Category Archives: Los Angeles

Christmas past in Los Angeles

Posadas, 1949
Posadas on Olvera Street, 1949

A couple of days ago, I was going through my reader and found a post on KCET’s SoCal Focus blog about holiday celebrations of yore in Southern California. It’s a pretty neat compilation of photographs and postcards from various digital image archives.

Olvera Street posadas, 1949
Posadas on Olvera Street, 1949

There was one thing that bothered me. It didn’t look diverse. By that I mean, where were all the people of color? We’re in LA and Southern California too!

Pacoima Junior HS, 1963
Pacoima junior high school students, 1963

I don’t think it’s cool to whitewash Southern California history, even if it’s unintentional. Still, it’s pretty easy to find some images that are more representative of the holiday season in LA.

Ella Fiztgerald sings to kids, 1975
Ella Fitzgerald sings to children in South Central, 1975

I did a simple search on UCLA’s photograph archive, Changing Times: Los Angeles in Photographs, 1920-1990 for old school Christmas photos. All photos here come from that archive.

East LA Christmas parade, 1984
Olympic themed float at the East LA Christmas parade, 1984

Street scene along Sunset Blvd in Echo Park, 1988
Festive Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park, 1988

Photo Credit:
Los Angeles Times photographic archive, UCLA Library. Copyright Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.

Used under attribution, non-commercial, share alike Creative Commons license

31, Palms & the neighbors’ kids

My building's 31

I’m cheating a little with this one. The 31 above is on the building I live in. It’s followed by two other numbers. I cut them out. Of course, I would live on the 3100 block of my street.

I’ve been living in the same apartment for nearly 11 years. I moved in two days after I turned 20 with 3 other women. Over the years, they all moved out and I got new roommates. Work, graduate school and the promise of rent control kept me here.

Only a few of my original neighbors remain. In recent years, families with small children have moved in (or had a child). Currently, there are about 8 kids living in the two adjoining buildings. They’re all under 10 years old. The youngest are toddlers, the oldest probably 7 or 8.

The kids have developed a friendship/sometimes rivalry. They play in the driveway right outside my window and drive me nuts with all the noise. They run up and down, ride their bikes and scooters, slam the doors of the laundry rooms, play on the stoop right outside my door, and scream as they play tag. I hear their arguments, whining, crying, occasional scolding from a supervising parent or older sibling. When I have to drive my car out or in, I’m extra cautious, always worrying one will dart out from the stairwell or laundry room. In the summer, their play time goes until after dark.

When I’m most annoyed, I’ve considered leaving a note on the corresponding apartments: THIS ISN’T A PLAYGROUND! Below it, I’d include a map to more appropriate play places such as the playground half a mile away or the high school track/football field around the block. I fantasize about hiding the toys they leave littered on the driveway or even running them over. Oops. I’m passive aggressive, but not that passive aggressive.

To be fair, the kids are usually polite when I interact with them. If I ask them to watch out for cars, they oblige. Only once or twice have they done something I’d consider truly egregious. One kid — ironically my favorite — sprayed me point blank with a water hose. His mom apologized to me and he was punished.

Lately, I’ve been listening to the kids play. It provides some entertainment. One of the younger kids just got a bike with training wheels and it’s interesting to see how the older boys treat him. They talk about movies and cartoons the way I used to with my friends and cousins. Another boy, always breaks in to tears by the end of play session. He often tells on the other kids. Sean calls him a snitch.

My favorite, a chubby four-year old and new bike owner, chatted me up through the window a couple of weeks ago as I made dinner. “We all need to do exercise,” he said. I agreed with him. What’s better exercise than running around and playing with your friends?

31, Venice (CA) & dogs at restaurants

I'll be the first to admit I have strange obsessions

Mondays are always rest days for me. At least that’s how they’re set up on the schedule. If I skip a run or have to rearrange my week, I might have to run on Monday. Not today. I took advantage of my rest day and margarita Monday deals.

Sean and I had dinner at Kay n’ Dave’s in downtown Culver City. They have $3 house margaritas on Mondays. We sat outdoors along the sidewalk since the inside was a little noisy. All was cool until a pair of twenty-something women clad in yoga gear sat at the table beside us. One of the women had a small dog with her on a leash. I was a little annoyed and tweeted my distaste: There should be a no dogs section on restaurant patios. Just because we’re outdoors doesn’t mean I want to eat my dinner next to your dog.

Here’s the thing: I don’t dislike dogs. I really like my family’s dog, VR, but I’m not about to bring him to a restaurant. That’s just… rude.

I’ve never been at a restaurant where someone brings their dog near the tables, so I don’t know what’s the normal protocol. I also didn’t know that Kay n’ Dave’s was dog friendly. The waitress fawned over the dog while the women snapped photos on their iPhones. Later, another waiter brought him a bowl of water. The women ignored the dog’s whines of hunger when their food arrived and gossiped about never giving up a dog for a man (surprise, surprise!). Otherwise, the dog was well-behaved and bothered us less than the womens’ “likes” every third word.

Is bringing a dog to a casual restaurant with outdoor seating normal… for the Westside? Should we have said we were uncomfortable and that one of us is allergic to dogs?

File under: Bad restaurant names

moko

I live a short walk from downtown Culver City. I like this. There’s some good restaurants, a large Trader Joe’s, a weekly farmer’s market, a few movie theaters, a couple of theaters, SportEve (my GU supplier and host of a Tuesday evening running group), an affordable place to get massages (Massage Garage) and a few bars. Soon Metro will open up the Venice/Robertson station for the Expo line and I’ll be able to get to downtown LA by rail. Pretty neat.

When I first moved to Palms in 2000, I hardly ever ventured to Culver City. There wasn’t much to do. But with development and gentrification, it’s attracted my dollars and interest in more recent years. I’m in downtown Culver City about once a week. As my friend Will once said, “gentrification worked for me!” (He’s from Chicago’s Logan Square.)

Anyway, I noticed a new restaurant opened up recently when Sean and I had gone out to see Super 8 (we both liked it). I giggled at the sign the same way I did when I saw “loco moco” listed on a Hawaiian restaurant menu. After friends explained to me that the dish did not include any boogers, I ordered it for the novelty. This may have been how I came to be known as Crazy Booger senior year in college.

I’m not interested in visiting MoKo, which I found out is short for Modern Korean. I get what they’re doing, but I’m still not drawn in. I’ll stick to S&W Country Diner for those weekend mornings when I want an indulgent breakfast.

Cheap dates

Pistolera

Every summer I check out the schedule for my favorite concert series and pick out the shows I’d like to attend. Invariably, I don’t make it to half those shows. I get lazy, and don’t feel like packing snacks, chairs or blankets, driving across town, finding free parking, etc. When I don’t let work or other obligations get in the way, I get out and enjoy some free entertainment and a cheap date.

If you need to save your pennies, but don’t want to stay home, you’re in luck, I’ve compiled a list of [mostly] free concert series at local parks and museums. It’s not exhaustive, so feel free to add others in the comments. Check back in a few weeks, some these schedules are not online yet!

Enjoy!

En La Noche Summer Series
Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach
The En La Noche series features local DJs. It’s free for museum or KCRW members. If not, it’s $10 admission.

Grand Performances
California Plaza, Downtown LA
The GP series features music, dance, film and shows in the evening as well as noon on Fridays.

Hammer Presents
Westwood
The Hammer features the Also I Like to Rock and Jazzpop concert series along with speakers and films. Parking at the museum is $3 after 6 pm.

Latin Sounds by LACMA
Hancock Park
I’ve never checked this out because the series is on Saturday and I’m usually busy those days. Maybe this year I’ll get out to Hancock Park.

Levitt Pavilion, MacArthur Park
The Levitt Pavilion series at MacArthur Park and in Pasadena feature concerts Thursday through Sunday. Each night is a different theme (e.g., family/kids night, roots, Latin). There’s really something for everyone.

Levitt Pavilion, Pasadena
I’ve never been out to Levitt Pavilion in Pasadena. It’s far enough (with traffic) that going on a weeknight can be more trouble than it’s worth. However, I don’t want to miss Girl In A Coma on Thursday (June 30th) and Ximena Sariñana with Carla Morrison (July 21st).

Pershing Square Downtown Stage
Downtown LA
[Edit] The schedule was just posted today. 10,000 Maniacs will headline on July 30th. You can also catch some other throwback bands (Flock of Seagulls!).

Saturdays off the 405
The Getty Museum
Getting to the Getty may be a hassle this summer with construction on the 405. However, entrance at the museum is free as are the shows. You just have to pay for parking. It’s still a cheap date.

Summer Sunset Concerts
UCLA Fowler Museum
For the folks on the Westside!

Sunset Concerts
Skirball Center
The Sunset Concert series features music from around the world. I’ve never been to the Skirball Center despite it’s proximity. The Skirball is right off the 405, so make sure to check construction updates on the I-405 twitter page.

Twilight Dance Series
Santa Monica Pier
The Twilight series schedule isn’t online yet, but they usually have a variety of music each Thursday night. Even if you’re not too interested in the music, an evening on the beach with friends, food and drink (hidden, of course) is still a good time.

Los Angeles seasons

Fire season sucks

Hector Tobar wrote up a guide last week on how to be a true Angeleno. I don’t think there’s a checklist or even a “true” anything. (Yay, postmodernism). Anyway, his list is pretty spot on, especially #8.

8. Don’t ever say: “L.A. doesn’t have any seasons.” Our seasons just don’t look like New England seasons. Instead, we have a season when the jacarandas bloom (right now) and a season when ash falls from the sky. We have a season of gloomy mornings (which isn’t in winter) and a season of Technicolor sunsets. We have a season when Mt. Baldy is covered in snow — and a season when you can’t see Mt. Baldy at all.

It bugs me to no end when I hear “LA doesn’t have seasons” or a “real” winter. Yes we do. Our climate is different than your region. And thus, our seasonal changes are less dramatic.

The first item on Tobar’s list is about fawning over celebrities. It reminded me about our trips to and from Toronto. Early Sunday morning as we waited to board our flight, my friends (1 LA native, 2 transplants) spotted Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez ahead of them at Starbucks. They kept it cool and snapped surreptitious pictures. One of my friends has two young daughters who are big Justin Bieber fans. On the way back, Lucy noticed an actress (whose name we can’t remember) at the gate at Pearson International in Toronto. When Lucy passed her on the way to our seats in the plane, she simply said, “I love your work.” The actress smiled and said thank you. I didn’t say anything when I passed.

As for those seasons, I love June gloom. It’s perfect running weather. On the other hand, fire season sucks.

Survey: is Dodger Stadium safe?

Too many "thugs"?

I’ve been reading a lot about the beating of Bryan Stow after opening day at Dodger Stadium (March 31).

Stow, a 42-year-old Santa Clara paramedic and father of two who traveled to Dodger Stadium on March 31 in Giants regalia. Walking through the parking lot after the game, Stow was accosted by two men, who taunted him, punched him and kicked him as he lay injured. [Source]

His injuries were serious enough to put him in a medically induced coma. He is still in critical condition.

Like many fans, I’m horrified, disgusted and deeply saddened that some pendejos would do this. I pray for Stow’s full recovery and hope such violence never occurs again at Dodger Stadium (or any other sporting event).

Other fans have expressed outrage online or called in to talk radio shows. Many shared their own concerns about going to Dodger Stadium and some brought up the race element before sketches of the suspects were released. The suspects look like your average pelón gang-banger. The comments section of the LA Times were filled with racist and anti-immigrant remarks. I started reading “thug” as a code word for young Latino male. Honestly, I wasn’t surprised by the racism.

However, I am surprised by the number of levelheaded people I know who no longer go to games, worry for their safety and think the atmosphere is not family friendly. My personal experience is much different and I go to lots of games (even if I grumble about how much I hate contributing to the McCourts’ profits).

What do you think? I’ve written a survey about the atmosphere in the stadium, in the parking lot and the surrounding area. Fill it out and share it with others who go to lots of games or just a few every couple of seasons. I hope to share some of the responses next week.

Dodger Stadium atmosphere survey

Edit: The survey is now closed. You can chime in on the responses when I post about the survey results.

Disclaimer: I’m just a fan. I have no affiliation with the Dodger organization, LAPD or city hall. Thus, the survey is focused on experiences and opinions rather than suggestions for improvement.

CicLAvia (on foot)

CicLAvia 2011

For the first time in a few weeks, my weekend running didn’t include a race (running or cheering). That didn’t stop me from making in to an event thanks to the second CicLAvia.

I headed out to Boyle Heights to run the route east to west. The not-a-race event is mainly marketed to cyclists. I don’t own a bike, but that didn’t matter to me. The 7+ mile route of LA streets were closed to automobile traffic and open to cyclists, skateboarders, kids on scooters, pedestrians and runners. I missed the first CicLAvia when I was in New York last October and didn’t want to miss another free opportunity to run car-less LA streets (free!).

I had a lazy morning and didn’t get out to Boyle Heights until 1:30. Sean dropped me off by the Shakey’s at Cesar Chavez and State. He was too bummed about his broken MacBook to join me on foot or his bike so he went home to troubleshoot. From Cesar Chavez and State, I ran South past White Memorial to 4th Street where I joined a swarm cyclists heading west on the 4th Street bridge (traffic was going in both directions).

Since I’d read El Chavo’s post on the first CicLAvia I knew I’d be way outnumbered by cyclists. And I was. I didn’t feel too safe in the street with cyclists weaving in and out (mainly the kids who weren’t really paying attention and don’t know how to drive), taking pictures and texting. Most were riding at a leisurely pace, but occasionally some guy would come speeding by. I stuck to the “gutter lane,” as El Chavo called it, or jumped up on to the sidewalk where I’m accustomed to running. The sidewalks through Little Tokyo and most the Historic Core of Downtown LA were too crowded, so I had to go on the street. I kept the sound on my iPod Shuffle low, but I probably would’ve been safer turning it off.

CicLAvia 2011

The streets weren’t completely shut down to automobile traffic. There were several points along the route where cyclists and pedestrians were required to stop at crossing points for cars. Traffic officers directed motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. It all went pretty smooth. I think we stopped at every intersection through downtown, which was a nice breather. It was a pretty warm day (high 60s and sunny) so the rest helped me get through my first long-ish run since the marathon. I didn’t stop at any of the rest stops at Hollenbeck Park, City Hall, MacArthur Park or the Bicycle District. I did stop for a few minutes when I ran in to Pachuco3000 (above) and bought some lemonade from some kids at a lemonade stand in East Hollywood at the end of the route (below). When I finished I called Sean and we arranged a pickup spot for me a few miles south in Koreatown.

CicLAvia 2011

Even if it was a little lonely for a runner, I’m glad I got out. I did 10 pretty flat miles through areas of LA I never run through and don’t visit often enough. I saw a friend, had some great lemonade and got a nice tan from my racerback tank and capri running pants. Fun times.

All photos by srd515 and used under Creative Commons license.

La lluvia

Sometime in December or January when most of the participants of the PostBourgie Running Challenge were complaining about snowstorms, sub-zero temperatures and icy sidewalks, I was bragging about running in a t-shirt and shorts.

I really shouldn’t have bragged.

I feel like Sunday’s storm was Mother Nature’s cruel joke on Angelenos, especially the runners, who enjoyed (and maybe bragged) about our typical mild winter.

It rained this afternoon. As I left work, I kicked myself for not bringing my umbrella. I ran to catch the bus and had flashbacks to Sunday. ‘This is nothing compared to Sunday,’ I told myself.

It was just a little rain.

Mil palabras: Disney Hall (or, mile 4)

Disney Hall

One of the things I read in the reviews of the 2010 LA Marathon was praise of the “stadium to the sea” course highlighting a landmark every mile. This year’s course differs slightly, but still begins at Dodger Stadium and ends a few blocks from the Santa Monica pier.

I like the “stadium to the sea” theme, mainly because it makes me think of LA having a subway or light rail that would traverse a similar route. I’m less excited about the landmarks, probably because I live here. I don’t think of places like the Troubador or the House of Blues as landmarks. They’re just places I go to see shows, like The Dears last week.

Now, Disney Hall? I consider it a landmark, probably because it’s designed by Frank Gehry, it’s cool to look at and it’s at the top of Bunker Hill with a few other cultural institutions. I don’t look forward to running up Bunker Hill, at all (but I’ve done hills, I’m prepared!).

Some of my favorite landmarks (Hollywood Bowl, UCLA, Griffith Observatory, LACMA and Museum Row) aren’t on the course, but I don’t mind since most of those are in the hills. It also bums me out that the course no longer crosses over the LA River in to the Eastside.

If you want to see where I’ll be spending Sunday morning, check out this neat video by the LA Times stitching together Google Maps street view images for most of the course. I’ve been through the VA Center near UCLA and the Dodger Stadium parking lot plenty of times. No surprises there.

What’s your favorite landmark on the course? What would you add?