Category Archives: SoCal

Mad Max Mustang Best of Show at Fabulous Fords Forever

Mad Max Mustang, best of show at Fabulous Fords Forever. Click to embiggen
Mad Max Mustang, best of show at Fabulous Fords Forever. Click to embiggen

By far the best car of the show at Fabulous Fords Forever this past weekend in Buena Park was what I called the Mad Max Mustang.  I adored this car.  Not that it was an excellent restoration, or stunning custom.  It was sheer genius combining two historic vehicles into one mash up that worked here or in a Mad Max movie.  The owner chopped and stretched the wheelbase of an original bronco to fit under a 1968 Mustang.  Still Primer gray, and nothing else would be appropriate.  The crowning touch was the inclusion of a Gatling gun.  How cool was that!

Of course there were ample stunning restorations and modified cars to be seen.  In total there were over 1900 cars representing the start of the Ford Motor Company and included example of many nameplates from Ford, Linclon, Edsel, Mercury and 1 Cortina!

More pics on my flickr album.  All video and pics by me.


Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance coming 9/14

Hot Wheels Darth Vader car
Hot Wheels Darth Vader car

I rarely put up a notice of an event that costs money to attend or this far in advance.  But this show is big, beyond the normal car show we see here in L.A.  Its the Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance coming on September 14 at the Trump Mational Golf Course in Palos Verdes.  This isn’t a cheap event, but has unique, rare and expensive automobiles.  Think Cord, Auburn, Dusenberg…not Galaxy, Impala or other plebeian rides.

Among the cars there will be a full size Hot Wheels Darth Vader car that was made to look like the toy car.  It was unveiled at Comic con this summer and will be at this show as well.

Gyronaut X-1 the worlds fastest motorcycle
Gyronaut X-1 the worlds fastest motorcycle

Also at the show there will be the worlds fastest motorcycle.  The Gyronaut X-1that set a world record in 1966 at Bonneville Salt Flats with 245.667 MPH.

For the full press release and info on tickets you need to make the jump  Continue reading Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance coming 9/14

Sixty-Five More Los Angeles Placenames In Search Of Their Origins

Inspired by Militant Angeleno’s awesome “88 Suburbs In Search Of Their Names” post from last week and equipped with the indispensable “1500 California Place Names” by William Bright, I decided to crack the latter open and see if I couldn’t add to the former’s impressive list of suburbs ‘n stuff. Turns out I could. Some are almost too obvious or well known to mention (Century City? Duh) and some are about as obscure as it gets (Lamanda Park?), but I mention them anyway — and there are a few that are pretty cool (check out the the 220-year-old typo that is Point Dume and the darkness that lurks behind the meaning of “Verdugo”).

So without further to-do, here’s my 65 supplemental places (64 in Los Angeles County and a 471-year-old one just up PCH in Ventura County). Enjoy!

Angeles National Forest: So named in 1908 because the larger part of the forest is within Los Angeles County.

Antelope Valley: Named not for a true antelope, but for the pronghorn (pictured) — the fastest land mammal in the Western Hemisphere — which was once abundant in the state.

Ballona Creek: From the Ballona land grant of 1839; probably a misspelling of Bayona, the name of a town in Spain.

Bel-Air: Named for its developer, Alphonso Bell, in 1923, on the model of French bel air, meaning “fresh air.”

Bouquet Canyon: A misinterpretation of Spanish El Buque, “the ship,” the nickname of a French sailor who settled there.

Brentwood: Named after Brentwood in Essex, England, the ancestral home landowner John Marsh.

Cahuenga Pass: From the Gabrielino village name kawé’nga, probably meaning “at the mountain.”

Canoga Park: Named in the 1890s after Canoga, New York, which was originally a Cayuga (Iroquoian) village.

Castaic: From Ventureño Chumas kashtiq, “the eye, the face”.

Centinela Creek: From the Spanish word for “sentry, sentinel.”

Century City: Named for 20th Century Fox film studios, on the site of which it was built, starting in 1961.

Chatsworth: Named in 1887 after the estate of the Duke of Devonshire in England.

Chilao: Formerly Chileo or Chilleo, a nickname of the herder Jose Gonzales, famous for killing a grizzly bear near here with only a hunting knife. Chil- what? Yeah, me too. It’s primarily a campground area waaay up in the Angeles National Forest.
Continue reading Sixty-Five More Los Angeles Placenames In Search Of Their Origins

We All Scream For Ice Cream!

Photo by me, while nomming delicious -free- ice cream.

Though I’m not getting the scoop on anyone (see what I did there?,) I thought it important to let b.LA readers know that Ben & Jerry are in town. Well, at least their truck is.

As noted around the Intertubes, Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Truck is in Los Angeles. They arrived today, and will be here for the next six weeks passing out free scoops all over town.

I’m headed over to Hollywood Blvd. & Vermont, where they will be until 1:00pm, but you can find them wherever they may be by following them on Twitter.

I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream!

J Bennett Fitts’ abandoned pool photos

Photographer J Bennett Fitts has a pretty fantastic series of images called “No Lifeguard On Duty” depicting abandoned pools around the country, many of which are in SoCal (above is from the Inland Empire). I find these image both haunting and captivating – forgotten dreams in many ways. Especially since so many of these appear to be at closed hotels, you can imagine families going on vacation and being excited to stay at a hotel with a pool – and what’s become of those now. I love these.

For All The New (And Not So New) Babies Out There

Spring arrives with the buzzing of the bees, the blooming of the flowers and many birthings of babies. Mazel tov to all the new parents out there and to the new babies: welcome!

Full disclosure: I’m not currently a mom, but I am an auntie and have many friends with offspring so I do know one thing. Those little guys grow pretty fast!

If budgets are tight and you love recycling then Goo Goo Swap could be just for you. It’s sorta the Southern California Craigslist for all things kinder. There are listings for everything from toys to clothes to furniture and even listings for services like photographers and mommy and me yoga classes. There is a also section for mom’s on the nest with postings for gently used maternity clothes and exercise dvds.

Goo Goo Swap looks like a good way save a few bucks (or make a few bucks) on that pair of shoes that Junior might only wear once in his easter portrait.

Click here for: Goo Goo Swap

Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals set for 2/11-14

click to embiggen
click to embiggen

2010 NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing season kicks off this weekend, February 11-14, with the 50th running of the Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winternationals.   If you love loud and fast cars this is the weekend made for you.  I’m not kidding, invest in good ear protection for this as after the Pomona Finals in November my ears were ringing for a good hour after the event and I had good plugs with me.

To mark the milestone 50th running of the Winternationals, NHRA has scheduled a series of events to transform the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona into a virtual hot-rodding amusement park for the weekend:

  • The Golden 50 Corral Car Show, effectively a museum displaying the cars including Roland Leong’s Hawaiian and Don “The Snake” Prudhomme’s Hot Wheels Funny Car that laid the foundation for today’s 7,000-horsepower, 300-mph dragsters.
  • Daily cacklefests, featuring top cars from the last 50 years in one of the oldest traditions in drag racing
  • Autograph sessions with NHRA legends, including Shirley Muldowney, “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, Bob Glidden, Kenny Bernstein to drop a few names.
  • Exhibition runs by legendary tribute cars on the Auto Club Raceway track.
  • The unveiling of the Greatest Moment in Winternationals history (the complete list of moments can be found on

All the details can be found at the Fairplex web HERE.

Pic by me from the 11/15 NHRA Pomona Finals.

Maybe You’re Not So Bad, New York Times

Everyone knows that the New York Times has its chardonnay-and-ink-stained finger directly on the pulse of what’s hot in the upper-middle-class TriBeCa and Park Slope social scenes. Seriously: How would the world where to get the best organic honey in Manhattan if not for the Grey Lady? This is important journalism.

And as Travis pointed out yesterday, the Times does love to take its shots at LA, which its writers (and much of the east coast) seem to believe is populated entirely by Latin Kings, the supporting cast of Beverly Hills Cop, and Angelyne (“Hollywood types?” Really, Times? Really?).

But the Times redeemed its harsh words recently when it named Los Angeles #11 in the 31 places to go in 2010. Sure, it focused a bit much on our many art galleries, and utterly ignored the incredible diversity of neighborhoods, restaurants, night spots and shopping districts. And to the comment that LA has a “lack of an old-fashioned cultural neighborhood,” I’d point our friends at the Times to Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Little Armenia, Little Ethiopia, Boyle Heights, Los Feliz, Thai Town… well, you get the idea. Sure, we may have absolutely no culture or history whatsoever when you compare us to The City That Never Sleeps Because It’s Too Busy Constantly Reminding Us How Totally Totally Awesome It Is, but we make do.

But we’ll take it as a compliment that our turtleneck-wearing friends to the east seem to think that our hopeful little hamlet is worth a visit. Here’s to ya, New York Times!

Feeling Like a Tourist Less Than Four Miles From My Apartment… At the BCS Title Game

Thursday night, the 2009-2010 College Football Season culminated in the National Championship BCS Title Game, held right here at the Rose Bowl. Though I don’t have connections to either Alabama’s Crimson Tide or the Texas Longhorns (besides my unreasonable dislike towards the Longhorns), I decided to drop a sizable chunk of change and attend the game. I didn’t have to travel; they brought the game to me, so why not?

Photo by me! I even upgraded from my usual cell phone camera for this special occasion.
Photo by me! I even upgraded from my usual cell phone camera for this special occasion.

Thing is, much like the Rose Parade last week, I’ve never gone to the Rose Bowl as just a spectator, either, so it was a completely new experience for me. I went crazy taking pictures inside and outside the stadium and reveling in the gorgeous weather and how easy it was to simply walk there from Old Town Pasadena. But as I took in the tailgating scene and then settled into my seat for the game, I realized… I was, like, the only person who actually lives here.

That’s a slight exaggeration, of course (I’m pretty sure I did see Jason Schwartzman. He’s an actor, he does live here, right?). I’m sure there’s Alabama fans in LA, and there are tons of Texas alumni in this town. But damned if I wasn’t surrounded by a bunch of tourists the entire night. The people I sat near were dudes who flew in from Austin, people who possessed awesome/ridiculous Southern accents, or were the brothers (one a Crimson Tide fan, one a Longhorns fan) who drove up from San Diego.

Continue reading Feeling Like a Tourist Less Than Four Miles From My Apartment… At the BCS Title Game

How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love… Sitting Outside In Pasadena All Night

The annual Tournament of Roses Parade is easily one of my favorite Southern California holiday traditions. This year I got the opportunity to experience it in a totally new way – actually watching the parade.

These lumps of blankets are actually people (mostly) sleeping at 5:30 this morning
These lumps of blanket are actually people (mostly) sleeping at 5:30 this morning

As I write this, I am camped out on Colorado Blvd. (in front of the Apple Store for easy WiFi, natch), having braved the chilly night with a friend with whom I’ve marched in five Rose Parades. It wasn’t enough to just watch on TV or pay for a seat for our first time on the sidelines; we decided to go all-out and spend the night on the streets of Pasadena, finally experiencing this ridiculous tradition we’ve so far only known by the aftermath seen in the morning. I thought by now I’d be an expert in all things Rose Parade, but as a n00b, it turns out I had a lot to learn about this “spectator” thing.

Lesson #1: Getting a good spot is much less stressful than you think it will be.

The City of Pasadena says you can start staking out your spot at Noon on the 31st. You don’t need to be there that early. I got here at 9:00 PM, which was good for people-watching while Old Town was still full of restaurant- and bar-goers. Even at my pretty prime location near the beginning of the parade, There was still space for a few people to set up camp. Lots of people had set out dozens of folding chairs, though, which still have yet to be filled (turns out nobody really enforces this supposed “no seat-saving” rule). Lots of parade viewers start to arrive after 3:00 AM, after they’ve celebrated the New Year elsewhere, and after many of the parking structures open for parade parking only. And though I thoroughly enjoyed the company of the fellow Apple nerd and his Chihuahua sitting next to us, I felt kinda bad that he had been sitting there a whole 10 hours more than us to get pretty much the same view.

Continue reading How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love… Sitting Outside In Pasadena All Night

SoCal’s Big Bowls Not Only In January – How About This Weekend?

It’s good to know California’s high school athletes are being properly prepared for college. At least, they’ll be prepared for college football’s broken, convoluted system of determining a league champion, the Bowl Championship Series (more commonly known as the BCS).

Crenshaw's Hayes Pullard avoids Narbonne coverage in the Los Angeles City Sectional Championship game, Dec. 12, 2009

Crenshaw’s Hayes Pullard avoids Narbonne coverage in the Los Angeles City Sectional Championship game, Dec. 12, 2009. Photo by Robert Helfman

Many of our state’s most promising young athletes will converge on the Home Depot Center in Carson this Friday and Saturday for the California State Football Championship games (proudly representing Los Angeles will be undefeated Crenshaw – Go Cougars!).

But for 80 years, California didn’t even crown a state champion in high school football. It wasn’t until 2006 that the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), the state’s high school sports governing body, created a small “bowl” system in which some of the best teams play each other for championships in four divisions (determined by school enrollment). And this year is the second the top two teams from all divisions will play each other in an “Open Division” bowl to determine who’s the greatest in the Golden State.

However, with such a limited numbers of bowls, not even all Section champions get to play in these big games. Unlike other large states like Texas or Florida, or, well, any other state in the union besides New Jersey, there is no state playoff in California. And, just like in big-time college football, not everybody’s too happy with that.

Did I mention that the bowls only match up a team from the Northern half of the state with one from the South? Even if the two best teams were both from SoCal, they couldn’t play each other for the title. This just adds to the controversy, as Ben Bolch pointed out in the LA Times Tuesday:

Yet, none of those teams will play one another under the format that matches section champions from Southern California and Northern California. A proposal to add a regional playoff round was shot down last year by the California Interscholastic Federation’s state federated council.

“Because of the way we’re structured, the size of our state, you can’t have a true champion unless you legitimately start playing everybody off, and we’re just too large to do that,” Marie Ishida, CIF executive director, said Monday at the Home Depot Center in Carson. “This is our next-best thing, and so far it’s worked for us.”

Continue reading SoCal’s Big Bowls Not Only In January – How About This Weekend?

Cross-Town Rivals Face Off Tomorrow

"Burn Joe, Burn!"
"Burn Joe, Burn!"

The Bruins of UCLA and the Trojans of USC will be competing on the football field tomorrow night. The Los Angeles Universities have a long-standing rivalry that is important to a lot of the city’s residents. Personally, I’m not really interested in the sport or who wins. Maybe I should be since the company I work for is highly affiliated with USC. In spite of not being a fan, I somehow ended up at The Trojans’ big pep rally, called Conquest, last weekend. (I was solely there to see the closing band, OK Go).

The event, held on the USC campus, was a big deal complete with a ferris wheel, food trucks, Jamie Kennedy introducing a variety of the school’s sports teams and coaches, and a very impressive fireworks display. Most of the “Yay Team!” (or “Fight On!” as they say at USC) stuff was lost on me, but I did thoroughly enjoy The Trojan Marching Band, otherwise known as The Spirit of Troy. They are excellent and their rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk” was a huge treat.

The Spirt of Troy
The Spirt of Troy

It appeared that the highlight of the night for the students and alumni was the burning of Joe Bruin, UCLA’s mascot bear. There were chants of “Burn, Joe, burn!” It can only make me wonder what they light on fire at UCLA. Hopefully, it’s not what we all think of when we hear USC’s mascot because the smell of burning rubber is rather unpleasant.

There have been shenanigans this week with UCLA’s Bruin statue getting painted with Trojan cardinal and gold. So much for sportsmanship.

Are you into the big game and if so, who are you rooting for? I really hope your team wins.

Living In LA = Thanksgiving: Top Ten Reasons I’m Thankful I Live Here

images-1 #1:  Super easy choice..THE WEATHER!  I mean, come on!  Look at this glorious day… November 26 and it’s crystal clear, 80 degrees, sun shining, blue skies, rolling waves.  Yep.  I’m super thankful for living on this earth and in this city where I can stroll down to my local cafe, sit outside soaking up the rays and enjoy an espresso before tucking the turkey in.  The quality of gold light that rains down on us is awesome!  Thank you universe!  I really appreciate landing on this particular piece of real estate!

#2:  The General Population:  By and large a good part of the population is cool, friendly and really work at making a difference.  Maybe it’s in catching the perfect wave, maybe it’s trying to make medical marijuana accessible, maybe it’s creating and sharing the coolest movie on earth, maybe it’s brewing the best espresso.  But we have hardworking people here who are groovy.  Thanks everyone.  I appreciate how wide the variety of opinions, options, colors and types of all the people who live here embody.

#3:  The Biz:  Face it.  We live in the Entertainment capitol of the universe and we get major benefits from it.  From glitzy openings, to industry gossip, we’re on it first and get the glitter.  It’s practically a Renaissance city.  So many highly creative creatures roam around that between the writers, the dancers, the musicians, the DJ’s, the artists, the actors… somethings is always entertaining.  Just walking down the street is a treat.

#4 The Men.  They are simply more fun in LA.   I met my fiancee, Dan Mapes here, and he’s the quintessential LA Guy.  Hi-tech, low-maintenance, fun, intellectual, artistic, open-minded, good looking, sensitive, spiritual.  He embodies all the cool daddy qualities of the classic “LA MALE”.  Yes, he also embodies many of the not so cool qualities…. massive flirt, uber sensitive…. but those are also what makes him and all LA men, so great! Go figure.  The things we like the most about LA men, drive us mad!

Continue reading Living In LA = Thanksgiving: Top Ten Reasons I’m Thankful I Live Here

Opening Day at the LA County Fair

LA County Fair
LA County Fair

It’s that time of year again. The 2009 LA County Fair took advantage of the Labor Day weekend to open its doors. Opening Day is always exciting because you get to see everything so fresh. The fair will run until October 4th, so you have plenty of time to pick the best day to visit.

The Fair is offering $1 admission Sept. 5 – 7 between 10am and 1pm.  That means, tomorrow is your last chance to take advantage of this deal. Throughout the park, there are other cost-saving deals for the Labor Day Weekend, such as $1 fountain drinks between 1pm and 4pm and $1 carnival rides between 4pm and 7pm.

This year, we spent a lot less time eating and drinking and more time walking the fairgrounds. I’ve only missed 3 years since 1984, and used to go up to 3 times a week in college. This was the first time I had realized that there is an NHRA museum and a train museum run by the LA chapter of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society on site. Be sure to check them out. The NHRA museum has  $1 entrance and with so much to look at, including the original Batmobile from the 1966 Batman TV show, it’s well worth it.

Also, worth catching is the Jursassic Planet exhibit (I have video in my Flickr photos linked below). It’s educational and just plain cool watching the dinosaurs move. If you have young ones, they may want to stay outside the hall. My three year old did not enjoy being in there and most little kids did a lot of screaming. As always, the new baby animals are a treat as are all the wonderful insects and reptiles on display in three different sections of the fairgrounds this year. The Home & Garden theme this year is Gateway to Africa and even I have to admit to being impressed. This is the first year in a long, long time that the theme was unified and tight, from the greenhouse all the way to the top of the hill.

So, wear some comfy shoes, get some sunscreen and have fun at the Fair. If you want to live vicariously for the moment, you can visit my flickr set.

LA Country Fair
1101 W. McKinley Ave.,
Pomona, CA 91768

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Honoring The Fallen

Patriot Guard Rider, honoring a fallen hero. Photo by Burns!
Patriot Guard Rider, honoring a fallen hero. Photo by Burns!

“Standing For Those  Who Stood For Us.”

That is the motto of the Patriot Guard Riders. The Patriot Guard is a diverse group of motorcycle riders from all over the United States, with a particularly active chapter here in Los Angeles (and surrounding counties.) From the Patriot Guard Riders’ mission statement:

“Our main mission is to attend the funeral services of fallen American heroes as invited guests of the family. Each mission we undertake has two basic objectives :

1. Show our sincere respect for our fallen heroes, their families and their communities.
2. Shield the mourning family and their friends from interruptions created by any protestor or group of protestors.”

I first learned of the PGR when researching Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church (most famous for being the Christians hateful bigots who carry signs that say “God hates fags.”) It turns out that Phelps & co. also protest military funerals with signs such as “God loves IEDs” and “God loves dead Marines.” Can you imagine anything more hurtful to a grieving family?

You don’t have to ride a motorcycle. Join me after the jump to learn more about the PGR and how you can get involved.
Continue reading Honoring The Fallen