5.4 Quake Hits So Cal

I first suspected an earthquake might have been happening when I felt a tiny shaking while I was sitting at my desk.  Then some stronger shaking occurred and I looked at my Twitter stream.  All my friends in L.A. were tweeting “EARTHQUAKE.” It was good as confirmed.

Of course, it’s not really confirmed until a seismologist at USGS has reviewed the quake findings:

Magnitude 5.4 – SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
Date-Time Wednesday, July 07, 2010 at 23:53:33 UTC
Wednesday, July 07, 2010 at 04:53:33 PM at epicenter

Location 33.417°N, 116.483°W
Depth 11.7 km (7.3 miles)
Region SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
Distances 22 km (13 miles) NNW (332°) from Borrego Springs, CA
23 km (14 miles) SE (131°) from Anza, CA
33 km (20 miles) NE (52°) from Lake Henshaw, CA
41 km (25 miles) SW (215°) from Indio, CA
45 km (28 miles) S (174°) from Palm Springs, CA
94 km (58 miles) NE (41°) from San Diego, CA

Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 0.3 km (0.2 miles); depth +/- 0.6 km (0.4 miles)
Parameters Nph=122, Dmin=10 km, Rmss=0.26 sec, Gp= 29°,
M-type=regional moment magnitude (Mw), Version=4

Don’t forget to fill out the “Did you feel it?” shake survey and check out the Shake Map!

A friendly note from me to Metro

So, it’s been a week Metro fares went up from $1.25 to $1.50.  Now, I’m not opposed to this increase per se – time passes, seasons change, bus fares go up, thus is the way of the world.  However!  as a very regular bus rider (Line 2 from West Hollywood to UCLA, represent!), I have a few ideas about what Metro should be doing my with my 25 cents per ride, suggestions that, if implemented, would make the buses of Los Angeles much happier places to be.

So, dear Metro Transit Authority, here are three humble suggestions for things you can do with my extra 25 cents a ride:

These buses would be much happier if they didn't have annoying televisions on them.

1.  Please offer transfers from one MTA route to another.  It is absolutely ridiculous that riders have to pay the full fare additional times if their route requires switching busses and/or trains.  This is a major city, right?  I can’t think of any other major cities in which transfers from one bus to another, on the same bus system, are nothing more than a heady fantasy.

2.  Some better bus stop infrastructure would be nice.  I don’t know if this is the purview of the MTA or if it’s a municipal responsibility, but I have had to wait for busses at some amazingly skeevy bus stops.  To wit:  One might assume that the corner of Santa Monica and Wilshire, an intersection of two fairly major thoroughfares, could be a fairly major transit hub.  However, waiting for the Eastbound bus on Santa Monica means waiting at a bus stop where the bench might as well be a board balancing on some cinderblocks.  And there’s no shade. And the stop backs onto an empty lot.  As street corners go, it is probably among the least conducive to encouraging people to wait around for a bus.  And it’s not the only stop like that.  We need more bus shelters, or, heck, even some trees for shade, and there also needs to be some work put into making bus stops safer at night.  Having waited for busses in the wee hours even though my mother always told me that I should just take a cab, I have often found myself wishing for some kind of lighting so that I don’t feel like I’m liable to get jumped at any minute.

3.  And, my most important suggestion:  Now that you’ve got an extra quarter from every rider, you don’t need the income from Transit TV anymore, right?  Right?  Please, please, get rid of Transit TV, oh please, god.  This is absolutely key to the maintenance of my sanity.  Supposedly, 84% of people prefer being on a bus with these televisions on them, which leads me to conclude that they surveyed people who have never ridden a bus in Los Angeles.  When I get on a bus and those horrible televisions are on, I want to stick pins in my eyes.  TVs on buses are not an inherently bad idea.  However, whoever is behind the current programming on bus TV should be fired and not allowed to work in any media-related field, ever.  The Transit TV lineup includes news headlines, read in a monotone, by pasty zombie people; triva questions and brain teasers that seem to be compiled by someone with a less than secure grasp on the workings of the English language (my favorite example, from a few months ago was the following trivia question:  “Yogurt is a member of which food group?”  Answer?  “Milk.”  Which is not really wrong, I guess, but it’s not quite right either); horrible, often offensive jokes; and stupid commercials advertising inane things like mail-order college educations, or, advertising the ad space on Transit TV.  Like, honestly?  Do they really think the people who are riding the bus are the people who are going to buy ad space on the bus?  Do they think we are not agonizingly aware of the presence of ad space on the bus?  Oh, and the volume of the sets can’t be controlled by the drivers, and they’re loud and obnoxious, and all of this programming is presented in the most irritatingly patronizing tone possible.  “It’s like they think everyone on the bus is an idiot,” I said to my roommate one day.  “Or maybe,” he replied, “the people who make Transit TV are idiots.”  Truer words were never spoken.

So, dear Metro Transit Authority, these are the humble propositions I put forward to you, in all your infinite wisdom.  My alternate suggestion would be that you use your newfound revenue to buy me a car, but that somehow seems less within the realms of possibility.

Yours,

Alexandra

(Photo courtesy of LA Wad, via the blogging.LA flickr pool)

Fundraiser for The Must This Saturday, July 10

[For those just tuning in, check out my earlier post here summing up the sequence of events that led up to downtown wine bar The Must’s unexpected robbery-turned-forced eviction.]

A fundraiser has been hastily planned to support The Must employees and workers who had a job one day, then didn’t the next, and the reason had nothing to do with the recession.  The Farmers and Merchants Bank at 4th and Main will play host to The Must Aid Fundraiser, with all proceeds going towards the employees’ lost wages.  Suggested donation is $20 at the door; you’ll get full access to an open beer and wine bar, plus there will be local DJs spinning all night.

For those looking to support the bar in other ways, there has been some talk from local residents to stop by The Must and pay respects during this Thursday’s downtown Art Walk.  Not sure exactly what this entails, other than some heated shouting at the doors of Weeneez (Julie Rico, who owns the master lease on both Weeneeez and The Must, sold the lease unbeknownst to The Must’s owners; this led directly up to the post-midnight eviction), but if there is a more organized effort, I’ll update with additional details.

Continue Celebrating America at Tuesday Night Cafe

Sure, the 4th has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop celebrating America.  No, no, keep the fireworks going strong with some sweet poetry, music, a little improv, and a lot of good food TONIGHT at Tuesday Night Project’s Tuesday Night Cafe at 7:15 at the Aratani Courtyard in Little Tokyo.  I’ve posted about the Tuesday Night Project before; simply put, it is one of this city’s longest running open, public spaces dedicated to showcasing local artists and beat-boppers.  Organizers of the Tuesday Night Project curate the Tuesday Night Cafe series every first and third Tuesday; as today is the first Tuesday of July (already!), there already is quite a lineup, from spoken word duo Bownstar to the quick wit of Room to ImprovThe Park’s Finest, whose marriage of backyard BBQ and Filipino cuisine epitomizes what America is about, will be on hand to provide the eats.

For those who can’t make it out today (boo), the organization’s 12th year birthday-slash-benefit party is on July 31st from 5:00pm to 11:00pm at the JACCC Plaza, also in Little Tokyo.  Pre-sale and student tickets are only $15 ($20 at the door).  The party will feature past and present Tuesday Night Cafe regulars and almost-regulars, as well as various performances and a DJ for those who want to step out in your dancing shoes.  All proceeds go towards supporting the Project and keeping the Cafe alive and well for next year.  So we can, you know, celebrate America all year long.

The Tuesday Night Cafe starts at 7:15pm; those who want to get in on some open mic action best get there by 6:45 to sign up.  The Aratani Courtyard is on 120 Judge John Aliso, between 1st and Temple downtown.

Must Bar’s Robbery-Turned-Lease Dispute – UPDATED

[Scroll down for updates to the story, including The Must’s official statement]

Over the weekend, one of my favorite bars in the city, The Must on 5th between Main and Spring, seemingly was looted of its liquor and furniture.  According to a note posted on The Must’s doors sometime between then and Sunday morning when I stopped by: “[A]t approximately 2:45am, a truck pulled up in front of Weeneez and proceeded to empty the contents of The Must.  There was no forced entry.  Due to the holiday weekend[,] we are unable to bring the KNOWN perpetrators’ to justice until Tuesday when government agencies will reopen.”  This means that my beloved bar’s excellent wine selection and comfortable, homey furniture (possibly including the board games that The Must keeps on hand for those of us who need to engage in competitive games in order to break the ice on awkward first dates) were taken – but to where?  Full note is below, followed by a lot of starch, because this plot thickens:

Neighboring fine art gallery owner Bert Green was first to publicly oust Julie Rico (owner of Weeneez next door to The Must and master leaseholder to both premises) as the culprit.  The accusation was confirmed by Rico herself, in an email to Blogdowntown.  According to Rico, the so-called robbery simply was the result of a change in ownership, with a new owner(s) now holding the master lease for both The Must and Weeneez.  She “of course” was within her legal rights “to do what we did” – i.e., empty The Must at 2:45am, apparently without giving notice to either the owners of The Must or the premise’s onsite manager.  She noted that The Must’s possessions were “placed in storage” (save the game boards!!).  Meanwhile, Twitterer DickTerrific posted a picture of a note posted inside The Must declaring the bar closed, and that the “premise will re-open under new management as JP Lounge on August 9, 2010.”  As captured by Ed Fuentes at Blogdowntown, another note was posted on street-side of The Must’s door giving notice of the fact that the lease between Rico and the building was terminated effective July 3, 2010.

The Must maintains that a crime was committed.  Coly Den Haan, one of the owners of The Must, told me late last night (Sunday) that, as far as they’re concerned, “[W]e have been robbed.  Our personal property has been taken without our consent or knowledge … We are perplexed and [devastated] by the recent events.”  They resolved to be strong, however:I’m expecting a statement from Julie Rico sometime today, so I will update the post when I receive it. The games have just begun. UPDATED [10:30am]: I received Rico’s press release this morning, as well as additional comments from Coly.

The press release states, in part, “Weeneez, LLC today announces the sale that changes ownership of its restaurant operations in downtown Los Angeles, California.  Majority owner Weeneez, lessee of the premises at which The Must Wine bar also operated, concluded the sell with an unidentified third party after  negotiations between Weeneez and The Must Wine Bar were unsuccessful.”

Apparently, The Must and Julie Rico were involved in a business dispute over the last year; their various matters have been submitted to arbitration for resolution.  Weeneez’s attorney, as quoted in the release, explains, “[I]n this situation it was increasingly clear that the partners were not able to co-exist in a safe environment.”

Thus (using the term “thus” loosely, because I am not sure if this necessarily follows), the subsequent removal of their property: “Weeneez notified The Must of an intended move-out by letter to their attorney dated July 1, 2010.  The move-out occurred July 3.  Notices were posted on the doors stating where [The Must’s] property was being stored.”

Assuming that this “letter dated July 1, 2010” was hand-delivered that day, the most The Must received was two days’ notice.   Not quite adequate, I think; I’m trying to get additional information from Rico or her firm as to why there was such short notice.

The unidentified third party has been identified as “David Holtzman”; Coly got wind of Rico’s position on the robbery/move-out this morning, and followed-up with me via email, stating that Rico’s partner Sid Carter and Holtzman “did hire movers to come in the middle of the night a little after we had closed and proceed to strip EVERYTHING, from the furniture to our computer and yes even the games [ed note: Gah! The games!!!]. We were give NO notice.”

Coly points out that the whole thing, from the midnight removal to the fact that it occurred on a holiday weekend when everyone (including anyone in Simpson Housing, which owns their building) to the courts are pretty much out of reach until Tuesday, when all return to work, business as unusual.  Apparently, Rico “even cashed our July rent check!”

It’s a dark day, but Coly, bless her heart, reaffirms the blue sign outside their door: “The only good thing about all of this, is that this is the end of the line, we will not just simply walk away from anything, our financial investment and our investment to the community.  … As truly horrible as this all is we really have to thanks the community for its support, it has been heart warming and overwhelming, first round is on us!”

MORE UPDATES [11:40am]: Coly just told me that if notice indeed was sent to their lawyer, “he did not receive it”; that said, he is on vacation because this is, you know, a holiday weekend.  She also stated that the notice of the change in ownership “was posted at the same time they took all of our things and changed our locks. We couldn’t have entered even if we wanted to.”  Apparently, there was no forced entry because the movers “entered from the [W]eeneez location[.]”  To boot,  “They used bolt cutters to get into our locked wine cages.”

This stinks worse than wine that has turned.

MORE MORE UPDATES [2:45pm] Julie Rico posted two comments on Blogdowntown’s raging discussion over the incident.  You can read the whole thing in its entirety here and here; essentially, she justifies her actions by accusing The Must’s owners of refusing to work with her:

“[I]t was always our intention to work with these people. But it just did not work out. I needed to make changes to Weeneez to make it more effective. I needed to work closely with them to do it. Well they never allowed this, so we had no choice but to sell the business. We were dying here. It is not the fault of the new business owner. It is because we had a monster on our hands and we needed to get out from under it.”

I’m also not sure how this is relevant, but she re-raises an Eater LA post last year that accused The Must owners of unsanitary and unsavory food handling habits.  (The accusation was debunked by the The Must owners when the LA Times followed up on the story.).  As to why the move-out occurred in the dead of night, Rico explains “We needed to make this happen with the least amount of disturbance from crazy people. Also, as you may or may not know this corner is very busy. We needed to make this happen so that we would not be disturbed in doing so.”  (Notably, Rico does not explain why all this occurred without giving adequate notice to The Must, or why no unlawful detainer action was filed before seizing “back” the premises or locking The Must out of its bar.).  Finally, Rico states that The Must was well aware that Weeneez LLC was “considering a market transaction.  They also made the first offer, which was an unreasonable offer.”  Coly told me via email that they have “offered numerous times to buy [Rico/Weeeneez] out but they felt we didn’t offer them enough money.”

Casey Irvine, one of the other owners of The Must, wrote in response to Rico’s post here, contesting Rico’s accusations.  She reiterates Coly’s earlier email to me that Rico cashed their July rent check “two days before they locked us out.”  Adding to the estimated damages, “We are fairly sure that our property was damaged with how they removed it. Fridge’s need to be un-plugged for hours before they’re moved. Wine needs to stay at a certain temperature.”  Yes, I seriously doubt the movers placed the precious wine inventory in the proper wine storage facility.

Coly expects to release The Must’s official statement soon.  What a nightmare for everyone involved.

UPDATE [5:30pm]: The Must’s official statement will come tomorrow.  Per their tweet:

UPDATED 7/6/10 HIGH NOON: The Must’s official statement was released this morning; the entire text can be found on the bar’s website here.  Highlights:

– Regarding the contract between The Must and Sid Carter and Julie Rico, owners of Weeneez, LLC, which own The Must’s space: A five-year contract was signed on November 5, 2008.  The contract was to be terminated in January 2012, with an option to renew for an additional 5 years.

– Regarding the actual heist:  As mentioned above, no one from The Must received any prior notice that Rico or Carter would  remove their belongings and lock them out.  The Must “paid its rent as usual on June 30. It locked its doors as usual at 2:00 a.m. on July 3rd. The move-out occurred July 3rd at approximately 2:45am. Julie Rico, Sid Carter and the supposed ‘new owner’, David Holtzman, hired movers to strip The Must of everything including furniture, wine, food, computers and documents. The owners, Den Haan and Thomas were notified by their restaurant manager, Casey Irvine, the next morning that The Must had been stripped of everything. Den Haan and Thomas were not notified of the apparent changes in ownership of Weeneez LLC.”

– Regarding their love for downtown despite the sequence of events: “The Must is Coly, Rachel, Casey, and Eric, our employees and our community. We are not going anywhere, we will always be downtown. This IS our home.”

… AND FINALLY [7/7 7PM]Blogdowntown has some excellent, as-neutral-as-possible coverage of the post-weekend activities.  According to that article, The Must filed for a temporary restraining order yesterday in arbitration (i.e., asked a neutral third party to stop anything related to the eviction until a decision regarding the who-what-why of the above leasing issues is made).  Meanwhile, as posted yesterday, there will be The Must Aid Fundraiser benefit on Saturday night, with all proceeds going to The Must’s (ex)-employees’ lost wages.  Full details of the fundraiser can be found here.

In Venice, Parking Restrictions are the Football and Homeowners are Charlie Brown

Venice homeowners who want to restrict overnight parking to stop long-term RV camping on their streets must feel like Charlie Brown after Lucy pulls the football away at the last second, again.  In the long-running battle to establish “overnight parking districts” (OPDs) which would restrict parking to permit holders between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. in several zones in Venice, the Venice homeowners thought they had a solution in their grasp.  In May, they reached a tentative settlement with the California Coastal Commission in which they would withdraw their lawsuit against the Coastal Commission for denying their OPD request in return for the eventual right to establish OPDs after a six-month period in which the City of Los Angeles would permit “oversized vehicle” restrictions in Venice to see if they solved the problem without resorting to OPDs.  But, like Lucy, the Coastal Commission then pulled the football away, backing out of the deal.

Advocates for the homeless are chalking up a victory.  They maintained that the OPDs targeted them, and cut off their access to the beach.  The Coastal Commission agreed, albeit pointing to no real evidence to back up such a charge.  Given that the Venice proposal included relocation of the vehicles to nearby spots, some of which were considerably closer to the beach, during the wee hours of the morning, I am still scratching my head over that one.

The Venice homeowners now have to start over again.  However, they have one head start: last month, the City Council voted to let them restrict “oversized” vehicles (over 7 feet tall or over 22 feet long) from parking overnight.  If such restrictions are enforced, this might solve the issue as to a good number of cases.  But then, given the history of failures in the effort to establish OPDs, I wouldn’t be surprised if the effort to restrict oversized vehicles in Venice hits a roadblock as well.

Fireworks For The Fourth

You like fireworks? We got fireworks!

Los Angeles, you may have noticed, is a large place, so there are many spots to see fireworks this weekend. Click here for a full list of viewing places, times and prices (if applicable). And the fireworks are not only on the 4th. If you need to get your pyrotechnic needs filled early, here are some of the spots you can see fireworks tonight, July 3:

Catalina Island at Isthmus Cove 9:00 PM

Home Depot Center (Carson) during the Chivas USA vs. Philadelphia Union match (Game at 7:30, fireworks following the match)

Norwalk has 2 spots, both at 9:00 PM:
Cerritos College (11110 E. Alondra Blvd.)
North City Library – Parking Lot (12350 Imperial Highway)

Long Beach
The Queen Mary is having a weekend full of food, music and activities for an admission price. Each evening ends with fireworks at 9:00 PM.

Lawndale
Luezinger High School, Field (41118 W. Rosecrans Ave.) 9:00 PM

To help you remember what all the fuss is about, why not read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (including the Bill of Rights) again?

Tomorrow, the 4th of July, there are larger events (that include fireworks) happening all over town: LA Coliseum, San Fernando Recreation Park, Pomona Fairplex, Hollywood Bowl, The Rose Bowl. Again, click here for details on each of these big events and a full list of fireworks shows throughout the weekend.

Here are a few highlights for neighborhood shows.

Artesia
Artesia Community Park
12000 block of South Street / Elaine
Admission is free
9:00 p.m.

Carson
Home Depot Center
LA Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders Soccer Match (LANDON DONOVAN ALERT!)
Game at 7:30, Post game fireworks

Cerritos
Cerritos High School
12500 E. 183rd Street
9:00 p.m.

Downey
Downey High School
10410 Brookshire (Brookshire and Firestone)
5:00 – 8:30 p.m. Food and Family Fun
9:00 p.m. 25-minute Fireworks Show

Huntington Beach
City Beach (between Main and Beach Blvd.)
$10 tickets on pier seating (hb4thofjuly.org for tickets)
Free on beach

La Habra
La Habra High School (Baseball Field)
801 Highlander
9:00 p.m.

Walnut
Walnut High School
South end of Baseball Field
21207 La Puente Road
9:00 p.m.

Pro-lifer arrested after being allegedly assaulted by Jimmel Kimmel Live crew

As much as I recognize the abortion debate is a heated one, and I for one am entrenched on the pro-choice side, I like to think I can also recognize assault even when its against one of those supposed “pro-life” anti-choice people.

Case in point: this YouTube video featured over at Huffington Post today, showing a pro-life advocate being body checked and even punched but an apparent crew member with the Jimmy Kimmel Live crew. Per info gleaned from the video, the pro-lifer was upset that the JKL crew was pointing a “high intensity light” at a teenage abortion protester on Hollywood Blvd. We see the pro-lifer then attempt to reposition the light when the crewman then essentially attacks the guy.

Granted, the pro-lifer shouldn’t touch the crew’s gear, but instead of asking nearby law enforcement or sercurity to take care of the guy, a crewman attacks the pro-lifer.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBB9idOotOI&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

The typically opinionated Huffington Post take a non-objective stand in their post, and I’m somewhat disturbed that the commenters there can’t call a spade a spade and even indicate that the pro-lifer deserves the violence coming his way. Am I missing something?

At the Skirball: Is it shellfish to wonder if I’ll ever seafood again?

This little guy is gonna be just fine.

As you read this, the good folks at the British Petroleum crude-oil concern are hard at work in the Gulf of Mexico, making sure that the term “cajun blackened shrimp” forever loses its association with the culinary arts. Yes, in addition to roasting sea turtles alive and threatening the Gulf’s elusive walrus population, the current world leader in unmitigated corporate dipshittery is forever altering the seafood industry in the United States, by contaminating half the edible species in the Gulf with oil, and making us  all worry that the other half might be contaminated too. So enjoy seafood while you can; with the upcoming holiday weekend, the price of shrimp cocktail is likely to shoot up to more than $4.00 a gallon.

But the seafood industry has problems worldwide, and it’s had them since long before BP came along. Overfishing and unsustainable practices are damaging not only the populations of Earth’s most delicious seagoing species, but having adverse impacts on whole marine ecosystems as well. Soon the only things we’ll have left to eat are mermaid steaks and whatever gets trapped in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

But don’t get too depressed. The key to changing the world is educating yourself, and the perfect opportunity is coming up: Pulitzer-winning LA Weekly food critic Jonathan Gold will appear at the Skirball Cultural Center next Wednesday at 7:30 PM to discuss the future of the seafood industry with Michael Cimarusti, head chef at Providence (which I’m told, by people who have more money to spend on food than I do, is very very good) and Mark Gold, president of Heal the Bay. They’ll discuss how our eating habits are impacting the environment, and how we can better align our love of good seafood with positive environmental stewardship.

Here’s more info.

Hey LA, What’s Up?

So here’s the thing. I badger the occasional slackin’ blogger to post to this site, and I myself have been slacking lately. There’s no one to badger me, but I had to out myself.

I spent pretty much the last three weeks out of LA–first in Death Valley, CA and then in the Seattle area. Two vastly different places with a lot in common: the ubiquity of the natural world; an inexhaustible supply of delicate details of flora and fauna and land around me; clean skies stocked with epic cloud formations; and neither of them are LA.

I grew up here, and have loved this city’s vagaries, inconsistencies and chaos since before I can remember. But I have to say, after a couple weeks back in LA, I miss the immediacy of the natural world I got in both Death Valley and Seattle. I feel a little lost. When I was in the vast empty spaces of the desert or cocooned in green in the Pacific Northwest, I felt like I’d found my right size in the world around me. Here in LA, I lose my bearings, get distracted, get dissatisfied with my insignificance or arrogant in my importance.

It seemed apropos that the jacarandas would have exploded into bloom while I was away & welcomed me back with a flurry of irrepressible violet. They’ve always marked melancholic episodes in my life: the boy with the floppy hair and southern drawl who never loved me back; the inescapable job that I only wanted to flee;  the years I spent living off vodka and pop-tarts. The jacarandas remind me of things I’ve lost, as if their impossible beauty stands in marked contrast to the various & sundry travails I’ve been experiencing. They don’t care if I’m down. And I don’t feel like LA does either. People complain to me often about how heartless LA is, and I defend its microcommunities and diversity and hidden gems earnestly, but sometimes I feel like I’m tired of a city that’s too vast to be personal, too ephemeral to be substantive. It seems to happen more and more lately.

I guess one of the things about chronicling a town as weird as LA is remembering to include the gray areas, the more liminal aspects of the city, and not just stick to relentless boosterism. Hence this post. I’m worried I’m falling out of love with LA.

Signs the Recession is Still Going Strong

I am drafting this blog post from my desk at an office building/warehouse in Chatsworth where the water has been turned off all morning. “Why has the water been turned off?” you ask (or more likely you’re not asking because you really don’t care, but I’m going to tell you anyway). The water has been turned off because last night the plumbing itself was stolen. That’s right, someone stole a length of copper piping from the line that runs in front of the building where I work–and probably other buildings as well. Apparently (who knew?) you can get about $200 reselling a section of piping like that, so people go cruising neighborhoods looking for accessible copper piping to dismantle and sell. I lived through the “no radio” days in the urban east coast, and I must say, this tops that. So now, we here at my office are all crossing our legs and holding it while we wait for the repair to be finished; my boss is ordering a cage for the pipes in front of the building; and somewhere a couple of guys are happily smoking crack. The economy? I’m thinking it’s not improving.

The Hummingbird Chick Has Flown!

I’ve previously  posted up a couple updates (here and here) in regards to the earlier discovery/progress of the two Anna’s hummingbird chicks nested in the laurel tree overhanging our Silver Lake frontyard, but there’s been a whole bunch of some serious pint-sized tragedy and triumph these last few days and it’s been enough to stress out this surrogate hummingbird uncle/bodyguard.

First there was the way-too-early exit of one of the chicks from the nest Sunday, followed by the baby’s recovery (whew!) and  immediate installation into what I can immodestly describe as a Righteously Genius Purchase s of a high fruit-picking contraption (pictured above) bought the day before in case it might serve as a substitute nest. Which it now did.

But the next day was a double negative whammalama. Not only did the chick launch from the picker sometime in the night to god knew where, but we also discovered that its sibling, still in the nest, had died. Dejected at being unsuccessful in locating the wayward chick I’d resigned myself to its loss only to have my grief compounded when one of our cats brought in what I figured was its corpse (that I solemnly buried) — until I went down to get the mail much later that Tuesday afternoon and what was just sitting there in front of the mailbox, but holyfuckingshit: the entirely not-dead chick looking at me like “where have you been!?”

So back into the picker it went where mom paid it many visits and gave it many feedings and there it hung out all night Tuesday and all of Wednesday working its wing strength up, and here we are Thursday morning and literally but a few minutes after snapping the pic above, the chick has successfully fledged, having lifted off and flown to a high branch in the tree of its birth where it now sits safely while plotting its next hopefully successful and safe flights.

I couldn’t be more proud, happy or relieved. But just the same, the cats are staying indoors today.