At least it’s Tuesday
According to, today is the second deadliest driving day of the year (though happily, Tuesday is the least fatal driving day of the week). This particular creepy fact comes via Taco who, by way of illustration, links to a flickr photoset, which is filled with accident- or CHP-related images–the photographer, 7mary3, apparently being an officer. (Me, I opted for awe rather than shock–Independentman’s lovely image to the right shows the 5 freeway reflected in the LA River.) And the last stop on today’s morbid traffic tour is CHP’s site itself which breaks down auto death just about every way you could want to sort the data–by location, victim, vehicle, time, etc. So do be careful everyone.

Taking the “free” out of freeways

Following the lead of cities like London, LA is considering a “congestion tax” on freeways (which would of course, make them simply highways. Curbed LA mentioned as much last week and the LA Times reports further today. The idea behind congestion pricing is to charge drivers for using roads in the busiest parts of town during the busiest hours. Bloomberg has been pushing for congestion pricing in New York, and now Villaraigosa has come out in favor of the idea as well. There is talk of introducing toll roads at LAX first to encourage people to take public transportation to the airport. The Times does admit that, at present, there really isn’t public transportation that serves most folks who need to fly out of LAX. But hey, since when has reality interfered with city planning in LA? Clearly, without intervention of some kind, traffic is only going to get worse. Palmdale and Lancaster both rank among the twenty-five most rapidly growing cities in the country and it shocks none of us to learn that LA proper has made number one on the list of most congested cities already. But congestion pricing is an idea that works best in cities that offer a viable alternative to driving, and LA, sad to say, is not yet among them.

Hollywood Christmas Parade to return?

Back in March I wrote:

Last year’s 75th Hollywood Christmas Parade was its last, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce has announced, citing rising costs and shrinking revenues.

But looking at the agenda for tomorrow’s City Council meeting, I noticed the following item tacked on:

MOTION (GARCETTI – LABONGE) relative to a Request For Proposals (RFP) for the Hollywood Holiday Parade.

Recommendations for Council action:

1. INSTRUCT the Department of General Services (GSD), with assistance and support from various City departments and the Thirteenth District Council Office, to prepare and issue a RFP for the planning, financing, producing, televising and staging of the Hollywood Holiday Parade.

2. DIRECT the GSD to release the RFP as expeditiously as possible and authorize the GSD to select, execute and negotiate and award the contract to produce the 2007 Hollywood Christmas Parade.

pdf file here

Question of the Week: Who’s Your Favorite “Local Legend”?

ChukotransCR.gifWhile Los Angeles is best known as a celebrity factory that can make just about anyone a household name all over the world almost overnite, the city has also had it’s share of “local legends” individuals whose fame never seemed to reach beyond county limits.

These individuals range from Hobo Kelly, an enormously popular children’s TV show host on KTTV in the late 60s, to El Circo Loco a street performer known to residents and passersby in Silver Lake. A large number of our local legends are “self made” celebrities, such as Angelyne and Dennis Woodruff, and like any other city or town, we have characters from the business world who’ve become legends from regional commercials, such as our competing mattress kings, “Neil with the Deal” from Leeds, or Larry from Sit’n’Sleep (along with Irvin, who he’s always “killin'”).

Some of these are real people who seem a little surreal, others are alter egos complete with costumes and make up, but all somehow seem larger than life or stranger than fiction. Keeping the definition intentionally vague I ask, who’s your favorite local legend?

…photo of KABC TV’s Chucko the Clown from the LA TV Legends, a website of listings and bios of a number of the local celebrities, including a number of creepy clowns that entertained the kids (along with the aforementioned Hobo Kelly), as well as the ironically not as scary “horror hosts” such as Elvira and Vampira who’s personas began as staples on Southern California airwaves…

Reggie Willits Lives In A Batting Cage

Um. I know that there’s a bit of Angels bashing around these parts, but let’s pause for a moment and appreciate that the Angels are currently the best team in baseball.

A big part of there success comes from their lead-off hitter Reggie Willits.

Well, it turns out this dood is hardcore. He, his wife and newborn baby have lived in a batting cage.

Reggie and Amber never planned to live in a cage. In 2003, they decided to build a 3,000-square-foot house on five acres they own next to his family in Fort Cobb, Okla. The batting cage happened to be the first part of the house that they built.

But when the cage was finished, Reggie and Amber saw a way to save money from his minor league salary. They did not have to complete the house. They could simply stay in the cage.

But this takes the cake:

If she is free, she feeds balls into the pitching machine. Amber stands behind an L-Screen, the kind used to protect batting-practice pitchers. Still, line drives sometimes rip through the screen.

“I know she’s taken a few in the helmet,” said Mickey Hatcher, the Angels’ hitting coach. “But that’s part of the game.”

Now that is a supportive wife. :)

Meet me at Manual Arts HS

A press conference hosted by UTLA and MORE-LA will be held today at
Manual Arts High School about the funding coming to LAUSD through Senate Bill 1133. It starts at 3:20 pm.

[link to PDF of all LAUSD schools receiving funding for 2007-8]
N.B.: high schools each receive funds exceeding $1.5m per year until 2014
[link to PDF of explanation of SB 1133, a.k.a. Quality Education Investment Act]

LAUSD is trying to mandate spending of SB 1133-QEIA funds at school sites, despite their inability to properly manage their own funds at school sites. Schools (teachers and parents alike) are up in arms about this. With Locke declaring autonomy, more schools are following their lead, though many are reluctant to leave LAUSD and go charter.

Also at issue is LAUSD’s decision to take 10% of the money for “administrative costs” despite the bill only allowing a 3% skim. If LAUSD had any competent bureaucrats at these schools, we could probably forgive them. Fact is, many of these schools have “must-place” administrators, the rejects and dregs from better performing parts of LAUSD.

Please attend if you live in an affected area. This would be a good way to meet your union leaders at school sites, as well as a way of getting involved in budget allocation. There are many committees parents and community members can sit on.

Yay for pyrotechnics

The LA Times has posted their annual list of Fourth of July fireworks displays, some of which, counter-intuitively, have already taken place. We stumbled upon the Santa Monica bombs bursting in air quite by accident last night on our way from dinner at Lare’s to SM’s Third Street. (Dinner, by the way, was fantastic, and I’m enough of a non-native to admit that it was made even better for me by the fact that we were seated next to Hilary Swank.)
Cruising down Pico, we pulled over and watched and took some phone pics when the gunpowder bouquets started. (This photo courtesy of Ken Justice who wishes he had an iphone for this and so many occasions.)

We’ll probably hit the Culver City school fireworks on the fourth because it’s convenient to the bf’s place and the crowds and traffic at the bowl and Dodger Stadium are more than I want to deal with. As a DC native, it feels a bit wrong to not at least make an effort to see some fireworks for the holiday. Though the Times does have a list of five patriotic films you can watch if you choose to opt out of the explosive option. (I’d add Easy Rider and Manchurian Candidate (1962) myself, but that’s just me.)

There are two fireworks options I can give an experienced thumbs-down to:
Continue reading Yay for pyrotechnics

Vagabond Blogger: Hollywood Regional Library

So, funny story:

Turns out one of my favorite Blogs was looking for new contributors recently. I was, in fact, thrilled when I received an e-mail telling me I had been accepted to contribute to this fine site.

Then, my computer promptly died.

The Universe, it would seem, has a sense of humor. And I respect that.

Thus, Friends and Neighbors, in an attempt to take the crap handed to me and make “Crap-ade,” I present the first installment of my hopefully short-lived series: “Vagabond Blogger: Libraries and Net Cafes of Hollywood.”

After the jump, we’ll review at the Hollywood Regional Library on Ivar.
Continue reading Vagabond Blogger: Hollywood Regional Library

Barnes and Noble @ Westside Pavilion Now Open
As you probably already know, the 12 screen Landmark Theaters opened at the Westside Pavilion a few weeks ago. This is very exciting for us Westside movie-goers, though being almost a bigger Arclight fan than some people, it still doesn’t match the (mostly) fabulousness of the Arclight. However, it does beat that other theater hands down for me in one important respect — I can walk to the Landmark.

Even more exciting, after a year of construction, is that the Barnes & Noble store finally reopened on June 27th. And how are they celebrating?!?!?! By being open and selling books. Apparently I’m the only one who is really excited about it. Yes, I know there are arguments to be made about chain bookstores beating out independent bookstores and that is bad. Personally, I support just about any kind of store that sells books. Books are good. Mmmmmbooooooks.

If you are coming to the Westside Pavilion see a movie or buy a book (or buy a book of the movie you just saw or see the movie of the book you just read, or even just going to the shopping mall to shop) I have a hot parking tip.
Continue reading Barnes and Noble @ Westside Pavilion Now Open

Drink of the Week: Old Faithful


When you’re plum fresh out of drink ideas, but still mighty thirsty, that’s the time to head on over to good ol’ Musso and Frank, and have Manny or Ruben set you up with the best goddamn martini this side of – well, anywhere.

Two gents at the bar let me snap this shot of their drinks, because altough the drinks are beyond improvement, the lighting at our regular booth is not. I can’t count how many bad shots of good martinis I’ve taken over the years.

Not everyone loves the LAFD stranger to controversy, L.A. Times cartoonist Donna Barstow struck a nerve with a blog entry claiming that the LA Fire Department did “a craptacular job in the recent Griffith Park fire”.

From her Griffith Park, Interrupted blog:

Firemen are very cute, I know, but what the hell were they doing??

Ok, I know nothing about fire, or putting it out. And firepeople are probably some of the hardest workers anywhere. But a fire department that lets a fire get this out of hand…sucks.

Continue reading Not everyone loves the LAFD