Tag Archives: Watts Towers

The Watts Happening Ride Is What’s Happening February 18

The first Watts Happening Ride I organized five years ago was a simple there-and-back to Watts Towers from the Cornfield downtown, spurred on by the lamentable fact that as a native angeleno I had spent my whole life to-date never having been to the true treasure that is the amazing, inspiring and enduring work of Simon Rodia.

In its various editions since (the last one taking place in 2010), the Watts Happening Ride’s destinations have grown well beyond the iconic towers to include a variety of landmarks involving people, places and events in and around South Los Angeles.

The 2012 incarnation of the Watts Happening Ride will be departing from Silver Lake on Saturday, February 18 at 9 a.m., and will include the addition of a couple locations I’ve recently found. So if you’re not heading out of town for the long weekend and have a hankering to get your bike-riding discovery on, I hope you’ll join me.

For the latest info and any updates, the ride’s Facebook page is here.

When: February 18, gathering at 8:30 for a 9 a.m. departure
Start/Finish: Silver Lake’s Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign (northwest corner of Sunset Boulevard & Benton Way)
Distance: 32.95 miles (route map)
Pace: Casual
Terrain: Flat
Weather: In the event of rain that morning, the ride will be canceled and rescheduled to a later date.
Approximate Time: 5-6 hours
Optional Partial Ride: If doing the full route isn’t feasible, consider joining the ride at approximately 9:30 a.m. downtown on Spring Street (anywhere between 2nd & 9th streets) for the roughly 9-mile portion to the Watts Towers. The 103rd Street Blue Line station is near to the towers and can be an alternative to get you back into downtown.
Things You’ll Need (in no particular order): A functioning bicycle; $7 for the half-hour optional tour of Watts Towers; snacks and water for along the way; money for a late lunch at King Taco.

Where The Hell Is Matt? In L.A.! Tuesday!

If you’re not already familiar with Where The Hell Is Matt?, then the next four and a half minutes is my gift to you:


If you are already familiar, you probably didn’t mind watching again.

So, here’s the deal. Matt is making another video, and he’s going to be shooting in L.A. tomorrow! This is your chance to dance with Matt.

Matt will be at Watts Towers at 7:00pm tomorrow. From his email:

“PLACE: In the semi-circle next to Watts Towers
DATE: Tuesday, July 5th
TIME: 7pm

Here’s a Google map of the location:

The photo at the bottom of this email shows exactly where to meet. You
can also view the image here:

When you get to the spot, look for the guy who looks like the guy in
the dancing video. Just come on over, say hello, and ask if I am Matt.
If I’m not Matt, I will let you know.

Before we dance, I will need to get your legal permission to appear in
the video. I’ll shout some legal-sounding stuff on camera and you can
just nod and give me a thumbs up if you’re okay with it. Kids under
18, please bring a parent or guardian, or at least bring a photo of
one of their thumbs to hold up (just kidding, don’t do that).

Wearing distinctive clothing will make it easier to spot yourself in
the video, but please do not dress as a licensed character (Mario,
Spider-Man, Sarah Palin) or I will have to blur you and that will make
everyone think you showed up naked or something. Also, please do not
show up naked.”

There you have it. It’s going to be a ton of fun, so come out and dance with Matt (and me.)

The El Toro Y and Other Things The Simpsons Taught Me

If you were to visit a city, who would you trust to be your tour guide: Lonely Planet or The Simpsons?  Based on the screencap below, my tip money would go to The Simpsons.

This was from last week’s episode: Bart is nominated for an Oscar (Best Animated Short, natch) and the Simpsons go to Hollywood.  Wary of Homer hogging all the credit for the movie on his big night, Bart sends him on a, er, special tour of LA-area landmarks.  The Watts Towers is one of our greatest landmarks that no one visits, and naming the Cerritos Auto Square as a “must-see attraction” is very funny, very cruel joke to would-be tourists — but what struck me the most was that certain locations actually are named!  Take, for example, the El Toro Y: this would be the official name of the freeway clusterfuck where the 5 and 405 merge.  The California Incline is what I always, always miss when I’m trying to get off PCH and back into Santa Monica.  And Chatsworth is, as the local residents helpfully explain to Homer, where “the 118 meets Topanga Canyon, fool.”

Me, I would have added Worthington Ford, Tito’s Tacos, and the WTF that is where Virgil turns into Hillhurst as it meets Hollywood Blvd., Sunset Blvd., and Sunset Dr. Oh, and donuts: despite Homer’s penchant for donuts, none of LA’s donut icons made it onto the list.  Too bad, as a donut crawl definitely would have kept everyone infinitely more entertained than the “Dead. In. The. Water.” ceremony that was Sunday. Actually, doing anything on that list, including the sad atrocity that is The Beverly Connection, would have been far, far more satisfying than watching that ceremony.  Next year around this time, you’ll know where to find me.

LA’s Greatest Landmarks: Watts Towers

Jc Olivera's photo used through Creative Commons

Everybody’s got a dream. A lot of people, they dream about being famous. They come to LA because they believe themselves to be talented enough or beautiful enough or just lucky enough to become a big star or a big star-maker. Most of those people become waiters. Hence, Sunset Boulevard is known as the boulevard of broken dreams and L.A. is home to the most adorable barristas and night auditors you’ll find anywhere on the planet. Some people have more eccentric or offbeat dreams though, and a lot of those people end up here as well (R.I.P. Silver Lake Walking Man).

Kalavinka's photo used through Creative Commons
Simon Rodia was of the latter stripe. He immigrated to the U.S. when he was fifteen, became a construction worker, married and divorced three times, and when he was in his early forties, set about constructing a legacy for one of L.A.’s most maligned neighborhoods. Rodia worked for thirty-three years building a monument of seventeen structures. The towers reach almost 100 feet in the air. The surfaces are jeweled with pottery, broken glass and tiles. And the whole of it was built by hand by one man who “had it in mind to do something big.”

Ask anyone who doesn’t live in the neighborhood what they think of when they think of Watts and they’ll say the Watts riots and the Watts Towers. That’s a legacy, ladies and gentlemen. This from a man who explained his accomplishment thusly, “Why I build it?  I can’t tell you.  Why a man make the pants?  Why a man make the shoes?” Why indeed? Not all of our dreams are broken in L.A.

Despite the city’s boneheaded attempt to raze the towers in the 50s, they live on. You can visit them Wednesday through Sunday (tours Friday through Sunday). I should confess, though, that despite having a great affection for “outsider art” (though I find this phrase a bit classist and annoying) and having lived in L.A. for going on nine years now, I have never been to the Watts Towers. I was all set to go this past Sunday, but in fact, I was stood up for a date. [Look for my Boulevard of Broken Dates post sometime in the near future.] Like Kevin, I had great aspirations for this post, but life happens to all of us.