Hide Your Silly String Tonight!

There is ONE thing me and the Teabaggers agree on…. there’s to many silly damn laws!  And here’s one that gets me every Halloween when the signs go up in Hollywood: No Silly String allowed in Hollywood on All Hallow’s Eve!  If you want to get crazy with the string… better do it elsewhere, or you might end up in the slammer!

C’mon, how’s a witch gonna make mischief without here can o’ string? I know, I know, it’s a bitch to clean up, but so are the streets after Mardi Gras. People gotta let loose!

Have a wild night everyone!

Sincerely Corny

Every October, my inner Linus gets the urge to find the most sincere pumpkin patch. Not so much to wait for The Great Pumpkin, but to see, photograph, and perhaps even select a fabulous pumpkin to display.

In the past I’ve visited Lombardi Ranch in Saugus, Pierce College’s Halloween Harvest Festival, the Calabasas Pumpkin Festival, and even a lovely farm in Ventura County. All of these places had marvelous pumpkin patches, but the most sincere? Hard to say.

This year, I stuck closer to home and checked out Forneris Farms in Mission Hills. The pumpkins there were okay, but what they really have going for them is their fantastic corn maze. You can see an aerial view of it on their website and it’s pretty impressive. It’s large, family friendly and has an optional scavenger hunt. If I didn’t have a navigator, I’d still be wandering around the stalks of corn. While most of the pumpkin patches and farms that are still open close tomorrow, the corn maze at Forneris Farms is open through November 7th.

What are your favorite local pumpkin patches to visit? It doesn’t hurt to start planning for next year!

The Creepy Beneath Our Feet: Wrap-Up

Photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim.

All good things come to an end: Lost. The Beatles. Earth’s natural resources. And now, Blogging.la’s discussion of the Lizard People. It’s been a fun ride.

For those of you looking for a resource, Alexandra has collected links to each installment in the series in her epic Halloween post. But here’s an in-series clearinghouse as well, since you’ve all been such good sports about my weird little obsession with the oviparous Angelenos living under the soil:

LA’s Lizard People

The Patron Saint of the Lizard People

The City With Scaly Shoulders

Lizard People and the Bigger Picture

Passages to the Underworld

Lizards in Disguise

The Real (And Not Actually Creepy) Thing

GTD: Halloween Weekend

In case the office costumes didn’t tip you off:  it’s Halloween weekend.

SATURDAY

  • Judd Apatow swings by my local indie bookstore, Skylight Books, to sign I Found This Funny: My Favorite Pieces of Humor and Some That May Not Be Funny at All, a collection of funny and, as the title suggests, possibly not-so-funny pieces.   To avoid a bum rush, Skylight has a numbered bracelet process that is a somewhat fairer version of the Ticketmaster random bracelet distribution back in the Tower Records days.  NOTE: Bum rush for bracelets starts at 10am TODAY (FRIDAY).  You must buy an Apatow-authored book to get a bracelet. Signing is free with purchase of the book.  Judd Apatow will uncap his Sharpie at noon at Skylight Books in Los Feliz.
  • No pumpkin?  Still need to carve your pumpkin?  No fear – head out to the Santa Monica Pico Farmers’ Market, which will host free pumpkin decorating sessions for you and the kids.  Free.  10am to 1pm at the farmer’s market on Pico and Cloverfield.
  • Exercise and support a great cause: Homeboy Industries hosts “Run for Homeboy”, a 5k run inside the State Historic Park, aka the Cornfield.  Seventy-five percent of the proceeds go directly to supporting the organization’s myriad of services, including job counseling, tattoo removals, and mentorship.  Go for the run, stay for the car show after.  Race starts at 8:30am.  Day-of registration is $35 at the State Historical Park downtown.
  • Vespa Sherman Oaks and the Scootabaker lead an all-Vespa Halloween ride from Sherman Oaks to the Griffith Park Observatory. There will be a costume contest and, of course, Scootabaker’s so-good-it’s-scary cupcakes.  Free.  Arrive at the Vespa Sherman Oaks at 12pm for the festivities; the ride to Griffith Park starts at 2pm.
  • The Hollywood Forever Cemetery fittingly plays host to the city’s Day of the Dead Festival. There will be traditional Aztec blessings, crafts, and a Calaveras art exhibit.  This would be the time to dig out your Calaca (skeleton) costumes.  $10.  Festivities are from 2pm to midnight.
  • If dragging the skeletons out of your closet doesn’t sound as appealing as hiding them under a mask, try KCRW’s second annual Masquerade Ball.  KCRW DJs will let loose, allowing you to do the same.  Just don’t think about Eyes Wide Shut too much.  $75 in advance, $85 at the door.  Masks on from 9pm to 2am at the Legendary Park Plaza near MacArthur Park.
  • Making Paradise: The West Hollywood Musical! is Cornerstone Theater‘s wellreceived play about the history of WeHo – and it, of course, is a musical.  Come back to the area during tomorrow’s Halloween parade to see a whole other set of theatrics.  $20.  Performances on various dates from now until November 7 at the Fiesta Hall in West Hollywood.

SUNDAY

  • Steve Ross hosts a haunted house every year in Venice. It’s so scary, you should be 13 or over to enter.  Free.  Haunted house doors open at sundown, 414 Rose Ave., Venice.
  • West Hollywood.  Good luck.  With parking and all that.
  • If you’d rather dance than trick-or-treat, there are still tickets available for Hard Haunted Mansion at the Shrine.  Flying Lotus and Nero headline.  $70/$75, 6pm to 2am at the Shrine near USC.

“Pumpkins on Guard” courtesy our very own Frazgo via the Blogging.LA Flickr pool.

Navigating street closures at the West Hollywood Halloween Costume Carnival

The president checks in at the 2008 festival. Image from Rockin Robin

If you live in LA, you have to do West Hollywood’s Costume Carnival at least once.  I think it brings out the best (and, arguably, some of the worst) in the citizens of this little corner of the world, or, at least, it brings out the best in everyone’s fashion sense.   Costuming, it turns out, is an area in which Angelenos truly excel.  I still think the best costume I’ve seen at the carnival was one from three years ago:  a woman was decked in gold spraypainted cardboard tubes, and was the Westin Bonaventure Hotel.  That, my friends, is style.

But if you live or work or have need to travel anywhere near West Hollywood this Sunday, you probably know that a sad side effect of the festivities is traffic hell.   So, because we care about you, dear readers, here’s the run down on street closures in West Hollywood, so you can make your travel plans for Sunday accordingly:

Santa Monica Boulevard between La Cienega Boulevard and Doheny Drive (1 p.m. Sunday, October 31 through 6 a.m., Monday, November 1, 2010

Robertson Boulevard between Melrose Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard (1 p.m., Sunday, October 31 through 6 a.m., Monday, November 1, 2010)

San Vicente Boulevard between Cynthia and Melrose Avenue ( 2 p.m., Sunday, October 31 through 6 a.m., Monday, November 1, 2010)

La Peer Drive eastbound turn lane onto Santa Monica Boulevard (3 p.m., Sunday, October 31 through 7 a.m., Monday, November 1, 2010)

La Cienega Boulevard between Holloway Drive and Santa Monica Boulevard ( 6 p.m., Sunday, October 31 through 6 a.m., Monday, November 1, 2005)

Sunset Boulevard eastbound and westbound turn lanes onto La Cienega Boulevard (6 p.m., Sunday, October 31 through 7 a.m., Monday, November 1, 2010)

The carnaval itself kicks off with a parade at 6pm and 11pm, with a kickoff parade at 7pm, and winds along Santa Monica from La Cienega to La Peer.   There’s more info on the Costume Carnival website.

Classic Eats #13: Polls are still open!

As of this very moment (the moment in which I’m writing, not the moment in which you are reading) The LAX Adjacent option is leading the polls! Bahooka is a sorta close second and also participating: Traxx/Philippe’s.

If you haven’t voted – DO IT! If you have voted, thank you and please coerce all your regular friends and lizard friends to join in.

Classic Eats #13 is Saturday, November 6 and our theme is: Post Election Comfort Eating. No matter who or what you voted for on November 2, let’s all get together and celebrate with or cry into some comforting classic LA eats.

The evening will begin at approximately 5-5:30pm (depending on where we go) You have three candidates/propositions to choose from (see below) and when you have decided, please click here to vote!

No matter where we go, I look forward to seeing you there! Vote Vote Vote!

Downtown Delights

I’m pulling up a classic night from the Classic Eats archive: Classic Eats #2 from January 2009. This was such a great combo, I want to do it again! We will start at that awesome LA Landmark: Union Station and have a lovely cocktail at Traxx Bar while admiring the fab spanish/deco train station. Many of you ride the rails in LA so you have probably been to/through Union Station a few times. It’s like stepping back in time. And Phillipe’s is over 100 years old, which is OLD for LA, so let’s go dipping!

Union Station (Traxx)
Phillipe’s

Off The Hook: Bahooka

This might be a trek for some of you, but hey, it’s going to be so worth it! This place is INSANE! Born in 1967, full of fish tanks and fish of every color and type and size, wacky giant sized tikis and even crazier flaming drinks. I’d never heard about it until recently, but dang, it looks worth the trip! I can’t do it justice. Click that link!

Bahooka
4501 N. Rosemead Blvd.
Rosemead, CA 91770
(626) 285-1241 -or- (626) 285-7514

LAX Adjacent: Pann’s and The Buggy Whip

If you’ve raced to catch a plane, speeding along La Tijera from mid-city, you’ve seen both Pann’s and The Buggy Whip. Maybe you’ve promised yourself “One of these days I’ll leave enough time to stop in.” Now’s your chance! Pann’s has been a Googie landmark and family owned since 1958. They’ve got excellent, classic diner food, served in an excellent, classic diner. It’s so classic that movies shoot there often. You may recall Pulp Fiction’s diner scene…?? That was Pann’s. Just look at all that Googie Goodness! The Buggy Whip is a classic red velvet booth, live piano player, bar/lounge/restaurant/banquet room all in one. It’s been named one of the best steak places in LA and is a bit pricey to prove it. I thought it best to start at Pann’s then mosey over to the ‘Whip for a post dinner cocktail or dessert in the lounge. I’m hoping there is a giant brandy snifter on the piano for tips…

Pann’s
6710 La Tijera Blvd
LA 90045
323-776-3770

The Buggy Whip
7420 La Tijera Blvd.
LA 90045
(310) 645-7131

The Creepy Beneath Our Feet: The Real (And Not Actually Creepy) Thing

Most of you probably know that there are lizards in Los Angeles: The real kind you can find in Audubon field guides and herpetology texts. During my morning runs in the hills above Los Feliz, I commonly see at least two or three per day during the warmer months, skittering across my path.

The nice thing about these lizards is that you can actually see them.

Reptiles abound in Los Angeles County, and you don’t have to go snooping through pedestrian tunnels or the seedier segments of the Internet to find them.  Here’s a quick list of what you might be able to find in some of the less urban parts of the county.

Western Fence Lizard. Photo by Walter Siegmund.

Western Fence Lizard. You can usually find these guys sunning themselves on rocks in Griffith Park other spots with relatively high elevation — that is, until they spot you and scurry into the undergrowth. A cinch to find, these will be visible (but only for a few seconds) along any hiking trail.

Western Skink. USGS photo.

Western Skink. These are a little harder to find, but easy to recognize due to their smooth, streamlined appearance. Younger specimens have brightly-colored tails. Look for skinks in less populated areas during the summer months.

Southern Alligator Lizard. Photo by Althepal.

Southern Alligator Lizard. The word for the southern alligator lizard is adorable. But beware — they’re feistier than Canadian indie music festival. They’re not hard to catch, but once you do, there’s a good chance you’ll get bitten and/or pooped on. Yeah, they poop defensively. Kind of like grandpa during those last few months.

Pacific Gopher Snake. Photo by K. Bell.

Pacific Gopher Snake. Technically not a lizard (duh), these are also called bull snakes or pine snakes. These also make good pets, though I don’t think it’d be right to pull one from its natural habitat. Like the other animals on this list, you can usually find gopher snakes in places where they have lots of undergrowth to hide in.

So, you heard it here first: The real story on the lizards of Los Angeles. You’ll note that none of the reptiles on this list are affiliated with any extraterrestrial or extradimensional threat; nor do they commonly disguise themselves as Hillary Clinton or King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

We’ll close up shop tomorrow.

Sesame Street at the Library. Go.

When I heard about the KCET-PBS split, the very first thing I thought was, “OH NO, how will I watch Sesame Street?!”  I’m 28 years old, but on weekday mornings, I don’t care what’s going on in my neck of the woods.  I don’t care how George Stephanopoulos is balancing his storied political career with tips on dieting.  No, my morning television ritual is empathasizing with Cookie Monster; wondering who else Bert and Ernie are fooling; and assessing whether, and to what extent, Elmo is annoying, or was it just those darned toys that made him seem that way?  Oh, and seeing what else they’ll spoof: the All Spice commercial; True Blood; 30 Rock.

Starting January 1, 2011, we’ll have to find our way to someplace else where the air is sweet.  The LA Times has a great summary of why KCET decided to break from PBS (it’s sad, and, like most things, it has to do with money).  For those still feeling nostalgic about the beloved children’s program, head out to the Central Library for the “Forty Years of Sesame Street Illustration: Selections from the Publishing Archive of the Sesame Workshop” exhibit, on display from now until April 30, 2011.  I stumbled upon the exhibit when I was there last week to check out a few things, and I don’t think I’ve ever had such a great time at the library.

Wonderful pieces from Sesame Street publishing history line two small exhibit halls right near the Popular Library section on the library’s first floor.  Over the course of the show’s 40 year history, there have been Sesame Street-themed coloring books, children’s books, pop-up books, flashcards – if it was an educational tool that could be reduced to the printed page, it was done.

There also are great, simple illustrations and artwork on display, including a piece from Mad Magazine‘s Jack Davis.

KOCE (channel 50 for proud owners of the bunny ears) and KLCS (Channel 58) are KCET’s little siblings that will carry Sesame Street on their public channels come January 1, 2011.  And you can, I suppose, always catch the show on the Internets, which seems odd to me, but only because I’m old and can’t platform jump as high as kids these days.

It’s fitting that an exhibit showcasing a public education show like Sesame Street is curated by the most public of all educations, the library.  This is one, of so many, reasons why libraries and other forms of public education should not be first on the budget chopping block – you’d think we would want to encourage kids and adults alike to learn all they can – but alas.  The exhibit – like borrowing books from the library – is free.  Until they privatize the library, anyway, which may be coming faster that you think.

The Creepy Beneath Our Feet: Lizards in Disguise

The president. Probably not a Lizard Person. Definitely an American citizen. Photo by Pete Souza.

Most people who believe in Lizard People tend to believe they possess some degree of shape-shifting capability. As in, they can disguise themselves as humans. As in, the person standing in front of you in the line at Pink’s might be a Reptoid in human form. Listen to his order; if he asks for live dragonflies and grasshoppers on his hot dog, there’s a good chance they come from herpetological stock.

And of course, if you guessed that Lizard believers have waaaaaay crazier ideas about President Obama’s birth origins than the Tea Partiers, you guessed right.

To the Lizard believers, if a given person is in a position of authority, there’s a good chance he or she is a Reptoid. Don’t believe me? Check out this list; it’s a little old (Gale Norton hasn’t been Secretary of the Interior since 2006), but it’s pretty comprehensive. If the list is to be believed, practically every elected or appointed federal official is a Lizard agent (or at least propped up by extraterrestrial interests). Which is, of course, absurd in the extreme, since everyone knows Dick Cheney is at least 46 percent human, and Condi Rice is an extremely lifelike robot.

A lot of these ideas come courtesy of David Icke, a conspiracy theory writer who claims that the Lizard People come from the Fourth Dimension, which would be an awesome name for time-travel-themed nightclub. We would play mashups of Bjork and Stephen Foster and dance the tarantella and spill mead all over our jerkins. It’d be great.

But I digress. The Fourth Dimension isn’t actually the fourth dimension as physics and Euclidian geometry define it, but another universe that exists over our own. The Lizards come from another planet, but in that universe. Or something. After that it gets confusing, contradictory, and startlingly anti-Semitic, so I stopped reading.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with Los Angeles, and by talking about the most highly-placed Reptoid agents in the US Government, we’re getting farther and farther afield from the garden-variety Lizards living here in Southern California. But don’t worry. We’ll get back to those guys tomorrow.

Election Day Flashback

With many people focusing on the election that is less than a week away, I was amused to spot this remnant from the 2008 election, which reads “CHENEY/SATAN ’08.”  That’s funny, I didn’t think either one ran that year.

Whether you’re planning to write-in a vote for Satan, or proudly (or not so proudly) vote for another candidate on the ballot, I hope you vote this Election Day.  I did it already by mail, and it felt pretty damn good.

Win Stone Temple Pilot Tickets

Stone Temple Pilots are BACK!  And they look hotter and sound better than ever!

Yeah, they’ve all been in other bands,  made lots of crazy career choices… but they’re running hot again and are touring with a mix of new music and serious hits.

If you’re a fan, and want to see them this Friday night, October 29th at the Nokia Theater, you’re in luck.  We’re giving away one pair of tickets to the best comment that captures the band’s style… and what they mean to you. Tell us why you love these guys and your ticket is on us!  Don’t hold back. Most captivating story wins.

And if you don’t win… but still want to catch a great show, you can grab tickets here.

The Creepy Beneath Our Feet: Passages to the Underworld

So. The Lizard People live underground. In caves beneath Los Angeles. But according to some believers, they visit the surface regularly (there’s one story that I haven’t been able to source about a humanoid Lizard dressed in human clothing spotted on Mt. Shasta up north). And if they have all these dealings with aliens, how do they get in touch with them? How do the subterrestrials meet up with the extraterrestrials?

The answer is simple: Shuttered pedestrian tunnels.

This is one of the tunnels near my house, at Hollywood and New Hampshire. There are more than 200 of these around the city, many of which were built in the 1920s and ’30s. They lasted until the late 1980s, when Angelenos apparently got tired of living near tunnels full of rats and gang initiates, and the city closed them down one by one. They didn’t go down without a fight, though; city workers went so far as to install mirrors inside some of the tunnels so pedestrians could see if a predator was lying in wait for them.

Locals, and some neighborhood officials, also complained that the tunnels were perfect spots for child molestation, but none was ever reported. Really, you have to wonder about someone who, upon seeing a given location, says “Hey! This would be a great place to molest a little kid!” But I digress.

We all know the real story. Knowledgeable people at the highest levels of government spread stories about muggings and rats and lurking pederasts, all the while knowing that LA’s pedestrian tunnels were an ideal egress route for the Lizard People. And they sealed up the tunnels — ostensibly for our own good.

The next time you’re near one, give a listen. What was that noise? A shuffle? A scrape? A thick, scaled tail sliding against a rock wall?

They’re down there. Listening back. And waiting for someone to get impatient to cross the street.

“Distracted Driving” campaign by LA Area Law Enforcement today.

Its official.  Read it on the Arcadia Police Officers Association blog HERE. Law enforcement around LA is going to be enforcing “distracted driving” IE using your cell phone for calls or texting today in an effort to clamp down on the accidents caused by this dangerous habit of some.

One interesting note came from the blog:

Remember that holding your phone and using the speaker during a call while driving is still a violation.  Using a speaker equipped phone is not the same as using a blue-tooth device.  Please put the phone down and leave the texting and calling for when you have arrived safely at your destination.

I see that one all the time and figured it didn’t count as “hands free” and I was right.  If you do it you may want to stop as it won’t get you out of a ticket.

Highlights from Artisanal LA

Over the weekend, thousands of food-loving Angelenos headed downtown to Artisanal LA, an event that gathered local food vendors and gave us the chance to put teeth in the word “locavore.”  A few vendors freely admitted that, before the event, they harbored doubts about the success of the event, but by mid-day Saturday, those doubtful ships had sailed: the huge turnout, big sales, and piqued interest in their stock completely changed their minds.  For food grazers like me, the ample samples, the chance to meet your neighborhood fill-in-the-blank, and the ability to buy, all in one place, everything from pumpkin pie to pickles to potholders all were more than worth the $10 price of admission.  In the end, everyone was very, very happy and jonesing for the next event.  Highlights from Artisanal LA, which you either missed (womp womp) or experienced (woot woot):

Lindy & Grundy’s Lord of the Flies moment

There are new butchers in town, and we’re not talking paper.  Amelia Posada and Erika Nakamura will open their butcher shop, Lindy & Grundy, on Fairfax and Melrose in December.  Their focus will be on sourcing local, organic meats as well as making homemade sausages, roast beef, and pastrami.  As they explained during their butchering demo at Artisanal LA, their ultimate aim is to bring back the “lost art of butchering.”  Indeed, the only thing 20th century about their presentation was their assembly line: with a giant piece of pig on deck, Erika cut; a fellow named Tim twined; and Amelia wrapped.  As if to prove to you that they’re serious about all this, Erika opened the demo by channeling Mary Poppins and pulling out a pig’s head out of a deceptively small bag.  Because you should know where your food comes from.

Cafe de Leche’s pour-over coffee

Speaking of lost arts, Los Angeles is finally becoming a decent town for coffee.  Case in point: Highland Park’s Cafe de Leche, whose table hosted the longest lines of the day.   Why?  Because making good coffee takes time.  The coffeehouse utilizes the pour over method: grounds (here, Portland’s Stumptown beans(!)) are placed in a filter and hot water is poured in a continuous stream for a few minutes.  This is but one method to extract the most flavor out of your coffee.  Now, if we can get more cafes to stay open past 8pm …

Flying Pie Man’s Meat Pie

Yuichiro Sato – aka the Flying Pie Man – was crowned the winner of KCRW’s Second Annual Good Food Pie Contest in September.  And he deserved every ruffle on that blue ribbon.  His savory pie was full of delicious seasoned ground beef, olives, and mashed potatoes.

Santee Culinary Program Students’ Salsa

A few of the students over at the Santee Culinary Arts Program are chefs-in-training.  At Artisanal LA, they explained their program and showed off their homemade salsa.  A great program symbolic of the underlying message of Artisanal LA: we have excellent homegrown artisans here.  We should support them from the ground up.

TRU Vodka’s Liqueurs

This local distiller makes their libations with only certified organic ingredients.  The hibiscus liqueur was the highlight; with 20% alcohol, it packed a smooth punch.  Best news yet: they’re hoping to move to Downtown LA in the near future to bring their green drinks even closer to the heart of the city.  In the meantime, you can find them over at Bar Keeper in Silver Lake.

Chef Ricardo Zarate’s Anticucho Peruvian Salsa

A little smoky, not too spicy but still with kick, the Mo Chica chef’s salsa was delicious.  A drop of the salsa on a piece of rustic bread was offered as a sample, which seemed a bit stingy until you ate it and realized that the salsa was robust enough to carry the entire piece.

Creative tabling

Some of the vendors had great displays, proving that their artisan skills extended far beyond their kitchen table.  If I had these guys as a point of reference back in my college tabling days, maybe I would have convinced more people to vote.  Oh, well, sorry America.

Left to right: Bernod’s organic cotton candy tree; feral honey from bee rescuers Backwards Beekeeper, and bakery Bakelab’s microscope.