Feed The Pets!

FEED ME
FEED ME
<On the heels of Will’s spcaLA post, I wanted to give a heads-up that these locations are short on pet food this holiday season. Please consider dropping off kibble, or wet food, or dry food, to the following locations:

12910 Yukon Avenue, Hawthorne: (310) 676-1149

7700 East Spring Street, Long Beach: (562) 570-7722

5026 West Jefferson Boulevard, Los Angeles: (323) 730-5300

Because we all know that hungry pets will devour you alive in your home, if you’re elderly. That adorbs Shiba Inu you adopted for gramma? Watch. Out.

I’m just sayin’, if we feed them now, while they’re in the SPCA facilities, they’re that much less likely to eat you or someone you love.

Overexposed In Chinatown

ctown5 ctown20It’s not what it sounds like, although what it sounds like sounds fun…

Nope, I was downtown the other day with a camera set to too high an exposure, on a mission to acquire a parasol.

Almost every store in Chinatown around the rectangle created by Broadway and Hill / Cottage Home and Cesar Chavez sells parasols. But there’s only one I’ve ever encountered with a wide selection of diverse and lovely paper–not polyester, same-painting-on-every-pink-and-blue-version, parasols. After three years away, I wasn’t sure the parasol store would still be in the square at the intersection on Gin Ling and Mei Lin Way (yep, all those little pedestrian streets have names…check out the map here…helps when you’re looking for a specific gallery).

ctown08To my relief, Andy’s Gift Shop was still there, across from the lucky coin-toss fountain (a miniature landscape with different mountain-hermit homes sculpted into the waterfall rock, a different pagoda or edifice you can toss a coin into for prosperity and good luck in any area of life). After meandering past the weirdly cordoned-off statue of Bruce Lee and the skatepunk dudes trying to nail the (presently turned-off) waterfall’s house of Good Luck in Love with pennies, I made it into the gift shop and accessioned what was needed. Thanks Chinatown! It’s nice to know a few things haven’t changed.

I have a really crappy phone with an even crappier camera in it. The settings on the phone randomly re-set them depending on the phone’s own perverse mood swings. That day, it had set the exposure to what us photography-illiterate folks call “way too damn bright.” Oddly, the photos came out pretty, with a washed-out sort of lighting that perfectly showcased the lurid colors of the neighborhood.

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The Kids Are Alright…But Life Is Hard. Cobalt Cafe to Close After 23 Years

The beloved all-ages venue in the far west Valley that has given thousands of local kids their start in music, tens of thousands of poets a chance to read their work, and probably millions of young people to tag/sticker bathrooms (and hallways…and sidewalks…and rear exterior walls…and everything else), and just generally get the F outta the house without having to go to the mall–will be closing at the end of the month. I regret to pass this news on so late but I only just found out myself.

Vanna, 2009, Creative Commons by photog Carly Hoskins.
Vanna, 2009, Creative Commons by photog Carly Hoskins.

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Extremely patient and awesome owner Dave Politi founded the Cobalt Cafe coffeehouse in 1991. Grunge was a rising tide, emo was in its early stages, weird ska/funk/pop-punk hybrids particular to the Valley and south LA in general were bubbling up from high schoolers’ garages, and Starbucks wasn’t here.
I was a high school goth chick, shy as hell and loathe to speak to anyone. My friends’ bands played the shows. Seeing them, their openers, and those for whom they opened, up close and personal on a stage about a foot off the ground and approximately three feet from my face so their sweat flew in my eyes, lit off a fuse within myself that altered my DNA, transformed my passions and creative dreams forever. I got up the guts to read my mediocre emo high-school-girl poetry at the weekly poetry readings.

Credit Cobalt Cafe. Artist & photo unknown, obtained from Wikimedia Commons via Creative CommonsI got to know people. I became a regular. I met my first long-term boyfriend there, played chess there, bought punk records from unknown bands there from small private presses before records were collectors’ items, met some of the folks I’d run into long, long down the line ten years later in Silver Lake at Spaceland (and in other rooms), watched the comfy overstuffed furniture go the way of the dodo (too many episodes of puking, sweating and cigarettes leads them to an early grave), giving way to a more Spartan interior.  People liked my poetry enough that I got a featured reading at a coffeehouse on Sunset Blvd, and I kept writing long into my late 20s. I sometimes wonder if all that writing didn’t lay the groundwork for my public blogging and journalism career, which itself has led to experiences and interactions that could never have been imagined by the mind of a repressed, shy 17-year-old black-lipstick-wearing girl in 1996.

Augustus, 2005, photog Stacey Jischke via Creative Commons
Augustus, 2005, photog Stacey Jischke via Creative Commons
Photo credit Cobalt Cafe.
R.I.P. overstuffed chars and couches.
Bitter End in 2011, photog Robert Bejil via Creative Commons.
Bitter End in 2011, photog Robert Bejil via Creative Commons.

Every time I have returned to the Valley to see a line of self-conscious green-and-black-haired high schoolers goofing off with each other in front of the venue, or bros in short pants and Deftones t-shirts unloading a 350 Ford, I have smiled to myself, grateful that sometimes, good things don’t change, and that there’s a place for us weirdos to go–still. Yeah, sometimes the music sucked. Well, usually it does when people are that green. But it was music, and we–now, they–were and are making it. Some of them got really, really good. Some of the poets went on to long careers as luminaries in the poetry arts scene throughout the US. Records were make, books published. Creative dreams came true.

The cool blue light and scrawled-upon bouncer's desk in front of the venue.

The place reeked of sweat, coffee and cigarettes; the bathrooms are an archaeological dig though layers of paint, Sharpie, and stickers; sometimes the baristas were overwhelmed or had a ‘tude (as is proper, whiners!), but that all just made it better. I have been everywhere, man, and seen a lotta shows, but the Cobalt was the most genuine, unprepossessing, free-spirited creative fermentation machine I had ever seen. You did not have to be hip to walk in. You did not have to wear the right clothes. In fact, it’s still pretty hipster-repellent.

Sadly, Dave’s got his own Life S**t going on these days, and there’s less and less money coming in the doors with promoters and bookers being less supportive than they used to be; and let’s face it, non-Starbucks-priced coffee will never keep an indie business afloat, especially when your clientele is allowed to just hang out and buy nothing the entire time they’re there.

Dave Politi should be lauded for giving so much of his life and energy to a cause–“the kids” and “the music” and “the words”. The longtime host of Tuesday Night Poetry–he’s been doing it almost as long as the Cobalt was open–Rick Lupert–should be thanked, and I encourage you to see him read his funny and thoughtful work at other venues around town. All the hosts of Monday night open mics, all the baristas who endured patiently for many years, every doorman who had to bust kids doing the things that kids do–thank you, one and all. Here’s to the Cobalt Cafe. From such a humble little corner of the West San Fernando Valley, her influence has already spread around the world. Dave and the Cobalt are studies in how simply making space for others to be themselves, can ripple outwards in a quietly irresistible wave of transformation.

Hover over photos for Creative Commons/other photo credits.

 

Graffiti Grammar Bingo and Spelling Bee: Exhibit 1

B-I-N-G-OBecause, this image:

I hereby announce the bLA Graffiti Grammar Bingo & Bee. Once I post five of these, the first commenter gets a prize if they type BINGO!!!! and then identify the error. (Exclamation points not required.)

Obviously, this one should be “you’re,” and I also deduct points because the elephant appears to be both balancing on a ball and levitating to paint the sign. You can’t do both, Jumbo. I know these things.

I welcome submissions. Ping me at the address on my profile to send me one.

Why hello Canoga Park, I’ve missed you as well.

Went to our fave 24-hour taco shop, Casa de Tacos, hidden in a small strip mall  at the corner of Topanga Canyon and Wyandotte in Canoga Park. It is SO GOOD to enjoy real Latino-style tacos after three years of Georgia tacos. Got me some lengua and some tripas, for the ultimate in all I had missed.

Then I saw the sticker affixed to the side of the napkin dispenser, and I knew…the taco gods want me home.tacos

Fall Artwalk at The Brewery

This weekend was the Fall Artwalk at the Brewery, one of the largest artist-in-residence complexes in the world.

If you haven’t heard of it, it’s in the industrial district northeast of downtown, in a large complex/campus comprised of an old Pabst brewery (hence the name), an old Edison power plant building, and many warehouses, all of which have been converted into artist lofts. Not those crappy “artist lofts” that were just built five years ago in mixed-use spaces with cardboard walls…these are vast concrete caverns of loft spaces, the kind I’d like–you know, the kind you can just hose out when it gets dusty. And it does, because it’s right by the railyards and the freeway.

During Artwalk the majority of Brewery residents open their doors to the public so people can see their art–and, hopefully, so they can make some sales. It’s tough for a lot of people who put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into their work all year long, in relative privacy, to have hundreds of people tromping through their door, assessing their life’s labor, often snapping photos without permission, then turning and walking out. But they do it because they know it’s important for the public to be exposed to art and the work that goes into it.

Thousands of people show up twice a year for Artwalk. Next week, I’ll profile a handful of artists I found and discuss their work; as for now, here’s kinda a look at the scene. You should go next time. Just go early–the parking lots fill up early! Especially the parking lot I snagged–UPS HQ, next door, opens their parking lot for Artwalkers. Check out whose spot I got.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ho-leeee crap. Hello, Los Angeles, my love.

Who’s got two thumbs (and her index fingers, with which she primarily types, like a spazzy T-Rex on a typewriter) and is back in LA?!

This girl.

Along these rhapsodic, elegiac and thrilled welcome-home lines I’m walking, here’s some songs to make you love your city again. Fall outta love? Don’t do what I do and leave.  Or do…it might be what you need to appreciate it.
Rilo Kiley, Let Me Back In: link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXZR0rwhXvs

“From the Eastern seaboard, the landlocked Midwest
The Keys, the Alps, the Black Hills and Budapest
With my heart in a sling, tail between my legs a-swinging
I’m sorry for leaving

But when the palm trees bow their heads
No matter how wrong I’ve been
L.A., you always let me back in

And you can bury me when my body breaks
In the earth that created me, in the Golden State
By my mama and her brother and their mama too…”


And then there’s this one, by the Delta Spirit, for the folks I left behind in the South.     ;)

I mean, this sorta already happened, and that fellow is now happily married, so….everybody come on out! Apparently I’m a great vector for changing your life.    :P

(Yes, this post is enormously personal. Kevin Roderick may have a field day with this one. Or he may not, which will make me feel like a loser. Whateves.)

“I want you to move to California for yourself,
I want you to find whatever your heart needs,
I want you to move to California for yourself, but not for me.

I want you to go out there and find somebody else,
I want him to treat you like I know he should,
I want you to find somebody new for yourself, if not for me.

all of the feelings that I know you never felt,
and all of the simple words you never said,
I want you to keep them like a secret to yourself, they’re not for me.

I want you to wander silent past my outstretched arms,
I want you to hide yourself from all I see,
and though my heart will fight until its dying breath, you’re not for me.”

 

Also…I love the video for this one.

So, yeah. I’m back. We did hot dogs, we did donuts. What do you think should be next?

Blogging.LA Holiday Giving: FixNation

I was not a cat person.

I didn’t like cats. My family always had dogs. Dogs were congenial, enthusiastic, stoked. Cats were diffident, seemed to not form attachments, and were generally a pain in the ass with zero ROI.

Then I moved into the Little House In Canoga Park.

Ok, so this little house had a bunch of feral cats living around it. Scads of ’em. Everywhere! The place was filthy with cats! They were all terrified of me. The house was surrounded by trees and undergrowth, and the cats ran and hid under bushes, amidst vines, and in the crawl space under the Little House. I was determined to not become attached to them.

That endeavor did not succeed.

I began feeding the cats.  They warmed up to me. They curled around my feet and purred. They licked my arm when I petted them. My heart melted. I started to see how many little ones would show up, be cute, then…disappear. I tried not to think about what became of those kittens.

I had to try to get these cats all spayed and neutered, but how? Vets charge a lot for that. My search led me to FixNation, a nonprofit that offers free spay and neuter services for homeless cats. Slowly, over the course of about two years, I got all the cats trapped, taken to FixNation where they were sterilized and vaccinated, and then released them again. They mellowed out. They became cool cats. They chilled, lounged and rolled around adorably. Distinct personalities could be detected. They snuggled up to one another–I’d always thought cats were loners! Not these guys. They were friends. They were a pack. Team Meow.

It’s great that these guys are all doing so well, with me looking after them, but if they’d kept reproducing, the resultant kittens would NOT be doing well. And they’re NOT doing well all over the city. It’s awful. But FixNation is leading the charge to prevent the uncontrolled breeding.  Their mission is to reduce the population of homeless cats and kittens in Los Angeles by sterilizing as many as possible. To date, FixNation has spayed and neutered over 65,000 cats.

I know that there’s great suffering all over, in our communities. Homelessness and poverty are becoming ever more evident. And we all could stand to help out our fellow man. But it’s in the way we treat those who are small, who are relatively powerless, that grace is found. All creatures great and small, we should be responsible stewards of them all.

One donation of $40 neuters one male cat. You improve the quality of his life, and prevent the needless suffering of untold others. Thank you to FixNation for doing this work.

City Pome 3.

Below a high-summer sun

autumn slinks in

under the green leaves

and waits,

conspiring for the coup

of late September.

 

city pome 2, 17 May 2011.

light and space
134 Fwy, California Street overpass, Burbank
blue crush
LA River, Warner ovp. at Forest Lawn Drive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contained and constrained,
holding only the barest bit of exuberance,
tiniest sparkle of life flaring
illegally in your hand,
moving on and through,
along this vein–
toward a
pulling,
drawing
of the
heart,
the
nar-
row-
est
line,
the finest hold on life.

You arch and slide through,
balletic,
again
hurtling home
for your one singular reason.

We all do not stop moving–

lunge at freedom
LA River, distant San Bernadino Mtns, eastward river of cloud, from Forest Lawn Drive, Burbank.

 

city pome 1, 11 May 2011.

Eagle Rock Blvd. at Ave. 35
Eagle Rock Blvd. at Ave. 35

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pow!
An explosion, ultraviolet
The jacarandas bloom and bang
one after the other like popcorn,
like fireworks on a fuse—
Summer sinks down on LA
pushing the shattered past to the edges,
glass confetti fanning the street.

 

Eagle Rock Blvd. at Ave. 35
Eagle Rock Blvd. at Ave. 35

Win Tix to Cirque Berserk This Saturday!

cirqueLA cirque-gone-feral performance troupe Cirque Berserk have arrived at the Nokia Theatre for a month-long engagement, and we’ve got a FREE pair of tix just for you!

You’ll enjoy your evening of lovely fire dancers, disturbing clowns, stunning aerialists, music and burlesque, chez bLA and Goldenvoice (thanks guys!).

To win: Tell me, in the comments, which sideshow attraction you would be if you had to be in a traveling circus. Would you be the bearded lady? The giant? The knife thrower? The fortune-teller? Let a girl know! We’ll randomly pick one lucky winner to go.

You can buy tickets here.

Photo by Brion Topolski.

Win Tix to See Peaches Christ Superstar!

The inimitable Peaches returns with something only she could have thought up–and only she would have the rocks to do.  The reigning queen of electro-rock-raunch is singing the entire rock opera of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” from beginning to end, all by herself–accompanied only by virtuoso pianist & rapper Chilly Gonzales, playing piano.

If you’re looking for another camel-toe-tastic, colorful and bombastic performance by Peaches–this won’t be like the past shows you’ve seen. It’s her alone on a stage, singing the original songbook of the musical, with tonality and emotional range you don’t see as much of in her original work. But if you can imagine her powerhouse voice belting out these power-ballads, you know you’re in for an amazing, one-of-a-kind show.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEh1EXSlwHY&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

To win, tell me what musician or band you’d like to see perform a classic rock opera, classical opera, or Broadway musical. For example, I’d love to see Adele do a stripped-down, soulful bluesy version of La Boheme, or David Bowie doing Cats.  That would be epic.

Info on the show is here.

Photo by helenadagmar on Flickr via a Creative Commons license.

Win Tix to See The Judds at Club Nokia!

Fans of powerhouse country divas, rejoice–The Judds‘ reunion tour, The Last Encore, is making its way to Club Nokia this Wednesday & we scored a couple pairs of tickets just for you dedicated fans. They’ll be playing songs from their upcoming album, as well as old favorites.

Wynonna was quoted as saying, “This tour gives me a chance to enjoy where Mom and I are in our relationship. I look forward to celebrating our personal and professional journey…together.”

And you thought the holidays with YOUR family were weird.

To win, tell me what makes you a deserving Judds fan. We’ll choose a few lucky folks to see the show.

Info on the show is here.