Thursday, June 18, 2015

So The Clippers Have A New Logo Now, Eh?

Did you hear? Today the Los Angeles Clippers officially announced their new logos and branding:

No wait, it's this one:


Well, while the team and Teh Ballmer Himself thinks it's all that, The Militant, and perhaps the rest of Los Angeles, and maybe even the sports world as well, thinks it's kind of meh at best. While not hideous, it's...just kind of there.

Full disclosure, in case you don't know: The Militant is a lifelong Lakers fan, but he's not a Clippers hater. He was pulling for them during the NBA Playoffs this year, which have recently been won by some Bay Area team. But this is still a Los Angeles professional sports team, and they have been here for 31 seasons already, so you might as well deal with it.

Look, if you're going to make a logo, it better mean something, or at least stand for something. The Nike Swoosh, the McDonalds' Golden Arches. The NBC Peacock, etc. You'll know it when you see it.

The inter-nested "L-A-C" (or "C-L-A?") kind of L-A-C-Ks something. It's mildly clever, but it doesn't stand for anything. The basketball icon's lines suggest arrows and it looks like the "L-A-C" is being crushed like that trash compactor in the first "Star Wars" film.

The Ballmer has respected enough of the team's history to keep The Clippers in town, and even keep the name, which was a holdover of the previous San Diego-based franchise, a reference to the tall-sailed merchant ships that once sailed into that city's harbor. Clipper ships were popular in the mid-19th century as fast ships that carried freight across oceans with relative speed, the last of the wind-sailing vessels until steam engines took over the maritime transportation industry a few decades later. And FYI, clipper ships once sailed into Los Angeles Harbor back in the day, though Los Angeles was just a minor port city back then. Of course, once a year you can still see clipper ships sail in San Pedro.

But The Ballmer missed out on the biggest opportunity for the team's re-branding: Changing the team's colors. Colors are a big deal in sports fandom. Just ask any blue-blooded Dodger fan, for example. Red, white and blue might work in a patriotic sense but what does it have to do with Los Angeles or clippers?

A perfect example: Once upon a time, a basketball team moved to Los Angeles. Years later, the team's new owner wanted to change the team's logo and branding. Out were the team's blue and white and in were purple (originally called "Forum Blue") and gold, adapted from the owner's other sports team, the Los Angeles Kings (purple being a regal color). The owner was Jack Kent Cooke and the team was, of course, the Los Angeles Lakers. Since then, the Kings dropped their purple and gold and those colors have been synonymous with the Lakers ever since.

So the Clippers could have put more thought and time into this logo/branding thing and come up with a new color scheme and a kick-ass logo. Granted the new one looks a little more bold on uniforms, but stands to be rather dated in a few years. Maybe then they'll come up with something better.

Ballmer also missed out on the opportunity for The Clippers' official team mascot:

Have fun, Clipper fans!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Militant Takes On Long Beach's Beach Streets Uptown (a.k.a. Uptown Funk Gonna Give It To Ya)

Just when you had your fill of CicLAvia last week, along comes another one! Well, kinda.

On Saturday, the City of Long Beach initiated its own ciclovia, or open streets, event, called Beach Streets (no, not Beat Street, but everybody say Ramoooon! (Ramoooon!)), which took place in Uptown Long Beach -- a route that involved a 3.3-mile stretch of Atlantic Avenue from Wardlow Road in the south to Harding Street in the north, at Houghton Park. Now, this technically wasn't the very first Beach Streets; as they did a small event in April using the already closed-off course of the Long Beach Grand Prix in Downtown Long Beach. But this was the first one that involved an open streets arrangement specifically for Beat, er, Beach Streets.

Now, the Militant is familiar with Long Beach; he even did a whole week of posts devoted to The International City in June 2011. But he had never been to this "Uptown" part of the LBC before. So this event was a treat and a half.

Being that The Militant lives somewhat north of Long Beach, he figured it would be an easy ride via the Red and Blue lines down there.


When The Militant arrived at 7th Street/Metro Center, a Metro staffer said that there were no Long Beach trains, and that we had to take the Expo Line to the 23rd Street/LATTC/Ortho Institute/Lorenzo/Kind Of Close to Adams Station, get off, and ride a shuttle bus to the Blue Line Vernon station.

Boo Metro.
Despite the event, like CicLAvia, being sponsored by Metro, the transit agency also picked this weekend to shut down part of the Metro Blue Line between the Vernon and Pico stations due to station maintenance at Washington, San Pedro and Grand.  Umm, did that make any sense at all?

The Militant had to endure the 15-minute "bus bridge" ride, which only took 15 minutes, in actual travel time, but add on another 20 minutes to get off the Blue Line, board the shuttle bus and wait for it to fill up before departing. Argh.

So, The Militant arrived at the Wardlow station a lot later than anticipated, Thank You Metro. Grrr.

The coned-off temporary bike lane on Wardlow Road that led to Beach Streets.
After arriving there, he rode the .6-mile east on Wardlow to Beach Streets, which had a "temporary bike lane" set up for riders who came in from the Blue Line or from points east.

But here's where Beach Streets begins and The Militant's frustration ends.

Beach Streets! (The sign said "Welcome To/Beach Streets"; but that's the way it came out on The Militant's camera.
Beach Streets was pretty much like a CicLAvia-lite. He estimated no more than 30,000 people. Which was fine; Long Beach is a smaller city, and even if Metro's stupid Blue Line closure this weekend ruined it for prospective visitors, this event was really for the people of Long Beach. Being that Los Angeles' CicLAvia consistently pulls in a huge crowd every time, there was really no pressure to pack Atlantic Avenue at all. And in the world of Southern California open streets events, there should really be no competition. So 30K smiling faces should be chalked up as a success.

The Militant also noticed that there were a greater percentage of children on the route, which is not just a good thing, but a great thing -- their generation will not know of Beach Streets as an anomaly or something novel, but their reality. And by the time these kids grow up to be the movers and shakers of Long Beach, you can bet that these things will be happening all the time. So kudos to the Beach Streets organization for getting all the kids out.

The public art sculpture thingy in the median of Atlantic Ave.
The event also had a more small-town feel; there were much more bands playing (including not one, but two New Orleans-style brass bands - in different places!), more booths or tables along the sidewalk or closed intersections to give the whole thing more of a rounded-out street festival feel. The City of Long Beach even dedicated an area for an Emergency Preparedness Fair, so this event had multiple functions for many people.

The Militant also noticed the slower pace of the ride. Having gone to all 13 CicLAvias to date, there's a certain speed and flow of the ride that's uniform (well, depending on how much people are on the road at one time). He was biking rather fast but felt like the a-hole from Los Angeles who was trying to speed and weave his way through.

In all, Long Beach did an excellent job with this Beach Streets Uptown thing. And part of it might have been attributed to the fact that a number of people who were out today had already experienced CicLAvia over the past nearly five years, so many people knew what to do and what to expect. The other part is that surely their organizers took copious notes during the past CicLAvias and replicated some of its best practices, such as the 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. event span, permeable intersections for automobiles and volunteer crossing guards.

Humans, and even dogs enjoyed Beach Streets.
The Militant was also impressed by the Bixby Knolls area. So many restaurants and eateries, and so little time, he really needed to come back to this area sometime.

Downside? There really was no downside. Maybe the closest thing was that there wasn't too much in the way of historical points of interest along the route. There was one of Long Beach's Giant Donut locations (Angel Food Donuts on Long Beach Blvd), and there was the Rancho Los Cerritos adobe, but both were a few blocks west of the route.

The Militant looks forward to more Beach Streets events (They are going to have more of these, right?), and will definitely be there!

Now, as you may or may not know, CicLAvia, Beach Streets and other open streets events originated from Bogota, Colombia's Ciclovia, which happens every week.

So what we're looking at is this: There are 88 incorporated cities in Los Angeles County (you might know how they got their names by now), and if at least a couple dozen of them organize maybe one to four (or more) open street events each year, and schedule them so they don't conflict...BOOM! We can have an open streets event every weekend year round! 

Don't believe him? Just watch.

More pics from Beach Streets Uptown:

Welcome to Long Beach's Beach Streets Uptown!
Beach Streets: The first open streets event with a Navy ship!
Someones, uh, creative backyard greeting at Atlantic Ave and Del Amo Blvd.
A chalk art map of Long Beach on Harding Street. Proudly representing the LBC.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Giant Donut Capital of the World

It's the first Friday of June, which means it's time to wish you all a Happy National Donut Day!

Of course, though this might seem like one of those hashtaggable "#National[Food Name Here]Day memes that get bounced on Twitter to provide the social media peer pressure of supporting a manufactured capitalist holiday meant to drive up sales of the said food item, National Donut (or Doughnut) Day has apparently been around since the 1930s.

The Militant noticed something while traveling around the South Los Angeles/South Bay area recently -- there's an awful lot of donut establishments with giant donuts on the roof. In fact, some 80 percent of America's giant donut establishments are right here in Southern California. We are the Giant Donut Capital of the World, and don't you forget it! The world-famous Randy's Donuts is the best-known example, located near LAX, and having the distinction of being the only giant donut establishment in the world to have a Space Shuttle pass by outside its doors.

But there are others, too; namely Kindle's Donuts on Century Boulevard and Normandie Avenue (where The Militant enjoyed a rather large Texas Twist donut with a cup of coffee), and Donut King II on Marine and Western avenues in Gardena.

Why the large concentration of giant donuts?

It just so happens there's a connection. In 1950, a local chain called "Big Do-Nut Drive-In" (believe the hyphens) opened 10 locations across Southern California. It was started by an entrepreneur named Russell C. Wendell, who sold donut making machines. With the rise in popularity at the time of drive-thru burger joints (like this one we all know and love), he felt the same could apply to donuts (or do-nuts). Most of his locations, designed by architect Henry J. Goodwin, had a 32-foot-diameter gunnite donut atop the building, angled towards the intersection. He opened the first location in Westmont (now Kindle's Donuts), followed by one in Inglewood (now Randy's Donuts), Gardena (now Donut King II), Culver City, Compton (now Dale's Donuts), North Hollywood, a second Inglewood location, Bellflower (now Bellflower Bagels), Van Nuys and Reseda. Five of the locations that are not currently in operation under another name have met the wrecking ball.

The Big Do-Nut Drive-Ins lasted a little over 25 years, as Wendell sold the stores to individual owners in the 1970s who continued their use as a donut shop. Wendell continued on in the drive thru restaurant business with another now-gone icon: Pup 'N Taco, which lasted from 1965 until Wendell sold the chain to Taco Bell in 1984.

These are the locations of the 10 Big Do-Nut Drive-Ins:

1. Big Do-Nut Westmont (Kindle's Donuts)
10003 S. Normandie Ave
Purchased by Gary Kindle in 1977. Note the hyphenated "Do-Nuts" still remaining in the name, a vestige of the original Big Do-Nut name.

2. Big Do-Nut Inglewood - Manchester (Randy's Donuts)
805 W. Manchester Blvd
Total So Cal icon. Purchased by Robert Eskow in 1976, named it "Randy's Donuts" after his son. In 1978 Eskow sold the shop to his cousins Ron and Larry Weintraub, who still own it today. Open 24 hours.

3. Big Do-Nut Gardena (Donut King II)
15032 S. Western Ave
Open 24 hours.

4. Big Do-Nut Culver City (DEMOLISHED)
4101 Sepulveda Blvd
The site is currently a Goodwill donation center and bookstore.

5. Big Do-Nut Compton (Dale's Donuts)
15904 S. Atlantic Ave

6. Big Do-Nut North Hollywood (DEMOLISHED)
Magnolia Blvd and Laurel Canyon Blvd, SW Corner
This site is currently a parking lot for the neighboring Jons Market.

7. Big Do-Nut Inglewood - Imperial (DEMOLISHED)
Imperial Highway and Hawthorne Blvd

8. Big Do-Nut Bellflower (Bellflower Bagels)
17025 Bellflower Blvd
This location had the smaller, 23-foot-diameter donut. It is the only surviving Big Do-Nut Drive-In that is not operating as a donut shop per se -- although donuts are sold here.

9. Big Do-Nut Van Nuys (DEMOLISHED)
7149 N. Kester Ave
This site is currently a car wash.

10. Big Do-Nut Reseda (DEMOLISHED)
7208 Reseda Blvd
This location, the last to open in the Big Do-Nut chain, also had the smaller, 23-foot donut, mounted on a pole. The site is now a 76 gas station.

Mrs. Chapman's Angel Food Donuts
Various Locations, Long Beach

But Big Do-Nut wasn't the only giant donut game in town...There was also Angel Food Donuts which also started in the early 1950s. They boasted over twice as many stores as Big Do-Nut (21), but not all of them featured a giant donut, though most had much smaller donuts than Big Do-Nut. Fortunately,three of the giant donut locations still survive today, with the big-ass donuts intact:

Mrs. Chapman's Angel Food Donuts
3657 Santa Fe Avenue

Angel Food Donuts
3860 Long Beach Boulevard

Dunkin' Donuts (You gotta give credit to an East Coast transplant's effort to assimilate...though it was quite a struggle at first)
5590 East 7th Street

The Donut Hole
15300 Amar Rd, La Puente

And while Big Do-Nut was the first drive-thru donut shop, this combo breaker outside of the South Bay area -- in the San Gabriel Valley, of all places, featured a donut shop that you can literally drive through. It was part of a small chain of The Donut Holes in the area, though this one on Amar Road was the only one with a giant donut, which appeared partially buried into the ground, and was a chocolate donut. Anyways, you can still come to this one anytime -- it's open 24 hours.

So for National Donut Day, don't waste your time at just any donut joint, go big! Go grab your donuts at one of Southern California's unique giant donut establishments. And if you do, Tweet a selfie from one (or more) of them with the hashtag #GiantDonut !