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A Disservice To LA Times Readers, History

April 5, 2012 in History, LA, Media

Staffwriter Hector Becerra spends all of the front page article in today’s Los Angeles Times and plenty more after the jump building the implication that the Dodgers were the primary reason for the Chavez Ravine disgrace, including this patently disingenuous paragraph:

“But the removal of more than 1,000 mostly Mexican-American families from Chavez Ravine to make way for the stadium is a dark note in LA’s history.”

What a surprisingly reprehensible and negligent generalization that is.

I was relieved when Becerra eventually explained that the public housing debacle by the city’s leadership years before Los Angeles was even a gleam in Walter O’Malley’s eye was the true catalyst for the evictions. And he finally contradicts his previous fallacy by mentioning there were only a few families remaining — not “more than 1,000″ — in 1959.

But it is shameful and irresponsible that Becerra and his editors failed to reference those previous events higher up in the article and instead of qualification opted for false simplification in the form of an inaccurate chronological order to the dreadful sequence of events that destroyed the entire community, not just the handful of brave families who fought eviction to that bitter end.

I shall read any words appearing under Becerra’s byline now with a far more skeptical eye.

Update after the jump.

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Mapgasm: The Stars In 1937’s Hollywood Galaxy

February 24, 2012 in Art, Entertainment, History, LA, Maps, Movies, Vintage

If I’m getting redundant in my topics — maps, cycling, birds, maps — file your complaint with the other contributors here who have far better things to do than post. In the meantime, I just keep plugging away in this lonely place — this time with another historic map from Big Map Blog — and  just in time for that local trade association’s annual function known as the Academy Awards this Sunday. If I were giving out the Oscars, Big Map Blog would get one for bringing all us little people out there in the dark this awesome and timely 1937 addition to its collection of cartrography: Hollywood Starland, at right (moderately embiggenable if clicked).

Sure the artist misspells Katharine Hepburn’s name, and strangely enough the then 14-year-old Hollywoodland sign isn’t anywhere to be found. But don’t let those oversights keep you from clicking on over and marveling at the full-size version of this otherwise meticulously glorious representation of a bygone era in celebrity worship so bitingly chronicled just a couple years later in Nathanael West’s “Day of the Locust.”

 

Timelapse: Watts Happening Ride

February 20, 2012 in Biking in LA, Crime, History, LA, People, Social issues, South Side, Transportation

The 2012 edition of my Watts Happening Ride took place this past picture-perfect Saturday, and it was my complete pleasure to share the following landmark people, places and events I’ve discovered there with the 28 cyclists who joined me:

  1. The last residence of jazz great Jelly Roll Morton
  2. The childhood home of Nobel Prize Winner Ralph Bunche
  3. The location of the 1969 Black Panthers shootout
  4. The Hotel Dunbar, centerpiece of the Historic Central Avenue Jazz Corridor
  5. The location of the 1974 SLA shootout
  6. The actual fictional location of the Sanford and Son Salvage Yard
  7. The Watts Towers of Simon Rodia
  8. The location of the incident setting off the 1965 Watts Riots
  9. The home of Eula Love, killed by police in 1979 as a result of a past-due gas bill dispute
  10. The motel where legendary singer Sam Cooke was killed
  11. The flashpoint of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots
  12. The location of Wrigley Field, demolished in 1966.

Unfortunately, the above annotated timelapse video abruptly ends at the third-to-last location we visited, leaving me to discover that I need to get a bigger memory card if I want to capture the entire 33-mile, six-hour tour on camera the next time — and there will be a next time. I hope you’ll join me.

 

Ever Shamed, Ever Shameful

February 19, 2012 in History, LA

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt sentenced some 120,000 Japanese-Americans to prison for the duration of World War II. Today, on the 70th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, Los Angeles County is marking the occasion with its first Day of Remembrance, which in turn made me remember my visit to Manazanar 4.5 years ago that I wrote about on November 13, 2007, here at Blogging.la:

Coincidental to Jason Burns’ November 9 post in which he referenced Manzanar in response to the disconcerting news of LAPD plans to target map Muslim enclaves in the city, two days later (returning from Death Valley’s Eureka Dunes) my wife Susan and I paid a somber and sobering first visit to the infamous place (on Highway 395 a few miles south of the ironically named town of Independence), referred to all politely as an “internment camp” or a “war relocation center,” or “reception center,” but with eight guard towers erected around the barbed-wired perimeter staffed with military police manning machine guns trained on the 11,000 men, women and children kept here against their will (more than 90% of whom were from the Los Angeles area), I’m in the mood to call it what it was: a prison. One that should forever be remembered as a testament to the freedom-destroying power of fear and an abominable insult to the United States Constitution and the civil liberties it guarantees us as citizens of this country. Pardon my righteous indignation.

The rest of my recollection is after the jump.

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Maptastic: Los Angeles in 1891

February 17, 2012 in Art, History, LA, Vintage

I have sung the praises of the Big Map Blog in the past, most recently in December when a 1932 map of Los Angeles was added to its extensive cartographical collection. And here I go again, because they just posted another jaw-dropper in the form of H.B. Elliott’s birds-eye viewpoint of our town when the population was only 65,000 back in 1891 — one that looks like the artist drew inspiration for it from an imagined vantage point aloft above what is now Elysian Park.

What makes this document so exquisite is not just the map itself, but the detailed representations of both exteriors and interiors of some of the commercial and civic landmarks of that time, most of which are long gone. Click the above image to biggify it. But better yet, got here on Big Map Blog and click the full size download link and get yourself the 157″ x 111″ version to marvel at available there for free.

Blogging.LA Meets Atlas Obscura

February 15, 2012 in Entertainment, Events, History, LA bloggers

Green leafy car

After my recent Hollyhock House tour, I met a friend from out of town at the Figueroa Hotel for a drink. At the bar by the pool, we met a woman named Rachel who said she was holding a meetup for the local Atlas Obscura chapter. My friend got all excited at the mention. I thought, what the hell is Atlas Obscura? Turns out, it’s a bit like blogging.la.

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The Watts Happening Ride Is What’s Happening February 18

February 4, 2012 in Biking in LA, Crime, History, LA, Politics, Social issues, South Side, Transportation

The first Watts Happening Ride I organized five years ago was a simple there-and-back to Watts Towers from the Cornfield downtown, spurred on by the lamentable fact that as a native angeleno I had spent my whole life to-date never having been to the true treasure that is the amazing, inspiring and enduring work of Simon Rodia.

In its various editions since (the last one taking place in 2010), the Watts Happening Ride’s destinations have grown well beyond the iconic towers to include a variety of landmarks involving people, places and events in and around South Los Angeles.

The 2012 incarnation of the Watts Happening Ride will be departing from Silver Lake on Saturday, February 18 at 9 a.m., and will include the addition of a couple locations I’ve recently found. So if you’re not heading out of town for the long weekend and have a hankering to get your bike-riding discovery on, I hope you’ll join me.

For the latest info and any updates, the ride’s Facebook page is here.

When: February 18, gathering at 8:30 for a 9 a.m. departure
Start/Finish: Silver Lake’s Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign (northwest corner of Sunset Boulevard & Benton Way)
Distance: 32.95 miles (route map)
Pace: Casual
Terrain: Flat
Weather: In the event of rain that morning, the ride will be canceled and rescheduled to a later date.
Approximate Time: 5-6 hours
Optional Partial Ride: If doing the full route isn’t feasible, consider joining the ride at approximately 9:30 a.m. downtown on Spring Street (anywhere between 2nd & 9th streets) for the roughly 9-mile portion to the Watts Towers. The 103rd Street Blue Line station is near to the towers and can be an alternative to get you back into downtown.
Things You’ll Need (in no particular order): A functioning bicycle; $7 for the half-hour optional tour of Watts Towers; snacks and water for along the way; money for a late lunch at King Taco.

Touring Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House

February 2, 2012 in History

Hollyhock HouseSmack dab in East Hollywood sits one of Frank Lloyd Wright‘s gems, the Hollyhock House. I was part of a private tour of the house recently, and was truly, er, floored.

Hollyhock House was built for oil heiress and single mom Aline Barnsdall just after World War I. The setting was a stunning hilltop olive grove surrounded by 36 acres, with 360-degree views of a then very picturesque, perhaps even quaint, Los Angeles. Barnsdall designed her homestead as a multi-structure arts complex, complete with theaters for both live performances and films. Today, that spirit remains, as the property is now the Barnsdall Art Park, housing the Los Angeles Municipal Art gallery, theater, and art center where numerous art and music classes are held.

More photos after the jump

A Modest, Magnificent Exhibition Of Our City’s History

January 27, 2012 in Art, Downtown, Entertainment, Events, History, LA

You’re probably not like me and are able to cope with the scope of the massively collaborative and on-going Pacific Standard Time exhibitions that fall under the ambitious region-wide initiative’s banner. Me, not so much. With so many institutions involved, I suffer from something of a paralysis when trying to decide whether I should go to the Getty or the Hammer  or LACMA or wherever. Case in point: I literally became immobile when I just now went to the Pacific Standard Time website and a banner popped up that told me there are 42 events taking place right this moment of 10:28AM — and that may even include a Big Gulp Cup retrospective at my local 7-11.

A few weeks ago I did manage to brush my intimidation aside and pay a first-time visit to MOCA to see the cool exhibition of Weegee’s Hollywood period photographs, but — pardon the digression — then I wandered around the museum’s permanent exhibit and found this piece of crap stuck to the wall, which reinforced both my abject disdain for “contemporary art” and my urge to punish whoever curated it with an extended indian-burn session to the forearm of his or her choosing.

So instead of getting all wound up trying to eenie-meanie-miney-mo to which big box the next I’d go, instead I brought along my inner map geek and together we ventured yesterday to the first floor galleries of the Central Library downtown where I spent an extended segment of the afternoon marveling at the selection of kick-ass cartography displayed as part of  its “As The City Grew: Historical Maps of Los Angeles” exhibit.

The 34 maps arrayed go back to the mid-1800s and offer an awesome and up-close glimpse back into our city as it was and as it became. Unlike the aforementioned contemporary bullshit I encountered, some of the maps are true and intricate works of art, and I would highly recommend paying them a visit whether you just find yourself in the library’s vicinity or are in between far better-decided visits than mine to the myriad Pacific Standard Time venues.

WHERE: Los Angeles Public Library, Central Branch, 630 W. 5th St, 90071
WHEN: Through November 4, 2012
COST: Free

Maptastic: 1932 Los Angeles!

December 20, 2011 in Art, History, LA, Maps

One of my favorite blogs to wander through is the Big Map Blog, which finds and shares truly exquisite historic cartography from all over the place — Los Angeles included, of course. Witness their most recent ridiculously detailed find from 1932: “Greater Los Angeles — The Wonder City Of America” from the Metropolitan Surveys company:

Click the above to enlargify it a bit, but if you wanna truly pore over aaaaall those details* in their high-resolution glory than boogie on over to its Big Map Blog page and download away!

* Such as a very interesting omission: the entire Los Angeles River.

 

Classic Eats #15: Take 2!

November 14, 2011 in Classic Eats, Events, History, LA

Classic EatsOkay, here we go again. My plan is to revive Classic Eats this coming Saturday, November 19th. Please join me, and hopefully others, at The Red Lion Tavern in Silver Lake.

The Red Lion Tavern in Silver Lake is a German Gasthaus and Beer Garden that was established in 1959 as an English pub. When the ownership changed in 1963, it took on its German theme. There’s food, lots of beer, and atmosphere at the Red Lion. Come out this Saturday, November 19th at 6:30pm to have a bite to eat, a drink, and hang out with writers and readers of Blogging.la. If you missed a chance to celebrate Oktoberfest, now you can!

Classic Eats #15
Saturday, November 19th at 6:30pm

Red Lion Tavern
2366 Glendale Blvd 
Los Angeles, CA 90039-3209

The Red Lion Tavern is about 5 miles north of downtown L.A. It’s located just south of Silver Lake Boulevard. Limited parking is available in lots on either side of the building. There is also plenty of street parking in the vicinity. Leave a comment or drop me a line if you plan to attend so I know how many seats to snag.

Next In An Occasional Streetfiti Series: Swastika-Star-Swastika

November 5, 2011 in Biking in LA, History, Vintage

One of the cool things about biking around Los Angeles is the stuff you get to discover that’s hidden in plain sight, with a favorite of mine being sidewalk vandalism. Most of the time you’ll just see a name and maybe a date scratched in the concrete or perhaps a decades-old shoe print. But sometimes you’ll come across more enigmatic stuff — like the following for example, written into the sidewalk by George, Bobby and Robert on the east side of San Fernando Road south of Figueroa Street, directly under the Arroyo Seco Parkway overpass (here) and right at the bottom of the steps leading up to what I like to call the “super-secret freeway bike/ped path” paralleling the southbound 110 between here and the what once was Chavez Ravine (click to enlargify):

Streetfiti

I’ve accessed those steps easily a couple dozen times over the last few years, but it was only today that I looked down and found this odd permanent record of the existence of George, Bobby and Robert. That crack running around it like a frame is interesting, but I’m at little more than a guess at the significance of the comma-delineated numbers that follow each name: 28, 1969; 27, 1969; 29, 1969. Birthday date and birth year, maybe? Or their ages during that fateful year? Or perhaps a year yet to come in the lives of these future thinkers?

What’s most curious is the decidedly more faint shapes scrawled at the bottom: a five-pointed star bookended on either side of it by swastikas that mirror each other. Three names, three figures. Kinda makes you go hmmmm.

Classic Eats #15: It’s Back!

October 31, 2011 in Classic Eats, Food & Drink, History, LA

Classic EatsIn the spirit of the season of things coming back to life, I thought it was time to bring back Classic Eats and continue our enjoyment of L.A. restaurants and bars that have been around longer than most of us have lived here. From my calculations, this will be Classic Eats #15 and it’s going to be a fast and simple one. By that, I mean it’s happening later this week and there’s no voting because I already decided on the location.

The Red Lion Tavern in Silver Lake is a German Gasthaus and Beer Garden that was established in 1959 as an English pub. When the ownership changed in 1963, it took on its German theme. There’s food, lots of beer, and atmosphere at the Red Lion. Come out this Friday, November 4th at 7pm to have a bite to eat, a drink, and hang out with writers and readers of Blogging.la. If you missed a chance to celebrate Oktoberfest, now you can!

Classic Eats #15
Friday, November 4th at 7pm

Red Lion Tavern
2366 Glendale Blvd 
Los Angeles, CA 90039-3209

The Red Lion Tavern is about 5 miles north of downtown L.A. It’s located just south of Silver Lake Boulevard. Limited parking is available in lots on either side of the building. There is also plenty of street parking in the vicinity. Leave a comment or drop me a line if you plan to attend.

 

Venice Vintage Motorcyle Rally this Saturday

October 20, 2011 in Entertainment, Events, History, Transportation, Vintage, West Side

Venice Vintage MC Rally Poster
If you’re a fan of engineered machinery as I am, the words “Venice Vintage Motorcycle Rally” may be among your favorites. This Saturday, October 22, the Venice Vintage Motorcycle Club will hold its annual Vintage Motorcycle Rally on the Venice Farmers Market lot at 400 Venice Blvd. South, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The event will feature vintage bike judging, live music, a barbecue, beer garden, pin-up girl contest, and vendors.

Admission to the rally is free. If you want to enter a vintage bike in the judging, the cost is $10 and includes VIP parking. Others arriving by motorcycle can park for $5. According to The Argonaut newspaper, proceeds from the rally will benefit the American Historic Racing Motorcycle Association (AHRMA). I plan to arrive on foot, but if there are bikes for sale, then who knows, I may be leaving in a different manner.

Ruben Pardo: Elevator man in the LA Times

October 16, 2011 in History

The cover of the LA Times yesterday featured a story about Ruben Pardo, the elevator operator at the building I work in at 5514 Wilshire Blvd. Ruben is one of the coolest cats in town and is always in a good mood despite being in an elevator for 35 years. Check out the video and accompanying story. And yes, that’s me carrying the case of Corona…

Photo by Mel Melcon