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June 29, 2007

Guerilla history in the hood

There was no Pocho plaque in front of The Echo nightclub this morning, and that fact, which used to be unremarkable, is now significant. At about 10:30, sun bright, I parked in front of the building and looked around, having read a post about a project by the Pocho Research Society of Erased and Invisible History in Chicken Corner's own host, LA Observed (I had received a press release, third-hand, a few days earlier and had been planning to look for plaques, but couldn't get away from the roost, so I missed the moment in at least one locale....) Which is not to say there are no plaques whatsoever -- a sports walk of fame bronze tribute to the golfer Jerry Barber graces the sidewalk in front of The Echo. Other elements of the scene: a prominently displayed security camera and the original -- but painted over -- raised sign that reads Nayarit, the name of the bar and restaurant that preceded The Echo, which is about five or six years old. I called the Echo to see if there had been any Erased History plaque placed in front of its premises recently, and the woman who answered the phone said, indeed, there had been a plaque. Was it removed? I asked sneakily. She said she didn't know. I told her it wasn't there anymore.

The Pocho Research Society is quite serious, despite the prank-like quality of the operation. In their pre-action cummunique (or press release, if you will) they stated, eloquently:

Dedicated to the systematic investigation of space, memory and displacement, the PRS understands history as a battleground of the present, a location where hidden & forgotten selves hijack & disrupt the oppression of our moment.
Within this massive “land grab” [enacted through gentrification] questions like ‘where do drag queens, closeted quebradita dancers and gay cholos go once they been pushed out?’ arise. How and who defines a space? Is a space defined by its present incarnations or does its past ruthlessly resurface like dust in unswept corners?

Good questions. For the complete communication, check the jump.

A bit of discrepancy between press release and some of the coverage, such as that of KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, who rode with a female artist as she affixed plaques. The PR says it's an Echo Park operation. Guzman-Lopez cites Silver Lake.

The Pocho Research Society of Erased and Invisible History Announces: Echoes in the Echo A Series of Public Interventions About Gentrification In and Around Echo Park
What? Clandestine historic plaques placed on sidewalks outside of various hipster bars When? June 24 2007 Where? The Echo, Cha Cha, Bar 107
A group known as the Pocho Research Society (PRS) has installed “unofficial” plaques in public spaces to commemorate formerly queer Latina/o bars in the Echo Park, Silverlake and the Downtown area on June 24, 2007. The group operates in a clandestine fashion. Since the longevity of the plaque at the sites is unknown, visit the following locations ASAP in order to view before they are taken down.
Site Locations: Le Barcito, currently the Cha Cha 2375 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039
Klub Fantasy at the Nayarit aka The Echo 1822 W Sunset Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90026
Womyn Image Makers' Club Fire at the Nayariit currently The Echo 1822 W Sunset Blvd, LA, CA 90026
The Score 107 W. 4th St, Downtown Los Angeles, currently Bar 107
Echoes in the Echo is a series of public interventions that will explore History and memory in and around Echo Park. This phase of the project commemorates a few of many queer Latina/o spaces that were a ‘home’ to many for periods of up to a couple of decades and have since changed ownership and now cater to a new, straighter, younger and whiter clientele. This project takes place while the city, itself, is at a crossroads in its own history. Dramatic increases in real estate prices coupled with commercially driven development projects facilitated by elected officials are two of a multitude of forces that push many working class communities out of the city “core”. Waves of new ‘immigrants’ (albeit from the Midwest) have in the process displaced longstanding cultural spaces created over several decades. Within this massive “land grab” questions like ‘where do drag queens, closeted quebradita dancers and gay cholos go once they been pushed out?’ arise. How and who defines a space? Is a space defined by its present incarnations or does its past ruthlessly resurface like dust in unswept corners?
The PRS is a semi-anonymous collective that investigates Los Angeles history through various modes of public intervention. For this project the PRS collaborated with numerous writers and artists who were patrons and organizers of these spaces. Dedicated to the systematic investigation of space, memory and displacement, the PRS understands history as a battleground of the present, a location where hidden & forgotten selves hijack & disrupt the oppression of our moment.

June 27, 2007

Mysterious ways of the LAUSD/KBLT

This morning, Christine Peters of the Neighborhood Council, Echo Park Historical Society and other local organizations emailed me with some interesting questions regarding the apportioning of pupils in Echo Park elementary schools. She said:

In a conversation with some Teachers at Logan Elementary School, I was told...Logan's enrollment has now dropped to 650 (from 1,300 five years ago). School District high-ups have been sniffing around the "real estate." Apparently half of their classrooms are empty, and they are turning parents away for next year's enrollment. Teachers suspect the district is up to something. Meanwhile over at Elysian Heights Elementary, classrooms are being consolidated (Kindergarten and 1st grade, 4th and 5th, etc.) They are down to 228 students. David Tokofsky (out-going School Board rep), recently met with a parent group (SELPH) to discuss closing Clifford and making it a Charter School. (Tokofsky is a consultant for Green Dot, one of the larger Charter School operators.)

So, Peters asks, is the district is looking to close some neighborhood schools while trying to justify building an 875 student school nearby on Alvarado? And, if so, why?

Don't forget that over 200 people were evicted from their homes so their buildings/houses could be razed to create room for this new school.

And what I'd like to know is why is it okay for a school board member to be a consultant for a different system -- in this case Green Dot? Apparently, Tokofsky abstains from voting on issues related to charter schools. But doesn't that mean that his constituents are left unrepresented as a result, when charter school issues fact the board?

As for the incredible shrinking schools, it's a strange passing Logan Elementary's playground. It used to be packed with little people. But now those little people have been priced out of the neighborhood. Even the ice cream truck on Scott Avenue (on the back side of the school) seems to be gone.


Chicken Corner has learned that KBLT was housed in a fourplex on Sanborn in Silver Lake, with neighbors who complained. Mark Mauer of the LA Weekly -- and a former KBLT DJ -- emailed me that he missed the station. Or maybe it should be called a pirate ship. Or a sandwich shop for the ears.

Ghost radio/German and Mexican Tour

In response to the broadcast tower real estate I described briefly a couple of days ago, self-described radio nerd Scott McAuley googled a bit and found that...

...there aren't any active transmitters at 1050 Montecito Drive now, but it is a backup site for KXOL-FM (96.3) and there is some talk for its temporary use by KFI when their La Mirada tower finally undergoes its upgrade after being hit by a small plane in 2004. More on that...from Garrett Wollman-- these guys are serious!

McAuley also mentions a "very thorough piece by Scott Fybush" on his radio site of the week blog: "Last August's 'Former 1150/96.3 site, Montecito Heights, Los Angeles' tells us all we want to know, and more."

I am not a radio nerd, but I loved Fybush's site. Not least for the information it contained that the silent towers on the hill are now owned by Clear Channel, by default somehow. They own the sky and all the towers, too!

I miss the days (1990s) of KBLT, the Echo Park/Silver Lake pirate radio station out of someone's house, or was it a garage? They didn't have a tower, but eventually KBLT had to duck for cover as the FCC took notice. KBLT moved to the net, but it isn't the same. There's magic in the air.


Echo Park Film Center made a late addition to its calendar with an event that African magic in Germany nerds may love. Tonight at 8.

Straight from Austin, Texas, A German and A Mexican Tour showcases work from filmmakers Katja Straub and Miguel Alvarez. Both love, tell, and collect stories - narrative or documentary - always with an emphasis on visual exploration. Their rather non-traditional shorts range from personal documentary to narrative film, from experimental to cinema verité. Drawing upon their unique cultural roots, Katja and Miguel offer up stories of Bavarian weather candles, inherited music toys in the forest of Latin America, imprisoned African magic in Berlin, and the like. FILMMAKERS IN ATTENDANCE!

June 25, 2007

The last Saturday?/Foursquare country/Dogs in trouble


Photo: Echo Park Lake, June 23, 2007, by Martin Cox

My friend Martin checked in with photos of the lake and some thoughts on the threat of their closing.

Jenny: No happier place on earth! June 23, 2007. Taking advantage of what could be the last boating Saturday, my partner and I took the full hour to tour the lake, it's islands, fountains and vistas this afternoon.
Maria, the lady who takes the money at the Echo Park boat house sadly informed us that it was the end of the line for boating. We told her there was rumour afoot that Councilman Eric Garcetti may have prevented the axe falling completely, that there may be weekend and holiday boating to come. Maria was so delighted she shook our hands and shed a tear. I hope we are correct, the signs about the closure vanished from the front of the boat house yesterday in the middle of the day.
One of the oddest things I heard was a peculiar distinction made that there is no chance the boat house will close, just the boats - what? How is that any kind of solution, what function would the boat house have without the boats, a useful dock to look at where one used to be able to rent boats? Madness. These boat rentals are one of the few wholesome family and fun things to do at the park, and good exercise. Weekends especially are very popular, I live opposite the lake and the squeaking of the boat pedal mechanisms is a constant feature of crowded weekend afternoons.


Sunday barbecue in Montecito Heights at the home of some friends: One of those hidden hamlets in Los Angeles. One of the guests said the scene reminds him of homes in Guanajuato and other hilly places in Mexico: winding, dusty roads lead up steep hills to a cluster of houses, gardens and greenery surrounded by partially open country. It's almost astonishing to see the many acres of undeveloped land -- I think of it as land where there are no buildings, or few -- in the middle of L.A. Our host Josh explained that the open hillsides we faced to the south were the site of the original Ambassador Hotel. The site is now owned by the Foursquare Church, which of course owns the Angelus Temple in Echo Park. The church's property is closed behind chain link. Inside, there are radio towers -- suitably, as the church's superstar historic founder Aimee Semple McPherson was a radio star in her day. I'd love to know which stations use the towers now. KBIG? Suitable, too, as McPherson was something of a rock star. Josh said other parts of the hill were owned by a patchwork of individuals who found it cost prohibitive to build on the sandy hillsides. Local lore has it that Josh and Ceci's house once was the hotel restaurant. Presumably, the church has no plans to build a parking structure on the remote lots.

From the top of the hill, the northern ridgelines of Elysian Park were visible in the afternoon haze. (My almost three-year-old daughter, just back from ten days of intermittent thunderstorms on the east coast, insisted it was going to rain as she refused to believe that haze and clouds are not the same thing.) There's a valley between Echo Park and Montecito Heights, but they're close enough that we have had several friends in the last few years chose Montecito Heights as housing prices rose in EP. So it feels close -- and far away at the same time.


Dogs in trouble: Several months ago, a beloved, elderly neighbor, Mr. Nash (whom I did not personally know), died at his home. He was an animal lover -- guardian to several dogs and cats -- and an orchid cultivator, as well as a Korean War vet, bartender and longtime Echo Park resident. Friends placed some of Mr. Nash's pets in new homes, but there still are two who live on the property. Apparently, a nephew and heir of Mr. Nash wants to get rid of the friendly dogs, ages 10 and 12, who need to live outdoors. Echo Park Animal Alliance is looking for someone in the neighborhood who can give the dogs a home. Lotus

June 22, 2007

DC diary/Dragon boat

Bethesda: There’s a chair in a netherspace in the kitchen where the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal grows. In the pile I came across a Post story about DC’s very young Mayor Fenty taking over the school system here. April Witt’s two-jump feature sketched the history of chaos in the schools administration Fenty plans to fix.

From the second jump:

In the wake of [a report that cried for reform] the school board fired Superintendent Andrew Jenkins. At an extraordinarily emotional board meeting, outraged Jenkins supporters hurled water pitchers, glasses and nameplates. One member, Erika Landberg, who was voting to oust Jenkins, was hit in the head. She needed stitches. The offices of some board members were trashed.

The story goes on to describe personnel records hidden inside of walls, schools that opened three weeks late, chokings, godfathers within the system, a lieutenant general superintendent who said that actual war was easier than working the schools. The point being, that’s how bad it can get when schools are seen as jobs systems and political stepping stones to other elected offices.**

And then, speaking of how bad a black eye can get, yesterday, the Post reported a shooting involving security guards at Walter Reed Army hospital, where services for soldiers are said to be way below subpar. One guard called the other, an Iraq war vet, a retard. Then the insulted party fired at his co-worker ten times. He didn’t hit anyone, but he did hit two cars and a pole. It couldn’t have been relaxing for a soldier with PTSD sitting alone hour after hour in a darkened hospital room (as a different Post story reported this week) and hoping somehow to put the violence of Iraq behind him.

But it's not all nightmare in Washington: right now the city looks magnificent. It's lush and green; there's an abundance of parks. Almost every day, afternoon thunderstorms, then sunshine. In Charlottesville, Virginia, on Tuesday, we saw rain that blew sideways and a weird green sky. Thursday, in Washington, the paddle boats at the Tidal Basin – where the cherry blossoms are all gone now – looked like sleeping mini-whales as the afternoon rain smacked down on them. When I was five or six or seven (or maybe all) I used to fish for sunfish (catch and release) and watch the paddle boats in front of the Jefferson Memorial. I doubt that anyone has ever proposed sinking the paddle boats at the Tidal Basin. It just wouldn't do.


Bring it: Josh Kamensky of Eric Garcetti's office emailed me that Eric has challenged KCRW to a dragon boat race on Echo Park Lake.


(**Patronage up close: For four summers as a kid, I attended a public tennis summer day camp. It was run by an extraordinary person, the late Mrs. Walker (Margaret Peters Walker), a black woman who had broken the color barrier in her youth as a pro tennis player. She ran the camp for something like two decades: she was disciplined and energetic, the camp was popular, a model of race and class diversity that worked beautifully. Kids came from all over the city. Then, the last year I attended, Miss Walker was fired out of the blue and replaced with a much younger woman who came to work and did nothing. The counselors openly called her "Marion Barry’s friend over there in the shade with the Gatorade." Morning assembly stopped. Everything stopped. Half the kids stopped coming. The camp turned into a place to hang out – last time I was there. I couldn't tell more, because I stopped going, too.)

June 21, 2007

Airwaves for watercraft/Gold Room standards

The beleaguered paddle boats will get some KCRW air time today on Warren Olney's Which Way L.A. Eric Garcetti is set to discuss with Warren the beloved watercraft -- a Parks Dept. concession that dates back to the 1890s, when recreational canoes plied the waters of Echo Park Lake. Parks and Wreck (as one friend of mine has decided to call them for the moment) wants to shut the concession -- effective June 30 -- because it isn't "financially sustainable."

A Chicken Corner reader, Ofer Lion, put the question nicely in an email, when he wrote:

I would like to know the rationale behind cutting the service. And please don't tell me it's because the boats don't turn a profit, which is about the most ridiculous reason to shut down a public park service I could ever dream of.

Here, here. (Or is that hear, hear? Or Hear here?)


A few blocks away, on Sunset Boulevard, it's Code Red at the Gold Room, as writer Daniel Hernandez put it. Hernandez, who reports a crush of hipsters on the street in front of the down and out bar, digs his fingernails into his palms and then takes a breath to consider:

Why fault Gold Room for wanting to make an extra buck? Why get all haughty and neighborhood essentialist when, as someone with a blog, I'm as much a part of the problem as the kids that flipped La Cita? Because Gold Room is special. In a gentrifying city, it's stayed real -- real paisas, real skimpily dressed bargirls, and, on most nights, real danger. My four years of regular patronage have got nothing on the real cabrones who guard their watering hole with steely stares and the occasional "rough play," whether threatened or carried out.

Yes, that's the problem with gentrification. It doesn't just stop at the perfect moment. About five years ago, I heard stories of the late singer Elliott Smith passing the time quietly at the Gold Room. Who told me? A hipster. By chance, I suppose, I have never been inside the Gold Room. Looks like I missed my chance.

June 20, 2007

Paddle boats - updated*

Received a pool of responses to the paddle* boat fiasco. Among the emails, Martin Cox wrote:

With the leafless lotus, the threat of a giant parking garage from the same church that cut down the row of mature trees along Park Ave, the loss of affordable housing, the almost invisible green bridge which used to be joyfully red, and now no pedal boats, Echo Park is under siege! I can feel a petition coming on... we should call it "Wreck and parks."

Joe D'Augustine:

Start a petition to save the paddle boats! Echo Park Lake needs to be open to the public! That's where Jack Nicholson took photos of Hollis Mulwray in Chinatown! Start the campaign now!

Chicken Corner couldn't agree more. Water rights for pedal boats!

*Mitch O'Farrell of CD-13 spoke for Eric Garcetti when he said:

The CM [Eric Garcetti] is against shutting down the service. So far we have arranged for it to be open during the Lotus Festival and are working with RAP [Rec and Parks] on keeping the program "afloat" at the least, on weekends. Operations have always been partly subsidized so funding is an issue in the current budget deficit - but worth it to the CM to keep going, especially during summertime.

Metroblogger Will campbell attended an Echo Park Advisory meeting on the matter last night.

Meantime, Chango coffeehouse gets an honorable mention in Tu Cuidad mag's Best of Latino LA issue, June/July.

And Echo Park, California links to a site that shares thoughts by the photographer Gary Leonard, an Echo Park resident.

*Not peddle, not pedal! Not petal...not prattle! (If you happened to catch the misspellings -- now corrected -- in yesterday's Chicken Corner. Oh, Merriam-Webster's 11th Edition, where were you?)

June 19, 2007

Rec and Parks to boats: drop dead

Well, Chicken Corner has been in Washington, DC for almost a week now, but bad news -- or the threat of it -- found its way to "the Corner" nonetheless. A friend of mine emailed that he had seen a cancellation of services notice posted onto the board of the Echo Park Lake Boathouse. For the paddle boats. After a half million dollars -- or more? -- of restoration to the boathouse, LA wants to cancel the paddle boats? One of the most wholesome and picturesque recreations it offers in a city park?

In response to my friend's inquiry, Kabira Stokes of the city wrote:

Rec and Parks made a unilateral decision to cancel the Pedal Boat operations as of July 1, effectively closing the Boathouse this summer. (The operations appear to not be financially sustainable.) We are reviewing this with the Council Member. We will do our best to keep the program from being canceled all together.

Maybe we should drain the lake and turn it into a parking lot.

June 14, 2007

So, a temple, an ICO and EP all go into a corner bar...and who comes out laughing?

They say that showing up is half the battle, but when it comes to our civic defeats and success, it all comes down to parking. People want to gather en masse, but they want to travel alone or in very small numbers to do so. The Dodgers stomped on the neighborhood when they re-opened the Billy Preston gate (though they did take care to put on soft-heeled boots, in the form of a modified plan, traffic-control officers and limited egress) -- squish! And the Foursquare Church wants to do the same except in a more harmful way. The church wants a big parking structure at Angelus Temple to replace housing; and it wants to put the unsightly lot in view of the neighborhood's most significant historic asset: Echo Park Lake. All so that people from other neighborhoods can get to the Angelus Temple and then tear out of the neighborhood with a minimum of fuss for themselves or the church. And what does the neighborhood get out of the deal? An ugly parking structure it doesn't need and the eviction of numerous residents.

Tuesday there was a special neighborhood council meeting in regard to the Angelus Temple's evasion of a recently enacted interim control ordinance (ICO), the purpose of which was to prevent demolition of buildings in what much of the neighborhood hopes will be an expanded historic zone. Such an ICO is one of a very limited number of "tools" that small players have in standing up to big players -- such as the Dodgers or the Foursquare Church. But the church managed to sidestep it.

Mitch O'Farrell of Council President Garcetti's office, emailed me the following in response to some questions I had about whether Garcetti supported the plan for a parking lot and how the church had managed to get around the ICO.

I think it's accurate to say that the Councilmember has always recognized that the church needs more parking BUT [Chicken Corner's hopeful emphasis] has always urged them to work with the community to come up with an acceptable plan. I attended the NC [neighborhood council] Committee meeting the other night. It is clear that the committee and several others in attendance, and the church are on different pages, even after several conversations and presentations. We have been formally asked to convene a design charette and are looking forward to facilitating that. Stay tuned.

Careful response to a tricky situation. Earlier, Mitch had emailed:

The Councilmember actively supports the ICO and extension of the Echo Park HPOZ. I don't believe Angelus Temple has provided a final plan for a parking structure.

In regard to HOW, technically, the ICO was mocked, Mitch forwarded an explanation from Arthi Varma of the planning Department. This is how Varma says the Angelus Temple got an ICO exemption, i.e., permission to destroy two buildings:

The Angelus Temple began the process for pulling permits for the demolitions in December. When they came to me for clearance on the demolitions, I went through a long process of researching whether or not I would have to clear them. I met and spoke with their plan checkers in Building and Safety on several occasions to confirm that they had met the conditions for the ICO Exemption. So, by law, I had to clear their permits for two of the four lots on which they are demolishing structures." I understand it, the Temple applied for the permits sometime between the adoption of the ICO and its actual implementation. Otherwise, I don't see an explanation in this explanation.

June 13, 2007

We hesitate to inform you

So elegant in its simplicity: A card from the DWP arrived in my mailbox, informing me of a "Meeting Cancellation."

Due to new and unresolved information and developments, the Elysian Reservoir Community Worskhop originally scheduled for June 16, 2007 has been postponed until September. A new notice will be sent closer to the future date. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. [End of communication]

Oh, do tell, really!

I do mean really. I want to know. Are there giant squid?

If you're just tuning in, the "workshop" involves plans for the reservoir in Elysian Park. Some want to can it under aluminum, some would like green space above it (count me in that group), some want it stocked with freshwater sharks like Lake Nicaragua.

June 11, 2007

Angelus Temple skirts ICO*

A routine check of city permits has revealed that the City of Los Angeles has granted the Angelus Temple permits to destroy apartment units it owns across the street from Echo Park Lake -- this despite an interim control ordinance (ICO) that was enacted specifically in order to prevent such permits from being issued until the neighborhood of Echo Park has had a chance to make a bid for protection of its historic features.

Christine Peters of the neighborhood council wrote to Arthi Varma of the planning department this morning:

Is our ICO for nothing? Or did the City cut a deal with the Temple? ... Our community plan is a mockery, our ICO worthless. We may as well give it all to Geoff Parmer and be the "new" Little Italy/Machiavelli Parking Towers? Di Medici Lofts? Mussolini Square? Unbelievable. ... My greatest concern is the clear disconnect between City/Neighborhood Council/Community. One of the reasons we pushed so strong for this ICO was the clear threat the Four Square [Angelus Temple] poses on the community, as a large landowner.

So high you can't get over it, so low you can't get under it: the church maybe, not the ICO.

June 8, 2007

East side media: New Angeles Monthly, Arthur and American Apparel

Well, the first copy of New Angeles Monthly landed in my mailbox yesterday afternoon -- that's the mailbox tucked under the hibiscus and white flies, the one that tends to be fed only once a day. New Angeles calls itself "A monthly magazine devoted to the revival of downtown and the 'new' eastside," and its publisher, Charles Gerencser, who says he grew up on the "border of Echo Park and Silver Lake, writes that "The concept for this magazine was born out of my perception that the Eastside [his cap and one word] lacked a meaningful upscale magazine to call its own." I guess that would be a void left unfilled by Gerry Sullivan's socially conscious Garment & Citizen, which covers mostly the same ground, geographically speaking. In an editor's note that runs vertically alonside the publisher's note, Editor Nikki Bazar writes, "We developed this monthly magazine to bring attention to the art and culture of Los Angeles' Eastside."

One question: why are their offices -- at 5209 Wilshire, 90036 -- on the west side? Rents too low down this way?

Nonetheless, the debut issue is solid. Newsy. an article on the Community Redevelopment Agency's plan for a pedestrian-friendly downtown, and a review of the Echo Park vegetarian restaurant Elf, an article on the artists collective Art Dorks. I'll be reading it with interest. One of the society pages of magazine has a picture of Mathew Swenson of American Apparel. Coincidentally, the mag also has a relatively demure American Apparel ad: just a young woman/girl, an Ugly Betty-type of beauty, in a gray t-shirt. Her body looks normal-healthy, what you can see of it, and I say yay for that.

Is it a coicidence that I mention the American Apparel ad in New Angeles? No, it's not. Earlier this week, I had emailed Spencer Windes of American Apparel asking what was up with the billboard at Sunset and Alvarado. Curbed LA recently reported that the company had signed a four-year lease for the space, but for several weeks, the billboard has advertised nothing but itself: advertise here. Spencer got back to me yesterday saying that they stand by their billboard, which has special meaning for the company because it's at the location of their first store. He said there would indeed be a new ad posted, even as early as today. And then, today, I made a point of driving the intersection and there it was, a new American Apparel ad. No kiddie porn this time. Just shorts and legs. Nothing lascivious. I may even buy a pair.


Meanwhile, Arthur Magazine's Jay Babcock tells his online readership that the return publication issue of Arthur will be available -- i.e., in your hands -- in late July. For those who will starve in the meantime without some kind of Arthur meal, he offers the Magpie blog, this most recent post a lengthy co-entry by Thurston Moore and Byron Coley.

June 6, 2007

Lotus woes



Photos: June 2005 and June 2007, by Martin Cox.

Concerning this year's paucity of lotus plants in their usual spoon in Echo Park Lake, Martin Cox, sent the following observations and questions in words and visuals.

Hi Jenny: A walk [a few days ago] made me very concerned about our shriveled lotus bed. By June 18 in 2005 we had a thick,
tall, lush growth [top photo], but a year later it was gappy and late, though it did fill in later... but have you seen how it looks now [lower photo]? It's like having our own glacier melt and vanish right in EP. Are there no botanists, scientists or other learned bodies who can offer explanation or help? Will the festival have an identity if the lotus leave?

He's not alone in worry. Though some are more perplexed than perturbed. Michael O'Brien, for example, said he didn't know the reason for the poor lotus show this year. (Couldn't be the drought -- not for plants that already live in water. Or could it?) Michael said lotus have good years and bad years.

As for the festival, maybe we can have a lotus-come-back song and dance ceremony on opening day. Everyone bring your shower heads (in honor of the plant's seed pods) and dance, and then write to your congressman re: Kyoto Protocols.

June 4, 2007

Elysian notebook/Officers not cops

Big days in Elysian Park. Over the weekend, there were countless birthday parties and picnics. As usual, Spanish was the majority language, but there was French, too, as a group of French chefs gathered and offered treats of food and wine for a cover of $50. The Citizens' Committee to Save Elysian Park had its annual sell-out dinner. They showed off the four finalists for Elysian Park gates -- symbolic gates that never open and never close. There were sacred-mound-type gates, heavy metal gates and nutty twisted fantastical gates. The display was off on the side of the crowded banquet room, which was well-stocked with old-guard lefties like Art Goldberg. ... Not everyone had a happy party in the park, though. One citizen reported on the Echo Park Animal Alliance list that -- earlier in the day -- some hoods with two pitbulls made moves toward letting their dogs attack her smaller, non-power breed dog -- just for sport. ...

This morning, I got back to the western trail in Elysian Park. It's a stripped down landscape this year, as has been well noted. Elderberry trees mostly looking a bit shrivelled. But it still looks better than when the eucalyptus were all sick a few years ago. It's amazing to me that they came back. Anyway, today it was sunny, with dappled light, not too hot, slightly hazy views of the valley to the north, between Echo Park and Cypress Park-Mount Washington as well as downtown to the south, and Elysian Park was glorious.


Officers not cops: A traffic officer named David, who lives in Angelino Heights, contacted me with the following correction:

Please note - the officers assigned to work Dodger games on Scott Avenue are Traffic Officers from LADOT, not cops as noted in your previos blog. Jimmy Price is the Chief of Parking Enforcement at the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. Please don't confuse Traffic Officers with the LAPD in your blog.

Never again.

June 1, 2007

Yes, they're juglans/Dear Howard

Chicken Corner heard yesterday from its Walnut correspondent who provided further infomation on Walnut's walnuts.

Yes, ours are jagluns californica. We have the largest, untouched grove in the state. Wisely, the city keeps them off limits except for one area off of Grand Avenue near Mount San Antonio College. The walnut trees are still visible in Walnut, Diamond Bar, Brea and Chino Hills. The walnuts are usually mixed in with scrub oaks.

Meanwhile, deep in the other heart of the walnut woodlands, it seems all has not been right with the Billy Preston gate situation. Howard Sunkin of the Dodgers received the following "Dear Howard" letter of apology, dated May 30, from Jimmy Price, the chief of the LA parking enforcement and traffic control dept.

Dear Howard. This letter is to address the deployment of Traffic Officers surrounding the neighborhood protection plan on Scott Avenue. lt is our intent to always provide the Constituents of Los Angeles with the best possible service; however, on the weekend of May 25 through May 27, members of my staff failed to communicate which created an undue hardship on the residents of Scott Avenue. We apologize for the inconvenience that the residents had to endure. We have taken the appropriate measures to ensure you that this will not occur again. We value our relationship with the Community and with the Los Angeles Dodgers. We hope to be of continued service to all.

It may have been ugly, but don't blame the Dodgers.

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