Take A Hike To An Unsung POV

I’m one of 17 hiking and mountainbiking members of the newly formed Trail Safety Patrol volunteer program implemented by Glendale whose mission beginning early next year is to serve as ambassadors for the city’s Community Services & Parks Department and work in conjunction with Glendale police and fire in providing for and promoting an enjoyable experience for all visitors to its open spaces.

Though I’ve been riding in the Verdugos for all 22-years of the mountaingbiking portion of my life, there are trails in the adjacent San Rafael Hills we’ve been tasked to patrol I’ve never put tire tread to and I’m familiarizing myself with them in advance of our start date. Two weekends ago I rolled the Ridge Motorway, and last Sunday found me on the Valle Vista Motorway located on the ridge between the 134 Freeway an Glenoaks Canyon. I want to highly recommend both if they were as previously unknown to you as they were to me. But of the two, the latter offers the most awesome visual award.

Here’s the flat version of a 360-degree panorama I took of the scenery and of my fellow mountainbiking patrolers from the trail’s western overlook above the 2/134 interchange (biggification enabled when clicked).

A rotating, interactive version of the pano image is viewable here.

The trail (route mapped here) is accessible from the upper end of Sleepy Hollow Drive off of Glenoaks Boulevard. At less than one-mile in length, the payoff found at the end far exceeds the output required to get to it, although there are some steeply graded sections of the fire road to scale as it rolls along.

 

Pondering The Transponder: Sell Your Soul, Pay The Toll

Following Frazgo’s November 9 post announcing the somewhat chagrin-filled arrival of toll lanes that have now turned a stretch of the 110 Freeway (and soon part of the 10 Freeway) into a Costway, I whatthehell’d it and decided to drink the koolaid and go get myself outfitted with one of the required tracking devices so my vehicular movements and non-movements could be monitored by 24/7 by the MTA and Caltrans, AAA via a combination of roadway implant receivers and suborbital satellites. Oops! Sorry!! My inherent schizoid-based distrust of any transmitters forced upon us by the government is showing. Let me zip that up. What I really meant to call the technology was “The completely harmless and entirely loveable Metro Expresslane FasTrak Transponder.”

Anyway, it’s not like I really need one. I’m rarely on the 110 and even rarer in its HOV lanes so my initial reaction was basically “fuck that bullshit” followed by about eight exclamation points.

Then my resolve weakened when the doomsday scenario occurred to me that there might come that anxiety-ridden day when I’m stuck southbound on the gridlocked Harbor coming through Exposition Park, 149 hopeless minutes away from a flight at LAX that’s leaving in 91 minutes. At that moment somewhere in a bunker deeeeeeeep under the city an MTA operative monitoring my biometric activity being sent via the chip embedded in the TAP card in my wallet smiled and told a failsafe colleague “We’ve almost got another one!”

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Another CicLAvia, Another HandlebarCam Timelapse

Not to take away from the awesomeness of today’s CicLAvia, but there will never be one as supremely magical as the first one, two years ago. Even if it can never be topped, I still get out with my trusty GoPro cam mounted to my handlebar and participate whenever the next edition rolls around, and today’s was no exception.

So without further adieu, here’s the timelapse vid of me riding in from Silver Lake and then casually roll every inch of the 9.5 mile route from MacArthur Park to Exposition Park, back to downtown, then to Boyle Heights, back downtown, then up  into Chinatown and through downtown and to MacArthur Park (about 21 miles total over three hours):

Endeavor Over Silver Lake

I’d originally planned to bike up to the Observatory and hike to the top of Mt. Hollywood for a nice vantage point of the shuttle as it did its Los Angeles flyover this morning, but I instead opted just to park a rickety old adirondack chair up on the apex of our steeply pitched Silver Lake roof and camp out there with a camera. And not fall down.

Low and behold, at high noon, that blessed spacebird flew into view atop her trusty 747 transport and accompanied by two fighter jet escorts and literally arced around my gleeful self as if the pilots  saw me and said to hell with the Observatory let’s give THAT GUY over their in the chair on that roof a treat.

Of course I hastily snapped off a few frames as I sat gape-mouthed in awe of her relative proximity, the best of which is below when she’s west from me across Silver Lake gulch and over the Micheltorena Ridge and banking southeast to go to downtown. Just awesome (click to enlargify):

PS. I also set up a timelapse cam beside me to autosnap me up on the roof snapping the shuttle, after the jump…

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It Caught My Eye: Arts District Angel

Because of whatever often-fleeting eye candy I might chance upon when venturing forth into the urban arena, I rarely leave home without some sort of photographic documentation device in hand — and that goes double whenever I find myself in the Arts District south and east of downtown. Case in point, discovered near the 6th Street Bridge and signed by what looks to be “dreb” near her left hip (click to enlargify):

Bamboo Charlie, Rest In Peace

http://youtu.be/SCUKzjBeBMA

I was seriously  saddened to read in today’s LA Times that Charles Ray Walker (aka Bamboo Charlie) was found dead August 26. I first learned of him and the wonderful Boyle Heights space he transformed a couple years ago:

From the LA Times story today by Hector Becerra:

What Walker did, over two decades, was turn something grim into a wonderland garden of edibles and toys. He grew fruits and vegetables on bare slopes. He took discarded toys and whimsical signs and decorated terraces and elaborate stairwells he carved out of the dirt. He built a shack, and under the cool shade of a tree, a home entertainment room with a television set and sofa.

I’d always meant to go there and say hello. Now it’s too late for that. Now, all I can do is go and pay my respects.

‘Tis The [Football] Season

During the course of college football seasons I’m inevitably greeted with several variations on the WTF theme when it’s discovered that this Los Angeles native’s lifelong, rabid and deathless team allegiance isn’t to the Trojans of USC or the Bruins of UCLA, but rather the Crimson Tide of the University of Alabama.

The short answer is that my mother’s an alum. The longer answer is that whilst I was growing up she pretty much worshiped Bama’s legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and thus by familial fanmosis, did I as well. So much so that my dream during high school was to attend Alabama and play for Bryant, but that all fell apart when he retired during my senior year and then died not more than a couple months later.

Since then, through thick and thin I’ve been content to be the Tide’s self-appointed West Coast representative, so to speak. It’s a lonely job. I was pretty much the only one in town cheering them on when they capped their undefeated 1992 season with the National Championship over Miami. I was in the stands at the Rose Bowl in 2000 when they came for a visit and UCLA spanked them but hard. And these last few years I’ve reveled in the glories they’ve achieved under Coach Nick Saban. If you don’t believe I take this shit too seriously just drive by my house during any televised Bama game on Saturdays and I guarantee you won’t have to linger too long until I rumble out an ultra-loud “Rooooolll Tiiiiiiide!” My wife’ll tell you. The neighbors, too.

You’ve probably been wondering  over the last couple paragraphs what does all that have to do with? And the bridge to that answer is after the jump.

The thing is, as a contributor to Blogging.la coming up on almost 10 years now, I’ve ended up on a variety of PR lists. One of the most recent pitches I found in my inbox was for the Dog-E-Glow (Facebook / Twitter) line of LED- embedded pet collars and leashes. More specifically, the email pointed out the company’s brand new licensed College Collection, one of which was — you guessed it: Alabama.

So of course I wrote back a lengthy reply that basically boiled down to “Gimme! Gimme! Roll Tide! Want!” And in exchange for them sending me a Bama collar and leash combo (pictured at right, biggable if clicked), I promised I’d pimp my beloved Ranger by making her game-day ready for the Tide’s season opener this evening (5 p.m., ABC) against Michigan, show her off here (like so below), and spread a little love about the company and the product in case you want one for your pooch.

Lights Off (left). Lights On (right). Good girl, Ranger!

Fort Lauderdale, Fla-based Dog-E-Glow was founded by dog and outdoors lovers who above all wanted to keep their pets and others’ safe while looking their very best. The collars and leashes come in 12 fashion designs and 48 (and growing) college brands, and feature a flexible LED tube sewn into each ballistic nylon product whose lights are bright, long-lasting and visible for up to 1,000 feet at night. The collars and leashes are weather resistant, fully adjustable, and have two settings: steady and blinking. At the Dog-E-Glow website, the collars sell for $25.99, the leashes $29.99.

Oh and: Roll Tide!

Urban Exploration: Inside The 7th Street Bridge

One of the oldest spans across the Los Angeles River, the 7th Street Bridge dates back to 1910 when the at-grade version included two-sets of trolley tracks. It quickly became one of the most congested ways across the river and by the late 1920s it was decided that rather than demolish the entire structure, a second level would be built on top giving it a double-decker appearance and allowing traffic to move freely without being impeded by any freight trains traveling  through.

Ever since I first noticed that open but inaccessible lower level of the 7th Street Bridge about eight years ago, I’ve wondered what it’s like inside, and my curiosity only increased a couple years ago when LA River advocate Joe Linton found a way in and wrote about it on his blog LA Creek Freak. It again was piqued a few months ago when the news hit that there are plans in the very early stages to convert the space to an open-air market.

During a visit paid to the bridge last summer while on one of my riverbed rides, I couldn’t figure out how Linton got up there, and I had pretty much reconciled that the space was to remain off limits to me — until a couple weeks ago, when an acquaintance of Linton’s contacted me out of the blue and said she knew how he got in and would I be game to try. Of course I would, I said.

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It Caught My Eye: Under The Bridge

Certainly not THAT bridge. Nowhere near the one Anthony Keidis sings of drawing blood and giving his life away. But a bridge’s under nonetheless — in this case the one that carries Sunset Boulevard over Silver Lake Boulevard — that the majority of passers-through traverse safely installed within the confines of vehicles. Perhaps there’s a scant percentage of those commuters who know that it was designed by none other than Los Angeles bridge-building master (and unsung LA hero) Merrill Butler, constructed in 1932 and was declared Historic-Cultural Monument No. 236 in 1981.

Since it’s in my neighborhood, I travel beneath it on foot or by bike pretty regularly. It’s often more foreboding than friendly, but that’s precisely why I venture through… to keep a claim on it. That, and it’s got some nice Romanesque architectural details (groined vault arches, FTW) that go otherwise unnoticed.

Another thing that would otherwise go unseen is a recent addition from Caché (pronounced cat-chay), my favorite muralist, famed around these here parts of LA’s Upside for his prolific chickens. This one, painted simply on the inside of the column in the deepest darkest part of the bridge (shown at right, too dark to capture in the above panorama) is nothing less than a pleasant surprise, a bit of whimsy in a serious place, a ray of light in the shadows. A hidden caché, if you will.

Back To The Future: The Turtles @ Grand Park

In retro-honor of Wednesday’s opening of the first segment of the long-awaited Grand Park, which will eventually span a 12-acre corridor between City Hall and the Music Center, let’s go back 47 years earlier to November 1965 with The Turtles singing “You Baby” at the west end then of what’s now this latest addition to downtown’s renaissance. Dick Clark, take it away:

(h/t LAObserved)

Los Angeles Plaza Historic District In 1869

Happy 4th of July! Being a sucker for historic images of our city, I just had to share the following two exquisite views of Main Street, La Placita Church and the historic Los Angeles Plaza that I found on the History, Los Angeles County blog and the Watt Way blog. Both photographs were reportedly made in 1869, and may very well have been done by the same photographer on the same day — the first one facing east from Fort Moore Hill and the second facing north from the Pico House Hotel that was completed that same year (click to slightly enlargify):

Bonus image after the jump is one from Fort Moore Hill looking a bit more southeast of the location seven years later with Pico House at the right and the plaza having adopted its round configuration that remains today.

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LACBC’s “Beverly Thrills” Sunday Funday Ride Is July 1

When Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition Boardmember Ted Rogers (who operates the indispensable BikinginLA blog) asked me in May if I’d lead the next LACBC Sunday Funday ride scheduled for July 1, I said I’d love to. And since it was to take place so close to July 4th, I got busy with an Independence Day-theme for the event. But around that same time when the illustrious City of Beverly Hills had to go and veritably gut the number of proposed pilot program routes in its bike plan it was soon after decided that we chuck any patriotic pedaling, and instead load up our bikes and move to Beverly. Thus the Beverly Thrills ride idea was born.

Well, I’ve finally got the route mapped and now it’s just about hammering out the various stops (landmarks, celebs’ homes, etc) we’ll be making. All told the ride will be about 13 miles’ worth of rolling around the island of Beverly Hills — from the “slums” to the stars — with me offering probably WAY to much of my own personal perspective as a survivor of two separate youth incarcerations within its borders. So if you’re not doing anything that morning and wanna come explore/discover the hills and billies of Beverly, y’all come out now, y’hear?

WHAT: LACBC’s Beverly Thrills Sunday Funday Ride
WHEN: July 1; gather at 9 a.m., departs at 9:30 a.m.
WHERE: Ride starts and ends in front of the John Wayne statue at 8484 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 90211
COST: Free
ROUTE: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5528056 (there will be some variations/deviations as stops get added in)
APPROXIMATE TIME: 3 Hours
MORE INFO: LACBC

Say Hello To Tickets To Glen Campbell’s Goodbye Tour At The Hollywood Bowl June 24

“Are you related to Glen Campbell?” I got that question on a pretty regular basis from classmates first in elementary school and then again (to really date myself) for a second wave in junior high when “Rhinestone Cowboy” was all over the airwaves and atop the charts. I used to deny it, but when I got tired of fending off their disbelief at the truth I’d just shrug and tell ’em “Yeah. He’s my dad.”

Growing up without a father, there was a part of me that wished he was.

“Really!? What’s he like?” And I’d tell ’em that I don’t get to see him as much as I want — which as a fan of his music for as long as I could remember wasn’t a total lie.

Well, thanks to Filter magazine, a lucky Blogging.la reader and a guest will get to see Glen Campbell at the Hollywood Bowl this coming Sunday night in what will most certainly be a poignant night of both revelry and retrospect. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease last year, this stop of Campbell’s Goodbye Tour will be his final Los Angeles performance as he winds down his storied and award-winning career as a singer/songwriter who produced unforgettable hits such as “Wichita Lineman,” “Gentle On My Mind,” “Southern Nights,” and many others. Scheduled to be on hand to tip their hats to this true icon of American music include Dawes, Jackson Brown, Kris Kristofferson, Rilo Kiley’s Jenny Lewis, The Dandy Warhols’ Courtney Taylor-Taylor, and Lucinda Williams.

The first half of the concert will begin with California-based roots rock band Dawes, joined by those other special guests performing original songs as well as selections from Campbell’s repertoire that have been of special influence. The concert will close with Campbell performing his most memorable hits as well as selections from his newly released and highly acclaimed album “Ghost On The Canvas” (title track after the jump).

For your chance at a pair of tickets enter your name and email address in the comments. I’ll randomly pick a winner Wednesday at 2 p.m. and contact that entrant for their name and phone number that I’ll forward on to Filter who’ll then contact you with info on how to pick up the tickets. Good luck!

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Keaton Alive!

I didn’t like my stepfather much. I admired him for taking whatever modest talents he had as a writer and making a lifetime career out of it penning novels and teleplays, but by the time my mother married him he wasn’t much more than a bitter asshole drunk at the end of his life and pretty much the only things we had in common was arguing and Buster Keaton — who I idolized and my stepdad personally knew.

French Stewart and Joe Fria as the two Buster Keatons in "Stoneface." Photo credit: Shaela Cook

For any of you folk out there who think Buster Keaton must be Michael Keaton’s granddad, or perhaps the name doesn’t ring even the quietest of bells or you’ve only scene him in cameos  in “Sunset Boulevard” or any of several 1960s goofy beach movies waaaaay late in his career, than google that shit pronto because man you are missing out on being aware of and entertained by one of the greatest film talents that ever was or will be. Period (pardon me if my idolization is showing).

You don’t have to convince any of the good people at Sacred Fools Theater in East Hollywood of that preceding statement. Whether they’re in the audience for “Stoneface: The Rise and Fall and Rise of Buster Keaton,” or on the theater’s stage or behind its scenes, there is a certainly a respect and appreciation from the patrons for the man who was one of the greatest actors and performers of the silent film era — and pretty much an unabashed adoration of Keaton from those who created the powerful play and the gifted ensemble who have brought it to so wonderfully to life.

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