Faces of the Future Playwriting Competition: LA’s Got Talent

Speaking of having some literary culture, LA’s own Asian-American theater group, East West Players, recently announced winners of their “Faces of the Future” playwriting competition. The competition “explores the reality of multicultural America from an Asian American perspective.” The winning submissions did just that. Find a description of the winning plays and their authors after the jump. Continue reading Faces of the Future Playwriting Competition: LA’s Got Talent

Water Feature: Hummingbird At The Fountain

I swear I wasn’t going to post another dang hummingbird video, but I hope you don’t mind since that oath was affirmed before yesterday morning when I set up my cam in front of my tabletop fountain and it ended up recording this rare and candid capture of a our backyard momma hummingbird first chasing off a thirsty yellow-rumped warbler so she could then take a break from her ever-demanding babies to get all up in the adorable with a bath:



Win Tickets to Pina 3D at the Downtown Independent

Winners have been selected and notified via email. Thank you for your comments!

It’s hard to remember when I was last affected by a film as much as I have been by Wim Wenders’ Academy Award nominated 3D documentary Pina. I’ve seen it in the theater three times and love it more each time.

PINA is a feature-length dance film in 3D with the ensemble of the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, featuring the unique and inspiring art of the great German choreographer, who died in the summer of 2009.

PINA is a film for Pina Bausch by Wim Wenders.

He takes the audience on a sensual, visually stunning journey of discovery into a new dimension: straight onto the stage with the legendary Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch ensemble, he follows the dancers out of the theatre into the city and the surrounding areas of Wuppertal – the place, which for 35 years was the home and centre for Pina Bausch’s creativity.

Pina is going to being showing at the fabulous Downtown Independent starting Friday, March 2nd through Thursday, March 8th. Blogging LA has FIVE (5) PAIRS OF TICKETS TO GIVE AWAY TO THE SCREENING OF YOUR CHOICE AT THE DOWNTOWN INDEPENDENT.

Leave a comment by 12pm on Thursday, March 1st stating why you would like to see Pina. Five winners will be selected and notified by email.


The Rattling Wall at Book Soup

Sometimes it can be tempting to think there isn’t a great deal of literary activity happening in LA, with all these film-related happenings taking place all the time. (Ahem – Academy Awards, anyone? Sorry, get your list of winners somewhere else.) Don’t get me wrong, I love film, but it can be a little frustrating when LA’s persistent film culture serves as a distraction from the fact that there are, indeed, literary events happening here in our fine city on a regular basis.

Continue reading The Rattling Wall at Book Soup

Mapgasm: The Stars In 1937’s Hollywood Galaxy

If I’m getting redundant in my topics — maps, cycling, birds, maps — file your complaint with the other contributors here who have far better things to do than post. In the meantime, I just keep plugging away in this lonely place — this time with another historic map from Big Map Blog — and  just in time for that local trade association’s annual function known as the Academy Awards this Sunday. If I were giving out the Oscars, Big Map Blog would get one for bringing all us little people out there in the dark this awesome and timely 1937 addition to its collection of cartrography: Hollywood Starland, at right (moderately embiggenable if clicked).

Sure the artist misspells Katharine Hepburn’s name, and strangely enough the then 14-year-old Hollywoodland sign isn’t anywhere to be found. But don’t let those oversights keep you from clicking on over and marveling at the full-size version of this otherwise meticulously glorious representation of a bygone era in celebrity worship so bitingly chronicled just a couple years later in Nathanael West’s “Day of the Locust.”


Sometimes The Smallest Creatures Can Instill the Biggest Sense Of Awe

If ever this time of year comes and goes without a hummingbird nest in our backyard I’ll know the world is coming to an end. So as you can see in the clip below, we’re safe for 2012 no matter what the Mayans said.

But as regular as the tiny birds may be around my place, they still never fail to make me go wide-eyed with wonder — especially when I see stuff such as this momma feeding her chick, hatched about a week (give or take a couple days) ago from an egg little bigger than a black-eyed pea:


Timelapse: Watts Happening Ride

The 2012 edition of my Watts Happening Ride took place this past picture-perfect Saturday, and it was my complete pleasure to share the following landmark people, places and events I’ve discovered there with the 28 cyclists who joined me:

  1. The last residence of jazz great Jelly Roll Morton
  2. The childhood home of Nobel Prize Winner Ralph Bunche
  3. The location of the 1969 Black Panthers shootout
  4. The Hotel Dunbar, centerpiece of the Historic Central Avenue Jazz Corridor
  5. The location of the 1974 SLA shootout
  6. The actual fictional location of the Sanford and Son Salvage Yard
  7. The Watts Towers of Simon Rodia
  8. The location of the incident setting off the 1965 Watts Riots
  9. The home of Eula Love, killed by police in 1979 as a result of a past-due gas bill dispute
  10. The motel where legendary singer Sam Cooke was killed
  11. The flashpoint of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots
  12. The location of Wrigley Field, demolished in 1966.

Unfortunately, the above annotated timelapse video abruptly ends at the third-to-last location we visited, leaving me to discover that I need to get a bigger memory card if I want to capture the entire 33-mile, six-hour tour on camera the next time — and there will be a next time. I hope you’ll join me.


Ever Shamed, Ever Shameful

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt sentenced some 120,000 Japanese-Americans to prison for the duration of World War II. Today, on the 70th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, Los Angeles County is marking the occasion with its first Day of Remembrance, which in turn made me remember my visit to Manazanar 4.5 years ago that I wrote about on November 13, 2007, here at Blogging.la:

Coincidental to Jason Burns’ November 9 post in which he referenced Manzanar in response to the disconcerting news of LAPD plans to target map Muslim enclaves in the city, two days later (returning from Death Valley’s Eureka Dunes) my wife Susan and I paid a somber and sobering first visit to the infamous place (on Highway 395 a few miles south of the ironically named town of Independence), referred to all politely as an “internment camp” or a “war relocation center,” or “reception center,” but with eight guard towers erected around the barbed-wired perimeter staffed with military police manning machine guns trained on the 11,000 men, women and children kept here against their will (more than 90% of whom were from the Los Angeles area), I’m in the mood to call it what it was: a prison. One that should forever be remembered as a testament to the freedom-destroying power of fear and an abominable insult to the United States Constitution and the civil liberties it guarantees us as citizens of this country. Pardon my righteous indignation.

The rest of my recollection is after the jump.

Continue reading Ever Shamed, Ever Shameful

Maptastic: Los Angeles in 1891

I have sung the praises of the Big Map Blog in the past, most recently in December when a 1932 map of Los Angeles was added to its extensive cartographical collection. And here I go again, because they just posted another jaw-dropper in the form of H.B. Elliott’s birds-eye viewpoint of our town when the population was only 65,000 back in 1891 — one that looks like the artist drew inspiration for it from an imagined vantage point aloft above what is now Elysian Park.

What makes this document so exquisite is not just the map itself, but the detailed representations of both exteriors and interiors of some of the commercial and civic landmarks of that time, most of which are long gone. Click the above image to biggify it. But better yet, got here on Big Map Blog and click the full size download link and get yourself the 157″ x 111″ version to marvel at available there for free.

Blogging.LA Meets Atlas Obscura

Green leafy car
Some of the everyday "uniqueness" we find in the L.A. area

After my recent Hollyhock House tour, I met a friend from out of town at the Figueroa Hotel for a drink. At the bar by the pool, we met a woman named Rachel who said she was holding a meetup for the local Atlas Obscura chapter. My friend got all excited at the mention. I thought, what the hell is Atlas Obscura? Turns out, it’s a bit like blogging.la.

Continue reading Blogging.LA Meets Atlas Obscura

It Caught My Eye: A Titanic Reminder

Walking back from a trip this afternoon to a neighborhood bakery to get some valentine sweets for my sweet, I chanced to look down and discover this intriguing silhouette of a certain historic luxury cruise liner (that I immediately recognized because I’m a history geek like that) sprayed upon — of all places: a Silver Lake driveway apron (click to embiggen):

The approximation of the logo above it is that of the ill-fated ship’s owners, but with with a “4,” a “12,” and a “12” appearing in the banners under the flag where the words “White,” “Star” and “Line” would be.

It’s interesting (at least to me) that the piece would reference the date of April 12, 1912 — an entirely normal and uneventful day at sea in RMS Titanic’s brief history — instead of the far more infamous date three days later when she sank into the depths of the North Atlantic, taking the lives of 1,517 people with her.

No doubt much more attention will be paid to the the hundredth anniversary of April 15, 1912, when it rolls around in a couple months. But rather than jump on that tragedy bandwagon, perhaps the artist focused on April 12 in homage to the spectacular ship when she was full steam ahead on calm seas and in all her awesome glory.


Official Song of Los Angeles?


Per this article the Los Angeles Times, the city of San Francisco may or may not attempt to simultaneously belt out a rendition of Tony Bennett’s “San Francisco” – the city’s official song – at noon today, a sort of citywide flash mob to honor the 50th anniversary of Bennet singing the song for the first time at the Fairmont Hotel.  Maybe more interestingly, the article notes in a parenthetical that our fair City of Angels doesn’t have an official song (though oddly enough, LAX has one).  Which of course prompts at least one Angeleno to wonder: what would be our official song?

Way back when, we did a nifty series called “Songs About Los Angeles,” any of which would be worthy contenders.  Randy Newman’s “I Love LA” seems to be the obvious choice, though there are others: “Los Angeles” by X was the most popular song in our series, according to Franklin Avenue’s post-series poll.  Or, how about “Pico And Sepulveda” by Felix Figueroa And His Orchestra?  “Straight Outta Compton” by NWA?  Others?  Votes?

Lord Have Mercy: Relief For “Laddicts” Has Arrived, Siriusly

Back in October legendary Los Angeles DJ Jim Ladd’s 14-year run at KLOS was unceremoniously ended when he was taken off the air by the new corporate pigs at Atlanta-based Cumulus Media who’d just purchased the radio station. Poof. Gone. The shmucking fucks didn’t even allow him a farewell broadcast.

I wasn’t the only one supremely pissed off by this — and for the very reason the Los Angeles Times’ Randy Lewis cited in his November 5 article:

More than simply a popular personality on the Southland radio scene, Ladd had developed last-man-standing status in his field, the only DJ at a major-market commercial radio station in the country who still picked the songs he played rather than using a preapproved playlist created by the station’s program director or outside consultants.

Fast forward to last week, and the awesome news that found its way into my inbox that Ladd had landed a new gig at SiriusXM Satellite Radio, one that premieres today on the Deep Tracks Channel (No. 27) at 4 p.m.

Sure it’s not “free” radio and there’s a shitload of more important stuff going on in the world, but from where I sit next to my Sirius-capable internet radio box it’ll be a bit of a better place this and subsequent afternoon with Ladd’s voice back out there sailing on the Los Angeles airwaves once again.