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June 30, 2008

Echo Park at what o'clock*


Photo:Night for Day
By Nathan Britton (c)

Nathan Britton sent me this gorgeous photograph -- a time lapse photo taken at night, looking south from Curran St., where Britton used to live. Britton is a former Echo Park resident, who now lives in Washington, D.C. where he is a speechwriter and press secretary for Senator Barbara Boxer. I like the weird, dislocating light in this photograph, the kind of light we get when there's a fire or some other unusual event that affects our sense of time.

Orientation: To the left of the viewer -- and out of view -- is the Curran Steps. To the right is Echo Park Avenue, close to where it ends; also, the sun as it sets. Behind us is Elysian Valley, the river, Taylor Yards, Cypress Park, Mount Washington, the San Gabriel Mountains and Canada. ...

Chicken Corner T-s reprise


Speaking of fonts. These Chicken Corner shirts were designed and sold circa 2002. They are artifacts of the era when Aaron Donovan's mural of chickens faced Delta Street. Chango was no more than a bright burning bit of fire in the brains of a few entrepreneurs. There were five art galleries at the base of the Del Mor Apartments. Huge crowds showed up for the collective openings once a month on Saturday night. And the Ojala gallery offered these Chicken Corner T-shirts for sale. They branded the corner, and way predated the blog. In this case we know which came first.

Recently, the shirts have been reprised -- in their original glory. They are for sale by Marsha, who is a founder of the Echo Park Historical Society as well as the Echo Park Animal Alliance, with 20 percent of proceeds benefiting the Echo Park Animal Alliance.

Non-disclaimer disclaimer: Chicken Corner the blog is not involved in the sale of Chicken Corner T-shirts in any way except sentimentally. I was not asked to "advertise" the shirts and, unfortunately, I will not get any money from their sale.

For shirts information, click here.

June 27, 2008

We all get it wrong in instant-land

Recently, Melena Ryzik dashed off the following in the

In the era of immediate hyper-personalization, you could.not.possibly write with the same fonts as everyone else. Really, now that a documentary has been made about Helvetica, what kind of indie cred can it have left? Luckily, you can design your own fonts, with new programs like those at FontForge, some of which are free. Not selfish enough for you? For $200 or less, you can have a professional at Chank Fonts, High-Logic or FontLab make your Twitter even more you-centric.

An "era of immediate hyper-personalization"? Really? It seems to Chicken Corner that all of this custom this-and-that achieves the opposite: You never look more the same than when you're using mechanized means to look different. i.e., myspace. Sigh. What does this have to do with Chicken Corner? Cluck.

For the record: I never liked Helvetica much, starting in the '80s. I like Times Roman. New Times Roman, too. And Bodoni. And Courier. I like serifs. I like flowers. I like a font that plays a supporting role with restraint. But what about chicken feet? Now, there's a font for you! True grassroots.

EP notes (and beyond)


Starting with beyond: As in beyond belief the variety of Grand Theft Auto-style obstacles the city threw at my friend Cindy Bennett* as she converted her art studio/home to an art gallery/studio/home (she received Community Redevelopment funds for commercial conversion). It looks like all sides achieve level 39 in the end, though, as Ms. Bennett at long last celebrates the opening of her gallery North Hill this Saturday in Chinatown. Fittingly, her first exhibition will be of her own photographs, part of a Wyoming series of junkyards she began 12 years ago. The Corvair ("Unsafe at any speed") above is part of the show. Reception is open to the public: Saturday, June 28, 5 to 8 p.m., 945 North Hill St. Los Angeles.

*Chicken Corner connection disclaimer: Bennett took the Chicken Corner signature photograph, above top, of Rosie the dog at the Baxter Steps.

Elysian Park: Speaking of the badlands, the Echo Park Historical Society on Saturday offers its walking tour of parts of the east side of Elysian Park.

Please join us this Saturday, June 28 at 10 am for a walking tour of Elysian Park. The tour, which is co-sponsored by the Echo Park Historical Society and the Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park, focuses on the lesser known but historically rich eastern edge of the park near Chinatown.
Starting Place: Fremont Monument at North Broadway and Elysian Park Rd. Reservations are required. The tour is free to members of the historical society and children under age 12; we ask a $5 donation of all others. Please reserve a spot by sending an email to ephs@... For more information, please visit the Walking Tour section of

Echo Park proper: Or improper. Scott Gold does an excellent job in describing the neighborhood council climate, in today's Times, article noted in today's Morning Buzz.

Welcomed by Abandoned Couches! All of the whining about Echo Park's unblogged couches? They're smart over there at Abandoned Couches headquarters. Turn the whiner into a contributor. Abandoned Couches has asked Chicken Corner to become part of their couch team. Of course, Chicken Corner said yes. Brilliant! No more oblivion for the abandoned couches (and sometimes chairs) of Echo Park. Or at least some of them. Chicken Corner plans to start blogging couches next week.

EP/nationwide: In the last couple of days I have seen license plates from the following states in the neighborhood: Alabama, Nebraska, Kentucky, New York, Iowa, Texas (x 4), Michigan and Cali.

June 26, 2008

Weekly considers neighborhood councils

David Futch takes a look at Echo Park vis a vis the neighborhood council elections in the most recent issue of the L.A. Weekly.

Futch writes: Echo Park, as in many of the neighborhood councils throughout the city, that sunny-sounding [neighborhood councils] charter has devolved into screaming matches so filled with expletives, so laden with charges and countercharges of vote-rigging and class discrimination that the city clerk has taken over the elections and demanded that those running for council seats refrain from “mudslinging and profanity” in their candidate statements.

Judging by the whole piece -- which is short -- Futch got quite an earful as he interviews a smattering of the folks involved. Lots to sift and sort out.

One complaint: the piece starts out with a landlord's ranting about lazy neighbors and the difficulties of owning property in a dangerous neighborhood. Not pretty. This landlord has been involved in the neighbohood council, but I'm not sure what the connection is between her dislike of her neighbors and discord on the neighborhood council, except to imply that these are the attitudes exhibited by an entire group on the council.

June 25, 2008

One tag too far/correction

For years I have been a fan of Ruben Ortiz-Torres' art (and his blog) as well as a mural that I assumed had been painted by Ortiz-Torres because the mural graced a wall outside of his studio. Recently, I was saddened to see the mural painted over, and I mentioned this in a post about a different mural that also had been erased. Now, I learn from artist Patrick Miller, who has worked on and off in Ortiz's studio for the last five years, that the new missing mural was, in fact, the work of the artist TOFER, not Ortiz. Miller explained that Tofer's mural came down after a band hipster tagged it with a smiley face sticker and his band's myspace address. It was all too hideous, and the whole thing had to be destroyed. Honestly, this new breed of art prankster/angry hipster is turning into a public menace. Though it should be noted that it actually was the city who painted the mural down, without notifying the artist or property owner. Is that right and proper? On private property?

Miller was at Ortiz's studio the day Tofer's mural went dark. He wrote:

I just wanted to clarify that the mural at Rubén Ortiz-Torres' home/ studio was commissioned by Rubén and painted by TOFER aka Christopher Chin. It has been tagged several times over the years. Tofer having a background in guerilla public art, designed the mural, with roller marks and drips, so that roll-overs of tags could be incorporated into the design.
The mural survived many defilements over the years and a few Rubén even liked and let stay.
The last straw was some jackass from a band that put up a happy face sicker and scrawled their myspace adress on the wall. Apparently that was all this city could take, and they rolled the entire mural without permission or notification.

To recap, the mural was Tofer's, and we miss that one, too.

June 24, 2008

Vote all day and vote often

A couple days late on this, but it's still worth noting that Doug Eppherhart of City Watch blog showed up for the neighborhood council elections, run by the city clerk. When we say showed up, we mean really really showed up -- twelve times! He voted everywhere. Good thing he wasn't paid. Apparently, all you have to do to be a "stakeholder" in a neighborhood is buy (cheaper) gas at the gas station. He could have said "I like to come to this neighborhood and throw trash on the sidewalk" and they'd hand him a ballot...with a smile. Chicken Corner has been hearing grumblings about hostility from the paid city toward the volunteer neighborhood councils in general. How "the city" would like the neighborhood councils to fail. I mean, Chicken Corner is just a Chicken Corner and had no opinion on the matter. But now Chicken Corner reads Epperhart's adventure and much was spent by the city clerk on such a flimsy effort.

June 21, 2008

Abandoned by Abandoned Couches


Photo: Abandoned Couches, 2007

For the longest time I felt I had no right to say anything because once upon a time Abandoned Couches actually dedicated a couch to me -- after I complained about the camera-subject distance (never mind that myriad couches went unblogged in Echo Park, not to mention Montecito Heights, East L.A. SiIver Lake, Lincoln Heights and Chicago) and even that one wasn't from EP! Perhaps I was flattered and grateful for the attention. I wasn't thinking skeptically, like a journalist, though to be self-fair, it's only once or twice a month on a crescent moon that I think of myself in terms of the J-word. But that was Feb. 2007, and what have they done for Echo Park lately? Precisely: nothing. I see WeHo, Culver City and Hollywood Hollywood Hollywood couches on the blog -- seems their Peggy is quite active -- and meanwhile couch after couch in Echo Park goes ignored. Would they tolerate this in Brentwood?

Okay, okay, seems I'm a little upset. Take a breath. I have to admit there are steep hills here and Abandoned bloggers seem to work on two wheels. And I have to admit there are fewer couches than there used to be. Prices go up (yes, the neighborhood is still getting gentry-fried) and the number of abandoned couches go down. There's a sub-chapter about this in Samuelson. ... Or maybe we deserve it. Maybe our couches just aren't on point. Maybe it's the couches themselves that deserve oblivion.

Deserve is such a funny word. De-serve. Sigh. Try to go to sleep.

June 19, 2008

Lake Diary*

Noon-ish and it feels 100-ish as I get out of the car. But it's cooler by the lake. There are star-burst-shaped shadows beneath the wide, old palm trees, and closer to the water, the temperature drops, especially on the island, where there's a mist breeze from the fountain. Not that I'm dying to be sprayed with the water from Echo Park Lake. You only have to look at it, not to mention know that storm water drains from the city system into this watershed in the middle of the city.

I have come here to see a bit of wire fencing that I've heard about from Martin Cox* (and also to give my dog, Rosie, a walk, which will have to be brief because of the heat). Martin says a city employee has taken it upon himself to plant a few lotus in the place where there were none. So Rosie and I say hello to the geese and ducks and a few year-round coots (most summer elsewhere), and then we get to the fencing. There it is in the northwest finger of the lake, where the lotus are supposed to be. Right now it's a water cage. There's no explanation about the fence, and nothing grows out of it.

So we go hunting an explanation. Dave Foster, who knows more about Echo Park Lake than anyone on Earth, is working with his crew on the island. He's here pretty much every day, and he loves to talk about the lake -- the water, the birds, the plants. Dave says that Steve Moe, of Rec and Parks is conducting a study of water quality in L.A. watersheds, and he saw the lotus were gone. So he went to an Asian market and bought some lotus bulbs that were intended for table. He planted about four of them in the lake and surrounded them with fencing, to keep out turtles and ducks who might nibble the plants.

Now, it's wait and watch grow. So maybe we'll have four starters in time for the Lotus Fest in July. Elsewhere in the park, prep is underway. Today palms are being trimmed, and the fronds fished out of the water. On the island, Dave points to two trees where there are four great heron nests. It takes a while and a fair amount of squinting, but finally I can see two long beaks, heron parents sitting in the nest. Their kids -- Dave calls all of the duckling, goslings, chicks etc. "kids" -- start commoting with lively cries of "chuck chuck chuck." Dave shows me two sets of teeny ducklings, with their mothers and one brood of coots, which is unusual. Coots rarely nest here, but there's a group of three babies and their parents by the edge of the lake.

Dave knows all of the families on the lake, which ducks and geese are the best parents in terms of raising their kids to adulthood. There is one mallard mother, whom he seems to admire. She succesfully raised ten out of twelve ducklings this year. She's a smart one, he says. She has a strategy for herding the ducklings against the hard edge of the lake when predatory seagulls get near. And she nests in a good spot and seems to keep clear of most duck society.

Dave has heard a credible theory about what happened to the lotus. Many now believe that heavy metals from storm water runoff have accumulated in a kind of sludge at the bottom of the lake, poisoning the plants. It's not the good icky slime that lotus love, but a kind of very fine silt that's full of metals.

But there's good news, Dave thinks. He's very enthusiastic about the cleanup project -- in which the lake will be drained and cleaned, and, hopefully, beneficial grasses and other plants installed, the hard edge of the lake replaced with a soft one, and most important, the lake removed from the sewer drain system of the city. So, instead of having a storm basin, we could have an actual thriving watershed. In this scenario, the water quality would be better. It could be a showcase for healthier, green lake management in a dense urban environment. Cool. Here's to it unfolding that way.

Click here for information on a nonprofit T-shirt effort by Martin Cox to raise money to benefit lotus study, replanting and awareness.

Lotus T

Photo by Martin Cox (c) 2008
Artist in Residence Annie Shaw asks, "What happened to the Lotus?"

June 18, 2008

Live Echo Park the name of the marketing site for the Angeles Group, which wants to sell you a life in Echo Park, Curbed LA reported Tuesday. As Curbed noted, the site is a work in progress, as are the condo developments the Angeles Group is...adding to the neighborhood. Click the "Directions" button to receive the following: "We'd love to have you. And we look forward to meeting you. Come see us." Under "locale": a laconic "coming soon." Under "plans": again, laconic, "coming soon."

BUT, under "lifestyle," we find:

Like the many lotus leaves in its small lake, Echo Park is blossoming into one of the most dynamic places to live in Los Angeles.

Well, seems they haven't been to the lake this season. The lotus have been killed. At last counting, there was no more than one lotus leaf in the lake. And even that one may have been eaten by feral red-eared slider turtles.


Photo by Martin Cox (c) 2008

Okay, moving on.

Not unlike the Silver Lake neighborhood, Echo Park has been attracting the creative, underground, independent, and iconoclastic elements of society. And it makes sense. This eclectic neighborhood, located northwest of downtown and to the east of Silver Lake, was the original center of the film industry in Los Angeles, before the studios moved to Hollywood just before World War I.

Perhaps we should, just for balance, add a graf about the exceedingly bitter neighbohood council elections that were held last week and which won't be officially decided for two or three weeks to come. How two slates went head to head, one of them ("Unity") mostly Latino/middle-lower middle class, and the other ("Tireless") mostly white/middle-upper middle class, in a contest that underscores serious class/race/political divisions in the neighborhood. Unofficially, it's clear the "Unity" party has taken all of the positions that were up for grabs. There's bad feeling on both sides, in the air, online, in conversation at Delilah Bakery, where volunteers for both sides hang out. Accusations of malfeasance, breach of ethics, election irregularities, name calling. In fact, some of the acrimony concerns perceived relationships between candidates and developers, such as the Angeles Group.

Perhaps this is what the Angeles Group means by "dynamic." Because it's been sad and disappointing, but never boring.

June 12, 2008

Today's the day... elect Echo Park representatives on the neighborhood council (Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council). But City Clerk's office isn't making it extra easy. Voting hours are peculiar, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. And stakeholders who have mailed in to receive absentee ballots have been frustrated -- CRAZY response from the City Clerk's office, with married residents from the same household receiving ballots for different districts, and lots of people getting ballots for the wrong district. In order to get the correct ballot in time, victims then had to go downtown to the City Clerk's office to treasure hunt the correct forms. Good thing I forgot to mail away for my absentee ballot in time.

All stakeholders can vote. Stakeholders are anyone who lives in the neighborhood, or works/plays here, or owns a business here.

Polls info:

Thurs June 12, 2-8pm; at the Cathedral Center of St Paul; 840 Echo Park Ave (on the east side of the Echo Lake)

It's in a good location. After we vote, my daughter and I will cross the street to talk turkey with the geese and ducks at Echo Park Lake.

June 10, 2008

Workers Mural

Some background on a mural that is history -- i.e., whitewashed. I spoke with Gary Leonard, the photographer who owns the one-story building that hosted Workers Mural, and he told me a few details about the painting and its demise. Painted in 1975 by Art Zarate, the mural had been commissioned by a city-run program, and its existence was supposed to be protected by law.

"It was there for 33 years," Leonard said to me, "and then in one afternoon [it disappeared]." What happened was: the former tenant of one of the two art studios in the building, Richard Barnes (aka Richard Leigh), moved in and asked Leonard if he could paint over Zarate's mural. Leonard told him no, not under any circumstances. The tenant did it anyway. Leonard drove past the Echo Park Avenue building just as the tenant was finishing the whitewash. Several other people witnessed the act, too. Barnes/Leigh said the mural was oppressive.

On Monday, I called Barnes/Leigh to ask him why he had painted over the mural. He has not called back or emailed.

Many people are upset about the whitewash, including the some of the homies, who Leonard said got into it with Barnes/Leigh, who called the police. "What he did to the locals," Leonard said, "It's disrespectful."

Click here
to see the original mural before parts of it and then all of it were painted over. the sign above the doorway dates to the time when it was Peter Shire's studio, before he moved to a much larger studio in the 1800 block of Echo Park Avenue.


June 9, 2008

Nature abhors a vacuum

A clarification, concerning the lack of a mural -- replaced by graffiti -- on Echo Park Avenue. I heard from Greg, the artist who lives at one of the studios at EP and Duane St., and he was rightly concerned that it be understood he was not the one who whitewashed the unusual mural that so many people in the neighborhood loved. The photograph that he sent shows graffiti in place of the mural, which had been left alone by taggers who liked the old mural. As Greg said in his email, nature abhors a vacuum.

Hi Jenny, I just read your blog entry "Dueling paint-outs" I am a teant in one of the two storefronts, 1930 Echo Park Avenue, at the corner of Echo Park Ave and Duane Street.
The painting over of the mural has angered many long term residents as evidenced by the pouring of paint on the dinosaur and the large lettered graffitti found on the building this morning.
Your blog attributes the painting over of the mural as: "probably the tenant of the studio." Since there are two studios there and I inhabit one of them I want to make it crystal clear that I had nothing to do with painting over the mural.
The person responsible for painting out the mural is Richard Leigh who was renting the studio on the corner at 1932 Echo Park Ave. Gary Leonard, the owner of the building, told me that he was driving by and saw Richard out there rolling white paint over the last of the mural. He told him to stop, but it was too late. Gary also stated that he had previously told Richard not to paint on the exterior walls and especially not over the mural. Several nieghbors have also confirmed seeing Richard paint over the mural.There was a notice on the wall that the mural was pretected by S.P.A.R.C.
Richard was given notice to leave specifically because of his actions and should be off the premises in the next few days. Gary said that a yoga studio will be moving into that space.
The reason I want to clarify this is that I want people to know that neither I nor Gary Leonard had anything to do with painting over the mural and that the person responsible will no longer be residing at that address. Gary has been talking with S.P.A.R.C. about removing the paint and restoring the mural but each time this wall gets graffitti the city will add another layer of white paint to the wall and restoration becomes increasingly less possible.

The neighborhood was hit with quite a bit of gang graffiti over the weekend. Not the sharing kind.

June 6, 2008

Don't let the lotus leave us

It's not a joke -- the famous lotus of Echo Park Lake won't be attending the Lotus Festival this year. To date there is no consensus on what's killing them. Though there has been some study. One group of motivated high school students took it upon themselves to study the matter.

Meanwhile, the lake is going to be partly or completely drained (we HOPE not completely) as part of a "Rehabilitation Project." The rehab will be welcome if it is conducted sensitively and properly.

A meeting concerning the lotus and wildlife at the lake -- and other concerns -- is scheduled for Monday June 9. But Chicken Corner has heard that the meeting was not widely publicized.

So... if you don't already know:

The Bureau of Engineering [announces] the first public meeting about the Echo Park Rehabilitation Project. The day is Monday, June 9, 2008, 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Logan Street School.

Logan Street School is at the corner of Logan and Montana. It has a mural that Jerry Garcia was personally involved in painting.

Here are some details and background on the Echo Park Lake project, from Thomas DeBoe, who heads the Echo Park Lake Advisory Board:

On Monday, June 9, the Los Angeles City Bureau of Engineering will host the first community meeting to discuss the Echo Park Lake Rehabilitation Project. This project, which is estimated to cost about $84 million dollars to complete, is intended to restore water quality at the lake as part of Proposition O, the Clean Water Bond Act.
The Echo Park Advisory Board has been following the progress of the Project with great interest. We have reviewed the Concept Report document that outlines many of the problems at the lake and proposes solutions to make the Lake and the water cleaner. The rehabilitation of the Lake will also result in many positive changes within the park.
During the current “Pre-Design Phase”, BoE consultants will present more detailed ideas for actually doing the work. Construction itself will not begin until 2009, at the earliest. To protect our lotus pond and the wildlife, particularly the bird life at the Lake, we support two particular ideas that are especially worthy of incorporating into the design plans.
1. Draining the entire lake for a lengthy period of time will affect the ability of the Lake to serve as a rest and refueling stop for the many migratory birds that visit the lake each winter. Because so much of California’s wetlands have already been lost, even a small area like Echo Park Lake is important for the wild birds that come here. We think the engineers should keep the lake partially filled with water, particularly during the winter bird migration season. The north end of the lake where the lotus pond and the island are located is shallower than the rest of the lake. Creating a temporary dam would keep water in the north end while work continues in the larger, southern portion of the lake. For instance, the height of the control dam that separates the lotus pond from the main body of water could be increased.
2. Relocate the storm drain at the north end and create a mini-wetlands in that area. This would beautify that area and provide needed vegetation for migrating birds. A new and less conspicuous storm drain entry could be better accessed and maintained by the clean-up crews. The Echo Park Advisory Board feels these are worthy ideas for inclusion in the design plan, and we think most stakeholders will agree. When you attend the meeting on June 9, please express your support for both of these concepts.
Chow found

The trees got a reprieve, but ... Chuy is one of the many dogs that are found in Elysian Park -- a popular spot for abandoning pets, dogs in particular. Chuy is an unaltered Chow Chow mix, probably five years old, according to his teeth. Reportedly very friendly with people and other dogs, he has been at the northeast shelter since May 25, and they are planning to put him down. Unless someone steps up for him. His ID number is ID#A950645.

For more information about this animal, call: North Central Animal Care and Control Center at (888) 452-7381 Ask for information about animal ID number A950645

June 5, 2008

Reprieve for trees

Let's hear it for an open mind. At 1 p.m. Thursday I drove past the Morton Ave. bungalow courtyard whose two old junipers were sentenced to be chopped down yesterday, and I saw that they were still there. So I emailed around and found that the landlord of the property has given the trees a reprieve of at least a week. A tenant of the property wrote to me that:

I spoke to the landlord and he said the reason that he wants to remove the trees is because his landscaper told him that the roots were affecting the concrete and possibly the foundation. I got him to agree to give us a week to look into the matter, and I offered to research and/or pay for a specialist to come out and make a determination. [In case the current landscapers are wrong in their assessment] my goal is to get a credible second opinion.
After chatting with [the landlord], it does appear that his concerns are valid, and so it is up to us now to address them. I have to give him props for hearing us out and giving us a chance to save the trees.

Chicken Corner -- as well as many others in the communty -- breathes a cautious sigh of relief for the junipers.

The property in question, at 1622, has a for-sale sign in front.

June 4, 2008

Coyote diary

It's all possible... when you have enough to eat. Every now and then I check in on the Daily Coyote blog. The sheer beauty of the Wyoming writer's pet coyote (which she adopted when the animal was ten days old and orphaned) overrides the sweetness of seeing the coyote snuggle with the kitty etc. Charlie the coyote. Though it's the still shots that get my fingers typing, I recommend a recent post that includes a 40-second video clip of Charlie kissing calves, with steel guitar. There's a lot of kiss in that coyote.

Bringing it home: I've noticed that coyote conversation has subsided a bit on the street -- and online -- in recent weeks. Despite the fact that most of the attendees at an Echo Park Historical Society meeting last week had a bold coyote greeter. My own theory: after the good rains -- and the subsequent several weeks it takes for the water to translate to more food -- the canines have more to eat, so we don't see them as much. Including the Griffith Park fire refugees. The animals get fatter, and talk thins out.

June 3, 2008

Screaming trees

Don't look if you can't. Here are some views of two junipers that may be cut down tomorrow. Portraits of two trees on Tuesday. They have graced the 1600 block of Morton Ave. for 50 to 75 years. Despite the fact that a mature tree adds at least $10,000 to a property (according to Donna Barstow, who emailed Chicken Corner), the new landlord of this olive green bungalow court plans to have the junipers cut down. Why? Why is the question.




Donna Barstow wrote that:

Several years ago mature trees were estimated at adding $10,000 each valuation to a property. In LA that's probably much higher. Retarded landlord is throwing money down the drain. AND: if he or she just wants them trimmed, either the city or DWP will send out CERTIFIED arborists on request, but you have to ask for certified, or you'll get a hatchet job (if the trees are in the median or come anywhere near certain wires).

That's more than we knew at Chicken Corner.

Graffiti watch pt. XIX

It was almost cute the first day. Maybe you saw it. All day a skywriter wrote "Welcome Home Tori & Dean." Right in the sky over Echo Park, and later the zoo. My three-year-old daughter and I had fun making a game of trying to guess the letters as they formed. I thought, well, Tori and Dean, I guess you're home (whoever you are). It looked like an ostentatious gesture, a big expensive greeting to newlyweds from whom? A best friend? A parent? The company? The pilot?

And then the plane was out there again today, writing the same thing, "Welcome Home Tori & Dean," and it started to seem not just compulsive but it looked like graffiti. And not the good kind. Like someone junking a perfectly good blank wall with messages that are not really meant to be shared with strangers, messages that are meant to dominate or wheedle, not entertain or please. And so this was -- junk writing on the great big blue wall above us, the sky. And the paint-out crew? Well, this one was easy. The wind took care of it. But the plane came back.

I didn't know it at the time -- how? how? -- but it turns out it was the Tori & Dean reality show. I guess they thought billboards simply weren't big enough. Because you could always roll your eyes straight to Heaven. We'll fix that, they said. And they did.

Morton Ave. trees

Some people like trees, and some people don't. They want them felled. There's always a "reason," but to my mind there's rarely an excuse for chopping down a healthy, mature tree that's well placed. If the tree isn't going to hurt you -- like a eucalyptus next to your house -- go around it. There are ways. Of course Chicken Corner isn't alone in this sentiment. The City of Los Angeles likes trees and all of the wonderful things they do for us (thinking: oxygen, shade). The DWP will give you six saplings for free if you promise to take good care of them. And, as I said, a mature tree is priceless. Two mature trees? Priceless, priceless. One of the most beautiful things I've seen on this planet was some 2,000+-year-old redwoods on Vancouver Island. One thing I can tell you about those redwoods: they are lucky they don't live on Morton Place. In recent days Chicken Corner has received emails from four different people, two of them longtime residents of the neighborhood, about one landlord's plan to cut down two 50 - 75-year-old junipers on the 1600 block. One of the things that makes that stretch of Morton so atmospheric and lovely is the shade of old trees. And, unfortunately, the landlord may have the legal right to remove from the community his trees, which are original to the property. But there's legal right, and there's wrong. And it's never too late to change your mind, until it's too late.

Lake babies

A few seem to be thriving. Such as these mallard ducklings, recorded on the banks of Echo Park Lake (below) by Chicken Corner's indefatigable waterfowl correspondent, Martin Cox. Martin also took a gander at some brand new goslings out for a ride this weekend (with a significant escort) when the weather was so felicitously goosey.


Photo by Martin Cox (c)


Photo by Martin Cox (c)

June 2, 2008

Dueling paint-outs* (revised)

A few weeks ago, there were two murals on one building, which stands at the southeast corner of Duane and Echo Park Avenue. On EP Ave, there was a big pink dinosaur, with a glint in its eye and huge teeth, friendly, with a bit of attitude. This painting was new. It appeared toward the end of March of this year. Around the corner, on Duane St., was a historic bit of business. How many years, I am not sure. This mural was a great equalizer. The "Worker's Mural" on the side of the building at Duane and Echo Park Avenue seemed to please everyone. It was there for years. The taggers left it alone, reportedly, because they liked it. Hipsters and artists liked it, and they left it alone, too. It seemed permanent, a relic from the time before the neighborhood had gentrified so widely. Less than about eight feet in height, it graced the side of the building said to be owned by photographer Gary Leonard. The building houses artists' studios; in the past, a carpentry workshop, and other studios.

So, it's March, all well and good. But then, in April, someone paints over the old kung-fu mural. They whitewash it, a la Gloria Molina down by the river. Reportedly Richard, the tenant of the corner studio. Shortly thereafter, someone throws about a gallon of pastel pale green paint on the pink dinosaur. (It's reminiscent of when someone threw a gallon of paint over the chicken mural at Chicken Corner, leading to Aaron Donovan's painting that particular chicken out entirely.) The dinosaur sits that way, humiliated, for a couple of weeks, and then it, too, is whitewashed into oblivion. I asked about this and was told that the artist who did the dinosaur is a skate kid, about 15 years old, and that his mural was defaced in a contorted retribution for the painting over of the community's martial-arts mural, because Richard, who painted out the first mural, had encouraged the kid. Well, then. (The pink-dinosaur kid has a smaller blue dinosaur across the street at the former Echo Beauty Salon; he also has a goofy-grapish face in a cap on the same building.)

There we have two white walls that would be unexceptional if none of this had happened. They are anything but tabula rasa. There are efforts underway to see if the kung-fu mural can be restored. I hope it can.

(Related: A Ruben Ortiz Torres mural of a bat-like creature recently turned into monochrome on a wall in the neighborhood. The artist is more famous than the others, but the mural has gone quietly.)

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