Category Archives: SoCal

New study: Recession makes driving a breeze

notrafficAt first I thought I had found ways around car-choked areas in Los Angeles by finally learning alternate routes. Wrong. As it turns out, rising unemployment coupled with businesses closing  has led to an easing in traffic congestion, according to a new study by the Texas Transportation Institute.

Don’t get too happy about this. The study also notes the Los Angeles area still has the suckiest traffic in the nation. But if you continue to apply the when-life-hands-you-lemons-make-lemonade logic, that means we’re still number one!

TONIGHT! Check Out Some Fun 3D!


If you are into 3D photography and, or stereoscopy in general, come out to the Stereo Club of Southern California (SCSC) TONIGHT, Thursday June 18th at 7:30 in Pasadena. They will screening the winners of the club’s annual 3D film and video competition.

Besides film and photography exhibitions, SCSC hosts field trips and educational workshops. There is a real sense of community in the club with knowledge exchange, collaborations, and socialization.

Formed in 1955, SCSC is one of the most active and prolific 3D collectives in the country. It is also a fairly progressive organization in that it has embraced digital technology in a way that many other groups haven’t yet. Members range from enthusiasts to novices (such as yours truly) to professional 3D photographers and filmmakers. Six times a year, you can submit photos for competition in which judging occurs on the spot. Getting the instantaneous feedback provides a great learning experience.

The Stereo Club of Southern California meets every third Thursday at The Armory Center for the Arts located at 145 N. Raymond, Pasadena, CA 91103. Guests are always welcome!

Baudrillard and Disneyland

On the Inability of a  French Post-Modernist to Enjoy the Magic Kingdom

Micky Mouse by Ralph Steadman

At least once every 365 days, I take some time out of my life to visit Disneyland. This week, I journeyed back into Magic Kingdom to exploit the fruits of a free birthday pass (I turned 14), and titillate my insatiable addiction to churro smell (not taste). So, while wandering around the all-too-real reality of Disneyland’s stroller-pushing, teenaged mothers and churro-eating masses, I, of course, remembered the words of my, and undoubtedly your, favorite postmoderist, poststructuralist Frenchie philosopher, Jean Baudrillard:

Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, when in fact all of Los Angeles and the America surrounding it are no longer real, but of the order of the hyperreal and of simulation.

The late Baudrillard apparently had a complicated time at D-Land–he even calls the parking lot a concentration camp– but he penned this (perhaps pretentiously) hilarious treatise on the why Disneyland is, like, soooo PoMo. I’ve posted the short excerpt from Simulacra and Simulations after the jump. If only Baudrillard was able to experience fully the Russian doll, So-Cal microcosm of California Adventure…

Put this in your pipe and smoke it…

Continue reading Baudrillard and Disneyland

Special Olympics Summer Games in Long Beach, June 13th & 14th

spolympics_logoGot some free time on your hands next weekend and feel like helping out at a great event? The Southern California chapter of Special Olympics is holding its 40th Annual Summer Games at Cal State Long Beach Saturday and Sunday, June 13th and 14th. There are multiple volunteer opportunities, some general, others sports-specific. Of course, monetary donations are accepted.

I have a younger brother with a disability who inspired me to go into a career in which I work with that population. Unfortunately, I don’t get to see him compete in Special Olympics very often, so I feel like I have a long distance connection by getting involved here in Los Angeles County. I’ll be there again this year with a group of other do-gooders (and our registered therapy dogs) to meet and greet athletes and their families. Our presence has been appreciated and enjoyed in the past. It really is a fun time!

The Summer Games will take place June 13th and 14th at Cal State Long Beach, 250 Bellflower Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90840. Click here for a list of events, which are free and open to the public. There is also no charge for parking. I’ll be on Sunday because there is no way I’m missing the LA Hot Dog Death March! I hope to see you in Long Beach and scarfing down some wieners in L.A. the day before!

What’s In Your Earthquake Kit?

earhquakesuppliesIn 1994 I was single and living in a studio apartment in Santa Monica when the Northridge Earthquake hit. Santa Monica got hit pretty hard considering its distance from Northridge, many houses came off their foundations and one apartment building two blocks from me had a gas leak and explosion minutes after the earthquake struck. (Thankfully due to the MLK holiday, none of the tenants were home at the time.)

And how well prepared was I for the earthquake? I had one small maglight flashlight IN MY CAR. That’s it. So in the pitch dark — and you know what I mean by how dark it was at 4:30 in the morning with a lot of power out throughout the city — I found shoes and went to my car to get the flashlight. After that day I was only slightly better prepared: I kept water in my car and bought many more flashlights to keep around the apartments I lived in.

Since we got married 8 years ago, my husband and I have been keeping a fairly decent earthquake kit in our easy to get to storage area and after all the recent shaking we pulled it all out and refreshed it. The photo above is of the supply box and the small blue bin behind it has our foodstuffs. We wrote down a few more things we needed and I have been perusing Sean and Jason’s Urban Journal website for additional ideas. 

I would love for you all to share things you have your kits, items you have in your cars, what you keep by your bedside. I would love recommendations on hand crank/solar flashlights and radios. Tell me what oddball things you keep in those boxes, just in case.

Click through the jump to see photos from Santa Monica damage in 94 as well as a sample of our foodstuffs and a more complete list of things in our supply box.


Continue reading What’s In Your Earthquake Kit?

Eric Garcetti Polls Citizens on Prioritizing Stimulus Dollars

You can go here to register your top three priorities for the spending of federal stimulus dollars in LA. Your choices?

  • Infrastructure: Street lights, sidewalks, repaving
  • Afterschool programs
  • Gang intervention programs
  • Community centers/senior centers
  • Permanent housing for homeless
  • Neighborhood beautification: medians, plantings
  • Foreclosure prevention & counseling
  • Career training centers

So. What will you vote for? I chose gang intervention, afterschool programs, and permanent housing for homeless.

There’s also a field where you can make suggestions–do you have a write-in idea for how to spend the stimulus cash? Ha. Hahaha. I just bet you do.

May is API Heritage Month: “Asian American Arts Stimulus Package” giveaway

As April is coming to an end, we head on into May — nationally designated as Asian Pacific Islander (API) Heritage Month. API Heritage month commemorates and recognizes the diversity of API languages and cultures and celebrates of the achievements and contributions of API communities in America. In that spirit, 8Asians (another blog I contribute to) is celebrating Asian Americans in the arts with an “Asian American Arts Stimulus Package” giveaway (deadline: Friday at noon) to one lucky winner who will be the recipient of a pair of tickets to THREE amazing events in the L.A. area. Although you’re free to enter the giveaway, I wanted to note that just about all these shows have availability for low-priced tickets, too.

laapff-20091) The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival: 2009

Visual Communications, the nation’s premier Asian Pacifc American media arts center, established the Los Angeles Asian Pacifc Film & Video Festival in 1983 as a vehicle to promote Asian and Asian Pacifc American cinema. The Festival has grown from its humble beginnings as a weekend-long series into a major annual showcase presenting the best of Asian Pacifc American and Asian international media in the United States. As of 2008, the Film Festival is known by its permanent iteration The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

tentolifeimage2) Lodestone Theatre Ensemble: Ten to Life

A Census agent exposes a family’s perverse, hidden secret…A desperate loser turns to experimental surgery to seduce his high school crush…A happy homemaker struggles against an ancient evil that lurks in plain sight…A controlling psychologist must protect his life’s love from her memories. Lodestone kicks off its final season with four twisted one-acts touching on the bizarre and unnatural. It’s been ten years… Time to pay.

ewp-marrymealittlethelastfiveyears3) East West Players: Marry Me A Little & The Last Five Years, an evening of 2 one-act musicals!

MARRY ME A LITTLE: A compilation of songs, composed by Stephen Sondheim for many of his Broadway musicals but for various reasons didn’t make it into the final stage, are woven into a simple tale of two lonely people during one evening in their small, one-bedroom apartments. Featuring Mike Dalager & Jennifer Hubilla
THE LAST FIVE YEARS: There are two sides to every story…Jamie and Cathy’s 5-year old relationship is coming to an end, and through the funny , sweet and heart-breaking songs, you hear both versions of what happened–from beginning to end, and from the end to beginning. Featuring Michael K. Lee & Jennifer Paz

Over the years, I’ve attended events put on by each of these organizations and always come out feeling lucky that L.A. has such a vibrant Asian American arts scene. Why not take some time out in the month of May to do something for API Heritage Month, like attending one of the shows listed above? If you do, I’d love to hear what you think.

Songs About Los Angeles: “California Dreaming” by The Mamas & the Papas

Originally released in Los Angeles in 1965, it never took off on the charts. A few weeks later when it was re-released in Boston it started climbing in popularity, and was rumored to be responsible for hundreds heading to LA at the thought of summer in January. “California Dreaming” eventually reached #4 on the charts in early 1966.

The Mamas and the Papas had a tumultuous history, largely (no pun intended) due to the drama with singer Cass Elliot. Sadly, after a particularly great performance that ended with ovations, she died quietly of a heart attack in her hotel room. (Yes, the “choking on a ham sandwich” is just cruel urban myth). Continue reading Songs About Los Angeles: “California Dreaming” by The Mamas & the Papas

Songs About Los Angeles: “Little Old Lady from Pasadena”

As a kid growing up in the landlocked mid-west the whole “surfer” thing was mystifying and amazing at once.  Jan and Dean were right at the start of the whole “surfer sound” in LA while attending University High.  

It was the Beach Boys that made this uniquely LA sound a world wide phenomenona.  It was one more thing to put LA on the world map in the 1960’s.  Fun songs, fun melody and you could cruise all day to the tunes.

I’ve always loved the “Little Old Lady” for the visuals of the lyrics.  Of course everyone knew a “little old lady racer” type as made famous in “Little Old Lady from Pasadena”.  My Aunt was one, we tease my mother that she’s another (ask her to powerslide the Town Car into a garage sale sometime if you think I’m kidding).  But I digress.  Jan and Dean issued the first version of “Little Old Lady from Pasadena” in 1964 and the Beach Boys played it many years later as part of a superbowl promo that gave it a whole new audience and popularity.  (To see that one you need to make the jump). Continue reading Songs About Los Angeles: “Little Old Lady from Pasadena”

Final Night for By:Co-astal performance art series.

Saving the best for last “Queen Skittles” of Doo-dah fame unveils two new photo series.

Prince Dino

Julie Klima is “Queen Skittles” of Doo-dah Parade fame,  and following in the foot steps of her predecessors is donating time and energy to local causes.  The By:Co-astal series ends tonight  at the PDG Warehouse.  As with the prior performances around LA the proceeds from the admissions will go to support local charities.  Queen Skittles favorite recipient is  the Children’s Hospital. 

By:Co-astal is a multi-artist, performance art installation that was done earlier at another locations in the LA this last weekend.  There is music with dance performances that eventually lead you into the art installation featuring Julies work.    Tonight is the last chance to see the show as it moves to New York for the final installation and performance there on the 7th.  (More info and pics after the jump. Continue reading Final Night for By:Co-astal performance art series.

Getting CERT’ed

It’s fair to say that after reading Emergency I’ve been looking at things a little different and considering a bunch of “what if” situations. One thing that stuck with me was the repeated assurances by rescue workers and authorities that when things go wrong most likely they will NOT be there to take care of you. I’ve actually heard this before first hand but the book was a good reminder.

final_cert_logoBecause of that I thought it would be worth it to look into LA’s Community Emergency Response Team and see about their free training. Turns out I wasn’t the only one looking and starting in May I and several of the authors here are going to be taking their 7 week course and getting our CERT certification. We talk a lot about being prepared for earthquakes and disasters on this site but that usually ends with lists of things you should have in a kit at your house. I’m thinking actual hands on training for these situations will be much more useful.

If you’d like to join us, we’re taking the classes in Silver Lake that start 5/5, however if there are classes closer to you I’d recommend those instead, you know, because of the whole “community” part of it. Plus, those green vests are just dope.

So what should we do with our stimulus package and budget?

Assemblyman Anthony Adams asks just that question in a flyer sent out this week.  Adam represents a gerrymandering stretch of LA county into San B’doo.  His questions are slanted to the conservatives out here, but are interesting food for thought and debate.  (He represents me and most of the northern SGV into La Canada as part of the 59th District).

As a quick sidebar who has seen the “stimulus” in your paychecks?  It amounted to a whopping $30.  We opted to increase the with holdings as it doesn’t look like the actual taxes are going to change and we don’t want to have to write a check at the end of the year next year.   Anyone else care to toss in what they did with their “stimulus”?

To see the 6 questions you need to make the jump.   Continue reading So what should we do with our stimulus package and budget?

“Black” color ban in the works in an effort to green up our cars by CARB.

The idgets in Sacramento are grabbing at straws in an effort to green up cars by banning “Black” as a color option on new cars sold in 2012.  The proposal is out there as it takes a bit more energy to cool a black car than others.   I see Henry Ford of the “let them have any color as long as its black”  fame rolling in his grave.

Yes, a black car may heat up faster but whatever happened to a little common sense to cool them off faster by say…rolling down a window or popping open the sunroof to get rid of the excess faster when you first start the car?  Both worked for me when we had a black car.  (In fact that car had the best A/C of any car we have ever had…kept us cool as can be in 118 heat during a traffic jam).  The savings even on a few thousand cars will still be nominal and certainly there are bigger smog makers out there to tackle that would have better impact.

Up for discussion…is this nonsense or do you think the savings in fuel is worth it?  Do you think LA is ready to give up its sexy black car for say a white one?

frazgoeslargeblacktinyHat tip to Kent Shockneck and his Let’s Blog for bringing this to my attention.  Pic by me, it will take you to my flickr page where you can get a bigger view if you wish.

Kevin Reeve teaching Urban Escape & Evasion in LA

Earlier this month Jason was talking about LA Author Neil Strauss’ new book Emergency, which is basically an instruction manual for survival should society fall apart around you due to political, economic, or natural disaster. While writing it, one of the people Neil learned from (and featured in the book as well) is Kevin Reeve from On Point Tactical, a New Jersey based scout, tracking, and survival school. The book talks about their Urban Escape and Evasion class and last weekend a few of us were lucky enough to take that course right here in Los Angeles.

More about the course after the jump, but here’s a quick (and shaky, sorry!) video that I shot of Kevin showing off one of the things we learned in the class -making lock picks out of paperclips and safety pins!
[youtube][/youtube] Continue reading Kevin Reeve teaching Urban Escape & Evasion in LA

Beatles, not beetles [email protected] Gardens on Sunday

daffodilortonI love it yeah, yeah, yeah…not the real deal but the band Imagine who does a pretty nifty Beatles song book repertoire is playing at the Descanso Gardens this Sunday at 1PM in La Canada.  The concert is free but you do need to pay the usual admission to the gardens which are pretty cheap to start with.  The perfect way to start your first Sunday of spring- Beatles and beetles in the nicest garden sanctuary in LA.

Details: 1PM Sunday 3/22/09.  Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Canada CA 91011.  818/949-4200  MAP HERE.

(Pic by me of a daffodil in my own garden and does get bigger with a click).