It’s Some Sort Of Bust, Or Something

cops!

I got home from work today to find three…no, wait…five…no…SIX police cars quietly parked outside one of the small multi-unit buildings across the street. In the front yard, a few cops were minding four guys in handcuffs. The rest of the police were just kind of milling about, half-assedly glancing in the recycle bins out front. and leaning on their cars.

Of course I was curious as to what the hell was going on. Was I about to wander over and ask? No. I doubted I’d get an answer, and besides, those cops looked busy! Busy…hanging out. Where was the sense of urgency? Where was the combing of the premises? I don’t expect every cop raid to look like TV, but even grow-op busts in Vancouver are less laid back than this! Did I miss all the action before I got home, and, if so, why were there still so many police and cars around? And what the hell was the LAPD helicopter circling around for? I’m used to hearing the helicopter doing a nightly sweep of the area, but that’s usually after dark.

Hopefully, the story will surface on a police website, or a local paper, or something, so I can find out what terrible crime merited six cop cars in a residential neighborhood. Any suggestions?

Another photo after the jump

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Do Not Rent Your House To This Man

Bret Michaels I think we all learned a valuable lesson this week:

Do not rent your nine million dollar mansion to this aging rocker/reality star. Or, for that matter, to anyone from 51 Minds/Mindless Entertainment. The production company behind many VH1 crap-a-thons seems to have thoroughly messed up the Encino mansion they rented for two months to shoot Rock of Love II. And not in the “someone put a bra down the trash disposal” way, but the “walls are missing” way. The lawsuit, filed in LA Superior Court on April 2nd, specifically refers to removal of walls and doors, the painting of flaming hearts and pink stripes on walls, and deliberately allowing the landscaping to die. (Which, again, could have been the girls pouring their Malibu-and-cokes into the cactus garden. You never know)

Damage estimates are at $380,000 And the punchline is that, according to the lawsuit, the producers had no intention of purchasing the insurance policy they assured the plaintiff they would purchase, to cover any damage done to the house. So the defendants attempted to blame Bret Michaels himself, saying that they did not know what the house occupants might have been doing while alone in the house. Again, hard to do $380K worth of damage, even loaded on “Bret Brew”. So I guess the moral of this story is not so much, “do not rent to Bret”, but “do not rent to production companies”. Let this be a warning to you all with multi-million dollar mansions.

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Why Yes, It Was Tsunami Awareness Week

OK, show of hands: who here knew it was Tsunami Awareness Week? Well, it was, from last Sunday through yesterday. But the live tsunami awareness testing was done in Humboldt County. Which would make sense if Crescent City, the town wiped out in 1964 by a tsunami, was in that county. It isn’t. Crescent City is in Del Norte county. I wonder if the Governator knew that?

Additionally, there is NO easily located information on the state Office of Emergency Services webpage which deals with tsunami awareness/preparedness. This is in direct conflict with a 2005 Tsunami Findings report that the state completed after the 2004 disaster in Southeast Asia. The 2005 report says that “Californians are not adequately educated about tsunamis and the risk they pose; consequently, many are unaware how to respond to natural or official tsunami warnings.” Has this changed in the last three years? Has anyone in L.A., or the more at-risk areas outside the bay, seen more efforts on education or preparedness?

Anyways. It is worth checking out the 2005 Tsunami Findings report, if only to see the photos put in for added impact of tsunami damage. It is doubtful that a wave would ever hit Los Angeles. But if it did, how aware are we?

Red Cross Training With A Really Local Instructor

Because we are expecting, the husband and I went down to the Red Cross on Saturday for a full day of CPR and first aid fun. We got to practice on those little baby practice mannequins and everything. Now we feel much more prepared to have a small child.

But the really entertaining part of the day was that the class was taught by a lifelong Los Angeles resident, who had spent most of his adult life working for the city – and as an usher at Dodger Stadium. Here is some of the wisdom we picked up from his experiences with L.A.:

1) Don’t throw paper airplanes at Dodger Stadium. They tend to spiral down and always manage to hit an old person in the eye. And that old person is usually carrying snacks and drinks up the stairs.

2) Similarly, getting drink to the point of puking outside the Dodger Stadium elevators can result in a five-person pileup of floor slipping when the elevator discharges its passengers

3) There are gophers in Highland Park. These gophers bite. That can result in rabies shots.

4) Always obey the safety rules at work, and don’t be like those guys at the Hyperion plant who went into an empty tank without using the blowers first, and ended up passing out in it from fumes.

But we also learned some really important things about emergency services in Los Angeles, including:

5) It is a really good idea to be prepared to be on your own for at least 2 – 3 days if a major earthquake hits. (The State of CA has lots of info on this)

5) Remember that it takes about 3 – 5 minutes for paramedics to show up in the City of Los Angeles. But when they get there, if you are performing CPR, they will just shove you out of the way.

A full day of Red Cross training – Adult & Infant CPR and First Aid – is only $65. Hilarious anecdotes about living in Los Angeles for fifty-some years are free.

4’33 at REDCAT

When I first heard the story of 4’33 in a college electronic composition class, I loved it. There was something about the concept of a musical piece being made out of the sounds present in the absence of an instrument that fascinated me. Also, John Cage used to put together compositions out of pieces of audiotape based on the I, Ching.

4’33, and its subsequent lineage, is being honored at REDCAT this week. The “unique concert from CalArts Experimental Music Workshop” (link goes to lengthy, educational description page) is happening on Friday, 3/21.  This is the auditory equivalent of MOCA, and I think it will be fascinating just to see how an unorthodox concept in an art evokes reaction and interpretation.  It is even more interesting in that experimental music must be interpreted differently by each person who reproduces it, and is impossible to perform without reflecting the artist playing it.

Anyways.  4’33 is being honored on Friday,  downtown.  There you go.

Welcome to Los Angeles, Esteemed Guest!

I spent an hour last night writing a letter to our wedding guests, who will start arriving in Southern California in about 48 hours. We suggested Pasadena to our guests because it was the closest hotel zone to the venue – not counting downtown. We were NOT letting our relatives from Pittsburgh stay in downtown L.A., for fear they would take a wrong turn and end up in the third world slum that is Skid Row. In Pasadena, they can’t really go to a bad part of town because there isn’t one I know of.

Anyways, the letter was the usual stuff – welcome to Pasadena, here’s where you can find stuff. Here’s the letter we WANTED to write. And didn’t.

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Finding Pre-Natal Classes: Part Two

So a couple of weeks ago, a holistic birth options class at Love the Belly just disappeared. I wrote emails and left phone messages, hoping for a reschedule, and finally settled for a refund I only got after opening a dispute with PayPal. Damn hippies.

And so, we decided to just go the “traditional” route, and sign up for four Sundays worth of classes at Cedars Sinai instead. Which start in April. Additional plus is that we also get a tour of the maternity area, which is good, because otherwise, I’d probably get lost while trying to figure out where to go. I was down there last weekend with Heathervescent when we took one of her friends in for a go-go-boot related injury (long story), and sort of noted where the maternity wing PROBABLY was, but I’m pretty sure it’s a smarter idea to take a tour with my baby daddy present.

Does anyone have any feedback on the Cedars classes? Or on the experience in general? I mean, the regular, person experience, not the celebrity experience. By the way, is it just me, or is the whole concept of a $2,000 a day maternity suite just so L.A. and over the top?

Getting Married = Shockingly Easy

Note I say, “getting married”, not “having a wedding”. The fiance and I took Friday off so we could run errands related to the upcoming nuptials. Specifically, we wanted to get the marriage license done. I’d heard tales of Sitting For Hours In County Clerk Offices, so I was prepared to make sacrifices.

Turns out, that wasn’t necessary. I filled out the application online, and then we drove out to East L.A. to the nearest County Clerk office. After waiting in line for 15 minutes, in a queue of mothers with babies getting birth certificates, the clerk pulled up our application, printed it, had us sign it, and sent us on our way with an envelope full of paperwork. All we need to do now is get the form signed by an officiant and witnesses, and we’re married. Total time? Ten minutes at home, twenty minutes at the clerk’s office. The whole thing was done with time to spare for lunch at Oomasa in Little Tokyo. (No raw fish in my condition, unfortunately – I just really wanted a shrimp tempura roll.)

The moral of the story is: I have no idea how long it takes to get a marriage license without the online app process, but thanks to the power of the Internets, we didn’t have to find out. Thanks, L.A. County, for making it a little easier to get hitched. If only they could juggle my wedding vendors for me too.

Are Wet Feet Worth It For Home’s Cooking?

We often go to movies at the Los Feliz 3. It’s a five-minute drive up Vermont (not counting parking time), it has $4.50 weekend matinees, and it’s relatively small and clean. Plus, it’s still running Juno. But because we were going for lunch beforehand, I did some Yelp-ing, and found Home Restaurant a few blocks away on Hillhurst. And, upon reading that their specialty burger was a tofu burger – not a garden patty burger, but a tofu burger – I picked it as the place to check out while we were at the movies. Last time, it was Superbad and Fred 62, which, while not bad, would probably be better at 1am than it was at 2pm.
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Missing: One Holistic Childbirth Workship

About a month ago, I signed up for a class on holistic birth options at Love the Belly in Silverlake. There are a lot of options out there, after all, and I was curious as to which holistic methods, and in what degrees of extremity, might be suitable for myself and my baby daddy. Hence, the “Holistic Birth Options Workshop”, so we could learn more about which methods – and potential classes – we should be learning more about and signing up for before we go to Cedars-Sinai in mid-June to deliver.

I signed up for the class online and paid the $32.48 (with tax) via PayPal for the 90 minute session. And then today, we drove up to Silverlake, full of questions and anticipation. Where we found Love the Belly – closed. And locked. Puzzling, but maybe it was just because we were late, maybe everyone else was inside already, with the door locked behind them?

Just as I was about to suggest that, a woman with keys to the building came in, letting us into the lobby in the process. And all the lights were off, and it was totally dead inside – no sign of people, much less a workshop. I checked the website on my Blackberry to see if we were supposed to be at a different venue, but no – we had read the website correctly the first time. So we left, and came home, and wondered – WTF? Was it that no-one else signed up and the class was cancelled? Why wasn’t I ever contacted, by the email or phone I provided? Especially when this operation had the chance to sell me more services – more classes, spa services, all kinds of things?

We’re still kind of puzzled, actually. Does anyone have any other suggestions for pre-natal workshops and classes in the Silverlake area? Preferably someplace that remembers when they’re supposed to have a workshop?

Remember That Homeless Guy That Hospital Dumped?

Yeah, well, he actually filed a lawsuit last Thursday. Gabo Olvera, the homeless man unceremoniously dumped at Skid Row last year is suing Hollywood Presbyterian for for negligence and elder abuse, with the help of advocacy organization Public Counsel. Olvera is one of about fifty reported incidents that have taken place in the last twelve months, of homeless people being dumped by hospitals. But Olvera, a paraplegic, was dumped off in Skid Row without a wheelchair – only a soiled gown and a colostomy bag, and was found crawling along the pavement with his paperwork in his mouth. An especially callous touch: witnesses claim that the driver of the van stopped to apply makeup before driving off.

This isn’t the first lawsuit on the subject in L.A. In May, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, settled a lawsuit involving the dumping of another patient by agreeing to find shelter places for all patients it discharges in Los Angeles. According to Reuters, “Hollywood Presbyterian said in a statement in May it would adopt similar protocols, but lawyers for Olvera said the hospital had failed to do so.”

Really, I just think it makes L.A. look even worse, like it is some sort of Blade Runner dystopia where the handicapped are left to die in the streets. But is it all the hospitals fault? Where are the resources for long-term care for those who are physically unable to care for themselves? These examples of dumping are above and beyond ridiculousness, but what options do the hospitals have if no shelter spaces are available? Obviously, a good start would be releasing patients with a donated wheelchair, clothes and a blanket – but maybe this lawsuit & any others like it will help the Skid Row charities get the support they need to help the hospitals with the outpatients that no-one comes to pick up.

MySpace Suicide Case Moves To L.A.

A few weeks ago on CNN, I was struck by a story of a Missouri teenager who committed suicide over MySpace communications. A neighbor mother (who is obviously the World’s Most Immature Mom) posed as a fictional sixteen year old boy to harass a thirteen year old girl, and her last mean-spirited messages are credited with pushing Megan Meier over the edge into hanging herself.

This isn’t about the case itself though, so much as the novel way it is being handled, here in L.A. The Times reported earlier this week that the case is being tried as fraud, here in Los Angeles, with MySpace as the victim. Prosecutors in Missouri couldn’t find a way to prosecute Lori Drew, so prosecutors here are trying to nail her with “defrauding the MySpace social networking website by allegedly creating the false account… [using] federal wire fraud and cyber fraud statutes.” This opens up a whole legally fascinating can of worms, regarding pseudo-identities on the Internet. The Times quotes Laurie Levenson, from Loyola law school, who remarked that an indictment “could raise 1st Amendment issues and questions about how to fairly enforce such a law on the Internet.”

I agree that this could set a much bigger precedent than just punishing a bored suburban mom for tormenting a kid. Would every MySpace false identity start being tried in L.A. courts? How would any of this apply to anonymous bloggers, or bloggers who write under false identity? It could end up a defining legal case for the Internet, something that college students study in constitutional law years from now. And is it really worth using the L.A. legal system to try this Missouri case? I can’t wait to see how it plays out.

Is Los Angeles Made of Papier-Mache?

22190936.jpg Is this city made of papier-mache? Because it seems like a lot of it got very crumbly this weekend. Especially the roads. I went over many a pothole this morning between Rossmore and Highland on 3rd, on my commute to work. The far right side of the road has suddenly developed a bad case of missing road chunks. It was more than a bit surprising, all these mini-sinkholes on the road.

What’s the rain damage like in the rest of the city? Has anyone else seen any new crazy potholes open up?

Doublechecking End Of Year Donations

For those of you making those last minute tax writeoff donations, but who are not quite sure where the money should go, here are a couple of resources – and Los Angeles charities – to consider.

1) If you are approached by a charity, and want to know if they are legitimate, you can check Guidestar, which confirms a charity’s status and lists their basic info.

2) CharityNavigator was featured on Lifehacker today. This is where I looked up the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank, where food levels are down 11% from last year. It’s been a tough year for many people, which has resulted in more demand and less supply, so this is a really excellent place to donate. Also, an amazing 97% of the income goes to the actual program.

3) I also looked up Midnight Mission downtown in Skid Row, and found out that a full 80.4% of their income is dedicated to the program.

Hey, I’m totally with El Chavo on the giving all year long idea, but I also know a lot of people are looking for a quick, last minute, 2007 tax writeoff. If you have another favorite local charity that you’d like to recommend, post it in the comments.

Long Beach Airport Has Limited Hours

Terminalsm.jpgLong Beach Airport. It’s adorable in a charming, Art Deco way, right down to the airline desk signs. It’s so cute that, as you fly in, it almost looks like something made out of Duplo blocks, a building-block airport. What is NOT cute is that Long Beach doesn’t open quite early enough. Not even for holidays. We couldn’t figure out if the shuttle from the offsite parking was running when we arrived at 4:30 (in THEORY it was, but it was nowhere to be seen).
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