Morning Snap: Papillon & On & On

(click to gigantize)

It’s not every day I get to get this up-close and personal with the unrepentantly skittish and flighty western tiger swallowtail butterfly. In fact, it’s rare to see one land around our place, and never have I seen one linger  much less so readily tolerate such an intrusion. But this one did this morning by our garage, and while I was at first worried it might be injured, it soon dispelled my apprehensions by taking to the air and fluttering by.

Really great burger stand neon in Van Nuys!

I’ve found one of the most wonderful examples of mid-century signage in the entire universe.  Or at least in the entire Valley.  Just look!  Look at how fantastic this sign is! 

This is at Beeps Fast Food, in Van Nuys, which I stumbled upon completely by accident a while back.  As is my want, I stopped in for lunch based solely on the calibre of that truly amazing sign. There are so many things to say about it!  I like the pink and turquoise (an altogether underused diner color scheme, if you ask me), I like (make that really like) that googie typeface, and I like (make that really really like) promises of large, thick malts and shakes.  And Beeps did not disappoint in the slightest:  inside there was more pink and turquoise and more retro lettering and an utterly scrumptious butterscotch shake.  And the cheeseburgers are really solid, too.  So obviously, you should go.

I’m curious to drive past this place at night because I want to know if they still light the sign, and if the lights are also in pink and turquoise.  The fabulousness extends down the entire side of the building, too:

Beeps Fast Food is at 16063 Sherman Way, Van Nuys, for all you milkshake aficionados out there.

Keep On Moving

One of my favorite shortcuts in L.A. is Outpost Drive, which runs from Mulholland Dr. to Franklin Ave. I frequently use it when I want to get from the North Hollywood/Burbank area to La Brea and points west. It’s a fantastic way to avoid jam ups in the Cahuenga Pass and/or at Hollywood & Highland. This is, of course, very important during Hollywood Bowl season.

Skirting the Cahuenga Pass on Outpost Drive (click for bigness)

Last night as I was returning home from a lovely meet up with some fellow bloggers, I realized it was just about time for the Bowl audience to be leaving. So, I made my way over to Outpost and started up the hill. I was delightfully surprised to find that most of the entire route has been repaved and is an exceptionally smooth ride. Previously, it was so bad that when I got a new car a few years ago, it took me many months to even subject it to the trek.

I do have a few other bypasses I like to take to get “over the hill” if I’m traveling at peak traffic times. The shortcuts don’t always guarantee getting to my destination any earlier, but I’d rather be moving than just sitting on a congested freeway or street.

Do you have a favorite shortcut or tip for circumventing traffic in this city? Leave it in the comments below.

Potluck Fund Raiser planned in effort to stop Azusa Canyon mining expansion.

Vulcan Mining Pit Mine scarring the landscape in Azusa Canyon.

Vulcan mining eventually won out and convinced a majority, not all of the Azusa city council, that it was a good idea to expand their mining efforts.  I wrote about it HERE a while back when only the city of Duarte seemed to be the only party interested in fighting the expansion to keep it out of environmentally sensitive Fish Canyon which is on its northern border.  The city of Duarte is now proceeding to litigate the expansion and have set aside some 700K to fund their battle and was prepared to do so alone.  In stepped several Azusans who agree no expansion and are prepared to fight as well.

Some Azusa city residents it turns out weren’t too happy with the expansion and are busy working on an initiative to not permit the expansion.  To get the anti-mining initiative passed they need signatures and funds for campaigning.  To that end they are holding a pot lock this weekend at Duarte’s Encanto Park and Historical Museum.

The potluck will take place at the Duarte Historical Museum located at 751 Encanto Parkway.  They are asking everyone to bring a potluck dish and a check book to help fund their battle to preserve Fish Canyon and the local environment.  It is set to start 3PM Saturday July 31, 2010.

This is a cause near and dear to me.  I hike the trails in and around that area.  There are ample other areas they can mine that won’t create dust hazards nor upset sensitive habitat like Fish Canyon.  This time of the year in particular the dust is awful.  The grit chokes plants not just near the mine, but in neighboring communities and is worse when the wind blows.  I urge you to take the few minutes while there to cross the Bike/Ped bridge and walk the trails and see the dust and debris interrupting the natural course of things along the San Gabriel River.

Disney Hall Lights Up the Street

Sometimes here in LA you just stumble upon something that takes your breath away. Last night was a case in point. As I drove home around 10 PM, I zipped by Disney Hall, always a visual treat with its soaring silver architecture. But this time there was something different.

The front face of the building was alive with colors and stars that moved through the galaxies, then crazy patterns of colors. I stopped the car and got out.

Awestruck, I watched as the building was bathed in an array of sound and cool visuals. Some from Fantasia, some seemingly from other random visual art. This went on for 10 minutes or so and then ended. I walked over to the building, where there were trucks and booths set-up. This was a big production! The woman in charge told me it was a traveling exhibition from San Diego to San Francisco, that used various notable architectural buildings as canvas. It’s stunning. Called, “World of Color” it’s tied to the visual World of Color they are doing at the Disney Theme Parks.

If you want to see it, tonight, (Friday, July 30th) is the last night!!!!! It’s on from 9 til 11, so if you’re downtown or want a fun diversion to your night…. check it out.

Cyclists protest light punishment for hit & runs

“On Tuesday, July 27th, and Friday, July 30th, cyclists gathered at the Beverly Hills Courthouse to protest the tepid sentence handed down by Judge Elden S. Fox for Celine Mahdavi. Mahdavi hit cyclist Louis Deliz and left him to die in the street on December 1st, 2009; Deliz was hospitalized for 49 days.

Mahdavi pleaded “no contest” to felony hit and run charges and threw herself on the mercy of the court, instead of accepting the plea deal offered by the DA. Judge Fox gave her 90 days of community service, and 3 years of probation. Mahdavi will spend less time in community service – 720 hours – than Deliz spent in the hospital – 1176 hours.”

It’s kind of disgusting that the penalty for hitting someone and fleeing the scene of the crime is lighter than the punishment for hitting them in the first place. Filmmaker Rick Darge was on hand earlier this week and filmed the protest. He made this short film to document what went down.


Mayor: LA is a city “built for automobiles, but in many ways could be the best place for cyclists”

As you should know the mayor broke his elbow in a biking accident earlier this month. There was much wellwishing and many calls for him not to give up his newly public love of cycling, enough that he noticed and made the below thank you video responding to all the comments. He seems positive, and suggests positive things about the future of bikes and their relation to LA. I’m keeping my fingers crossed…


Saturday 7/31 Art walk and FREE ceramics for the kidlets

Yup, you read the headline right.  The First 50 kids 12 and under to show up at the Paint n Play 2 Art Studio and Gallery Saturday evening at 7PM will get a FREE ceramic project to complete while their parents visit the Art Walk.  Paint n Play 2 is located at 418S Myrtle Avenue in Monrovia.  This is the interactive part of the Art Walk that is being sponsored by the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts (MAFA) and Paint N Play 2.

The Art Walk will include a ceramics demonstration, wheel throwing and raku making as well as the fine art of another dozen or so artists lining the 400 and 500 block of South Myrtle Avenue in Old Town Monrovia.  The July Art Walk set for this Saturday evening is dedicated primarily to the photographic arts, but you will also find painters and sculptural jewelry makers as well.

The August Art Walk is dedicated to Painting of all sorts and media.  The interactive art will be a “paint-a-thon” with a couple of shared canvases with 2 MAFA Artists (I’ll be one and don’t claim to be a painter as an fyi).  The Paint-a-thon involves painting layers on a canvas then swapping and working on the canvas your partner was working on.   The public will be invited to grab a brush and paint on the canvas as well.  In March Heather Shaw (local painter and ceramicist) did this at a studio open house and it was a lot of fun and well received by those in attendance.  The final paintings will be auctioned off to benefit the numerous projects that MAFA supports during the course of the year.

If that isn’t enough, Monrovia has a burgeoning cafe culture with ample sidewalk dining opportunities.  Take a break at any of them whilst you ponder what you’ve seen for the evening.  A don’t miss in my book is Cafe Massilia which has become one of our favorite date day stops in Old Town Monrovia.  Cafe Massilia is classic Provencal French and is located at 110 E. Lemon Avenue, just a few doors down from the intersection Myrtle and Lime.

Details: Saturday July 31, 7-10PM, 400-500 Block South Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia CA 91016 (pic gets bigger with a click).

Just a little disclosure…and a shameless plug with no pressure to do anything on your part, but I will be in this Art Walk showing my stuff.  Not that it matters, but I also serve on the Board of MAFA as the Jury Committee Chair and all around busy body.

Historic “Moving Picture” Show

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a world without film. (I know!) Whatever did people do for fun on a Saturday night, aside from bathing? They would go see amazing spectacles called “Panoramas.” Starting in 1792, 360 degree paintings were installed in circular venues and you viewed them from the inside. Don’t tell James Cameron this, but they were even in 3d! Faux terrain elements were placed in front of the images to enhance the paintings themselves. Even Disney took a cue from this style and created CircleVision 360.

Another version of the Panorama experience was the Moving Panorama. Images were painted on huge panels and scrolled through in a theater accompanied by live narration, music and sound effects. The original Moving Picture Show!

What does this have to do with Los Angeles? LA is home to the Velaslavasay Panorama “an exhibition hall, theatre and garden dedicated to the production and presentation of unusual visual experiences, including those of the 360-degree variety.” They research and preserve fragile works of mass entertainment from centuries gone by. You can visit the gardens and exhibits during the day and for the next four weekends, you can see a Moving Picture Show.

Every Friday and Saturday night until August 21, The Velaslavasay Panorama will be showing “The Grand Moving Mirror Of California” a modern panel based on an 1853 script about the journey to get to California during the Gold Rush. Adventures around Cape Horn, views of historic California cities and “famous natural treasures” are part of the story.

This Saturday, July 31, is a fundraiser for the museum. You get a gourmet dinner before the showing of the Moving Picture and help raise funds for this fascinating non-profit. Click here for more details on that event.

The Velaslavasay Panorama
In the Historic Union Theater in the West Adams District
1122 West 24th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90007

Open to the public on Fridays, Saturday and Sundays from 12-6pm
Street parking only.

I’m buying tickets for Friday’s show…join in!

Cross section of a Panorama rotunda

Ack!! I totally forgot to add a Hat Tip to Los Angeles Magazine (August issue), which is where I first read about the Panorama!

Didn’t Fill Out Your Census Form? You Have Until July 31 to be a Real American

I get a kick out of doing my Constitutional duty, including voting and yes, even filling out my Census form.  It makes me feel part of that nutty experiment called the United States of America, rather than just some guy who lives near Los Angeles, California.  So it was ironic that, this year, I never even received my Census form.

It kind of slipped my mind that I didn’t receive the form.  I thought, maybe not everyone gets one.  Today, however, I received the pictured “Notice of Visit” in my door, with the name and telephone number of the Census worker who left it, asking me to call her this evening.  I checked around, and, apparently, no one else in my building complex received their Census form either.  It’s not clear whether the mix-up occurred with the Census Bureau, the Post Office, or, as I believe, our building’s front office.  So I did a quick search online, and found that anyone who has not received a Census form can call the Census Bureau through July 31 to answer the form’s 10 questions over the phone.

I did just that today.  It’s a quick and painless process.  You call 1-866-872-6868, ignore the voicemail hell, say “representative,” and you’ll quickly get a live human who, unlike a corporation’s customer service representative, is located in the U.S.  It only takes about two minutes to complete the survey (you can find the 10 questions here).

The advantage to responding to the Census form, other than that Census-taking is something our Founding Fathers thought was important enough to write into the Constitution, is that doing so helps ensure that we in California receive the maximum Congressional representation and federal dollars (i.e., our taxpayer money) to which we are entitled.  Do I have any illusions that many others in the Los Angeles area will be as eager and proactive as I was in filling out their Census forms?  Hell no.  But I guess that kind of range of response is part of what makes us ‘merkins.

To A New World of Gods and Monsters: Bad Ad Campaigns Part 1

Did anyone else notice this full-page gem in the LA Weekly this week? I look at this and I think “Goddess“? “Fitness”? Wrong. Wrong.

This is noxious on so many levels it’s hard to know where to begin, but let’s say this much at least–maybe this is “the most fun you will ever have in fitness” because make-overs, weight loss, champagne, parties, boutiques, performances, and so on, have, in fact, nothing at all to do with fitness.

But maybe I am being too dismissive. Clearly, more thought went into the development of classes and fitness programs than you might think on first glance. Emma Ridley, the owner of this fitness emporium cogently explains: “At Goddess Fitness there is no right or wrong way to move, it is just movement.” I don’t know about you, but I feel fitter already. I’m even moving while I’m typing this post right now.

Not only can you learn to pole dance and have a make-over here, you can get a dye job and a Brazilian as well because what’s a goddess without a decent pelvic thrust and a body smooth as a balloon? I know I’m ridiculously retro, nay, even prehistoric, to question the empowering nature of stripper heels and hairless twats–I admit, my feminism got beached before the third wave–but can we at least agree that these things are not “fitness”? For god’s sake LA, get a grip. This is not an easy town to be a woman in. Truly.

And then there’s the video. Do you suppose there’s some kind of platinum membership level that gives you the boobs too?