Theme Building At LAX To Reopen July 10

After three years of refurbishment, the Theme Building at LAX will officially reopen this Saturday July 10. The most exciting part? The Observation Deck, closed to the public since 9/11 will also be open. If you are an airplane nut like me, this is COOL!

Three years ago a large chunk of the stucco fell from one of the arches onto the roof of the building and inspections revealed a few problems. The building was closed, scaffolding erected and fixes were made. Encounter Restaurant was closed for a about eight months while construction continued. Now the building is scaffold free and all gussied up for the reopening.

The Theme Building opened in 1961 and was designed by three different firms: Pereira & Luckman and Associates, Welton Becket and Associates, and Paul R. Williams. (Paul Williams also designed one of my other favorite buildings:  La Concha Motel in Las Vegas. I stayed there not long before it was moved to it’s final resting place.)

The observation deck will be open Saturdays and Sundays from 8-5. It is free to go up, though you must pay for parking and there are security checks. I personally look forward to being there in the not too distant future.

(Photo by x-ray delta one used under CC license.)

5.4 Quake Hits So Cal

I first suspected an earthquake might have been happening when I felt a tiny shaking while I was sitting at my desk.  Then some stronger shaking occurred and I looked at my Twitter stream.  All my friends in L.A. were tweeting “EARTHQUAKE.” It was good as confirmed.

Of course, it’s not really confirmed until a seismologist at USGS has reviewed the quake findings:

Magnitude 5.4 – SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
Date-Time Wednesday, July 07, 2010 at 23:53:33 UTC
Wednesday, July 07, 2010 at 04:53:33 PM at epicenter

Location 33.417°N, 116.483°W
Depth 11.7 km (7.3 miles)
Region SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
Distances 22 km (13 miles) NNW (332°) from Borrego Springs, CA
23 km (14 miles) SE (131°) from Anza, CA
33 km (20 miles) NE (52°) from Lake Henshaw, CA
41 km (25 miles) SW (215°) from Indio, CA
45 km (28 miles) S (174°) from Palm Springs, CA
94 km (58 miles) NE (41°) from San Diego, CA

Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 0.3 km (0.2 miles); depth +/- 0.6 km (0.4 miles)
Parameters Nph=122, Dmin=10 km, Rmss=0.26 sec, Gp= 29°,
M-type=regional moment magnitude (Mw), Version=4

Don’t forget to fill out the “Did you feel it?” shake survey and check out the Shake Map!

Must Bar’s Robbery-Turned-Lease Dispute – UPDATED

[Scroll down for updates to the story, including The Must’s official statement]

Over the weekend, one of my favorite bars in the city, The Must on 5th between Main and Spring, seemingly was looted of its liquor and furniture.  According to a note posted on The Must’s doors sometime between then and Sunday morning when I stopped by: “[A]t approximately 2:45am, a truck pulled up in front of Weeneez and proceeded to empty the contents of The Must.  There was no forced entry.  Due to the holiday weekend[,] we are unable to bring the KNOWN perpetrators’ to justice until Tuesday when government agencies will reopen.”  This means that my beloved bar’s excellent wine selection and comfortable, homey furniture (possibly including the board games that The Must keeps on hand for those of us who need to engage in competitive games in order to break the ice on awkward first dates) were taken – but to where?  Full note is below, followed by a lot of starch, because this plot thickens:

Neighboring fine art gallery owner Bert Green was first to publicly oust Julie Rico (owner of Weeneez next door to The Must and master leaseholder to both premises) as the culprit.  The accusation was confirmed by Rico herself, in an email to Blogdowntown.  According to Rico, the so-called robbery simply was the result of a change in ownership, with a new owner(s) now holding the master lease for both The Must and Weeneez.  She “of course” was within her legal rights “to do what we did” – i.e., empty The Must at 2:45am, apparently without giving notice to either the owners of The Must or the premise’s onsite manager.  She noted that The Must’s possessions were “placed in storage” (save the game boards!!).  Meanwhile, Twitterer DickTerrific posted a picture of a note posted inside The Must declaring the bar closed, and that the “premise will re-open under new management as JP Lounge on August 9, 2010.”  As captured by Ed Fuentes at Blogdowntown, another note was posted on street-side of The Must’s door giving notice of the fact that the lease between Rico and the building was terminated effective July 3, 2010.

The Must maintains that a crime was committed.  Coly Den Haan, one of the owners of The Must, told me late last night (Sunday) that, as far as they’re concerned, “[W]e have been robbed.  Our personal property has been taken without our consent or knowledge … We are perplexed and [devastated] by the recent events.”  They resolved to be strong, however:I’m expecting a statement from Julie Rico sometime today, so I will update the post when I receive it. The games have just begun. UPDATED [10:30am]: I received Rico’s press release this morning, as well as additional comments from Coly.

The press release states, in part, “Weeneez, LLC today announces the sale that changes ownership of its restaurant operations in downtown Los Angeles, California.  Majority owner Weeneez, lessee of the premises at which The Must Wine bar also operated, concluded the sell with an unidentified third party after  negotiations between Weeneez and The Must Wine Bar were unsuccessful.”

Apparently, The Must and Julie Rico were involved in a business dispute over the last year; their various matters have been submitted to arbitration for resolution.  Weeneez’s attorney, as quoted in the release, explains, “[I]n this situation it was increasingly clear that the partners were not able to co-exist in a safe environment.”

Thus (using the term “thus” loosely, because I am not sure if this necessarily follows), the subsequent removal of their property: “Weeneez notified The Must of an intended move-out by letter to their attorney dated July 1, 2010.  The move-out occurred July 3.  Notices were posted on the doors stating where [The Must’s] property was being stored.”

Assuming that this “letter dated July 1, 2010” was hand-delivered that day, the most The Must received was two days’ notice.   Not quite adequate, I think; I’m trying to get additional information from Rico or her firm as to why there was such short notice.

The unidentified third party has been identified as “David Holtzman”; Coly got wind of Rico’s position on the robbery/move-out this morning, and followed-up with me via email, stating that Rico’s partner Sid Carter and Holtzman “did hire movers to come in the middle of the night a little after we had closed and proceed to strip EVERYTHING, from the furniture to our computer and yes even the games [ed note: Gah! The games!!!]. We were give NO notice.”

Coly points out that the whole thing, from the midnight removal to the fact that it occurred on a holiday weekend when everyone (including anyone in Simpson Housing, which owns their building) to the courts are pretty much out of reach until Tuesday, when all return to work, business as unusual.  Apparently, Rico “even cashed our July rent check!”

It’s a dark day, but Coly, bless her heart, reaffirms the blue sign outside their door: “The only good thing about all of this, is that this is the end of the line, we will not just simply walk away from anything, our financial investment and our investment to the community.  … As truly horrible as this all is we really have to thanks the community for its support, it has been heart warming and overwhelming, first round is on us!”

MORE UPDATES [11:40am]: Coly just told me that if notice indeed was sent to their lawyer, “he did not receive it”; that said, he is on vacation because this is, you know, a holiday weekend.  She also stated that the notice of the change in ownership “was posted at the same time they took all of our things and changed our locks. We couldn’t have entered even if we wanted to.”  Apparently, there was no forced entry because the movers “entered from the [W]eeneez location[.]”  To boot,  “They used bolt cutters to get into our locked wine cages.”

This stinks worse than wine that has turned.

MORE MORE UPDATES [2:45pm] Julie Rico posted two comments on Blogdowntown’s raging discussion over the incident.  You can read the whole thing in its entirety here and here; essentially, she justifies her actions by accusing The Must’s owners of refusing to work with her:

“[I]t was always our intention to work with these people. But it just did not work out. I needed to make changes to Weeneez to make it more effective. I needed to work closely with them to do it. Well they never allowed this, so we had no choice but to sell the business. We were dying here. It is not the fault of the new business owner. It is because we had a monster on our hands and we needed to get out from under it.”

I’m also not sure how this is relevant, but she re-raises an Eater LA post last year that accused The Must owners of unsanitary and unsavory food handling habits.  (The accusation was debunked by the The Must owners when the LA Times followed up on the story.).  As to why the move-out occurred in the dead of night, Rico explains “We needed to make this happen with the least amount of disturbance from crazy people. Also, as you may or may not know this corner is very busy. We needed to make this happen so that we would not be disturbed in doing so.”  (Notably, Rico does not explain why all this occurred without giving adequate notice to The Must, or why no unlawful detainer action was filed before seizing “back” the premises or locking The Must out of its bar.).  Finally, Rico states that The Must was well aware that Weeneez LLC was “considering a market transaction.  They also made the first offer, which was an unreasonable offer.”  Coly told me via email that they have “offered numerous times to buy [Rico/Weeeneez] out but they felt we didn’t offer them enough money.”

Casey Irvine, one of the other owners of The Must, wrote in response to Rico’s post here, contesting Rico’s accusations.  She reiterates Coly’s earlier email to me that Rico cashed their July rent check “two days before they locked us out.”  Adding to the estimated damages, “We are fairly sure that our property was damaged with how they removed it. Fridge’s need to be un-plugged for hours before they’re moved. Wine needs to stay at a certain temperature.”  Yes, I seriously doubt the movers placed the precious wine inventory in the proper wine storage facility.

Coly expects to release The Must’s official statement soon.  What a nightmare for everyone involved.

UPDATE [5:30pm]: The Must’s official statement will come tomorrow.  Per their tweet:

UPDATED 7/6/10 HIGH NOON: The Must’s official statement was released this morning; the entire text can be found on the bar’s website here.  Highlights:

– Regarding the contract between The Must and Sid Carter and Julie Rico, owners of Weeneez, LLC, which own The Must’s space: A five-year contract was signed on November 5, 2008.  The contract was to be terminated in January 2012, with an option to renew for an additional 5 years.

– Regarding the actual heist:  As mentioned above, no one from The Must received any prior notice that Rico or Carter would  remove their belongings and lock them out.  The Must “paid its rent as usual on June 30. It locked its doors as usual at 2:00 a.m. on July 3rd. The move-out occurred July 3rd at approximately 2:45am. Julie Rico, Sid Carter and the supposed ‘new owner’, David Holtzman, hired movers to strip The Must of everything including furniture, wine, food, computers and documents. The owners, Den Haan and Thomas were notified by their restaurant manager, Casey Irvine, the next morning that The Must had been stripped of everything. Den Haan and Thomas were not notified of the apparent changes in ownership of Weeneez LLC.”

– Regarding their love for downtown despite the sequence of events: “The Must is Coly, Rachel, Casey, and Eric, our employees and our community. We are not going anywhere, we will always be downtown. This IS our home.”

… AND FINALLY [7/7 7PM]Blogdowntown has some excellent, as-neutral-as-possible coverage of the post-weekend activities.  According to that article, The Must filed for a temporary restraining order yesterday in arbitration (i.e., asked a neutral third party to stop anything related to the eviction until a decision regarding the who-what-why of the above leasing issues is made).  Meanwhile, as posted yesterday, there will be The Must Aid Fundraiser benefit on Saturday night, with all proceeds going to The Must’s (ex)-employees’ lost wages.  Full details of the fundraiser can be found here.

At the Skirball: Is it shellfish to wonder if I’ll ever seafood again?

This little guy is gonna be just fine.

As you read this, the good folks at the British Petroleum crude-oil concern are hard at work in the Gulf of Mexico, making sure that the term “cajun blackened shrimp” forever loses its association with the culinary arts. Yes, in addition to roasting sea turtles alive and threatening the Gulf’s elusive walrus population, the current world leader in unmitigated corporate dipshittery is forever altering the seafood industry in the United States, by contaminating half the edible species in the Gulf with oil, and making us  all worry that the other half might be contaminated too. So enjoy seafood while you can; with the upcoming holiday weekend, the price of shrimp cocktail is likely to shoot up to more than $4.00 a gallon.

But the seafood industry has problems worldwide, and it’s had them since long before BP came along. Overfishing and unsustainable practices are damaging not only the populations of Earth’s most delicious seagoing species, but having adverse impacts on whole marine ecosystems as well. Soon the only things we’ll have left to eat are mermaid steaks and whatever gets trapped in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

But don’t get too depressed. The key to changing the world is educating yourself, and the perfect opportunity is coming up: Pulitzer-winning LA Weekly food critic Jonathan Gold will appear at the Skirball Cultural Center next Wednesday at 7:30 PM to discuss the future of the seafood industry with Michael Cimarusti, head chef at Providence (which I’m told, by people who have more money to spend on food than I do, is very very good) and Mark Gold, president of Heal the Bay. They’ll discuss how our eating habits are impacting the environment, and how we can better align our love of good seafood with positive environmental stewardship.

Here’s more info.

Hey LA, What’s Up?

So here’s the thing. I badger the occasional slackin’ blogger to post to this site, and I myself have been slacking lately. There’s no one to badger me, but I had to out myself.

I spent pretty much the last three weeks out of LA–first in Death Valley, CA and then in the Seattle area. Two vastly different places with a lot in common: the ubiquity of the natural world; an inexhaustible supply of delicate details of flora and fauna and land around me; clean skies stocked with epic cloud formations; and neither of them are LA.

I grew up here, and have loved this city’s vagaries, inconsistencies and chaos since before I can remember. But I have to say, after a couple weeks back in LA, I miss the immediacy of the natural world I got in both Death Valley and Seattle. I feel a little lost. When I was in the vast empty spaces of the desert or cocooned in green in the Pacific Northwest, I felt like I’d found my right size in the world around me. Here in LA, I lose my bearings, get distracted, get dissatisfied with my insignificance or arrogant in my importance.

It seemed apropos that the jacarandas would have exploded into bloom while I was away & welcomed me back with a flurry of irrepressible violet. They’ve always marked melancholic episodes in my life: the boy with the floppy hair and southern drawl who never loved me back; the inescapable job that I only wanted to flee;  the years I spent living off vodka and pop-tarts. The jacarandas remind me of things I’ve lost, as if their impossible beauty stands in marked contrast to the various & sundry travails I’ve been experiencing. They don’t care if I’m down. And I don’t feel like LA does either. People complain to me often about how heartless LA is, and I defend its microcommunities and diversity and hidden gems earnestly, but sometimes I feel like I’m tired of a city that’s too vast to be personal, too ephemeral to be substantive. It seems to happen more and more lately.

I guess one of the things about chronicling a town as weird as LA is remembering to include the gray areas, the more liminal aspects of the city, and not just stick to relentless boosterism. Hence this post. I’m worried I’m falling out of love with LA.

Signs the Recession is Still Going Strong

I am drafting this blog post from my desk at an office building/warehouse in Chatsworth where the water has been turned off all morning. “Why has the water been turned off?” you ask (or more likely you’re not asking because you really don’t care, but I’m going to tell you anyway). The water has been turned off because last night the plumbing itself was stolen. That’s right, someone stole a length of copper piping from the line that runs in front of the building where I work–and probably other buildings as well. Apparently (who knew?) you can get about $200 reselling a section of piping like that, so people go cruising neighborhoods looking for accessible copper piping to dismantle and sell. I lived through the “no radio” days in the urban east coast, and I must say, this tops that. So now, we here at my office are all crossing our legs and holding it while we wait for the repair to be finished; my boss is ordering a cage for the pipes in front of the building; and somewhere a couple of guys are happily smoking crack. The economy? I’m thinking it’s not improving.

The Hummingbird Chick Has Flown!

I’ve previously  posted up a couple updates (here and here) in regards to the earlier discovery/progress of the two Anna’s hummingbird chicks nested in the laurel tree overhanging our Silver Lake frontyard, but there’s been a whole bunch of some serious pint-sized tragedy and triumph these last few days and it’s been enough to stress out this surrogate hummingbird uncle/bodyguard.

First there was the way-too-early exit of one of the chicks from the nest Sunday, followed by the baby’s recovery (whew!) and  immediate installation into what I can immodestly describe as a Righteously Genius Purchase s of a high fruit-picking contraption (pictured above) bought the day before in case it might serve as a substitute nest. Which it now did.

But the next day was a double negative whammalama. Not only did the chick launch from the picker sometime in the night to god knew where, but we also discovered that its sibling, still in the nest, had died. Dejected at being unsuccessful in locating the wayward chick I’d resigned myself to its loss only to have my grief compounded when one of our cats brought in what I figured was its corpse (that I solemnly buried) — until I went down to get the mail much later that Tuesday afternoon and what was just sitting there in front of the mailbox, but holyfuckingshit: the entirely not-dead chick looking at me like “where have you been!?”

So back into the picker it went where mom paid it many visits and gave it many feedings and there it hung out all night Tuesday and all of Wednesday working its wing strength up, and here we are Thursday morning and literally but a few minutes after snapping the pic above, the chick has successfully fledged, having lifted off and flown to a high branch in the tree of its birth where it now sits safely while plotting its next hopefully successful and safe flights.

I couldn’t be more proud, happy or relieved. But just the same, the cats are staying indoors today.

99 Things at 99 Ranch

Tawa Supermarket Inc. was established in 1984 by Mr. Roger H. Chen. As the Asian immigrant community grew in Los Angeles, so did the appetite for quality Asian food products. Sensing the demand, Mr. Chen opened the first Tawa Supermarket store in Westminster, California (Little Saigon). For more than 20 years, Tawa has satisfied the needs of Asian immigrants by providing them with their hometown flavors. Today, Tawa [also known as 99 Ranch Market] has grown from an individual supermarket into a grand diversified organization. We now serve customers from all over the world.

– excerpted from 99 Ranch Market’s About Us page

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The rebirth of blogging.la

bloggingla

Once upon a time a bunch of bloggers in Los Angeles got all emo for each other. A/S/L was asked and responded to. As things are want to do in such situations inhibitions were thrown to the wind, chances were taken, protection was not worn, and a site called blogging.la was born unto the world. This site was snotty and annoyed the crap out of people, but it was young so everyone put up with it. Eventually it grew up and got a real job and people started calling it Los Angeles Metroblogging until they decided that name was too long and stupid and settled on LA Metblogs. It towed the company line for many years and it seemed like it always would until one day, and reports are a bit conflicting on this, it woke up dead. Some said suicide, some said murder, some said far reaching international cloak and dagger level spy vs spy assassination. Fearing public outcry a massive coverup was undertaken. Reports were faked and lookalikes were hired. Weekend at Bernie‘s became daily operating procedure until finally the lie became too big, and the rotting corpse too stinky.

The big guns were called in, but the situation was too much for them so the faithful turned to the dark arts. Black candles were lit and spooky latin was recited.

Backwards.

And also forwards, just to be safe.

And the ground shook, oh did it shake. For about 30 seconds until twitter confirmed it was just another aftershock from Baja California. Oh and also blogging.la had risen from the grave. And here it is, back in bla.. well, light blue.

Enjoy.

Rioters’ Index

With apologies to Harper’s.

Number of rubbish fires: 15

Number of vehicle fires: 3

Number of shopping cart fires: At least 1.

Number of fatalities: 0

Number of people “beaten unconscious”: At least 1. Think it was a Celtics fan, the poor guy.

Number of arrests: 38

Oddest object hurled at cops: Tie between chunks of cement (presumably from the broken sidewalks – like hitting the city over the head with its own shoe) and a rat trap

Objects that the cops hurled back: Tear gas and rubber bullets

Vehicles attacked: Parking enforcement, KCAL 9 news van, taco truck (<– WTF people), taxi, Honda

Poor excuse for a soccer ball: Caltrans barrier, broken.

Alternative to Caltrans barrier-as-soccer-ball: Watching the World Cup on television like normal people

Local Issues More Worthy of a Riot Than the Lakers’ Victory: Unemployment; lack of access to health care; we are still fighting a war, what?; no decent 24-hour coffee shops; massive cuts in library funding

All of the above notwithstanding, number of minutes it took me to drive from Chego in Palms back to my place in Los Feliz at 10:30pm: 25 minutes.  Not too bad.

Donut Summit: Announcing the Donut King!

We came, we saw, we donutted. And it was awesome. A huge thank you, from me and from all of us here at Metblogs, to everyone, who came out to the Donut Summit today! We had an fifty entries – so basically, a heck of a lot of donuts – and a great crowd, and a beautiful afternoon! I’m sure you’re all dying to know the voting results, and who reigns supreme as DONUT KING (!!!) but first, there are a few people who need lots of thanking:

To our readers, old and new, for coming out and supporting us!

To all of the writers here at Metblogs who helped out in all kinds of ways but most especially the following people:

Kevin Ott, for writing a hilarious voting guide (which I’m going to ask him to post here for everyone to read), for helping scout locations, and for hanging out with me in Griffith Park for three hours this morning so that nobody would steal our picnic tables;

Our intrepid captain Lucinda, for her publicity know-how, her event-running smarts, her megaphone, her fantastic donut hats, for making last-minute trips to Smart and Final, and for thinking this event was a good idea in the first place;

Julia Frey, our coffee maven;

Queequeg, who drove all the way to Glendora to make sure that we would have those fresh strawberry Donut Man donuts;

The minds who came up with the idea of the Donut Summit – ,as I recall, it was hatched over pastrami sandwiches during the Classic Eats visit to Langer’s – I was there, Julia was there, Robnoxious was there, I think maybe Will Campbell was there, and I don’t remember who else – and I think it was Robnoxious who first suggested we bring all of LA’s donuts to one central location.  And thus the Donut Summit was born!

I also want to thank some of my non-Metblogger friends who drove me around to get Donut Summit supplies, and stayed up late with me spraypainting silver and gold donut medals. And special thanks to my friend Nikki who put her stage managerial skills to work and ran Donut Registration for us today.   I’m sure I’ve forgotten other people who deserve a huge thank you, but please know that we appreciate all your help and support!

I was so excited at the number of donut shops represented today – we had very little overlap, and later this week I’ll post a full list of the donut shops who were represented. I want to give a nod to what I thought were some of the highlights of the competition: DK’s Donuts, from Santa Monica absolutely floored me with their blueberry apple fritters (I think they were robbed of the Best Fritter title!) and fresh whipped cream donuts; Babycakes’ vegan donuts were delicious and light and tasty; and Frygirl’s homemade mini donuts were totally to die for (and she does catering!) and I will admit to personally saving all of the leftover Frygirl donuts for myself.

And now, after the jump, the results!

Continue reading “Donut Summit: Announcing the Donut King!”