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September 30, 2007

Chuck Chuck?

I don't know. Haven't seen it. But learned from a fellow Echo Parker that the NBC series is set in Echo Park.

Laura says:

Hey Jenny, Just wanted to let you know (if you didn't already) that NBC's new show Chuck is set in our fine neighborhood. In the pilot you can see Taix as the main characters are walking down Sunset, and then a fun chase scene occurs right outside The Echo. I can't decide if this is a good or bad thing for the neighborhood, but it's always fun to see your local haunts on national TV!

Actually, the news put my proprietary hackles straight up on end. I'm not above feeling something has been stolen from me -- though I have complained about people who get upset when someone writes about/represents something they think they know and own. It works both ways I guess. And, of course, we don't want to be like those towns in Utah where the blue highway signs all read, "No services" -- Utah for "stay away." In the meantime, Chuck's getting decent reviews.

New York Times:

By the end of the first episode [nerdy] Chuck has stumbled on the most top secret of secrets in the national intelligence community, gone on a date with a gorgeous blond spy and defused a bomb by sending it a computer virus attached to the Web site of a Serbian porn star. The series is part spy spoof, part workplace comedy, and it is a genuinely engaging homage to the nerd hero.

So...chuck watch Chuck? And J-Lo? What happened to her Echo Park series?

September 29, 2007

Worst case obelisk

Despite assurances by council president Eric Garcetti's office that the monument to silent films on Glendale Boulevard would be protected, the obelisk has been trashed in succesive attacks over the last couple of weeks -- tagged and gouged. Joe D'Augustine wrote me yesterday that holes had been knocked into the side of the cement as if a bulldozer had hit it. I drove by it today and, yes, you could see clear through to the other side in a couple of places. The plaque identifying the structure as a monument to Mack Sennett is gone. Chicken wire shows through the hollow core. And Chicken Corner had worried about it being crated too long.

September 28, 2007


This strange item from the New York Post's Page 6 just forwarded to Chicken Corner: H'wood's Cannibals, Coyotes. In its entirety:

ARTIST and filmmaker James Tully witnessed a grisly scene last week in L.A., where he was pitching his screenplay "Prey," about Daniel Rakowitz, who killed a woman, turned her into soup and served her to homeless beggars in Tompkins Square Park. Tully, who wants his friend Crispin Glover to star, told us. "One night at around 2 a.m., I was hanging at Echo Park with my producer, Brian Butler. As we were discussing the gruesome details of the Rakowitz soup-cannibalism incident, a really cute blond coyote came bounding down the lawn and snatched a duck from the lake where the paddle boats are docked. The coyote then climbed back up, duck in mouth. The park was totally silent except for the crickets. Brian started laughing, saying he had 'conjured' the incident! My flight back to New York rescued me from the weird delirium on the West Coast. The next day on the Internet, I read that the L.A. County sheriff estimates the thriving L.A. coyote population has swelled to over 10,000. They subsist on rats and house cats."

Office hours: Hollywood runs late in Echo Park. Not sure what a duck meal for a coyote has to do with human cannibalism, but I do remember the Rakowitz story. Yuck.

Speaking of the ducks at Echo Park Lake, they don't seem to be having a good week. Yesterday Richard Cromelin sent me the following:

fyi, just down at the park, 2 ducks looked as if they'd run into an oil slick. on the shore by the lotus bed, about 5:30. People were looking at them, but didnt know what to do.
Burn it

Unanimous. That flag should burn, or go underground.

A reader named Larry Kaplan wrote:

Dear Ms. Burman, According to flag etiquette, a flag should be burned or buried, but not thrown in the trash, so you are right on there. As for the black bin vs the blue one---cloth is not considered recyclable under L.A.’s trash collection program.

My neighbor Rochelle Winters wrote:

I think you are being used as a shill! I know that the flag code recommends that old flags be burned in a special ceremony. It might even be against the law to trash a flag.

Then there's the Cub Scouts. David Coffin of Cub Scout Pack 769 knows what to do:

Actually Jenny, it's better to torch than toss. When done correctly it's a very formal memorial service. If you still have the flag our cub scout pack will give it a closure.

Well, I had already dumped a coconut half full of juice on top of the flag -- miraculously, it hadn't spilled -- and more garbage, but after receiving David's email I went out and dragged the smelly shredded thing out of the garbage. It may be the first real flag I have ever touched. I don't care much about flags. But this one has moved indoors, for a couple of days at least.

Meanwhile, Martin Cox, paddle boat activist and Chicken Corner's waterfowl correspondent/paparazzo had a suggestion. He says:

I had a flag bin experience too, but it was on a ship, I still have the flag. We could have an exhibition of binned flags.

Capital idea! Says Chicken Corner. If it hasn't burned first.

September 26, 2007

I pledge allegiance to the bin

Stranger things have happened. But...I put out my three bins last night for Wednesday morning collection. The black one was duly emptied. When I went to roll the container back to its spot on the driveway I saw that there was one item inside it -- an American flag. A tattered and dirty flag, but a "real" one made of heavy canvas-like cloth with sturdy rings around the holes to make sure it flew proud in the stiff winds we get around here. Now, why would someone throw an American flag into my garbage bin? (And why not the blue bin?) Were they afraid to put it into their own? Did they think throwing the flag into my bin was better than burning it? (I'll answer my own question there. Yes, in this climate, even after a rain, it's better to toss than torch.) Could they have not waited till next Tuesday? Could they have not thrown it away last night? Are they going to buy a newer, brighter flag because this one no longer serves? Or have they renounced their allegiance to the flag and become sovereign citizens of the planet as did my mechanic? So many questions laying at the bottom of that homely black bin for the next six days. So many questions.

September 25, 2007

Another 9 holes for 9A

Well, thanks to the grace of our judicial system, the little guys have another shot at redirecting the LAUSD in its misdirected attempt to raze 50 houses and build a school in the wrong place. Of course it costs money to show up as anything but a penniless defendant in our courts, and the Right Site Coalition is trying to raise some (and have fun at the same time). Hence the libations for Litigation party fund-raiser, which will take place tomorrow evening in...Glendale. Sometimes you have to leave the neighborhood to save the neighborhood -- 15% of proceeds will benefit the Right Cite Coalition.

Damon's Steakhouse
317 N. Brand
6-9 pm

(Interested party disclosure: I am affiliated with the Right Site Coalition through the Echo Park Historical Society.)

September 20, 2007

High and low, EP style

Gridskipper, urban travel arm of the Gawker empire, turns a restaurant blogger loose on Echo Park, and here are the results: Eight eateries (none of them on wheels) are deemed worth a graph or so's attention.

'Skipper says:

Darling, darling Echo Park. Such a confused neighborhood. Currently one of LA's most gentrifying-est areas, the restaurants here echo the schizophrenia of the place. Cheap places for burgers and burritos still remain (thank goodness), but some new arrivals aim to charge more than $10 for dinner. Strange but intriguing, we say.

Condescension aside, "schizophrenia of the place?" As if being more than one thing at once, (i.e.,offering more than one price-range of food to all the people all the time) were a sign of mental illness on a neighborhood scale? Strange but intriguing to see the Gridskipper mind at work.

'Skippy's right though about Elf -- it's good. And right about Burrito King: It's good, too. Haven't tried 15 (EP's new snazzy-looking place) yet, so no comment. And, of course, we love Pizza Buona and Masa.

Obelisk tagged

It's easier to see now -- orange-multicolored instead of cement gray against the earthtone background of freshly graded dirt. Louise Steinman emailed that the obelisk honoring Mack Sennett and the earliest movie studios had been tagged, and I drove down to Glendale Boulevard, where the 2 freeway empties into southbound lanes of the street/highway. And, yes, there it was, the monument to silent films, screaming orange, defaced. The obelisk is surrounded by old chipped bricks, a piece of cement stairs to somewhere, the steps painted fading pink, an upended, huge sycamore tree with broken roots in the air, an "emergency exit" door panel laying on its side in the dirt. The irony is that in the background, along walls that are newly visible, is some worthy "graffiti" -- wall art that I wish could be preserved but in all likelihood will be destroyed before the planned condo development opens for business. ... Meanwhile, the obelisk is supposed to move down the street to a new site. But my guess is that it'll go into a box first. Let's hope it's not another Lady of the Lake, crated for decades...or longer...until a passionate individual happens to know about it and push for its release.

Dovetonsils... the correct spelling, I have been informed by a reader who is better acquainted with Ernie Kovacs. Percy...your forgiveness, please. ... And... Here: For more Dovetonsils.

September 19, 2007

EP diary

Fluttered back from a Washington DC visit Tuesday. Enough light left in the day to see, as we passed Echo Park Lake, that the paddle boats are still parked on the water there, even though the concession is, for now, canceled. Then, following drop-off: Enough light left in the day to walk Rosie the dog in Elysian Park, with my daughter Madeleine, who was ready for a walk, too, after hours on a plane. On the way to the park we passed the ruins on upper Ewing of a house that burned down decades ago, aka the graffiti pit. Sometimes there's nothing lovelier than a scene of destruction after it's had time to settle, providing the disaster was not your own. There were four boys standing amid the 3-D graffiti – the stone floors and walls being covered – the oldest of them looked about 14.

One of the boys called out to me that they were painting the graffiti. “Excuse me?” He held up a paint roller covered in white. He asked if I knew the owner of the property. I said I was peripherally acquainted with the owner, but didn’t know him. “Do you think he’d mind?” the boy wanted to know. What would he mind? “We’re painting these walls. This one and that one over there.” I said I didn’t know, but that he probably wouldn’t mind white paint…just a guess. I’ve written about this property before. My neighbor Joe D’Augustine has done some research into why it’s been sitting there, undeveloped, on one of the most desired streets (Park Drive) in Echo Park. Coincidentally, Joe posted his own blog entry about Vincent Price just a couple of days ago, and his post included details about this property. According to Joe, the sculptor who owned the now-gone house – and who died there in a kiln explosion – fabricated some works for Price.

We left the boys to their whitewash and joined the dog walkers, talkers and joggers in the park. Made our way to the horses near the water tank and there made the acquaintance of Percy Dove Tonsils, a rooster. But not just any. Percy, I had learned on the Echo Park Animal Alliance list, had been dumped on Park Drive in a box. He’s handsome, silvery gold with black accents. Nice comb. Very friendly and curious. He’s living in the rabbit pen at the Atwater property now, right next to the horses. At least for the time being. He can get out of the uncovered pen, but doesn’t seem to want to, having spent the last several days there in relative security. I say relative security because there’s been an explosion of coyote sightings in the area – there’s even a spiffy new warning sign at the top of the Baxter Steps. But maybe the coyotes won’t go near the horses. Maybe Percy Dove Tonsils knows that. You’d have to ask him.

Walking back, it was tranquil, nice sun-setting light. No one mentioning the three shootings on the other side of Echo Park in recent days, no one thinking to mention that the old avocado trees in front of the Headstart facility (on EP Ave.) – which were spared when the site was cleared a few weeks ago – were ripped out after all. My guess is one of them may have dated from the time of the avocado grove around Duane and Ewing near Echo Park Ave. But it’s just a guess. If it was one of the originals, it was past its expiration date. But tell that to the harsh new view.

September 17, 2007

Arthur in print

Arthur Magazine is back on paper. A communication from the editor(s) states:

We made it back from the wilderness. Thanks for your patience and support. Hard copies of the new, all-color issue of Arthur rag are available while supplies last at over 800 locations around North America and a few lucky spots in the UK. Single-issue and subscription orders are available at

I hope they're not all snapped up at Chango before Chicken Corner can get back to Chicken Corner to watch the patrons getting smarter and happier with each inch of type and ounce of muddy coffee.

September 13, 2007

9A reversals of fortune

I thought it probably was all over, but yesterday a court handed down writ of supersedeas (or is that a writ of superserious) turning things around -- once again -- for 9A.

(Long story if you're not already familiar: there are better, feasible sites for the elementary school the LAUSD wants to build, but the district has refused to consider them because it's easier to go with the going plan than reconsider. The impact reviews they have conducted so far -- when forced by the court -- have been sloppy, a joke, really.)

According to one member of the Right Site Coalition,* which has been fighting to preserve the 50+ houses the LAUSD hopes to raze, the group is pleased by the writ but isn't sure exactly what it is or what it means beyond that the appellate court can now take its time examining an appeal to overrule a judge's previous negative (to the Right Site) ruling.

Chicken Corner wanted to know: supersedeas? and took a quick Google stroll, finding that, in an entry about peerages and monarchy, Wikipedia (which is so often wrong) uses the term this way:

The writ of supersedeas has not been used in recent times; in the words of the late Lord Williams of Mostyn, "it certainly has not been translated into modern English". If the writ of supersedeas is not issued, and the recipient of the writ does take his seat in the House of Lords, the creation of the peerage cannot be reversed. It is, however, extremely doubtful whether any new peerages could be created in this manner since the adoption of the House of Lords Act 1999.

Okay, so that's not an answer, Wikipedia. Maybe I should try ... So..which way, 9A? At this point, nothing would surprise me.

*(Interested party disclosure: I am affiliated with the Right Site Coalition through the Echo Park Historical Society.)

September 11, 2007

Six Toes and a Tail Show...

...well, Chicken Corner likes that idea -- as well as Echo Curio Gallery's explanation of its most recent exhibition, now on walls on Sunset Blvd.

The curio cabinet with magical pieces of imagination. The shockingest, strangest monstrosities of nature. The tenderest, fragilest demonstrations of mystery. A tall tale of wonder and prismatic majesty and bound with the hair of a two headed goat. A deal with the devil with stolen pen… all basking in the glow of the Curio.

The email press release names 26 artists and promises that there are "many" more. They're having fun, and you know what they say about fun....

More obelisk

Josh Kamensky at Eric Garcetti's office says it's no accident the Edendale Silent Film obelisk is still standing.

Josh writes:

The developer of the condo site is working with Hollywood Heritage to move the obelisk to an easement [near] the Public Storage facility [a little farther south down Glendale Blvd.] -- which, it turns out, is nearer to the site of the old Mack Sennett studios than the obelisk's original location.

As of 9:45 a.m. PST the obelisk marking the old silent movie studios on Glendale Blvd. (at the 2 freeway entrance) was reported to be standing. According to RJ, at the demolition site there's:

A mound of red bricks, a tree toppled over on its side, big ripped out pieces of brick and concrete walls half up -- but the obelisk, at least for the moment, is still standing there like the last soldier standing on this neutered landscape. Hope somebody is watching out for it -- it's hard to say whether the demolitionists are taking care of it (no wall around the thing) or just that it's off to the periphery of their work.

Chicken Corner hopes the destruction crews left the marker standing on purpose.

Condo corridor?*

Joe D'Augustine took note today of a new ripped away space in EP -- the old industrial buildings at the base of the funnel that dumps southbound cars off of the 2 freeway and into the neighborhood. This is one empty hole Chicken Corner has not had the occasion to see first hand.

Joe writes:

The big complex of industrial buildings at the top of Glendale Blvd. across from the entrance to the 2 freeway has been demolished. It was a printing company. ... It's also was where the Edendale Silent Film obelisk was standing. I didn't see [the obelisk] when I drove by. I hope it didn't get destroyed. ... The neighborhood is changing.

Yeah, they're going to shoehorn condos in there. And there are more planned on the same side of the street, a little farther south, where the somewhat more sensitive plan is to convert the old buildings to condo instead of clearing space for them.

In addition to directing and editing films and spotting the heartbreaking transitional spaces of EP, Joe D'Augustine has an inspired film blog, Film Forno.

September 10, 2007

Dodgers fly-over

Tomorrow's the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. And the Dodgers are on top of that with "Heroes Night," in its first game of three against the San Diego Padres. According to an email from Noel Pallais of the Dodgers part of the festivities will be a "fly-over." To which I say, what? No Navy Seals in parachutes?

Pallais wrote:

In recognition of the heroes who both contributed to the rescue efforts and lost their lives on September 11, 2001, The game on Tuesday, September 11th is "Heroes Night." This year the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) will be honored for their efforts in fighting the Esperanza Fire. The LAFD will coordinate a pre-game fly- over and children of the firefighters who died in the Esperanza Fire will be on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Should you have any concerns relative to these events; please call our Neighborhood Focus Line at (323) 224-2636.

Just wondering: if the LAFD is coordinating the "fly-over," does that mean they'll be dropping water?

Assistance with this post was provided by Abigail Burman, age 13.

Curtain comes down


Photo: Echo Park Boathouse, Sept. 9, 2007
By Martin Cox

Chicken Corner is out of town for a few days, relying on long distance reports of the neighborhood, like Martin Cox's observance of the last day for the paddle boats, which included an ambulance, fire truck, news media. Don't go quietly. (But they do.)

Martin emailed me:

Last day Sunday: line forms at 11 a.m. outside the boat house. At noon it opens, then something odd happens and a fire truck arrives. Boathouse closes, an ambulance comes -- something about a spill and some fumes. Probably gasoline for the outboard motor boat [which is used by Rec and Parks employees]. Trucks leave, boathouse remains closed, reporter from LA Times HOY shows up. I tell her all she needs and more but she wanted boat pics, so she left for MacArthur where LALOP [Los Angeles League of Photographers] photogs are shooting (they meet her too and call me). She calls twice to find out if boats are running. They are not. I leave for a while. Returning at 3 p.m., I see the first boats launching, then, by the time I reach the boathouse, all 13 working boats are out on the lake. A huge line forms. I go home, returning at 3;45 and line up until 4:14 with maybe 25 people. No one gives up, it's very upbeat. The life guards are actually reminding boaters of their time and calling them back, very festive.
I suddenly decide on a whole new photographic solution to this subject matter, and return at 5:30 and end up shooting 300 pictures over the afternoon.
The sun sets, the boats moor, people go home, the boathouse closes, and the curtain comes down.

September 6, 2007

111 years, and then?


Paddle boats: don't go quietly. ... My friend Martin Cox took the time to write a plea on behalf of the Echo Park Lake paddle boats, which are facing extinction, with a drop-dead date of Sept. 9.


I took this picture [above] to note the passing of a long era of entertainment on Echo Park Lake. After 111 years of boating on Echo Park Lake, Parks and Recs have decided to withdraw the boat after September 9th.
It is notable that there have been long lines each and every weekend over the summer for the boats and only half of the boats have been available for hire, the rest (about 12) are in lay up, despite the demand. One wonders when the reason given is budget why so many remained unrented.
This miserable withdrawl has prompted member of the Los Angeles League of photographer to hold two exhibtions about the topic, one at Mama's Hot Tomales in MacArthur Park and the other at the Downbeat cafe in Echo Park.
To recap, Recs and Park said "no more boating" with little warming at the beginning of the summer, Eric Garcetti found cash to keep it going for the summer weekend only. Now that money has run out. Rec and Parks claims they loose $90,000 a year, a figure I dispute, this figure no doubt includes the week day boating from last summer, which is under used, people are at work, however weekend only boating is HUGELY popular. There have been lines out the boat house waiting for boats.
Half a block a way on Bellvue Ave is the closed Echo Park recreation Center, which a year ago was a vibrant hub of sports and games for young people, it closed for repairs then stalled, no there is no activity and no reopening date. Echo Park needs something for kids to do, we have those things in the pool and center and the boats, but one by one they have been withdrawn.
A group of photographers called The Los Angeles League of Photographers were galvanized over the story in the times about the boats being closed, and have been shooting around this issue over the summer. There will be an exhibition opening at Mama's Hot Tamales in MacArthur Park in October, and a second show at The Downbeat Cafe in Echo Park in November. Each show will reflect park use, recreation and the boats in visual terms of each park.

I could not have said it better.

Rec and Parks Info: General Manager, 1200 W. 7th Street Suite 748, Los Angeles, CA 90017;
Telephone: (213) 928-9033.

Rec and Parks comment email line:

Martin Cox: cel 213 482 2676

September 5, 2007

Back paddling -- Sunday's boats' last day

Big splash around the paddle boats this summer when they were threatened with eviction from the newly renovated boathouse at Echo Park Lake. Council President Eric Garcetti got creative and came up with some money to keep the concession going (Do they REALLY cost that much?) and announced at a lakeside press conference that as long as he was in office the boats would paddle paddle paddle for the public. But now they're schedded to close Sept. 9, which is this Sunday, which means the last day for the boats. No reopening date planned. In an email forwarded to me this afternoon, one of Eric's staff members explains the situation:

I spoke to Rec and Parks over the weekend, and they did let me know that as of today, the boats will no longer be funded. Our office knew that this was the original agreement. The Council Member pushed incredibly hard to keep the boats alive during the summer, and now it is up to us and Rec and Parks to see what the funding options are for the future.
As you know, the current financial structure for the boats is not a sustainable- each year the Paddle Boat program runs at a $90,000 deficit. The Council Member is looking into ways to make it a more financially sustainable operation. The boast will return, we are just not certain as to when.
Kabira Stokes Hochberg, Field Deputy, Office of Council President Eric Garcetti.

I am wondering how "Wreck and Parks" defines a deficit. I mean, do they break even (sustainably, that is) on a no-fee soccer field? Do the glorious tennis courts at Vermont Canyon pay for themselves? Is Griffith Park sustainable, moneywise?

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