LA made you less than you were back home

I love the following quote from HÈctor Tobar’s The Tattooed Soldier despite the fact that it doesn’t seem to fit my family’s experience. Perhaps Tobar is referring to a newer generation of immigrants who came in the 80s and not those, like my family, who came in an earlier wave during the 1960s.

It was a fact of life that when you came to the United States you moved down in social station and professional responsibilities. Women with medical degrees became laboratory assistants, accountants became ditch diggers. Los Angeles made you less than you were back home. People accepted this because they still made six times more money than they could in El Salvador or Mexico even though everything was twice as expensive.

Everyone took a step down…

Continue reading LA made you less than you were back home

Out to Sea

Yesterday, The Man and I made a journey up to Santa Barbara for another full-day whale watching tour. Again lead by the American Cetacean Society, our goal was to see both Humpback Whales and Blue Whales. I’d never seen a blue whale before (and few people have, there are only 5,000 of them in the Northern Hemisphere), but our expert crew was able to find a few of them out in the Santa Barbara Channel.

It’s amazing to think that such creatures live so close to us and that they’re so predictable that you can just go out and visit them like that. Southern California is just mind boggling in its diversity and the accessibility of wildlife. You can see more photos in my flickr set and The Man’s gallery (he’s got a better camera than I do). See details and photos of May 15th trip here.

Ok, this is kind of an OC post, but…

…it always scares me when I hear of rides closing down at the Magic Kingdom because there was an accident and people were hurt. I always imagined those rides to be safe-safe-safe. I heard there was an accident this weekend and thought back to some of the rides that are no longer around due to safety issues. My favorite of the rides of yore are the Sky Baskets. I miss those things.

Disney Roller Coaster Remains Closed After Accident

15 People Treated For Injuries

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The “California Screamin”‘ roller coaster at Disney’s California Adventure theme park in Anaheim remained closed Saturday while authorities try to determine what caused one train to rear-end another Friday night.

Emergency crews treated 15 riders injured. [full story]

Weird Mods

I’m all for customizing your own car. After all, it’s yours. But some of the stuff people do to their cars is just baffling.

I saw this pickup on the 101 driving back from Santa Barbara yesterday:


Yes, that’s a pickup truck with a spoiler. I’m not quite sure how they get stuff in and out of the bed of the truck with that big bar across it. They can put things in under it or over it, but I can’t see how they’d load something in there like a refrigerator. Maybe it’s supposed to keep their friends from asking them to help move.

Underwater photo shoot

pool073105.jpgToday I had a ton of work to do, but my friend Dan wanted to come over and use my pool to test the underwater housing for his digital camera. That sounded like a lot more fun than working, so we spent the afternoon laughing underwater and taking badly-framed, overexposed photos like this one. A few more are here.


Siggraph 2005, the “32nd International Conference on Computer Graphics and Interactive Technologies”, runs today and runs through August 4th at the L.A. Convention Center.

While not as big as E3 a few months ago, it should still be quite a glorious geekfest.

When Tow Truck Drivers Attack!

Boing Boing mentioned a New York Times story (use BugMeNot for a login and password) about bad tow truck drivers around here. The local news channels have covered the subject before as dependable ratings fodder, but it’s interesting to see it being written about from out-of-town:

In one case here, a church’s pickup was towed from its own parking lot; in another, a 4-year-old boy was towed away in his mother’s car after she went inside her apartment for a few minutes to drop off groceries and a younger child.

And a man who ran alongside a tow truck, pleading to get his vehicle back after it was towed from a fire lane, died when he slipped and was run over by the truck and then his own Chevrolet Suburban.

Spurred by cases like these, the authorities in Southern California are trying to rein in so-called predatory towing by truck drivers who are said to lurk around parking lots, snatching up cars in an instant on the slightest violation – or sometimes when there is no violation at all.

Similar complaints have reached state, local and federal officials across the country. And as part of the new federal highway bill, Congress approved legislation that allows states to enact certain restrictions on towing and orders a federal study of towing practices.

Swim at your own risk?


Earlier this week, the Natural Resources Defense Council released Testing the Waters, their annual report on beach water quality, and the Los Angeles area beach map is pretty depressing. It bugs me that so many places don’t test the water at all, so you have no way of knowing if you’re swimming around in bacteria unless you get sick.

The report’s “Beach Bums” section includes this list of municipalities with no regular monitoring: Los Angeles County, Los Angeles County Flood Control District, City of Alhambra, City of Arcadia, City of Artesia, City of Baldwin Park, City of Bell Gardens, City of Bellflower, City of Beverly Hills, City of Carson, City of Cerritos, City of Claremont, City of Commerce, City of Covina, City of Diamond Bar, City of Downey, City of Gardena, City of Hawaiian Gardens, City of Industry, City of Irwindale, City of La Mirada, City of Lakewood, City of Lawndale, City of Monrovia, City of Montebello, City of Monterey Park, City of Norwalk, City of Paramount, City of Pico Rivera, City of Pomona, City of Rancho Palos Verdes, City of Rosemead, City of San Gabriel, City of Santa Clarita, City of Santa Fe Springs, City of Sierra Madre, City of Signal Hill, City of South Gate, City of South Pasadena, City of Temple City, City of Torrance, City of Vernon, City of Walnut, City of West Covina, City of Westlake Village, and City of Whittier.

Read more here, or read the California state summary. (Those are both pdf links.)

Update: To answer the question in the comments about how some of those areas don’t have beaches, this is how the report explains it:

Although many of these municipalities are inland, their bacteria-laden stormwater pollution directly affects beach water quality.

An LA Question

Earlier today a friend asked me if LA has ice cream trucks, and I realized I’ve never seen one in the year or so I’ve been here. I haven’t heard even one ice cream truck jingle since I moved out of Brooklyn.

I live in a residential part of North Hollywood/Universal City that seems like it would be pretty ice cream friendly — my building alone has tons of kids. So what’s up? Are the trucks hanging out in other neighborhoods? Or are they just not as popular here as they are in New York?

I searched the archive for clues, but I doubt I’ll be lucky enough to run into the free ice cream guy anytime soon. It doesn’t have to be free, though. I’d happily hand over $2 (maybe even $3?) for a small chocolate cone dipped in chocolate, if I had any idea where to go.

Laundry and Wi-Fi just told me about The Rumor Mill. A coin laundry with coffee, sandwiches, and free wi-fi. I thank the lucky stars that I no longer need the services of a coin laundry but if I did I’d be headed to this place in a second. It’s at 11739 W. Washington Blvd. which might be a trek for some people but it sounds worth it. Hell, I might have to go check it out just for the caffein and 802.11b.

Cirque Berzerk

If you’re in the mood to see a bunch of self-described circus freaks performing death-defying acts with fire, trapezes, and random killer clowns, then you’ll definitely want to check out Cirque Berzerk’s performance tonight. They’re doing a fundraiser to help them get a tent at Burning Man. My pal Amanda will be there doing some sort of performance with wings attached to her back, most likely clad in something made of latex. If you see her, touch her bum and tell her my big brother Shawn told you to. She loves that.

If you miss tonight’s freakshow, there’s another one at Abundant Sugar next weekend. I highly recommend checking them out and can personally vouch that the clowns will not, in fact, eat you.

Tonight’s show is at 7070 Santa Monica Blvd and starts at 10 pm.

Psycho Girlfriend Fashion Show tonight – Infusion Gallery


If you missed seeing Psycho Girlfriend’s wearable art at the Brewery Art walk, you have another chance. They’re having a fashion show tonight at 9:30 at Infusion Gallery (828 South Main Street). Show starts at 9:30 and they will be showing their full collection along with new items. Psycho Girlfriend makes fabulous dresses out of unusual materials including clips, slide film and hamster tunnels (complete with hamsters!)

I wish I could go, but I’m up here in San Jose at Blogher.

The Great LA Social Experiment

This kind of dove-tails Cindyís post about getting to know your neighborsÖ.
About three weeks ago, I decided that I was far to wrapped up in my own narrow little world and needed to be more social. I see myselfÖand lots of other peopleÖwho go about their day never smiling, never reaching out to make contact with others, even in the smallest way. So I decided I would break that chain and make more of an effort to smile when I saw a stranger instead of looking away when our eyes met in the grocery store. To say ‘hello’ to that interesting guy in yoga who always practices right behind me. To wave at my neighbor when we were both driving down the hill.
And guess what! It was really eye-opening! You canít believe the wonderful flash of beauty on an old womanís face as her eyes light up when she smiles back at you. The relief to make contact, even briefly, seems to fit for most people. My experience showed me that people want to share a smile, it somehow makes us more human.
Oh…and single women alert: While this wasnít geared to picking up guysÖ I had an unusual number of males strike up conversations and give me their number, which doesn’t usually happen in this city. One guy who I smiled at in the check-out counter at Trader Joes and then forgot about, walked up to me as I was leaving and asked me out for a drink. When we talked a bit I said, ìNow why are you asking me out?î He told me that so few women in LA are friendly, that when a normal woman smiles itís like a wind-fall of love! Funny.
In any case, Iíve decided we are all too removed in this isolated culture and reaching out canít hurt! Iíve sure had a good time with it… BD on IMDb

Picture-11.jpgI jumped on the Internet Movie Database to grab a link to Last Days (or, as I like to call it, Last Days and Days and Days) and damned if I’m not greeting (er…”greeted”) by the smiling, baby-face of our own Wil Wheaton, who is, apparently, 33 today (or, as I like to call it, a long, long way from checking the 40+ box on the SAG sign-in sheet).

So congrats on being the IMDb poster child for July 29th, but more importantly, happy birthday, Wil. Hope it is/was a good one.