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Operation Save a Vet launches this Friday – start your Holiday Giving early

November 5, 2015 in Events, LA, News, People, Shopping, Social issues, Weather

Sergeant Major Acosta of Operation Save a Vet. Photo by D'Andra Jay

Sergeant Major Acosta of Operation Save a Vet. Photo by D’Andra Jay

I met Gayle Montgomery quite a while back and impressed with the depth of concern she has for her fellow human beings.  Through her job she met Sergeant Major Acosta.  A disabled Vet who lost his eyesight during a batle in the Middle East.  Gayle also works on a local committee trying to find solutions to our homeless problem and became aware that a large percentage of our homeless are Vets with no resources to help themselves.  Sergeant Major and Gayle got to talking about the problems the expected El Nino will bring for them.  Here are a few of the things they discussed.

  • Homelessness in Vets was reduced from 4 years ago. Now 1 in 10 who sleep on the streets is a veteran.
  • There has been a 6% spike in the last year of homeless veterans, probably attributable to the spiraling cost of housing in combination with the draw down.
  • The largest concentration of homeless Vets anywhere in our nation is in LA County where there are over 4,000 Vets who sleep on the street.
  • It is the position of the group that has who have joined hands in lockstep across a wide geographical area, that no person who honorably served our nation should have to sleep on the streets.
  • No person who served our nation should have to suffer such adverse weather conditions without supplies and without knowing that, Gayle’s employer is Glad to Be of Service to those who faithfully served us.
  • This project very closely parallels the Soldiers Angels Program which serves those on the battlefield. This project serves those who were on the battlefield, came home, and have had difficulty reintegrating into society.

From that conversation came the idea to create Thank a Vet Inc and their first mission  “Operation Save a Vet”.  It will consist of a multipronged approach to help the homeless vets trying to survive on the streets during the coming rainy season.  First is getting in kind materials donated to them for distribution.  Second is to raise funds for care and shelter for these vets, men and women trying to cope with life outside the military. Read the rest of this entry →

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Fresh & Easy doors closing everything up to 30% off

October 24, 2015 in Food & Drink, Shopping, Social issues

Fresh and Easy, Duarte

Fresh and Easy, Duarte

Well, I suppose its fitting I write the obit for Fresh &Easy  since I announced its arrival here back in May ’07 before they even opened their doors.  I’m going to miss these guys.  They fit the fickle attitudes of my picky eaters as well as my schedule and budget like no other store ever has in the past.  I could always count on them for a good selection of fresh, even organic items at best possible prices.

They weren’t without their growing pains.  Cheeky “hybrid parking only” signs meant well but drew the ire of a few.  Unions tried to bust them and unionize the workers…who were paid more and had benefits directly from Fresh and Easy at the get go.  Some larger grocers didn’t like the self check out and lobbied to have it such that booze had to be checked out by an employee which did put a slow down on the checking out process.  In the end it came down to a concept us ‘mericans for the most part didn’t get…food shopped fresh daily, quality preservative free prepared meals, sammy’s and salads to go when you don’t have time to cook in a neighborhood market that killed them.  Sad.

I certainly feel for all the employees who suddenly got notice and are now out of a job…at the worst possible time of the year to find a new job.

Today I went through the Duarte store.  The up to 30% off wasn’t on many items.  Everything is off its sale price and listed as full price.  Booze and beer was only 10% not enough to get me into frenzy stock up mode.  Most canned goods were only 10%, Rice/Beans and Jelly were 20% off.  Frozen foods were 30% off and yes, I cleaned them out of every last molten lava cake they had in stock.  Ditto their bulgogi Korean BBQ marinade.


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A Walk on Water gets a gift from Dodge

September 18, 2015 in Celebrity, Education, Entertainment, Events, News, People, Social issues

Sometimes it is more than the car, its the  perfect mix of ambition and heart.

Last night started out like any other manufacturer party.  This time hosted by Dodge.  It was different as instead of rolling out a red carpet for a shiny new car, it was to give a gift to suburban Los Angeles based “A Walk on Water“. AWOW for short.

Until last night I hadn’t heard of them or their mission.  AWOW is there to support families with autistic members.  They provide the entire family, not just the person with autism, with the chance to spend a fun day together learning to surf.  They believe in the theraputic powers of the ocean and surfing as a way to bridge the communication gap and give a family with special needs a fun learning experience they can share.

Actor Danny Trejo gave a moving introduction to the group and shared how is own family is affected by autism.  Its just not the person with special needs that needs help, but the entire family that is affected and need help with coping and learning.  The board members of AWOW also shared with us their personal stories on why what they do is important to them and the families they help.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house after one board member talked about how his non-verbal son spoke his first words after his first surf ride.  He’s skilled now on the board that he’s ready to be a teacher in the group.  The power in belief in abilities and that you can make always find a way to make a positive out of a challenge.

The big news dropped at the end of the presentations is that Dodge, a division of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was donating $20,000 to AWOW to kick start their growth and expand beyond the Los Angeles area.  Dodge/FCA together are also pledging an additional $50 for every test drive at authorized dealerships in the coming days up to $5,000 additional for AWOW. (list of authorized dealers after the jump).  It was hinted that Danny Trejo himself will be at some of the dealerships during their day of sponsored test drives to meet and greet those helping out AWOW by taking drive in a shiny new Dodge.

To further sweeten the pot, Nacional Records, our host for the evening festivities, is going to give away 2 tickets per test drive to the October 3 Supersonico Festival at the Palladium.

For the list of  dealerships dates and times you need to make the jump. Read the rest of this entry →

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BMW Loans i3 EV to Los Angeles Police Department for Evaluation

September 14, 2015 in Crime, Driving, environment, News, People, Transportation

A detective loses his Dodge Patrol car with a hemi and cries…

Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck announce a year long test of a BMW i3 electric vehicle at a City of Los Angeles press conference in Los Angeles, Sept. 11, 2015. Photo by Danny Moloshok/Newscast

Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck announce a year long test of a BMW i3 electric vehicle at a City of Los Angeles press conference in Los Angeles, Sept. 11, 2015. Photo by Danny Moloshok/Newscast courtesy BMW PR

I could add a few more snarks, but bottom line a few electric cars in the LAPD make sense in the right applications.  No I can’t imagine them used in a high speed pursuit, but contrary to local TV that is not a constant occurrence.  There’s plenty of things they do that involves just slogging around town and idling in traffic that an electric car and its zero emissions at the tail pipe make sense.  Detectives cold calling witnesses and victims on follow up doesn’t need speed nor lights flaring.  Parking meter slugs idling around town issuing tickets is another area that kinda makes sense.

Regardless of what you think of the EV, they make sense in some applications and if we can save some gas money swapped for electrons cheaper off the grid to power these little beasts its better for the cities bottom line.

Personally, I like the BMW i3,  Drives very much like what you expect from BMW, with its aggressive regeneratvie braking systems a quick lift of the throttle feels more like downshifting a gasser than just idle coasting.  My full review from a few years ago HERE that included an interview with the BMW i project manager.

Free subscription to for the first person who captures a pic of the BMW i3 in action on the streets of L.A.

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What do with the kidlets in the SGV this summer?

June 17, 2015 in Art, Education, LA, People, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Shopping


Summer Art Lessons to embiggen

Summer Art Lessons flyer…click to embiggen

Paint n Play Art Studio and Gallery in Monrovia has just the thing to keep kids entertained and busy this summer.  Art classes.  Several to choose from and all expert taught by Lisa Barrios and her loving staff.  Real working pros sharing their talents with kids.  Does it get better than that?

From basic ceramics to Parent and Tot classes its a learning experience and freeing little minds to create.  I really love this stuff.  Most is ages 6 and up, though some are as young as 4, and others you need to be at least 8.  Hard core elementary ages that need some structure and learning activities in the summer…that are fun.

Click the flyer to embiggen and get the full deets on the classes they offer.  Call Lisa Barrios the owner of Paint n Play for the details and to get your kidlet signed up.  You won’t regret it and you’ll be a hero to your kid for doing so.

Deets: Paint n Play Art Studio and Gallery, 418 S Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia 91016  626-256-4648

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Pedal on the Pier – fundraiser to send kids to Summer Camp

May 4, 2015 in Education, Events, Seasonal, Social issues, West Side

Pedal on the Pier Logo, click to embiggen

Pedal on the Pier Logo, click to embiggen

Ok, this is a different event, not bicycles, but stationary bikes ridden 100 miles to raise money to send inner city kids to summer camp.  It’s sponsored by the  Harold Robinson Foundation and will be held May 31st 2015 on SaMo Pier.  Nice setting, fun if you’re into riding bikes that don’t go anywhere. At least some creep racing in a sport sedan can’t run you over, but I digress.  Most importantly this is about raising funds to help underprivileged kids get to summer camp and enjoy all that experience has to offer.

To participate there are a few criteria.  Just having stamina and great gams to sit and bicycle isn’t enough. You  need to have pledges for at least $2,500 to be on one of the stationary bikes on the pier and pedal for those 5 hours.  You also need $250 for an entry fee.  You can start the registration process for you as an individual or a team  HERE.

Full Press Release after the jump: Read the rest of this entry →

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More on the AEA vote and Pro 99 Seat Theatre

March 26, 2015 in News, People, San Gabriel Valley, Social issues, Theatre/Stage

Ballots will be arriving in the hands of member actors of the Actors Equity Association.  Its important to keep 99 Seat Theatre alive in Los Angeles.  A “NO” vote will insure that the 99 Seat Agreement remains in place and is not changed.

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Einstein is a Dummy opens in Sierra Madre

March 8, 2015 in Education, Entertainment, People, San Gabriel Valley, Theatre/Stage

L to R: Tyler Fromson as Albert, Matt Severyn as Constantin, Andrea Arvanigian as Elsa

L to R: Tyler Fromson as Albert, Matt Severyn as Constantin, Andrea Arvanigian as Elsa

Its science to nurture your inner nerd.  It has a message…its ok to be curious, its ok to ask why, its OK to be different. All the issues every kid struggles with to be “popular” and be themselves at the same time is explored in this high energy production that opened at the Sierra Madre Playhouse this weekend.  Think of it as Energy, the good kind like a colorful Saturday morning exploding on stage (and off at times) with the angst of a kid who doesn’t fit in and wants to.

Einstein is a Dummy is written by Karen Zacarias and brilliantly presented under the direction of Derek Manson for the Sierra Madre Playhouse.  Add in the musical score by Deborah Wicks LaPuma and you’ve got a show that kids will enjoy while picking up some lessons on personal identity and real science.

This is repertory theatre. The play has two cast so as to stage it for evening performances as well as matinee’s for schools here in the SGV.  (This play is aimed at the 3rd-8th grade student).  Regardless of which cast you see, you will have fun with your young genius.  I saw the Electron cast, those that have seen the Proton cast were equally amazed at the production.

The play starts with young Einstein talk with a stray cat in advance of leaving for a music recital.  Here we get the first hint at his curiosity and the gift of a compass that started him thinking about and developing his theory of relativity. Its this first bit where we learn that Einstein sees and hears the world differently.    Read the rest of this entry →

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Hold’n Hands, Help’n Hearts to be featured on KNBC Sunday Night

March 7, 2015 in Blogging (in) LA, News, People, San Gabriel Valley, Social issues

Holdn' Hands, Helpn' Hearts flyer

Holdn’ Hands, Helpn’ Hearts flyer

Lisa Barrios, owner of Monrovia’s Paint n Play Art Studio and Gallery has been doing this program for several years now.  Holdn’ Hands, Helpin’ Hearts is simply getting the hand print of a child or other loved one with cancer in clay and producing a legacy keepsake for the family.  It started with a special request several years ago from a little boy at the City of Hope with terminal cancer.  Lisa did it, no charge to the family so they would have one last keepsake from their little boy before he passed.

Lisa does this out of the goodness of her heart.  She has done imprints of little ones in morturaries for families who lost a child and she couldn’t get to them fast enough as she wants them to have that one last keepsake of their little hand.  She’s always done it free of charge.  She’s done it countless times.

KNBC’s Angie Crouch heard of the program and interviewed Lisa and some of the families she has helped.  The segment will air Sunday night on KNBC channel 4 on the “Life Connected” show that airs Sunday 3/8 at 11PM.  IT will repeat Monday 3/9 at Noon during the afternoon news.  The story promises to be heart wrenching and enlightening.

If you would like to donate to the program you may do so through the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts that has long been a supporter of the program.  Make your check payable to the Monrovia Assocation of Fine Arts and send it to us at 418 S Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia CA 91016

As a disclaimer, I’m a board member of the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts, and I can assure you the money’s donated go directly to keeping this program going.

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Save L.A’s 99 Seat theatres

February 27, 2015 in Entertainment, News, Social issues, Theatre/Stage

99orgIts a complex issue that doesn’t need to be.  There’s an agreement with the 99 Seat Theatres and the Actors Equity Association that exempts smaller non-profit theatres from paying a union scale in exchange for allowing actors to hone their craft, make “art” if you will.  Its been in force for ages, it what allows dozens of small theatres spread about Los Angeles to operate.  Without it they would wither and actors more interested in the art and developing their talent will be shut out.

Step in I Love to put forth all the facts and explain why its important and what you can do to preserve the agreement with Actors Equity.  Within their website are many links to tools to help your voice be heard if you wish to keep 99 Seat Theatre alive in Los Angeles.

Of course I have an emotional interest in keeping 99 Seat Theatre alive in Los Angeles. It goes beyond keeping my friends busy, its about keeping art alive in the city.  The loss of the 99 Seat Theatre would be devastating to them as well as the businesses around the theatres that depend on the traffic they generate.  I’ve taken my love of small theatre to the next level and am working on the board of directors with Sierra Madre Playhouse to help them grow and evolve in the community.  I don’t take this potential loss lightly.

Please support this cause in any way you can.  Tweet your support and use the hashtags #ILove99, #Pro99 . #LAThtr


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Hahamonga and the San Gabriels, discussion tonight

February 19, 2015 in Entertainment, environment, News, San Gabriel Valley, Social issues

Flyer - click to embiggen

Flyer – click to embiggen

I wish I had more information for you, but I just got notice and no press release with a lot of details.  Altadena Heritage is putting on the discussion with 3 speakers on the importantance of Hahamonga and the Arroyo Seco river system that brings rain water from the San Gabriesl to the ocean.  The speakers are:

  • Dave Douglas, PhD, Geologist and Dean of PCC School of Science and Mathematics
  • Tim Brick, Director of the Arroyo Seco Foundation
  • Josephine Axt, Army Corp of Engineers, Planning Division

If interested please RSVP to [email protected]

Deets: February 19,2015 7-9PM Alta Dena Community Center, 730 E Altadena Drive, Altadena CA 91001  MAP HERE

Dogs Are A Crime On The Lake Hollywood Loop

February 15, 2015 in Crime, environment, Hollywood, LA, Pets, Rants

It was with not a little fanfare less than two years ago that the road around the reservoir known as Lake Hollywood was reopened to walkers, runners and cyclists, a scenic route that had been closed since landslides during those crazy rains of 2005.

10978666_10152558232845044_2128577528160986362_nLittle did I know that when my wife Susan and I drove over there this morning and set out with our faithful — and needless to say well-behaved and leashed-up — border collie mix Ranger to explore that roughly 3.3-mile loop for the first time, we would be greeted by this sign at the north gate and again at the east gate:

Being that I’m law-abiding to a fault I dutifully turned us around and we made our way to the far more enlightened Parc du Griffith where dogs are not a crime. Soon we found our way along a loop that included a rigorously vertical set of dirt steps carved into the hillside and leading to the oasis that is Amir’s Garden.

While one part of me is all “Thank you!” to the dog-banning powers that be at Lake Hollywood for allowing us to discover a previously unknown aspect of Griffith Park, the other part is all “You dog-banning powers that be at Lake Hollywood totally suck!” And it was that latter half that got all googly once I got home in searching out the specific statute — LAMC 64.06 — authorizing the prohibition. Turns out it’s an ordinance designed to prevent water contamination that reads a little somethin’ like this (on the other side of the jump):

Read the rest of this entry →

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Final effort for the “No Big Dig” to save Hahamonga

January 28, 2015 in environment, News, San Gabriel Valley, Social issues

Time is limited and the citizens in Pasadena aligned against the counties plan to rape, scrape and gut the Hahahmonga watershed need your help.  All efforts to bring reason and preserve the area have fallen on deaf ears.

Their “Hail Mary” plan is to resort to litigation and they need our help.  They have a crowd sourced fund raiser going on indiegogo to raise the funds to litigate and bring a stop to the Counties plan.  Please donate today.  They’ve got 9 days left to raise the funds.

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The begging gets better…enough to entice me at a fast food joint

January 25, 2015 in Food & Drink, ICME, San Gabriel Valley, Shopping, Social issues

Click to embiggen and get the full picture

Click to embiggen and get the full picture

Yes, the ubiquitous tipping jar got bumped a bit with some humor injected by some bored soul at the Philly’s Best in Monrovia.


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Preserving Los Angeles history one building at a time

January 9, 2015 in environment, History, LA, Law, News, People, San Gabriel Valley, Social issues, Vintage

Broadway Arcade in DTLA, click to embiggen

Broadway Arcade in DTLA, click to embiggen

The good folks at Esotouric Bus Tour Adventures, Kim Cooper and Richard Schave do a lot more than give really nifty tours of the city.  They are historians with a major heart on for the city.  In the best way of course.

This weeks newsletter outlined the winners and losers in their efforts to help preserve the cities architectural history.  It outlines 25 things this year, good bad and ugly, that happened in terms of historic preservation.

The most exciting bit was the passing of city ordinance 13-1104 requiring public notification when any building more than 45 years is to be demolished.   Why does this matter?  It will give preservation groups around the city the chance to speak up and stop the destruction of those building with a history or architectural significane from being trashed in the name of progress and a new high density mixed use project.  Not all buildings need to be preserved that are that old, but many should as it is part of the texture and character of the city that shouldn’t be trashed for a new parking lot or apartment jungle.

Pic by me of the Broadway Arcade while on an iphone safari.  Click to embiggen