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Tower Records, the documentary 3/25/2015

March 18, 2015 in Downtown, Entertainment, Filmmaking/Filmmakers, Music

Flyer for the Movie

Flyer for the Movie

I knew about Tower Records long before I moved here.  Sunset and Horn. My bestest buddy from college lived just up the hill on Horn from there.  Every trip to visit Los Angeles included at trip to Tower Records to soak up the vibe and pick up the lastest and greatest tunes.  And star sightings.  Lots of them back in the 80s. Even after I moved here and was living in Canoga Park I still made it there often.  As I look at my collection of tapes and CD’s and odd bits of vinyl each brings back a memory of a trip there.

The Grammy Museum at L.A  Live has a documentary on the rise and fall of Tower Records that will show March 25, 2015.  Tickets are on sale now .  Reel to Reel: All Things Must Pass promises to be a joyous trip down memory lane.  The old store may have been killed by the MP3 pirates, but its memories will live on.

Deets: The Grammy Museum at L.A. Live. Olympic and Figueroa, Los Angeles MAP HERE  Tickets: $15

A Bone Of Contention With Regards To The Long Dead L.A. Marathon Bike Tour

March 14, 2015 in Biking in LA, Events, News, Sports

laweaklyOne of the first places I turn to of late if I’m looking for anti-cycling news and views is the L.A. Weakly. More often than not, it seems they’ve adopted the less-enlightened view of the urban activity shed by the Los Angeles Times a few years ago. Which is why I was so surprised to see this positive article in this week’s issue on tomorrow morning’s Marathon bike ride, as it moves from guerrilla event toward a potential for full legitimacy.

Of course, that didn’t mean the feature wasn’t wrong on an historic point:

Article quote: “For years, the L.A. Marathon’s route was a loop. Before the footrace began, an official bike ride was held with corporate sponsorship and everything. But in 2009, the marathon route was changed to a straight shot from Dodger Stadium to the sea, and the bike ride was dropped for fear that thousands of cyclists wouldn’t be able to get their bikes home.”

If you want to drink that Koolaid as to the demise of the Bike Tour being on a loop route that couldn’t coexist with an A-B marathon route, go ahead. But in 2007 when the marathon introduced a point-to-point route that began in Universal City and ended downtown (and continued again in 2008) the Bike Tour’s approximately 10,000 bicyclists pedaled on a SEPARATE loop route that began and ended in the vicinity of Exposition Park. Imagine that. PS. I know this personally because in 2007 I actually did both events that fateful day.

So my advice is to put down that Dixie cup and understand that the marathon’s leadershit (NOT a typo) under owner Frank McCourt, didn’t kill the 15-year tradition of the Bike Tour because it was concerned the poor wittle cycwists wouldn’t be able to find their way home after cwossing the finish wine. Nah, they simply and unceremoniously dumped the popular Bike Tour component after 2009 — and did so under the blazingly false pretense of developing a corresponding “world class” cycling event to replace it. When they didn’t spend a fraction of a second creating that, Don “Roadblock” Ward, gawd bless him, stepped in all guerrilla-style and the Marathon Crash Race was born, now perhaps ironically to evolve into what may very well one day become a legitimate “world class” bicycling component on Marathon Day.

Bonus clip: My timelapse from 2009 and what would be mine and the last bike tour (I had pedaled in every previous one back to the event’s inception in 1995).

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Ultimate Pi Day is this morning

March 14, 2015 in Entertainment, Science, Seasonal

ultimate pi dayPrecisely 3/14/15 9:26:53 AM is a once in a century geek out day for Math nerds, and nerds in general  Its PI taken to the 9th digit.

Celebrate with a piece of Pi and calculate its area, using PI of course.

.

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Fast cars on a track..life gets interesting this weekend

March 11, 2015 in Driving, Entertainment, Events, News, San Gabriel Valley


Seriously, one of my favorite events is always involving cars on a closed circuit track where you can run ’em through an obstacle course. It gives you a better sense of what the car is about, how its built than the typical around the block test drive.  You’ll get your chance to do just that this weekend at the Ecoboost Challenge at the Santa Anita Park in Arcadia on Saturday 3/14.

Ford hosts the event and challenges the top competitors on the track.  Fusion vs Camry, Escape vs CRV, Prius V vs C-Max, and F150 vs Silverado.  You get to do them on a track and compare how they handle…or don’t.  How fast they accellerate and brake, steering nimbleness and all the stuff you normally don’t get to do.  With the hybrids the track is geared towards seeing who can get the best mpg….I won with 68.5 with a CMax Energi last year.

The ABSOLUTE best part of the entire day is the ST Performance Academy.   First year it was both a Focus ST and Fiesta ST, last year it was just a Fiesta ST on a timed, fast as you can go on a track, after a bit of coaching prior to your run.  Best of 3 laps is your time in the competition.  It if weren’t for a ringer last year I would have placed 2nd on the course, but I’ll take a respectable third when its only a few tenths behind #2.

You can particpate simply by registering and bringing your Driver’s license to the track at your appointed time.  REGISTER HERE.

I’ll be there 3/13 on a press pass and drop spoilers before you get to the course yourself.  If you do the ST Performance Academy, and like, who WOULDN’T, post your time and we’ll see who amongst us at the best.

Deets: Ecoboost Challenge Saturday March 14/2015 Santa Anita Park, Arcadia CA MAP HERE

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Einstein is a Dummy opens in Sierra Madre

March 8, 2015 in Education, Entertainment, People, San Gabriel Valley, Theatre/Stage

L to R: Tyler Fromson as Albert, Matt Severyn as Constantin, Andrea Arvanigian as Elsa

L to R: Tyler Fromson as Albert, Matt Severyn as Constantin, Andrea Arvanigian as Elsa

Its science to nurture your inner nerd.  It has a message…its ok to be curious, its ok to ask why, its OK to be different. All the issues every kid struggles with to be “popular” and be themselves at the same time is explored in this high energy production that opened at the Sierra Madre Playhouse this weekend.  Think of it as Energy, the good kind like a colorful Saturday morning exploding on stage (and off at times) with the angst of a kid who doesn’t fit in and wants to.

Einstein is a Dummy is written by Karen Zacarias and brilliantly presented under the direction of Derek Manson for the Sierra Madre Playhouse.  Add in the musical score by Deborah Wicks LaPuma and you’ve got a show that kids will enjoy while picking up some lessons on personal identity and real science.

This is repertory theatre. The play has two cast so as to stage it for evening performances as well as matinee’s for schools here in the SGV.  (This play is aimed at the 3rd-8th grade student).  Regardless of which cast you see, you will have fun with your young genius.  I saw the Electron cast, those that have seen the Proton cast were equally amazed at the production.

The play starts with young Einstein talk with a stray cat in advance of leaving for a music recital.  Here we get the first hint at his curiosity and the gift of a compass that started him thinking about and developing his theory of relativity. Its this first bit where we learn that Einstein sees and hears the world differently.    Read the rest of this entry →

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Two Plays opening at Sierra Madre Playhouse

March 6, 2015 in Entertainment, San Gabriel Valley, Theatre/Stage

Einstein is a Dummy, Putting it Together flyer, click to embiggen

Einstein is a Dummy, Putting it Together flyer, click to embiggen

I’m pretty jazzed about this.  A first for the play house, opening 2 plays a week apart.  Running concurrent for a few weeks.  A hefty undertaking, but the cast and crew of the playhouse are up to making it happen.

Opening tonight, 3/7/2015 is Einstein is a Dummy.  A play really geared for the family but especially 3rd to 8th graders.  The nerdy types that are too smart for their own good but don’t test well…I had one of those kinda kinds in my brood.  This musical production centers around the life of young Albert Einstein at age 12 trying to fit in.

As an adult, Albert Einstein changed our view of the universe. But as a boy, he struggled with the same issues
any 12-year-old might—keeping up with violin lessons, impressing the girl next door and, oh yeah, comprehending the fundamental relationship of space and time to the speed of light, of course. This uplifting play about a fictional day in young Einstein’s life confirms that each of us is both ordinary and special. The whole family will love this delightful musical.

All you need to know about show date and times as well as ticket purchasing HERE.

Read the rest of this entry →

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Monrovia Rock Hounds Show this weekend

March 4, 2015 in Entertainment, Events, Shopping

President Janie Duncan mans the Monrovia Rock Hounds booth at a recent event.

President Janie Duncan mans the Monrovia Rock Hounds booth at a recent event.

Its here again.  The ever popular Monrovia Rock Hounds gem and mineral show at the Los Angeles Arboretum.

There will be over 15 vendors selling Gems, Jewelry, Minerals, Fossils, Beads, Findings. Monrovia Rockhounds members will crack Geodes, identify rocks in our famous Grab Bags and man Treasure Wheel where everybody wins, let you pick out fossils at our Dino Dig and Fossil Find. On Sunday there will be a drawing for the great items in the Grand Prize Raffle.  A complete list of activities and vendors on the MoRocks Web Site.

Deets: March 7,8 2015. 9-4 9-4:30,  Los Angeles Arboretum. 301 N Baldwin Ave, Arcadia CA   Admission $9, Seniors-students, $7, kids 5-12 $5.  MAP HERE

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Save L.A’s 99 Seat theatres

February 27, 2015 in Entertainment, News, Social issues, Theatre/Stage

99orgIts a complex issue that doesn’t need to be.  There’s an agreement with the 99 Seat Theatres and the Actors Equity Association that exempts smaller non-profit theatres from paying a union scale in exchange for allowing actors to hone their craft, make “art” if you will.  Its been in force for ages, it what allows dozens of small theatres spread about Los Angeles to operate.  Without it they would wither and actors more interested in the art and developing their talent will be shut out.

Step in I Love 99.org to put forth all the facts and explain why its important and what you can do to preserve the agreement with Actors Equity.  Within their website are many links to tools to help your voice be heard if you wish to keep 99 Seat Theatre alive in Los Angeles.

Of course I have an emotional interest in keeping 99 Seat Theatre alive in Los Angeles. It goes beyond keeping my friends busy, its about keeping art alive in the city.  The loss of the 99 Seat Theatre would be devastating to them as well as the businesses around the theatres that depend on the traffic they generate.  I’ve taken my love of small theatre to the next level and am working on the board of directors with Sierra Madre Playhouse to help them grow and evolve in the community.  I don’t take this potential loss lightly.

Please support this cause in any way you can.  Tweet your support and use the hashtags #ILove99, #Pro99 . #LAThtr

 

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Hahamonga and the San Gabriels, discussion tonight

February 19, 2015 in Entertainment, environment, News, San Gabriel Valley, Social issues

Flyer - click to embiggen

Flyer – click to embiggen

I wish I had more information for you, but I just got notice and no press release with a lot of details.  Altadena Heritage is putting on the discussion with 3 speakers on the importantance of Hahamonga and the Arroyo Seco river system that brings rain water from the San Gabriesl to the ocean.  The speakers are:

  • Dave Douglas, PhD, Geologist and Dean of PCC School of Science and Mathematics
  • Tim Brick, Director of the Arroyo Seco Foundation
  • Josephine Axt, Army Corp of Engineers, Planning Division

If interested please RSVP to [email protected]

Deets: February 19,2015 7-9PM Alta Dena Community Center, 730 E Altadena Drive, Altadena CA 91001  MAP HERE

Love and burgers

February 15, 2015 in Food & Drink

Perhaps, like many people, you observe Valentines Day. I do not. In my household, on February 14, we observe CHEESEBURGERTINES DAY, a far superior holiday with a singular purpose: it is a day on which you get someone who likes you to buy you a cheeseburger. Yes, it is a fake holiday that I made up. No, that does not make it any less of a holiday.

While the inaugural Cheeseburgertines Day took place at The Apple Pan (NATURALLY), we celebrate Cheeseburgertines Day at a different burger joint every year, in honor of the amazing plethora of great burger places in Los Angeles. We have been to fancy burger places (Cheeseburgertines Day 2014: The Tripel), and less fancy but no less delicious burger places (Cheeseburgertines Day 2013: Corner Burger).

This year, we hit up Shaka Shack Burgers in Santa Monica. Shaka Shack is Hawaiian-tiki-surfboard-themed, which appeals greatly to my appetite for kitsch; and the burgers were fantastic, A+ cheeseburgers, which appealed greatly to my appetite for burgers. They were seriously good burgers that I would pick over In-n-Out any day.shaka

Special mention, though, goes to Shaka Shack’s fries, which were possibly the best fries that I’ve had in Los Angeles. You know how the best fries are the really crispy ones at the bottom of the basket? Well, every fry in our order was one of those. And you can get them with truffle salt. Not the healthiest choice, maybe, but that is why Cheeseburgertines Day comes but once a year.

The Wright Stuff: Hollyhock House Is Back

February 14, 2015 in Art, Events, History, Hollywood, LA, Vintage

I’m an unapologetic fan of Frank Lloyd Wright. So even though I’ve toured his Mayan-revival masterpiece several times over my life, when I heard the city was going to celebrate the re-opening of his Hollyhock House following a two-year, $4-million dollar restoration, by throwing open wide the 94-year-old landmark’s concrete doors for a 24-hour reacquainting period — at no charge and shut up: pictures allowed inside! — I told my wife Susan that we were going to celebrate Valentine’s Day morning by getting up early and getting ourselves over to Barnsdall Park to get all up in some of L.A.’s mostly freshly polished historic starchitecture.

And like thousands of other SoCalians, we did. And it was glorious. Sure we had to park down on the street and then wait in line beginning at 7:30 a.m. for about 90 minutes, and yeah, there were those foodies behind us in said line who just seriously could not shut up about how transcendental the foie-gras was at Union in Pasadena, but once inside…? Ah yes. Now that was transcendental, and Wrightly so.

My Flickr photoset of the thumbnails below is here. Going forward, Hollyhock House will be open for self-guided tours ($7 per person; no cameras allowed inside) Thursday-Sunday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

hhouse

 

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The begging gets better…enough to entice me at a fast food joint

January 25, 2015 in Food & Drink, ICME, San Gabriel Valley, Shopping, Social issues

Click to embiggen and get the full picture

Click to embiggen and get the full picture

Yes, the ubiquitous tipping jar got bumped a bit with some humor injected by some bored soul at the Philly’s Best in Monrovia.

 

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A Walk in the Woods Premieres at Sierra Madre Playhouse

January 24, 2015 in Entertainment, People, San Gabriel Valley, Theatre/Stage

No spoilers. But its a grand performance by all concerned

Mamcy Youngblut and John Prosky star in Sierra Madre Playhouse's production of "A Walk in the Woods"

Nancy Youngblut and John Prosky star in Sierra Madre Playhouse’s production of “A Walk in the Woods”

Last night was the opening of Sierra Madre Playhouse’s performance of “A Walk in the Woods”.  It opened to a sold out house.  Its an entertaining, often poignant look at the world of diplomatic negotiators during the Reagan Era arms talks and their interchange on what makes us the same and different at the same time.  This play by Lee Blessing is directed by Geoffry Wade.

The four scenes take place during the four seasons in an American election year in a secluded forest in Switzerland.  The jaded and cynical Soviet negotiator  Andrey Botvinnik is portrayed by John Prosky.  Andrey has survived several U.S. Negotiators and capably guides his newst adversary through the mine field of arms negotiation.  He does this through humor and utter avoidance of the task at hand.  The new American negotiator that he must work with is Joan Honeyman played by Nancy Youngblut.  Joan is the spunky, starry eyed new kid on the block with ideals she can work out a deal to end the arms race that both sides can live with.  Andrey foils her at every step often leaving Joan aggravated and flabberghasted.  And the audience roaring with laughter.

Interlaced in this is the big politics of each nations history as a world power and fear of a past repeated.  All good stuff, hard to believe one can laugh condsidering the  task at hand and the issues they face.  Its also a very enlightening look at the process. You walked away wondering how it all went down and how anything was ever accomplished.  Or was it?  I highly recommend “A Walk in the Woods” if you are looking for a fun and enlightening theater experience.  These two actors carried you through the process of negotiations and becoming friends that respect each other very well.

This play is the 4th in the 2014-2015 Season that explores the American experience as told by American playrights.  This play and those to come are what will continue Sierra Madre Playhouse’s transformation into a Regional Destination Theatre.

You can order your tickets HERE.

Sierra Madre Playhouse, 87 W Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre CA 91024  Phone: 626-355-4318

Photo by Gina Long, courtesy Sierra Madre Playhouse and used with Permission.

 

How Are You Gonna Rock When We Roll?

January 18, 2015 in Earthquakes, Events, News, Science

Last night on the anniversary of the Northridge Earthquake, I watched CalTech Seismologist Lucy Jones tell reporters assembled at a press conference that for most angelenos it was a small one. Ha! How I wish I had been one of most angelenos. But I wasn’t. Not by a long shot.

The fires down below

The fires down below: This is a crappy snap I made the morning of January 17, 1994, from a pull out on Mulholland looking down into a San Fernando Valley that was almost entirely filled with smoke and dust.

There were two times in my life when I thought my ticket had been punched: that morning 21 years ago holding onto a door jam for dear life while it seemed the world was shaking apart, and a traffic collision I had six months later — which ironically wouldn’t have occurred if it weren’t for quake-related repairs forcing me to relocate temporarily to Van Nuys where I was on my motorcycle when that collision happened… but that’s another story.

In fairness, Jones wasn’t belittling or minimalizing what took place. She was basing that statement on the length of the fault that generated that temblor — 10 miles — in comparison to the San Andreas fault, 200 miles or more of which could rupture — correction WILL rupture. When that event happens it won’t be discussed 21 years later from a perspective of relative percentages impacted. Those of us that survive that eventual catastrophe will ALL be thrust into an exquisite chaos.

The plain truth is that with this certainty, most of us are still woefully unprepared. Maybe we’re gambling that we’ll dodge such a cataclysm in our lifetime, or maybe were deluded into thinking there’s really nothing that can be done and to just roll with what comes when the land rocks. It’s probably a lame metaphor, but that’s a bit like not being able to stop from hopping into a taxi that we know is going to crash, yet refusing to fasten our seatbelt on our way to that potential doom.

Instead put the “do” in doom. Google “earthquake preparedness.” Here, I’ll do it for you: earthquake preparedness. You don’t have to go full doomsday survivalist, but you need to do something/anything. Stockpile supplies and develop a plan that will make the ensuing nightmare a little less nightmarish. Having something as trivial as a few gallons of water, some nutrition bars, spare batteries, flashlights, a transistor radio and first aid supplies will seem like gold when the time comes to need them.

Lost Angeles: Tara Spotting

January 4, 2015 in culver city, Entertainment, Filmmaking/Filmmakers, History, LA, Movies

Oh no: not that Tara. I’m talking about the famed fictional plantation manse from a little film back in the day whose name coincidentally rhymes with the last name of the film’s central character — O’Hara, as in Scarlett. As in “Gone With The Wind,” or GWTW, if you will.

F6C958BBF538394F1E5FF56102D9B0F4

Yeah, that Tara.

Let me back up. I ravenously follow the Photos of Los Angeles group on Facebook, gobbling up its never-ending parade of pictures of L.A.’s distant and not-so-distant past. A few days ago this photo (at right, click 10881489_814964795228276_3288342673478902642_nto enlargify), was posted of a still from an episode of the 1950s TV series “Superman,” showing its star, George Reeves (who coincidentally had a part in GWTW) in full Clark Kent mode, on a hill back-dropped by a broad swath of our smog-inundated city. The poster, Sally Deupree, asked, “Culver City. Recognize the building in the lower left with four columns?”

I immediately recognized it as Tara — more specifically the exterior facade built for the movie, which meant Reeves was standing hat in hand on what is now a section of the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park — which meant beyond him was Jefferson Boulevard, then the Ballona Creek channel and then the old Pathe Studio backlot, where so many of the exterior scenes of GWTW were realized.

In an attempt to get a past/present frame of reference (I last did that with the location of Wrigley Field’s homeplate in South Los Angeles), I went on a googlehunt for a layout of the old studio, and hit gold at the 40 Acres website with this 1940 map (click to enlargify) pinpointing the various GWTW sets on the Pathe Studio backlot, with Tara’s position indicated there on the left.

40acres_plot_plan_1940

Then, of course, for a present-day juxtaposition I google-mapped the location (click to enlargify):

current

Which means basically that at the deadend of Hayden Place south of Higuera Street, somewhere around the current location of Woo Agency and Omelet you can stand on the paved-over land upon which Tara once stood, not to forget Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, and, yes, George Reeves. Cue the sweeping overture that is “Tara’s Theme”: