Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
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from Echo Park

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Community Jam/Eric in the Navy

My fellow neighborhood blogger at Echo Park, California reports that Eric Garcetti is spending his vacation in the Navy -- in naval intelligence training. While Eric says hes doing it in part because he might want to run for Congress and this is supposed to be good prep (thats how he explained the odd interpretation of R&R to the LA TImes), I wonder if he has other motives. It occurs to me that the historic Boathouse is being restored, lots of money going into that project (thanks in large part to Xavier Becerra). And suddenly I have to ask myself if our councilman envisions himself Captain of Echo Park Lake, requisitioning an outboard dragon boat and keeping order among the paddleboaters. At the very least, I have to ask if he plans to return to office with a tattoo. Only Eric knows for sure. Disclaimer: this was previously reported in Los Angeles magazine by LA Observed's Kevin Roderick.

The following just in from Machine Project:

Dear Friends,

Sunday August 20th from 12 - 3pm The Fallen Fruit collective will conduct a Public Jam at Machine, in which they collaborate with the citizens of Los Angeles in a communal jam-making session. We ask that you bring along any of your home-grown or public fruit (see and any clean, empty glass jars you have. At the end everyone will leave with a jar of communal jam. If enough people bring surplus, even the empty handed will leave with jam. Vats of fun for all!

The kinds of jam we make will improvise on the fruit that people provide. The fruit can be fresh or frozen. Fallen fruit will bring public fruit. We are looking for radical and experimental jams as well, like basil gauva or lemon pepper jelly. Well discuss the basics of jam and jelly making, pectin and bindings, as well as the communal power of shared fruit and the liberation of public fruit.



ps. our friend Michael O Malley will be baking some bread for on-site toast...

Machine Project occupies the storefront on Alvarado (between Reservoir and Sunset) between the Downbeat Cafe (which is one of the best places in the world) and Echo Park Film Center. Last time I peeked into the doorway I saw a table lined with 6-or-8-of-a-kind devices that looked like a cross between a hole punching machine, a telephone and a microphone. On the whiteboard were technical looking diagrams and notes. Snaking along the walls and then across the ceiling was a clear plastic pneumatic (I assume) tube that led to a clear basin inside of which was U.S. paper currency. Last week the table inside had a sewing machine on it.

So I check for clues as to what the Machine may be up to. Then I lead my daughter, Madeleine, into the Downbeat Cafe. The Downbeat is managed by a visual artist named Dakota Bertrand, who has also worked as an apprentice baker at La Brea Bakery. Dakota sometimes bakes tiny cookies for toddlers who come in the morning. Off the menu of course. I have a weakness for comparison and ranking (lazy and unreliable shortcuts to useful observation) and so, in comparing the Downbeat to Chango, Echo Park's other signature hangout, I note broadly that the Downbeat seems to be the away-from-home office for visual artists and dancers whereas Chango attracts musicians and style mavens. So how do I explain that I frequent both, unless it's to note that I belong to neither category? Writers seem to favor both places.

At the Downbeat, my daughter and I have a date to meet our friend Angela and her 11-month-old daughter, Willoughby, who live across the street from us. We see each other at least twice a day if only in passing but still make plans to get together on the other side of the neighborhood. Today Angela, a film editor by trade, brings with her a children's book that she has rewritten by cutting out images in the book and re-taping them on different pages, improving the content by over 100 percent. The book was titled "Whose Baby Am I?" and showed pictures of various animals and their babies who looked exactly like the mothers. Angela leaves the book at the cafe, among the other (mostly adult) books that patrons drop off from time to time. Blues and swing plays over the speakers. Madeleine and I share a baguette with butter. And then it's time to roll down to the Lake to see what the lotus are up to on hazy August morning.

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