Wednesday, March 30, 2011

(More) (Street) Signs Of The Times

Apparently The Militant's post last week on Los Angeles street signs was such a hit with y'all, spawning lots of retweets and links from other blog sites (thanks, yo!), that it reinvigorated The Militant's desire to post. No, really, if you take notice of The Militant's post count from 2009 on, it seems as though there's a noticeable drop in blog entries. Part of that is due to the Militant's busy and active extramilitant lifestyle, which has him do things like...(oh wait, he can't tell you that!) But part of it was a sense that...[snif...] no one was reading his stuff anymore, so why bother? But the response from the "Signs" post made him realize that despite other sites comin' out of nowhere, tryin' to rip off his game, The Militant still has readers [snif...]

Anyways, a few of the comments from the "Signs" post asked about pre-1946 Los Angeles street signs. He doesn't have the historical background on these, but he figured it would be cool to at least show you what they looked like, so here goes. Only because The Militant loves all y'all [snif...]. Back in time we go!

The "Plank" Sign: This was the sign that the "Shotgun" signs replaced. Incidentally, this exact sign, taken in 1947, was eventually replaced in the 1970s by the Blue Blade example from last week's post. These simple rectangular signs featured white letters on a black background, with the street type, abbreviated, shown in smaller font. No block number or direction were indicated. Apparently these became obvious collector's items -- one sign from Scott Avenue in Echo Park currently lives in someone's backyard.

The "Four-Sided Trapezoid" Sign: This example, which may or may not have been a City standard sign, was taken in 1937 on the corner of Bonnie Brae Street and Wilshire Blvd (below the street sign was a speed limit sign indicating 20 times haven't really changed, lol) in the Westlake District. The sign was placed on a lamp post and has four sides, two of which indicate the street the sign face is parallel to. The sign had white letter on a dark (black we assume) background, and featured the street name in large all-caps typeface, street type in smaller typeface and the block number at the bottom. It was also made of wood, and is so far is the only example the Militant has seen, so it may or may not be unique to the Wilshire Blvd corridor.

The "Paddle" Sign: Speaking of Wilshire Blvd, this sign was taken at Wilshire and Bronson Ave, circa early 1920s. They were affixed to opposite sides of a light pole and have black letters on a white background. No street type, block number or direction were indicated.

So there you go! Hope you dig it. Meanwhile, the Militant will be in search of photos (well, more likely paintings) of 19th-century street signs, and maybe even Mexican and Spanish-era signs! That would be hardcore!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Los Angeles -- Music City USA?

When you think of music, Los Angeles is perhaps the, or one of the capitals in the industry. As the birthplace of artists from The Beach Boys to The Black Eyed Peas, Los Angeles also gave the world Guitar Center, Leo Fender's and Les Paul's namesake guitars, and the drum machine (invented by Hollywood High alum Roger Linn), just to name a few. Heck, we even have an office building shaped like a stack of records. And surprise, there's a record company inside!

And in this era of record stores dying out, we have one store - yes, the Militant is aware it's a Frisco import - which dwarfs its older Bay Area sisters (and every other record store, period) in popularity and sales. Some of the most popular albums of all time were recorded here, most of which won several Grammy awards. In fact, the awards are given here every February. And we even have an entire museum dedicated to that. The Militant won't even dare to list all the music venues in town. Just open up your LA Weekly (and in the interest of fairness, Los Angeles is also home to this company, which gave the world this recent bit o' viral gold, lol). The Militant can just retire from blogging and write an entire book on this subject alone!

But according to this recent article in The Atlantic, Los Angeles ranks #2 behind Nashville, Tennessee in terms of music industry concentration in North America (or at least, The USA and Canada; none of Mexico's centers made the list - neither Mexico City nor the mariachi capital of Guadalajara).

Now, The Militant knows what you're gonna expect from him: a multi-paragraph tirade on why that list was fixed and how Los Angeles should be #1.

But actually, no, The Militant actually finds those results perfectly acceptable.

Despite the incorrect and totally unsupported transplant mantra, "L.A. is a one-industry town," it most definitely isn't, although Nashville most likely is, so we'll give it to them. Plus, being runner-up isn't all that bad, especially considering the possibility of a big earthquake hitting their city before one hits ours (which is entirely possible), then we can claim the prize.

Being a major center of international trade, tourism, film/tv production, technology, financial services and also the health care industry is impressive enough, and having our music industry rank so high despite those numerous other employment bases in our region is nothing to be ashamed of.

But what's totally shocking isn't what's #1 or #2, but what's #7:
Your eyes aren't deceiving you -- ranked just close behind New York City is...Oxnard.

Wait, whaaaaaaaat?

Yeah, even the Militant did a double take on that. Apparently the "Oxnard/Thousand Oaks/Ventura" area is the seventh largest music industry center in North America...#4 in The USA alone.

Now, Oxnard might be famous for strawberries and its breathtaking skyline, The Militant doesn't even know of any music venues out there. Apparently it did have a healthy punk scene (a.k.a. Nardcore), but sheesh, so does Orange County, and they're not even on that list. More recently, there's a small but noticeable hip-hop scene, led by artists like Madlib. But sheesh...More of a music city than Atlanta, Austin or Frisco? Oh well.

Now anyone who calls themselves an Angeleno knows that Oxnard/Thousand Oaks/Ventura are mere suburbs to Los Angeles. When was the last time you saw "Oxnard" listed on a major rock band's world tour t-shirt? So it's safe to assume Oxnard's ranking was just put there to make Los Angeles look less important (The Atlantic is an east-coast based publication, after all...).

But our loss is Oxnard's gain. At least that city's tourist bureau can re-market their town: Get ready to ROXNARD!!!! OXNARD ROX!


Monday, March 28, 2011

It's That Time Again...

The Militant took it upon himself (via a little Photoshop action) to cook up a parody of the Dodgers' "It's Time..." series of billboard ads for this season. This one was was a no-brainer. Feel free to download or share the full-size version here!

It's That Time Of The Year Again. In just hours, the preseason exhibition tradition known as The Freeway Series will commence - for the 49th year - where the Los Angeles Dodgers will square off against the California Anaheim Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Win or lose, it won't matter anyway since these games don't count (and neither will Wednesday's game against the Mariners). In less than 100 hours, the season becomes official with Opening Day vs. The Hated Frisco Gints (The Militant may or may not be there), which will be more like Opening Evening (Thank you ESPhuckingN). But all this just means that it's That Time Of The Year Again: The sight of freshly-cut Santa Ana Bermuda grass on the sacred Dodger Stadium field. The smell of Dodger Dogs wafting through the air. The sound of loud cheering when Andre Ethier hits the inevitable walk-off homer, or booing when Jonathan Broxton blows the inevitable save. The taste of overpriced beer and salty, greasy Gordon Biersch garlic fries. The warm-and-fuzzy feeling upon hearing Nancy Bea Hefley's organ chords swell through the Stadium's PA system for the first time this year. The unavoidable emotional rollercoaster that accompanies every winning and losing streak.

The Militant may or may not have a bad feeling about this. The proverbial eight-ton elephant in the room is the embarrassing reality show drama that is the McCourts. Dodger fans of all stripes have had enough, and they probably are as riled up as Tahir Square protesters on the streets of Cairo. Mubarak...Khadafi...McCourt. Sure has a ring to it.

Will our despot of professional sports finally be deposed? Will the Dodgers have a consistent catcher or left-fielder? Will the team even see First Place at any point this year? Will Donnie Baseball prove all the doubters wrong in his rookie managerial year? Will even Jameson Moss stop believin' at some point? So many unanswered questions.

But baseball season is just about here, Los Angeles. Here we freaking go again.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

(Street) Signs Of The Times

Have you noticed the new Los Angeles City street signs lately? The Militant has!

You can find them along the 1st Street corridor in Downtown Los Angeles, in the Civic Center and Little Tokyo areas. The aluminum signs are slightly larger than the current city street signage and have "wings" on the top and bottom, displaying the City Seal on the top wing and the block number and direction on the bottom wing.

These signs aren't all that new; they were first spotted in June of 2009, like the Main Street sign pictured above left. You would have expected The Militant to do a post on the signs back then, but he was too lazy-ass to do it. wasn't sure whether it was some sort of "pilot project" (as the City is prone to doing) or whether this particular signage style was supposed to be unique to the Civic Center. Some more information was needed.

This week, though, The Militant noticed more of these signs popping up - this time outside the Civic Center, like this sign (pictured right) on 1st and Alameda.

When he first saw the signs nearly two years ago, he thought they were kind of strange, mainly because of their UFO/Chevrolet logo shape, but admittedly, they have grown on him. They're large, and have larger lettering, which means they are more visible to motorists and pedestrians (and cyclists, too, of course) alike. Second, they are the first Los Angeles street signage to acknowledge the City of Los Angeles outright. Very important in this region of nearly 90 suburbs, satellite cities and unincorporated areas, of which street signage is the one of two tell-tale ways to know exactly which city you are in (calling 9-1-1 and seeing which police department shows up is the other, but The Militant doesn't recommend you do that...).

The street signs are the first new signs to pop up on Los Angeles streets in some 25 years, and are now the 5th commonly-found street sign type in town. It would be awesome if our City's street signs were all eventually uniformly updated to this one (though with the City budget ish, keep dreamin'...of course, the City can probably make some sweet revenue selling the old street signs for $50-$100 a pop, but you know an idea like that won't go nowhere in the City's bureaucracy...). Here's a little historical primer of Los Angeles street signs from the past several decades:

The "Shotgun" Sign (made 1946-1962) - Supposedly called because of the resemblance of the sign's shape to a shotgun, these signs are the oldest common street signs found in Los Angeles (though older ones still exist in various spots). These porcelain signs feature two faces and a hollow center. They are black with white upper-case block lettering, and the street type and direction contain a period at the end of the abbreviation. Though over 60 years old, these signs are the second most-commonly found street sign type in the City.

The "Black Blade" Sign (1967-1973) - These signs were made of aluminum and came in two pieces: The larger one with the street name and type, and a smaller one below with the block number and direction. Note the lack of the period at the end of the abbreviation. Also, these signs are supposedly the first street signs in America to feature lower-case letters. The lettering and border trim are made of reflective material for better visibility at night. BTW, Royalton Place is up in the hills near Coldwater Canyon Drive.

The "Blue Blade" Sign - (1973-1985) Here we have the world's most famous intersection showing off two examples of this sign, which is generally an update of the Black Blade sign. Also made of aluminum, this sign is made on a blue reflective background. Many of these signs are still visible on the City's streets today. Interestingly, unincorporated Los Angeles County streets use a nearly-identical sign type, (with a slightly lighter shade of blue) for their streets.

The "Trapezoid" Sign - (1985-Present) Unlike the previous two designs, this sign features the street name, type, block number and direction on the same piece. Made of porcelain-coated steel (with a thin hollow center), this particular sign type started appearing in 1985 and is the current and most commonly-found street sign used in Los Angeles. The angled outside edge of the sign gives it a trapezoidal shape.

Of course, this primer only covers the standard street signs placed on street corners and not the larger motorist-oriented boulevard signs that hang from traffic lights. That would be another post for another day. But you might want to check out this experimental LED boulevard sign in Downtown that the city sprang $3,000 for (the regular ones only cost $70)! But now you know all about Los Angeles' street sign types (dare The Militant say, you're now, "Street Smart?"), and you will surely now become The Life of the Party* with your newly-gained militant knowledge!

* You know The Militant is!