Monday, September 28, 2009

Uncommon Encino

The Militant drove through the Valley, taking the long way back to the compound (as in the surface streets as opposed to the freeway, because that's how the Militant rolls sometimes) and happened upon this shining gateway over Ventura Blvd (pictured left).

It reads: "ENCINO COMMONS - The Valley's Miracle Mile."

O RLY? First off, the Militant couldn't help but chuckle that this part of Los Angeles has taken upon itself to make a comparison to...another part of Los Angeles. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but an illuminated archway over one of the biggest thoroughfares in the area should herald something more grandiose - more original, perhaps? Heck, you might as well go all the way with the hyperbole.

Second, aside from having a landscaped median, there's ironically very little in common with A.W. Ross' (no, not that Ross, but this one) retail thoroughfare over the hill. There's no art museum, no iconic art deco architecture, in fact no art anything (okay, fine, so there's a Color Me Mine down the street). There's no print or broadcast entertainment media companies (though this family in the neighborhood makes the tabloids often), nor are there any sticky prehistoric fossils to be found (and no, this guy doesn't count). Miracle Mile, the Militant's ass!

Further Militant research revealed that this sign was no fluke - it was the work of a local Business Improvement District, which, the Real Miracle Mile doesn't even have (do they even need one if miracles happen there?).

Now, this isn't a gratuitous knock against the 818. The Militant actually digs certain parts of the SFV, and would rather live there than, say Orange County or the Inland Empire (ugh). It's just that the boosters of "The Valley's Miracle Mile" ought to do a little research before making silly comparisons.

The businesses of Encino Commons have every right to beautify and promote their retail district, of course, so here's some alternate slogans they can use:

ENCINO COMMONS - The Valley's Encino Commons

ENCINO COMMONS - You're Not In Sherman Oaks Yet

ENCINO COMMONS - This is a Really Neat Sign

ENCINO COMMONS - If You're Reading This, You Should Be Watching The Road

If you happen to stumble upon "The Valley's Little Tokyo" or "The Valley's Highland Park" or "The Valley's Venice," please let the Militant know!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Militant's Refuge By The Sea

Many years ago, in the early 1990s, The Militant (though not yet realizing he was the Militant, but the same person nonetheless) went through a string of transitions. He had just gotten his driver's license, now freely exploring the same streets of which he studied the Thomas Guide for, yet at the same time he had just broken up with his girlfriend at the time.

The breakup was initiated by her, so the Militant spent many an emo night in despair and introspection. He recalls one fine night driving out to Marina Del Rey to some place by a breakwater, just to shed a tear, concealed under the veil of the night sky.

It's been years since that time and many things have changed in the Militant's life, but the exact location of his emotional refuge had been forgotten over the years.

On Saturday night, while being in the area, he decided to find this place from his past.

He had to play it by ear, by process of elimination. It wasn't near Playa Del Rey, as he hadn't yet discovered that part of town until he started his summer bike rides there a few years later. It wasn't Burton Chace Park, which was in the Marina, but quite a ways in from the sea.

The only place left was the little peninsula where southern Venice Beach meets the northern shore of the Marina Del Rey inlet.

So he continued driving through Admiralty Way and Via Marina, crossing all of the streets named after islands in Asia and the Pacific that served as key theaters of battle during World War II: Palawan, Panay, Marquesas, Tahiti, Bora Bora.

Then came a lighted, empty parking lot at the end of Via Marina, sporting a waterfront walking path that led to the sea.

Eureka. He found it.

One problem, though - parking there is verboten between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

It was 11 p.m. And lo and behold, as if on cue, there was the white Parking Enforcement car, making its vigilant rounds (Which also told the Militant he was in the City of Los Angeles (Venice) and no longer in MDR (unincorporated Los Angeles County land)).

How unfortunate, since the warm night air, coupled with the unmistakable aroma of the sea, was so inviting.

There are many beautiful sights in and around this City, that are especially beautiful after dark, at least in the Militant's eyes -- parks, beaches, mountain roads -- all of which are are officially made unwelcome by ordinance after 10 p.m. The Militant is aware these restrictions were meant to discourage any criminal element from spoiling these places, but must we always live our lives with them in mind? Are there no public places which we can enjoy in a more tranquil, nocturnal state? How sad and unfortunate.

But nothing's gonna stop this Militant. So he drove around for a legit parking space. He eventually found one just a block away, on a sidestreet called Via Donte. No preferential parking restrictions? The Militant is set.

Just a few steps away was the serene southern end of the Venice Grand Canal, also known at this location as the Marina Lagoon. Pitch black, save for house lights and bright illumination emanating in the distance, the Militant heard the calm waters of this lagoon, intermittently troubled by fish or birds somewhere there in the dark. A temporary feeling of envy overcame the Militant
as he wished - for a fleeting moment - that his compound could be located right here (actually not a bad place at all for amphibious combat training...).

He then crossed the street and walked the long jetty leading to the sea, with people engaging in nocturnal fishing activities in the rocks below.
It was an awe-inspiring sight, with the lights of civilization glowing behind and lateral to him (the lights of the Santa Monica Pier and the Hyperion Water Treatment Plant could easily be seen to the north and south, respectively), while at the same time the curious darkness of the ocean horizon lay before him.

Aside from the visual paradox, it was a beautifully chaotic clash of aural stimuli: The calming white-noise ocean waves from Venice Beach to the right, the even calmer ripple of the Marina inlet to the left, the incessant beeping of the maritime navigational beacon at the end of the jetty ahead, the roar of airliners taking off from LAX from the south and rap music blasting out of the Marina party boat.

Though relatively desolate, the Militant was not alone out there - a mix of strolling couples, people fishing by the beacon (almost invisible under the veil of night save for their glow-in-the-dark bait and the sound of overlapping conversations in Spanish). There was also a group of youths who pulled up on bicycles, and a musician quietly plucking on his guitar, likely also inspired by the locale, who recorded his newfound compositions into his Blackberry.

The Militant took it all in, enjoying this place, the boundary between darkness and light, between calm and noise. It was the perfect place to reflect on life. It was almost as if he was called to return here tonight.

Which also brought up another paradox: Might this public space be as peacefully inviting if those parking restrictions weren't in place and hundreds of people were here at the very same moment? Certainly this would be a very different place, and not as personal and secluded to the dozens who came here on Saturday night (Of course the upscale property owners of southern Venice beach would cry foul if it were any other way).

But reality being what it is, this space remains personal to the Militant, who will no doubt return to this special places of refuge and solitude, whether feeling the highs of awe, or the lows of heartbreak. It's a secret he shares with you. So what do you consider your place of refuge?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

KCET Reveals 'Infinitely More' About The Militant

It's not every day that the Militant gets to toot his own horn (or even blog, yes, guilty, guilty...) but a few weeks ago Yoli Martinez from KCET's website dared to do what has never been done before:

Interview the Militant.

It's not like the Militant is off-limits for interviews; you can ask him anything you'd like - it's just that he may or may not give you the exact answer you're looking for.

But there it is, as part of their "Better Know A SoCal Blogger" series (which has previously interviewed folks like Loteria Chicana and Green LA Girl) on their new KCET local site (Blatant cross-promotion, no?).

Oh yeah, in case you're wondering, the interview was conducted via the anonymous guise of electronic mail, which means that any attempt to pester Ms. Martinez (or any other KCET staff member) on any information as to the Militant's phenotypical appearance or true identity will get you nowhere! So don't bother, fool!

Honestly, the Militant doesn't know where this newfound spike in notoriety might lead. Perhaps the Militant needs an agent, or an entourage of his own. Well he kinda sorta already does. Or not. Success may or may not spoil him - we shall see!

But the Militant is insanely humbled at the fact that the online home of The Huell has taken an interest in the Militant and allowed him this rare opportunity to share a little bit more about himself to the online world. Militant Thanks, Yoli, Gary and KCET!

And for those of you who clicked on over from the interview wondering, "WTF?" the Militant invites you to catch up on the Militant Archives, to read up on his previous posts. Most notably, posts dispelling various Los Angeles myths/stereotypes and writing the be-all, end-all statement on the stupid "Eastside/Westside" boundary debate. You can also follow the Militant on Twitter. Enjoy and, if you are doing so already... Stay Militant!

The Real Dodgertown: Russell Martin

Moving along on the Militant's "The Real Dodgertown" series, this week he highlights Dodger catcher Russell Martin:
Our Afro-Franco-Canadian behind-the-plate-kinda guy was born in suburban Toronto and raised in Paris, France and suburban Montreal, having attended the same high school as some dude named Gagné (no, not that one).

Often pointed out for his resemblance to Turtle from the HBO series Entourage, Martin was instantly promoted to the big leagues after then-catcher Dioner Navarro suffered an owie early in the 2006 season. Since then, Martin became a two-time All-Star (2007, 2008) and also earned Golden Glove and Silver Slugger accolades in 2007.

This season, his uniform bears the name "J. MARTIN" which led fans to scratch their heads and either wonder "WTF?" or assume he changed his first name to "Jussell" or is trying to do some J. Crew kinda thang. But he was only trying to give props to the surname of his mother, Suzanne Jeanson (pronounced "Johnson" or "Jenson," depending on how you parlez-vous français).

The Militant traveled to Los Feliz (which is incorrectly referred to as "The Eastside") to snap the photo of "Russell Ave.," which was taken at its intersection with Vermont Avenue. Nearby is the infamous late-night chow stop House of Pies, which serves up Canadian maple syrup in its pancakes and waffles.

The "Martin St." sign was taken in El Sereno (which is actually in The Eastside), where it crosses Budau Ave. - a name which is French in origin.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Taco Thursday: Kike's - Politically-Incorrect Al Pastor?

Welcome to the Militant's Taco Thursday (gee, the Militant sure loves these special series things, doesn't he...), where the Militant Angeleno will highlight a taco joint (be it building, cart, truck or stand) in Los Angeles.

Taco stands are a regular fixture in this City, but those of you who have driven to or from Downtown Los Angeles via the 2nd Street Tunnel at night may or may not have seen a particular stand, under the lights of the Downtown skyline, on an empty parking lot on 2nd Street and Beaudry Avenue that would catch your eye.


You might have thought, "WTF?!" or "No way" or "Did I just see what I just saw?" or even an "Oy Vey!"

A taco stand with the same name as a dated slur used against Jewish people might be very odd, especially in a city as culturally diverse as this one (which, despite its historical bouts of tension between various groups, is still miles ahead of the rest of the country, which is still fascinated with the played-out white vs. black racial dichotomy, yawn...). Even more suspect is the fact that it stands on a street named after a wealthy merchant and former mayor who was once known for his anti-semitic views.

But relax, the Militant asked what was up, and discovered it's all a cultural misinterpretation. Like customs, mannerisms and traits, names and words can be construed in different ways, much like a Rorschach Test.

The taco stand is owned and operated by a gentleman named Enrique. In many Spanish-speaking countries, where people use nicknames as a term of endearment, the popular nickname of "Enrique" is "Quique" or "Kike" (both pronounced "KEE-kay"). So you see, "Kike's Tacos" really means "Enrique's Tacos" (The Militant is sure there's another "Enrique's" or "Quiques" somewhere in town...).

And their tacos, they serve the popular carne asada, pastor and pollo varieties, but also serve chorizo, buche (fried pork stomach) and lengua (beef tongue) as well. A little on the greasy side, but sometimes you need that grease to be tasty. Best of all, they're all for the right price of $1 each! Can't beat that!

Kike's Tacos is there Sunday-Thursday from 8 p.m. to 12 midnight, and Friday and Saturday nights from 8 p.m. to around 2 a.m. Late night taco fix? Not much cash? Drop by Kike's sometime...just remember to pronounce it correctly.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Real Dodgertown: Casey Blake, Blake DeWitt

Continuing the Militant's on-going series on "The Real Dodgertown," where he attempts to amuse his readers with Los Angeles street signs whose names are the same as those of current Dodger players, the Militant is going 2-for-1 today.

In baseball, that doesn't make any sense, but you will get two players for the (free) price of one with this post.

The Militant roams around this City far and wide to do these kinds of things for y'all, so here it is:

Today's "Real Dodgertown" players are third basemen Casey Blake and Blake DeWitt!

Blake, as we all know, is the team's primary third-baseman, the first everyday hot corner occupant since that Adrian Beltre guy some five years ago. Acquired just before last year's trade deadline, the bearded former American League veteran has been one of the team's offensive and defensive constants this season.

The Militant took the picture of the "Casey Pl" sign off of Westmont Drive in northern San Pedro, and the "Blake Av" sign by Pirtle Avenue in Elysian Valley (a.k.a. Frogtown), just down the hill from The Stadium.

The team's other "Blake" 3rd baseman - Blake DeWitt (Incidentally, both of them sport a number "3" on their jerseys - Blake being #23; DeWitt being #33) , was best known as the minor leaguer, who, in 2008, got the call to be on the Dodgers' Opening Day roster, after Tony Abreu, Andy LaRoche and the brittle-boned Nomar Garciaparra were all on the disabled list.

In his first MLB at-bat, he got his first big league hit, and just weeks later got his first home-run. The phrase, "Is There Anything Blake DeWitt Can't Do?" was popular at the start of the 2008 season, with his first grand-slam projected for July, brokering Mid-East peace by October and curing cancer by December.

This season, he's racked up the most frequent-flyer miles of any Dodger in history as he spent most of this season being called-up (and re-called) to and from the minor leagues multiple times.

The Militant snapped the "De Witt Dr" (Okay, there's a space, but who's counting?) sign in the Cahuenga Pass area, off of Barham Blvd.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Givin' Props To The Firefighters on 9/11

The Militant will keep this post short on words.

Many people have their various feelings and opinions on September 11, 2001, from the jingoistic, to the mournful, to the shameful, to the conspiratorial. Everyone has a right to their own feelings.

Today, the Militant visited Los Angeles' World Trade Center Memorial at the Los Angeles Fire Department's Frank Hotchkin Memorial Training Center, just outside of Dodgertown in Elysian Park. The memorial includes an actual piece of the South Tower's second-floor steel column, which was damaged, yet still standing after the tower's collapse.

On the rear of the monument, pieces of the concrete floor can still be seen at the top edge (pictured below).
A plaque at the base of the memorial (pictured below) dedicates the structure to the FDNY firefighters who perished in the line of duty eight years ago today,
The facility itself has a similarly-themed story. It is located on what was formerly the Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Center. Nearly 29 years ago this month, a fire broke out in the main building and Frank Hotchkin, an LAFD firefighter, was killed while fighting the blaze, which was blamed on an electrical problem. In 1995, the military sold the facility to the LAFD, which turned it into a training center and, most appropriately, dedicated it memory of Hotchkin.

A ceremony today, dedicated to the 9/11 firefighters, as well as the first responders of last year's Metrolink disaster took place at the facility today.

A banner in memory of LACFD's Ted Hall and Arnie Quinones was put up just outside the Sunset gate of Dodger Stadium, where the public memorial for both firefighters will be held Saturday morning:
One of the Militant's operatives applied for a job at the LAFD, though he's yet to land the position, the Militant learned that it's not just a job where you just get up and commute to/from the office. You live your job. Your commute is a 3-story slide down a pole. Your office is your firefighter's suit. Whether you're responding to a false alarm or battling a hellish wildfire, the Militant gives massive props to firefighters everywhere.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

On 9/9/09, The Militant's Nod To The 99

Today, the ninth day of the ninth month of the ninth year of this century, the Militant would like to do a paean to, what else, the 99 Cents Only Stores!

Now, many have derided this noble institution, oft ridiculed by Jay Leno as selling substandard and poorly-labeled products (but karma can be a beyotch, though). Others only go there to buy their beachballs for the Dodger game. And many more have uttered the most-used adjective synonymous with the 99 Cents Only Store: "ghetto."

But there's nothing "ghetto" about a company that raked in $1.2 billion last year and operates a very high-tech inventory stocking and tracking system. Most of all, The 99 is a Los Angeles original, which opened its first store on 6854 La Tijera in Westchester in 1982 and now operates 271 stores across California, Texas, Arizona and Nevada (its corporate HQ is in the City of Commerce).

The Militant takes to The 99 because, well, it's convenient, and yes, cheap. Why spend 3 bucks for toilet paper when you can get it for $0.99 (okay, 99.99 cents now...)? It's all gonna wind up in the same place anyway!

Okay, granted, there are some items you wouldn't want to be caught buying at The 99. The Militant understands. But there are some items The 99 excels at. Like snack foods, stationery, tools, electronic accessories (Phone charger for 99 cents? Score!) batteries and most of the time, produce (Don't knock the 99.99-cent strawberries! They can be good!)

The commonly-held belief that The 99 sells expired and spoiled goods isn't true. The produce the Militant has bought at the 99 was surprisingly good, and no worse off that what he'd find at Vons. The company interestingly capitalizes on the crass excess and consumerism of this country, and re-sells poorly-marketed products at a more worthy price.

Sometimes there's just too much of an item and and it has to clear out. And sometimes those items are pure gold, literally. Like who knew they printed gazillions of copies of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics Official Souvenir Program? The Militant got his for $16 back in the day (which is now torn and creased beyond recognition) but found a mint-condition copy, nay, a whole stack of mint condition copies -- for 99(.99) cents!

The Militant, who has friends and relatives in the burbs, nearly all of them mass-endowed, wonders about their utter fascination with Costco. Maybe the Militant might be fascinated by that store, except there ain't any where he lives. The 99 is the inner city's Costco. It's also more transit/bike/pedestrian friendly since the stores aren't just on popular corridors, but you don't have to lug bulk-sized portions home in an SUV. And best of all, there's more brand diversity -- all your merchandise isn't made by "Kirkland."

The company's current slogan is, "The Right Store...Now More Than Ever!" - an obvious reference to the recession. And rightfully so. Can you imagine a world without a 99 Cents Only Store, and all the overpriced crap we'd have to pay for in this economy?

So on this day, 9/9/2009, the Militant toasts his glass of wine Martinelli's Sparkling Apple-Raspberry Cider (at 99.99 cents per bottle), to the venerable, the vital and the homegrown 99 Cents Only Store. Salud!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Real Dodgertown: Orlando Hudson

Everybody knows the Militant loves Los Angeles, loves the Dodgers and loves the Los Angeles Dodgers. This year, although many hardcore Dodger fans lamented the team's closing of the Dodgertown training facility in Vero Beach, Fla and moving their Spring Training home to Glendale (no, not that one) Arizona, the upside was that Don Francisco McCourt has brought Los Angeles.

This year, Chavez Ravine has become "Dodgertown" itself, complete with its own zip code, and their "This Is My Town" ad campaign has spawned some billboards (both typical and atypical), as well as a way to get certain demographic groups to sell out some of the crappiest seats in the Stadium.

But after some Militant thought, "Dodgertown" has a deeper meaning: Perhaps it's been here all along.

There are hundreds of streets that crisscross this City (the fact that many of them are colored Dodger blue notwithstanding) and they can reveal some of the Dodgers themselves. Thus began the Militant's new on-going series, "The Real Dodgertown."

Today, the Militant kicks off the series featuring current Dodgers second baseman Orlando Hudson, a.k.a. O-DAWG!

The former Arizona Diamondbacks all-star was signed by the Dodgers over the offseason, coming off an injury with something to prove. It didn't take him long, as on Opening Day this year, he became the first Los Angeles Dodger to hit for the cycle at Dodger Stadium. Aside from his on-field skills, he's been a class act off the field as well.

The Militant took both of the above pictures on a bike ride along Melrose Avenue in Hollywood, where both Orlando and Hudsdon avenues intersect. He may or may not know whether there's some connection, but if O-Dawg is ever spotted shopping at, say, Crooks & Castles or having dinner at Osteria Mozza, the Militant would love to get a pic.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Playing The Angel (City): 'Los Angeles Plays Itself' Screening At The Aero

Gotta love social networking.

If it weren't for finding out on his Twitter or Facebook (forgot which one), the Militant would have totally slept on this one. One of his friends/followees posted Saturday about attending the sold-out screening of the 2003 documentary Los Angeles Plays Itself, screening this weekend at the American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre in Santa Monica.

So the Militant looked into it to add to his Sunday activities. 7:30 p.m. screening? The Militant was so there. Besides, it was a perfect way to celebrate Los Angeles' birthday weekend, since he was to lazy to wake up Saturday morning and go to the El Pueblo festivities.

He also bought his $10 movie ticket online via, which was not only totally convenient, but their $1 add-on service fee was way more reasonable than that of, oh, say, larger, more oppressive online ticket monopolies.

The Militant got in line, which went around the corner, and just his luck; right as his place in line entered the building, they announced that, for those who hadn't purchased via Fandango, the show was sold out! He even had a little difficulty finding a seat!

The film, of course, is Thom Andersen's (no, not that one) documentary (or video essay, as the filmmaker touts it) on the depiction of the Los Angeles metropolitan area in motion pictures, over the course of nearly eight decades. The film is, by no means, comprehensive of course, which is just as well given its two-and-a-half-hour-plus running time. But for someone as militantly Angeleno as, well, the Militant Angeleno, every minute of the film is captivating, revealing and fascinating.

There are no interviews; every scene is comprised of scenes of other films, always credited onscreen by title and year. Though the narration is written by, and from the point of view of, the Chicago-born, Brentwood/Westside-raised filmmaker, it's voiced by the droll and sometimes monotone Encke King, which is actually sometimes put to good effect, especially during scenes of humorous commentary, like this sequence that connects architecturally-significant residences with onscreen antagonists:

The film also makes some astute observations on not only the urban (or non-urban) landscape of Los Angeles, but other issues such as history, transportation, depiction of law enforcement (the commentary on the LAPD's well-known motto is pure gold) and to the Militant's sheer delight, how motion pictures have oft-reduced "Los Angeles" to a two-letter acronym.

Of course, there were a couple of points the Militant could nitpick on, such as Andersen's commentary on the bus system that would make any yellow-shirted pseudo-Marxist jizz in their pants. And the ending of the film, which finally addresses the depiction (and non-depiction) of blacks, Latinos and Native Americans in 'Hollywood,' seemed a little too rushed, with an ending too abrupt (not to mention the fact that other ethnic groups prominent in our city got absolutely no mention). And lastly, how could they do an entire section on the LAPD without a single clip from the 1988 movie Colors?

Following Sunday night's screening, the filmmaker was present for some Q and A, of which roughly half of the capacity crowd stayed for. The Militant was able to ask Andersen a question, of which he answered (of course the Militant won't reveal which one...).

The Militant wondered what kind of crowd he was with, since it takes a certain kind of person who'd wanna sit through a nearly 3-hour documentary about Los Angeles. The crowd, as expected, was predominantly white, over-40 and upscale in nature, though there were bits of every other demographic mixed in. Some of the people who asked questions identified themselves as transplants, some living here as recently as four months, another a woman originally from the Bay Area who grew up among Los Angeles-hate, yet found her self enamored with all things So Cal. A couple also identified themselves as locals.

Like this great City itself, there were a multitude of perspectives that attracted the crowd to this screening. Some came to seek validation ("Those who walk, or ride the bus, are the ones who truly know the city" - Yessss!), some came to learn, some came to learn even more. All of which are a great thing.

There are future plans for a DVD-version of this documentary, along with a supplementary book by Andersen covering post-2003 films such as Crash. But next time this thing screens locally, run, don't walk, to wherever it's screening.

Los Angeles Plays Itself is 100% Militant-approved. You. Must. Watch. It.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Militant's Birthday Card To Los Angeles


Dear Los Angeles,

WHATUP?! It's the Militant Angeleno. He just wanted to take time out from his busy schedule to wish you a very happy 228th birthday today.

The Militant was gonna bake you a nice cake and decorate it with 228 candles -- but he doesn't think you'd exactly appreciate anything to do with fire right now, or even for quite a while.

Yeah, it most definitely sucks having those normally-majestic San Gabriel Mountains near you all burned and charred, and even though there's no fire on you, it's close enough to ruin your look on your birthday. And yeah, he would normally celebrate your birthday with a 9-mile walk, but alas, the exceptionally bad air quality from that Station-You-Know-What is keeping the Militant from being there this Saturday.

The Militant wants to apologize for not being heard from for much of this year. He's normally your biggest and most vocal supporter, and he regrets not being around when you've needed him the most this past year. He can't reveal what's been going on, but he's been struggling with some things lately. But don't you worry, unlike others you may or may not know, the Militant doesn't blame you for his hardships. In fact, sometimes you pull through for him, like how you were able to let him bear witness to the big Laker celebration at the Coliseum, and the Michael Jackson memorial up the street a few weeks later. He's really appreciative of that (He knew you just wanted to get some MA blog posts out of that...).

The Militant knows times are tough economically, many people want to go to you because they want that prosperity you're known for giving - and blame you when they don't get it. The Militant knows it's never really your fault, you're just a scapegoat for their bigger issues, which they've brought with them before they even arrived here, and are never willing to accept.

But the Militant has known you long enough to know that no matter how dark it gets, there's always a dawn coming up next, one just has to be patient. The Militant was there in '92, saw everyone abandon you not long after (the shaker two years later didn't help either), but you nevertheless came back strong.

So don't worry, Los Angeles, everything's gonna be alright. You've faced even bleaker economic times, long before the Militant was born. But you still made do. Heck, you even hosted your first Olympics back then.

So again, Happy 228th Birthday, Los Angeles. Being a bicentenarian isn't bad at all, especially if you're a city. You're actually really young in city years! Extremely young! So don't forget that. (What? You want tickets to the Miley Cyrus concert for your birthday? Okay kiddo, the Militant didn't say you were that young...) But hey, think of it this way -- your best years are yet to come, he knows it. And The Militant hopes to be there when it happens.

Militant Angeleno

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Militant Takes On Metro's Turn To A New Style

Well, well, well. Look what we have here...

The Militant has been riding (M) Rail ever since the very first day of the Blue Line -- it was a Bastille Day, in 1990. He even rode the Red Line on its 1993 inaugural (heck, he's so militant, he even got to ride it five months before it opened in a private preview tour, in a borrowed Miami heavy rail car, but we won't talk about that in any more detail).

So to see one of these...these...turnstile thingies. Very odd.

He happened upon them on Monday at Union Station, en route to the Dodger game (sorry, no Dodger Trolley, just an operative pick-up). Sure this may or may not have already been blogged about before, but the Militant doesn't care. He wants his say, damnit.

First off, despite his grumblings, the Militant can get used to this new trasnit-boarding paradigm in Los Angeles. But why the dull aluminum finish? Some of its stations are already OD'ed in aluminum already, all the more when an aluminum-clad rail car shoots in, with people riding up aluminum escalators and eventually leaving via aluminum fare turnstiles. Mph.

Second, wassup with the triple-spoked turnstile gate? Are we headed into an old-fashioned amusement park? A day at the stadium (well, okay, the Militant was)? They look too east-coast for this Militant. Come on! We're the more modern subway! Why not something quasi-futuristic like the (nearly 40-year-old) wedge-gates of Frisco's BART system? The triple-spoked design is even less fare-evasion resistant, as fare-jumpers who can do under-the-spoke limbo or over-the spoke gymnastic moves can sneak in for a free ride. Um, wasn't that the whole purpose of these things in the first place? To minimize fare evasion?

Third, don't expect to actually use these things for a loooong time. As if the wait for this thing, or even this thing isn't long enough, the new turnstiles, after being installed in all 14 Red/Purple Line stations, still require the universal acceptance of Metro's TAP Card in order to operate. The paper tickets (which obviously lack the RFID chip used to activate TAP) don't seem to be going the way of the mastodon quite just yet. And as for the tens of thousands of Metrolink riders who transfer to and from trains at Union Station (and whose passes are honored on (M) Rail trains as transfers)? No TAP-like card is in the works for the commuter rail system in the forseeable future, nor has the incorporation of TAP as Metrolink fare media even been considered.

The turnstiles currently bear an instructional banner hanging overhead informing paper-ticketed and Metrolink pass-bearing passengers to simply walk through them (as they are currently non-locked) and TAP-bearing riders to TAP anyways, just because that little beeping sound is kinda neat. The Militant predicts we won't see fully-functional turnstiles until we get to ride the subway into the Westside.

So if you're not a big fan of the turnstiles, not to fret, just think of them as aluminum jungle gym equipment in our subway stations for the next decade or so.

Fire In Thar Hills!

No posts in an entire month? Militant, what's wrong with you?!?

The Militant spent his Monday evening taking in a Dodger game at the Stadium. As any Dodger fan has known for the past 47 years, the Stadium offers breathtaking views of the San Gabriel Mountains, beyond the confines of its outfield walls. On Monday night, the Stadium also offered a vantage view of the notorious Station Fire currently engulfing the said mountain range.

Fortunately, at least for most of us city-dwellers, the winds have been blowing towards the north, keeping much of that smoke away from us. Surely the game would have been called off in the event the winds and smoke blew in a southerly direction, causing a health hazard for players and spectators alike.

Though unspoken, many a fan did turn their eyes and binoculars towards left field, where flames could be seen racing up the mountains near Sunland-Tujunga, almost resembling molten lava down a volcano as night fell. It was a bizarre event, watching both the Boys in Blue fight against the Arizona Diamondbacks below, and firefighters fight against the mountainous inferno up there.
The game itself produced three solo home runs, by new Dodger Ronald Bellisario Ronnie Belliard in the 2nd inning, and two back-to-back bombs by Manny and Matt Kemp, respectively, in the 6th. Ultimately, the Dodgers lost 3-5 in the 10th (James McDonald pitching in the 10th? Really now??).

But a the loss of a game is small potatoes compared to other kinds of loss, especially when the fires hit close to home for the Dodgers in a literal sense, at least for shortstop Rafael Furcal, who left the Colorado road trip early to evacuate his La Cañada-Flintridge home with his family from the Station Fire. He was given a break from starting the game today. Fortunately, Furcal's home, which the player described as a base's distance from the fire, was spared; the real local team heroes this week provided the relief and the save.