All posts by Helen Jupiter

I love LA!

Lost Ducks in Miracle Mile

Do you, or someone you know, have a duck pond in the Miracle Mile area? Did you, or someone you know, lose a mama duck and her 11 ducklings? Because as I was just walking up Genesee toward 8th (north of Olympic), I happened upon the gang trying to cross the street. The ducklings are tiny, maybe a week old–definitely not anywhere close to being able to fly. We can’t figure out where they came from, other than possibly someone’s backyard. Animal services has been called, but don’t anticipate arriving for at least two hours.  The ducks are here.

Does Ed Boks Hate Puppies?

I have a pretty strong stomach. I can handle roller coasters, the open sea, and blood, and while the smell of vomit slows me down, it doesn’t knock me over. But this has me frighteningly close to blowing chunks. As “Not An Animal Activist” passionately posted, “The first quarter 2008 numbers are out. Sadly there was a huge increase in cat and dog intake and euthanasia in Los Angeles City animal shelters. Things are now worse than before Antonio Villaraigosa became Mayor, before he hired his friend so called “nokill” guru Ed Boks to head the Department. Today his Director released a statement confirming his dismal performance while blaming others for his failure.”

Dismal performance, indeed. Boks admits to increases in intake and euthanasia on his blog, writing that “we at LA Animal Services are as disappointed with these results as are our critics.” Okay–I guess disappointment is one of the feelings inspired by the news that as of now, euthanasia has gone up 24% since last year, and intake 20%. Better adjectives to describe the range of emotion I’m feeling include outrage, helplessness, and sorrow.

In an analytical rant, “Not An Animal Activist” blames Boks’s “numbers games” and propensity for “warehousing” animals for the surge in intake and euthanasia. Read it and weep, then tell me what the hell to do. As it is I give my time and money to a no kill shelter. What next?

Meanwhile, Boks writes that “marketing is not our strong suit at the moment. We don’t have a public relations staff, nor do we have a volunteer coordinator at the moment to run our mobile adoption program.” Why not? This is Los Angeles. There are a lot of creative, passionate, animal-loving people here with free time and experience in public relations and marketing. Surely Boks could find one, or two, or five to share the volunteer duties of running a mobile adoption program and marketing older, bigger dogs. So, why isn’t it happening? Boks is supposed to provide leadership, not vom-inducing excuses.

Getting “Discovered” in LA

Ganymede makes his Funny or Die debutMany moons ago, when I was in my early twenties, I got “discovered” while pumping gas. A slimy guy in a three piece suit told me I had “spunk,” asked if I’d ever done any “acting,” gave me his card, and told me to call him when I was “ready.” Man, I wish I still had that card. In any case, it was my dog who got discovered yesterday, while we were taking a walk in the neighborhood. A trio of Funny or Die filmmakers were shooting a sketch that involved a dog. Seeing as how they didn’t actually have a dog, JP Manoux, the man behind the camera, politely asked if he could borrow mine.

Suddenly I was a stage mother blinded by ambition.

“Of course!” I said, all but throwing Ganymede’s leash at actors Brooke Lenzi and Charlie Weirauch.

Here’s Ganymede’s official debut. I think you’ll all agree that he’s a born star. Oh, and that the sketch, filmed on Spaulding in Miracle Mile and called “Amazing,” is pretty darn funny.

Because I haven’t already linked to it enough times, you can watch it here.

Talented Dog? Enroll Your Pup in a Charitable Talent Competition

winner07.jpgSo, you taught her how to sit pretty, speak, and shake. Now what do you do with your well-mannered mutt? Talent competition, obviously! Non-profit dog rescue group Life4Paws is hosting their first annual “Spring Follies” event on Saturday, April 19, and if you register by the 10th, you can enter your prancing pup in a dog talent competition. Hosted in Van Nuys, the “fun-filled musical, masquerade extravaganza” will also include “a costume parade, dancing, face painting and kid friendly activities, flyball demonstrations, food, vendors, prizes, information booths and much more.” Competition winners will receive prizes, but all proceeds from the event will be split between Life4Paws and the Daphneyland Sanctuary, an Acton-based Basset rescue.

Hilarious pic from

Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale: They’re Just Like Us!

During my freshman year of college in Oregon, I brought a friend home for his first-ever LA visit. He told me he’d be satisfied if he saw one of two things: A hooker, or a celebrity. I’m proud to say that I was able to produce both. (Courtney Cox was the celebrity, and this was during the height of the Friends craze, so it was pretty spectacular. She looked hot, and actually talked to us for a little while. My friend, who was from Scappoose, Oregon, was totally thrilled.) I’m definitely not a starf*cker, and I’ve lived in this city long enough to be decidedly unfazed by celebrity sightings. That said, there’s always something slightly amusing about encountering recognizable personalities in real life. It’s this strange collision of fantasy and reality, illusion and truth. In any case, today’s encounter was cute. My man and I walked the dog over to the La Brea Tar Pits park, where we immediately encountered a handful of paparazzi shooting a couple with a baby exiting the Page Museum.

“Who is that?” I asked Charlie Cox, resident musician there.

“Gwen and Gavin,” replied the somewhat smug couple standing with him.

“Oh,” we said, and continued on across the park, where we started kicking a soccer ball around.

A few minutes later, the paparazzi had joined us, and my man was saying hello to someone behind me. Continue reading Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale: They’re Just Like Us!

Good Food and Bad Games: The Shojin and Japan Arcade

imgbentobox200.jpgOkay, okay–so the games aren’t that bad, and there is something sort of cool about Japanese bootlegs which repeatedly remind you how it’s illegal for them to be played outside of Japan, but let’s be honest: This post is all about The Shojin. Ahh, the Shojin. A brand-spanking new, vegan Japanese restaurant on the third level of the Little Tokyo Shopping Center. LAist posted about it a couple of weeks ago, and I had to check it out. The restaurant feels totally out of place on the third floor of a fluorescently barren mall. It’s cozy and comfortable, with soft, warm lighting and mellow, earthy tones. Classy touch: They offered me a small basket to put my bag in, so it wouldn’t have to sit on the floor. They don’t have their liquor license yet, but they’re working on it. They do, however, have something called the “Detox” drink. A mix of cane juice, ginger, cayenne pepper, and ice water, the cleansing cocktail is both sweet and hot, and I could’ve sworn it had some kind of buzzy effect. My waitress insisted that it was very good for the heart. Generally speaking, the food was Good. Not great, but Good. Though I didn’t want to (“Let’s try something we’ve never had before…”), I did try their Japanese curry at the behest of my companions. I was glad I did: Unlike other Japanese curries I’ve had, this one was made from scratch and absolutely delicious. The things they do with seitan are very tasty indeed (they describe one of their bento boxes as “gorgeousness”), and the chocolate cake was damn good. I was with a couple who had never had “vegan food” before (that always makes me giggle), and they seemed to really enjoy it. With an ever-changing menu and lots of promise, The Shojin is definitely a do-over.

The Shojin

333 S. Alameda St. Suite 310

(Little Tokyo Shopping Center 3F)

Los Angeles, CA 90013

LMU to Become World Market

assetfactory.jpegI was enjoying yet another delicious dinner at Rahel on Fairfax last night, when the flyer to the right caught my eye. This Saturday night, March 29, Wole Soyinka—President’s Professor in Residence for the Marymount Institute (not to mention writer, poet, playwright, and Nobel Literature Laureate)—will be directing a performance piece based on his poem “Samarkand.”

The event, which will take place in the Sunken Garden and is free and open to the public, will “capture the market imagery from Soyinka’s book of poems titled Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known. The market will be complete with international merchants, performances of all kinds, and staged readings by accomplished international actors, including Danny Glover, CCH Pounder, and Michael Learned.”

I’m pretty bummed out that previous obligations will keep me from attending. If you go, post your review in comments.

Click for more details.

Continue reading LMU to Become World Market

Bangladesh Day Parade March 29-30

442985204_54fcbc37f0.jpgI love cultural festivals, because it always means being introduced to new sights, sounds, and tastes. As we all know, Los Angeles is home to many different communities, such as the approximately 50,ooo Bangladeshi-Americans who live in the city. This coming weekend, they’ll hold their second annual “Bangladesh Day Celebration with Parade,” which is really a weekend-long festival featuring stuff like authentic food and music, cultural programs, parades, speeches, and dancing. Curious about Bangla music? This is your chance to hear popular singer Momtaz (who has an awesome voice) perform live. The event is being organized by the Bangladesh Unity Federation of Los Angeles and taking place at the Shatto Rec Center and on Vermont.

Small, Old Electronics & Ink Cartridges? Stick ’em in Yr Mailbox.

blue_mailbox_2.jpgThis is super cool and long overdue: Los Angeles is part of a pilot program launched yesterday, called “Mail Back.”  In an effort to help people discard used or obsolete small electronics and cartridges in an environmentally responsible way, the program provides free, postage-paid envelopes for mailing back “inkjet cartridges, PDAs, Blackberries, digital cameras, iPods and MP3 players.” There’s absolutely no cost to the customer, and the items are recycled. The Mail Back envelopes are available at displays in Post Office lobbies, and if the pilot program proves successful, it could go national this fall.

The program was launched by the U.S. Postal Service and is being paid for by Clover Technologies Group, “a nationally recognized company that recycles, remanufactures and remarkets inkjet cartridges, laser cartridges and small electronics. If the electronic item or cartridges cannot be refurbished and resold, its component parts are reused to refurbish other items, or the parts are broken down further and the materials are recycled.”

$1 for Tap Water in LA Restaurants?

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

Who’s Poisoning Cats in My Neighborhood? These signs started showing up in my neighborhood, centered around Curson and 8th, a few days ago. They read: “This neighborhood is being watched. Maliciously neglecting, harming, killing or poisoning an animal can be charged as a felony and may carry a penalty of one year or more in state prison and/or a $20,000 fine. California Penal Code Section 597a.”

I called the number listed to find out what happened, and was told that six feral cats had been being fed morning and night by a neighbor. Recently, a man who lives nearby threatened to kill them. Now only one cat remains, and some sources are claiming that the rest have been poisoned. Rumor is that the dosage was low enough to result in long and painful deaths. The Stray Cat Alliance sent the signs out, and anyone with information is urged to come forward.

However you feel about feral cats, poisoning them is not the answer.

Safe After Dark and Beautiful to Behold

One of the very cool things about growing up in Los Angeles was the sense I had, from an early age, that I was living in two dimensions simultaneously: One real, one myth. I always enjoyed the awareness that beyond my standard, day-to-day experience at home and at school, the city was steeped in legend and colored by the perceptions of each person who had came here in search of their own fairy tale. Every once in a while, I’ll see something that injects that old awareness of the city’s duality into my chest. Most recently, it was Chris Burden’s Urban Light outdoor installation at LACMA. More about the installation and a few extra pics after the jump.
Continue reading Safe After Dark and Beautiful to Behold