Swerve Fest: Ride a Bike, Get Cutsies

Picture 2.jpgIn case you missed the comments in this post, I wanted to point out that if you ride a bike to the Swerve Festival tonight, tomorrow or Sunday and take advantage of the bike valet, you’ll get priority access to screenings. I hate dealing with lines (one of the reasons I ♥ the Arclight so dearly), so barring total opposition from my lady partner you can bet I’ll be venturing to tomorrow’s festivities on my trusty two-wheeled steed.

Vroooomm…Monrovia Hot Rod & Custom Show Saturday

poster.jpg LA is the city that invented the freeway and our love for our cars is world renowned. This passion for our car’s has spawned entire industries dedicated to make them faster and cooler, mostly faster.

This weekend in Old Town Monrovia on Myrtle Avenye is our annual Hot Rod and Custom show. It’s limited to the first 500 pre-1980 car’s that apply. There are even prizes for the Best Overall, Engine, Paint, Interior and Rat Rod . It will run from 9AM to 3PM, Saturday September 29th.

The added bonus is that you can get up close and personal with the cars and their owners as no one ropes them off . (Well a few do have do not touch signs on them, but those tend to be the trailer queens that are there for show not driving enjoyment). I like this show the best as its all about nostalgic massive cubes and raw power as opposed to the tuner subculture that does the wild stuff with new cars and tiny little engines.
Examples of the cars and other stuff after the jump
Continue reading Vroooomm…Monrovia Hot Rod & Custom Show Saturday

Nature’s Roto Rooter

After last weekend’s rains came the usual reports advising those braniacs who think it would be awesome to swim in raw sewage to stay the hell out of the bays because of all the accumulated crap from the city waterways getting flushed out to sea like a giant toilet.

The flipside of that is said channels never look better, such as Ballona Creek pictured below from the ped/bike bridge just west of Overland, which up until last Friday had been sporting roughly a year’s accumulation of quite a mangy and decomped collection of flotsam and jetsam, but now is freshly scrubbed and ready to start clogging back up with fresh bacteria and styrofoam and aluminum and rubbers and hypodermics and shopping carts and motor oil all over again (click to doublify):


Hell even the water looked clear… except for the algae and stuff.

Men Fear Death, as Children Fear to Go in the Dark


We are here to mourn the death of a historic 101 landmark (no, I am not referring to that stupid, awful house on the Cahuenga Pass).

I am referring to the mural L.A. Freeway Kids on the 101 by the Los Angeles and Main overpasses. The other day, I drove down the 101 and noticed the sterile gray covering what used to be vibrant colors and moving children. Or rather, sterile gray covering graffiti covering vibrant colors and moving children.

I’ll be the first to admit: I like graffiti. I know plenty of graff artists both here and in the bay. I’ve been known to dabble in it myself, just enough to give me street cred, not enough to make me legit. But I hate tagging, which is not the creative transformation of a blank wall or a railroad car. I hate the sharpie-scrawled urinations of a dog marking its territory, announcing little more than “Kilroy was here.” Today, I hate it even more.
Continue reading Men Fear Death, as Children Fear to Go in the Dark

It Caught My Eye: A Candle Burns For Alex Amaro

Part of an ongoing series of things of interest I find biking to or from work between Silver Lake and Westchester (With hat tip to Frazgo for coming up with “It Caught My Eye” whose acronym makes a far less ungainly one than that derived from “Things Of Interest That I Find Biking To & From Work.”


Like many places in this city, Jefferson Boulevard seems far less predatory in the warming mornings heading west than in the cooling dusks coming back east. At the beginning of the day the streets are mostly empty and quiet, but with the lengthening shadows that come with the other side of the clock every few blocks I find furtive men loitering at street corners who shoot me sideways glances as I approach and seem very likely to be as up to no good as they are curious if I might be some wierd subset of law enforcement. As if to verify this perception with an exclamation mark I pass a couple of officers working undercover one with gun drawn and pointed at a suspect the other officer is in the process of cuffing. The arrestee submits with neither fight nor regret. As if it’s just the familiar lose-a-turn part of the game of his life.

But before passing that parade of potential parole violations, I first found this burning candle at the south side of Jefferson at Orange Avenue as part of the makeshift shrine to Alex Amaro whose game is over and has been for almost 21 months since dying there after being shot a few blocks east at Cochran Avenue January 8, 2006. According to the sign posted (picture after the jump) calling for the public’s help and offering a $75,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons resposible for his death, after Alex was shot he drove in an effort to get his two small children in the vehicle with him to safety. He crashed and died a block west of La Brea.

Below the sign is a festive “happy birthday” poster placed there by his mother or father. I know this because handwritten on it below “birthday” it says “my son.” It’s in pretty good condition so my guess is it was put there for what would have been his 25th birthday this year. Below that is a string of plastic flowers. And down on the sidewalk bracketed by more plastic flora is a line of candles, only one of which was burning.

It caught my eye. It broke my heart.

Previous ICMEs here and here.

Continue reading It Caught My Eye: A Candle Burns For Alex Amaro

“Surfwise” – Opening Night Film at Swerve Fest


At first glance, “Surfwise”, the new documentary by director Doug Pray might seem like just another surf film. But dig a tiny bit deeper, and you’ll find it’s really a portrait of a wildly dynamic family. To describe them as unusual, well, that would be an understatement.

The film follows Doc Paskowitz, a Stanford educated doctor who chucked it all to pursue his dream at all costs. We get an intimate look at this amazing family of nine kids and two parents all living together in a 24 foot camper(!) who survived on love, pathos and surfing every day of their lives.

Doc believed in the simple life. Eat like an animal with super healthy food (mostly vegetables), get massive outdoor exercise (hence the surfing) and a huge dose of sex (hence the nine kids). His wife Julia was pregnant or nursing for ten years straight.

If you ever wanted to drop out of society, check out this film. It’s a reminder of how every decision we make, affects every single person around us.

It’s opening this Friday night, 9/28 at the Swerve Festival and if you see only one film, make it this one.

Ditty Bops and the Big Top Bowl – Win Tickets!

http://blogging.la/archives/images/2007/09/Ditty%20Bops_03-thumb.jpgBesides the creepy clowns, who doesn’t like the circus?

This Sunday, the Ditty Bops, along with the nimble Peking Acrobats and Moore’s Mongrels (dog tricks galore) will all perform at Big Top Bowl: A Global Circus Celebration.

(According to the press release, “The Peking Acrobats set the world record for the Human Chair Stack for balancing six people precariously atop six chairs 21 feet up in the air without safety lines!”)

The show begins at 6:30pm, but show up a couple hours early to enjoy mini-train rides, jugglers, face painting, and, indeed, more than a couple creepy clowns.

If you’d like to join in the fun, I have two pairs of tickets to give away. If you want them, send me an email at [email protected] with “gimme tickets” in the subject line, and I’ll randomly choose the winners. Deadline to enter is Friday at 11am.

Big Top Bowl
HOLLYWOOD BOWL, 2301 N. Highland Ave. in Hollywood
Tickets: $10 – $60 (info here)

…photo of the Ditty Bops by Paul Natkin at Chiahats

Traffic Report Hero

How often has this happened to you: You are sitting at your desk at work or you are at home and someone calls (spouse, friend, colleague) and says: “Can you check traffic for me? I’m at the airport and want to take the 105 to the 110. How does it look?” (or whatever route they need…) And depending on your relationship with the caller, you drop everything and find out. Sure, you could remind them that KNX has traffic reports every six minutes (AM 1070 for you new to LA-ers), but this is just the break you were hoping for in a long afternoon of TPS Reports or cat box cleaning.

When you get that call, when you have to put on your Traffic Hero Cape (No Capes!) where do you turn? Sigalert.com? Traffic.com? Google Maps? (have you tried their “traffic” button?)

Personally, I like Sigalert.com…but that’s just me.

Traffic Hero, signing off.

Swerve Fest & Spaceland’s Mitchell Frank

Spaceland has been a fixture in the LA rock scene since it opened in 1995, its famous first show consisting of Beck, the Foo Fighters, Possum Dixon, and Lutefisk. Joining the ranks of LA’s most historic clubs (Fuzzyland, the Masque, Whisky A Go Go, etc), its mini-empire in Silver Lake (now including the Echo & Echoplex, plus occasional happenings elsewhere, such as the upcoming Swerve Fest) has [arguably] been the defining element in the initial hipsterification of Silver Lake and its environs. Almost everyone’s seen a show there, but not everyone knows who’s responsible. The man behind the marquee is Mitchell Frank.
When the folks at Swerve Festival said they were bringing Mitchell on as live music producer, I figured this was an opportunity to introduce him to bLA’s readers–those of you who don’t know him already.

Me: So, what’s the weirdest or funniest story you’ve got from Spaceland’s early years?

MF: Ummm. Don’t kiss and tell? Or I’d have to kill you if I told you! Here is one I can tell: Vaginal Cream Davis was doing a performance back when the stage was on the other side of the room. At that time we had a curtained off dressing room on the opposite side. After his show (like I always did previously) I ran back to congradulate Vag on a great performance. Vag is about 6’4″ and I’m 5″7. As I entered his package nearly smacked me in the face. And he said “Well?” I immediately went into why it is I’m not gay and happily hetero. He laughed and said “I wasn’t propositioning you, Mitchell, I’m currently involved. How was the show?”

(Photo from a show by Austin’s The Boxing Lesson at Spaceland, hugging fans. I couldn’t find a pic of Mitchell, sorry.)
Continue reading Swerve Fest & Spaceland’s Mitchell Frank

Hammer Hosts Anderson’s Darjeeling Limited

If you’re willing to battle what always amounts to huge crowds and long lines, Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited is the next film in the Big Time screening series at the always awesome Hammer museum:

Filter magazine and the Hammer continue our bi-monthly late night happenings with another culture-filled evening featuring extended gallery hours, music in the courtyard by guest DJs, and a special screening of The Darjeeling Limited (2007), written by Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, and Jason Schwartzman. Director: Wes Anderson. Running time: 91 minutes.

RSVPs required for entry: [email protected] Please note, RSVP does not guarantee seating. This event is free and open to all, but screening is limited to the first 250 people. Box office opens at 6pm.

The screening is Thursday, October 4th at 7:00 pm. While you’re there, check out Ricky Jay’s “Extraordinary Exhibitions.” And best of luck to those of you that think you can make in to the first 250. I’m dying to see the film, but I think I’ll wait one whole day ’til October 5th, when it opens locally.

Swerve Fest: Watcha Planning?

Picture 2.jpgWith the Swerve Festival just a few days away, I’m looking over the schedule and firming up my plans for the weekend. On Saturday, I’ll be checking out screenings of Aaron Rose’s Beautiful Losers, as well as The Man Who Souled the World, a look at irreverent skateboard madman Steve Rocco. Hopefully, I’ll manage some from-the-fest blogging between the two, while I check out the art installations and music. On Sunday, I’m thrilled to the bones to see Anton Corbijn’s Joy Division biopic, Control. Tickets for that final gala screening of the fest are sold out, but according to the ticketing site there will be a rush-line at the venue so you can snap up the seats of no-shows. Also, all-access Swerve Passes are still available and will get you into everything. So, I want to know what other folks have planned? I hope it involves riding a bike or taking a bus to Barnsdall, because according to the organizers, “Raffles and surprises are in store for those who avoid their cars and arrive by one of these alternate methods of transport,” and bike valet will be available.

Eff Universal Studios

http://blogging.la/archives/images/2007/09/unistudios-thumb.jpgLast month, my girlfriend and I (not pictured at right) took a trip to the red-headed stepchild of Southern California theme parks to check out the now-extinct Back to the Future ride. Neither of us had ever been to Universal Studios before and it didn’t seem like the kind of place that was worth the $49 per ticket price tag, but we found a two-days-for-the-price-of-one special online, and both being BTTF fans, we bit our respective bullets and bought the passes.

It’s probably too late to go on a rant about how much the ride blew and how it was probably for the best that Biff and the Doc were taken out behind the wood shed for a little Old Yeller action, but feel free to read on for more snarky theme park editorializing…
Continue reading Eff Universal Studios