All posts by la_christiana

Something For The Architecture, Music, And Holiday Lovers Out There

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On Sunday, December 18 at 3:00pm, the Golden State Pops Orchestra will hold its second of two Holiday Pops Spectaculars at the Warner Grand Theater in San Pedro.

The show features traditional Christmas music as well as newer classics like selections from How The Grinch Stole Christmas. If you’re an Art Deco enthusiast and you’ve never been to the Warner Grand, you’ve been missing out on one of the best architectural secrets in our fair city. The Warner Grand played host to movie premieres during the studio’s heyday and has survived many attempts to tear it down or “renovate” it beyond all recognition. It is the last of 3 theaters designed by Marcus Priteca for San Pedro, Beverly Hills, and Huntington Park. He went on to design the famous Pantages Theater. It celebrates its 75th Birthday this January.

The Golden State Pops was formed in January of 2002 and is currently the only year-round pops orchestra in the Los Angeles area. Later this year, they will offer Looney Tunes, Sci-Fi, and Superhero themed performances.

I enjoyed tonight’s show and recommend it to anyone looking for a nice way to pass a Sunday afternoon. Check out the GSPO website for ticket information.

Photo from the volunteer-maintained Warner Grand website. To support preservation efforts, please visit the Grand Vision Foundation website to find out what you can do to help protect this local treasure.

Clang Clang Clang Went The Trolley . . .

Okay, Red Car, but close.

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Atwater Village may have a Red Car Mural, but here in San Pedro we have an authentic Red Car (along with 2 replicas) running along our waterfront. One commenter referred to them as running “from nowhere to nowhere,” but that depends on how you look at it (it also depends on how favorably you view the proposed waterfront redevelopment).

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After driving past it a thousand times, we finally made a point of going down and taking a ride. The line starts at 22nd Street (where “nowhere” is actually a fantastic seafood restaurant called 22nd Street Landing located about half a block from the Red Car stop). Along the way to the Cruise Ship Terminal (where “nowhere” is a recently redeveloped promenade that features local art, comfortable teak deck chairs, and at night, lovely lighting), the Red Car passes the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, formerly the Municipal Ferry Terminal and a rare, original Art Deco classic for you architecture fans out there.

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The $1 fare will get you up and down Harbor Blvd (though days around the holiday are frequently free) as many times as you want and the line runs every 20 minutes from 10:00am to 6:00pm, Friday through Monday. There was a time when the Pacific Electric Railway was the largest interurban rail system in America. Believe it or not, you could get from San Pedro to Downtown L.A. without waiting for an uncomfortably MTA bus that probably isn’t going to show up anyway. Cars 500 and 501, the replicas, and Car 1058, the vintage car, are all representative of the early 1900s “Pacific Electric 500-class design.” They’re surprisingly comfortable – must less confined than most of the fleet of restored cars operating on San Francisco’s F-line.

And while you’re at it, hop off and check out the Maritime Museum. It’s well constructed, crammed with local artifacts representing the harbor area’s commercial fishing, general maritime, and naval history. The gift store has plenty of salty-flavored local books, art, and gifts for your last minute holiday needs. Check out their website for more information.

It’s fun. It’s history. And kids dig this kind of stuff. Enjoy the ride!

Wait, You’re Saying I Can Have Beer With My Free WiFi?

God bless America.

This month, San Pedro Brewing Company celebrates 6 years of providing my hometown with one of its few, truly cool hang-outs. And, for four of those years, it’s provided us with the only local microbrew – treating us to such delights as the Point Fermin Pale Ale, the Shanghai Red, and a Christmastime special that’s called Blitzen for a reason.
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Microbreweries seem to be all the rage these days – so much so that it’s easy to confuse them: the semi-clever names, the stock menu of bar food, the obligatory weekly entertainment. Well, not here. There’s nothing stock about SPBC’s menu, which is varied and always meticulously prepared to be more than your average burger-and-fries. My personal menu – enjoyed on my birthday for each of SPBC’s six year’s so far – Gaffey Fries to start (french fries smothered in cheese, bacon, chives, sour cream, and love), a BLT&A split with my best friend, and at least one – okay, at most one – San Pedro Iced Tea, which puts Long Island’s to shame and me in detox for the next day. It’s rich, but that’s why it’s a once a year menu.

Other nights, it’s hard to resist the grilled salmon sandwich or the house specialty: grilled Santa Maria Tri-Tip so good you could probably use it to convert even your staunchest vegetarian friends. Sound like average pub menu items? Maybe, but you need to taste them to believe them. No soggy buns here, my friends. BBQ Pulled-Pork that melts in your mouth. Bruschetta that makes you wonder how a tomato and some basil can get you to Nirvana. This sh*t is good, get it?

And as if the food and drink weren’t enough, now I find out that SPBC also has free WiFi – meaning there is NO reason not to make the drive to San Pedro (look! I’m blogging live – right here with my beer!.
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Add to all this the rotating exhibits of local artists and photographers, the inspired entertainment schedule – which now includes iPod Fridays because the owner decided the best way to figure out what customers wanted to hear was just to let them play it themselves – and SPBC fills a much needed void in San Pedro and the city generally: the true neighborhood spot that brings together some of the best we have to offer in food, entertainment, service, art, and community spirit.

Come – visit, eat, blog, drink, and be merry. Soon, James Brown (not that one, this one) will be your local hero too.

San Pedro Brewing Co. – 331 West 6th Street, San Pedro, CA 90731; (310) 831-5663; www.sanpedrobrewing.com; open for lunch and dinner daily, Sunday NFL Football Brunch at 10am; meals from $6-$15; full bar; Trojan fans might not want to wear USC colors.

Hold The Malt Vinegar

It makes the sails all soggy . . . .

Tomorrow, Oct. 1, The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium celebrates its 70th Birthday along with the Los Angeles Maritime Museum – celebrating its 25th – at an event called “Fisn’n’Ships” here in lovely – significantly cooler than wherever you are now – San Pedro:

Come celebrate CMA’s 70th and the Los Angeles Maritime Museum’s 25th Birthdays and enjoy two jewels of the sea located right in your own community treasure chest. fishnships.JPG
This FREE event will be filled with activities, games, prizes and more from 10 am – 5 pm. At 11 am join our first speaker of FCMA’s Lecture Series, CMA Director Emeritus, John Olguin, who will speak on the histories of these two great landmarks which began at the Cabrillo Beach Bathhouse. The Maritime Museum will be exhibiting special objects from their collections and will offer tours of the Angel’s Gate tugboat. . . For more celebration information call 310-548-7562. . . Shuttles will be provided to transport guests between the Museum and Aquarium. Parking is Free.

26 Miles Across The Sea

I’m hardly the first Metroblogger to make my way across the clear blue sea to Santa Catalina Island, but it’s hard to convey exactly what you’re missing if you’ve never been. Catalina’s old tourism tagline is “In All The World, No Trip Like This,” and that’s pretty much an on-the-nose assessment. There are, of course, the tourist traps and hum-drum aspects you could find in Huntington or Hermosa – but in Avalon, something is different. The calm. The sun. The wonder of passing a day in a city only about a mile square.

For me, the island’s architecture is one of its biggest draws. The iconic Casino, standing as both a sentry and a siren, houses the world’s largest free-standing, circular ballroom and one of the most stunning art deco theaters to come out of that period’s golden age.

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It’s hardly surprising that the Casino won numerous awards when it opened in 1929, but what may surprise you – or may not – is that it still functions today. Once a week, the Avalon Theatre shows almost-new movies (this week was Dukes of Hazard, next is The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and the top floor dance hall still hosts weddings and dances. Little has changed in the deco wonderland, save the replacement of some worn carpet. The biggest change awaiting the Casino, is the replacement of its 9 outdoor murals.

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Let me qualify “replacement.” The artist originally intended for the murals to be made of tiles, but a rushed construction schedule forced him to apply the art directly to the Casino’s exterior walls. Part of me was immediately worried about replacing the original works, but our tour-guide assured me that the new tile panels were accurate to within an 1/8th of an inch – and the original artist had consulted on the project, pleased that his original vision would finally be realized.

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The island’s history is long and too detailed to outline here. Suffice to say it’s been a playground for decades – at one point for most of Hollywood’s biggest stars (it has also doubled any imaginable tropic setting in the movies).

Of course, history has its time and place. If you’re lucky, you’ll spend a lot of time enjoying this view of Catalina on its (limited) beaches and (expansive) shoreline.

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Given LA’s blessed climate, Catalina probably shouldn’t even have an off season, but it does – making these waning days of summer weather the perfect time to visit. You can catch a boat from Long Beach, Dana Point, or, my pick, San Pedro. You can hit Catalina’s highlights in a well planned single day, or check out various hotel packages and make a weekend or mini-vacation out of your trip. Word to the wise – some of these pakcages are just handy totals of various accomodations, boat fare, and tours – they won’t save you anything, so do a little side research to really find a deal. Few hotels aren’t charming, however, so it’s hard to mess up that part.

For those who’d rather avoid the knick-knack shops and bars, there is spectacular camping and hiking on the island as well, usually in the company of the island’s imported bison. There are also several popular race events on the island, including the Avalon Benefit 50 Mile Run in January, Catalina Marathon, Half, 5 and 10ks, and a triathlon. But that’s another post.

Biology Schmiology

The highlights of tonight’s public hearing on San Pedro’s Bridge to Breakwater project came about halfway through when a man whose name I didn’t get (but when the transcript comes out, I’ll update this), who identified himself as a biology professor, attacked the proposal for the ideas it never considered.

When you read his ideas, you’ll accuse me of embellishing the record or just straight out lying. The teaser: how do giant bald eagle statues and hired pinnipeds sound?
Continue reading Biology Schmiology

Your Chance To Pipe Up

After years of waiting, trying for, and dreaming of a major waterfront redevelopment, it seems that San Pedrans might finally be getting what they want. At least, what most of us want.

Unfortunately, most of us are the strong, silent type.

The project, Bridge to Breakwater, will reunite Angelenos with their waterfront – giving us miles of strolling and jogging paths, planned, sensible retail and restaurant development, and tax revenue.

But, as with all great ideas, there are those who would love to see it scuttled, enemies of smart growth and community renewal. I suppose I should thank the extremely vocal project opposition. If they can just keep San Pedro less attractive a bit longer, it will help keep property values down, which will make it easier for me to buy a house when I move home after my San Francisco exile. Of course, in the meantime, the rest of the town suffers for lack of entertainment, employment, and the other amenities enjoyed by towns up and down the coast. But no matter – the opponents have their houses (far removed from the development area), so screw the rest of us.

Tonight, the Port of Los Angeles and the Army Corps of Engineers are holding a CEQA Scoping Meeting from 6:00 – 8:30pm at the Ports O’Call Restaurant, Berth 76, in the Ports O’Call Village in San Pedro. It’s the public’s opportunity to comment on the scope of the project as part of the legally required Environmental Impact Statement and Report.

Project information can be found here, here, and here.

The opponents to the project are few and vocal and the supports many and silent. If you live in San Pedro and want to see the continued, environmentally responsible, economically vital waterfront beautification continue, please drop by and share your support.

Our other opponent, sadly, may live at City Hall – since newly elected Mayor Villaraigosa seems to have it in his head – or at least has it leaked in the papers – that San Pedro has benefited tremendously to the detriment of Wilmington. That’s complete crap – we’ve all be ignored here in the Harbor for a long time. The Hahns – former Mayor Jim and sister Councilwoman Janice – have worked hard to aid the community’s growth – but they never hurt another neighborhood in the process.

Hope to see you there!

Because There Are Other Electeds Out There

And now a new one.

I know Blogging.la has a thing for Eric Garcetti, but in the interest of keeping the readership informed about other elected officials in the greater LA area, it’s time to add a new one to your list.

Today, a special election was held in the 53d Assembly District (covering the Beach Cities, parts of Torrance, and other various 310 territory). The winner – with run-off avoiding 59% margin (as of this posting) – is Democrat Ted Lieu. Lieu replaces the late Assemblyman Mike Gordon, who passed away in June.

City Sounds: In Defense of Corporate Radio. Sorta.

(I would post about idiot parking machines in Huntington Beach, but then I remembered, wait, wrong metblog – it would have to go over here. Oh well, next time.)

Driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles, one passes through several media markets and many radio stations. While the numbers change, the formats never really do, of course.

Since moving to San Francisco, I’ve yet to find a radio station suiting my taste. Some come close, but none really works, nor feels as comfortable as what I grew up with here in Los Angeles. Even if it’s crap, it’s my crap.

So when I read this post about weirdness at Star, I wondered what I’d find when I was around to hear it.
Continue reading City Sounds: In Defense of Corporate Radio. Sorta.

Assemblyman Mike Gordon Dies

Some things are just too unfair to accept easily.

After a life of public and political service, former El Segundo Mayor Mike Gordon realized a lifelong dream of being elected to the State Legislature last Winter. A few short weeks later, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Yesterday morning, at 7:12am, he died at his home, surrounded by his wife and 4 children – ranging in age from 20 to just 12.

I never had the chance to meet Assemblyman Gordon – I’d left work at the Capitol before he was elected. But I know his staff very well – they respected and genuinely like their boss very much. They were friends. Which says a lot about a legislator’s character.

Too unfair.

Dining Al Fresco At The 5 & The 41

There are several things that set Southern Californians apart. The fact that I used the definite article before the freeway number in this post’s title. My ability to weather even the worst traffic with a shrug and a vanilla ice blended. My ability not to have to weather the traffic because I know 8 alternate freeways and 4 side street routes to get me where I need to be. My appreciation of strip malls and acceptance of cell phone conversations that would seem contextually inappropriate in other cities. The fact that I grew up a 5 minute walk from the beach but hardly went (it’s enough to know it’s there, no?)

And then there’s what sets us apart when we travel: our appreciation – nay – worship – of the In-N-Out on the 5 at Kettlemen City.
Continue reading Dining Al Fresco At The 5 & The 41

Strange Bedfellows, Again

So mayoral challenger Villaraigosa picked up former mayor challenger Bob Hertzberg’s endorsement yesterday – which, given turnout in our fair city (meaning it’s a high-propensity voter’s world out there), probably means more than Magic Johnson’s thumbs-up for the former Assembly Speaker.

Hertzberg and Villaraigosa used to be political bedfellows – well, political roomfellows – sharing Sacramento digs when they were in the legislature. Then they became at-odds-fellows after a power struggle over the speakership. I guess a common cause can heal all wounds – or at least slap a big enough band-aid on them so the blood clots until after election day.

I’m still, you may have notice, from San Pedro, so I got a hometown pony in this race still . . . . but it seems uphill all the way for Hahn at this point.

I’d love to have been a fly on the wall of the Hertzberg-Villaraigosa endorsement negotiations. “Antonio, I still think you suck, and if I ever say you so much as put a dish in the dishwasher . . . ” “Bob, come on, you wanted to beat him too, and the roomie schtick is getting old – don’t you dare hug me right now, I’m trying to make a point here!”

Villaraigosa has won the political trifecta of endorsements from the big three former challengers. He still has to finish the race, though.

And: L.A. Observed has a great “Scene” from the endorsement announcement.

Lotsa Lunch, Lotsa Sunburn, a Little Freeway Phobia

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I even saw the lights on the Goodyear Blimp/And they read . . .

Sun, sun, sun – damn I love Los Angeles. Stereotypes come from somewhere, people. Exiled in always-5-degrees-too-cold San Francisco, home of my usual metblog, I am forever cursing myself on sunny days for leaving the sweater at home when I know better.

I rolled into town today – unaware that I was taking my life in my hands along the way – and couldn’t wait to get out of the car and into the sunshine. Best way to spend an afternoon – a run, some sun, some lunch, some art, and some marine mammals, then get my Pedro-centric blog on . . . I gotta say it was a good day.
Continue reading Lotsa Lunch, Lotsa Sunburn, a Little Freeway Phobia

Squirrels Gone Wild

As my time in LA winds down, I’m struck by the little things that change between my visits. Not just the usually what’s-the-new-restaurant updates or the i-can’t-believe-they-thought-that-was-a-good-rebuild architectural analysis of the neighborhood. No, this is something smaller. Literally.

Squirrels.

When I was a kid, squirrels existed only on TV or in my eagerly awaited Ranger Rick issues or, finally, in person, at summer camp up in Big Bear along with their chipmunk cousins.

Now, suddenly, there they are scampering across the Vons parking lot or merry in the park. What is up with that? I’m no ecological expert, but I think I remember hearing something about species popping up in weird places being a bad thing. Who knows. But where’d they come from? First the squirrels then what?

It’s not that I have a problem with them. I actually really like squirrels. But probably only because they were like an animal treat when I was a good – a strange foreign creature that everyone else in the country got used to but I never did. From what I hear, lots of people hate them – like they’re the furry equivalent of pigeons. Did some helpful Noah release two in Pt. Fermin Park and then – bam – squirrels everywhere? It’s like Outbreak, but with bushier tails.

Three One Uh-Oh

They’re at it again: telecom companies are lobbying for a new area code overlay – a slight change from their previous efforts to split the 310. Companies say the overlay wouldn’t occur “until it is triggered when number ‘exhaust can no longer be avoided.'”

Doesn’t take a lit major to appreciate that fun use of the passive voice.

Local electeds sent a letter urging public hearings before the 424 blankets 310 land. The Public Utilities Commission – the agency tasked with making the call on such things – is a particularly bothersome kind of bureaucratic beast. Don’t bet on it sticking up for those of us south of Imperial Highway.

Indeed, while carriers were careful to paint their proposal as beneficial to consumers, an excerpt in their filing that quotes the Federal Communications Commission makes clear who the carriers are really trying to aid — themselves.

“Unavailability of numbers, or an inefficient allocation of available numbers, could prevent or discourage consumers from taking new services,” the filing reads. “Thus, the timely implementation of area code relief is essential if new providers are to enter and new services are to appear in the telecommunications marketplace.”

But Knabe, Harman and Gordon counter that the current system for counting number inventories is “rife with inconsistency and manipulation, and provides inadequate consumer protections.”

“Consumers neither have confidence in what the carriers represent nor do they have adequate means to evaluate carrier representations,” the trio wrote. “Without an objective means of defining the inventories carriers may maintain and established guidelines for consistent inventory management, there can be no agreement on the ‘trigger’ itself.”

Having worked for state government, I know full well the power of big utilities (no pun intended). But it seems like this kind of crap could be legislated away, doesn’t it? They aren’t out of numbers – even with our massive population and the tribble-like propagation of cell phones.

And while it’s true that, for many, the cell phone is the primary (if not only) number – and with cell phones area codes and numbers generally are obsolete since we’re usually calling “Bob A.” and not “213-555-5555” – someday, we might have enough money to own a home here and actually want a landline.

And it’s a status thing. You know it is.

Save the 310!