Thursday, January 19, 2017

El Centennial Party That's Segundo To None*

 The northernmost city in the South Bay celebrated its 100th Birthday on Wednesday, exactly a century to the day the city that was named after an oil refinery was officially incorporated. Though a town settlement had existed just east of the coastal dunes on the former Rancho Sausal Redondo since 1912, the town was not formally incorporated as a city until January 18, 1917.

El Segundo...knows how to party...
Throughout its century-old history, El Segundo owes its claim to fame to Standard Oil, the aerospace industry, it's love-hate relationship with LAX, and a certain '90s hip-hop tune. The city is also the corporate home of such institutions as Mattel Toys, DirecTV and the Los Angeles Lakers.

The city luckily dodged the potential rain on this overcast day with a Birthday Bash at El Segundo Public Library Park, along the town's Main Street, just across from the city's eponymous High School (the on-location site for the '80s movie War Games and alma mater of baseball hall of famer George Brett), The family-oriented celebration had live entertainment in the park's gazebo, carnival games, a petting zoo, some really tall dude on stilts, a historic photo exhibition sponsored by the Friends of El Segundo Public Library, a centennial photobooth and the city's fire department had trucks on display. There was free food as well, though unfortunately it wasn't enchiladas and fruit punch, but there was free bottled water, kettlecorn and birthday cake. The city also sold El Segundo Centennial merchandise from a booth.

Photo time!
Historic pics!The Militant loves this kind of stuff!
When the party ended at 5 p.m., The Militant visited the El Segundo Public Library next door to check it out and also found a historical display of veterans' and other mementos:

El Segundo history on display at the library.
Thanks to a tip from Twitter user @fuccitim, it was on to the official unofficial after party just a half mile down the street to The Tavern on Main, where the 15 year-old local hang had food and drink specials for just 100 cents to celebrate the city's birthday.
100-cent specials at The Tavern on Main!
The Militant spent $5 on his food and booze, which included two sliders, a gringo beef taco, a beer and his favorite - the historically-inspired "Standard Oil Birthday Shot" consisting of vodka, blue curacao and cranberry juice. Salud!

The city will also throw a Centennial Ball formal at the Automobile Driving Museum on Saturday. Tickets are reportedly sold out already (but if they're not serving any of those Standard Oil shots, then it's not worth it anyway...).

Though The Militant was just a clandestine interloper from the city on the other side of Imperial Highway, he had a great time on the city's centennial birthday, especially since he was more familiar with the coastal and business park periphery of the city than the quaint Main Street section of town.  He also learned a few things from the event: That the town's old Pacific Electric station was demolished in 1970 (booo!) and that Mattel Toys runs a factory store that's open to the public.

But best of all, The Militant was happy that he finally found what he was looking for!

*You're next this September, Culver City. You gonna top this?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Los Angeles Is...Defined By Its Street Signs

The streets of Los Angeles are not just mere infrastructure, but they create geographical identities, local cultures, microcultures and sub-cultures, and become the live stage of the urban theatre of daily life in The City of Angels. And the most significant identifier of those streets are the City's street signs.

Since The Militant is celebrating his 10th anniversary online this year (#StayMili10), he'd like to revisit one of his most legendary, epic posts.

On March 24, 2011, The Militant wrote a post on the history of street sign styles in Los Angeles.  It gave Angelenos the ability to distinguish between Blue Blades and Black Blades, Shotguns and Trapezoids.

It got such a reaction that it became the second-most read post ever on This Here Blog, and it also prompted a sequel later that month, going back farther into the history of Los Angeles street signs.
In fall of last year (meaning 2016, we can say that already), Filmmaker and Mar Vista resident Ian Rutherford completed a clever short film, $500 and four months in the making, called "LA.Is" that describes, though images of Los Angeles (and some neighboring city) street signs and set to a spoken-word poem (voiced by Tania Hunt) some of what Los Angeles represents.

Observe, and enjoy:

"The idea sort of came about just by driving around L.A.," Rutherford explained to The Militant via email, on the origins of his short film. "I'm a location scout and I kept seeing signs that were fun and unusual. Future street was the one that sort of convinced me to pursue the short. Also, I knew about Rutherford street several years ago and that was always in the back of my mind pushing me to do something."

Rutherford filmed the signs starting in June, 2016 and spent his weekends filming them, guided by a working Google map.

He also wrote the poem himself.

"Some verses came to me beforehand (sunset/sunrise). Some verses were written in the car (detour/chase/marathon). It was a slow writing process until I found the cadence in my head. Once I had that, it wrote itself...Every verse references something I love about L.A., even though it may seem abstract to others (future/vintage/future i was thinking about architecture, like Googie and Mid-Century). The only topic I didn't cover in verse is food. Never found the right way to express myself there."

Great work, Ian! The Militant was smiling under his camouflage bandana mask. No pictures of course, but take him at his word. Militant Approved! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2017: A Militant Preview

Whatup and Happy Militant New Year! Congratulations on surviving 2016 -- you've made it! We have a year ahead of us that may or may not be the greatest or worst year ever (of course he says that every year)!

Here's a calendar of upcoming events and milestones in Los Angeles to look out for in the year ahead. Of course, in between them will be the new and the unexpected, which will seal them in their own places in history.

16 - Kingdom Day Parade
Los Angeles' 32nd annual celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday gets underway on the 16th along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard between Crenshaw and Western, and then south on Crenshaw to Vernon (it's broadcast live on KABC Channel 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.). It should be interesting as the parade will end in a construction area, as Crenshaw Boulevard is currently undergoing the building of the upcoming Metro Crenshaw/LAX Rail Project.

18 - El Segundo's 100th Anniversary
The legendary South Bay city just below LAX, named after an oil refinery and the mythical place where countless A Tribe Called Quest fans have left their proverbial wallets, is turning 100 years old. Incorporated on January 18, 1917, the city will hold a Birthday Bash at El Segundo Library Park on Wednesday the 18th from 3-5 p.m. The city will also throw a Centennial Ball formal at the Automobile Driving Museum on Saturday, January 21st. Gotta get, got gotta get it.

28 - Dodgers 2017 Fan Fest, Dodger Stadium
Yes, we miss Dodger baseball. Yes, we miss Vin Scully. Yes, we came pretty damn close to our first World Series visit since '88. Yes, there's some [sighs] unfinished business from last season. But the core of last year's team is pretty much intact heading into '17, and hey, this free event at the Stadium will give us all an excuse to wear our Dodger Blue for the day.
29 - 2017 NHL All-Star Game, Staples Center
Staples Center again hosts the NHL's All-Star Game (perhaps the most inconsistent and confusing in format in all of professional sports), this time with the league celebrating its 100th anniversary. 

4 - 118th Golden Dragon Parade, Chinatown
The streets of Los Angeles' Chinatown will be alive with drums, firecrackers, lion dances and those confetti bazookas everyone loves to fire off as the Chinese Lunar New Year celebration takes place in Los Angeles for the 118th year. This year will be The Year of The Rooster (hopefully Huy Fong Foods will be a sponsor as its legendary Sriracha sauce was born on the streets of Los Angeles Chinatown), or, taking into account who's going to be in charge of this country in a few weeks, The Year of The Cock.

5 - 626 Golden Streets
The San Gabriel Valley was all set to have a mega ciclovia event of their own on June 26 of last year (6/26, get it?), but the smoky side-effects of the San Gabriel Complex wildfire unfortunately put BikeSGV's plans on the back-burner (pun intended). Fortunately, it was re-scheduled for the much safer (and much cooler) 3/5/17, when fire danger is extremely low. This route will connect the SGV communities of  South Pasadena, San Marino, Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa, and will be accessible via Metro Gold Line, of course.

8 - Wilshire Grand Center Grand Opening
At 1,100 feet at its tallest point, it may or may not be the tallest building in Los Angeles, or the West Coast, but it looks pretty damn awesome so far. Once the site of the World's Largest Concrete Pour, this building will open its doors as DTLA's newest hotel and be a shining new jewel in the city's skyline.

19 - XXXII Los Angeles Marathon
Running 26.2 miles from Elysian Park to Santa Monica, the Marathon this year is moved a month later to a less-rainy mid-March date, just before the Spring Equinox.

26 - CicLAvia - Culver City Meets Venice
The (count 'em) 20th CicLAvia will take us back to Culver City and Venice on a redux of the August, 2015 route. Only this time around, the folks at Tito's Tacos will not have a shit-fit at the idea of Washington Place being closed for the day and will enjoy the throngs of crunchy taco-munching cyclists queuing up on the sidewalk.

TBA - Los Angeles State Historic Park Re-Opening
Don't call it a comeback. Okay, call it a comeback, but it's been here for years. The former Southern Pacific freight train yard known as The Cornfield (due to corn sprouting out from seeds spilled from hopper cars), after much public wrangling, became Los Angeles State Historic Park in 2001, but was closed in 2014 for renovations and improvements. The park, which will re-open in Spring of this year, is guaranteed to knock you out. 

3 - Dodgers Opening Day, Dodger Stadium
It's tiiiiime for Dodger baseballllll, at long last. Welcome to the post-Scully era. Don't worry, we will brave this together. At least we know our Boys in Blue will be Playoff Material once again this season (here we go again!). This year the season opens with the very sad (and Kemp-less) San Diego Padres in town.

22-23 - Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, USC
Los Angeles' favorite annual literary event is back in April as the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books returns to the University of Southern California campus for the sixth time (and the first time Westsiders can travel to the bookfest via the Metro Expo Line).

29 - Los Angeles Riots 25th Anniversary 
April 29, 1992 is more than just a Sublime song. This year, in a world without some of its major players (Rodney King and Darryl Gates are now gone), and in an era where the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the Trump Administration inevitably clash, whereby the mass media will again talk about race relations as a black-white binary yet again, whereby nothing has really changed. But The Militant digresses.

2-4 - Lummis Day Festival, Highland Park 
The 12th annual Lummis Day gets underway during the first weekend of June, celebrating the history of the Northeast Los Angeles area. This is the one time of the year where all the new hipsters in the neighborhood will learn who exactly Charles Fletcher Lummis is and pretend to care.

11 - CicLAvia - Glendale to Atwater
Ready for an all-new CicLAvia route? The second big Cicla this year will take you between Atwater Village and the city of Glendale. This must mean one thing - there will be an all-new Epic Militant CicLAvia Tour guide post to research and write! WOOT!

25 - Militant Angeleno's 10th Anniversary! 
Ten years ago, a bored, frustrated and freakishly anonymous native Angeleno (with a penchant for referring to himself in the third person) took matters into his own hands and created what may or may not have been a cultural phenomenon with the debut of the Militant Angeleno blog! The city has or has not been the same ever since. But one thing is for certain -- his true identity has managed to remain a secret all this time! Celebrate with The Militant online and what may or may not be The Militant's first public appearance ever! Stay Tuned and #StayMili10!

8 - 9 - Lotus Festival, Echo Park
Having attended these since he was a Lil'Mil, this is one of The Militant's favorite annual city festivals, taking place in the middle of the year, during the Summer, next to a lake with a wonderful view of the Downtown skyline. This year's 37th Lotus Festival will feature the culture of Bangladesh. With the issues of budget, lake renovation and the dearth of lotus plants now behind us, we can all focus on trying to get the fireworks show back on the festival's Saturday night. The festival is just not the same without it!

1 - 24 - Los Angeles County Fair, Pomona
The best fair in all of Los Angeles County (well, okay, it's only county fair...) gets underway on September 1st. An annual tradition since 1922 (with the exception of the World War II years), it's time once again to load up an all that fried food.

4 - Los Angeles' 236th Birthday
Our beloved city turns 236 years old!

17 - Judgment Day for the Los Angeles 2024 Olympic Bid
The International Olympic Committee convenes on this date in Lima, Peru to decide the host city of the Games of the XXXIIIrd Olympiad, which will take place in 2024. Will Los Angeles or Paris get to host the summer games for a third time? Or will the IOC give it to first-timer Budapest? Stay tuned...There will be a public rally that day for Los Angeles 2024 supporters (of which there are many) to celebrate or not celebrate. The Militant, of course, may or may not be there.

20 - Culver City's 100th Birthday
The city that gave the world the Helms Bakery, the Spruce Goose, Drew Barrymore, MLB Hall of Famer Gary Carter, Tito's Tacos and The Wizard of Oz turns a century this year, having been incorporated on September 20, 1917.  Whatever or whenever's planned, at least we can all ride the Expo Line to the big party.

26 - Metrolink's 25th Anniversary
Believe it or not, this year, we will have regional commuter rail for a quarter century. Opened October 26, 1992, the system grew from three modest lines into the 'burbs into a seven-line, 534-mile network. Expect some 25th anniversary events, or at the very least some 25th anniversary logo sticker slapped on the commuter coaches.

27 - Grand Central Market's 100th Anniversary
Opened to the public on October 27, 1917, the granddaddy of Los Angeles food courts has been embedded into the historical and cultural fabric of our region. Hopefully the folks who run the market won't be too busy kicking out its longtime tenants to celebrate an entire century of feeding generations of hungry Angelenos.

TBA - CicLAvia - Heart of L.A.
It's October, which means its time for the classic "Heart of L.A." route, emanating from Downtown into Westlake and the Eastside. Celebrate CicLAvia's 7th birthday on the streets where it (mostly) all began.

All Month - Holiday Light Displays
"Tis the season - again! In addition to the Los Angeles Zoo's annual holiday light display, there are a number of neighborhoods around town that put up ginormous Christmas light displays on their houses and yards. Take your pick from Christmas Tree Lane (Santa Rosa Avenue) and the Balian Mansion in AltadenaChristmas Tree Lane (Daisy Avenue) in Long Beach, Candy Cane Lane in Woodland Hills, another Candy Cane Lane (Acacia Avenue) in El Segundo and Sleepy Hollow (Calle Mayor) in Torrance. Before you know it, we'll be doing this all over again, this time, looking ahead to 2018...

30 - The Forum's 50th Anniversary
Envisioned by Los Angeles Kings' daddy and former Lakers owner Jack Kent Cooke as the regions premier indoor sports venue. the once-and-always Fabulous Forum has witnessed NBA championships, Olympics and countless concerts and events. On December 30th, The Forum celebrates half a century of its fabulousness.