All posts by Helen Jupiter

I love LA!

Valentine’s Day is Coming, and it Makes Me Want to Make Out with My Dog Yes, I’m one of those. Despite the fact that it disgusts people like my mom and fiance, I make out with animals. No, not in a way that could get me arrested or ruin my life, but rather in the sense that I have a very hard time not (heavy) petting every dog I meet on the street, and I can’t stay away from the Amanda Foundation. Once, in elementary school, I kissed a calf on the nose, and my mom freaked out and told me I was going to get lockjaw. Despite ensuing nightmares to that effect, I was not put off of cows, horses, mules, sheep, goats, dogs, cats, turtles, llamas, lizards, and any number of other creatures with whom I enjoy canoodling. My dog of over a decade, whose name is tattooed across my ribs, has given me more comfort over the years than many of the friends who have come and gone. Whether single or involved, miserable or happy, he is always there to remind me that I’m not alone, that life is fun, and that every day offers a new beginning. Who can argue with that? I’m in love! That’s why for Valentine’s this year (yep, it’s approaching fast), I suggest you join me for a martini on behalf of all the doggies who…
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Skin to Win, or: Shut The Hell Up! Last night I was lucky enough to attend Eddie Izzard’s “Work in Progress” gig at the Coronet Theatre on La Cienega. It was the first time I’d ever seen Eddie in person–at least, on stage. Last year, in a failed attempt to get into a Cinespia screening at Hollywood Forever, I caught a glimpse of him being surreptitiously ushered through gates which had already been locked. For what it’s worth, I’d arrived to queue up at 7:30pm: Much, much too late.

In any case, last night I got to see Eddie perform, finally, after years of sold out tickets and missed opportunities, and man alive–was it a blast. Izzard has got it all: lightning speed synapses, an absurd but wonderfully relatable perception of the world, and the rare ability to be both physically and verbally hilarious.

Unfortunately he’s also got…
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What Year Is It?

racists.jpg Let me paint you a little picture of my neighborhood: Located in the lovely Miracle Mile area, just blocks from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, mine is a diverse community made vibrant by Angelenos of all colors and creeds. Two houses up there’s an interracial couple whose young children are, to put it mildly, absolutely gorgeous. At the top of the block is a first generation Chinese family that keeps part of their front lawn reserved for a vegetable garden, and who are always full of smiles. My pal Kelly, a dedicated Christian Scientist, lives on the next block over, and when I take my dog to the park, it’s always full of Orthodox Jewish mothers and their innumerable children–friendly little tykes who often ask to pet my dog. Also included in the motley crew that I interact with on a daily basis is a gregarious gay guy, a chatty Latina lady, a couple of incredibly intense Russian women, a very pleasant, older Middle Eastern man, and a rockabilly dude. My neighborhood embodies the wonderful diversity of Los Angeles, which is why I was so taken aback today, when I had the following encounter.
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What the Heck is Opid’s Camp? With all the rainfall we recently received, I’ve been hearing a lot about measurements taken at “Opid’s Camp.” I wasn’t familiar with the location, and so was naturally curious. Initial Googling proved less than productive, which only served to increase my interest. A bit of deeper digging brought me this:

Although it was long ago renamed Camp Hi Hill, meteorologists and nerdy types interested in rainfall tallies still refer to it as Opid’s Camp. The site is extremely interesting to them because it generally gets three times as much precipitation as the basin, numbers measured by a rain gauge on site that’s maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Opid refers to John T. Opid, a young employee of the forest service who was fond of the site, which is perched 3,600 feet above Pasadena in the Los Angeles National Forrest, and which was then known as Stony Gulch.
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Despite Weekend’s Heavy Rainfall, MWD May Cut Water Deliveries

Education_waterdrop.jpg It’s great to get rain like this past weekend’s. More than a foot fell at Opids Camp in the Los Angeles County mountains over the weekend, and we got 3.62 inches in the Hollywood Hills. Add to that the nearly 11 inches measured in San Marcos Pass in the Santa Barbara County mountains, and you’d think we’d done pretty well for ourselves. The truth is, all that rain did little to ease shortages, partly because we’re hugely dependent on imported water (such as from the Colorado River Basin) that has been reduced by “prolonged drought and court-ordered cutbacks.” In fact, a contingency plan to cut water deliveries could be activated as early as May.

The Metropolitan Water District is considering a contingency plan to cut water deliveries to its member cities using a new formula that critics contend favors faster-growing areas while penalizing older, poor communities.

The district’s staff is recommending the plan in case the agency, which serves 18 million people in six counties, is forced to slash water deliveries this spring in the event of continuing shortages.

The MWD is also considering rate hikes of 10% to 20% for next year, in part to buy more water to shore up supplies.

Full article here.

Knobturnal at the Mountain Bar

It’s been a while since I regularly hit the dance circuit, and my Spundae nights are long behind me, but when Russell Vare (aka dj100lbs), an old friend from high school and all around cool guy, asked me to check out his monthly club night at The Mountain Bar in Chinatown, how could I resist?

Called Knobturnal, the artsy Mountain Bar is a perfect home for the monthly event, which celebrates artists and musicians based in LA. Each month, different djs, musicians, producers, and artists are featured. Because Russel, his collaborators, and the peeps behind the Mountain Bar are interested first and foremost in creating a community of local talent, Knobturnal is always free. It’s also awesome: With two floors of music, you can lounge contemplatively or get down with your bad self. Plus, there’s plenty of artwork to ponder.

Knobturnal happens at The Mountain Bar every 3rd Friday, with the next event scheduled for this Friday, Dec. 21.

Knobturnal @ The Mountain Bar, every 3rd Friday
475 Gin Ling Way
Los Angeles, CA 90012

My pics from last month’s Knobturnal after the jump…
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Support Local Artists & Designers: Rock’n’Roll Xmas Party & Fashion Show at Qio The brand spankin’ new Qio boutique and gallery, which features casual and street couture with a Japanese flair, underground brands from Tokyo, and an art space that hosts local artists (deep breath) is having a party, and you’re invited! All kinds of free goodies will be given away, as will a raffle with prizes from Hysteric Glamour, Kunna, and Orthodox. The event is being sponsored by Asahi, so there will be lots of free beer, as well as mixed drinks. My friend the Rameniac, a co-owner of Qio, will be DJing, so put your party pants on and get ready to groove to the sounds of the 60s and 70s.

Mark your calendars: It’s all happening this Thursday, Dec. 20, from 7-11 P.M. at Qio: 11614 W. Pico Blvd., 90064. Click on the flyer and it’ll get Bigger.

Gypsies Chillin’, Fueding, and Just Generally Workin’ It in LA

20061106predictions.jpg You know that feeling you get sometimes–the quiet little instinct that alerts you to nearby sketchiness? Oftentimes you can’t even identify what specifically is sketching you out: It’s just a sense, a hunch that something is off. This happened to me a few days ago, when I stopped in for a coffee at the Museum Square Organic to Go. As I crossed Wilshire at Courtyard Place, I noticed a couple sitting at one of the outdoor tables, a few back from the sidewalk. My sketch-o-meter immediately went off. I can’t really tell you why, exactly–they looked “normal” enough, but also somehow “different.” It’s an odd sense to have in a city like Los Angeles, with its eclectic and eccentric population. They made eye contact with me as I approached, and the woman (who looked like she was in her early thirties) said something to me about my dog. I didn’t hear her clearly, so she repeated it. I still couldn’t understand–which raised the level of my sketch-o-meter even higher. I have a pretty good ear, especially for accents and speech impediments, so not being able to make out what she was saying to me at such close range was odd, especially considering that she didn’t have an accent. She sounded like she was “from here.”
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Only in LA: Happy Hanukkah from the Shanghai Grill The other night I found myself struck by a serious falafel craving, so I jumped in the car and motored over to Nagila on Pico, where I ordered 10 balls for the road. On my way over I did, indeed, cross paths with a menorah-clad van (my second sighting). Nagila was packed with local Hasidim and other assorted reps of the Orthodox lifestyle, and it being Hanukkah, there was an enormous menorah set up by the salad counter. Best of all, on a table beside the menorah lay a big tray of complimentary latkes. Festive!

Meanwhile, next door at the Shanghai Grill the large menorah in the front window illuminated the olive skin of the Persian hostess. I ask you, where else but in LA would you find a Chinese restaurant with a menorah in the window and a Persian hostess?

Tonight is the last night of Hanukkah, which means it’s your last chance for a year to indulge in Nagila’s complimentary latkes, and to see Moshiach-fueled vans cruising Pico with menorahs tied to their roofs.

Missed Connections, or: Attention Public Farters To the person (you know who you are) who was at my PGA screening of The Golden Compass this past Saturday night. Did you happen to notice that everyone seated around you was gasping for air? The giggles you heard escaping from hand-covered faces were not giggles of joy. They were giggles of disbelief, the kind of laughter that can be defined as “nervous” and “disgusted.” Please know that I wasn’t laughing–I was suffocating. I had to press my boyfriend’s well-cologned wrist against my nose for the majority of the film, just so I could stay conscious.

Here are a few tips:
1. Public farting is NOT okay, anywhere, anytime. If you need to pass gas, excuse yourself to a private place (in this particular case, the BATHROOM in the theater lobby would have been IDEAL). I am not King Arthur, so please don’t fart in my general direction.
2. Whatever you ate for dinner before the film didn’t agree with you. Think about it.
3. Gas-X is the trusted leader in gas relief.

LAUSD is All About Image

LAUSD.jpg Hmm, this strikes me as a tad backward. The Los Angeles Unified School District has apparently hired image consultants and a PR firm to handle some recent negative publicity. Way to use the ol’ taxpayer money:

The recent hirings come in addition to a six-person communications staff with a nearly $1.4 million budget, an overall $10 million communications budget, and a separate consulting contract with Darry Sragow, who helps LAUSD develop communications strategies and policy issues.

One of the district’s recent hires is Victor Abalos, a communications consultant for Superintendent David Brewer III who has been signed to a one-year, $178,000 contract to develop communication strategies including restructuring LAUSD’s communications department.

LAUSD also has hired consultant Michael Bustamante under a six-month, $90,000 contract to deal with communications strictly related to the district’s electronic payroll system.

Here’s an even better way to change your image, and it probably won’t cost you as much moolah: figure out what you’re doing wrong, and then fix it. United Teachers Los Angeles President A.J. Duffy is inclined to agree with me.

“Don’t spend $10 million for spin doctors to weave their webs that try to show the world that they’re really good guys. Actually do it right.”

The Crazy Robertson

jermyn.jpg Growing up in Beverly Hills in the 80s and 90s, this guy was like living landscape. I don’t honestly remember him ever not being there. In fact, I seem to inject him into other memories, onto other streets: When I look back, I’m sure I see him not only on Robertson, but on Sunset, and Santa Monica, and on Beverly Drive, too. He always rollerdanced in his signature black spandex with a boombox on his shoulder, and he always seemed to be totally in the groove. There were other homeless people in town whose mental illness was frightening, but “The Robertson Dancer” (his real name is John Wesley Jermyn) seemed totally benign. We just watched him, shook our heads in awe, and smiled. I vividly remember sitting in the back seat of my father’s car and craning my neck to watch as we drove by.

It’s been widely reported in the past week that a few Bev Hills kids have created a clothing label with designs that bear his likeness. Named after him, the label is called “The Crazy Robertson” and is only part of the package: You can also check out the MySpace page they set up to promote him, the clothing line, and the nightclub venture of the same name. And yes, there’s an “official” website, too. You can have a look at their t-shirt and hoodie designs, here. They’re being sold at Kitson.

It will come as no surprise, I’m sure, that some of his family and homeless activists are calling this exploitation. Jermyn agreed to a deal that entitles him to 5% of “net profit” from clothing sales, and he apparently gets to weigh in on design decisions. He signed the contract without consulting anyone, and prefers to be paid in food, liquor, and art supplies. The way I see it, this was bound to happen sooner or later, and not necessarily by someone willing to include Jermyn (however superficially) and offer him some of the profit. That said, I don’t really know what to make of a city in which one of the most expensive, trendy boutiques is selling shirts with the image of a homeless, schizophrenic guy on them. What do you think? Exploitation, or just LA?

Thanks for Letting Me Help I’ve never really been able to stomach Thanksgiving. Even as an elementary school kid, the hypocrisy and darkness surrounding the holiday was too much for me. I can’t just “shake off” the barbarism, genocide, and brutal cultural conquest that Thanksgiving sprang from, and would frankly rather ruin everyone else’s Thanksgiving with a diatribe about how evil it is, and how the whole damn tradition is rooted in fraudulent history and cultural amnesia. That said, I usually just wind up pissed off at myself for being so well-behaved. Yes, it’s true: I show up for the stupid meal (which I can’t usually eat much of, anyhow), smile graciously, and do everything in my power not to answer, “That I’m not an indigenous American,” when asked what I’m thankful for.

The one thing I can fully get behind (and that keeps me relatively sane) on Thanksgiving is the plethora of opportunities to do something nice for those less fortunate than myself. If you feel the same way, there are lots of options available here in LA. They range from donating canned goods to serving meals to the homeless. Here are a handful to get you started:

Hillsides in Pasadena is asking for your donations of canned and dried goods and grocery store gift cards. (323) 254-2274 x.251 or [email protected]

Gobble Gobble Give collects and distributes food and items to the homeless, and is looking for donations and volunteers to meet at The Echo, put together and deliver meals to people in vacant lots, empty fields, river bed bridges, freeway underpasses and alleys throughout the city.

There will be a community pot luck in Venice Beach, if that’s your speed. Just cook or buy something, and bring it on over to 1 Westminster Ave. Venice, CA. 90291 from 12 – 2 on Thanksgiving Day. Questions? Email [email protected]

This Interfaith Group in Santa Monica is looking for servers, greeters, food runners, decorators, hairstylists, medical providers, entertainers, prep and breakdown help for their event at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, 1855 Main St., Santa Monica, on
November 22 from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm. Each year they put together a Thanksgiving feast to feed 5,000 people, and for the past 25 years they have fed, distributed clothing, blankets, and hygiene kits, and provided haircuts and medical attention to thousands in the community. Sign up to volunteer by calling (310) 394-3153.

The Los Angeles Mission could probably still use your help for their huge Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow (Nov. 21), at which they expect to feed 3,500 homeless men, women, and children. Give ’em a call: (213) 629-1227

Rodeo Drive Overrun by Dogs — Help Needed Dog-lovers take heed: Starting this Friday, November 16, and continuing every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through December 2, The Amanda Foundation, a no-kill shelter in Beverly Hills, will be setting up camp along Two Rodeo. In an effort to place ALL of their current dogs, volunteers will be posted outside of every boutique along the cobblestone promenade from 2:00- 6:00 PM. Each volunteer will have one Amanda Foundation dog with them, ready for adoption. That’s 20 volunteers, with 20 dogs, every day for four weekends straight.

And guess what? They need volunteers. If you have four hours to spare on any of those weekends, please sign up. I’ll be there for sure this coming Friday, and most likely a few of the other days. It’s a really easy, relaxing way to help a great organization and find a dog a home. (I wrote about my experience volunteering with Amanda here back in August). Even if you don’t volunteer, drop by for the silent auctions at boutiques like Tiffany & Co., all of which will benefit Amanda Foundation.

Click for full press release with all contact info, and let me know if you’re going to be there so I can say hi.
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When I Die, Scatter My Ashes at Disneyland

pirates.jpg Actually, please don’t. I like Disneyland well enough, but an annual visit is plenty for me. I have no need to spend all of eternity in the ballroom of the Haunted Mansion, or in bed with the skeleton of a pirate of the Caribbean. Actually, I was just there this past Saturday (at Disneyland, not in bed with the skeleton of a pirate of the Caribbean). It was a surprisingly pleasant experience–lines were relatively short and moved quickly, it was crowded but not suffocating, and I found that since my last visit, they’ve significantly increased their healthy and vegetarian food options.

What I didn’t know but wish I had, was that just the day before, some woman had scattered a loved one’s remains all through the Pirates ride. What I also didn’t know is that she joins a long line Disneyland ash-scatterers. Boing Boing pointed out yesterday that there’s an “epidemic of covert (human) ash-scattering” happening in the park, which led me to MiceAge and their more detailed explanation of the practice.
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