historically tacky. The requisite local Starbucks seemed to fit in. And the nearby Albertson's supermarket even had a public space next to it -- a pocket park with a fountain, benches and rose bushes (pictured right).

The premature dusk skies typical of mid-Autumn soon fell upon San Dimas, and the Militant naturally had to set off into the sunset (he drove here, BTW, though Foothil Transit's line 492 takes you here from the El Monte Transit Center, and one fine day in the future, the proposed Foothill Extension of the Metro Gold Line may or may not take you here as well).

The beauty of Southern California lies in its surprises that reveal themselves before you if only you pay attention, get out of the car and walk around a little. San Dimas proved to be an, um, excellent example of that.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

MILITANT BOWL I Champions Announced!

Congrats to USC, who fought on to win the inaugural MILITANT BOWL, 5-4!

As winner of the MILITANT BOWL, USC fans have bragging rights on which school is more militantly Angeleno. The Militant plans to pay a visit to the campus next week and do a blog entry on the school, so look out for him!

USC scored 5 comment posts vs. 4 for UCLA, which had a chance to win, had two of the comment posters followed the rules and not posted as "Anonymous." If only they followed the rules, UCLA would have won 6-5.

But thanks for playing, UCLA and USC fans! They may disagree on most things, but they should agree that they - and their rivalry - are part of what makes Los Angeles great! We'll do this next year! Until then, STAY MILITANT!

[MILITANT UPDATE: The score of the actual football game is USC 28, UCLA 7. The Militant may or may not be personally happy or sad with that result, but he is happy that the MILITANT BOWL is already batting 1.000 in terms of predicting the outcome of the crosstown gridiron match! Will MILITANT BOWL II predict the results of next year's game too? We'll find out next year!]

Friday, November 27, 2009

UCLA or USC? You Decide In The First Annual MILITANT BOWL!

It's that time of the year again, folks! It's the rivalry that dwarfs all So Cal sports rivalries! It makes the Dodgers-Angels rivalry look like a tee-ball game, it makes the Galaxy-Chivas rivalry look like soccer mom fodder, it makes the Kings-Ducks rivalry look like slushy Zamboni scrapings. It even makes the Lakers-Clippers riv...okay there really is no basketball rivalry in Southern California, but still, when it comes to intercollegiate sports rivalries in the same metropolitan area, This Is It. No other city in the USA, or even the world, can lay claim to a rivalry such as this.

This is, as you may or may not know, the weekend where the UCLA Bruins (6-5) face off against the USC Trojans (7-3; note: the Militant lists the schools in alphabetical order, hence the reason why UCLA goes before USC). Unlike the past several years, where the Trojans passed this off as a practice round before their inevitable new year's Bowl game glory, three stinging losses knocked them down to Earth from the Top 3 in the BCS rankings down to #20. The Bruins, playing a better-than-expected season this year with a few key victories, hopes to take advantage of the Trojans' fall from grace and become the city rivalry victor for the first time since 2006. However, history smiles more favorably on the Cardinal and Gold as the Trojans have won 9 out of the past 10 matchups, and lead the all-time record with 43 wins, 28 losses and seven ties.

The schools have fought for not only bragging rights, but a Victory Bell and a corporately-sponsored Gauntlet.

But what about the fans? The diehard Angelenos representing their schools, their ties to the schools, or their bandwagon statuses? How do they settle the score?

The Militant offers the solution: The Inaugural MILITANT BOWL!

It's like this: from the moment this post is published to the moment of kickoff at Saturday's game, UCLA and USC fans can post their respective roots and cheers for their school below in the Comments section of this blog entry. Points will be awarded (and deducted) and the winner will be announced via This Here Blog as well as the Militant's Twitter account.

The Militant will temporarily change out of his camo fatigues and into black-and-white referee stripes! [WHISTLE] So here are the rules! Read carefully!


1. Post a comment below in the Comments section of this blog entry, beginning with "GO UCLA!" or "GO USC!" and then explain, in your opinion, why [UCLA/USC] rules or sucks.

2. ONE entry per person! Subsequent entries by the same comment poster account will be disregarded.

3. You are, however, more than welcome to encourage other fans to post their own comments!

3. Each comment poster must have a screen/user name. Any comments posted by "anonymous" will BE DISQUALIFIED!

4. Comment must be a clear root or diss towards one of the teams. Ambiguous comments will also BE DISQUALIFIED! Also, wise-ass comments irrelevant to UCLA or USC will also BE DISQUALIFIED!

5. Each root for one school or diss against the other school will earn 1 point for the appropriate school.

6. Profanity will be permitted but let's keep this (relatively) civil and respectful! No _____-ist or _____-phobic comments please. Any comment of that nature will be penalized -1 point!

7. A root or diss comment of an extremely witty nature will earn 3 points!

8. In the event of a tie, The Militant Angeleno may or may not exercise his right to use his personal bias towards his unspecified alma mater and name it as the winner of the tiebreaker. So yes, the Militant will have to reveal his unspecified alma mater! LET'S TRY TO AVOID THIS FROM HAPPENING, FOLKS!

9. The comment period shall begin from the moment of this blog entry's posting and will close at the moment of kick-off at Saturday's game (around 7 p.m. this Saturday)!


Are you excited? The Militant sure is, and not just because his Comments section will artificially inflate for the next day and a half. But as you may or may not know, the Militant is a proud alum of one of the schools, and the rivalry is one of the highlights of the Militant's year! So get out there and post your comments! MAY THE BEST SCHOOL WIN!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Facebook Vs. The Militant

So the Militant logs into his Facebook page and gets this:
"Account Disabled."


So he logged in again, but got the same results:

"Account Disabled."

There was a link that offered an explanation, so he clicked on that.

It read:

Why was my account disabled?
Your account was disabled because the name it was registered under was fake. We do not allow users to register with fake names, to impersonate any person or entity, or to falsely state or otherwise misrepresent themselves or their affiliations. In addition, Facebook accounts are intended for use by single individuals, so groups, clubs, businesses, or other types of organizations are not permitted to maintain accounts.



Excuse the Militant, but the Militant Angeleno is as real as it gets. After doing some research, the Militant discovers that is based in Palo Alto, CA - in the Bay Area - and that it was founded in Cambridge, MA.

Which only means one thing:

Facebook hates Angelenos.

The Militant, who proudly embodies everything Los Angeles, is viewed by people in the Bay Area and the East Coast as "fake." Because they unfairly stereotype everything in Los Angeles as "fake." So for them, Los Angeles is a "fake" place, and surely someone who represents Los Angeles to such militant extremes has got to be "super fake."

This made the Militant fume with fury.

He has never felt so insulted in his life.

Then again, as wrong as those Bay Area and East Coast haters think about this City, it must be an honor though to be considered a true representative of Los Angeles, despite their disingenuous notions.

Not a good week for the Militant as far as the Internet. First YouTurd refuses to accept the Militant's recent Gold Line Opening Day Vlogstyle Episode, now Facebook denies the Militant entry because it believe all Angelenos are fake. Just a warning to all you other Angelenos out there, if you seem to have problems with Facebook.

So a big F-You to F-Book!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Vlogstyle Episode 05: The Militant Rides The Gold Line Eastside Extension On Opening Day!

gave the Militant a hard time, so now he's going Vimeo.

Movin' On Up To The Eastside: (M) Gold Line Extension Opens!

After the Militant graduated high school, he knew things were changing in this City. A different-looking skyline was going up, subways were being built below, the place he knew from the '70s and '80s was going to me no more, and he wanted to be there to witness that change, so when he attended his unspecified Pac-10 university, he never left Los Angeles.

Since July 14, 1990, the Militant has attended every single one of the (M) Rail line openings, and Sunday was no exception. And he especially wanted to be there for his Militant readers, as this was the first (M) Rail opening since this here blog began.

It's been reported that around 75,000 people took advantage of the free rides of the 6-mile Gold Line Eastside extension opening, which is about the same amount of people that ride the 22-mike (M) Blue Line on a typical weekday!

The Militant has definitely been to the Eastside - and East Los Angeles proper - before
. But for many Southern Californians, a good number who've long held the notion that East Los was some putrid 3rd world ghetto of sorts, this was a discovery, an awakening. A curious one, since the Militant overheard many families on Sunday talk about how eager they were to not only ride the line, but to go to a part of So Cal they usually don't go to. And if it was good enough for Metro to invest $800+ million to go to, they might as well check it out.

Of course though, by the time the autumnal dusk set at the 5 o'clock hour, the lengthy, nearly-hour-long lines at both ends had shrunken down to "just a bunch of people waiting on the platform," maybe those preconceived notions had not changed just yet. Tiny steps...

The short lines were perfect for the Militant though, as they gave him an opportunity to see the two light rail subway stations at Mariachi Plaza and at Soto - the first since 7th Street/Metro Center opened to Blue Line riders in February, 1991, and also the first deep-bore subway stations in Los Angeles not directly linked to the Red Line tunnel system.

Both stations resembled mini-Red Line stations - the same plaza-mezzanine-platform design, but with a lighter infrastructure (shorter platforms and no TransitVue video screens -yet). The Militant also noticed that the track floor is flat and not sunken-in like that of the Red/Purple lines - which means that if you fall in the tracks, you either have to GTFO or you'll die, as they lack the crawlspace clearance of the heavy rail trains that allows one to get run over by a train and still survive.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina said that the Gold Line was and "inadequate" transit system. She needs to STFU, especially as an obvious non-transit rider. The Soto and Mariachi Plaza stations aren't just the nicest stations on the Eastsdie extension, but they're some of the nicest (M) stations in the entire system. Soto's blue glow motif is a wonderful addition to the 1st/Soto intersection and the palace-like Mariachi Plaza station (hands down the fun-nest transit station name in human history) makes an already-cherished community public space even more vibrant. It's like the Leimert Park of the Eastside.

It's only six miles, but this relatively short stretch of light rail infrastructure is perhaps the most meaningful segment of the (M) Rail system to date. Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne summed it up best in his recent Eastside Extension review: trains trace new paths across the city, some of the divisions that for generations have made Los Angeles a balkanized collection of neighborhoods may begin to wobble or fall away.

That's not to say that some homogenization of L.A.'s various parts is on its way or should be our goal. Quite the opposite: New transit lines tend to throw the vibrant differences among neighborhoods into high relief.

(Bless that Hawthorne guy...he's not a stuck-up elitist prick like his predecessor, Nicholas Ouroussoff was. The Militant sooo wanted to slap that sucka upside the head many times).

There are some in the Eastside who fear that despite the increased accessibility for its denizens, that the Gold Line will bring on hipsterification and all that. It may or may not happen, and some of it will happen, but ultimately, in the bigger picture, the Militant predicts they have nothing to fear. The community culture of the Eastside is strong, solid and well-defined. No one can take that away. Stop worrying about how the rest of the City will change the Eastside and start thinking about how the Eastside can influence the rest of the City.

Night and Day: Compare this picture, taken Sunday evening:

With the same view, taken a little over two years ago for a previous Militant Angeleno post:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Uncommon Valor in Historic Filipinotown

With today being Veterans Day, the Militant wanted to find a monument in the City (aside from a Veteran Avenue street sign - speaking of which, ever notice that the Veterans Administration Hopsital is by Federal while the Federal Building is by Veteran?) that honored veterans somehow.

Back in August of '07, the Militant showed you this World War I memorial on Adams and La Brea in Mid-City, but this being a day to honor primarily the living veterans, rather than the dead ones (who have their own holiday), the Militant had to look elsewhere.

But he didn't have to bike that far. Working on operative tips, he discovered a relatively new veterans memorial, just west of Downtown, in a relatively hidden place called Lake Street Park, just north of Beverly Blvd in Historic Filipinotown (and around the corner from Brooklyn Bagel), that honors not just the courage of a certain group of veterans, but their unique battle, both during - and long after - the war.

Dedicated in 2006 and designed by public artist Cheri Gaulke, also known for her station art at the (M) Gold Line Lincoln Heights/Cypress Park stop, the Filipino World War II Veterans Memorial tells their story through five granite panels, which describe America's colonial relationship with the southeast Asian country, the role of Filipino soldiers during the war, particularly through Japanese occupation and such enduring events as the Bataan Death March.

But even after victory in 1945, the battle wasn't exactly over for the Filipino war veterans, who, through the Rescission Act of 1946, were ultimately denied the benefits promised to them during the war.

Since then, over time, the Filipino veterans received part of their benefits piecemeal - including some of the few surviving who received checks just this year, but not until they, their advocates in the Filipino community and their allies fought for it over the course of several decades.

Just then, right after the Militant took his pictures, as if on cue, a swarm of four helicopters from a Veterans Day ceremony flew almost nearly overhead.

It became a very appropriate VetsDay moment for the Militant.

Stay Militant, Veterans.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Militant's Ultimate (M) Gold Line Tour

Yes, Angelenos, the Militant is back.

He took a brief hiatus after getting over his post-Dodger-postseason Depression (PDPD) and had a bout with what may or may not have been the Swine Flu.

The Militant is okay, both emotionally and physically, and in fact did see someone dressed in a costume resembling that of the Militant at a gas station on Halloween Night (for you "Pics-Or-It-Didn't-Happen" types, sorry, the Militant Cam didn't work quickly enough, and certainly none of you would be amused by the picture of a back of someone's car).

Anyhoo, let's get right down to business. Sometimes the Militant gets lazy, sometimes he rants, sometimes he does a little event coverage, but sometimes he does a Mega-Post(tm) - such as last year's Pulitzer Prize-winning* post on the lost Sacatela Creek. A post full of text, images and a heck of a lot of Militant Research. Well, Angelenos, the Militant is about to give you the proverbial Mother Of All Mega-Posts.

This Mega-Post(tm) contains not one, not two, nor three, four or five, but - count 'em - six years of Militant research (Of course, there was no MA blog as we know it even three years ago, but you'll just have to trust the Militant on this one.

Okay, we're inflating the word count already...As you may or may not know, the (M) Gold Line will never be the same this Sunday, as the long-awaited expansion to the Eastside (the Real Eastside, to you hipster lowlifes out there) will open to the transit-riding public.

Well, your lives - and your knowledge of Los Angeles - will never be the same after this Mega-Post(tm). The Militant is about to take you on a tour of the Pasadena-to-Los Angeles (M) Gold Line...MILITANT STYLE!

Yes, it's not just about parades, football games, concerts or pub crawls. The Gold Line is a veritable, uh, gold mine of historical and trivial facts, most of which aren't visible to the casual obvserver. It's like a Transformer, yo...More than meets the eye!

So here it is...drum roll please...a post over two years in the making...


Being that the Militant is central Los Angeles-centric, this tour will start from Union Station and end at Sierra Madre Villa station. Got it? Now tap your TAP cards (beep), and let's goooo!

Oh wait, you gotta go to the bathroom first? OK, OK, It's down the pedestrian tunnel, then make a left. HURRY!

...Okay, we're off!

View The Militant's (M) Gold Line Tour in a larger map

1. Private Rail Car Yard
Look to your left, as the train ascends up the elevated structure. There's a private rail car yard for privately-owned (non-Amtrak) passenger cars, whose owners pay Amtrak a fee for connecting to existing passenger trains.

This yard was originally built to house the business cars of the Southern Pacific, Union Pacific and Santa Fe railroads, during the heyday of passenger rail travel.

2. Homeboy Industries / Homegirl Cafe
Due directly right as the train curves, you can literally touch the building. It's the new headquarters of the nonprofit social enterprise Homeboy Industries. The Militant has already eaten at Homegirl Cafe. Great food, great service, great cause - MILITANT APPROVED!

3. Capitol Milling Company
This family-owned flour mill operated from 1831 to 1997, before moving its operation to a much larger facility in Colton. The mill supplied flour to clients such as Ralphs, Foix French Bakery and La Brea Bakery. In 1999, the family-owned operation was purchased by industry giant Con-Agra Co.

The historic building, built even before the railroads arrived in Los Angeles, still has a horse-tethering ring, back to the days when grain was hauled by horse carriage from farms in the San Fernando Valley.

4. Zanja Madre Relics
This recovered piece of Los Angeles history appears as a pipeline-like structure made of bricks and masonry. The Zanja Madre was the early water supply/irrigation system for the early pueblo of Los Angeles, which channeled water from the then-naturally running Porciuncula (Los Angeles) river into the town.

This relic was discovered by Metro construction crews in 2005 and placed on display here.

5. Swallow's Nests
Who says there's no wildlife in the City? Look towards the side of the Broadway Viaduct (along the middle of the photo on the left) and you'll see a row of swallow's nests - constructed in the same fashion as they are in mountainside cliffs - built into the concrete!

6. (M) Gold Line Yard & Shops
This yard, the former approach to the old Southern Pacific Cornfield Yard, (now Los Angeles Historic State Park), is where the Gold Line's fleet of Siemens and Breda light rail cars are stored, cleaned and maintained daily.

7. The Old Lincoln Heights Jail
Former LAPD Police Station and City Jailhouse from 1931 to 1966, holding up to 2800 prisoners at its peak. Still owned by the City, it was abandoned due to capacity and now serves as the home of the Los Angeles Youth Athletic Club, The Bilingual Foundation for the Arts theater company, and the Aztlan Foundation which provides workshops in Latino art and culture for the community.

8. Unidentified Flying Object!
Look to your left right before the train crosses the Pasadena Freeway! There's a flying saucer here at this Lincoln Heights scrapyard!

9. Bird Zoo
If you're heading towards Pasadena, look quickly to your right, just before you reach the Southwest Museum station and behind the fence, you'll see a bunch of caged birds and animals in the backyard of this apartment complex. Exotic animals seen here include a peacock, cockatoos and a goat.

10. Casa de Adobe
Building owned by the nearby Southwest Museum for temporary exhibits and cultural events, such as the annual Lummis Day Festival.

11. Figueroa Upper Walkway
You'll have to get off at the Southwest Museum station to see it. This second-set-of-sidewalk above the street-level sidewalk is a unique sight in Los Angeles, connecting various houses and apartments with the Casa de Adobe and the entrance to the (M) Gold Line Southwest Museum Station.

12. Old L.A. Certified Farmer's Market
Hop off the Gold Line at the Highland Park station every Tuesday from 3 to 8 p.m. for this weekly Farmer's Market in Highland Park. Check out the Militant's post!

13. Quetzalcoatl Chicano Heritage Mural
This mural, painted in 1995, depicts and celebrates Chicano history and heritage. Commissioned for $50,000 and partially financed by Rage Against The Machine singer Zak de la Rocha, this mural at Ave 61 and Figueroa has been a visible landmark and point of pride for the Highland Park community.

14. Arroyo Seco Viaduct
Your train travels on this bridge, along with most of the Gold Line's right-of-way, carried freight and passenger trains of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (now merged into the BNSF Railway) until 1994. The bridge was converted from single-track to double-track during the Gold Line's construction in the late 1990s.

15. Mission West Farmer's Market
Don't forget to hop off the Gold Line at the Mission Station on Thursday evenings to catch this SouthPas tradition. Check out the Militant's Post!

16. Oaklawn Pedestrian Bridge
This decorative concrete arch bridge was built in 1910 for the neighborhood's bougie residents to cross over the Santa Fe Railway tracks. More info here.

17. Potential Bikeway?
Wouldn't this be a neato location for a future bikeway? A Militant can dream...C'mon Metro, let's make it happen!

18. Art Center South Campus
The South Campus of the Art Center College of Design opened in 2004. The building was originally an aircraft testing facility built during World War II. The Militant visited this place at the end of a Pasadena Ride-Arc ride last year.

19. The First Trader Joe's
This is the oldest and longest-operating Trader Joe's supermarket in the entire chain. So for all of you with friends in Seattle or Boston or NYC who just rave about "their TJ's," show them the OG TJs and make them RECOGNIZE!

20. Historic Santa Fe Pasadena Depot
This building at the Gold Line Del Mar station says "Pasadena" on it for a reason: it was the original Pasadena railroad depot operated by the Santa Fe Railway from 1925 to 1971, and by Amtrak form 1971 to 1994, when the passenger line was rerouted and the line abandoned to make was for what was then known as the "Pasadena Blue Line." The Santa Fe "cross" logo motifs can still be found all over the station building.

The station is now adaptively reused as a restaurant as part of the Del Mar Station mixed-use development.

21. Del Mar Station Bike Parking Facility
Check it - this station has bike parking! No, not just some lame aluminum "sinewave" racks placed in some obscure, forgotten corner, but an actual room where bikes can be parked and locked!

22. Manny Ramirez's Condo(?)
Not confirmed, but according to operative reports, Dodgers Outfielder Manny Ramirez owns a condo in this mixed-use development. The Militant doesn't know which unit, nor has he had the opportunity to party like a rockstar there.

23. Colorado Blvd Subway
The original Santa Fe Railway tracks crossed Colorado, but Metro built an underpass for the light rail line for some reason. Something to do with a parade every January...

24. Ruins of the Original Pasadena Public Library
This "Memorial Park" in Pasadena is no cemetery, but it does contain the remains of the original central Public Library building, located here from 1890 to 1927, and demolished in 1954. The current Public Library opened in 1927. The city of Pasadena retained the columns in memory of the original library building, dedicated in 1955.

25. Former Pacific Electric Right-Of-Way
This landscaped median, typical of many in Southern California, once carried interurban streetcars of the Pacific Electric Railway from 1904 to 1950 in a line that originated from 6th and Main streets in Downtown Los Angeles.

26. Eaton Wash
This flood control channel captures snow runoff from the San Gabriel Mountains about a mile high above, and runs through Eaton Canyon.

27. Pasadena Sandwich Co.
Some of the biggest sammiches you've ever seen are sold at this hole-in-the-wall shop on Sierra Madre Villa Ave, just steps away from the Gold Line station.

28. Site of Hastings Ranch
This large suburban retail development was once the location of Charles Cook Hastings' 1,100-acre Mesa Alta Rancho from 1882 to 1942, boasting a vineyard and later exotic plant and animal life. After the death of Hastings' son the land was sold to become tract housing, retail and a drive-in theater during the post-war development boom.

So there you have it, 28 points of interest from the window of your Gold Line train or a short walk away. Come Sunday, the Militant will no doubt have to update this list (Google Maps needs to put some more recent images, ahem, ahem). But for those of you who do the Gold Line every day to and from work, you'll never look at your commute the same way again.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Just Getting Warmed Up!

Yes, the Militant knows, nothing but Dodgers right now. But bear with him. These are some exciting times.

It's been five days since the last Dodger game and us True Blue fans can't seem to get enough. But the Militant, thanks to an operative's tip, was able to go to the Stadium (now with NLCS logo painted on the field) and eavesdrop on the Dodgers' warm-up session on a precipitous Wednesday afternoon, in the misty drizzle (fo' shizzle), as the tarps were rolled away and the Boys In Blue come out to get ready to play. So here's your Dodger fill just before the big game today. The Militant may or may not be there (Wait, who is he kidding? Of course he will be there)! GO BLUE!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


The Los Angeles Dodgers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-1 on Saturday, clinching the NLDS victory with a sweep and are advancing to the National League Championship Series.


They play the winner of the (currently snowed-out) Phillies-Rockies NLDS round next Thursday. So who's it gonna be, Dodger fans? Philly or Colorado?

The Militant wants the Dodgers to take on the defending World Champs Philly in the NLCS. Why? Aside from avenging last year's playoffs, if they can beat 'em, they can win the World Series. Whutchu think?

Friday, October 9, 2009

An Evening of Walk-Offs and Art Walks

Who says "Nobody Walks In L.A.?" Who says Los Angeles is not an exciting place? Not the Militant!

Part I: Walk-Off FTW.

The Militant probably doesn't have to tell you that the Los Angeles Dodgers won game 2 of the NLDS, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 on Thursday with a come-from-behind, walk-off hit in the bottom of the 9th. But he will.

First off, the 3:07 p.m. game time was a concern for the Militant. Not personally, but the fact that many people couldn't come to the game due to school or work schedules (and even a few operatives trying to sell their tickets). He feared a relatively empty Stadium shown on national television would be more diss fodder for all the Los Angeles out there. This was clearly a conspiracy created by the East Coast hegemony. And with the Atlanta-based TBS cable network broadcasting the game, the Militant rests his case.

Alas, only 51,000 showed up, with the outfield reserve bookends of The Stadium clearly empty.

But fear not, as dullsville, Dodgertown definitely was not.

The night simply oozed Los Angeles all over: The locally-raised rock guitarist Slash (born Saul Hudson, no relation to Orlando) performed the National Anthem and "God Bless America" on his (Kirk) Gibson Les Paul axe. Then came Mission Hills native, comedian George Lopez (donning a Fernando Valenzuela jersey), pitching both the ceremonial first ball as well as his new TV show on (surprise!) TBS. Finishing off the game was the dramatic walk-off RBI by the Santa Monica-born, Arcadia-raised Mark Loretta. RE-PRE-MUDDAFUGGING-SENT!

This Is My Town, indeed.

And after the score had been settled, the 51,000 fans that did come for the weekday afternoon game didn't want to leave. Whoops and hollers were heard all over the stadium for over an hour. Fans chanted, "SWEEP! SWEEP! SWEEP!" and perfect strangers donned in blue enthusiastically exchanged high-fives on their way out. They don\t call this "Blue Heaven On Earth" for nothing.

The parking lot also became a party zone, with horns honking in celebration, rather than agitation. The sound of cheers, chants, screams and whistles turned the parking lot into a party zone. Dodgertown was alive!

Part II: Art Walk OMG!

The Militant didn't feel the night was over just yet, so he set out towards Downtown Los Angeles to sample the second-Thursday-of-the-month Art Walk. Obviously not a totally new thing, having been a DTLA tradition for the past five years, it was still a new thing for the Militant.

Surely the hipster thing was a deterrent for the Militant all this time, and possibly just plain apathy, but after he got over the apparent hipsterness of most of the crowd, it really became a pretty cool event.

Certainly for the first-time Militant, walking into the Art Walk would lead one to say, "This is a hipster thing, let's GTFO of here." But after sticking around a while, the crowds are really a little more diverse than at first glance. The art aspect wasn't as much a huge deal for the Militant as was the urban scene, with upwards of 10,000 people roaming around the Gallery Row district at night, creating an undeniable energy not too unlike the one at the earlier sporting event. Galleries, restaurants, bars, cafes and some shops were open, with much of the action going on from 7 p.m. to midnight.

The local squadron of teh tr3ndy food tucks represented, such as Nom Nom, Don Chow Tacos, Skewers On Wheels, India Jones, Coolhaus Ice Cream and more (BTW, the Kogi BBQ truck was too cool for Artwalk, and had other plans tonight). A few trucks were on Spring Street, between 4th and 5th streets, with another set a block east on Main. In fact, no other local event brings so many of them to one place.

The interesting parking lot arts/crafts/food outdoor bazaar on Main near 5th brought back memories of Hong Kong's Night Market, something that Los Angeles really needs.

There's also music performances on the street, which is mostly of the lo-fi, sub-par style the hipsters just love and the Militant really doesn't care for, but that's a small price to pay for such buzzing nocturnal street energy. It's the kind of event you'd want Westsiders, suburbanites and those originally from those so-called "real" cities to come check out.

The Art Walk is definitely something to see, if even just to sample the street vibe. Besides, it'd make an awesome locale for a flash mob (But you didn't hear that from the Militant...). The next one is slated for November 12. The Militant may or may not be there!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


The Militant Angeleno has a good feeling about this.

The Los Angeles Dodgers won 5-2 over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, thwarting the latter's supposedly prognosticated sweep.

Dodgers lead the NLCS 1-0.

Though Los Angeles native Randy Wolf (Canoga Park represent) didn't fully pull through as expected, decision or not, the Dodgers got the W, just as they usually have when he starts. At least the decision went to another son of the Southland, Jeff Weaver (Northridge and Simi Valley represent). The offense was on it, thanks to Matt "The Bison" Kemp's 2-run bomb to center field. Raffy Furcal going 3-for-4 wasn't that bad either. Even this guy showed up to watch the game.

After the game, Dodger fans were on a Blue high, while Skipper Joe Torre was spotted at Canter's after the game for some late-night victory noshing. And Randy Newman even earned double royalty points tonight as the other beloved Los Angeles team won their first pre-season match in the OC.

Today was a good day.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

¡Bienvenido Gustavo! The Dude Abides At The Bowl

The Militant wanted to be two places at once on Saturday night - at The Stadium, watching the Dodgers clinch the 2009 NL West Title, and at the Hollywood Bowl, watching the debut of new Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel (heretofore referred to on the MA's blog as "The Dude").

The Militant, Dodger Fan he is, opted for the latter, because the ticket was free, thanks to one of his operatives. Actually all the tickets were free, thanks to a generous sponsorship by Target Stores (which the Militant may or may not be a fan of...) And besides, the Militant already has tickets to next week's NLDS playoff games!

The Militant took transit to the Bowl, of course, riding on the (M) Red Line to the Hollywood/Highland station and taking the Bowl Shuttle (free with his (M) Rail ticket!) from the west end of the complex. Miraculously, he got there in less than 10 minutes (previous Bowl shuttles took nearly 45 minutes due to traffic, no kidding).

After performances by Andrae Crouch, Flea with the Silverlake [sic] Conservatory Ensemble, Herbie Hancock with the LACHSA Jazz Band and a latin/blues set with Taj Mahal, Los Lobos' David Hidalgo and Los Cezontles and Alfredo Rodriguez, it was time to see The Dude.

The Bowl's video screens showed a short video montage (Even The Dude had a montage) of Los Angeles locals in Los Angeles locales wishing The Dude a warm welcome (The highlight was Pink's, which now offers the Dudamel Dog).

His first appearance was not conducting the Phil, but the YOLA Expo Center Youth Orchestra, playing Beethoven's "Ode To Joy." Fitting, since The 28-year old Dude grew up having participated in a similar youth orchestra in his native Venezuela and is a staunch advocate of music education for los niños. A lively contingent of Venezuelans, some of them dressed in the red-yellow-blue tricolor of their country's flag, gushed pride at seeing their very own El Tipo walk onstage.

Later, The Dude walked out in a white tux, conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic, accompanied by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, plus members of various multiethnic choirs around town, to perform Beethoven's entire 9th Symphony. The Bowl's four (non-HD, wassup wit dat?) screens projected not only closer shots of The Dude and the musicians, but the translated "Ode To Joy" lyrics from old German to English y Español for the crowd to understand.

The Dude was energetic and animated, true to all the hype, even conducting with his eyebrows and a single pinky finger. At the conclusion, The Dude made a bilingual speech on how grateful he was with his new gig. The Phil concluded with an encore, and the Bowl's trademark acoustic shell also became a pyrotechnics machine.

It's gonna be a long-ass while before you'll hear The Dude announcing his retirement, so you can count on The Dude being an influential cultural figure in this City for decades to come. The Militant welcomes The Dude to Los Angeles!

Missed the show? Watch the streaming webcast!


This is your Hollywood Bowl bike parking...

Bowl crowd

The Bowl makes a funny face.

The Dude (is it just the Militant, or does he look a bit like this dude?)