Category Archives: Los Angeles

Los Angeles Marathon tips

Inspired by the LA marathon

Early last fall, I harbored hopes of running the Los Angeles Marathon. I knew I’d have to do a lot of work to rebuild my endurance, but it was still on my mind especially as my family mourned tío Johnny’s passing in early November.

Modeling our medals and race blankets at Shoreline Village

I never talked about it with Lori, but I thought it might be nice for Team Mosqueda to run LA in remembrance of our uncle. As kids, we were both awed each time he completed another LA marathon. The memory of tío Johnny running definitely inspired us through our training/races many years later. His triumphant finish line photo was even displayed in his casket during the wake.

A few weeks after tío Johnny passed away, I found out we were expecting and all hopes of long distance running went out the window. Honestly, I was a little bummed but mainly relieved. The thought of getting back in to marathon running shape was making my head and legs hurt.

The only runner that matters to me

At least I have wonderful memories of the LA Marathon. It’s been good to me even if the weather hasn’t cooperated in the past. Part of the reason I went for (and met!) the sub-4 reach goal last year was because I knew that with the wedding and plans to start a family soon after, LA ’12 could be my last marathon training cycle for a year or two.

While, I won’t be running from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica this Sunday, I’ll still be out on the course. I’ll be cheering somewhere in Beverly Hills, Century City or Westwood (where the course comes closest to my home). I have some friends and family running the marathon and want to be out there to cheer for them as well as thousands of other runners. I love making race signs and have already thought up a couple motivating signs for Alexis (brother’s girlfriend), Jorge, Claudia, Marlene and her Students Run LA cohorts from the high school nearby.

I do have some tips from my limited experience on the course. (Past recaps: 2011: Rain!; 2012: the perfect race day; 2012 post-script)

Starting line!

1. Start slow! I know this isn’t easy due to excitement, adrenaline and the downhill start. However, try to reign it in. Remember that this is the easy part. Avoid stressing out and weaving too much around slower runners. Don’t worry, you’ll pass them up at the hills on First Street up to Disney Hall and out of Downtown LA in to Echo Park.

Strategizing

2. Develop a smart pacing strategy. Don’t try to run all the miles at/near the same pace. Instead, plan to run the first 10K at slower than goal pace and speed every 5-6 miles or so until you get to the end. This is a great course to negative split given than the last 4 miles are downhill. I used My Marathon Pace bands which allow you to personalize a plan for the current LA Marathon course. In making my plan, I set it for a slower start, negative split and slower effort on hills. With all this said, be flexible. Bad race days happen, unfortunately.

Chomps... they have electrolytes!

3. Stick to your fueling strategy and get water at all the aid stations. They’ll be crowded on a warm and sunny day so pass up the first few tables and grab water at the end. Don’t forget your sunblock!

Our Signs For Cindy

4. Draw energy from the spectators and check out their signs. The good/funny ones distract from any pain or even boredom on the course. If you elected to have your name printed on your bib, thank those who are cheering for you. Hopefully there’s a great turnout for spectators this year since it’ll be warm and sunny rather than cold and rainy.

Our Signs For Cindy

5. If you’ll have friends cheering for you on the course, think about having them at a place where you know you might struggle. Sean, my sister and parents cheered for me in Beverly Hills around mile 16/17. Seeing them always gave me a boost when I needed it mentally. Also, make sure they know what you’re wearing so they can spot you easier. Avoid wearing the official race shirt because you’ll look like every 10th runner. Last, a bonus of coming up with a detailed pacing plan is that you can give your friends/family pretty accurate times for when you’ll be at a certain point — that is, if you stick to the plan. (ETA: Have your relatives sign up for race day tracking. You can sign up for it yourself and have your splits posted to Twitter or Facebook. Last year it was every 10K and includes an expected finish time based on your pace to that point. It feels kinda awesome to see your friends cheering you on from afar.)

Cindy's Dad Starts Handing Out Coconut Water

6. Thank the volunteers. They’re awesome. Enough said.

Long run collage

7. Enjoy the course and the LA landmarks as you zoom by. It’s rare that you get to stroll down Hollywood Blvd or the Sunset Strip without any cars.

My new favorite t-shirt

8. Load up some LA-centric songs on your iPod. I know it’s cheesy, but Randy Newman’s “I Love LA” is fitting when you’re kicking ass through LA streets. Save your phone battery for when you finish and need to meet up with friends and family in Santa Monica. It’ll be hectic.

okiloveyoubyebye

9. Come up with a mantra that you know will help get you through the tough miles. I like “Sí se puede.”

I hope so!

10. Let the adrenaline take over and give it all you have left on San Vicente in the last 4 miles.

¡Suerte!

Morning becomes offensive

The first present for blackface Christmas — what my play cousins at PostBourgie call the season shortly before Halloween and through Thanksgiving — comes from KCRW’s Instagram account.

Not cool, KCRW

I voiced my disappointment via Twitter and on Instagram.

I checked back a little later to find a flippant response from the person behind the Instagram account.

Not cool, KCRW

Oh right, I should just chill since it’s Halloween. I forgot that makes it okay. Not really.

Earlier this week I receive a mailer asking me to resubscribe to KCRW. Over the past ten years I’ve subscribed on and off as I enjoy the music and news programming. I was likely going to renew my subscription, but now am reconsidering.

I follow KCRW’s social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram. I was extremely disappointed, offended and saddened to see one of my favorite cultural institutions in Los Angeles feature one of it’s deejays (Anne Litt) in a Native American costume during the Masquerade Ball (10/27/12). While I respect an individual’s First Amendment right to wear what he/she wants, I do not support institutions that feature a prominent member in what is the Native American equivalent of blackface. I also do not appreciate the belittling response: “Hey y’all. No disrespect .. It’s Halloween. !!” (Screenshots can be found here: [link] and [link])

Dismissing valid concerns is not a suitable response for a public radio station.

Sincerely,

Cindy Mosqueda

For those not in LA, KCRW is a public radio station based out of Santa Monica College. They carry NPR as well as locally produced programming. Their music programming is highly regarded. I’ve always enjoyed the diversity on Morning Becomes Eclectic, especially when Nic Harcourt was at the helm. Harcourt featured some of the best bands in Latin America even though the primary audience is not Spanish speaking. I first subscribed in 2002 after starting my first full-time job. I subscribe on and off, mainly because I’m lazy about renewing my subscription or funds were tight in grad school.

The Simpsons table-read

There’s many reasons I enjoy my job. Namely, I like working with college students to help them meet their goals. The additional perks are pretty cool. This summer, I got to attend field trips as a chaperone to the Aquarium of the Pacific, Disneyland and California Adventure and a biotech company’s campus. Those were all part of coordinating one of the summer research programs.

After the Simpsons table read

Yesterday’s staff field trip took us to the Fox Studios a few miles away in Century City for a table-read of a Simpsons episode.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been up close with the entertainment industry. It’s hard to avoid it living in LA and attending/working at UCLA. Years ago, I walked in on the filming of an Old School scene. A couple of years before that, I was in a Destiny’s Child video with the UCLA Marching Band. I auditioned for MTV and have been an extra in big audience scenes. And like every other Angeleño, I spot a celebrity every once in a while.

Been watching these guys since the Tracy Ullman show

All those experiences were memorable in their own way, but the table-read stands out. It was surreal hearing the voices behind the characters (Yeardley Smith, Nancy Cartwright, Dan Castellenata, Julie Kavner, Hank Azaria, Pamela Hayden) just a few feet away. I geeked out when Cartwright did Nelson Muntz’s “ha ha!” mocking laugh. Those who know me know I do that at inappropriate times. I had to calm down my inner 9 year old who has been watching since The Tracey Ullman Show days and who was super jealous of all the other kids with Bart Simpson “Eat My Shorts!” and “Ay Caramba!” t-shirts from being overly starstruck.

The show runner, Al Jean, narrated the action and gags yet to be animated while the actors read their parts for writers, producers and several guests. Someone in the office knows a writer, hence the invitation. Sean came along too. The episode itself was quite funny, I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

After the reading, we were informed by a coworker that the actors would sign scripts. A few of the actors rushed out, but a few remained and were gracious enough to sign autographs and take photos. Sean and I got signatures from Azaria, Cartwright (she had the longest line, but it moved quickly), and Hayden. I should’ve told Azaria that I love Bumblebee Man more than Moe. I didn’t get to take a picture with a VIP guest, Jane Krakowski — I love 30 Rock! Jane was busy speaking to others. We checked out the studio store, discussed the next steps for the episode and then returned to work.

I’m glad we got in once last field trip before summer officially ended and the students returned to campus for the fall quarter.

Something wicked this way runs

RIP Mr Bradbury

It’s National Running Day. Last year, I took a rest day to celebrate. This year, I planned my route so it would take me past Ray Bradbury’s home in Cheviot Hills. I didn’t know Mr. Bradbury lived so close to me until LA Observed’s post about his passing. Included of the post is a 2009 picture of Bradbury in front of the Palms-Rancho Park branch of the LA Public Library.

I’m sure I’ve passed the Bradbury home before on a run, but never had an idea that one of the best science fiction writers lived only a mile away.

I considered downloading an audiobook of the first Bradbury novel I read, Dandelion Wine, to listen to on my run. That didn’t seem right. If there’s any writer’s work I should read the old-fashioned way, it should be Ray Bradbury. Instead, I listened to a podcast of my favorite daily news show (The Madeleine Brand show). As I neared the Bradbury home, Brand and her guest, local bookstore owner David Kipen, memorialized Bradbury. They discussed Kipen’s visit to Bradbury’s home in Cheviot Hills. I found that fitting.

Rest in peace, Mr. Bradbury.

Frida on my mind

Glad I caught the In Wonderland show before it ended

A month ago, Sean and I checked out In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States show at LACMA. Despite seeing the banners all over the city featuring Frida Kahlo’s “Autorretrato con Collar de Espinas” (Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird), I waited until a few days before the show closed to check it out. I’m really glad I saw the show.

My older cousin, Bibi, introduced me to Frida’s art when I was in 6th grade. Thanks to Bibi, I knew about Diego Rivera’s philandering ways, the horrible bus accident and the monkeys.

I liked Frida and her art, but didn’t love it like some of my friends. I even prided myself on the fact that I wasn’t that kind of Chicana. I made a banner advertising that fact in my early blogging days. (And yes, I know there’s not one way to be a Chicana.)

Las Dos Fridas

Something stirred in me when I finally saw In Wonderland. Frida Kahlo was just one of about 50 artists featured. Most of her paintings were in in the section on self portraits. Despite being familiar with a couple of the paintings in the show (Las Dos Fridas, Autorretrato Con Collar de Espinas, Frida y Diego wedding portrait from 1931), I still had to stop and look at them for a bit. I stood in front of Las Dos Fridas amazed at the detail. Up close, I found new details I’d never noticed in prints, books or even a tableau vivant Halloween costume. I did the same with the wedding portrait. I’d always just thought of that one as an example of her small stature compared to el elefante, Diego Rivera. But this time I got the chance to read the text and imagine how she felt on her first wedding day.

I had no clue Las Dos Fridas was such a large painting

I went through the show once and then walked back to find a crowd around Las Dos Fridas. I couldn’t blame them for stopping to stare and take it all in.

It may have taken twenty years to find my inner Frida fangirl, but she was there all along. I just needed to see the real thing to realize it.

There was a riot on the streets, tell me where were you?

LA palm trees

I usually get annoyed when one topic takes over news and culture podcasts for the week (e.g., Girls, Sharon van Etten’s latest album, Baratunde Thurston’s book tour). This week I didn’t get annoyed by the excellent coverage of the 20th anniversary of the LA Riots (or Uprising, depending on how you saw the situation) on LA’s traditional and social media. Instead, I haven’t been able to get enough.

I was 11 years old during the Riots and living out in the suburbs 20 miles away from any of the action. I definitely was aware of what was going on. I knew the name Rodney King and had seen the video. Everyone had, but I didn’t know the excessive force used against him by the four LAPD officers was not an isolated incident. I didn’t know about Latasha Harlins and Soon Ja Du. I’d never heard of the Watts Riots of 1965. Nor did I know anything about police* brutality, institutionalized racism in the justice system, redlining, de-industrialization, and a recession that hit the poor and working class communities of LA hard. (*In my mind, the police were there to serve and protect, and warn us about doing drugs with the DARE and SANE programs.)

Like millions of others, I watched the coverage of late April and early May 1992 on the news. I was scared and saddened. I didn’t understand why people were burning buildings in their own community. I don’t remember being worried that the burning and looting would reach East LA where my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins lived. I highly doubted that anything would happen in Hacienda Heights; though something did happen a town over.

Helicopter

I remember talking about the looting with some kids who lived down the street. I don’t remember the boy’s name, but he either bragged about looting or just said he wanted to be out there. I also remember watching Edward James Olmos doing a cleanup (I was a fan at the time). I think my cousin who lived in East LA went out to help.

Since I was a kid, I’ve read more about the Riots and talked to people who were closer to the action and/or remember it differently. I’ve also learned a lot more about the conditions that set the stage for such an uprising in LA. I’m not a clueless 11 year old anymore, naturally. I’ve had not-so-great experiences with police and been at marches/rallies that got sketchy. Luckily, I never took a rubber bullet to the eye or got pepper sprayed. I no longer live in the suburbs, but in an LA neighborhood that might have seen some burning and looting 20 years ago. It’s changed a lot in the 12 years I’ve been here. We even have a light rail line (Expo!).

A lot has changed in LA in 20 years. At the same time, we haven’t come that far, but it feels good to know that there are many in LA who are still working to effect change.

Ed at [view] from a loft has a great roundup of 20th anniversary coverage. More from LA Observed and KCRW and KPCC.

This day in Chicano history: Edward R. Roybal (1916)

February 10, 1916: Edward “Ed” R. Roybal was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico

While Roybal was born in New Mexico, he’s closely linked with mid-century Los Angeles history. His family moved to Boyle Heights in the early 1920s, he graduated from Roosevelt High School (like my mom), attended UCLA (go Bruins!) before going on to a long career in public health, community organizing and politics.

In 1949, Roybal was elected to the LA city council. There were some road bumps.

In 1993, Roybal told The Times that at his first City Council meeting [in 1949], he was introduced as “our new Mexican councilman who also speaks Mexican.”

“My mission was immediately obvious,” he said later. “I’m not Mexican. I am a Mexican American. And I don’t speak a word of Mexican. I speak Spanish.”

It became his role, he said, to educate his fellow public officials about Latinos and to pay special attention to what he felt were the long-neglected needs of his largely Latino constituencies. [Source: LA Times obituary, 2005]

In 1962, Roybal moved on from local politics to the national DC and became the first Latino from California to serve in Congress since 1879 (source). He was later appointed to the Appropriations Committee and became an “influential advocate for federal funding for health, education, community health programs and bilingual education.” [Source]

Some highlights from his long career provided by the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging:

  • Author of the 1968 legislation that established the National Bilingual Education Act to assist schools in meeting the educational needs of children who come from non-English-speaking homes.
  • Played an important role in the passage of legislation outlawing age discrimination and fought for benefits and opportunities for those with disabilities.
  • Responsible for funding America’s first AIDS research and treatment programs
  • Championed the first federal funding for Alzheimer’s Disease and was instrumental in renewing legislation to provide medical service to people with the disease
  • Led the campaign to restore funding for programs for the elderly, including a senior citizens’ public housing program and a community-based alternative to nursing homes
  • Successfully maintained the Meals on Wheels program and protected veterans’ preferences in hiring in 1982
  • Consumer rights defender
  • Co-founder of the House Select Committee on Aging, serving as chairman from 1983-1993
  • One of the first legislators to introduce legislation to establish a national health plan for the United States
  • Founder of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which he served as both president and treasurer
  • Founder of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO)

I noted Congressman Roybal’s passing in 2005 and wrote: “It’s amazing to think that many of the issues he worked on as a Councilman in the 1950s and then as a Congressman, such as police brutality and immigration, are still problematic. For anyone from LA who has studied the history of Chicana/o politicians, there is no way to avoid the impact of Ed Roybal on the growing political power of Latinos.”

Photo of Edward Roybal being sworn in to the LA City Council in 1949 from the Los Angeles Times photographic archive, UCLA Library. Copyright Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.

A bishop and a rookie

My confirmation

Earlier today, I was on the elliptical listening to the Madeleine Brand show via podcast (one of my daily musts) and heard more details about a story I had briefly learned about earlier in the day.

Gabino Zavala an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles had recently resigned:

For more than a decade, Zavala had harbored a dark secret. He is the father, church officials said, of two children, and had resigned his post. [LA Times story].

I knew the name. Zavala was the same priest who confirmed me in 1996 at St John Vianney. Now Zavala is gone. So is the church where I was confirmed.

And my faith? Still there, albeit shaken [hard] and stirred.

Burger Week recap

Some time in the spring, Sean emailed me a list of the best burgers in LA compiled by LAist. Even though Sean wanted to start working through the list, we never got around to it, at least not intentionally. We crossed off The Apple Pan as it was across the street from the theater where we saw Thor.

Earlier this month, LA Weekly posted another best burgers in LA list. Sean nudged me about it. We decided to make a dent in the list this week since we both are on vacation.

Thus, began Burger Week. After the second day, we made a spreadsheet in Google Docs and included any spot on LAist’s 2010 best burger list, 2011 list or LA Weekly’s 2011 list. Yeah, the spreadsheet is nerdy, but it made picking the next spot easier. We based our choices on type (“gourmet” vs “basic”) and location. Most of the high end burger spots are located on the Westside so we didn’t ever travel more than 6 miles.

MONDAY

Father's Office burger

Father’s Office Burger @ Father’s Office
Los Angeles (near Culver City)

FO is a familiar spot. It’s less than a mile away, but I don’t go very often as I’m not much of a drinker and it’s pricey for a burger. Still, after a few visits over the last few years, it’s easy to see why the FO burger is consistently listed as one of the best burgers in LA.

Father's Office sweet potato fries

In short, it’s delicious. We both had the Father’s Office burger: Kobe beef, Gruyere, caramelized onions, applewood bacon compote, maytag blue cheese and arugula on a roll. I love the combination of Gruyere, arugula and caramelized onions. We passed on the shoestring fries (they’re good) and split a basket of sweet potato fries with garlic aioli on the side for dipping. The burger is great, but the sweet potato fries with garlic aioli are my favorite menu item. Since FO is a gastropub known for a wide beer selection, we paired our burgers with Unibroue Fin du Monde.

Heads up:
It’s not cheap, but you get what you pay for. The burger can easily feed two people with smaller appetites. FO does not do substitutions and does not have ketchup in house. This has never bugged me. The LA location gets very crowded at peak hours and you might have to stand around waiting for a table or spot at the bar to open up before ordering food. Be patient.

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