There Be Bicycles Here

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Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times published an article about the surge in bicycle commuters in the city. It’s a fine article and for those who haven’t read it, it’s about bicycle commuters. And how there’s a surge. But what’s cool about the article, aside from the spellbinding photo of bike repair in action, is they included the LA Metro map for cyclists in the article. I did not know this map existed. Check it out here.

Confusing? I should say so. Look at all those squiggly lines! But don’t fret. I’ll take a moment to help disambigu-fy things for you. Soon, you’ll be zipping around the city as if it were the back of your hand. Check out the legend after the jump.

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Weekend Outing: Evergreen Cemetery

Evergreen Cemetery

It’s been said that there are more people alive now than that have ever lived throughout history. It’s not true, at least with respect to the whole planet, but it’s an intriguing thought, anyway. I wonder, though, whether it’s true for Los Angeles? I’m not about to pull out a calculator and figure it out (I can’t come up with the math on my own, and anyway, I wouldn’t know what button to push) but it’s the sort of thing I love to ponder. And where do you think I chose to do my pondering? Check it out, after the jump.

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Weekend Outing: Gabrielino Trail

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Last weekend I went searching for Evergreen Cemetery. By the time I got there, it was closed. The dead were, apparently, off duty. So faced with nothing else to do I explored the area between the 10-710 interchange and the San Gabriel Mountains, delving into a neighborhood that, even after five years in the L.A. area, was still a mystery to me. I wound up on a bluff in Altadena, overlooking JPL where, happily, I found a trailhead. The next day, I explored it with a friend and found this:

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Cinematic Titanic Headed For L.A. Berg

Cinematic Titanic

Do you know what a sampo is?

Do you find yourself absently singing the line, “Who’s the puffy guy who’s a big blurry sex machine? Mitchell!”

You ever wake up in a cold sweat in a twist of sheets and realize you were dreaming about Torgo’s knees?

Chances are, you’ll be at The Ford Amphitheater on June 21st when the crew of Cinematic Titanic steam in for the Los Angeles Film Festival. Mystery Science Theater 3000 is no longer, but its two chief alumni are still out there tearing bad movies to shreds. One of them, the show’s creater, Joel Hodgson, is bringing his current incarnation to Cahuenga Boulevard where he and four of the show’s greatest comic minds will be riffing on the film Wasp Woman in front of a live audience.

Torgo terrifies me, Mitchell is a sex god and I haven’t the faintest idea what a sampo is. But I do know where I’ll be that night. See you there, right?

Here’s the scoop.

Another National Donut Day Come and Gone

National Donut Day

On a more serious note, yesterday was National Donut Day.

I didn’t realize this until I was at work. One of my coworkers mentioned it in an offhand manner and inadvertently kicked off a noisy countdown inside my head. I clocked out, hit the gym (to bank a few points) and headed for the Burbank Krispy Kreme to pay homage to the Donut Day tradition.

This is a big deal. I’m relentless in the exclusion of sugar and flour from my diet, but the appeal of honoring the day, which has its roots in World War I and the Salvation Army was too good of an excuse to pass up. My donut (pictured above with a Padme action figure) was soft, warm and weighty with historical import.

It’s not too late to honor the “Lassies.” Grab a donut this weekend. If we actually had Dunkin Donuts in Los Angeles, I’d urge you to combat the asinine boycott. So go to Yum Yum (where anything is possible) or Randy’s (and appreciate guerrilla art.) If your powers of rationalization aren’t as robust as my own and you don’t want to actually eat a donut, track down a copy of Homer Price. It’s much better for your heart.

Architectural High: The Long Goodbye

The first time I caught a film at Cinefamily was last Friday. The film was Robert Altman’s 1973 adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye. I scurried over Hollywood from Burbank after work to meet a friend at the excellent repertory theater on Fairfax (also known as The Silent Movie Theater) and spent the next hour and a half realizing why people gave me such hell for never having seen it.

Great script, great acting, great fun (and a pants-less cameo by California’s governor,) but what really blew me away was Gould’s Hollywood Hills pad, which had so much personality and presence, with its spectacular views and free-standing elevator tower, that it became a character all its own. My friend Maria, companion for the evening and old coworker from my Rocket Video days, told me she used to live on the same street. That was the only clue I needed. The next day, because I do that sort of thing, I went exploring in the hills until I found it. It’s on Hightower Drive. (another monster pic after the fold)

Think it’s rent-controlled?

The Long Goodbye

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Google Street View Taunts Us With Cheap Gas

I got myself an apartment.

I know, we were all on pins and needles over that, but as of next week I’ll be a Glendale resident. And let me tell you, there’s nothing like technology when it comes to the ol’ apartment hunt. Type the address into Google Maps, hit ENTER, and then marvel at your ability to check out a prospective neighborhood from the comfort of your laptop. Save on gas!

‘Course, you’re not getting a live feed (and for that, I think we should all be thankful.) The images are a little out of date. But, intrigued by the time lapse, I found myself cruising up and down streets looking for differences. That, naturally, became a hunt for gas stations, looking for prices. Now, I remember the gas rationing days of the late Seventies under Carter. Gas was at about $.77 per gallon. That’s almost unimaginable. But I find that when I look at these images, I feel the same sort of nostalgia.

Is that wrong?

Gas Prices

More images after the jump.

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Ride A Bike To Work Week (from Glendale?)

montrose, CA

Everyone’s talking about bicycles these days. it’s almost like, “Hey did you see that wacky new invention? You ride around on only two wheels, not four!” Not since the days of Ginger has there been so much hoopla surrounding locomotion. Well, alright, I’m exaggerating a little, but there a lot of people discovering the excellence of pedaling to work this week. I hope the fascination sticks.

For the past four years I almost never rode my bike to work. But then I didn’t have to since work (Amoeba) was only a few blocks away. I walked. But now that I’m back in Los Angeles and I’m looking for a new place to live I realize that I may not be as fortuitously near my workplace, I’m starting to consider just how I’m going to get around L.A.

In my search for a place I ended up wandering around Montrose a little. Montrose! I didn’t even know that place existed! It’s that lovely berg wedged into that gap between mountain ranges out past Glendale. And I love mountains. But I think it’s just a bit further from Hollywood than I’d be able to reliably cycle every day, and, while the Glendale freeway is nice on a Saturday, at 8 AM on Monday morning it’s a parking lot. So Glendale it is. But I’m asking Glendale residents, or indeed, anyone who cycles around that Los Feliz-adjacent terrain if they’ve discovered any terrific little routes into or out of the Sunset/Gower area.

Los Feliz Blvd to Sunset? Hyperion to Fountain? What are some of the better ways around Glendale and Silverlake on two wheels?

Rush Rock Downtown

Rush

No one I know likes Rush. Not a soul. My circle is so hell-bent against the Canadian power trio, I decided to ask them all if they wanted to catch Rush at the Nokia Theater downtown with me on Tuesday, just to see how many Rush Rejections I could get. I got a lot.

When I asked Maryann, she made this little exclamation of surprise and then laughed at my wildly funny joke. I sent Sara a text invite. She texted back, “Sounds lyk my idea of hel.” Chaz merely texted, “Ugh.” I’m alone among my friends. But when it comes to Greater Los Angeles, things are a bit different. I parked downtown at 7:30, headed for the venue and soon found myself in a crowd–a big, black-clad, slightly grizzled throng. And we were all here for one thing.

Rush, dude.

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Pig Found in Two Pieces

Pig Found

In case you hadn’t heard, Reuters (and therefore, every other news service in the world) is reporting that Roger Waters’ pig has been found. Two couples in the Coachella Valley will split the $10,000 prize and each get Coachella Tix for life. Apparently the pig tore in half; one pile of plastic landed in one yard, and another in someone else’s. Which means we’ll find the wreckage of the plane that hit it in the next day or two on a remote mountainside.

I’m disappointed and confused. Disappointed because I thought that pig had some serious wings when it lurched into the sky I was hoping it would end up in Uruguay, not just down the street. And confused because I’d thought the reward was for the pig’s safe return. Unless this is a new form of the word, a pig in two pieces isn’t safe. It’s more … well, butchered.

Coachella Wraps. Pig Flies.

Roger Waters

Coachella’s done. It’s all over. And dare I say, I’m feeling a bit o’ Coachella burnout. I’m done with the seven dollar Heineken, the welded art, the glistening flesh, the punishing heat, the non-operational cell phones, the sweaty tents and the dusty walks to the car that fill my shoes with dirt. Will I be back next year? Probably. Because as much as I complain about it, I kind of like all that stuff, too.

And then there’s the music. It’s the reason I keep coming back, the reason I subject myself to the crowds and the insanity. There’s always something that stands out as the reason for it all. This year there were two somethings: Portishead (as I mentioned earlier) and Roger Waters.

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Coachella Day Two: You Here For Prince Or Portishead?

Coachella ‘08

“How would you describe St. Vincent?”

It’s Day Two at Coachella. The heat gathers in the fierce sunlight ten feet away and then pushes into the shade of the tent where I’m sitting with Ryan and Chris. “She folk?”

“Not folk. More whirling, demented cabaret, by turns lovely and dissonant, often within the same song, built with phrases gathered from the voices of a multitude of instruments.”

That was the gist of response. What I think I actually said was, with a shrug, “She’s hard to describe.”

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Coachella Report: Heat Down, Energy Up

Coachella ‘08

Greetings from the desert. Once again, the crowds descend on the polo fields of Indio for three days of vibes and volume. For serious music heads, part of the joy of the festival is the stuff that kicks off each day, the “smaller” acts that bravely set up and play when the sun is at its zenith. But I awoke on Friday to find my car blocked in by slumbering neighbors, (perhaps the subject of a future rant?) so I wasn’t able to hit the road until almost noon. By the time I got there, I’d missed two bands I’d really wanted to see, Les Savy Fav and Battles. They actually played simultaneously, but dammit, I wanted to be able to face that quandary on the pitch, not on I-10!

By the time I was properly frisked, admitted and beered I was still able to catch some great stuff…

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Grizzly Bites Man, Lives

Grizzly Cub (photo by Jean-Guy Dallaire)

Is everyone following this story? I caught it yesterday in the LA Times. Rocky, a massive, trained grizzly under the care of Predators In Action, bit and killed his trainer, Stephan Miller. Predators In Action is, of course, the Show Biz animal training facility that specializes in bears and big cats. Miller was working with the bear, putting him through a series of repetitive training moves when the bear just went, “chomp” and Miller was dead within minutes.

What’s fascinating to me is in today’s follow-up, in which Miller’s co-workers insist that Rocky should not be killed. As horrible as the tragedy is, and as traumatic it must have been for the other trainers on the scene, they point out that it’s the risk that they all take.

These are wild animals, they say, not Beanie Babies.

It would be easy to fall into the punitive trap and execute the bear, but it seems that there’s a healthy resistance to that among the people who knew Miller. Of course, it goes without saying, Rocky’s career in pictures is probably finished. I mean, imagine if Ben Affleck killed Michael Bay with a quick bite to the neck. Even in play, that would but a dent in his career (note: the analogy ends there, because I dunno how many people would jump in front of the firing squad.)

If the Grizzly is, in fact, spared he’ll probably wind up in a zoo. And that’s probably okay. But I wonder what people think? Should Rocky live or die? What if the person on the receiving end of that bite had been your friend or lover or co-worker?

Photo credit: Jean-Guy Dallaire

Cheap Books in Burbank

Books!

I’m going to miss the L.A. Times Festival of Books. I’ll be off in Indio trying to get up close for St. Vincent and Portishead. But that’s okay, because yesterday I discovered the Dollar Bookstore in Burbank. I happened on that particular block of San Fernando near Burbank’s town center because I’d just had a job interview at Technicolor, which is in the neighborhood. Being jobless, I had the rest of the day to kill, so I wandered in.

The place is a marvelous, low-frills joint, about the size of a Waldenbooks, but without all the attendant marketing gloss, and it’s simply packed with hard-to-find books of different sizes and thicknesses.

Don’t get the wrong idea, though. This ain’t a rare bookstore. I mean “hard to find” in a “there are categories, but no discernible acknowledgment of the alphabet” sort of way. So yeah, expect to do that bookstore tilted-head shuffle for a while. But hey, at a dollar a book, the money you save can go straight to your chiropractor.

The store is at 301 N San Fernando on the nether side of the 5 (map). It’s no Dutton’s, but then Dutton’s won’t be Dutton’s after next week. Go now, while it’s still reasonably cool and pick up a handful of books. I picked up three. They had pretty covers. Someday, I hope to read them.