The LA Movie is 10 Years Old

Great films just seem to appear.  As if the sculptors of culture just removed everything that wasn’t supposed to be in the movie and the work always was and always will be cemented in our collective soul.

The Big Lebowski is one of those films.

It’s hard to imagine another film capturing so many disparate elements of Los Angeles’s character into one coherent form.  The laid back people, the rich folks, the pornographers, the showbiz aspirants, the fanboys, the hippies, the fascist cops, the weird artists.  They are all in there.

I love it so much.  The details (look at the toilet seat cover), the people (Walter!), the places, and the writing.

The writing is so brilliant.  It works on the surface, watch-it-one-time level, but repeated viewings reveal the subtle layers of recursive dialog.

The movie is such a classic that my business partner has devised the Lebowski test — if a potential love interest doesn’t like the film, just walk away.

Thanks to WelcomeToLa for the reminder.

Metro Subtracts Bus Lines, Adds to Orange Line

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Porn stars of the San Fernando Valley rejoice! The Orange Line is coming!

Yes, Metro is going to take away a lot of bus lines that ordinary, hard-working, and sometimes legal citizens rely on to get to and from work on a daily basis. But, with the Orange Line crawling another 4 miles from Canoga Park to Chatsworth, adult film stars will now be able to go Metro all the way to Long Beach with just 2 transfers! Great success! I love L.A.!

* It should be noted, than even though the Orange Line is a just a bus, it could still take UP TO SIX YEARS before it reaches Chatsworth. Go Metro!

Map of the Bus That Thinks it’s a Train from Metro

Home Schooling Just Got Tougher

If you home school your kids, check this out. According to a new state appellate court ruling, if you’re gonna home school your kids in California, you better have some teacher credentials. It’s highly unlikely that it will be enforceable, but for the approximately 166,000 home schooled students in the state, it has big repercussions.

A couple of my friends who are now adults were home schooled. One, by her mother who was a teacher and an amazing educator. She’s a great example of the freedom and awareness a person can get when exposed to a wide variety of options in getting educated. She got the usual stuff, but also was able to follow her own individual interests. She now has an amazing career and is one of the most finely tuned and conscious individuals I know. She has an awareness way beyond her years and is world class in her field.

Another friend didn’t have such a great experience and has huge gaps of awareness in his education. He has struggled with getting a higher education and feels he isn’t as adept in social situations…. but that could just be his nature.

Me, I’m torn. One one hand, our school system here in LA seems pretty cookie cutter and not aimed at helping students discover their true callings. Not to mention scary as hell with all the violent undertones. I know when I had to pick a school for my son, I visited the LA schools and quickly decided to put him in a private school, even though it meant working my ass off to pay for it.

I wasn’t the home school type of mom, but for parents who opt for it, it seems they should have a choice. I do believe parents should be able to decide what kind of environment to expose their kids to, and current laws allow home schooling as long as the parents follow set guidelines following independent study programs. Hard choice, no matter what.

It Caught My Eye: Tard In Motion

Much evidence has been presented here on the Los Angeles Metblog as to the ridiculous ways in which people publicly park their cars. Harder to showcase has been the much more elusive moving targets of our scorn who roam the streets with reckless abandon and the firm belief that the rules of the road are simply suggestions.

Case in point (and one of my personal faves as a cyclist), let’s just call the Silver VW Bug featured below “Motorist in the Bike Lane” (click images to doublify):

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Whizzing by the gridlock I do my best to empathize with those who voluntarily torture themselves on the inevitable crawl westbound on Venice Boulevard to and through Culver City in the mornings, and apparently the young lady in the Silver Bug wasn’t going to have anymore of that yesterday. I first encountered her behind me back at Fairfax when she had the nerve to honk her horn at me because I was… what, preventing her from turning right or merging left into traffic lanes? Hell no. Instead she jammed around me and then stayed in the bike lane all the way down until finally getting wedged in just before La Ciengea Boulevard (as seen in the bottom picture), forcing me into the roiling traffic in order to go around her. Best of all, when I pointed out how little time she saved breaking the law her reaction was this pricelessly regal dismissive flip of her hand, and I knew I was a minion among royalty. Long live the Queen of Tards!

 

$1 for Tap Water in LA Restaurants?

image.jpegA lot of restaurants in LA make a habit (not to mention a pretty penny) of offering “flat or sparkling” water to their patrons. My choice is always unlisted, but available: “Regular water–from the tap–is fine,” I tell my waitperson without fail. Usually it makes me feel a little bit like a cheapskate, but from Sunday, March 16 – Saturday, March 22, I’ll feel like a regular do-gooder when I ask for tap water, no ice. Throughout that entire week, a host of LA restaurants will be participating in a nationwide project that “invites restaurant diners to donate a minimum of $1 for the tap water they would normally get for free.” The campaign “celebrates the clean and accessible tap water available as an every day privilege to millions, while helping UNICEF provide safe drinking water to children around the world.” A whole bunch of LA eateries are participating, including Cayenne, Mani’s on Fairfax, Lucques, and Mama’s Hot Tamales. The way I see it, this is great incentive to try a new restaurant and do a good deed at the same time. Full list of restaurants here.

Auntie Em’s Gives Up the Goods on Coconut Cupcakes

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Photo by Flickr user shades of mediocrity, used under Creative Commons

Unlike the cupcake-crazed hordes that typically swamp Eagle Rock’s Auntie Em’s, I’m usually there waiting for a table specifically for the biscuits and gravy. Auntie Em’s biscuits and gravy are a revelation, and everything Millie’s biscuits and gravy wish they were. But once my gravy hole is filled to the brim, I’m more than happy to finish things off with one of Em’s scrumdillyicious mini cupcakes. Today, the Times managed to talk them out of the recipe for one of those famous cupcakes. Too bad it’s for the coconut. I’m a red velvet man through and through.

No Bus For You!

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Metro is in the red. The hole is $100 million deep, and so, they’ve decided to trim some of the fat. The Daily News reports that they’re thinking about eliminating a few bus lines. 20 of them, to be exact. 12 of the lines are in the San Fernando Valley.

Um… WTF? Gas is supposed to hit $4.00 this summer, and it’s already close in some parts of the city. Congestion in the Valley seems to worsen daily. And what about the Mayor? You know, that guy who said we should all start taking the bus, and then flew off to campaign for Hillary? How is he supposed to get around the next time he visits the 818? How can he meet Mirthala for Wetzel’s Pretzels in Sherman Oaks if they take away the bus?

Why do you hate us so, Metro?

Photo of something called a “bus,” circa 2008, from Metro

Walldogs paint up downtown

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At left is Justin, a mural artist I met after he wrapped up his day hanging from the side of the Hotel Figueroa where he was painting a gigantic ad for Nike, a project he and his crew nicknamed “nightmare” for it complexity, showing “over 120 kids playing over 6 different sports.” You can see the mural in progress at the blog for Art FX Murals, which logs the work of this international crew of “wall dogs” who travel from city to city, painting ads for movies, liquor companies, and other worldwide brands on buildings of all shapes and sizes (mostly in the stomach wrenching tall variety).

The image at right is of the opposite side of the Hotel Fig, where the other half of the crew was rushing to finish work on an ad for Horton Hears a Who. Continue reading Walldogs paint up downtown

Urban Cycling: Weiss Don’t Know Jack

I’ve been stewing over Councilman Jack Weiss’ statement about the inherent dangers of biking in Los Angeles ever since I read it in a post by Eric Richardson on Blogdowntown that reported on a Feb. 12 joint City Council committees meeting about how the city can better plan for bicycles. In the post, Richardson wrote that Weiss said “he rides daily before sunrise, but doesn’t feel it safe to ride L.A. streets during the day.” To be sure it’s a throw-away comment that better people can just let go, but this one that landed in my craw and stuck there.

I’m not going to dispute Weiss’ blanket impression of the risks out there on the asphalt, but as someone who regularly does “ride L.A. streets during the day” (and night) I can’t help but wonder from what experience he draws upon to fire such a loaded statement. I’d hazard the answer is: little to none. Sure, he may indeed rise before dawn every day and pedal around whatever neighborhood he lives in, but the idea of Weiss having biked to work seems only slightly less remote than that of our absentee mayor what’s his name cranking it across town from Hancock Park to City Hall.

I know there’s danger out there. As such I ride trying never to forget that I’m only as safe as the least attentive/considerate motor vehicle operator around me, and I know that my comfort level with the streets and the traffic and the rugged ragged road conditions is developed from some 20 years of commuting experience — most of it entirely uneventful. I also know that comfort level is the exception and not the rule. But unlike Weiss tossing off the same ol’ conventional doom ‘n gloom that can be discouraging to anyone considering cycling (or frustrating to those of us who do), it’s at least from a couple decades accumulated experience that I can say I feel pretty safe riding the streets of the city, under the sun or moon.

Like today. And tonight. As evidenced in this quick ‘n dirty sequence of snaps taken via handlebar cam on my morning and evening commutes; a total of 30 miles (I even took the long way home up into a bit of Weiss’ territory, just as a neener). I did it yesterday. I’ll do it tomorrow. You could do it, too. And so could you, Jack.

See you on the streets!

“We’re all gonna die!!!”

Doomsday promotion, Franklin and Highland, Hollywood, CA Doomsday promotion, Franklin and Highland, Hollywood, CA

I received a couple different text messages from friends telling me some “zombies” or “goths” had assembled at the corner of Franklin and Highland during rush hour Tuesday afternoon. I grabbed my camera and over.

So, who were these Mad Max style protesters taunting drivers with screaming, signs warnings of foreboding death, cracking whips, and raising swords high in the air?

Jihaadists? Anarachists? Activists? Answers and more pics after the jump… Continue reading “We’re all gonna die!!!”

Tanks a lot, Governor Schwarzenegger!

I admit, motivating students to do well in school by giving them prizes and rewards works well. Even cheesy prizes like “fun” pencils are effective. On occasion, I’ve even given some kids cash money for As on tests and quizzes. Don’t get too excited: it’s usually just a $5-bill. While I have always encouraged knowledge for knowledge’s sake, many young kids and teenagers fail to share my lofty ideas on education and pedagogy. Cheap prizes it is then.

But none of my meager 99-cent store trinkets can compare with an honest-to-god military tank. Our governor has kindly asked the Motts Military Museum in Ohio to return his tank, on display since 2000. Gov. Schwarzenegger plans to reward kids who have good grades, who stay out of gangs and off of drugs with a ride on the American-made tank he received as a gift from the Austrian government.

This comedic announcement has unfortunately overshadowed the more realistic efforts Gov. Schwarzenegger has implemented to combat gang activity in youth. Schwarzenegger recently pledged $16.5 million in grants to various organizations across the state involved with gang prevention and job training. Nearly a third of that money is going to Los Angeles County alone, with a little less than $1m earmarked for the City of Los Angeles.

Police action and traffic congestion in my ‘hood.

monpoliceaction.jpgDoing my afternoon runs to get kids I ran across some traffic problems.  If not resolved soon anyone attempting to use California or Canyon below Lime as a short cut to avoid traffic is going to have some difficulty.

Squad car(s) were stopped on California between Lime and Colorado, as well as Canyon between Lime and Colorado.  Within the perimeter is Rotary Park with the Options After-school program is located.  Within a block either direction from where this pic was take are 3 other schools with a lot of after-school traffic being slowed down.

I did ask the Highway Patrol officer at California and Lime for some details.  He offered that 2 juveniles shoplifted at Pavilions Market (6 blocks away) and fled on foot. 

If it seems like a lot of patrol cars present…its not unusual for us.  We have had very intense patrols after shootings a few weeks ago left 3 dead, one teen comatose and another paralyzed.  Our mayor mobilized local communities to pool resources in mutual aid pact to help out with extra patrols during periods of crisis like the gang war we experienced.  This pact also includes assistance from LA Sheriff and CHP.  The coming weeks it will die down here and shift to other communities in the agreement to help as needed.  In short the kids picked the worst possible time to try a grab and run when you have intensified policing programs in place.

Pic by me with the trusty cellphone.  Get’s bigger but not a whole lot better.

Wooohooo police pursuit heading out of East LA

police_pursuit.jpgYup started about a quarter after two and KCAL is reporting the chase live.  A dummy stole a caddy SUV, parked it in his driveway.  Turns out it was lojack equipped and when police tracked it down for recovery the alleged perp took off.  Most current is he was EB on the 10 into the SGV and now is off on some side street and heading WB back into LA.  Enjoy….just remember if he get’s onto the 210 he’s stuck as it becomes a parking lot this time of the day. (Thanks to Wil Wheaton who dropped this tip to us).

Update 3:03PM, in the time it took to type and put this up its over.  Great work by CHP and LAPD, NBC4  is the first to report it is over.

Northridge Oasis: But what about the restaurants?!

The Daily News is reporting that efforts have been rekindled to revitalize (or really I guess that should be “vitalize”) the stretch of Reseda Boulevard running from Lassen to Roscoe. I used to live right at the corner of Reseda and Lassen, and I’m here to tell you that it’s going to take more than flowers on the median strip and new park benches to transform the area into the “Northridge Oasis — the Cultural Center of the Valley” as they have dubbed the business improvement district, apparently without a hint of irony.reseda-theater.jpgreseda-theater.jpg

     The folks spearheading this quixotic mission have dubbed themselves the NE/W Vision Committee (love that slash–it adds a jaunty touch), which stands for “Northridge East and West.” Their fearless chair Steve Patel explains, “We have a lot of restaurants, but we don’t have any sidewalk cafes or outdoor dining. We have wonderful restaurants … but where is the ambience? We have fantastic weather, but where is the dining?”

reseda-theater.jpgIt’s so visionary it’s stunning really. When I used to live on the Reseda strip I always bemoaned how really close we were there in Northridge to achieving Cultural Oasis status. With the simple addition of a few cafe tables to the shabby strip malls, student drivers, ceaseless hot winds, and abandoned grocery carts–Voila! It’s like Paris. Only we have a Pinkberry.

(resedabear’s photo used through a Creative Commons license.)