Friday, September 14, 2007


LA: My Emerald City
"Ha-ha-ha-ha. Poppies. Poppies. Poppies will put them to sleep. Sle-ee-p. Now they'll sle-ee-p." Wizard of Oz
I love the downtown LA skyline, especially on a cold night, where the green lights of the towers glow through the fog.

On sharing this sentiment with my father he had this to say "what skyline?"

I suppose ours does pale in comparison to Manhattan (or even Chicago's). Perhaps instead of skyline our downtown would better be described as a... "cluster".

The very same father took this snap of downtown from the Cornfields (all the corn gone now).

Oh if only they had planted poppies instead of corn it would have been perfect!

What if would-be actresses had to skip through the poppy field to get to Hollywood? Would they all take a long nap? Would the world be a better place?

Want to read a more in-depth exploration of the history behind LA's cornfields, check out the post in Lofty Thoughts.

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Monday, August 13, 2007


The Mayor (and Maybe Arnold)

One thing about Mayor Villaraigosa, when there is an event, he is there. In contrast to the Governator, who is “probably going to be there”. So much so that I caught myself saying “The Mayor is going to be there, and maybe Arnold” on more than one occasion.

My boyfriend and I share a joke with endless manifestations; a joke that always has the same punch line: Antonio is everywhere. We speculate he has a doppelganger, maybe even several. Some wryly modify the joke from “everywhere” to “everywhere there is a camera”.

You have to figure it is tough to get from event to event (across town from an event that ends at noon, to an event that begins at one. He once had some bad press about taking a Helicopter to get across town on time. So when I snapped this shot (at a Park opening), I knew he was stressing to beat the next deadline.

Of course, one would expect to see the Mayor in the City he runs; at events, responding to issues, on the news, etc. etc. But there is something about our Mayor that goes way beyond expectation. He is one busy man. Among other things, he says he takes public transportation to every monthly City Council meeting; he holds a “town-hall” style meeting weekly on the local news; he throws the first ball at the Dodger’s games…You get the idea.

But every time I open a program and see his smiling face, something just tickles my funny bone. Still, I left it an open question, maybe a series of coincidences that my friend and I just saw his face SO often.

That was…until...a flipped on the morning news on Yom Kippur and there he was, in a Kipah! At Shul! I shook my head,

Sunday, February 25, 2007


taking a drive through town

How LA defies description, every street I turn down reveals another world. I still lose my breath occasionally, sometimes at the beauty, sometimes at the devastation and chaos, and sometimes at the unintentional wit. There is always something.

One thing I've had to come to grips with: I do not define the city, the city defines me.

The fact that I drive back and forth between Hollywood and my neck of the woods (Lincoln Heights), is a reflection on the town. Some sort of oceanic gravitational field pulls me in, and then spits me out.

Some nights I see ghosts as I drive into the darkness. Some nights, leaving the neon behind, I see the night closing in on me under the crushing reality of economic class.

But this night, (once again heading for Lincoln Heights from Hollywood via Hancock Park), I am struck by the universal sense of humor of our town.

My last glimpse of Hollywood is the decrepit piano store "Stein on Vine" (still hanging on in the run-down area where Vine literally fades away as it transforms into Rossmore).

At Larchmont the grimy Hollywood ends, the streets seem to take a breath and expand.
A row of apartments guard the perimeter of the prestigious Hancock Park area. There the 1930's art deco apartment the Mauretania, winks at me. The Mauretania...JFK's former piedeterre and alleged love nest where Marilyn and he might tryst.

Just a few blocks west sits a large Hasidic community, with Shuls on every corner. There are Persian Shuls, Russian Shuls and the “classic” eastern European variety. But could LA ever be content to allow this phenomena to occur without adding a touch of irony? On the corner stands a Honeybaked Ham store (do you think they offer a Kosher one?)

Leaving the Hasidic world and heading down La Brea, I check in on my favorite combination breakfast joint and flower store “Rita Flora”, which features the appropriately named “well stacked pancakes”.

But I digress...back to Hancock park. The wide avenues are bordered by trees that form an arch of green. The trees are punctuated by the occasional majestic African palm. As I travel further, leaving the homes of the affluent behind... the trees thin, their tops no longer touching, and finally grow increasingly sickly. The needles on the pines grow brown and the trees themselves come further and further apart until you are suddenly dumped into Koreatown. There the grim skyline of downtown L.A. appears in the distance.

These streets can no longer be aided by a tree or two, they give a fresh meaning to what used to be called the mean streets. Mean, but somehow intoxicating. Here mingle Mexican Panaderias (bakeries), Salvadorian Pupuserias (places that sell “pupusas”), Korean Barbecue, tiny mercados (markets) and Vietnamese Boba shops.

Here I sail through the outskirts of Echo Park, over the river to Lincoln Heights. My roller coaster ride through town comes to a jolting stop. The adrenaline fades, I am home.

Want another taste of Art Deco LA? Join the Art Deco Society!

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Saturday, February 24, 2007


She is No Shrinking Violet: Cats at Gelsons

As I open up to the world, the world never fails to reveal itself to me.

I was in a hurry this morning, the day before Christmas Eve. I hit Gelsons in Silver Lake at 8:30 am, strategically grabbing all the hard to find items, grabbing the latte and rye bagel and zipping happily across the parking lot with my shopping cart full of groceries....when there, across the parking lot I saw a van with a cat happily snoozing inside.

I saw the cats owner was behind the wheel sipping a cup of coffee, so there was no need for concern. But something compelled me to leave my cart by my car, and walk over to them. I walked over to the van slowly, so as to announce my presence. As I got closer I saw the woman was very old, with sun wrinkled skin around blue eyes.

She rolled down the window and we began to chat. I told her how incredible it was to see cats so relaxed and comfortable in a car. "I wish my cats could be so mellow in a car" I said. "I live in the van she said, so they are at home" she told me. "It took a long time for them to get used to it, but now they have."

I saw that there were two cats, and then I saw a third step out. "How many cats do you have?" I asked. "Nine" she replied. "Nine" I repeated. I introduced myself. Her name was Vi (rhymes with eye). "As in Violet?" I asked. "Nooooooo" Vi said, wincing and shaking her finger at me. "I've spent my whole life trying to get away from that name".

Then Vi told me a story. She had been an artist in the past, and used her skills to alter her birth certificate, carefully whiting out letters, so that Violet became just "Vi". When it was time to renew her drivers license, she feigned loosing her old license and instead brought the birth certificate. She told me she had to keep her hands in her pockets because she was so nervous she was shaking. The man eyed her birth certificate, and she could see he saw the alteration. "Oh come on, please, it's important to me" she told him. And the man understood and said "well, alright then". Thus Vi's license now shows her chosen name. "It's like the bible you know" she told me. "Nobody argues with what's on your drivers license".

We talked some more about cats. She's been feeding and catching feral cats for years. She spays and neuters and then releases them or finds them homes. The vets clip one of the cats ears when they are neutered and that way the animal control folks know which cats are okay to be left in the wild. She has one pair of spayed twins, and the vet clipped one on the right ear and one on the left, so that she'd know which twin was which.

Finally I realized that my frozen food wouldn't remain frozen for long and I had to say good bye to Vi. "Merry Christmas Pam", she called. "Merry Christmas Vi."

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