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‘Tis the Season for Crowds: Krampus on Parade & Renegade Craft Fair

December 13, 2014 in Art, Crafts, Downtown, East Side, Entertainment, Events, Fashion, Holidays, LA, Seasonal, Shopping

I braved not one but TWO crowds today.  First up…  The Echo Park Holiday Parade!!!  I had high hopes for this because I’d heard a bunch of Krampus revelers were going to be there and I was not disappointed.  If you’re one of the uninitiated, “Krampus is a beast-like creature from the folklore of Alpine countries thought to punish children during the Christmas season who had misbehaved… Krampus is said to capture particularly naughty children and drag them off into the black forest.” (wiki)

Krampus was made popular a couple years ago by a viral video of hairy-costumed nightmares rampaging through a northern Italian mountain community and beating the ever-loving crap out of passersby.  I needed the little one to see this so she’d be on her best behavior for the next couple weeks.  But unlike Italy where it is apparently legal to beat innocent tourists, it’s frowned upon here, especially for 6 month olds.  That’s probably for the best.

There were other parade participants but I honestly can’t remember who they were after seeing the Krampus steam engine car built by Bay Area artist-engineer Kimeric Smythe.  Also several members of the Salzburg-area Alt Gnigler Krampus and Perchten Troupe joined the parade of domestic brand Krampus… Krampuses?  Krampen?  Krampai?  Whatever.  It was a hoot.

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As if seeing Krampus in Echo Park wasn’t enough, I dragged the kid downtown to Grand Park for the Renegade Craft Fair.  It’s one of my favorites.  Although I had nothing to buy this time (poor wallet…), I got to see some new friends like the ladies at Ave Dee.  I bought a fanny pack from them at the Patchwork Show in Long Beach and it’s been my saving grace on short outings with the kid.  Contrary to what movies tell you, you do not need to travel everywhere with a full diaper bag breaking your back.  Sometimes you just need your wallet, cell phone, car keys, and an emergency pacifier.  Maybe some chapstick.  Ave Dee’s fanny packs are the perfect hands-free device for busy mommas like me.  And they’re cool!  Anyone who says fanny packs are lame are probably pretty lame themselves.  And I guarantee you they’re carrying around way too much crap.

I also stopped in on good friends and former roommates extraordinare from Outlaw Soaps, Russ & Danielle Vincent.  These amazing villians started their business in our house just a couple years ago and look at them now!  Masters of saponification.  Lauded by the mighty Oprah herself, even.  I highly recommend you jump on their bandwagon, stat; they’re moving their productions from Oakland to a little parcel of land just southeast of Lake Tahoe and they’ve quit soap making until the new digs are up and running in January.  When I saw them today, they had very little stock left.  That’s what happens when your goods are being bought for wholesale by the likes of national retailers like Urban Outfitters and ThinkGeek!  I’m so proud of them, I could scream.

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11th Annual L.A. 3-D Movie Festival This Weekend!

December 10, 2014 in Entertainment, Events, Filmmaking/Filmmakers, LA, Movies


It’s that time again! The LA 3-D Movie Festival is back this weekend! For the 11th year, this festival is showcasing the best independent stereoscopic 3-D filmmaking from around the world. This year’s event, taking place Friday, December 12th through Sunday, December 14th at the Downtown Independent features an eclectic variety of 3-D entertainment.

The festival opens Friday, December 12th at 8pm with An Evening of 3-D with OK Go. The popular rock band, and several of their creative collaborators, will screen their 3-D music videos and other special surprises.

Saturday, December 13th is 3-D Comic Book Day starting off at 4pm with a documentary called Cosplay Dreams 3-D , which features the fun lifestyle and incredible artistry behind the global phenomenon of  “Costume Play.” The festival’s centerpiece event is a catered Holiday Reception at 6pm, followed by a live performance by Captured Aural Phantasy Theater, who combine the art, drama and comedy of a vintage radio program with the live entertainment of a variety show. This special show is built around performances of 3-D comic book stories. The night will wrap up with a late night screening of Hackin’ Jack vs. the Chainsaw Chick, the latest film by 3-D cult movie director Norm de Plume, at 10pm.

The festival wraps up on Sunday, December 14th with three blocks of short films, one by students, and two by international 3-D filmmakers in competition starting at 1pm. The shorts are followed by an Awards Ceremony and the closing night feature Above Us All, a film by Eugenie Jansen based on an idea by Kim Niekerk.

Full schedule, festival passes, and tickets to individual events can be found HERE.

The LA 3-D Movie Festival is presented by the LA 3-D Club, 3-D SPACE, and Stereo Sisters.

The 11th Annual LA 3-D Movie Festival
December 12th through 14th, 2014
Downtown Independent Theater
251 S. Main Street, Los Angeles 90012

See’s Candies Holiday Pop-Up Shops

December 10, 2014 in Food & Drink, History, Holidays, LA, Seasonal

See'sPopUpIt’s the most wonderful time of the year, especially if you love Los Angeles native, See’s Candies! They are putting up pop-up holiday shops around town so you don’t have to brave the mall when you get invited somewhere last minute and don’t want to arrive with your hands hanging. They are selling only boxed chocolates, no candy counter full of individual yummies to mix and match. But when Aunt Gertrude is stopping by and you’ve accidentally left her off your list, you can race in for that two pound box of dark chocolate nuts and chews she loves so much.

Check locations here.

And there are two more days to enter into the See’s Candies For Life contest!

My personal favorite – Scotchmallows.

Unique LA

December 9, 2014 in LA

Sunday was the final day to throw money at people at Unique LA.  Their Winter show seemed more chock full of shoppers than the Summer event, much to my kid’s wide 3-wheeled stroller’s dismay.  Navigating the aisles proved to be a practice in patience but there was so much eye candy, I was able to suck it up and toured the whole thing.  I even managed to buy some goodies and run into an old acquaintaince.

My first stop was the booth of my friend Miriam Dema to pick up a hand dyed scarf – the last gift on my shopping list. She’s a screenprint goddess selling felt pennants, coasters, posters, and a few handmade leather goods.  Next, I ran into Mark Brunner, an LA artist I first became acquainted with a few years ago through a mutual friend.  The last time I saw him, he didn’t have a beard and I didn’t have a kid. Ah, how life changes things.  I bought a very nice piece from his human robot series for my kid’s bedroom.  It’s her first original art!

Miriam Dema, maker of good things

I managed to sneak by the remaining vendors without opening my sad, depleated wallet.  All except one.  I lost the business card so I can’t rave about her but she made cute felt stuffies and there was a dinosaur named Coco that demanded I take him home.  Of all the edible delights, designer fashions, and trendy housewares on sale, hers was my favorite find.  Coco now lives in the kid’s crib and has been lovingly chewed and soaked with saliva.  I’m looking forward to the next Unique LA so I can buy a friend or two for him.

Coco is our friend

Coco is our friend

Hike To LA’s Abandoned Dawn Mine, aka, Attempted Murder by Squirrels

December 5, 2014 in environment, History, LA, Photography

dawnhike01 dawnsquirrel07There are three ways to hike to the abandoned Dawn Mine above Altadena.

The first is closed, the second is overgrown, but the third, in a metaphorical bear sense, is just right.

dawnhike03John W. Robinson, in his book “Trails of the Angeles: 100 Hikes in the San Gabriels,” calls it “the most storied gold prospect in the front range.”

But that’s not saying much.

Because no one has made their fortune from gold in the mountains overlooking the San Gabriel Valley, that doesn’t mean that a bunch of people haven’t tried.

The prospectors started to scratch the surface of Millard Canyon in 1895, and one of those prospectors, Bradford Peck, named the area near the top of the canyon after a friend’s daughter, Dawn Ehrenfeld.

It wasn’t until 1902 that the real mining began. Michael T. Ryan, an Australian, began the first tunneling into the cliffs on one side of the tiny stream, creating the tunnel that we can still enter.

2014oct31-dawnhike08 dawnhike06 dawnsquirre10But he came across one problem. How to carry the tons of ore, that needed to be crushed to extract the gold? Hiking the two and a half miles down boulder strewn Millard Canyon was difficult and time consuming. So he forged a trail up the side of the mountain to the Mt. Lowe Railway. Once there he loaded the ore onto the Mt. Lowe train and it headed down, via the funicular, to extract that beautiful gold.

After Mr. Ryan gave up, realizing that he, like the others, was not going to make his fortune, the mine changed hands many times. In the 1950’s the area became derelict, littered with mining equipment and abandoned shacks.

Over the years they became covered with graffiti and run down. Eventually all were removed except an old engine, which still sits as a marker to the mine entrance.

To hike Dawn Mine, drive up the road called Chaney Trail (which is “closed” sunset to sunrise). Chaney Trail tees off West Alta Loma Drive, between Lincoln Ave and Fair Oaks Ave in Altadena.

A section of the trail leading up Millard Canyon to Dawn Mine.Chaney Trail is a small winding road that leads up into the San Gabriels. At the end of this road is a car park — don’t park here, because this is the entrance to the closed section of the trail. Park instead at the highest point of Chaney Trail. It’s where the fire road leads up into the mountains. Parking is a problem, because there are so few spaces. It is usually full on weekends, so if you can, go on a weekday, or pray to the parking fairies.

dawnhike05Hike around the fire road barrier, past the water tank and then make a left after 0.4 of a mile, according to my phone, which obviously knows everything.

The turn is the sign posted for The Sunset Ridge Trail. This trail leads down into Millard Canyon.

Note: There is a fork on this trail, but keep left, down toward the canyon floor. At 1.05 miles from the car park, the path reaches the gently flowing stream at the bottom of the canyon, which was, in this October 2014 drought, really just a trickle. The mine is near the top of Millard Canyon, so head upstream, north, away from civilization.

Note: Downstream from here the trail is closed, which leads to the car park you are not supposed to park in, as the forestry service is attempting to rehabilitate it after the Station fire in 2009.

My first attempt to find Dawn Mine was a failure, because I went the wrongway. Although on the plus side, I did come across a stunningly beautiful three tiered 40-foot waterfall.

Where is went wrong was not making a right turn, although it is probably worth it just to see the waterfalls.bIf you do want to see Dawn Mine make a right 1.25 miles from the parking lot. Or to put it another way, make a right 0.2 miles after reaching the tream; Once making this turn, follow the river another 1.6 miles upstream, or 2.85 miles from the parking lot to the mine itself.Note: Downstream from here the trail is closed, which leads to the car park you are not supposed to park in, as the forestry service is attempting to rehabilitate it after the Station fire in 2009.

My first attempt to find Dawn Mine was a failure, because I went the wrong way. Although on the plus side, I did come across a stunningly beautiful three tired
40-foot waterfall. Where is went wrong was not making a right turn, although it is probably worthnit just to see the waterfalls.

If you do want to see Dawn Mine make a right 1.25 miles from the parking lot. Or to put it another way, make a right 0.2 miles after reaching the stream. Once making this turn, follow the river another 1.6 miles upstream, or 2.85 miles from the parking lot to the mine itself.nAlmost all of this 1.6 miles is hopping over rocks, clambering over boulders, or ducking under fallen trees.

Note: While doing all this hopping, clambering, and ducking, pause for a momentnand enjoy the peaceful miles-away-from-the-city burbling stream, squirrel and bird sounds.

From here on out it is practically impossible to get lost, just follow the stream.nThere are spray-painted arrows along the way, but they are not really necessary; just follow the stream.

Because this is not a well traveled path a number of the stones are loose so be careful of twisting an ankle, but that is not the only danger. When the cliffs were towering on one side of the valley, there was a huge cracking noise 50 feet ahead. A stone the size of my head had fallen from the cliff face and I just saw it bounce and settle with the other stones in the stream bed. Sitting on a tree limb, near where the stone fell, were two squirrels staring at me.

Because I can speak to the animals, here is a translation of what one of them was saying: “Damn it Bob, you pushed it too early, I told you to wait, I get to push it next time, then we get to have hiker for dinner.”

Because of all the clambering the trail seems longer than it is, but keep going, and then eventually there is an abandoned piece of machinery up to your left. It’s an old engine, with a flywheel attached to each side. The entrance to the mine is hidden just the other side of the engine. On hands and knees, the first view into the mine is what everyone expects when looking into a mine, the classic wooden posts holding up a crosspiece. Althoughnlater, thinking about it, I think this is part of a door to keep people out, and just thenjamb is left. But I could be wrong.

Barring entrance to the cave is a small body of water, people had helpfully thrown in pieces of wood and tree branches to create a slippery unstable walking surface. But I was told by another hiker I met that day, when he had visited the mine the
previous year and had decided to not enter as the water was too deep. I don’t know if this was because of the drought, but like those signs at amusement park water rides, You Might Get Wet.

Thirty feet into the tunnel, just past the pond, is a dry area splitting off into two tunnels, with a huge open gallery above. The light grey rock is splattered with yellow, which reflects in the second pond. There are holes drilled for dynamite still visible in the rock.nYou will need a flashlight, as the mine is pitch black even so short a distance inside. I didn’t go any further than this, as mines and underground scare the hell out of me, but just this short distance inside it was cool and peaceful, in a I-might-die-from-a-cave-in, sort of way.

But remember kids, abandoned mines are dangerous, and while I went alone, anfriend knew where I was going, and was waiting for my back-to-civilization text.

Now the facts: Starting elevation: 2000 ft. Ending elevation: 3135 ft. The total time of my hike, from car to car was three and a half hours, with a total of 5.7 miles,
all according to my phone. When hiking up Millard Canyon to Dawn Mine, it feels like sprawling Los Angeles is hundreds of miles away, with the silent trees and the burbling stream and the imposing canyon walls and the murderous chattering squirrels it’s a moment of quiet in a noisy city.

P.S. I mentioned that there were three ways to reach Dawn Mine, and just for balance sake, I will mention the abandoned trail, although I don’t recommend it, unless you like long hikes in the sun and wielding a machete. It is the trail that the Australian forged from the mine up to the Mt. Lowe Railway. Start at the same place, but follow the tarmacked fire road up the ridge of the mountain for three miles. Unlike down in the shaded valley, it is in the harsh sun all the way, but the road is smooth underfoot,neven if it is steep uphill most of the way. After the three miles there is a historical marker pointing out that this was a stop of the Mt. Lowe Railway and passengers used to disembark and hike down to Dawn Mine.

I attempted hiking down the trail, but after 50 feet it was almost completely overgrown and difficult to discern, so I left it for someone else, with an adventurous spirit, and a machete.

Patchwork Craft Show No Go

November 30, 2014 in Crafts, culver city, Events, Food & Drink, LA, Seasonal, Shopping, Uncategorized

I had every intention of going to the Patchwork Show in Santa Ana today but a series of events kept me from it.  First church (hi hippie Unitarians!) which got canceled due to the kid oversleeping her morning nap, then I spent too much time researching ways to use my remaining root vegetables from the Culver City Farmers Market to make leftover turkey chili, Skyped with the in laws, and then I happened to look at a map and discovered Santa Ana is hella far down in the OC. By that time, this wet stuff had started falling from the sky.  Too bad…  lots of great vendors were at the Long Beach show and I was looking forward to shoving some cash at them.  Next up…  Unique LA!

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by frazgo

A Little House Christmas opens at Sierra Madre Playhouse

November 29, 2014 in Entertainment, History, News, People, San Gabriel Valley, Theatre/Stage

The Ingalls family as played by Hanna Victoria Stock, Valerie Lohman, Pamela Daly and Eric Charles Jorgensen.  Click to embiggen

The Ingalls family as played by Hanna Victoria Stock, Valerie Lohman, Pamela Daly and Eric Charles Jorgensen. Click to embiggen

Breaking a decades long tradition and following Creative Director Christian Lebano vision of bringing American plays by American authors,  A Little House Christmas opened to applause last night in Sierra Madre.

A little backstory about the play.  We all know Laura Ingalls Wilder and her stores of growing up in the 1800;s in the big woods or out on the Prarie, It was even a TV show for many years which is how many of us learned of the books.  The play is based on the book and was adapted to stage by James DeVita.  The Little House Heritage House allows little deviation and creative license,  That didn’t stop Directro Emily Chase from working with music curator Lindsey Stand-Polyak and music director Rebecca Lord from getting permission from the trust to incorporate period apporpriate music into the play.  It works. It works really well.  The songs, many of them “new” to this century are a marvelous addition to this simple themed play and adds real depth to the story.  I loved it.

The play takes places in the 1870s on the prairie and spans the course of 1 week with a wicked storm that wreaks havoc on the Ingalls family Christmas.  I won’t give any spoilers on how Christmas was saved, you need to watch the play to see the execution of the play and the heart warming ending.  Suffice it to say, kindness to others previously brought about the happy ending for the Ingalls family.

The Ingalls family as portrayed by Hanna Victoria Stock, Valerie Lohman, Pamela Daly and Eric Charles Jorgensen doesn’t deviate from the books or TV Show.  Added bonus to this is that “Pa Ingalls” in real life can play the fiddle and whips it out at appropriate times in the story to add some real life to  this simple story line. Read the rest of this entry →

Abstract Los Angeles: Road

November 28, 2014 in LA

Hi. My name is Ben, and I’m new to


Photography began, for me, at the age of 19, when my girlfriend handed me a Pentax Spotmatic, and it traveled with me for more years than I like to count.

In between then and now, I spent my time wandering, spending years restoring 1950’s and 1960’s Jaguar’s to perfection, working as a bartender in New Orleans, Alaska, and England and taking classes in everything from astronomy to coding.

Now I have taken all that I love, and wrapped it around photography.

My enjoyment of wandering has taken me all around the city where I live, Los Angeles, with the little details that it displays, and to (never enough) far flung places, where momentary meetings create lasting impressions.

Hodomania means, simply, the mania for travel. I am a writer and photographer based in the Los Angeles area, but my mind takes my feet wandering on a regular basis.

The wandering seems like a good idea at the time.

Sometimes it is.

Sometimes it isn’t.

Click each image to embiggen.





The Apple Pan on Thanksgiving Eve – Free Theater While You Wait!

November 26, 2014 in Food & Drink, Holidays, LA, West Side

ApplePan2When you enter the Apple Pan, you have to understand you are entering a totalitarian state. This joint has been around, almost untouched, since 1947 and nothing you say or do will change how they do business. This is true on any day. This is doubly true on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eves when they make tons of extra pies and all of us die-hards line up to get them. (My husband loves the chocolate cream.) You’ll wait and if you are like me, you’ll enjoy the wait because the wait is great theater.

ApplePan1With all the extra people coming to buy pies on the same days every year, you would think they might put on a special person simply to sell pies and keep the crowds moving. No, no they won’t. Why? Because we are the Apple Pan and because f**k you. You don’t like it? Go buy pies at that tramp Marie Callendar’s place. The guy who takes your pie order is the same guy servicing his side of the counter (which of course is full of lunch eating peeps) and he’ll get to you when he gets to you.

During my 35 minute wait, I was lucky to stand next to a nice woman who had the same attitude as I did, in fact she was going to be late for a doctors appointment, but damned if she was going to miss picking up the apple pie for her boyfriend’s family!  We chatted a bit between shows.

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Graffiti Grammar Bingo and Spelling Bee: Exhibit 1

November 23, 2014 in Announcements, Art, ICME, LA, Rants

B-I-N-G-OBecause, this image:

I hereby announce the bLA Graffiti Grammar Bingo & Bee. Once I post five of these, the first commenter gets a prize if they type BINGO!!!! and then identify the error. (Exclamation points not required.)

Obviously, this one should be “you’re,” and I also deduct points because the elephant appears to be both balancing on a ball and levitating to paint the sign. You can’t do both, Jumbo. I know these things.

I welcome submissions. Ping me at the address on my profile to send me one.

Why hello Canoga Park, I’ve missed you as well.

November 20, 2014 in Food & Drink, LA

Went to our fave 24-hour taco shop, Casa de Tacos, hidden in a small strip mall  at the corner of Topanga Canyon and Wyandotte in Canoga Park. It is SO GOOD to enjoy real Latino-style tacos after three years of Georgia tacos. Got me some lengua and some tripas, for the ultimate in all I had missed.

Then I saw the sticker affixed to the side of the napkin dispenser, and I knew…the taco gods want me home.tacos

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by ruth666

Your Krampus Konnection!

November 19, 2014 in Entertainment, Events, History, Holidays, LA, Seasonal

Greetings, Children...!

Greetings, Children…!

Let your Great Aunt Rusty hook you up for all things Krampus this year!

All Info Right Here!

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by frazgo

L.A. Auto Show press days this week then the grand opening to the public

November 16, 2014 in Downtown, Driving, Entertainment, Events, LA, Transportation

Are you ready? I know I am. Press Pass in hand I’ll be doing nothing but press events and shooting hundreds of amazing concept and production autos coming our way Press Days 11/19-20/2014.

Thursday evening 11/20/2014 is the Preview Party.  It does cost you, but the proceeds go to benefit the Grammy Museum’s music education programs.  I did this event a few years ago and its simply amazing.  Great food and booze all over the place.  Meander through the event, meet the Manufacturers reps that are there for Press Days and really get to know about the cars.  If you’ve got $275 per person to spare its worth it and its for a great cause.  Of course since this is a non-profit organization a portion of your ticket is tax deductible.

Friday 11/21/2014 the Show will open to the public.  You can buy your tickets direct HERE.

Starting on Wednesday I’ll be posting pics from my cell phone through the day. That evening the entire days worth of images will be uploaded to flickr.  Thursday I repeat the process with the addition of driving “green cars” and that days shoot will be posted up for consumption  late in the day and Friday.  By Friday I’ll be posting stories here and on SoCalAutoBlog.

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Street Seen: L.A. Bus Stops Can Be The Loneliest Places

November 8, 2014 in Art, environment, LA, Mass Transit, Photography, Transportation


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by frazgo

We’re a fun bunch of guys….

November 1, 2014 in Blogging (in) LA, Fictional LA, History, LA, LA bloggers, Vintage, Which Side?

Do you wanna jump in the sand box and play with us?

Seriously, the “we” is a bit limited at the moment.  Add in the return of a few old voices and that we have a new owner  that wants to breath some life back into this blog so its gonna be a fun sandbox again..

Requirements are simple. Love Los Angeles. Love to write about what you see/hear/do here in Los Angeles. You don’t have to be spectacular, just be you and have a story to tell here.  Be prepared to commit to semi-frequently posting to

I started here May 2007 for kicks and giggles. I’m among the few that turned it into one adventure after another here in L.A. How? I use my writing here to get press credentials and then apply for press passes on things that interest me. I’m not bashful so I’ve asked to go on ride alongs with local PD, visit concerts and even the L.A Auto Show. You get out of it what you put into it.

The group is always in flux. The common thread is we love L.A and have each others backs. We do fun things too. Series posts on themes like “Songs of L.A” and the Donut Summit. Of course we blog it and share it with everyone else that has a love of Los Angeles.  Remember live blogging at Canter’s Deli?  Thats the sort of events that build a community and readership.

With the return of our former “city captain” Lucinda Michele back at the helm we’ll have direction and start all sorts of new ideas.  If you want to join and grow your writing skills and share your love of Los Angeles send me a link to your writing or a sample to me at [email protected] and I’ll make sure it gets seen.  I wish I could tell you how fast decistions will be made, but I can’t but I can promise your efforts won’t fall on deaf ears.