You are browsing the archive for Which Side?.

12 Days of Giving: The Peace Project

December 17, 2014 in Blogging (in) LA, culver city, Holidays, LA, Seasonal, Shopping

2014 has been a great year for my family.  It wasn’t always like this.  We’ve had some pretty lean years in the past but hard work, faith, and determination put us on a blessed path.  There are plenty of places in the world where, no matter how hard citizens try, those qualities still don’t offer up a dream life.  This year, I felt it was important to give back to the universe that has created joy and plenty in my life but still finds so many people suffering around the world.  My husband and I both come from from traditions of charitable giving and volunteership.  No matter how impoverished we’ve been, we could always put food on the table and our parents taught us that meant we were still fortunate and it was our duty to offer assistance to those without.

So our regular checks to charitable organizations weren’t good enough this year.  A stellar year means we’d have to reach a little deeper.  But I’m lazy and volunteering with an infant while my husband is working overseas is more difficult than I can manage.  Instead, I found a great way to give while doing my regular weekly shopping at the Culver City Farmers Market.  The Whole 9 Gallery had a booth I could not avoid.  So many cute and cool things to buy!  And what’s this??  The money spent helps to support their charity The Peace Project??  Perfect!  Holiday shopping AND charitable giving, combined!  I bought more gifts than I had people to give to just so I could throw more money at a worthy cause.  And all of it was reasonably priced and very well made and unique.

The Peace Project is an effort by The Whole 9 online creative community to transform lives globally.  Started in 2010 by the community’s founder, the project has distributed crutches to amputees and victims of civil war in Sierra Leone, sponsored educational grants for African school-age children, built houses for Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines, and been the benefactor for several artists on six continents.  Through their works, they’ve used art to bridge the gap between necessary resources and the community members who desperately require them.  The Whole 9 Gallery in Culver City sells the wares for several artists whose proceeds fund these works abroad.

To learn more about The Peace Project or to donate directly, visit http://thepeaceproject.com/donate.php.  Just want some last minute gifts that will fund the future happiness of others in our world?  Check out The Whole 9 Gallery at 3830 Main Street, Culver City, CA 90232.

The Kids Are Alright…But Life Is Hard. Cobalt Cafe to Close After 23 Years

December 16, 2014 in Books, coffee, Entertainment, Events, History, LA, Music, The Valley

The beloved all-ages venue in the far east Valley that has given thousands of local kids their start in music, tens of thousands of poets a chance to read their work, and probably millions of young people to tag/sticker bathrooms (and hallways…and sidewalks…and rear exterior walls…and everything else), and just generally get the F outta the house without having to go to the mall–will be closing at the end of the month. I regret to pass this news on so late but I only just found out myself.

Vanna, 2009, Creative Commons by photog Carly Hoskins.

cobaltcafe-300x225

Extremely patient and awesome owner Dave Politi founded the Cobalt Cafe coffeehouse in 1991. Grunge was a rising tide, emo was in its early stages, weird ska/funk/pop-punk hybrids particular to the Valley and south LA in general were bubbling up from high schoolers’ garages, and Starbucks wasn’t here.
I was a high school goth chick, shy as hell and loathe to speak to anyone. My friends’ bands played the shows. Seeing them, their openers, and those for whom they opened, up close and personal on a stage about a foot off the ground and approximately three feet from my face so their sweat flew in my eyes, lit off a fuse within myself that altered my DNA, transformed my passions and creative dreams forever. I got up the guts to read my mediocre emo high-school-girl poetry at the weekly poetry readings.

Credit Cobalt Cafe. Artist & photo unknown, obtained from Wikimedia Commons via Creative CommonsI got to know people. I became a regular. I met my first long-term boyfriend there, played chess there, bought punk records from unknown bands there from small private presses before records were collectors’ items, met some of the folks I’d run into long, long down the line ten years later in Silver Lake at Spaceland (and in other rooms), watched the comfy overstuffed furniture go the way of the dodo (too many episodes of puking, sweating and cigarettes leads them to an early grave), giving way to a more Spartan interior.  People liked my poetry enough that I got a featured reading at a coffeehouse on Sunset Blvd, and I kept writing long into my late 20s. I sometimes wonder if all that writing didn’t lay the groundwork for my public blogging and journalism career, which itself has led to experiences and interactions that could never have been imagined by the mind of a repressed, shy 17-year-old black-lipstick-wearing girl in 1996.

Augustus, 2005, photog Stacey Jischke via Creative Commons Photo credit Cobalt Cafe. Bitter End in 2011, photog Robert Bejil via Creative Commons.

Every time I have returned to the Valley to see a line of self-conscious green-and-black-haired high schoolers goofing off with each other in front of the venue, or bros in short pants and Deftones t-shirts unloading a 350 Ford, I have smiled to myself, grateful that sometimes, good things don’t change, and that there’s a place for us weirdos to go–still. Yeah, sometimes the music sucked. Well, usually it does when people are that green. But it was music, and we–now, they–were and are making it. Some of them got really, really good. Some of the poets went on to long careers as luminaries in the poetry arts scene throughout the US. Records were make, books published. Creative dreams came true.

The cool blue light and scrawled-upon bouncer's desk in front of the venue.

The place reeked of sweat, coffee and cigarettes; the bathrooms are an archaeological dig though layers of paint, Sharpie, and stickers; sometimes the baristas were overwhelmed or had a ‘tude (as is proper, whiners!), but that all just made it better. I have been everywhere, man, and seen a lotta shows, but the Cobalt was the most genuine, unprepossessing, free-spirited creative fermentation machine I had ever seen. You did not have to be hip to walk in. You did not have to wear the right clothes. In fact, it’s still pretty hipster-repellent.

Sadly, Dave’s got his own Life S**t going on these days, and there’s less and less money coming in the doors with promoters and bookers being less supportive than they used to be; and let’s face it, non-Starbucks-priced coffee will never keep an indie business afloat, especially when your clientele is allowed to just hang out and buy nothing the entire time they’re there.

Dave Politi should be lauded for giving so much of his life and energy to a cause–“the kids” and “the music” and “the words”. The longtime host of Tuesday Night Poetry–he’s been doing it almost as long as the Cobalt was open–Rick Lupert–should be thanked, and I encourage you to see him read his funny and thoughtful work at other venues around town. All the hosts of Monday night open mics, all the baristas who endured patiently for many years, every doorman who had to bust kids doing the things that kids do–thank you, one and all. Here’s to the Cobalt Cafe. From such a humble little corner of the West San Fernando Valley, her influence has already spread around the world. Dave and the Cobalt are studies in how simply making space for other to be themselves, can ripple outwards in a quietly irresistible wave of transformation.

Hover over photos for Creative Commons/other photo credits.

 

Profile photo of frazgo

by frazgo

Nixle alerts coming DUI Enforcement Road Blocks

December 15, 2014 in Driving, News, Social issues, Which Side?

DUI Enforcements 2014Its that time of year again.  A few of us will get tanked and get behind the wheel, a few will get caught, a few will pile up their car and maim themselves or others.  LAPD, L.A Sheriff, CHP and local police agencies get huge grants to fight DUI and hopefully stave off the worst of the consequences of drunk drivers.

Here are two alerts by LA Sheriff on the for this coming weekend addressing the DUI/CDL Checkpoints for this weekend in Norwalk and Paramount.

I suppose we can thank the ACLU, but in CA when the DUI Enforcement zones are announced and road blocks are going to be included in the program they have to announce date and time.  Nixle is a great way to make sure you get alerts of when these DUI check points are going to in place and what times.  Make sure your designated driver has been a tea totaller and you’ll be fine.

‘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.

20141213_114247 20141213_114311 20141213_115218 20141213_115237 20141213_115410 20141213_121752

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.

20141213_145627 20141213_135733

Profile photo of frazgo

by frazgo

12 Days of Giving : Foothill Unity Center

December 12, 2014 in Entertainment, Events, FEATURED, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Shopping, Social issues

wrapped GiftThis is the first of several posts by us outlining charities and non-profit  causes near to our heart.  Its not always about monetary donations for these groups.  Tight on funds?  They welcome your time and talents to help them as a volunteer as well.  When its all said and done you feel closer and connected to your community when you help it out.  And isn’t giving of yourself all that matters this time of year regardless if its Christmas, Hanukkah or Pagan rituals?

One of the charities that I help when I can is the Foothill Unity Center.  This group is headquartered here in Monrovia with a satellite office in Pasadena.  Year round they service the hungry, newly homeless, newly jobless or whatever other suddent tragedy that hits their home leaving them in need of help.  They need volunteers for several upcoming events, money to support their programs, food donations, clothing…whatever you can help them with. Visit their web site linked in here for more information on what you can do to help them.  After the jump you can learn more of their immediate needs. Read the rest of this entry →

Profile photo of frazgo

by frazgo

Paint n Play offers up Winter Art Camp for Holiday School Break

December 11, 2014 in Crafts, Entertainment, Events, People, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Shopping

Paint n Play Winter Art Camp application, click to embiggen and print

Winter Art Camp has got to be one of the best things going in the SGV if you have school age kids and you lose your usual day care during the Holidays.  I’ve witnessed the activities that Lisa Barrios and her crew at Paint n Play Art Studio and Gallery here in Monrovia line up for the kids and its pretty amazing.  Tons of ceramic crafts for the kids to do every day with expert instruction by the staff at Paint n Play is included in the price of your childs time at Winter Art Camp.

All you need to do is pick out a week and its M,T, F they provide Art Camp for either Christmas Week or New Years week.  Monday and Tuesday be sure to pack your kids a sack lunch.  Friday no worries, its Pizza Party day.

Space is limited and you do need to apply early.  Click on this application to embiggen and print and bring it in to Lisa and gang at the store.

Deets.  Week one 12/22, 12/23 NS 12/26,week two 12/29, 12/30, 1/2.  418 S Myrtle Street, Monrovia CA 91016 626-256-4848

Profile photo of frazgo

by frazgo

I told you we had a Christmas Parade

December 6, 2014 in Entertainment, Holidays, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal

Well the city renamed it “Holiday Parade” but that doesn’t matter, Santa Claus brought up the rear, not kwanza claus.

Profile photo of frazgo

by frazgo

Christmas its a big deal in my corner of L.A

December 4, 2014 in Entertainment, Events, Holidays, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal

I will be the first to tell you I love my little corner of L.A.  Its big enough to get lost if you want to, but small enough to be able to keep tabs on all that is important.  Plus I can be anywhere in L.A or behind the Orange Curtain in about an hour.  But thats not the real news, tonight is the traditional…been doing it as long as I can remember…the Lighting of the Christmas Tree followed by the Annual Christmas Parade.

  • 6 PM Tree lighting in Libarary Park
  • 7 PM Christmas Parade, Myrtle Avenue starting at Chestnut and ending at Palm (Library Park)

Hot on the heels of that is the Annual touring of Santa Claus escorted by MPD and MFD through the city. It takes 5 nights to cover every nook, cranny and alley in town. This year it starts on the 15th and the last night is the 19th. Details here.

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!

Profile photo of frazgo

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

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 →

Profile photo of frazgo

by frazgo

Small Business Saturday support the home grown retailer

November 28, 2014 in San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Shopping

Small Business Saturday

Saturday November 29 is Small Business Saturday, the day the small retailer hopes will make their Holiday Season instead of the chain stores at the Mall. Its been going on a few years now, tomorrow is the day. Make it happen for the Home Grown Retailers that support the community they live in. Here is a run down of some of the things I know are going on in and around my corner of L.A.

First up my friend Lisa Barrios owner of the Paint n Play Art Studio and Gallery in Old Town Monrovia is offering up 20% Saturday only for customers who come in and tell her you saw the post here.  The 20% off is on any Holiday Gift item, pottery or ceramics that you chose to do.  The Legacy Hand Prints she does are really special momentos you will treasure for a lifetime.  418 S Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia CA 91016.  They are on Facebook too…remember to tell them fraz sent you!

Hoopla! in Altadena is closed for the day getting ready for Small Business Saturday.  This is a wonderful store full of really unique, often locally sourced artists and writers, gifts.  Hoopla will be donating 15% of their proceeds Saturday to both Light Bringer Project and Room 13 associated with Pasadena’s John Muir High School.

Sierra Madre is rolling out the Red Carpet as a community and will be hosting a “SmART Walk” of local artists within established businesses in town.  Do stop by Sierra Madre Playhouse and get your tickets for the family to attend their production of  A Little House Christmas.  Added bonus is photographer Geoffrey Wade will be exhibiting a few of his backstage images. Read the rest of this entry →

Profile photo of frazgo

by frazgo

Just another reason I love L.A

November 26, 2014 in Downtown, Photography, Weather

Staple Center at sunset

Today was Public Days of the L.A. Auto Show. I brought my son and a neighborhood kid I’ve known since he could barely walk.  Its our annual tradition.

We left to grab a bite to eat at L.A. Live, Yard House to be precise, and exited to find this vista.  The sun bouncing off the Marriot/Ritz Carlton illuminating the ultimate L.A. icon, the Palm Tree.  It was otherworldly.

Add in it was 80+ degrees outside in November and it couldn’t be a better reminder of why I love Los Angeles. Click the pic to see it full-size.

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.

Read the rest of this entry →

Profile photo of frazgo

by frazgo

Mercedes Benz does an Art Car

November 24, 2014 in Downtown, Driving, Entertainment, Events

MBartcarfront I missed the Benz press conference and reveal…busy shooting elsewhere so I missed the point behind the Art Car. I have no idea why or who did it but its different.  Quality work event.

I’ve got a few detail pics after the jump.  Pretty nifty stuff.

Sound off in the comments on why you think they did it and the meaning of it all.

Read the rest of this entry →

Profile photo of frazgo

by frazgo

L.A. Auto Show…press days round up

November 22, 2014 in Downtown, Driving, Events, News, Seasonal, Transportation

I have to tell you the cacophony of the Auto Show during press days is very different than that of public days. Its not thousands of people meandering about, but a herd mentality of media types running from one press conference and reveal to the next. Its usually a couple in a row in one hall where you shuffle a few feet at time vying for the best seat to hear/see and be the first on stage for photos when its over. Its 15 minutes of manufacture hype with 5 minutes of photo op, then 5 minutes to get to the next show. Insanity.

Also different is that the manufacturers have stuff that is available for press days only. The reps I talked with didn’t think the live demo of the iRoad in this video would take place for public days…so thats my lede. Read the rest of this entry →