Category Archives: Downtown

A Skid Row Cop’s Opinion on Skid Row

Color me impressed with the direction the LAPD Blog is going these days. There is a post there today by Officer Deon Joseph who is the lead officer in charge of Skid Row detailing his opinion of the situation there and what is keeping things from progressing. He writes:

“In a recent report one of our opponents stated that the only thing stopping us from stopping crime is “us”. This is a person who went on a ride along with me and was awestruck by what we have to deal with when it comes to protecting the homeless.

“I believe there are several “real reasons” why we can’t stop all the crime on Skid Row.

“First, the supporting agencies which are supposed to assist us with public safety (The Sheriffs Department, County Probation, Eastlake, The DA’s Office, Judges) refuse to do so out of fear of a pen lashing by the local paper, or the wrath of the ACLU and agenda based groups. These entities release dangerous criminals early or refuse to cooperate on a consistent basis with our Division. It is sad that fear supercedes the public safety of the citizens we serve.

“Our patrol force is understaffed and overburdened. The primary car designated for Skid Row can barely be in the area. When you have under two hundred forty officers responsible for policing 8 to 10,000 people it is impossible to help everyone or make a lasting impact.”

For some reason hearing that kind of thing directly from an officer working in that area has a whole different effect that reading it in the paper after it’s been regurgitated by someone who sits in an office all day. That’s my opinion anyway, as someone who sits in an office all day. And by office, I mean my laptop in my kitchen. But anyway, this is a good thing, and the best part is the very end:

“I know that writing this will not convince many of our critics, but I urge anyone to come to Skid Row for a ride along and see for yourself what really goes on. Then if you want to criticize us, you will have an educated opinion. I can live with that.”

Officer Joseph then goes on to give out his contact number ( 213-972-1891) and e-mail ( [email protected] ). That’s a pretty fantastic offer I think, I wonder how many folks will take him up on it?

Help Support Gallery Row: The Art of Decadence

Lalique Etched Glass

Tomorrow night from 7pm-1am in the Oviatt Penthouse, you can help support the Gallery Row Organization, who are responsible for the vibrant gallery scene in Downtown LA’s Historic Core. Tickets are only $60 and include appetizers and entertainment. It will be fun and will support a great cause. Read on for more details.
Continue reading Help Support Gallery Row: The Art of Decadence

The Penthouse Club…

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With at least six strip clubs currently operating in Downtown L.A., the majority of which have been in operation for less than ten years —
Sam’s Hof Brau (topless, opened 1/1995), PlayPen (nude, opened 2/1998), Spearmint Rhino (nude, opened 5/2000), The Score (nude, opened 3/2002), Silver Reign (nude, opened 1/2003), and Ultimate 10 Showgirls (nude, opened 6/2005) — The Penthouse Club is currently scheduled to open next month, and to no one’s surprise, it’s not being welcomed with open arms.

Among the people interviewed for the article were Max Amadi (Penthouse Club) and Jeff Stoller (Penthouse director of global club licensing) as well as Eric Kurimura (Nishi Hongwanji Betsuin board member, Little Tokyo Community Council secretary), Sgt. Aloaf Walker (LAPD Central Division vice squad), Jan Perry and José Huizar (councilmembers), and Joel Bloom (Bloom’s General Store):

Slated to open in mid-October in a former warehouse on the corner of Vignes and Commercial streets, the topless club, part of a chain liscensed by Penthouse Media Group, represents an investment of $1.5 million, potentially 40 non-dancing jobs and thousands of dollars in tax revenue for the city.

But the site, in a heavily industrial section of Downtown bordered by First and Alameda streets, the 101 Freeway and the Los Angeles River, is three short blocks away from the Nishi Hongwanji Betsuin, a Buddhist temple and community center at 815 E. First St.

Obviously, this isn’t the first time an adult publication has expanded beyond its print empire — Playboy had its Playboy Clubs (with the local branch residing on the Sunset Strip) and Hustler has its casino in Gardena and its adult store on the Sunset Strip — so it’ll be interesting to see how Penthouse fares out here.

More after the jump.
Continue reading The Penthouse Club…

Banksy Private Showing

Surveillance Is Fun

Last night, while I was touring around the city with the TEKDBZ crew in their limo bus that was supposed to take us to SF for a show that ended up being cancelled, I got a private screening of the Banksy show. As it turns out, one of the security guards happened to be from the U.K., and had heard about Photek, who started the TEKDBZ crew, and the guard was nice enough to let us in even though we showed up around 11pm and had missed the actual show. I did my best to get a good photo of every piece, but some of my photos of the oil paintings came our a bit crap. So I know you’ve seen a million photos from a million different photogs, but this set is pretty much everything that was in the Banksy show. You can also see a few selections after the jump…

Update No the elephant was not there. I made up all the titles, I didn’t get a program / price list if there was one, and I don’t even think the art is for sale… could be wrong about that though.
Continue reading Banksy Private Showing

I Love The Central Library

Los-Angeles-Central-Library.jpgCan I just say how much I adore the Central Library?

I’ve always loved libraries. I’ve always been a bookworm, and I have always loved the idea of being able to acquire knowledge, just by picking up a book. There is so much of the world I don’t know about, so much history, so many perspectives, and I can start to understand any of it just by reading.

But I especially love the Central Library. I find going to the Central Library to be an experience it itself, in contrast to the quick trips I make to the Venice Abbot-Kinney brance. I love the fountains and quiet pools outside. I love the random artwork and sculptures in the courtyard. And I love the building itself, in its symbolism of everything that L.A. was in the 20s, a mishmash of art deco and Mayan, complete with the quotes and names of the greatest thinkers carved into it. And I especially like the old card catalogue cards that line the elevator shafts.
Continue reading I Love The Central Library

Axis Axed

Last November I posted in disgust then-and-now pix of Union Station showing the as-yet-completed residential complex being built on the southeast corner of Alameda and Cesar Chavez basically blotting out the view of one of my favorite architectural and historical structures.

Dubbed Axis At Union Station, its 272 units went up for sale this year in the sphincter puckering $600,000 range, and according to today’s L.A. Times article by Annette Haddad only a few unclenched enough to buy in. Only 41 sold until June when sales were suspended and buyers were told they’d receive their deposits back.

The article attributes the stagnant sales to the combination of a softening real estate market and an alleged downtown-wide glut of condos, but from my ignorant layman’s and decidedly biased perspective I think the fact that the place just sucks had something to do with it as well.

But it’s here to stay, only now for longer-term transient living. Now the landmark obstructor is back to its builder’s original intent as an apartment complex (whose floorplans measure between 664 to 1,460 sqaure feet, with the best going at $3,000 per month). They’ve even changed its name from Axis to Mozaic. Yes, with a “z.”

Sweatin’ Bullet Points (9/4/06): Birthday/Labor Day edition!

Happy Birthday to my city of Angels! Sometimes, you smell like a monkey, but I love you anyway. And without Los Angeles, how could there be a blogging.la? Sorry about choosing sleep instead of that nine mile walk I’d promised to go on, but I needed some rest allow me more time to write about your beautiful birthday suit…

In what sounds like a genius guerrilla marketing effort by contestants on The Apprentice, a number of official looking freeway signs have appeared around L.A. telling drivers where to find the Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes. The Daily Breeze points out that two of the signs were placed on the 405 conveniently near “another hoity-toity course — the Riveria Country Club.”

XM Radio will rebroadcast “five hours of music, jingles, sound checks and local color” from the archives of KFWB (AM 980). The clips will be from the 60’s, when the now all news station was spinning Top 40 hits. (source: Daily News)

City officials participated in a simulated terrorist attack last week, and the LA Times (who also financed the exercise) has the details of the frightening scenario and how our paid overseers handled the emergency. A good read for both Tom Clancy fans or anyone who wants an inside look into what the government has to deal with, and how the citizens, even in the best of all bad situations, will need to be ready to take care of themselves.

“Across from the mock-Uzi store on 3rd street at Los Angeles” the Slo-Mo Tourist has discovered downtown’s Bong Row. “every other store on this block was selling… glass bongs and hookahs of various sizes and boxes of the flavored tobaccos you put in them.”

Ron at LosAnjealous has the “Top 10 Notable Residents of Whittier”, with Tina Yothers just beating Richard Nixon to the number one spot. #3 are The Cold War Kids who perform on Friday at the Troubadour.

Zach at LAist is keeping count of all the candles on LA’s cake with a roundup of today’s commorative events.

Greetings From Vintage Los Angeles

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I just stumbled across this amazing collection of vintage Los Angeles postcards collected by the folks at LA Nocturne. The one pictured above was postmarked 6/25/1949 and includes a note on the back from one friend to another saying “Just a line to say hello from sunny California. Will be home next week – Everything lovely here – lots of flowers and everything.” This is one of the “Large Letter” series, but they also have specific sections and buildings around town. I love this image of Broadway from Fifth, and this 1947 view of City Hall is about as good as it gets. But there are also some gems like this card showing trolly cars on Spring Street, or Grauman’s with nothing around it. Even better, some of the pages have details on the images from the cards, like this snip of a scene from downtown:

CivicCenter.jpgUntil 1965, City Hall was the tallest building in the City of Los Angeles. Building codes outlawed any occupied structure over 150 feet. This explains the many tall faux facades, spires, and clock towers you will see in the downtown area. The buildings left of City Hall are, from left to right, the State Building, the Old Courthouse right before demolition, the Hall of Records, and the Hall of Justice – the only one still standing, but red-tagged due to the January 94 earthquake.

Decepticons Invade Downtown LA

transformers movie set

This weekend, on my first ever paid photo shoot, I saw a sign warning drivers of “controlled” explosions and gunfire, which drew my attention to 8th and Broadway where a massive crew was filming on the set of the upcoming Transformers movie. Luckily my clients were cool enough to allow me to make a b-line over and take a few photos. I suppose I could include these in my Hassle Project as the crowd wranglers adamantly denied that I had the right to take photos from the public sidewalk, stating that they had “permits” for the whole area. I am sure they did have permits for the section of the block they were shooting on, but I am also sure that those permits didn’t prohibit me from shooting some photos from across the street. If I hadn’t been working I would have spent more time and taken some photos of the explosive action.

Daytime Camping Isn’t the Problem

Last week I heard Chief Bratton on KPCC’s Talk of the City blame the homeless problem in skid row on the ACLU’s fight to stop the LAPD from enforcing the no daytime camping rule. I then read this editorial in the Times that basically espoused the same idea that the city can’t do anything about the homeless problem if they can’t arrest or at least force to move people who are sleeping on the street. The people who are sleeping in tents and cardbaord boxes on skid row aren’t doing it because they want to, it isn’t some fun summer camp out, they don’t have anywhere else to go. It is true that nobody should have to sleep on the sidewalk in a tent or otherwise, but arresting people or forcing them to move on isn’t a solution to the problem. If the LAPD wants to help the displaced masses in skid row, they need to continue to target the predators who take advantage of the homeless, namely the drug dealers. If we want to change skid row into a place where the homeless can get help and turn their lives around it is going to cost money, billions of dollars, and it will be in our hands this fall to decide if we are willing to put our tax dollars towards this noble cause. I for one will be voting in favor of MAV’s billion dollar housing bond.

Ketching Up With Ketchum

One thing that I definitely missed while travelling was my near daily ritual of working out at the Ketchum Downtown Los Angeles YMCA. It’s the best gym that I have ever been a member of.

If you are looking to join a gym, this would be a good one. It’s located in downtown, the facilities are modern and ample, and they have good classes(hatha yoga and muay thai for me…), as well as trainers who will help you create a fitness program that you can track online or at terminals at the gym. Also, there is parking.

I mean, I did not find out about until last year, which is too bad since I have lived in that vicinity for close to seven years.

IAAL/MAF: Seein’ Red

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After last week’s attempt to incorporate the MTA into our Thursday evening rides was a complete flop most of us were quite skeptical when produced this route for last nights ride. Easily our most ambitious to date, the route was over 30 miles with a solid stretch of it aboard the red line from Union Station up to Universal City. I think we all half expected it to fail as well, but as you can see from Will’s photographic proof we actually pulled it off. The main length of the ride was back to downtown via the LA River path that we usually ride in sunlit hours. It’s a whole different thing, especially south of fletcher where the only illumination we have are a few LEDs mounted to handlebars and the glowing of far off industrial and city lighting. Of course the people walking around in the shadows of the river are a little sketchier at that hour as well, but with 9 people in tow that barely crossed our minds. Metblogs co-founder Jason D was in town from SF and took the 19 mile ride with us, the first time he’d been on his bike in almost a year – he pulled it off like a champ. All in all it was an awesome warm up for next week’s Midnight Ridazz, which is facing it’s own growth issues.

Another blackeye for the LAPD?

http://blogging.la/archives/images/2006/07/pershingtapedoff-thumb.jpgSince May 1st, Blogdowtown’s Eric Richardson has been trying to solve the mystery as to why most of Pershing Square has been closed off to the public. In spite of dilligent investigation, he continued to get the run around. (image is of the park’s cordoned off areas)

If you ask Parks & Rec they’ll tell you LAPD put the tape up to combat drug dealing. If you talk to LAPD they’ll tell you that the park asked them to put the tape up. (from Blogdowntown’s “Pershing Square Tape Watch”)

Today, LA Downtown News Online finally brings an answer:

Officials from the Los Angeles Police Department and a private security firm hired by the city said the closure was part of an effort to keep crime out of Pershing Square.

“The reason why we closed it was in response to people’s complaints about crime in the area,” Central Division Police Capt. Andy Smith said. The goal, he added, was to discourage criminals and drug addicts from using the park so that once the tape came off, the area would be cleaner and safer. (full article)

Creative actions to curb crime should be applauded and encouraged. However, it appears that for nearly three months the LAPD deliberately and repeatedly misinformed the public in this effort. Without a doubt, this creates mistrust of our law enforcement and public officials, all in the name of “good intentions”.
Continue reading Another blackeye for the LAPD?