The Kept Girl and other bits of Los Angeles

Kim Cooper, author of The Kept Girl, click to embiggen

If you know me, by now you know  I’m a total fan of Raymond Chandler. Angeleno and author Kim Cooper has a wonderful book that stars him and and is set in 1929 Los Angeles. Its told in the tone of his books which makes it a very easy and entertaining read.  Its centered around the Great Eleven cult that was active in Los Angeles that year.  Its been historically researched and based on several characters that may or may not have met in real life.  For the sake of this piece of fiction they all crossed paths and their tale unfolds in “The Kept Girl“.

Kim Cooper and Richard Schave also run the Esotouric Tours.  These social historians research a topic or person then put together lively bus tours on that theme around historic Los Angeles.

This past Sunday was the monthly Sunday Salon presented by the Los Angeles Visionaries Association.  Kim Cooper was there to talk about her book.  Also present was the graphic illustrator Paul Rogers who did the cover art for The Kept Girl. Continue reading “The Kept Girl and other bits of Los Angeles”

As Easy As 2, 1, 3…

I’ve mulled over the news from earlier this week of the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council declaring the community it serves as NOT a part of The Eastside.

I’d’ve thought I’d be all HELLYEAH! right outta the gate, given my past protestations (that’ve mellowed somewhat in my old age) against those over-insulated 135,938 natives and the 1.6-million transplants who live in the Westside and drink deeply of the koolaid that leaves them to believe with varying degrees of commitment that their vastly superior end of the city begins and ends on the ocean-side of…uh, you name it: Speedway Alley, Lincoln, Bundy, the 405, La Cienega, or La Brea, making the other end THEIR eastside for the simple reason that all that riff raff resides east of them. How proprietary.

But instead I surprised myself at being sort of meh at the strictly symbolic and mostly meaningless action. There certainly was a part of me that was satisfied and tried to rah rah at the decision — especially when I read subsequent news stories that took the idiotic angle that Silver Lake had voted to “secede.” As if it had gone all South Carolina on some sort of Greater Eastside union. How con-veeeeeen-ient!

But ultimately it was just a big shoulder shrug. Because I’ve figured out that it’s a waste of time. We live in a city that has built itself by marginalizing its past, so how can I expect so many of its citizens not do the same? In a city that itself has a history of discarding its history as it sprawled so ever nebulously outward from its core, convincing those residents adamantly ignorant of our city’s socio-geographic foundations to look at a different perspective is about as easy as convincing those entitled aggressive motorists they don’t have a right to run me and my bike off the road.

Ultimately what’s important to me now is not changing anyone’s mind but knowing what I know and respecting what so many others couldn’t care less about: that I reside (somewhere in that orange dot I added to that pictured map fragment above) on the land that ultimately became known as Silver Lake which stands in the northWEST corner of the boundaries of the original 16 Spanish Leagues centered upon the plaza where in 1781 — when the main thing going on in the Westside was waves crashing — was established El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula and incorporated as the City of Los Angeles in 1850.

To me, that’s as easy as 2, 1, 3.

Great LA Drives : Canyon Carving above Malibu

FIESTA ST test route
Canyon Carving route above Malibu, click to embiggen

If you know me, you know by now I’m a car guy.  Not trucks, suv’s or anything else with 4 wheels.  Cars.  Cars that handle well and are fun get my blood pumping. Yesterday was just such a day.

If you were terrorized by a bunch of new Fiesta STs yesterday, it was me and I apologize.

Got a hot hatch of your own and want some fun? Take the route I took yesterday starting in Santa Monica into the hills and canyons above Malibu.  The route is just drop dead gorgeous with the Cornell Winery as a mid point in the route to stop for some libations and just catch your breath.  It will take you up PCH from SaMo to Malibu where you make an abrupt right up Malibu Canyon, across Mulholland and then down Decker Canyon to Leo Carillo State Beach.  About an hour for each leg if you follow the entire route.

What you get on the route is some really exciting hills and curves to test your driving ability.  I’ve done a similar route in the past and on non-school days you do need to have your wits about you are there are kids on skate boards running the canyon without regard to lane maintenance.  And bicycles.  All that is part of the territory I guess, weekdays are the best bet for canyon carving when traffic is light and the kids are in school. Continue reading “Great LA Drives : Canyon Carving above Malibu”

Mapgasm: The Stars In 1937’s Hollywood Galaxy

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.”

 

Maptastic: 1932 Los Angeles!

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.

 

We’re Number Ten: Racial Segregation in LA

It may come as little surprise to many of you that Los Angeles is one of the ten most segregated large urban areas in the United States. With a segregation level of 67.84 (where “1” is the most integrated and “100” is the most segregated), LA is only marginally less segregated than the City of Brotherly Love which weighs in at 68.41 or Cincinatti at 69.42.

Map by John Paul DeWitt of CensusScope.org and U Michigan’s Social Science Data Analysis Network

Continue reading “We’re Number Ten: Racial Segregation in LA”

ICME: Obscenely High Gas Prices

Sigh.  From the very handy but depressing GasBuddy, gas prices are above the $3.50 mark all over the city, and some poor motorists in North Hollywood are seeing $4.00 a gallon.  The LA Times blames the rising prices on “unrest” in the Middle East, but exporting the blame is too easy. Politicians haven’t really followed through on vague promises to reduce dependence on foreign oil; we like big cars; and someone (not Ed Begley, Jr.) killed the electric car.  Public transportation, anyone?

Pocket Parks: Schader Park

You know those tiny pockets inside your regular front jeans pocket? The one that is supposed to be for a pocket watch or something? Schader Park is like that pocket – TINY!

This lovely little slip of a park is along Cloverfield Blvd, just south of Santa Monica (Click on the map image to go to the map.)

And it’s not large. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in charm, shady benches and lovely trees.

And that is all there is to say about this wee green space!

Pocket Parks: Stewart Street Park

Tucked between Olympic Blvd., the 10 Freeway and what appears to be the Santa Monica City work yard, sits the lush green spot that is Stewart Street Park.

I was there on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend and it was pretty empty. Not sure if that was because of the holiday or if because it’s always pretty quiet in this tidy corner of East Santa Monica. With a number of office buildings nearby (The Lantana Building and Tribeca West to name a few) I can imagine this is a nice spot for office dwellers to come to for lunch when they just need some fresh air.

Here’s where to find this green retreat (Click on the image to take you to the google map.):

There is ample parking and very clean, bright, airy bathrooms – two each for ladies and gents.

The sinks are outside and I kinda dig ’em:

There is a basketball court near the front of the park surrounded on three sides by shady trees. No other courts at this park, just the B-ball.

Beyond the basketball court was a baseball field ringed with a fence and this sign. Unfortunately there was no information on when the field would be completed.

Fortunately, just past the jungle gym, there is still plenty of field left unfenced for frisbee, catch or a rockin’ game of Freeze Tag, if you are so inclined.

At the end of this path, at the west end of the park are the swings. I was tempted to stop and enjoy them, but saved it for next time.

From the swingset end, looking back to Stewart Street.

I’m curious how busy this park actually gets on non holiday weekends. It seems a gorgeous spot to relax and unwind after a busy week. I hope it is well used and loved by it’s neighbors!

Pocket Parks: Culver West-Alexander in Culver City

If you look at a map of Culver City, you’ll see there is an arm that reaches to the Pacific Ocean. This is “Culver West” and it’s nestled between Mar Vista and Marina Del Rey.

There is a sweet gem in that arm called Culver West-Alexander Park and if you are in the neighborhood and looking for a great spot to spend an afternoon, you will love this one.

I remember this park from the very early 90’s as I used to work in the Marina. The big field seen here used to have a baseball diamond and one year I spent many an early morning practicing softball with our company team. (Go Hurlers!) Even without a baseball diamond, you can NOT get bored at this park. I dare you!

There are basketball and tennis courts, BBQ pits and picnic tables, tons of jungle gyms and swings and even a community center. If you are a Westsider, check this spot out, bring the kids and grandparents and a big picnic. You never know what you’ll see here.

How to get there (click on the image to go to the Google Map):

You want sports? We got sports!  One tennis and two paddle tennis courts (this is where my honey and I play a lot.)

Here’s a close up of the mural at the end of the tennis court. It’s like being inside Wii Tennis!

In case you were wondering:

And also:

This happy mural greets  you when you park on Moore street. Handball courts (three) are here on the backside of the tennis court.

Wider shot of Basketball and handball courts with informal running path in front.

Close on the Mural at the Basketball court:

Plenty of stuff for the kids to clamber over and around:

And when it’s time to eat, there are plenty of shady spots to spread out and grill up some yummy picnic food.

There is plenty of parking on Moore Street and also in a small lot near the jungle gym/tennis court side of the park.

Alas, Fido will need to stay on the designated path. But it’s a sweet path!

And if you need to just chill in a grassy, shady spot, there is plenty of that too.

Read more about Richard Alexander, after whom the park was named. (Click picture for bigger version.)

Stop by some time! It’s a gorgeous little park and it’s all yours.

Keep On Moving

One of my favorite shortcuts in L.A. is Outpost Drive, which runs from Mulholland Dr. to Franklin Ave. I frequently use it when I want to get from the North Hollywood/Burbank area to La Brea and points west. It’s a fantastic way to avoid jam ups in the Cahuenga Pass and/or at Hollywood & Highland. This is, of course, very important during Hollywood Bowl season.

Skirting the Cahuenga Pass on Outpost Drive (click for bigness)

Last night as I was returning home from a lovely meet up with some fellow bloggers, I realized it was just about time for the Bowl audience to be leaving. So, I made my way over to Outpost and started up the hill. I was delightfully surprised to find that most of the entire route has been repaved and is an exceptionally smooth ride. Previously, it was so bad that when I got a new car a few years ago, it took me many months to even subject it to the trek.

I do have a few other bypasses I like to take to get “over the hill” if I’m traveling at peak traffic times. The shortcuts don’t always guarantee getting to my destination any earlier, but I’d rather be moving than just sitting on a congested freeway or street.

Do you have a favorite shortcut or tip for circumventing traffic in this city? Leave it in the comments below.

Updated Route for Sunday’s Memorial Walk

(Photo courtesy of Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times / May 6, 2010)
(Photo courtesy of Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times / May 6, 2010)
(Photo courtesy of Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times / May 6, 2010)

For those of you wishing to join us this Sunday in remembrance of a local icon, below is the proposed route for Sunday’s Memorial Walk in honor of Dr. Marc Abrams, who passed away this week.

Bring water and sunscreen! We will assemble for the walk on Sunday, July 25 at noon. Meet in the grassy field next to the Silver Lake Recreation Center at 1850 W. Silver Lake Drive. Parking may be a challenge in this area, so I suggest riding a bike, walking or taking the Metro to the starting point. The # 201 bus stops at W. Silver Lake Drive and Moreno, which is walking distance to the Silver Lake Recreation Center.

Please stay on sidewalks and observe all traffic rules. No jaywalking or impeding traffic.

12:30 PM – Begin at Silver Lake Recreation Center at 1850 W. Silver Lake Drive, continue north on W. Silver Lake Drive for 1.3 miles

1:00 PM – Turn left on Rowena, continue for 0.2 miles

1:05 PM – Turn left on Hyperion, continue south towards Monon for 0.2 miles

1:10 PM – Turn left on Griffith Park Blvd, stay on Griffith Park for 1.3 miles, until it dead ends at Sunset Blvd. (in front of Mornings Nights Coffee Shop)

1:45 PM – Stop at the triangle park across from Mornings Nights Coffee Shop at 1523 Griffith Park Blvd for a break, get water, etc.

2:00 PM – Turn left on Sunset Blvd. towards downtown

2:10 PM – Stop at the mural at 2943 W. Sunset Blvd, next to Local restaurant

2:20 PM – Turn left on Silver Lake Blvd, continue for 0.8 miles

2:30 PM – Arrive back at the Silver Lake Recreation Center

Those wishing to do an extended walk at this point should continue around the Reservoir on Silver Lake Blvd for 0.8 miles, turn left on Armstrong for 0.3 miles, then left on Tesla Avenue, then left on W. Silver Lake Drive for 1 mile.

Movies White People Like

mad menThe NYTimes has a super cool map of 100 Netflix rentals showing distribution by zip code in twelve cities, including LA. For those of us interested in how cultural taste intersects with and reinforces demographic and economic differences, clicking through the titles is pretty fascinating. There are some fairly obvious examples of stuff white people like, as in the Mad Men map pictured here (click to make it bigger). Lakeview Terrace, not so much. Other titles defy expectations (well, mine at least). It surprises and depresses me, for example, that Confessions of a Shopaholic seems to have universal appeal. And when you get tired of looking at the distribution pictures, you can get a healthy dose of snark by reading the blurbs about the films, which include, because it’s the New York Times, some solid LA mockery. They describe The Soloist thusly:

These are a few of the ghosts who haunt Los Angeles, that Mecca of Fabulousness where you can go for weeks (and invariably by car) without smelling the reek of other people’s desperation. That helps explain why Hollywood types tend not to set their camera sights on homeless men, women and children, unless they’re good for a little uplift (as in the Will Smith vehicle “The Pursuit of Happyness”). Homeless people are generally, pardon the pun, bummers–they also can’t afford tickets.

City rivalry aside, this is really nifty. If you’re anything of a map geek or a movie geek, check it out.

(Thanks to Google Maps Mania for the link.)

Malibu-Newton Canyon Wine Tasting

What an excruciating existence it must be, running a winery in Malibu. (Cielo Farms)
What an excruciating existence it must be, running a winery in Malibu. (Cielo Farms)

So I thought only Europe had “Appellation d’origine contrôlée” or “Indicazioni Geografica Tipica”–legally defined & demarcated areas where specifically-named wines are grown–but I guess the US has them too. D’oh! I can’t believe *I* didn’t know that. And I called myself a wine snob. If you’d like to sample wines from the uber-local “American Viticultural Area” known as the “Malibu-Newton Canyon,” Pourtal in Malibu is hosting a month-long extravaganza of  local hoity-toity booze. While you may have to jostle a few Malibuian boob jobs & facelifts to get over to their pouring station, it could be worth it just to develop a taste for the terroir.

My curiousity piqued about these local wine-growing regions (like, who the hell owns that little winery in the Sepulveda Pass that’s only visible from the Getty tram? What region is that?), I read up on these areas a little more. Looks like you can get even more specific with an AVA called “Saddle Rock Malibu“–you have to read the way these legally-binding boundaries are written up. It’s nuts. The map geek in me wants to walk all the “unnamed, unimproved road[s] that meander”. Sounds like a metaphor for life, eh? Perhaps the only solution is some of that local vino.

Click through to read some of these geek-tastic descriptions of the Malibu area’s wine regions. For info on Pourtal’s local wine tastings, go here. They include Semler & Saddlerock, Cielo, Rosenthal, Hoyt, Malibu Sanity, Malibu Vineyards and Griffin Family Vineyards.

Continue reading “Malibu-Newton Canyon Wine Tasting”