All posts by la_robert

Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles

The second annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles starts up next Thursday the 14th and runs through the 18th. As India West puts it, “The role of a woman – be she a 10th century queen, a village rape victim, a young performer in a rural circus, an upper-class Kolkata intellectual or a Pakistani widow struggling to keep her family from being destroyed by religious fundamentalism – is explored in a series of films just announced by the [IFFLA].” Tickets are available at the ArcLight Cinemas box office (6360 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood) or on the ArcLight website. (Thanks to Cinema Minima for the head’s up.)

Labor pains

Now that the Red Menace of the 2003-04 Southern California Supermarket Strike is over, and we can all go back to buying groceries without being, well, vaguely menaced, it seems an opportune time to reflect on the status of things.

The United Food and Commercial Workers (UCFW) says, “After 20 weeks without paychecks, workers won their fight to protect affordable health care, their pensions and job security.”

Safeway says, “During the year we steadily improved overall same-store sales in non-strike affected areas, generated free cash flow of $815 million and reduced debt by $613 million.”

So everything seems back to normal.
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Dodgers roll the dice…

So the Dodgers took Milton Bradley off the Indians’ hands yesterday. You know you have a winner on your hands when the first phrase used to describe him in the ESPN story is ‘troubled outfielder.’ And Milton ‘Troubled’ Bradley is going to get us runs? I decided to focus instead on the positive, on the silver lining. While I figure out what that is exactly, here’s Milton’s namesake:

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‘Bradley began his career as a draftsman and lithographer, owning the first lithographic press in Western Massachusetts. He founded Milton Bradley Company, Publishers & Lithographers, in 1860, around the time the photograph at left was probably taken. His kits of “Games of Soldiers,” a set of pocket-sized travel games, were marketed to soldiers during the Civil War.’ — Springfield Museums site.

Trolley Dodgers 2004

This coming Monday is the home opener for the Dodgers, going up against the Padres in Chavez Ravine for their first game of the 2004 regular season. To hear some people talk about it, the season — not even started yet — is already over. Mostly because of shenanigans with the storied club’s new ownership, but also because of a lack of an ability to score runs, a long-standing need that went unaddressed during the off-season.

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To understand some of the passion surrounding all this, did you know the Dodgers haven’t won a playoff game since 1988? To put that into a little historical perspective, The Dodgers won the first of 21 National League pennants in 1890. And now they haven’t won a playoff game in 16 years….
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Shiseido Studio

Want to learn something about makeup or perfume? Need a facial massage? How about for free? Head over to Shiseido Studio in Santa Monica (425 Broadway).

How can you resist a place that says “Technology is here to assist you and help direct you toward products that might interest you most.” What sort of technology do you suppose they have to assist and direct you? I’m getting Minority Report flashbacks. Do you suppose they replace eyeballs, too?
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Los Angeles in the 1900s

Came across a spiffy website: Los Angeles in the 1900s. “A collection of contemporary articles, advertisements and illustrations about the City of the Angels at the turn of the last century.”

It includes one of those email forwarding-fodder lists, If you were living in Los Angeles a hundred years ago. “If you were a man living in Hollywood, chances are you would vote to outlaw the sale of beer and wine except at drug stores. If you were a woman living there, you couldn’t vote.”

RIP L.A. Kings 2003-04

The L.A. Kings were just mathematically eliminated from playoff possibilities this season. The look on Luc Robitaille’s face as the clock ran out on the game, and their season, was heart-breaking.

Here’s to the Kings who, despite struggling with an NHL-record 600+ man-games of injury this year, kept their hopes alive to the bitter end.

Here’s to the summer, as we heal up and perhaps get new bodies for our team.

And here’s to next season, with cautious optimism, because it may require the destruction of Wayne Gretzky to break the horrific curse clutching our hockey team.

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Deconstructing Disney

I was sweating in the queue for Space Mountain one scorching afternoon when the paranoid anarchist in me declared: “Walt Disney was a megalomaniacal prophet of capitalism. The Disney Empire is his Church. Disneyland is an Imperialistic Mecca. The tourists around you are Worshipper-Pilgrims at the shrine of the Fatted Mouse.” I restrained the sigh rising in my chest. You shouldn’t be paranoid in Disneyland. It’s the Happiest Place on Earth. It was a hot day. My brain was over-heated and over-worked.

Now, perhaps my fuming paranoiac did overstate things, but as I glanced around at the serpentine queue of exhausted people milling back and forth, I couldn’t help but mull over my reasons for being there. And as I contemplated that, a question fluttered into my mind like Tinker Bell with bad news: “Is Disneyland a kind of boot camp for the people of Southern California?”
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Cycles

So I’m jamming down a dirt road on my Specialized, with a vacant field on one side and a wrought-iron fence protecting a concrete river on the other. The tracks are pretty clear, nothing much to worry about except the occasional rocks and patches of soft sand. A smell hits me at one point, the exact same smell from twenty-five years ago in a similar field, with ten-year-old me on a Huffy, and I start to time-travel. Not the best thing to do when you’re hurtling down a dirt track, so I keep the traveling down to melding my thirty-five-year-old mouth into the gleeful smile of a ten-year-old. Both of us have sunburns, and neither of us care. The smells of earth and dry grass and sweat. The sound of tire tread on granular dirt, occasionally scaring some poor basking lizard out of my way….
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Welcome to the show

Typical night on the San Berdoo Freeway, driving along minding our own business, when a van suddenly hurtles up an onramp and into traffic, followed by four cop cars with sirens screaming and a light show to rival the Pink Floyd Laserium tributes that used to play at Griffith Observatory. This conglomeration of chaos disappears up the freeway. Hmm, we think, interesting.

Eventually, we take the 210 exit and start up the ramp. As we head around the Raging Waters hill, a surreal tableau is revealed: the four police cruisers stopped abreast of each other, taking up all four lanes. In front of them about 50-100 feet away is the van, parked.

We come to a stop just behind the cruisers, our faces bathed in red and blue flashes, with other “civilians” filling in to either side and behind us. We’re in the front row of a 21st Century drive-in movie. And just like in the movies, the cops are behind their open car doors, handguns and shotguns drawn. My friend and I glance at each other, then back to the front as we sink down in our seats, trying to put as much engine block as possible between our bodies and potential bullets…..
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