Netflix Local Favorites

I just noticed that Netflix has a Local Favorites feature – and in my case it shows the local favorites for Los Angeles, CA. As of today, the LA favorites include “Sorry, Haters”, “Bubble”, “Mi Vida Loca”, “LA Story”, “Wassup Rockers” and “The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing”.

The last four are not unexpected since they take place in Los Angeles, or are involved with movie magic. But I am just curious as to what section of the population in Los Angeles is renting “Sorry, Haters” to the point where it occupies the number one spot. I am not saying that it shouldn’t, I am just wondering who these people are and how they are able to wield such power of the city’s Netflix favorites list.

Go Climb A Rock In Arcadia

Last week was my friend’s birthday and it was decided that we would have a surprise party and go rock climbing. So that is how I found myself at Arcadia Rock Climbing, and indoor rock climbing gym in Arcadia, as the name suggests.

It is a big warehouse sized space with surrounded with climbing walls intended for a wide range of skill levels from beginner to advanced – those who can scale the 45 degree upside down slopes will have a good time here.

About a year ago I wanted to go rock climbing but could not find a good place to start, but now that I know about this place, I would suggest it as such.

Check Out Those Charities Before You Give

Last night I was sitting at home, drinking Modelos when I hear a knock at the door. I open the door to see a bearded, disheveled looking man who immediately launches into a spiel about the Republicans, Cheney, the military-industrial complex, yadda yadda. Nothing I haven’t heard a million times already. Sure, this kind of talk can get people emotional, but as far as reasoned discourse…far from it. Not that I disagree, just that it was Friday night and I did not want to talk about this.

Anyways, the deal was he was soliciting donations for a “charity” that is seeking to change all this, and get us out of Iraq and all the other good stuff that we all want but can’t ever seem to get.

Now I don’t know if this guy was legit or not at the time so I told him, “Well, my policy is that I do not give money to charities on the spot, but if you leave me some information then I can look it over and come to a decision later. I like to know who I am supporting and want to make sure that this would be the best use of my charity money.”

Well, he seemed to not want to do it that way, and insisted that in order for things to work out for him and his organization, he needed to get the donations at the door. At that point I told him that I had to go.

Anyways, the point of this rambling anecdote. Search the charities you are about to give to using the Charity Search from the State of California to make sure that the people you are giving to are legit. I looked up the guy’s charity, and it turns out that it was not.

Anyways, since a lot of people are out there looking for money during the holiday season, its best to do your homework and give on your terms. Also, there are some good guidelines on charitable giving from the Office of the Attorney General. There are a lot of fake charities out there, so don’t get got.

Is the Metro Trip Planner Absolutely INSANE?!?!

So tomorrow I will need to use public transportation to go from Pasadena to Echo Park. I look up the route on the MTA trip planner, which is on their front page. I get back three routes that are estimated to take TWO to THREE HOURS!! I could walk in that time and get my gym time in to boot.

Even more crazy is that none of the routes use the Metro Gold Line which goes from Pasadena to Union Station. And is easily the most direct route. Instead they are telling me to take all sorts of crazy buses to all sorts of crazy places, as well as take the Red Line. This is not the first time something like this has been generated by this so-called route planner.

Absolutely useless piece of crap.

I just used the System Map(PDF) to find a route. One that actually makes sense and will get me home faster than walking.

And yes, I know that route finding can be a particularly challenging computing problem, and I do respect those who get it right, but if you can’t get it right don’t offer it.

Traffic Science

Like everybody else who lives in our city I have wondered what exactly causes traffic and is there anything that I can do to stop it? Is it just due to volumes of cars, or is it due to people’s bad driving habits? Mostly I have leaned towards the latter. That people drive in such a way that generates traffic.

TrafficObsessive lane-changing would be my number one guess as to the culprit. People who decide that they need to try and shave .5 seconds off of their hour long commute by switching into the lane next to them, only to slow it down when the person they cut off is forced to slow down, and when fifteen other impatient fools in rattling imports try the same maneuver.

Anyways, regardless of the exact maneuver, I have always thought that it was impatient drivers who create traffic and every time I see this I think to myself that if I ever run for mayor I will run on a platform of draconian traffic laws to stop this. Or at least give people who drive like crap higher insurance premiums or something.

What I am trying to get to is this…Traffic Wave Experiments…wherein an intrepid traffic researcher goes into the field and notices that his calm, collected behavior on the road actually reduce traffic around him. That by resisting the urge to be impatient he can dissolve the standing waves that are traffic. I like this. It almost makes me want to hop into a traffic jam to try it out. I think that we all should try stuff like this, and then pass it on to others.

I am sure that there are other ways that we, as Los Angeles citizens, can help fight traffic. What are your ideas? Besides “get off the road” or “ride a bike”.

Droppin’ Eaves

Not sure if it is real or not because any random SOB can go on here and add stuff, but most of the things on Eavesdrop: Los Angeles seem ridiculous enough to me to be real. In any case it is entertaining and I got a chuckle.

And it reminds me of something that I witnessed in Burger King(the one on Grand and Cesar Chavez – is there any other?) a couple of years ago. So I am standing in line…and it seems unusually long for that time of day, so I look to the front and there is this lady ordering. She seems to be making a to do about something.

She asks the guy working there for a Whopper with no meat. OK…so she is a vegetarian. No problem I guess. Your way right away and all that. Not a problem. But then she keeps going. She asks if the grill has had meat on it. Of course. It’s Burger King. She asks how fresh is the lettuce. I don’t know I just work here. Are those heirloom tomatoes? What’s that? (OK I added the heirloom tomatoes part, but you see what I’m saying).

During this time I can see the guy in front of me getting increasingly frustrated, muttering curses under his breath, shifting and looking around. Then he pulls out his wallet, unfolds a piece of paper and reads it. It says in block letters: “I will not get mad”. He then composes himself a little while this lady continues to order her custom Burger, asking the employees to wipe down the grill for her, etc.

So yeah, there is a lot to overhear around Los Angeles.

St. Vincent’s Court in Downtown LA

After a lunch of pork chops, biscuits and gravy, candied beets, pie, cake, au gratin potatoes, strawberry horchata and fried eggs at Clifton’s Cafeteria my comrades and myself decided to mosey on over the nearby St. Vincent’s Court.

St Vincent's Court in Downtown Los AngelesSt. Vincent’s Court is an interesting little place in downtown, just off Broadway. With its fuax francaise cafe facades and Middle Eastern/Persian influences, it can be a nice place to duck into for a cup of coffee or tea. Or maybe a kebap if you have not already stuffed yourself silly at Clifton’s like we did.

My understanding is that much of the clientele comes from the surrounding jewelry district/Saint Vincent’s Jewelry Center, and while it was pretty laidback on the Saturday afternoon that we were there, apparently it can get poppin’ after work. I don’t know what that means. That’s just what I hear.

Also, if you are looking for Middle Eastern goods, the delis in the area have them. I got a big tin of Turkish feta and a bunch of olives. They also have hummus and whole wheat pita if you are so inclined.

Tamale Festival

This year is the second annual Tamale Festival. I went last year. We ate a crapload of different tamales. There was a weird boy band there singing in Spanish, and it is happening again this year. I think in a different location than last time, which was right across from the ol’ Notacornfield display. This year it is near Mama’s Hot Tamales in MacArthur Park. Seems like that might be the better venue actually.

Either way. I feel like I had a lot of tamales last week – Dia De Los Muertes and all – but if I think I can hang I might go over and have me one or five of these masa missiles myself.

La Ofrenda

la%20ofrenda%20email.jpgMy friend Sarah told me a little while back about an event that she is involved with called La Ofrenda, which is occurring tonight, and also for a few days afterwards from the look of it. It will be taking place beneath and around the Spring Street bridge in downtown Los Angeles.

Tonight promises:

Live music, performance & visual artists, video art, grandmothers talking circles, fire, drumming, dance, tamales and non-alchoholic libations free. Come create living and traditional ofrendas.

Click on the image to embiggenate
and get all the info.

Is Rent Really A Racial Issue?

Today’s front-page article in the Los Angeles Times about one family’s struggle to find affordable housing after being forced to vacate their long-time Echo Park residence does much to illustrate the need for affordable housing, but also contains a common thread that I often see in articles about rising rents in previously low-rent areas:

She and Sanchez talked for a while about what was happening to them. The whites were moving in, they agreed, pushing out the Latinos, the immigrants. “It seems a little bit like discrimination, doesn’t it?” Sanchez wondered.

It is discrimination. But on the basis of cash, not on the basis of race. I feel that too often race enters into the equation when talking about housing. Yes, it is a side effect that more whites are moving into areas that were predominantly Latino, but is that the real issue? I am still trying to decide if turning an economic discussion(property owners want to increase profit, renters want to decrease spending) into a racial issue(whites want to move in, Latinos have to move out) is actually counterproductive to finding a real solution. Does it prevent an open dialogue about what is actually happening(lack of affordable housing)?

I am still trying to develop my thoughts on the issue(if there even is one), and I invite your comments.

Farmer’s Market In Echo Park

Carrot Cutting Ceremony At The New Echo Park Farmer's MarketThe much anticipated Echo Park Farmer’s Market happened this afternoon, and I would say that it was a success. The variety of produce, cheese, breads and tamales was just right and certainly a fine start to what I can only hope will be a lasting tradition.

I ran into a ton of people there, and met a bunch of new neighbors as well as seeing the key neighborhood fixtures like Eric Garcetti. What I really like about this local market is that it is walking distance, and that it does serve as a new sort of “locus” for people in the neighborhood to meet each other on a casual basis.

Mary Ann and I came out of there with like six bags of goods: juice oranges, cheese, honey, bread, spinach, fuji apples, and lots of other vegetables.

It is my new weekly thing.