Housing Market Crash Hits Carbon Beach

Blonde and dog not included
Blonde and dog not included

Now I know the Los Angeles area housing market has crashed.  According to Dream Homes Los Angeles Magazine (which isn’t really a magazine, just a collection of glossy “homes for sale” ads), this home on uber-property Carbon Beach in Malibu is going for the fire sale price of $32 million.  In the back is an 80-foot stretch of “Billionaire’s Beach.” That comes to just $400,000 per foot of shoreline.  I think I’m going to sell my stock in sand.

(Photo of Carbon Beach by Matt Mason)

Help Decorate a Float for the Rose Parade

Tournament of Roses volunteers prepping flowers
Image via Wikipedia

One of my favorite LA volunteer efforts is decorating the floats for the Rose Parade.  It started back in High School, when we received extra credit for doing so over the school break.  The tradition continued in college as my university enters a float into The Tournament of Roses every year. The experience ended after I met my husband who detests everything about parades due to his growing up in Communist-era Romania.

Still, once my kids get a little older, I plan on taking them to decorate floats.  Everyone loves that feeling of watching a project go from the drawing table to the finished product and float decorating provides that to hundreds of people at once.  Walking into the warehouse to see a bare bones structure, looking at the plans and getting assigned an organic matter is simply thrilling.  Once the seeds and dried flowers and leaves are glued on, then comes the hard part of placing the petals.  That is also when the various groups and random volunteers come in.  While making it a little more difficult (there’s so many people!), it also makes it a little easier, provided everyone works as a team and you don’t get that one lady who yells at everyone for the sake of yelling.

There is something about showing up on the parade route at 3am, to put the finishing touches on a float.  One year, our float was nowhere near done by the time it was slowly towed west on the 210 Freeway, to Orange Grove Ave.  We were still gluing orange petals and poppy seeds on our floats when the judges were a float away.

I highly suggest that everyone have this experience at least once.  Watching the parade later and seeing “your” float go down Colorado Blvd. is such a wonderful emotion.  If you’re interested in spending a few hours in these closing days of 2008 decorating floats, please contact the local float makers for details:

Self-built float organizations:

Float Companies

Local Color: Atwater Village’s Trains Mural

Coming back from a run to the landmark Galco’s in Highland Park Saturday morning we came through Glassell Park and got on to Fletcher Avenue. Crossing San Fernando Bouleverd the road dips under the railway bridge just past the old Van de Kamp’s Bakery complex and on the other side there’s an awesome Atwater Village mural I’ve long wanted to snap and have equally as long said “maybe next time.”

Well the sun on it was just too vibrant to continue my procrastinatory ways, so there I stopped and here it is (clickable for maxification):

Central Arroyo Stream Restoration & Watershed Programs Halted: Hooray for CA Budget Crisis

So in case you didn’t know (I shoulda told y’all when I found out, a while back, but I was stupid busy), the Arroyo Seco–which runs from Devil’s Gate Dam, south thru Pasadena and parallel to the 110 freeway into South Pas & Highland Park, was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places (although I can’t find it in that crappy database of theirs, maybe you can). It’s also a valuable habitat for the rare and wee Arroyo Chub, a leeetle beeeety fish that dwells solely in some SoCal streams, and which is valuable not only for adding its own little fishy topping to the biodiversity pizza pie, but ‘cuz it eats mosquito larvae: hooray for the Chub!

The nice people who did all the work theyre not getting paid for.
Just a few of the nice people who did all the work they're not getting paid for.

Of course the little Chub was pretty much on its way out, along with a lot of the Arroyo Seco–edged out by pollution, junk and Avenues graffitti–until recent rehabilitation grants came in the form of The Arroyo Seco Watershed Coordination Program ($35,000) and The Central Arroyo Stream Restoration Program ($251,000). The grants were awarded to the Arroyo Seco Foundation, and they got to work asap to fix up the river. Hence the Chub-comeback. And the river’s lookin’ mighty nice, too. And some folks got some fine work out of it during a tough economic time. Until now.

Just a few days ago the State Water Resources Control Board and the California Department of Conservation sent out orders (here & here) to cease activity on Arroyo Seco watershed management projects and–here’s the clincher–notified the river-rehabbers (who are not state employees) that the Arroyo Seco Foundation will not be paid for work already completed. WTF?!

Your tax dollars at work, ladies & gents, paying these fine folk in BallSacramento (heh) big fancy salaries to come to an agreement on the state budget. Yay!

So now how will the Arroyo Seco Foundation, a nonprofit organization, pay its workers and contractors and suppliers, who have already rendered services?

And–looking beyond the money issue–what will happen to the great progress that was being made in the Arroyo? Will the cease-and-desist-and-we’re-gonna-stop-paying-you order cause a big enough hiccup in the state & the Foundation’s paperwork & processes that the Foundation can no longer secure grants, or perhaps loses its current grants?

The full information is here at the Arroyo Seco Foundation’s site.

Remembering The Cigar Man

Just this past weekend at a stop at Glendale’s Red Carpet Liquor during the LA Grand Crew Beer Ride I was talking about Leon Cigars. The topic came up because in addition to the bottle of beer and wine purchased, I succumbed to the urge for a stogie and entered RCL’s humidor vault emerging with a $10 La Perla that I looked forward to enjoying later. A fellow beer rider noticed my purchase and I told him this would probably do, but it was no hand-rolled Leon cigar — and easily three times the price. What’s a Leon cigar he asked, and I told him all about the place.

I first discovered Gilberto Leon’s shoebox of a cigar shop on 6th Street just west of Western Avenue back in the mid-’90s when I worked in the old building on the northeast corner of that intersection. Having never before smoked a real cigar I walked in one lunch hour and exited a few no-nonsense minutes later with his recommendations for a noob: a couple of his No. 1 cigars, and they were so enjoyable that I became  a semi-regular customer for the remainder of my time working there.

Later when I moved on to a job in Pasadena and after that the L.A. Zoo, I rarely found myself back in Koreatown over the years except in passing. And though I’d make it a point to cruise by his shop on those occasions, it seemed I was greeted by a CLOSED sign enough times to wonder if the elderly gent had moved on, either to retirement or the great beyond.

It was some three more years (after moving from Sherman Oaks to Silver Lake in 2003), that  I finally chanced along 6th one rainy day in 2006 and was surprised to find it open for business and Gilberto at his familiar place behind the counter. I eagerly scored a pair of his No. 1s, but any thrill I expressed at finding him still rolling along was lost either in translation or the pungent aroma that filled the place.

Photo of Gilberto Leon borrowed from this marvelous 2002 photo
about him found at www.latinamericanstudies.org.

Continue reading Remembering The Cigar Man

Recycle your Christmas trees!

There’s a metric s**t-ton of locations throughout the greater Los Angeles area where you can take your Christmas tree for recycling, rather than doing what I’ve done in years past & leaving it up ’til March (classy, I know).  Or you can DIY it and chop that sucker up yourself; you can then put your hacked-to-pieces Christmas tree into your green recycling bin. Those who don’t have the means to do so can drop their tree off at any one of the locations here.  And the Dept of Public Works has more info here too.

Xmas tree burn photo by the illustrious and awesome Laughing Squid.

Merry Chrismakwanznukah to all, and to all a good night!

Photo by a href=Whatever you celebrate, however you celebrate, and especially for those of you who don’t celebrate, I’m going to be a sap for a moment and send out a big fat I LOVE YOU GUYS and I hope you spend the next few days having fun.

Be safe & be healthy and have a happy holiday.

Don’t drink & drive, call a cab. Or hail a cab.

Photo by the one & only Pickles.

A Christmas Poem for the ages

CBS2.com has posted the merriest of Merry Christmas poems, complete with hookers, johns, and the police! It’s not just a holiday greeting, but a news story, as well! Credit goes to Alan Carter for whipping up this soon-to-be holiday classic:

Twas the night before Christmas,
the Pasadena Police were all rested,
cause a sting Tuesday afternoon
saw one hooker and 15 johns arrested.

Undercover cops did their duty with charm
to make sure the ladies got off the streets without harm!

To lessen the number of streetside, uh, flings,
the cops worked the streets from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the sting.
Imagine those big burly guys out in a dress!
Oh, but they did it dear people to keep the streets from being a mess!

Police Chief Bernard Melekian said that neighbors were upset,
to see their beloved East Colorado Boulevard get —
kinda seedy with men who were, uh, uhm, needy and
that’s why the cops took the hookers off the street,
On Dancer, on Prancer — you two will have to find some other place to meet!

Those cops were quite efficient to hear it told,
they dressed like ladies of the night and even Johns who were bold,
but if the Pasadena cops have their say,
no more flesh will be sold…

Ah, to those who were busted, this is no time to whine,
but you’re facing six months in jail and a $500 fine!

Original story: http://cbs2.com/local/Prostitution.Sting.Arrested.2.894687.html

Paris in LA

I was downtown a couple of nights ago and came across this beautiful display o’ lights strung up on 4th and Main.  Quite stunning.  Apparently they came all the way from Paris… and they look it.  If you like Christmas displays, downtown seems to be rockin’ this year.  And I found some cool stores and restaurants on 4th… Check it out, that little section of LA seems to be really lighting up!

Two Weeks In Rock: Palmer Kisses Perry, Dolls Kick Ass & Take Names

from Metblogs contest winner OtterFreak

It’s been a brilliant last few weeks in rock here in LA, and I though I’d post some pics taken by friends of LA Metblogs / winners of LA Metblogs ticket contests.

From Metblogs contest winner Burns!
From Metblogs contest winner Burns!

To the left, Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls in her powerful solo show, introduced by Neil Gaiman (“Amanda Palmer is dead”) and joined at the end of her performance (after a rendition of Rihanna’s “Umbrella,” complete with real rain) by a (possibly faux?) Katy Perry and a very real Margaret Cho, who conspired with Palmer to ensure Perry actually really kissed a girl, and not just for record sales (plus a gay wedding!).

From Friend of Metblogs Michael Chavarria

A few days later came the Cracker / New York Dolls/ X show at the brand-spankin-new Club Nokia, where Cracker (one of my fave bands) delivered a solid set and a slam-bang version of “Lonesome Johnny Blues” (crossing my fingers they’ll do their Campout again next year).

From Friend of Metblogs Andy Sternberg (LAist)

Then the New York Dolls came on with what could only be termed as a triumphant powerhouse of a performance, egging the audience on until bleach-blond waifs were wilting like flowers in the front row and disaffected emo kids were spazzing out dancing. Seeing bands like this, who’ve survived through so much, return to the stage and just KILL–it makes my little black heart glad. X followed and tore through everyone’s faves, with a dash of X-mas (har har har) spirit thrown in (and here‘s a report by Metblogs contest winner Chez Shoes).

If you have pictures, you may want to post a link in the comments as well. Thanks, everyone, for playing, and keep the entries coming! More shows will be posted in the next few days.

Last Night I Ran Into A Posada

At the office late last night, I wasn’t able to hop on the my bike and head home until around 8:30 p.m. At that late hour the pitch-dark Ballona Creek Bikeway is at both its most ominous and most tranquil and I roll it inland from the Mar Vista Gardens projects to Culver City, encountering nothing but the occasional creek cat. Up to Venice Boulevard I pass Crank Mob Park (more commonly known as Media Park) and the cyclists who’ve gathered there for their weekly Taco Tuesday group ride. A young fixie rider sees me go by in my Santa-hatted helmet and decorated ride and catches me at National to ask if I’m coming along. Tacos sound tempting but I tell him nah, I’m heading away from a long day. He shrugs and splits off before I even get a chance to say merry christmas.

I get onto the cut-through I make across the south end of the Crestview neighborhood, passing under the 10 freeway where the RVs park for the night, powered by their gas generators going full blast and amplifying off the concrete walls and ceiling like monster lawn mowers. There are no holiday decorations on these mobile homes.

A right on Cadillac (traffic-free, which is a rare gift unto itself!) and a left on Garth and that’s when I hear the slow, dirge-ish sounds of the brass and drums and at the north end of the block all I see is the silhouette of a street-filling crowd. It is a posada and its members march slowly southbound carrying either candlesticks or fresh flowers behind the band and a banner. I could have detoured onto the sidewalk and kept going, but instead respect and curiosity pulls me to a stop at the curb out of their way. Some might say they moved by joylessly but I see it more as a humble and pious affair. After all, as I understand it, Christmas posadas are essentially an enactment of Joseph and Mary’s search for lodging. A somber and soulful journey, indeed.

Be it an inn in-town or the in-laws out of state, here’s hoping wherever you’re going sees you there safe and sound.