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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 west 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 others to be themselves, can ripple outwards in a quietly irresistible wave of transformation.

Hover over photos for Creative Commons/other photo credits.

 

Ho-leeee crap. Hello, Los Angeles, my love.

October 13, 2014 in Art, Blogging (in) LA, Fires, History, LA, LA bloggers, Metroblogging Network, People, The Valley, Vintage

Who’s got two thumbs (and her index fingers, with which she primarily types, like a spazzy T-Rex on a typewriter) and is back in LA?!

This girl.

Along these rhapsodic, elegiac and thrilled welcome-home lines I’m walking, here’s some songs to make you love your city again. Fall outta love? Don’t do what I do and leave.  Or do…it might be what you need to appreciate it.
Rilo Kiley, Let Me Back In: link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXZR0rwhXvs

“From the Eastern seaboard, the landlocked Midwest
The Keys, the Alps, the Black Hills and Budapest
With my heart in a sling, tail between my legs a-swinging
I’m sorry for leaving

But when the palm trees bow their heads
No matter how wrong I’ve been
L.A., you always let me back in

And you can bury me when my body breaks
In the earth that created me, in the Golden State
By my mama and her brother and their mama too…”

And then there’s this one, by the Delta Spirit, for the folks I left behind in the South.     ;)

I mean, this sorta already happened, and that fellow is now happily married, so….everybody come on out! Apparently I’m a great vector for changing your life.    :P

(Yes, this post is enormously personal. Kevin Roderick may have a field day with this one. Or he may not, which will make me feel like a loser. Whateves.)

“I want you to move to California for yourself,
I want you to find whatever your heart needs,
I want you to move to California for yourself, but not for me.

I want you to go out there and find somebody else,
I want him to treat you like I know he should,
I want you to find somebody new for yourself, if not for me.

all of the feelings that I know you never felt,
and all of the simple words you never said,
I want you to keep them like a secret to yourself, they’re not for me.

I want you to wander silent past my outstretched arms,
I want you to hide yourself from all I see,
and though my heart will fight until its dying breath, you’re not for me.”

 

Also…I love the video for this one.

So, yeah. I’m back. We did hot dogs, we did donuts. What do you think should be next?

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Pizza Rev comes to Burbank

December 11, 2013 in Food & Drink, The Valley

I checked out the Pizza Rev Burbank location last night in advance of  their Grand Opening set for Thursday, 12/12.  I liked it, a good honest pizza without having to pay an appendage for it.  My son who tagged along absolutely loves them and looks forward to the Pasadena location opening after the first of the year.

What hooked me and him is that the pies are wood fired artisnal thin crusts that you can load up how you want as you go down the assembly line.  At each station there is an attendant to load up what ingredients as thick or thin as you want before it all goes into the stone hearth, open fire wood oven.  This pizza cooks fast too…3 minutes.  Perfect crispy, charred in spots perfection.

The dough is made daily.  The  4 sauces, red, white, bbq and olive oil are prepared from fresh ingredients.  They have several cheeses to choose from, the real deal buffalo mozzarella is the best I’ve had on a pie in years.  The remaining ingredients are all fresh prepped that day. They even include gourmet items such as sun dried tomatoes and artichoke hearts.  Best part is the pizza is a flat charge no matter how much of the goodies you load on top of it.

They also do salads from chopped romaine.  The saladas are built to order with whatever toppings you want.  This too is done for a flat fee regardless of how much you add to the salad. Read the rest of this entry →

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Help clothe an actor for the holidays

December 11, 2013 in Entertainment, The Valley, Theatre/Stage

I love this little theatre company in North Hollywood. This plea for donations to help fund their future productions is priceless and TOTALLY safe for work.

Seriously, Antaeus is a non-profit and your donations are tax deductible.  Help keep live theater in L.A. thriving.

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

November 14, 2013 in East Side, History, Hollywood, LA, Long Beach, San Gabriel Valley, SoCal, South Bay, The Valley, West Side

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.
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Awesome Automobilia: The Nethercutt Collection & Museum

September 26, 2013 in Art, Entertainment, History, The Valley

I’ve still not been to the reported Miracle Mile motor mecca that is the Petersen Museum — but at least I’ve known about it!

The same cannot be said for the vehicular valhalla otherwise known as The Nethercutt out in Sylmar. Up until a couple weeks ago that institution had somehow avoided me knowing about it my entire life — and it still would be unknown to me had Huell Howser himself not reached out from beyond the grave and told me about it (in the form of an old “Visiting” episode on KCET, but still). Bless you and thank you, Huell!

Wasting no time at all while marveling at all the shiny automobilia Huell was amongst, I wasted no time in googling up the Nethercutt’s website and making a reservation for a guided tour — and get this: it’s free.

Now I know… I know. You’re wondering what kind of catalytic converter have I been living under all my life!? You’ve been there six times, and are going back next week to check out the recently added 1956 Porsche! Well I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to to that apparently small minority of angelenos  who, like me, have absolutely  no clue. And to them I’m saying that for the love of all engines internally combusted, if you have even get the slightest wide-eyed when any kind of  classic car rolls past you on the street, then you’ve got to get yourself out to Sylmar and prepare for your jaw to drop at all the mechanized majesty. Many, many times.

Seriously, if you have any type of appreciation for the history and design and evolution of Ye Olde Horseless Carriage, you’ve got to go and check out this unparalleled and extensive array of meticulously restored vehicles. As I said, the collection is free, but tour reservations are required). So click here to check out my Flickr set of images (thumbnailed above) from my visit last Saturday, and then make plans to go get yer car on and get upclose and personal with these magnificent mobile works of fine art.

WHAT: The Nethercutt Collection
WHERE: 15200 Bledsoe Street, Sylmar, CA 91342
WHEN: Guided tours are Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 10a.m. or 1:30p.m. (Reservations are required)
WEB: www.nethercuttcollection.org
NOTE: Directly across the street from the Nethercutt Collection is the Nethercutt Museum, housing a separate and more extensive group of vehicles. That’s open Tuesday – Saturday, 9a.m. – 4:30 p.m. It’s also free, but no reservation is required.

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ICME: Scarecrow L.A. Style…

June 20, 2013 in ICME, The Valley

surfcrow

My friend Jeff Hailpern spotted this in a friends yard somewhere in Chatsworth.  Country kitsch meets L.A. surf culture.  Love it.

(Photo by Jeff Hailpern and used with his permission)

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“Walk in No Shoes” Charity Event set for 4/7/2103 in Woodley Park.

March 8, 2013 in Events, Politics, Social issues, The Valley

Yes, I know that this post for a  charity event is early, but registration is now open and there is a discounted admission if you enroll to help by March 15, 2013.  Walk in No Shoes is a charity walk run event to benefit the poor and persecuted in  South Sudan.  The event funds will go to the Sudan Relief Fund to help them raise awareness, generate funds and support relief efforts that provide food, safe drinking water, clothing, shelter, medical attention, education and hope to the people of the region regardless of nationality, religion, ethnicity or what tribe they belong to.  You can get more information on the Sudan Relief Fund HERE.

The event will take place in Woodley Park.  The event will have 3 different categories of  running/walking.  There will be a 10K walk/run, a 5K walk/run and a 1K barefoot walk.  The latter is a sort of kinship exercise as the Sudanese often walk miles barefoot for water, food and medical attention.  There is a fee to enter these raises that will generate the funds.  The fees range from $25-45, and go up after 3/15 to $25-55.    There are also opportunities to volunteer to help them that day.  All the information you could want on the event can be found on their web site HERE.  These donations are tax deductible as the fund is a 501 c(3) charitable organization.

Deets: Sunday, April 7, 2013 8:00am to 1:00PM, Woodley Park / Lake Balboa 6350 Woodley Ave., Van Nuys CA MAP HERE

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A little vintage Valley for the morning

February 23, 2013 in Driving, Movies, The Valley

I can’t take credit for finding this, spotted on facebook on a friend of a friends liking it chain of posts.  None the less it is a great view of Burbank to Toluca Lake in 1958.  Isn’t that sound track something else?  The turds at the Getty images won’t allow embedding, but you can view it HERE.

Take A Hike To An Unsung POV

December 26, 2012 in Biking in LA, Sports, The Valley

I’m one of 17 hiking and mountainbiking members of the newly formed Trail Safety Patrol volunteer program implemented by Glendale whose mission beginning early next year is to serve as ambassadors for the city’s Community Services & Parks Department and work in conjunction with Glendale police and fire in providing for and promoting an enjoyable experience for all visitors to its open spaces.

Though I’ve been riding in the Verdugos for all 22-years of the mountaingbiking portion of my life, there are trails in the adjacent San Rafael Hills we’ve been tasked to patrol I’ve never put tire tread to and I’m familiarizing myself with them in advance of our start date. Two weekends ago I rolled the Ridge Motorway, and last Sunday found me on the Valle Vista Motorway located on the ridge between the 134 Freeway an Glenoaks Canyon. I want to highly recommend both if they were as previously unknown to you as they were to me. But of the two, the latter offers the most awesome visual award.

Here’s the flat version of a 360-degree panorama I took of the scenery and of my fellow mountainbiking patrolers from the trail’s western overlook above the 2/134 interchange (biggification enabled when clicked).

A rotating, interactive version of the pano image is viewable here.

The trail (route mapped here) is accessible from the upper end of Sleepy Hollow Drive off of Glenoaks Boulevard. At less than one-mile in length, the payoff found at the end far exceeds the output required to get to it, although there are some steeply graded sections of the fire road to scale as it rolls along.

 

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Best of France and Italy car show Sunday 11/4

October 31, 2012 in Driving, Entertainment, Events, The Valley, Transportation

france and italy car show poster

If you have a soft spot for those quirky French and Italian cars this may well be the perfect show for you.  The France and Italy Car Show will take place this Sunday in Woodley Avenue Park.  It will feature a lot of vintage French and Italian cars.

It will be located on Woodley Ave south of Victory.  Its official time is 9Am to 2PM, I’d strongly urge folks interested to be there early as a lot of people start leaving well before the 2PM close time.  If they can start their cars that is…sorry for the snark but a lot of these cars will live up to their stereotypes.  They even have a Facebook page with more details.

Details: Sunday November 4, 2012, Woodley Avenue Park MAP HERE, Van Nuys, CA

 

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Community Policing, LAPD says this is why we are becoming one of the safest cities in the U.S.

July 29, 2012 in Crime, News, Social issues, The Valley

When I was a Valley dweller back when we were first married in Valley Village our neighborhood started experiencing gang related activity and auto thefts.  We were in the LAPD’s North Hollywood divisions policing territory.  They worked with us to establish a Neighborhood Watch and worked with us on a variety of community issues.  We became friends with several of the officers that patrolled our area. Community Policing now as outlined in the video has grown and is helping to make the neighborhoods in North Hollywood safer.

On a sidebar if you haven’t subscribed to the LAPD’s YouTube channel yet you might want to consider as aside from the infomercials and PSA’s they also have regular crime tips and vids seeking info on crimes.  You can subscribe on their channel HERE.

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405 Carmageddon II set for September 29 – 30

July 19, 2012 in Driving, The Valley, Transportation, West Side

Here it comes again, Westsiders needing access to the 405 freeway are screwed as it will be closed that weekend again on a 10 mile stretch.  Actually, the folks in the valley will be inconvenienced the worst if they need to trek over The Hill that day.  KTLA ran the full story which you can read HERE.  Their story has cute quotes from Yaroslavsky and Villaraigosa on what to do.  My thought is do like last time, make babies and create a nice little baby boom of sorts 9 months from now.

It Caught My Eye: Who You Callin’ A Dummy, Dummy!?

April 16, 2012 in Driving, ICME, The Valley

As seen on the southbound 101 approaching Woodland Hills Saturday (click to enlargify), all I can say is I have no idea what’s going on here. All I know is that last pair in the trailer looks like they’re holding hands and simultaneously hitchhiking, but who am I to judge?

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Queen’s English car show Sunday 3/18 in Woodley Park

March 15, 2012 in Entertainment, Events, The Valley, Transportation

If you love old British sports cars and motorcycles this is the show for you.  This show brings in a more than a few classic British cars and cycles in various states of repair and restoration.  There is even a “auto jumble” (swap meet) full of parts and stuff to repair and customize your own car.

Do you have an old British car or cycle you’d love to show?  If so visit them and register to show online here.

This is a FREE event for spectators.

Last year the show went on in the rain, looks like this year promises to be wet early in the day so its hard telling if the “show will go on” or not.  My guess is that it will go on regardless.

Deets: Sunday 3/18/2012 9AM-4PM. Queen’s English,(626) 797-4221,  Woodley Park, Van Nuys CA MAP HERE.