12 Days of Giving: Red Star Riders

December 22, 2014 at 6:50 pm in Biking in LA, Blogging (in) LA, LA, Seasonal

This is the one of several posts by us outlining charities and non-profit causes near to our heart.

Do you remember your first tricycle or bicycle? I remember several from my childhood and have fond memories of receiving one of them for Christmas one year. I was in my early teens and there was an elaborate scavenger hunt of clues that ultimately led to the new wheels in the garage. While I rarely ride now, as a child I loved having a bike. It was a means of some freedom and independence long before being able to drive a car.

I know I’m not alone in my nostalgia, which is why I wanted to bring some awareness to an awesome organization called Red Star Riders. Red Star Riders is a non-profit group started by Los Angeles area pediatric physical therapists. Their mission is to raise funds for families of children with special needs to purchase AmTryke®  therapeutic tricycles. Not only do these dedicated professionals hold fundraising events, but they also donate their time to assist the children in being properly fit for each customized bike*.

Photo used by permission from Red Star Riders

Photo used by permission from Red Star Riders


Through some targeted fundraising, Red Star Riders has been able to assist several families in getting bikes for their kids this holiday season. However, letters like the one below keep coming in. Jocelyn is a 6-year-old girl with Rett Syndrome. She cannot walk, cannot talk and has little function of her hands. Jocelyn’s mother sent the flollowing:

My typical daughter, Rylee, is 4 years old and Santa is bringing her a big girl bike for Christmas. I know I have to give her a typical childhood, but my heart is breaking with sympathetic envy for my 6-year-old daughter, Jocelyn, who has Rett Syndrome and cannot ride a typical bike. I have been searching for a modified bike for her to have under the tree Christmas morning right next to her sister’s. What a Christmas morning that would be for her! However, special bikes are over $1000 and, embarrassingly and regrettably, that is not something we can afford for Jocelyn. Christmas is always bitter sweet for us. She is a happy girl, regardless of her daily struggles and limitations. She loves being outside and a family bike ride seems like a fantasy, but I have hope that one day, we will be able to have one.

Jocelyn’s bike will cost $815. Jocelyn’s story is similar to many of the families waiting for bikes for their kids. Your donation can help joy, self confidence, independence, improved quality of life, physical activity, and so much to the children on the waiting list. Please click HERE to make your tax deductible donation.

Used by permission from Red Star Riders

Used by permission from Red Star Riders


*Yes, the term “bike” is used loosely here. Kids “ride bikes.” So what if they have three wheels, a seat belt, trunk supports, or other adaptations. It’s a bike.

All photos and the contents of the letter used with permission by Red Star Riders. 

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Even the L.A. Auto Show is in the Happy Holidays mode

December 22, 2014 at 7:46 am in Driving, Entertainment, LA, Seasonal

Fun little video recapping some of the more spectacluar reveals at this years L.A. Auto Show.  I can tell you from experience we’re getting better stuff shown here than Detroit for the most part.

In just 3 weeks I’ll be at NAIAS in Detroit. Its a fun show, but ours is way bigger physically and has the best reveals.  They still get North American Truck and Car of the year, so we need to figure out how to wrangle that out of their meat hooks.

On rainy afternoons in Los Angeles

December 21, 2014 at 7:03 pm in LA, Weather

The forecast looks pretty rain-free for the next little while, at least, but our recent rainy days have had me navel-gazing.

I used to like it when it rained in LA because it reminded me of home.

I grew up somewhere significantly cooler and damper than Southern California. It was a world of sharply differentiated seasons: hot muggy summers gave way to brisk, breezy autumns; the winters could be punishing and dangerous, and springs were when the snow and sky turned gray and everything melted away. While the rumors that we don’t have weather and seasons here in LA are completely untrue, when I first moved here, I missed the gradual shifts and changes. I had to figure out a different way of marking time. And sometimes, still, I still feel a little disoriented when I look out the window in November and see what would have passed for summer sun back home. But on one of those rare, rainy LA days, I could pretend that it was fall or spring near the Great Lakes. I clung to LA’s rainy days, I relished them, because they reminded me of where I had come from. But because of that, they also reminded me that I wasn’t from here, and that home was really and truly some place else.

I used to like it when it rained in LA because it reminded me of London.

I got to spend an autumn doing research there while I was in grad school. That fall, when it wasn’t raining, there was a constant mist in the air, and everything felt damp and gray. It was perfect weather for wandering. The hours that I didn’t spend in the British Library’s reading room I spent bundled into my scarf and coat, roaming around the city. I walked so much that my boots had holes in the soles by the time I left. The gray sky and the chill in the air were so much more inviting on long walks than the summer sun. And when I got back to LA, rainy days reminded me of that sense of freedom and adventure. I could pull my coat out of the back of my closet, and go for a walk in the rain, and suddenly the vast expanses of this city felt smaller, like I could own them as I navigated them on foot.

Now I’m learning to love it when it rains in LA because it is raining in LA.

For a long time, being in Los Angeles was a weird, temporary, in-between state for me. I came here to go to school, I thought I would leave when I was done, but I ended up sticking around a while longer. For the past few years, I thought for sure I’d be leaving: I was chasing an academic career, a path with notoriously dismal prospects, and I was interviewing for jobs all over the place. But I’m changing my mind about what I want to do and be. More and more, being in Los Angeles doesn’t feel like a liminal state anymore, and more and more I’m realizing that I don’t want it to be a temporary condition. So I’ve spent the past few months adjusting and shifting, changing the way that I see this city. LA has stopped being a place that happens to be where I am for now, at the moment, and has started being the place where I am. As I figure out what I’m doing next, I need to feel like I am actually present here, and not just in an in-between state.

LA rain is undeniable in its presence: when it rains, it rains unrelentingly, like it’s making up for lost time. I love the sound of it on the roof of my tiny house, the sound of an endless percussive refrain. I love the sight of the clouds rolling in over the hills and ocean. I love how many rainbows I see here, as the sun and the rain duke it out. And love the day after it rains, when the sky seems even bluer by comparison; when everything seems washed clean, and I can see the mountains crystal clear as we drive up the 405 to work in the morning.

I used to like it when it rained in LA because it reminded me of places that felt like home. Now I love it when it rains in LA because LA is finally feeling like home.

12 Days of Giving: Donate Blood

December 20, 2014 at 7:48 am in FEATURED, Holidays, LA

This is the one of several posts by us outlining charities and non-profit causes near to our heart. It isn’t 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 it’s 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?

Hot Blooded!

Hot Blooded!

Speaking of “giving of yourself” why not literally give of yourself? Blood banks always need blood, not just in times of crisis. If you meet the requirements, you can donate a pint of your blood in about an hour. Easey peasey, stress-ball squeezey! No matter your blood type, blood banks need it. Are you Type O, the Universal Donor? Great, that means more people in the city need your blood. Are you a rare type – AB? Great, they need you too.

l_gotbloodMy favorite donation place is the UCLA Blood and Platelets Center. The staff is friendly, the place is clean and bright and they do all they can to make it easy and fun to donate. They have assigned parking spots just for donors right by their door in Westwood. And even if those spots are taken, they give you free parking in the nearby lot. They always have raffles and free gifts. I got a beach towel and a UCLA T-shirt from my last two visits. And those bonus gifts were on top of the free movie tickets you get for donating. Oh and the great selection of juice and cookies after! From start to finish (checking in, paperwork, getting your vitals checked, donating blood, juice/cookies) it takes about an hour. The actual donation part? about 10 minutes.

There are many places to donate in LA, just google it. Children’s Hospital LA has a donation center. The Red Cross has many donation centers in SoCal and hey! They are giving away red, long sleeved t-shirts if you donate between 12/24 and January 4.

It is true what they say, the more you give, the more you get. Please donate blood. It might cost an hour of your time every three months and the benefits to your community and your heart are huge.


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12 Days of Giving : Monrovia Association of Fine Arts

December 19, 2014 at 3:45 pm in Art, Education, Events, Holidays, People, Photography, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Social issues

LogoThis is a group that I have devoted tons of energy and time to over the last 10 years.  Their mission statement sums it all up:
“Enhance the lives of those within our community through interaction with the arts. Increase the opportunities of our children through art education.”

Its something I completely believe in, live and breath it.  I got involved 10 years ago as a way to help promote my art, but after a few meetings I found its something that benefits the entire community in ways I never knew.

My kids were in the MUSD system and I was disappointed to learn that Art Education wasn’t part of the curriculum as a separate class at the elementary level.  Monrovia Association of Fine Arts, MAFA for short, was just getting ready to make its first donation to the schools the year I joined to help fund art educatoin at the elementary level.  Over the course of the next few years our cash donations totalled over $75.000.  But it didn’t stop there. Read the rest of this entry →

12 Days of Giving: Back on My Feet

December 18, 2014 at 9:30 am in LA

This is the one of several posts by us outlining charities and non-profit causes near to our heart. It isn’t 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 it’s 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?


As someone whose life has been transformed through running – becoming active and participating in races and so on – I feel a special sense of kinship with others who have used fitness as a way to break out of a rut. Back on My Feet is a program aimed at helping homeless people overcome their circumstances, using running as a catalyst.

Back on My Feet uses running to empower individuals experiencing homelessness and guide them on the path to self-sufficiency. Members and volunteers gather together as a community for early morning runs, and side by side take steps towards restoring value.
Through dedication to our program, members begin to feel appreciated, valued, and develop an enhanced sense of self-worth. The positive changes enable them to make strides towards leading healthier, more successful lives and earning their way to independent housing and employment.
Please take a moment to view the story below which confirms how the simple act of running can fuel self-worth.

Find out more about how to donate, volunteer, or “fundrace” by visiting Back on My Feet LA’s website.

12 Days Of Giving: spcaLA

December 17, 2014 at 3:02 pm in Blogging (in) LA, Holidays, LA, Pets, Seasonal

spcaLA logoPreamble/Disclosure: There’s a subset of the fine folks who know I’ve been a scrivener for Blogging.la going way back to March 2004, who also know that back in 2011, despite all appearances of sanity, sensibility and advanced middle age, I committed to making a rather drastic career change in leaving behind a 20-odd year (emphasis on the word “odd’) career in journalism to become a humane law enforcement officer, more commonly known as an “animal cop.” Soon after that decision, I undertook what would become a lengthy, arduous and challenging process of training and preparation and hiring — I call it a “journey of a thousand hurdles” — that culminated this past summer when I was sworn in as a Level 1 Humane Officer working for, you guessed it: the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA).

But enough about me. More importantly, I need to clear up an important misconception. You know those heart-wrenching ads that inundate your TV screens around this time of year, soundtracked by Sarah McG’s “Angel” and featuring some celeb (last year it was the guy from “Will & Grace”) guilting the hell out of you to donate NOWRIGHTNOW while a slideshow of horribly mistreated animals scrolls by? Yeah: that’s soooooo not spcaLA. That’s a whole different animal: That’s ASPCA, or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

But Will, you ask, isn’t ASPCA the “parent” of spcaLA? Great question! Answer: Not in any way, shape or form. They are entirely individual and separate entities. It’s a common mistake people make believing that ASPCA is some sort of national umbrella under which all SPCAs in the country operate. But they don’t. Each and every SPCA is its own independent organization. The same goes with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). They have absolutely nothing to do with, say, the Pasadena Humane Society.

But Will, you ask, why should that matter to me? Another valid query! As an Angeleno it should matter to you because at the end of one of those above-mentioned ASPCA ads that will be dominating the local year-end airwaves, when you rush to your computer or telephone, whip out your credit card and ship some money to their headquarters across the country in New York City, not a penny of it will benefit any of the animals in your own neighborhoods. Think of it like donating blood to your local hospital versus the American Red Cross. In both worthy cases, the precious resource will almost certainly go to someone who needs it, but the chances are exponentially greater that the blood you gave at, say, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles will go to a child at that hospital. Donate locally, I say… which rhymes with spcaLA!

After the jump, a bit of history before we get to the fun part.

Read the rest of this entry →

12 Days of Giving: The Peace Project

December 17, 2014 at 7:00 am 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 at 2:04 pm 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.

Vanna, 2009, Creative Commons by photog Carly Hoskins.


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

Augustus, 2005, photog Stacey Jischke via Creative Commons

Photo credit Cobalt Cafe.

R.I.P. overstuffed chars and couches.

Bitter End in 2011, photog Robert Bejil via Creative Commons.

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.


12 Days of Giving: Help A Mother Out

December 16, 2014 at 7:45 am in FEATURED, Holidays, Social issues

This is the one 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?

HAMOlogoNo matter their race, gender, or income level, all babies have one very basic thing in common: They Need Diapers. And lots of them. For YEARS. One in three families in the US struggle to afford diapers and 22% of children live in poverty. Diapers are not cheap and they are not covered in any public assistance programs – not even WIC (Women, Infants and Children). How much? Diapers can cost on average $75-$100/month. And most childcare facilities require parents to supply diapers every day for your child. If you are a poor working parent, childcare is critical for you to be able work. If you can’t afford diapers, you can’t use daycare and if you can’t use daycare, how can you work? Vicious cycle.

“Diapers are a must-have. You can’t skip them like you can breakfast. Getting donated diapers has helped me because I don’t have to have my child do without other things, such as food.” ~ Mom, Center for the Vulnerable Child

This is where Help A Mother Out comes in. Their sole mission is to provide diapers to families who need them. They do this by raising money, raising awareness and working to change laws specific to diaper needs in public assistance programs. And they need your help. Families and babies need your help. They are based in the Bay Area, but they have a small volunteer crew here in Los Angeles who run diaper drives and distribute diapers to various organizations in LA County.

Please click through to read more and to find out all the ways you can Help A Mother Out.

Who are these families in need? They can be anyone. Families hit hard by the recession. Families whose circumstances have changed unexpectedly due to a health crisis. A mom and her kids escaping domestic abuse with only the clothes on their backs. Homeless families trying to get on their feet. Working families barely getting by. It’s not just one type of family that needs help. And clean diapers mean much healthier and happy babies. Parents who can’t afford diapers often leave their kids in dirty diapers for ong periods of time. This can cause sever diaper rash and could even lead to infectious diarrhea, Hepatitis A and viral meningitis. Clean diapers help the whole family and the community.

“With the help of diapers, I am able to use the little money I have on food and other important necessities for my kids.” Mom of two, Women’s Daytime Drop in Center

How can you help? You can donate money online, you can host a Diaper Drive, you can also donate diapers, you can even buy diapers on Amazon to ship directly to a local organization. Do you have a child who has just potty-trained? Fist of all, congrats! Second – do you have a half opened pack of diapers in the closet? Help A Mother Out will take those too. You can find out how to help here. You can also make it really easy and contact me. I’ll come and get your leftover diapers personally to deliver to a local shelter or organization that needs them.

(You’ll notice these donated diapers are the disposable variety and many of you might have environmental concerns. Homeless and poor working families often have limited or even no access to laundry facilities on a regular basis and cloth diapers require much laundering as well as the soap to go with it. Just something to keep in mind.)

Click here to see specifically who Help A Mother Out serves in California.

Every baby deserves a clean diaper. Period.




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12 Days of Giving : Anteaus Theater Company

December 15, 2014 at 5:40 pm in Entertainment, LA, News, People, Seasonal, Social issues, Theatre/Stage

Live theater in Los Angeles is a tough gig. Anteaus in Noho is no different than the rest, to bring quality theater to the community they need help. Volunteers and tax deductible cash donations are welcomed.

To donate and learn about them visit Anteaus.org.

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Nixle alerts coming DUI Enforcement Road Blocks

December 15, 2014 at 4:25 pm 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.

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Beauty Unbound and PROco get invited to first film festival

December 14, 2014 at 4:46 pm in Entertainment, Filmmaking/Filmmakers, News, People

Yup, its a big deal for your first venture.  A Sunny Christmas is based on the art of Joseph R Davis and animated by him and Brian Gerson. They were invited to submit this to the 5th Annual ACRS Film Fest, they did and its been accepted.  Nice to see new talent here in L.A get recognition beyond our borders.

‘Tis the Season for Crowds: Krampus on Parade & Renegade Craft Fair

December 13, 2014 at 11:17 pm 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.

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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.

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12 Days of Giving : Foothill Unity Center

December 12, 2014 at 9:00 am 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 →