Tuesday To Do: The Tuesday Night Cafe

Mitch Albom had Morrie; what do we have on Tuesdays?  Ah, yes, Tuesday Night Cafe, a bi-monthly gathering of poets, musicians, writers, organizers, parents, their kids, their dogs, and whomever else happens to be walking by the Aratani Courtyard in Little Tokyo around 7:15pm.  A revolving line-up of artists and spoken word performers wax or rap poetic about everything from their commute to being queer in a land of not-queers.  Often, there’s playful bantering with you, audience member/non-passive observer, followed by striking poetry, followed by lively live music, followed by impromptu karaoke.   And it’s only Tuesday!

Tonight’s lineup includes hip hop MTV journalist-turned-hip-hop-rapper Rocky Rivera and singer SueJin.  The guy in the back painting and sketching while all this is going in? Is Alex Chiu (see here).

The Tuesday Night Project organizes and hosts the event; its mission is to crank open space for the community – particularly the Asian-Pacific Islander communities – to build relationships and forge bonds via art and music.  In a town stuffed to the gills with the cement jungle, this space is a breath of fresh air.  Go to the Cafe tonight, get fueled for the rest of the week, and the weekend will be here before you know it.

Your Tuesday starts at 7:15pm, but if you want to break the fourth wall and perform, sign-ups for the open mic start at 6:45.  The Aratani Courtyard is on 120 Judge John Aliso, between 1st and Temple downtown.  Just follow your ears.

Blogger vs. Parking Douchebag, Front-to-Back Edition

Just when I thought I had seen it all from the parking db’s*, along comes this truck-parking fool.  He’s taking up 2 spaces in a parking lot near me that was very crowded.  You can tell from the photos that this isn’t some inadvertent close call due to the size of the truck.  It’s parked 50-50 in two spaces, one in front of the other.

You may also notice “for sale” signs on the truck with a local telephone number.  So I did what any good Metblogger/troublemaker (redundant, I know) would do: I called the number.  I heard a recorded message from “Sammy” asking callers to leave a message.  Here’s mine:

Park here for more pics and my phone message

Bike Every (Satur)Day In May: Watts Happening Ride

Last Saturday’s “10 Bridges Ride” was chockfulla awesome and graduated another exceptional batch of riders into that realm of rare angelenos who’ve purposefully pedaled across all the spans over the LA River between Chinatown and Vernon for the fun and history of it (my woefully lacking Flickr set is here, my friend Kay’s much better one is here.).

For our next trek, this Saturday you’re invited to saddle up with me and venture south for what will be the fourth edition of the famed “Watts Happening Ride,” which will chart a course from Silver Lake to the awe-inspiring towers of Simon Rodia and back, with a food stop scheduled afterward at King Taco on Washington Boulevard.

Along the way to and from the Watts Towers we’ll see and hear about:

  • The childhood home of Nobel Peace Prize winner Ralph Bunche
  • The historic Central Avenue Jazz Quarter and its focal point the Dunbar Hotel
  • Black Panther Party’s LA headquarters, site of the infamous five-hour shootout between LAPD and members in 1969
  • The location of the 1974 SLA/LAPD shootout
  • The location of the arrest of Marquette Frye that sparked the 1965 Watts Riots
  • The home of Eula Love (who?)
  • The baseball field Wrigley built before he built Wrigley Field

Same as last week the ride will gather in the parking lot of SilverSun Plaza on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Parkman Avenue, departing at 10 a.m. State budget cuts have left it unclear if the Watts Towers will actually be open and available for tours, but if they are and you want to get up close to the landmark bring $7.  If I had to guess, I’d say the total casually paced ride time will be in the neighborhood of five to six hours. If schedule or stamina doesn’t permit you doing the entire roundtrip, at least think about riding halfway (about 13 miles) with us down to the towers where you can then return downtown via the Blue Line’s nearby 103rd Street station.

It Caught My Eye: Troubled Island Mural by Nona Olabisi & Charles Freeman

Working our way back toward USC during the Jefferson Boulevard/West Adams walk I did back in March, I was a little tired by that point and so didn’t stop and document this amazing mural when I first saw a section of it in an alleyway off View Street to the north of Adams Boulevard (map). Instead I promised to get myself back there at my earliest opportunity, which in this case ended up being yesterday.

(click to super enlargify)

Wow. What a hidden treasure! Painted by Nona Olabisi and Charles Freeman (Olabisi is the artist who also painted the amazing “To Protect And Serve” mural just off Jefferson Boulvard depicting the Black Panther Party), the powerful mural is painted on the entire south wall of the William Grant Still Art Center and takes its title, “Troubled Island,” from the opera Still wrote telling the story of the 1791 slave rebellion in Haiti.

From www.troubledisland.com:

“The viewer experiences, dramatically, the pain and suffering of the slaves and the rise to power of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, leader of the slave revolt.  In the center of the pictorial saga is William Grant Still (1895-1978), with his spiritual “eye” depicted in the middle of his forehead, conducting his powerful operatic score which expresses the need for a new era of interracial understanding, loving-kindness and God-consciousness on the earth.”

I also learned from the website that “Troubled Island” was the first grand opera composed by an African-American to be mounted by a major opera company for the American stage. Premiering in 1949 by the New York City Opera company, the opening night performance received with 22 curtain calls from a packed house. Despite its success the production was shut-down after its first three performances and the opera has never been staged again.