Day Tripping the Van Nuys DMV

Life’s certainties:

1. Death
2. Taxes
3. Stupidity of the DMV

My temporary registration expires after today. I thought it might be fun to wait until the last minute to get that straightened out. So a quick trip from work in Sherman Oaks on my lunch break was in order.

Upon arriving, I remembered the efficiency of the machine known formally as the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Parking spot in this section? No. How about this one? Nope. Over here? Fat chance.
Continue reading Day Tripping the Van Nuys DMV

Evel Knievel, R.I.P.

[photo from Wikipedia]

We all knew this day would come, but heck I thought things were actually looking up for old Evel Knievel, what with his recent settlement with Kanye West and all.

But nothing lasts forever, and it’s with a heavy heart we say farewell to one of the last great stupid daring large-living no-apologizing Americans.

He successfully jumped 50 stacked cars at the L.A. Coliseum in November of ’73, but he was a citizen of the whole goddamned world.

Big Ass Sale at Calleen Cordero

One of my favorite designers…. and okay, she’s also a swell friend, is Calleen Cordero. I loved her shoes, belts and bags way before we met at Burning Man one year and hit it off. And yes, it’s a great perk to be friends with someone who has the inside scoop on fashion and who ALSO has an amazing eye for her own designs.

Anyway, she’s having a crazy once in a lifetime blow-out sale tomorrow, December 1st at her Beverly Blvd. store. They’re bringing all the stuff over from the warehouse and discounting it between 50-90%.

She does beautiful leather work; shoes, belts, bags and other assorted items. Starts at 12, 7384 Beverly Blvd. Check out the web-site for a peek at her stuff.

You know you’re in Van Nuys when… pass this building every day on my way to work and it never fails to make me smile. If you click on the images you can make them bigger and truly appreciate the spirit of the place. Note the cardboard window dressing and the crappy brickwork repair job as well as the air conditioning unit leaning out of the wall next to the paint-spattered shutter. You may not be able to see from these craptastic photos that the Financial Training Center sign is hand-painted. Mike Russ, I’m sorry to see you go. You cheer me up each morning.
Continue reading You know you’re in Van Nuys when…

Route Map & Road Info for Half Marathon

Thanks, LA Map Nerd!!!

In case you didn’t want to follow links and download, here’s the map of the road closures for Sunday.

Yes, it’s sideways!

I have NEVER seen a map with North pointing left – just one more way this whole event is cock-eyed.

Click to see it large enough I hope to read it.


Actual road closures and times after the jump!!!
Continue reading Route Map & Road Info for Half Marathon

Saturday 12/1 Art Day in Old Town Monrovia

Avoiding Malls is one of my past times this time of year. A tradition my wife and I started a few years ago is getting one large gift for “the house”. This year we’ll be on Myrtle Avenue in Old Town Monrovia visiting the various Gallery’s who are hosting open houses and special events. We are looking for something big for either the patio or living room. With a little luck we’ll find that piece that makes our hearts sing “buy me”. Regardless it is nice way to meet the local artists, enjoy some art and just hang in Old Town with our friends.

The Three largest Galleries’ will be sponsoring receptions through out the day where you get to meet and greet local artists as well as enjoy their work. They are also hosting receptions at various times of the day so if you plan it right you can nibble and drink your day away. You can end your day by meeting 40 local artists at the Monrovia Art Festival Associations Christmas Party at Paint N Play which is also a FREEBIE to thank everyone for their support this last year. (All the details after the jump).
Continue reading Saturday 12/1 Art Day in Old Town Monrovia

Fixing LAUSD’s Bad Image: The Right Way & The Wrong Way

A little while ago, I wrote this post about the fiasco of “Norm Day”, wherein LAUSD adheres to these arbitrary ratios of students-to-teachers. I described the ensuing clusterfuck: how students were sardined into classes, how teachers were released of their positions, only to have their positions reinstated thanks to some state monies, and how Norm Day occurs every semester (October and February).

Well, good news! The school board just voted to maintain staffing levels for the remainder of the school year; in other words, there will not be a Norm Day in February. $18 million will be spent to keep teacher positions.

At our school site, we were particularly worried: we had already lost about 10 positions; we have declining enrollment; we were sure to lose more positions. Even though Superintendent Brewer likes to say (and this often, like a recording),”It is my goal to transform the LAUSD into a world-class school district,” I can’t help but feel I’m being forced to provide a third-world-class education down here in my humble South LA school. It bears repeating that Brewer opposed this measure, on the grounds that LAUSD needed to keep a tight budget.

Speaking of tight budgets, are you aware that LAUSD just spent an extra $200,000 to hire image consultants? This is money on top of a $10m communications budget ($1.4m of which goes to staffing).
Continue reading Fixing LAUSD’s Bad Image: The Right Way & The Wrong Way

Farewell Lowenbrau Keller, Hello Medusa

You remember the Disney-meets-Bavarian-fetishist schnitzelhaus known as Lowenbrau Keller? No? That’s likely because, like most Angelenos, you probably never went, and that’s why the Black Forest-themed eatery, opened by set designer George Eder in ’67, is finally shuttered. As I live right down the street, I pass by the corpse frequently and I’ve been seeing a lot of suspicious doin’s going on outside of the now defunct ‘Brau. So, worried that one of my favorite local spots might be getting the Koreatown karaoke makeover, I emailed the folks over at Eater to see what they knew.

Turns out, it’s not much more than the Downtown News already reported: the keys have been turned over to The Wanton Group. Eater was able to suss out, however, that it will reopen as “Medusa” and it’s as yet undetermined how much of the hallmark interior will remain. I can tell you from personal observation, however, that the exterior has received quite a bit of cleaning up, and the mighty lions that once flanked the driveway entrance have been moved to new cement pedestals guarding the front entrance. No telling what’s going on inside, but here’s a Flickr set of the interior that documents what it used to (and hopefully to some extent will still) look like.

Ticket Giveaway: VHS or Beta, Sunday night at the El Rey

Like any great war, the Format Wars of the late 70s/early 80s cost many lives on both sides, and yet from the ashes was created some of the most beautiful, haunting music of our age. Come relive those heady analog days, where a tracking knob could make the difference between life and death.

We’ve got three pairs of tickets to give away for Sunday night’s VHS or Beta show at the El Rey. The first three to email me here will get ’em.

And while you’re basking in the glow of that conflict for the ages, please spare a thought for the impending casualties of our current format showdown.

BTW, I’m backing HD-DVD. I know Blu-Ray is technically superior. But remember the list of classic blunders. As we all know, number 1 is “never get involved in a land war in Asia,” and number 2 is “never go up against a Sicilian when death is on the line.” But only slight less well know is number 3: “Never, never, ever, ever, bet on Sony in a format war.”

Gimme A Sign: Streets Need Time Off, Too

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IMG_5785.JPG, originally uploaded by Wildbell.

This posted “Notice Of Street Vacation” at the corner of 1st and Main caught my eye almost immediately after the bikes racks mentioned in my earlier post today. And while the language of the first paragraph was pretty cut-and-dry in explaining that last January the City Council adopted a motion to commence “Street Vacation proceedings,” the second paragraph delineating the boundaries of said street to be said vacationedo lost me. Big time:

The limited airspace of a portion of First Street between Main Street and Los Angeles Street from approximately 58 feet to 205 feet above the finished street surface, extending horizontally 35 feet into the right-of-way and Main Street between First Street and Second Street from approximately 18 feet to 72 feet above the finished street surface, extending horizontally 10 feet into the right-of-way.

What the Fuh??!!?!

HALF a Marathon? Or a WHOLE Clusterf**k?

[click to see better, but the number’s just a recording sending you to the useless website]

If you live in or near Silver Lake, don’t think you can just ignore this new HALF MARATHON event – Just about all the streets will be closed on Sunday.

I wish I could, say, tell you exactly which streets will be closed and at what time, but apparently that info isn’t available. The recorded message told me to attend the Expo on Saturday, but that seems like a lot to have to do just to see where I can’t drive in my own neighborhood.

Their website claims, “The race features a point-to-point course that starts in Griffith Park at the Los Angeles Zoo (new to 2007) and ends in downtown Los Angeles. Along the route runners will enjoy many of Los Angeles’ civic treasures including the beauty of Griffith Park, the historic Hyperion Bridge, Silver Lake Reservoir, Echo Park Lake and the spectacular skyline of downtown Los Angeles.”

The page with street closures is still not up today, but you can check out the course info and map online and guess from there. I’ve also included it after the jump.

Has anyone at all even HEARD of this event? Seen anything to promote it?
Continue reading HALF a Marathon? Or a WHOLE Clusterf**k?

USC &#43 Coliseum = Can of Worms

Photo of the Los Angeles Coliseum, 1956, from USC Digital Archives


USC wants to fix the Coliseum.

The Coliseum tells USC to leave it alone.

USC threatens to move to the Rose Bowl.

UCLA gets angry. Changes shade of blue.

The Mayor tells everyone to get along, or he’ll cancel Christmas.

The Mayor of Los Angeles has decided that USC should stay in the Coliseum. So, he’s abandoning plans to lure the NFL back to the storied arena. This, after the NFL had already told L.A. they didn’t want to play there anyway.

Where does this leave us?
Continue reading USC &#43 Coliseum = Can of Worms

Stationary Bikes… Me Likes

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Stationary Bikes, originally uploaded by Wildbell.

Cycling my way up downtown via Main Street last night I happened upon these three bike-shaped bikeracks on the sidewalk in front of the Caltrans headquarters and putting my cam on blur mode paused to pixelize them for posterity.

As a mere interloper in the area I should have known that I wasn’t discovering anything that Blogdowntown’s Eric hadn’t already seen and documented.