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Menu Mining: Mayan Bar and Grill coming to Aztec Hotel in Monrovia

April 11, 2013 in Food & Drink, News, San Gabriel Valley, Shopping

Mayan Rating system

I recently got to participate in a Chef’s Tasting at the soon to be opened Mayan Bar and Grill here in Monrovia.  The Mayan will be in the historic Aztec Hotel in the space formerly occupied by the Brass Elephant.  It was a fun experience.  Tasting and rating menu items for a new restaurant before it goes public.  The Mayan will focus on Central American cooking a first for my little corner of L.A.

The food was simply pretty terrific.  First up was Ensalada Esmeralda which was a simple mix of roasted chilis and greens tossed with a bright avocado and cilantro dressing.  Next up was a Puerco Mole Verde, or pork medallions in a somewhat spice, but deeply flavored mole sauce.  The last course they gave us was the Tequila Lime Shrimp…with a spicy sweet mango salsa.  All in all I rated them all very highly, made comments where appropriate but really enjoyed the experience.  The new Chef at the Mayan did not disappoint.

Do you want to get in on the tastings too?  Simply friend the Aztec Hotel on FB and watch for their notices and instructions on what to do for the next event.  Its really as simple as noting date, time and emailing the hotels General Manager Art Desaultels that you want to attend.  This Thursday is nearly full and they just added in Friday for another tasting.  They fill fast so act fast. Read the rest of this entry →

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RIP Annette Funicello you were my favorite Mouseketeer

April 8, 2013 in News, Obituaries, People

Its been widely reported that Annette Funicello, one of the original Mouseketeers passed away today.  Her TV programs and movies about growing up in the ’50s and ’60s helped make the beach party a part of L.A. and American culture.  Never mind all the folks she enticed to make it behind the Orange Curtain for a trip to Disneyland.  Complete WIKI on her HERE.

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Snapcious, the game all the cool kids are playing with their phones

March 31, 2013 in Contests, Entertainment, LA bloggers, News, People, Photography

We all run around with our phones snapping pics and sharing the world as we see it.  Until now you either tossed onto social media like twitter or photo sharing sites like flickr and shared it with a few friends and that was it.  West Hollywood based F.8. Interactive just changed what you do with your pics via Snapcious.

Snapcious takes your image sharing to the next degree. It gives you missions to fulfill with your trusty phone cam and post onto the game.  From there other Snapcious review and rate your pics and the winners in many categories are announced each day. Each time you post a pic you get points.  You also collect points for suggesting missions, rating images and making comments on what you see.

The game is the brainchild of long time blogging.la contributor Mack Reed and a few others at F.8 Interactive.  Since its launch on iTunes a few weeks back it has picked up followers across the globe.  You can download it from iTunes HERE and join the fun.   Complete guide on points and how to play HERE.  Best of all…its a FREE app.

Unlike some of the other social media pic sharing places like, um say Instagram, you own the pics forever and don’t sign away any rights in the TOS.  Thats a biggy for me as you never know which images I will wind up using for sale that I want to keep control of.

There is a short video after the jump that explains the game and how to play as well.  Read the rest of this entry →

Gimme A Sign: “Every Lane Is A Bike Lane”

March 22, 2013 in Biking in LA, News, Transportation

Every time I see the lovely new “Every Lane Is A Bike Lane” signage from Metro, be it up on a billboard (such as the one atop Silver Lake Lounge seen between my handlebars across the street during a bike ride yesterday) or on the back of a bus, I appreciate it as a DIRECT SLAP IN THE FACE of every single sorry-ass entitled excuse for a motorist over the years who dared think they could bully me off the road with either:

A) Feckless words or reckless deeds

or

B) The lack of an IQ enough to know I have every right to be there.

Touché douchés.

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Drive Carbon Free for 2 years with a New Car

March 8, 2013 in Driving, environment, Events, News, Social issues, Transportation

No, I’m not talking a short term lease on an electric car, its on a gasser.  Suburban Simi Valley Ford is buying carbon offsets on any new car/truck you buy from them now through Earth Day (April 22, 2013).  They will purchase a 2 year carbon offset in your name from Carbonfund.org who in turn sends you a certificate for this purchase.

I talked with Mike Shell the leasing manager at Simi Valley Ford yesterday getting details on this program.  SVF is doing this because they want to leave a legacy and be a leader in helping to bring about an end to climate change.  So far since the Drive to Save the Environment Campaign started they have offset 1 Million, yes 1,000,000 pounds of carbon going into the air.  They hope that other dealers, including other brands will follow suit with this project in coming years. Read the rest of this entry →

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4 Local Bands make it to the 2014 Rose Parade

February 22, 2013 in Entertainment, Events, News, Seasonal, Which Side?

Just got the press release.  Congrats to the 4 local marching bands that made it into the 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade.

They are:
Glendora Tartan Band and Pageantry, Glendora
Los Angeles Unified School District All District High School Honor Band, Los Angeles
Pasadena City College Tournament of Roses Honor Band & Herald Trumpets, Pasadena
The Salvation Army Tournament of Roses Band

 

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Metro cans more carpool lanes for Lexus Lanes – SGV hit this time around

February 22, 2013 in Driving, Law, Law Enforcement, News, San Gabriel Valley, Transportation

lexus lane transponder

Yup, as I mentioned in a post a while back, the HOV to HOT lane conversion is coming to me in the San Gabriel Valley.  The 10 from Alameda/Union Station to the 605 will be the affected area.  The change becomes effective 2-23-2013 at 12:01AM.

The transponders aren’t cheap, and then again using the lanes isn’t cheap if you are not in a carpool either.  Yes, you are required to have a transponder in your car if you use the lane.  There is no $3.00 service fee charged if you use it at least 3 times a month.

Metro is so “convinced” you will love it they are running a contest that ends today to get you to sign up.  Enter HERE.

AAA offers discounts on the transponders if you purchase it through them. This deal is open only to AAA members. The offer is as follows: Receive 20% off the initial pre-paid toll deposit of $40. AAA members will pay $32 for $40 worth of toll credits. Maximum discount is $8 per new account set-up.

My question is why hasn’t the 10 from DTLA to SaMo or the 405 from say the 101 to the 10 not been hit with the Lexus Lanes as well?  Certainly they are as congested as bad or worse than the freeways chosen so far.

Elisa Lam: Body of Missing Canadian Tourist Discovered in Downtown Hotel Water Tank

February 21, 2013 in Downtown, LA, News, Obituaries, People


The body of missing Canadian tourist, Elisa Lam of Vancouver, British Columbia, was found in the water tank of the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Lam had traveled to California by herself on January 27, en route to Santa Cruz, and was last seen by workers at the hotel on January 31.

Although Lam was scheduled to check out of the hotel on February 1, she had disappeared, despite being in daily contact with her family up until this point. By February 6, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) had released details about the suspicious disappearance of Lam and on February 7, a press conference was held about the case.

A week later, on February 14, the LAPD released a disturbing surveillance video of the 21 year old University of British Columbia (UBC) student darting in and out of the hotel’s elevators.

Earlier this week, on February 19, guests at the Cecil Hotel complain about low water pressure and a worker checks the hotel’s water tanks and discovers Lam’s body. Guests staying at the hotel had likely been bathing, brushing their teeth and drinking water from a tank in which Lam’s body had been likely decomposing for more than two weeks.

Photo courtesy: LAPD

George Tetsuo Aratani, Nisei Entrepreneur and Philanthropist, Passes Away at Age 95

February 20, 2013 in Downtown, LA, Obituaries, People

George Aratani, a survivor of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and later successful businessman and philanthropist who founded Mikasa and Kenwood, passed away Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at the age of 95.

His legacy in philanthropy through The Aratani Foundation has supported many Japanese American organizations, but especially in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo. One literally cannot walk a block in Little Tokyo without passing by a space endowed by George and Sakaye Aratani: Japanese American Cultural and Community Center’s Aratani Japan America Theatre; the Japanese American National Museum’s George and Sakaye Central Hall; and the Union Center for the Arts’s Aratani Courtyard.

From The Nisei Week Foundation Facebook page:

The Nisei Week Foundation mourns the passing of George Aratani who passed away peacefully today [Tuesday, February 19, 2013].

Aratani successfully launched post-World War II international trade enterprises. His first was Mikasa, a tableware company which was doing $400 million in annual sales when it was sold in 2000.

Influenced by his late father and motivated by the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, Aratani and his wife Sakaye have donated a sizable amount of their wealth to Japanese American organizations and causes.

For More Information:
Hirahara, Naomi. An American Son: The Story of George Aratani, Founder of Mikasa and Kenwood. Los Angeles, CA: Japanese American National Museum, 2001.

Photo credit: CalPoly Pomona, The George and Sakaye Aratani Japanese Garden

This Is The Hollenbeck Burrito

February 14, 2013 in East Side, Food & Drink, LA, News, People

The quarter seen next to the plate is for scale. The Hollenbeck Burrito is the creation of a singular master by the name of Manuel Rojas who owned the famed Manuel’s Original El Tepeyac Cafe in Boyle Heights. But the Hollenbeck is hardly the largest burrito he makes — or I should say made, since sad news came yesterday that Señor Rojas has died at the age of 79 after a half-century of  serving them up.

That distinction belongs to any variety of Manuel’s Special burritos, each of which roughly calculates out to being about 250 cubic inches of gut-busting deliciousness (here’s an example with the unknown patron exhibiting the appropriate level of shock and awe). Simply laying my eyes on such massiveness the one and only time I ordered a Manuel’s Special was almost enough to stave off my worst hunger pangs. Since then, it’s been Hollenbecks for me and they’re pleeeeeenty! But if the previously mentioned dimensional quantification is hard to wrap your head around, try this alternative: it weighs in at five pounds.

I’m having trouble wrapping my head around Rojas no longer overseeing the construction of his classics, but I take solace that they live on, and I will most certainly be paying a visit in the near future to honor him by digging into one — and taking the inevitable leftovers home.

Pondering The Transponder: Sell Your Soul, Pay The Toll

November 13, 2012 in Driving, LA, News, Politics, Rants, Technology, Transportation

Following Frazgo’s November 9 post announcing the somewhat chagrin-filled arrival of toll lanes that have now turned a stretch of the 110 Freeway (and soon part of the 10 Freeway) into a Costway, I whatthehell’d it and decided to drink the koolaid and go get myself outfitted with one of the required tracking devices so my vehicular movements and non-movements could be monitored by 24/7 by the MTA and Caltrans, AAA via a combination of roadway implant receivers and suborbital satellites. Oops! Sorry!! My inherent schizoid-based distrust of any transmitters forced upon us by the government is showing. Let me zip that up. What I really meant to call the technology was “The completely harmless and entirely loveable Metro Expresslane FasTrak Transponder.”

Anyway, it’s not like I really need one. I’m rarely on the 110 and even rarer in its HOV lanes so my initial reaction was basically “fuck that bullshit” followed by about eight exclamation points.

Then my resolve weakened when the doomsday scenario occurred to me that there might come that anxiety-ridden day when I’m stuck southbound on the gridlocked Harbor coming through Exposition Park, 149 hopeless minutes away from a flight at LAX that’s leaving in 91 minutes. At that moment somewhere in a bunker deeeeeeeep under the city an MTA operative monitoring my biometric activity being sent via the chip embedded in the TAP card in my wallet smiled and told a failsafe colleague “We’ve almost got another one!”

Read the rest of this entry →

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Did you film or video the Endeavour today?

September 21, 2012 in Events, LA, News, Photography, Which Side?

I am pretty amazed by the number of YouTube videos or flickr sets of the shuttle Endeavour’s tour of L.A. today.  Did you post any pics or videos today of the Endeavour?  If so please share the links to them in the comments section.

Endeavor Over Silver Lake

September 21, 2012 in News, Science, Transportation

I’d originally planned to bike up to the Observatory and hike to the top of Mt. Hollywood for a nice vantage point of the shuttle as it did its Los Angeles flyover this morning, but I instead opted just to park a rickety old adirondack chair up on the apex of our steeply pitched Silver Lake roof and camp out there with a camera. And not fall down.

Low and behold, at high noon, that blessed spacebird flew into view atop her trusty 747 transport and accompanied by two fighter jet escorts and literally arced around my gleeful self as if the pilots  saw me and said to hell with the Observatory let’s give THAT GUY over their in the chair on that roof a treat.

Of course I hastily snapped off a few frames as I sat gape-mouthed in awe of her relative proximity, the best of which is below when she’s west from me across Silver Lake gulch and over the Micheltorena Ridge and banking southeast to go to downtown. Just awesome (click to enlargify):

PS. I also set up a timelapse cam beside me to autosnap me up on the roof snapping the shuttle, after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry →

Bamboo Charlie, Rest In Peace

September 2, 2012 in Events, News, Obituaries

http://youtu.be/SCUKzjBeBMA

I was seriously  saddened to read in today’s LA Times that Charles Ray Walker (aka Bamboo Charlie) was found dead August 26. I first learned of him and the wonderful Boyle Heights space he transformed a couple years ago:

From the LA Times story today by Hector Becerra:

What Walker did, over two decades, was turn something grim into a wonderland garden of edibles and toys. He grew fruits and vegetables on bare slopes. He took discarded toys and whimsical signs and decorated terraces and elaborate stairwells he carved out of the dirt. He built a shack, and under the cool shade of a tree, a home entertainment room with a television set and sofa.

I’d always meant to go there and say hello. Now it’s too late for that. Now, all I can do is go and pay my respects.

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Comedian Phyllis Diller dies at age 95.

August 20, 2012 in News, Obituaries, People

Funny lady and long time Angeleno (Brentwood to be precise) passed away today.  There is a great article in the LA times about her HERE.  There is more on her life HERE in the wiki.

RIP and thanks for all the laughs over the years.

Do turn up the audio on the video as it isn’t that good of a sound quality.