All posts by Ms. Banneker

dear, inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse

Free Handyman

All American Home Center

Or, in my case, handywoman. Now that I am done with the academic school year, I am helping out my aging parents at their house. I am changing precariously placed light bulbs, moving out old furniture, and (gasp!) helping them clean out the garage.

I find myself needing tools and supplies, and I hate the big box retailers like Lowe’s and Home Depot. Many neighborhoods have lost the mom and pop hardware stores; otherwise, they are not well known.

Living in Downey, however, means I can go to the All-American Home Center, which has been a local, family-owned business for nearly 50 years. Many of my friends back in high school had their first job there. Even though a Home Depot opened right next door, they’ve managed to stay competitive.

All-American Home Center

7201 East Firestone Blvd.

Downey CA 90241

(562) 927-8666

Link to Google Maps

Downey Farmer’s Market: Bigger and Better

Downey Farmer’s Market-set 2

This weekend, people in Downey and the surrounding areas should come visit the Farmer’s Market. Since it’s debut a month ago, the market has doubled in size. More fruit vendors have set up shop, some prepared food vendors have shown up, more flower growers have arrived and there is now a band playing for the crowd.

The band was playing marimbas two weeks ago, and one week ago it consisted of a man singing with guitar accompaniment. It lends a friendly, welcoming air to the street scene.

As a teenager growing up in Downey, I believed it to be a stuffy, conservative city full of old people. I was glad to get out of it and go into LA proper, and I was thrilled when I left for college. Now that I’m approaching 30 (!), I appreciate the view of Downey that the farmers market is giving me: a diverse group of people who are not nearly as stuffy as they once seemed.

Downey Farmer’s Market

8200 2nd St.

Downey, CA 90241

Link to Google Maps

Summer’s Eve Triptych

This morning, I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Grades were due, I threw my ESL coordinator a baby shower, and I volunteered to be one of the people in charge of planning the end of the year staff party at school tomorrow. After school, as I finished entering the last of the grades, I hopped into my colleague’s car and we dashed over to the graduation ceremony. Of course, they needed the teachers’ help, so I did not get to sit down until an hour after we got there.

Despite all these stressors, my drive home was high spirited. I ignored the asshole drivers, the wailing sirens, the construction. I ignored the heat and the smog. Instead I saw three people who made me feel oh-so-very good about the end of the school year and the start of summertime:

A small boy with a homemade kite, made of construction paper and crépe streamers, trailing on the hot ground behind him, as he ran down Vermont and Vernon. The sad, little kite was not airborne, but he willed the kite into the air as he ran down the street. Car horns bellowed behind me: the light was green, and I wasn’t moving.

Un vaquero urbano, with his sombrero y botas, gliding down Vernon by the 110, on his sea foam-colored cruiser bike. As I craned my neck to look at him, I slammed on the brakes and avoided crashing into the car in front of me.

Sitting on my porch, laptop in my lap, dog at my feet, I can see the neighbor’s kid from across the street, playing with his younger sister. His bike lies akimbo, abandoned on his driveway. He rides his sister’s bike instead, confectionery pink, streamers whipping his arms as he zooms up and down our empty suburban street. He is an amalgam of the old man and the boy I saw on my drive home. In the distance, I can hear the ice cream truck approaching.

LAUSD Budget Cuts Office Personnel

There was only one thing on my mind as this past week began: “Will I be getting laid off?” My question was answered this past Tuesday, when the LAUSD Board sat down and released their budget.

It appears that I will not be getting laid off this year; 500 clerical jobs will be cut instead. My disdain for the LAUSD bureaucracy is well-known. While I feel bad that any person must lose their job (especially in this economic climate), I know that the silver lining is that LAUSD might start hacking off bits of its bureaucracy. I joke with my friends and family that LAUSD can finally lay off positions like, “Stamp Licker”, “Phone Dialer”, “Pencil Sharpener,” and (my personal favorite) “Everyone on this list.”

Continue reading LAUSD Budget Cuts Office Personnel

Teachers Strike for One-Hour Today

As the school day begins, teachers across Los Angeles will be going on strike for a single hour. Instead of signing in and walking into school, they will be gathering in front of their schools and informing parents of the impending California budget cuts— cuts which are threatening thousands of teacher positions across the district.

Officially, LAUSD has come out against the strike action. They have stated to newspapers that they want to see “teachers in the classroom” and that they are “concerned about student safety.” But, while teachers began planning the strike action months ago, LAUSD dragged its feet taking the teachers to court. LAUSD only filed for a temporary restraining order last Thursday. A judge denied the request, and LAUSD retaliation seems extraordinarily unlikely at this point. After all, they’re concerned about the fall out. United Teachers LA has vowed to fight any lay-offs: which means LAUSD and the Governor should be biting their nails and shaking in their boots.

My friends at charter schools tell me that they will not be participating: their higher-ups informed them a few weeks back that any budget cuts will be absorbed by the administrators and that teachers will not feel the pinch. Their unions remain mum on the situation. I don’t know if any other districts will be participating. (Do you know, gentle reader?)

This strike could only signal the beginning. UTLA estimates that nearly all its members will be participating today.

LAUSD votes on its proposed budget for the coming year next Tuesday.

South LA Teacher is “Too Afro-Centric”

I, and others here at, have often commented on the sad state of affairs at LAUSD. While some readers have blamed the teachers for not caring enough, not being engaging, or not working hard enough (?!), the story of Karen Salazar might persuade these individuals that, indeed, the problem is not with the underpaid teachers at LAUSD schools, but rather with the bureaucracy which is keeping them from developing successful students.

Karen Salazar is an English teacher at Jordan High in Watts. By the accounts of her students, seen here in this YouTube videoand this YouTube video, Ms. Salazar is an inspirational educator, going above and beyond the curriculum. This, apparently is the problem.

In an email I received from a colleague familiar with “Students 4 Salazar”, he states that:

Salazar has been visited and “observed” by the administration over 15 times in the past year. During one of the visits, an administrator criticized her for having students read The Autobiography of Malcolm X, a LAUSD approved text. When she objected to this criticism, she was told that her teachings where too “Afro-centric.” She was then told that the school would not renew her teaching contract for the upcoming school year.

Students are staging a protest Thursday, June 5 outside Jordan High at 3:15 pm.

Jordan High School

2265 E 103rd St

Los Angeles, CA 90002

(323) 568-4100

More details after the jump.

Continue reading South LA Teacher is “Too Afro-Centric”

You Can Has Birth Control


My mother just told me that she found a new litter of kittens in the backyard garden shed. She had seen this cat wandering around for a few days, but had scared it off each time. Apparently the poor thing had been looking for a place to birth.

My mom, while not a fan of cats, was kind enough to clear out a corner of the shed, lay out a box with some old towels, and provide some warm milk for the new family.

The saddest thing about the mama cat is she has a collar: she belongs to someone, but this someone did not spay her. My mom called Animal Control, but I always fear the worst in shelters. If you want a pet, please go visit a shelter. In Los Angeles in 2006-2007, some 23,000 animals were put down. Please do your part and save the kittehs and dags!


9777 Seaaca Street

Downey, CA 90241

(562) 803-3301

LA Shelter Locater



thanks to icanhas for the cat picture

May 14th: Day of the Teacher

Cruel timing! LAUSD makes the final bloodmatch in our “64 Worst” series during the same week as California’s Day of the Teacher.

As I have mentioned before, state budget cuts are threatening most school districts—not just LAUSD. The California Teachers Association has provided a list of protests and rallies being held statewide to bring attention to this matter.

Actions being held locally include those by United Teachers Los Angeles, who will be picketing before and after school to make parents and community aware of the budget cuts. Teachers from Burbank, Pasadena, Whittier, Downey, Long Beach, and all over Orange County will be gathering at schools, civic centers, and city halls in protest.

A short list of ideas for Teacher Day, after the jump!

Continue reading May 14th: Day of the Teacher

It Caught My Eye: Business Façade Art

bargain market

When I lived in Hollywood, I would drive by some newly-remodeled storefront completely puzzled. The façade would have beautiful window decorations, a sign in modern typeface with some faux-foreign name, but there was no way of knowing what was inside: imported furniture? haute cuisine? haute couture? avant garde hair design? All this high-class pretense was tiresome—a fact lost on these business who popped up and disappeared like fungus.

When I started working in South LA, I was struck by the opposite fact: business façades not merely screamed out “LORENA’S HAIR SALON” but also provided a nice picture of a woman with a dramatic haircut next to blowdryer and a pair of scissors. “BARGAIN MARKET” had convenient pictures of the goods available within (evidenced by the picture at right).

While I realize I could delve into a socio-economic thesis (literacy rates in South LA, lack of English fluency) comparing these two locations, I prefer to admire the pop-art. Remember! Warhol started his career in advertisement illustration.

Annotated pics after the jump, including one which should probably be reviewed by Fleshbot.

Continue reading It Caught My Eye: Business Façade Art

LAUSD Teachers Rally Against State Budget Cuts


With the California Governor proposing up to $5 billion in cuts to the education budget, the LAUSD activists are busy working to increase awareness of the issue.

The governor has proposed a 10% cut across the board for all departments and agency in the state—including education. This may be one of the few things LAUSD and UTLA can agree on—cutting education funding is a very bad idea. Also remember: school districts all over California are being affected.

This Sunday, LAUSD teachers will be driving from downtown LA along Sunset Blvd to a middle school in Brentwood near Schwarzenegger’s home. They will be trailed by media and they are sure to be a rowdy bunch, honking and waiving signs.

Support your educators! According to this article in the Mercury News, most people are against cutting the education budget, yet they do not want an increase in taxes. Do the next best thing: call your legislators and representatives and give ’em a piece of your mind.

The teachers’ union has also discussed the possibility of a one-hour strike during the first week of June.

Sunday May 4 3:00 p.m.

Miguel Contreras Learning Complex

Caravan to: Paul Revere Charter Middle School

(Near the Governor’s Brentwood home)

1450 Allenford Ave.

Brentwood CA.

Map of Caravan Route

Find your legislator by zip code

Picture from a Senior Care Center on El Segundo Blvd. in South LA.

Pics from Fire in South LA

SouthLA fire

I knew something was happening during the middle of 6th period: there were too many sirens going off in the distance. So many, in fact, that the students stopped their activity and said, “What’s with all the sirens?” My window faces north, and we all looked out, but saw nothing. We had a power surge as well, which I attributed to people running appliances during the warm weather. It was not until after school, when I was leaving to run errands that I noticed the frightening smoke on the horizon.

As I headed south on Van Ness, I could see the thick, black plumes rising into the sky, ominous on a day like this. Turning eastbound on Slauson, I encountered heavy traffic, punctuated by ambulances and fire trucks, as well as sheriffs patrols and parking enforcement redirecting traffic away from southbound Western Ave.

SouthLA fire2

I tuned to KFWB and heard the details: a tire yard caught fire, spreading to a pallet yard. Some power poles and cars caught fire (hence, I believe, the power surge), but no major injuries. One firefighter was hospitalized for heat injuries.

Downey Farmer’s Market


Last week, Downey had its first-ever Farmer’s Market. Located on 2nd St. and New St., behind the Downey Krikorian Theatre, quite conveniently adjacent to a large parking structure.

It is small (<20 booths), but it has everything you need: several fruit vendors, a woman selling gorgeous orchids, a fish-monger, and some dude selling these essential oil lotions (i got a lavender one).

berries Downey has been adding a bunch of big-box stores—notable is Downey Landing, a strip-mall complex with a Michael’s, an Old Navy, and a Best Buy. The Farmer’s Market stands as a welcome contrast to the retail nightmare. It is a real treat getting up early on a Saturday, picking up some fresh berries for breakfast and some artichokes for dinner. I even ran into old friends!

See you there, neighbor.

Downey Farmer’s Market

Every Saturday

9 am – 1 pm

2nd St. — between New St. & La Reina

It Caught My Eye: Tennis Car

Tennis Car

On my way home from work this afternoon, this fine specimen of an Impala pulled up next to me in the left-hand turn lane. I was eastbound on Imperial Highway at the intersection of Avalon Boulevard.

The green was the perfect shade of tennis ball felt, and the white details made me want to put on a headband and grab my racket.

click to embiggen, taken with the camera iphone

Win a Pair! Colin Meloy @ The Fonda 04/28!

Colin Meloy of The Decemberists fame, will be playing a solo show at the Henry Fonda Theatre on Monday, April 28th!

To win a pair of tickets, all you, dear reader, need to do is name one of the songs on Colin’s fabulous cover album, “Colin Meloy Sings Morrissey.” If you also happen to name my favorite song, I’ll buy you a drink. I promise, I’ll be honest. Contact me: emily.banneker by using gmail.

Colin Meloy w/ Laura Gibson

Henry Fonda Theatre

6126 Hollywood Blvd.

(323) 464-0808

Ticketmaster Link

UPDATE: Congratulations to Connie, who will be joining the folk-y throngs at the Fonda! For the record, my fave song is “Everyday is like Sunday” which Connie did not name, but she did name “I’ve Changed my Plea to Guilty.” I strongly suggest you all find a copy of the aforementioned album. It nearly outdoes Morrissey’s versions, but please notice, dear reader, I said “nearly”!

The Daily Show Takes on “Britney’s Law”

Tonight’s The Daily Show has Rob Riggle interviewing L.A. City Councilman Dennis Zine. Zine, as you may or may not know, is the lawmaker responsible for promoting what has been laughably deemed “Britney’s Law.”

Britney’s law would dictate that the notoriously over-aggressive paparazzi need to stay a certain yet-to-be-determined distance from yet-to-be-determined celebrities, for their safety and that of the public-at-large.

Should you really care to know more about Councilman Zine, or Britney’s Law and its vaguish aspects, click on over to this February article at the LA Weekly.