Airlines to charge extra bux at LAX

Following a rent hike that LAX imposed in February on the airlines that use its space, United Airlines has said it has plans to add a $10 surcharge to tickets for passengers originating at LAX.

I had a flight out of LAX a few days ago, and after hearing about this I felt I should conduct some super-stealthy research. I was flying on American, though, so I didn’t ask any United employees since they’re in another terminal. So I asked a few employees in the AA terminal whether they’d heard about it. Due to my mad awesome interviewing skillz, I got two blank stares and a “yeah, I heard about that, but I don’t think we are doing it”. Cool.

Too bad they were wrong. American, along with US Airways, Delta, and Northwest, have confirmed that they, too, will add the additional fee. The airport’s operators, Los Angeles World Airports, claim that the surcharge will far exceed the additional costs that the airlines are incurring with the rate increase.

It’s enough to make you want to take the train. Or fly out of Burbank or something.

Brewery Artwalk this weekend

http://blogging.la/archives/images/2007/04/artcar-thumb.jpgAs blogging.la’s resident Brewery… uh, resident, I’d like to invite you to the biannual Brewery Artwalk this weekend. Twice a year, in the spring and fall, the residents of the Brewery Arts Complex open up their studios to the public. If you’ve never been to the Brewery, it’s a huge complex of artists’ live/work lofts in Lincoln Heights, near downtown L.A. There are tons of both well-known and emerging artists that reside there, many of whom will have their studios open this weekend. The artists span most mediums, including photographers and photography exhibits (The Found Photo Gallery), sculpture artists (Bruce Gray, James Hill), painters (Andre Miripolsky, Elizabeth Leifer, CJ Kang), and many other notable artists that blend genres (Psycho Girlfriend). There are even cooking classes by Hipcooks and live theater by Joe Dunn. In addition, the LA Podcasters will be there podcastin’ away. As you can see, there’s something there for everyone. (Including beer, available at the onsite restaurant. Mmm, beer.)

When: Saturday and Sunday, April 21-22, 11AM-6PM both days
Where: 2100 North Main Street (at Avenue 20), Los Angeles 90031 (Main St exit @ the 5 freeway)

You can view a full list of the exhibiting artists here. Directions are here.

Oh, also – blogging.la readers who track down my studio and say hi get cookies!

Image from last spring’s Artwalk

Power outage affects 100k L.A. residents

This afternoon, the power went out in my building at the Brewery in Lincoln Heights. We thought it was just a temporary outage, which happens every so often during crazy windstorms like the one we had today, but on checking with our neighbors and venturing out into the neighborhood we realized that it was much more widespread, as we saw traffic lights and a few stores without power. After a few hours, we called the office and were told that DWP said it would be up to 24 hours before service was restored. My roommate and I prepared ourselves for the long, dark night by going to the store and stocking up on the essentials: booze, non-perishable snacks, and bandages for the inevitable head wounds that would result from boozin’ it up in the dark.

I would have posted this earlier, but had no power until just now. I called LA DWP and asked them for an E.T.A. for the power returning; she told me they were working on a goal of midnight to have power back to my area. From what their nice pre-recorded outage message said, over 100,000 DWP customers were affected by the outage, which was caused by several transformers and power lines going out. It seems that Burbank was also affected, but I don’t know how much power has been restored to them yet. It looks like some of the residential blocks near me are still dark.

Is anyone else still experiencing an outage? (Of course, if you are I don’t expect you to be reading this, but if you know of friends and family who are still in the dark, let us know!)

Update: Looks like power was out in parts of Silverlake and Larchmont Village, too.

Update #2: Power is still out in Montecito Heights and parts of Century City as of Friday morning, and seems to be flickering on and off in Studio City. Commenters, keep ’em coming, and hang in there.

LAX TSA: Stealing your stuff makes you safer

Yesterday a story broke about some TSA employees being accused of theft at LAX. As a frequent traveler who converses often with other frequent travelers, I have heard stories of theft before, but complaints that have been filed with the TSA never seem to get responses, or if they do, it’s somewhere along the lines of “we can’t possibly know that it was a TSA person who took the item, so you’re pretty much screwed“. (Paraphrased, of course.) In this particular case, the ruckus being made about the stolen items seems include items that were stolen from Paris Hilton. (I thought maybe it was her underwear that got stolen, which would explain some things, but it was an expensive watch.)

Notwithstanding the annoying fact that it takes a celebrity or person with some power or influence to get these kinds of things noticed, it’s about freaking time that law enforcement started to take notice of these thefts. The flying public is already forced to undergo invasive searches and ridiculous restrictions in what they can take on board, and now they are being subjected to theft by the very people who are supposed to be making their travel “safe”.

The eight workers who are accused in this case have already been dismissed from their jobs, but why were thieves allowed to be employed by the TSA in the first place? The TSA claims it is trying to crack down on theft by employees, but I’m appalled that it even happened in the first place. If the TSA is hiring untrustworthy employees, what does that say about them?

Daylight Saving Time – the phantom menace

Those of you employed in industries that have nothing to do with computers may have been blissfully unaware of the impending changes to the observance of Daylight Saving Time (until, of course, the Daily Show aired its brilliant exposé last night). For those of you who are still unaware, due to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the United States is changing the dates of observance of DST so that it begins three weeks earlier Рwhich means it goes into effect this Sunday! (cue dramatic music)

While this may merely mean one less hour of hangover-curative sleep for some, it can potentially be a disaster(!) for computers everywhere, because machines with operating systems that haven’t been updated with the new rules won’t know that they should automatically change the time on the new date. IT nerds such as myself have been working to update systems to reflect the change, but many are unprepared and could face shocking(!!!) consequences such as:

– missing or being late to meetings
– oversleeping
– accidentally giving someone the wrong time when they ask you what time it is

We can’t have that! Whatever can we do? Update our clocks manually? OH, THE [email protected]!!

But seriously, just be aware that at 2 AM this Sunday, March 11, DST goes into effect, and you need to set your clocks ahead by an hour. Take a deep breath. It’ll all be okay.

Until October, when DST normally stops – it’s been extended by a week, to November 4.

Aieeeee!

Top L.A. Legends #24: The L.A. Coroner’s office has a gift shop

body outlineOne of the more morbid legends in our series, the rumor that the L.A. County Coroner’s office has a gift shop has been haunting Los Angeles for over a decade. Ghoulish tourists, searching for the place where legendary corpses such as Marilyn Monroe, Sharon Tate, and Elliott Smith were autopsied, crept stealthily around the grounds, hoping for a glimpse of a toe tag, or perhaps, something more sinister.

But is there any truth to this fiendish tale? Can one, indeed, find a gift shop at the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office?
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Weekend of kink

http://blogging.la/archives/images/2007/02/LAKink-thumb.jpgFor those of you of the more pervy persuasion (some of whom write for this very website! Shocking!), this weekend is the Los Angeles Kinkball, an entire weekend of fetishy goodness. It all kicks off tomorrow night with the Slave2Fashion party at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood. It continues on Saturday night with the MasqueII party at Entertainium downtown, which promises erotic cabaret (my favorite kind of cabaret, in case you’re wondering).

Then, on Sunday night, the Kinkball is happening at the Ivar in Hollywood. (Click image to embiggen the flyer for the Sunday night event.) The schedule has a mind-boggling amount of kink of all sorts, from bondage suspension (involving rope play), a performance by the band Gen and the Society of Genitorture, a Latex Lounge play area for those of you into all things latex, a full dungeon, play areas throughout the space, and a suspension performance by my friend Allen of Suspension.org (warning: not for the squeamish).

If you’re thinking of heading over in a t-shirt and board shorts, think again – they will be enforcing a strict dress code. And with all of the bondage gear they’ll have around, I think the word “enforcing” should be taken quite seriously!

Dodgers change pricing scheme; fans buy bigger sweat pants

Yesterday the Dodgers announced some changes to their ticket pricing for the ’07 season. They’re converting the right-field pavilion and turning it into a special section where fans, for a $35 advance ticket price or $40 on game day, can get unlimited Dodger dogs, popcorn, peanuts, nachos, and soda. While this is a big change from the old bleacher seat pricing of $6 (which is going up to $10 for the 2007 season for left field bleacher seats), for people who consume a lot of snacks and soda at baseball games, it might work out favorably. The math for me doesn’t work out – if I go to a game and get two Dodger dogs, a soda, and an order of nachos (which I totally wouldn’t, because hello, heartburn!) I’d be paying around $20 or so, so the extra $25-30 ticket price isn’t worth it to me.

Some worry that the seats might not be able to take the extra weight of the presumably overstuffed fans, and wonder about the restroom situation up there. Here’s hoping they supplement the all-you-can-drink sodas with enough restroom facilities!

And before you think you can drink your weight in beer to make up for the ticket price increase, beer, ice cream, and candy aren’t included in the all-you-can-eat price.

Super funtimes landing at LAX tonight

I took my first flight of the year tonight, JFK-LAX. We were delayed a little on departure, but scheduled to arrive on time. Until we got around Las Vegas, at which time the pilot came on and said that the air around L.A. was really choppy and we’d have a bumpy descent. She wasn’t kidding! I fly a good 150k+ miles a year and I can’t remember the last flight I took that was this turbulent. We encountered a lot of choppy air on the approach, and apparently it was so windy that air traffic control at LAX was instructing westbound planes to fly out over the ocean and approach landing on the east runway. We did that, but it was still amazingly bumpy.

I guess it could’ve been worse – as I was on the parking shuttle I heard a girl next to me talking about her flight, which attempted landing, had a failed attempt, and had to go back up and circle around again. She said people were screaming on the second attempt at landing. I know I’m pretty immune to inflight scare factors, but screaming? Is that really necessary? At best it’s going to make you look like you’re overreacting, and at worst it’s going to freak out all of your fellow passengers and possibly make someone who was relatively calm have a much more unsettling experience.

I know it’s a long shot, but were any readers on any inbound flights Friday night with screamers onboard?

Efficient holiday cheer

pinata.gifI know everyone’s up to their eyeballs in holiday shenanigans right now, which may or may not include shopping, wrapping, tree acquisition/erecting/decoration, dealing with overexcited kids and probably the dreaded holiday travel. I travel pretty much constantly, so I am never home and therefore never have time to take care of personal stuff like gift purchasing and shipping, so I usually order online when I’m in between airports. But this year, I wanted to give something a little more personal, so I figured out a way to get everything done in a really short period of time, and still make it on time to the airport.

Stop #1: The Christmas tree auction in Chinatown. Tammara mentioned it last year, and after talking with most of my neighbors this year I realized that almost all of them got their trees at the auction. One of my neighbors got a 9-foot tree for under $40! Crazy!

Stop #2: San Antonio Winery. We stopped in for a bit of dinner at the restaurant, which was quite tasty, and then checked out the goods in the adjacent gift shop. They carry chocolates, trinkets, and of course, their wine, which makes a nice gift for parties – it’s a unique, locally produced gift for that finicky Angeleno oenophile on your list. And they have an abundance of sweets in case you want to treat yourself. After all, you’re hard at work!
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City of L.A. wants taxes they’re not entitled to

Yesterday, David posted a note about Martini Republic’s rant about the City of Los Angeles shaking down its citizens for business taxes. Basically, the city has been sending letters to anyone who had a 1099 last year, saying that said 1099 recipients may owe them money. I was one of the lucky recipients of one of these letters the other day. I had one 1099 that I filed with my tax return last year, which was payment for a talk I gave in Boston. (I have given similar talks for the past 4 years, out of the state, with 1099s every year.) The city sent me a form asking me to either fill out an application for a business tax license or to complete a section on the back of the application that explains why I am not liable for city tax. Their FAQ on the topic pretty much says that I’m not, given that I didn’t perform any service in Los Angeles that I received a 1099 for (note: this is the same section of the FAQ quoted by Martini Republic) – emphasis added:

Q: I receive a 1099 form instead of a W-2 for my work. Am I required to have a City of Los Angeles Business Tax Registration Certificate?

A: Those that work as an “independent contractor” and are paid by 1099 versus W-2 may be liable for City of Los Angeles Business Tax. Persons that perform work in the City of Los Angeles as an independent contractor as defined by LAMC Section 21.00, Subsection (j) are normally considered to be engaged in business and are liable for the City Business Tax.

The kicker is that the section on the back that asks for an explanation of why I’m not liable says that I also need to sign the front of the form. The signature panel on the front of the form says that by signing, I am acknowledging that everything above my signature is correct. On a blank form. That I don’t need to fill out because I am not doing business in Los Angeles.

This seems ever-so-slightly counterintuitive to me. Why would I sign something that says I certify that everything above it is accurate, when everything above it does not apply to me? Seems like a recipe for disaster to me, since anyone who came across the blank, signed form could conceivably fill it out with all manner of damning yet incorrect information. I’m faxing the whole shebang to my accountant to be sure, but I’m planning to put “not applicable” in every single blank space on that form. After all, I definitely certify that everything on the business tax application is not applicable to me!

Anyone else receive a letter like this? Have you responded? If so, or even if not, what was the outcome?

LAX report

I posted some tips the other day about Thanksgiving travel through LAX. I’m at LAX now and so far today, the crowds don’t look too terrible. (I expect they’ll get much worse later in the week.) The lines outside all the terminals for curbside check-in looked about the same as they usually do. However, security took a little longer than it normally does – usually on a Monday around 1 pm, I get through security at terminal 4 in about 10 minutes, but today it took about 15. There were wayyyy fewer business travelers and tons more leisure travelers, as expected on a holiday travel week, which probably accounted for the delay – lots of people traveling with kids == slower security lines.

That said, I must report that the celebrity sighting quotient is a little higher than usual – I saw Kristin Davis from Sex and the City as I was coming in, and there’s some famousish band sitting next to me (I’ll find out who as soon as their manager/handler/celeb wrangler leaves and I can google ’em). Not that tripping over celebrities in this town is anything unusual, but sitting next to them in the airport can be.

Pre-Thanksgiving travel at LAX

I travel pretty much every week for work, so I have some pretty strong opinions about traveling into and out of LAX and what the best/fastest/least douchey options are. With Thanksgiving coming up later this week, the usual hecticness involved at LAX is sure to increase, so I figured I’d post some tips to make travel a little smoother for those of us who are insane enough to travel the week before Thanksgiving. I also posted some of these tips at the NYC Metroblog, but with tips specific to NYC, so I’m going to give you some LAX info.

1. Park off-airport. If you’re driving yourself, there are a number of off-airport parking lots to choose from, some of which are LAX-operated and some that are separate commercial parking lots. WallyPark and the Parking Spot are usually good choices, but apparently all of them are busy during holiday weekends and at least the Parking Spot strongly suggests making a reservation ahead of time. If someone is dropping you off, have them drop you off at the arrivals level and then take the escalator or elevator down to check-in. You’ll avoid a bunch of traffic that way. Oh, and have them pick you up on the departures level when you come back. Everyone else will be crowding around the arrivals level and you’ll breeze right on out.

2. Know the security restrictions. In case you haven’t traveled in the past few months, you should know that there are new restrictions on liquids in your carry-on. You are allowed to have liquids, gels, and lotions in containers that are 3 oz. or smaller, and all of these containers must be in a single, one-quart, clear zip-top plastic bag. The TSA website has some more information on this requirement. At security, you must take the baggie out and put it in a bin for separate screening (which is, IMO, fucking ridiculous, since no airport in the U.S. has the backscatter x-ray technology required to discern what the hell is in the container anyway. But I digress). In my recent experience, the screeners at LAX do a pretty okay job with not being douchebags about liquids, but just make sure you’re prepared because you don’t want to be that guy who is holding up a line of 30 people because you’re arguing about keeping your 7 oz. cologne bottle.
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It’s Artwalk time again!

Twice a year, the residents of the Brewery Arts Colony open their studios to the public. As one of the residents, I feel like I should personally extend an invitation to the lovely readers of this fine blog. For those of you who haven’t been to the Brewery, it’s the largest art colony in the world, and it’s smack dab in the middle of L.A.! There are hundreds of artists who live and work at the Brewery, and twice a year many of us open our doors to the public so people can stop in, see fabulous art, and obtain artwork at studio prices (i.e., wayyyy cheaper than in a gallery). And the whole shebang is free. There’s free parking in the UPS lot adjacent to the complex, and admission is free. (Buying art or food, however, is not free.)

The Brewery Artwalk is this Saturday and Sunday, October 7 and 8, from 11 am – 6 pm both days. Directions can be found here.