Copyeditor's note: In response to a recent Chicken Corner cluck-and-flutter about Machine Project's use of the name "South Central" instead of "South Los Angeles," I received the following from Laura Britt Greig of the Black Cloud organization:
Dear Jenny, I'm Laura, a member of the Black Cloud team. ... The "South Los Angeles" comment you made struck me. I read in Wikipedia that this was the preferred name when we moved down there. I thought my boss was being old-fashioned (or just trying to drum up publicity) calling it South Central. I was hesitant to use either name for lack of knowledge, but I asked the students at MAHS [Manual Arts High School], and they all call it South Central. Everyone living there does. You say calling it South LA is respectful, but I think in the end, it's more respectful to let the people who actually live there call it what they want. Maybe reclaiming the name is essential to reclaiming the neighborhood.
This reminds me of the "African-American" vs. "black" dilemma/subtleties. All of the black people I know call themselves black. So I do, too. But in writing I often use the term "African-American," and in editing, I cross out "black" and replace it with the hyphenate ... unless it's a quote of course, or not appropriate to make a change. It's a case of riding currents, treading water and not trying to dominate the language. At the same time, I've noticed more white people speaking of European-American culture and people. It's all fluid and it doesn't flow in just one direction. Likewise, when part of Canoga Park became Chatsworth I'm sure many of the folks continued to call the place by the old name. But most went with the powers of name change. If someone asks you to call them by one name, it's rude to call them by any other. So I guess it's a question of who owns the name. Isn't it always.
Speaking of the Black Cloud Project, results will be presented this weekend at Machine. Details after the jump.
Dear friends, This Saturday, August 30, at 8pm, come to Machine to find out the results of a week-long air quality analysis of Echo Park. The Black Cloud Citizen Science League and Dr. John Higuchi, retired South Coast Air Quality Management researcher, will discuss their findings and explain the challenges and opportunities of air sensing. More info about the event here.
Photo: Echo Park Historical Society
The Lady of the Lake is a long story. The Deco statue symbolizes many things, not the least a renewed sense of dedication to restoration and revival for landmarks in Echo Park. The Echo Park Historical Society explains, "Sculpted in the Art Deco style by artist Ada Mae Sharpless, the statue’s official name is 'Nuestra Reina de Los Angeles' (Queen of the Angels). But most people refer to the statue as the 'Lady of the Lake.'"
In the 1980s, the city dumped her, graffiti marred and broken in places, into a box in a stockyard. But, in the '90s neighborhood activist Suzanne Kimbrough began an effort to bring her back. With the help of EPHS, among others, the Lady was repaired and returned to a pedestal at Echo Park Lake, where she has been appreciated ever since. As well as mistreated. Last year, she lost her hand, as Dakota reported in May on Curbed LA.
So, okay, our Lady lost her hand. She needs repairs. And it's up to us, the neighborhood, to see that done. Simple enough. Unless you have a neighborhood council at war with itself as well as with vocal groups in the neighbohood. Racial divisions, class conflict, historical perspective -- all of this had nothing to do with the Lady's hand, until very recently when her hand became a new item of contention over at the neighborhood council.
Chicken Corner will try to peck this out as briefly as possible: Before the recent neighborhood council elections, a vote was taken to allocate funds for repairs to our Lady. Bids from artisans were solicited and received. I think the lowest of them was about $2,000+ -- well within the realm of moving forward. But then (if Chicken Corner's chronology is correct) elections took place and new officers came in. The new president of the council wanted to study the matter of the Lady further before awarding a contract for the work. He kicked it back to a newly formed committee, where some fear it will languish. Chicken Corner noticed a fair amount of vitriol on a neighborhood list concerning the postponement of a decision in repairing the Lady of the Lake. At this point, I emailed Jose Sigala, the president of the neighborhood council, asking that he comment for the record. (He has complained to me in private that I quote too many of the usual suspects -- read "Tireless Workers slate members.") Sigala responded with a comment for the record, which he also posted to the neighborhood list in question:
Following is a sample of words flying around the head of the poor old Lady of the Lake:
Chicken Corner wrote:
Dear Jose, I have not yet done a blog post on Lady of the Lake repairs (I understand she's missing her hand). ... You complained earlier that I quote too much of the same people in Chicken Corner, so I'm asking for your comment before I do a post. I confess that I am not impartial. I would like repairs to be done to the statue. But I really would like to get your perspective on this issue, regardless of whether you're in agreement. If you could reply for the record I would greatly appreciate it.
Here's the paragraph in question, for your comment:
"Many of you who were seated on the Board as of January 2008 are familiar with the fact that, among other items, the Board as a whole, voted to support 2 Budget items out of the general fund. 1. The National Night Out- Kick Crime out of Echo Park Event for 800.00 and 2. The Lady of the Lake repairs, for no more than 7,000.00. This is the venerable Statue that lies within the confines of Historic Echo Park Lake. I submitted the requested 3 estimates to the Treasurer for approval. He in turn turned it in to the exec committee, who instead of agendizing for your approval has now "referred" back to a Banana Republic Committee to disect and further delay the much needed repairs this Historic Structure requires. One of the bids was by a much respected female sculptor who wished to hand sculpt the piec to maintain the original sculptors essence. She gave a much lower bid than the other 2 equally qualified sculptors, but they were going to do molds (more expensive), and she was willing to hand sculpt for much less for the honor of working on this Historic piece."
Jose Sigala responds:
Dear Jenny, Thank you for the opportunity to respond. First I would like to state that no one on the Executive Committee is opposed to the need to make repairs to the Lady of the Lake. The Lady of the Lake does not belong to one person, a group of people or just one organization it is an important piece of art that belongs to the entire community. We on the neighborhood council take our role of suppporting public art seriously.
The item was unanimously referred back to committee because we want to take a look at the three bids that were submitted more closely and get a better understanding of the impact the rehabilitation of Echo Park Lake may have on the project.This is the first time we have seen all three bids.Yes, I voted for the funding to restore the Lady of the Lake with the understaning that we would get the opportunity to review the bids before we selected a vendor and allocated the funds. It is also true that there are new board members who are interested in making sure they are as informed as possible before they make a decision on the best vendor. ... The Executive Committee unanimously voted to refer it to the Parks & Public Works Committee for discussion at their September meeting.
The arrogance of Ms. Peters to assume she is the only member of the neighborhood council that deserves the right to be heard on this matter speaks to the different leadership style the neighborhood council has embraced.
Change is hard to embrace, the sooner Ms. Peters stops referring to the neighborhood council she serves on as a puppet board or banana republic, the sooner she can acknowledge the fact there are other leaders in this community other than herself who can lead and care for the community.
I invite any of your readers to call me directly on my cell at 213-308-2826 to discuss any items related to the neighborhood council, to get to know me or to hear my point of view.
This of course was something of a Molotov on the neighborhood list.
Jose, Just because you work for someone [Richard Alarcon] who behaves arrogantly and flippant in Public Meetings, does not mean you need to emulate him. You could always learn how NOT to behave as well. When i forwarded the bids they were with the understanding the TREASURER would submit to the BOARD NOT your PUPPET Exec Committee to delay and refer back to a PUPPET committee.
And we're off. So much colorful language (from other people whom I have not had the time to contact for permission to quote, or who did not cc me in their list serv communiques) and so little time. ... People, people, can't we all just...get the Lady her hand back?
Note: There is a neighborhood council this evening at 6:30 p.m. in the great hall of the Episcopal Church directly across the street from the Lady herself. Look for the big purple tower.
I missed (until today) Friday's Curbed LA post about the construction ongoings at Chicken Corner. Dakota's post declares the future site of many condos a negligence lawsuit in waiting. And, yes, it does look rather sloppy over there, now that you mention it. On Friday, same day the post went up, I happened to be trying to enjoy myself at Chango coffeehouse, with my daughter, Madeleine, and our good friend Mary. But there were trucks going back and forth, spewing yuck in the air and making so much noise fluid conversation was not completely possible. We stuck it out for over an hour. There was one troubling but semi-comical bit of business related to the construction. While we sat at our table, a street-cleaning truck -- one of those Athey vehicles with round brushes and little jets that spit water onto the street -- went by on Echo Park Avenue. Then two minutes later it came back. Then it came back again. And so on, for the complete hour. Driving from one end of the block and then back again. And then again. Sometimes it had the water spray on, sometimes, not. Sometimes, the brushes whirred around, sometimes not. That was about 10 to 11 a.m. Then, at 1:30 p.m., I drove back down Echo Park Avenue and the street cleaner was still at it. This time, I chased the truck in my car. "Why?" I asked. The answer was dust. People had complained about dust. So, all of that toxic emission, noise, and the weird circling for dust? Yes, for a handful of dust.
Quick notes on a very lively weekend up and down Echo Park Avenue, with uncoordinated parties and barbecues celebrating shop openings and continuations and music.
First, Saturday morning, Delilah celebrates the sweetness of life -- and the vitality of its business -- with a bluegrass/roots performance on the sidewalk in front of shop. I hope they had a chance to play "Chicken in a Bucket," which is divine.
Saturday 2 p.m., there was the official grand opening of the bike shop at Echo Park Avenue and Duane. They had tents and barbecue on the sidewalk, a good crowd.
Then, Saturday night, while celebrating a friend's birthday on the hill just east of Chicken Corner proper, we heard strains of "Suzy Q' and other guitar-age classics coming from downslope. A little discussion about where exactly it came from. One person thought maybe it was the slip-'n'-slide hipsters (some hipsters who fairly recently have moved into a house on EP Ave., next to a new gallery, which used to be a tiny garments warehouse; the hipsters recently were reported to have a slip-n'-slide running on their front patch of grass). The show turned out to be at Magic Gas gas station. One cover band was there, and another good crowd. It looked mostly Latino. Later, a new band showed up. Celebrating the tiny drop in fuel prices?
9 p.m., and the bike shop party is still going.
Meanwhile, back at Chicken Corner, Saturday night, the police are continuing the practice of nailing young people of color. I heard a report of a young Latino boy, age 16, and his girlfriend being pulled over for having an air-freshener dangling from the rear-view window of the girlfriend's mother's car. He was handcuffed and held for a long time; his girlfriend was crying. He got lots of attention. Many, many questions. Several witnesses, too. We'll call him the Air-Freshener bandit.
Later Sat. night some neighbors are chatting about the imminent grand opening of the new coffeehouse, The Fix, at Baxter and EP Ave. They're wondering if it'll be a mixed-hipster crowd, like Chango, downhill, or whether it will be moms, dads, and strollers. Tiny irony (?) in the fact that it's former rock chicks and fellers who are placing themselves in the latter category.
Sunday morning, we walk down to the The Fix. As does the whole of middle-class somewhat boho-professional Elysian Heights. Every table has a dog or a baby/child or both. the dogs outnumber the babies. My dog loved the place. The outdoor tables area is enclosed, so when she got loose it was no big deal. My daughter liked the place because there was room to run around and play. The food was higher end than other coffee houses in the neighborhood, all of it, I think, prepared somewhere else -- and all of what I tried was excellent. The new owner's mom was there, greeting. Old conversations continued neighbors/friends in a new place, which represents the face of the newly gentrified Echo Park. But no one talked about this. At my table we talked Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, fleas, flea-repellent, raising chickens, and public school.
On the internet through the day Saturday and a bit on Sunday there's something of a comment party about the neighborhood council and the Lady of the Lake, whose address is Echo Park Avenue at the lake, across from Bird Island. But more on that particular festival to come.
Bad guys dress in costume.
Speaking of fake officials, Daniel Hernandez blogged recently (Aug. 16) about a Mexico City auto-body shop that specialized in customizing phony federal police trucks.
This week, Hernandez writes about protests in Mexico City and beyond in Intersections, one of Chicken Corner's all-time favorite blogs. Daniel "straddles the border" of city culture in the U.S. and Mexico in a ways that seem organic. Or as if there were no real border to straddle. (Except, of course, at the actual border, where the sense of leaving one country and entering another is palpable.)
In addition to blogging demonstrations against "delinquency" and corruption, Hernandez has paid close attention to anti-emo attacks in Mexican cities -- roughnecks beating up kids who dress in old-school punk rock fashion. I could be mistaken, but it seems that recently in Echo Park I have seen far fewer Latino kids with spiked hair, or long dyed black hair, black lipstick, pencil jeans. It could be a coincidence. Or maybe they've moved away. Though it seemed to me that the numbers of emo youth around here grew even as gentrification speeded up in recent years.
There have been reports in the last few days of fake DWP workers showing up at people's houses in Elysian Heights and Angeleno Heights, asking can they please come into your house because, uh, your pipes may be broken, see? Warnings have been making the rounds on lists and by at least one neighborhood watch captain. Then today I scroll through LAObserved's main page to find a link to a video report of a "possibly" fake DWP worker stealing a bicycle at La Brea and Franklin. In the video, we see the "DWP" guy wearing an orange reflector vest and jeans. The originating post by David Markland of L.A. Metblogs mentions other fake DWP workers commiting crimes in Sherman Oaks (as told by LAist).
So, how many of them are there? They're everywhere. Call the movie DWP Maniac Invasion, or something like that. Lock your doors, and scrutinize ID. Tell the zombies you are going to call the DWP to check. Then close the door and make the call.
Related adventure: I once had fake cable guys (real fake cable guys) pay a visit to my house in Echo Park. They told me they wanted to check the air in my yard for loose cable signals because pirated cable signals could cause plane crashes. Or maybe they were real cable guys. They showed me a clipboard with a dirty "work order" on it. They had an instrument that looked like a metal detector. Either way, I am not making this up.
The good news: So far, no reports of DWP fakes doing comedy.
This just in off the Machine Project news service: PuffTron boxes will be placed "around Echo Park in discreet locations." The sensor boxes measure air quality. As the communique below explains, Manual Arts High School students are involved. They are part of the Black Cloud Scientist League and will present their data Saturday evening at Machine Project.
There are 12 adorable sensor boxes called, adorably, PuffTrons, that are arriving at Machine Project sometime this week. Said PuffTrons are going to be placed around Echo Park in discreet locations. Once activated, they will transmit data about local air quality over the web to create a pollution map of the city.
A team of UC Berkeley mad scientist-types and a group of precocious student-types from Manual Arts High School in South Central LA will be presenting the PuffTrons' data alongside their own fieldwork in a series of events at Machine Project this coming week. Operating as the Black Cloud Scientist League, they invite YOU to participate in this project.
There will be three separate events.
Details for the events at Machine Project's website.
Meanwhile, I have my own extremely low-tech air-quality measurement devices all over my house. They are called windowsills -- and they also serve that latter purpose. The degree to which they get covered in black dust in a given period of time never fails to give a graphic and disturbing picture. Admittedly, that's not science; it's just life (in a society that needs to work on emissions).
Copyeditor's note: It looks as though the forward-looking and usually highly informed Machine didn't get the memos about South Los Angeles, which has been officially declared the preferred respectful name of the neighborhoods that used to be called South Central.
Photo: Machine Project, 2008
My new favorite U-turn criminal, Toks, sent me this Gary Leonard photo of Aaron Donovan painting his Chicken Corner mural Moron back in the earliest years of the millenium, or even the latest of the 20th century. Some of the kids are assisting Aaron, while others idle their rides. Most if not all of these kids will be voting age by now. As we all know, this corner looks quite different in 2008. There are awnings and hipsters, a different mural, El Batey has long since moved over into a narrower space next door. Even the light is about to change, as condos are under construction across the street.
Photo: Gary Leonard/Los Angeles Public Library Collection
2008: A new generation of kids on wheels has a place to hang these days, with the opening several blocks north on Echo Park Avenue of bike shop (1900 block) in the space that used to be occupied by the troubled Richard Leigh/Barnes, who whitewashed a 33-year-old mural on the building. He was evicted for his actions, and the good news is we have the bike shop. Yesterday I saw about five kids with their bicycles parked in front.
You say Angelino, I say Angeleno. It's a personal matter, really, a matter of style, or politics, a sense of history, a sensitivity to words -- whether you think the City of Los Angeles has made a correction or an error in its sparkling new blue city signs for Angeleno Heights (italics are Chicken Corner's) that have been posted around the neighborhood recently. The several new signs replace one or two signs that were spelled with an "i." Chicken Corner applauds the correction, having always disliked seeing the "i" in "Angelino." Though I know that at least half the residents of that part of the neighborhood prefer the Italianate spelling to the Spanish-style one. Call me a classicist, or misguided. I think we have Councilman Ed Reyes to thank for the proofreading.
For a broader view of the matter, see the Echo Park Historical Society's discussion of "e" vs. "i" and all those letters entail.
A scene I semi-witnessed in passing Saturday night proves, unfortunately, that in some ways Echo Park is not so special. At least it wasn't so special at about 9:30 p.m. Saturday when I drove past Chicken Corner, and saw a young man handcuffed, some police and some onlookers, including a guy, Jason, from whom I had bought a chair earlier in the day. Jason looked very glum, sitting alone on something that looked like a flower pot. The person in handcuffs probably looked unhappy, too, but I couldn't see his face. I kept driving.
Then, on Sunday I started to hear reports from different people of the police action I'd glimpsed. Seems the handcuffed person had been some kind of mad U-turner. According to what I was hearing first-, second- and third-hand was: A young man of color had made a U-turn at Chicken Corner. The police pulled him over, and then handcuffed him and held him there for well over an hour, searched his pockets and asked lots of personal, repetitive questions in a disrespectful manner before deciding to let him go with a ticket. The young man, whose nickname is Toks, lives across from the Del Mor Apartments. And the reason everyone's talking about what looks like an instance of racial profiling is that he happened to be pulled over in a place where he had friends. He asked his friends to stay with him while he was handcuffed because he wanted witnesses in case anything went awry. His mission that night: to bring chicken soup and Gatorade to his sick girlfriend. Toks wrote in a long email to me that he had made a 3-point turn, and one of his tail lights had a burned out bulb. In any case, Toks is an upstanding arts person in the neighborhood. He is the one who commissioned the lovely hummingbird murals and the skull mural on the garage door across from Chango. He's a DJ and, recently, a curator for Han Cholo's art shows on Chicken Corner row. He's also brown and, even in Echo Park, on an ordinary Saturday night that made him a suspect.
In his own defense, our U-turner described himself:
I might be annoying, attention hungry, loud what have you but I am also quick to lend a helping hand or an ear....and am really into community building and music.
That is, when he's not making U-turns....
Cluck, cluck. More dysfunction on the neighborhood council in Echo Park. Recently Chicken Corner has been observing sharply worded backs and forths (and back and forths) and sniping on the neighborhood list serve between the president of GEPENC (Greater Echo Park-Elysian Neighborhood Council) and other community citizens about all kinds of #@$%: banquet tables paid for with NC funds; cleanup teams planned for the beach instead of Echo Park; undemocratic-sounding decisionmaking and meeting procedures.
Now we're hearing that meeting minutes have not been made available to community members for at least five months. Which is no small thing. Distributing minutes may even be required by law for groups that receive public funds or tax exempt status. (And if it isn't, it should be.) What use is a meeting that went unrecorded? Even the people who attended should be able to review what was said.
Yesterday, I emailed Jose Sigala, president of GEPENC, to ask why minutes had not been available. He has not responded.
Christine Peters, who ran for GEPENC's presidency recently (and lost to Sigala), was colorful in her reply to my question of whether it was true that minutes were missing and why.
She said yes, there were missing minutes. She went on to declare it was part of a pattern of high-handed entitlement:
The newly elected [GEPENC] Exec Committee are on a slash-and-burn campaign to dismantle 6 years of grassroots urban democracy. A new totalitarian state is being established. Volunteerism is no more. Where, previously, stakeholders and board members alike would sign up to participate in committees, the "New" Board has now passed rules that gives the President the Power to appoint all Committee chairs and vice chairs. They then appoint all other members. No one can volunteer to participate. They must kiss the ring and be annointed? Appointed? Just look at the list of "designees." Of 21 Boardmembers, only 10 people are appointed to a possible 20 or so positions. If you played for the "winning" team, you get to Chair or Vice chair Multiple committees.
They've even voted to change the By Laws to allow the President to Vote to CREATE a tie! Previously the "Chair" would abstain as neccessary to ensure an odd number of votes. Which "democratic" country did they steal this idea from! Fantastic. Another "proposed" ByLaw ammendment makes a quorum of the exec committee now 3 instead of 2 (they've voted to add a 5th member to the exec com, Augustine Cebada).
All hail the great and powerful OZ!
And here we get back to the question of minutes. Because if the minutes are, indeed, available (or were available) then it would be only a matter of minutes to fact-check many of the assertions made above. And it wouldn't take long to see if anyone by the name of OZ had proposed a vote in which all present had elected to a) have their words disappear forever as soon as they fell from their mouths, or b) have them recorded.
Chicken Corner's world got a tiny bit bigger yesterday ... Sightseeing in Chinatown. My cousin, Abigail Burman, is visiting and said she wanted to see the neighborhood. So we went. Visited my friend Cindy Bennett's new gallery, North Hill, and lunched -- or Boba-ed -- at Via Cafe. Cindy said we'd want to see Fong's on Chung King Road. I've been down that particular gallery alley more dozens of times than I can count, but somehow I hadn't visited Fong's Oriental Works of Art. So we went there, too. And stepped into the world I'd missed. Miniatures. Tiny dollhouse furniture -- some of it inlaid with mother of pearl. Tiny women reclining on couches. Tiny food and tiny plates. Tiny business cards. There was some big stuff, too, but most of it receded behind the superior attraction of the small.
One of the to-scale items for sale was a library-used copy of Leo Politi's book Mr. Fong's Toy Shop, which the children's author based on the original Gim Fong of Fong's. These days the shop is run by the handsome Mason Fong, the newphew of Gim Fong and son of the current owner; Mason Fong told me that the shop never actually was a toy store -- it had some toys as well as the original miniature items made by his uncle, but toys per se were not the mission. I have never understood the attraction of miniatures, but in Fong's I felt their power. I was so hypnotised, in fact, that it didn't occur to me to ask Mason Fong why there were several Lisa See books on display on a table where only a few other titles owned space. Googling the shop just now I got the answer to the question I hadn't asked, in the name of Fong See, a large figure in the history of Chinatown in Los Angeles, great-grandfather of the author Lisa See and subject of her acclaimed memoir On Gold Mountain (1995). Big history in a small space.
One of Echo Park's most famous residents, Room 8 the cat, once made Elysian Heights Elementary School famous too. The cat, who died in the late '60s, also posthumously lent his name to a Riverside County cat adoption/rescue organization, founded in 1972. Chicken Corner just opened her mailbox to find that the Room 8 Memorial Cat Foundation is in trouble. An outbreak of virus and a shortage of funds. Kitty litter needed for 68 kitties. Click here to learn more.
...it is goofy grape! On the Episcopal Church down Echo Park Avenue! Helicopter* flew over some time recent and poured six thousand gallons of grape Kool Aid over the tower! It's done. Tower's purple, and Chicken Corner...luvvvs it. Bells rang while Chicken Corner was conoiterin' -- they sound the same.
Judging by the color swatches on remaining off-white walls, which have not yet been painted, they're lookin at a tasteful mustardy-gold kinda color for the rest.
Photo by Cindy Bennett
Lots of paint being splashed about Echo Park recently. Cache's cute mural on Mohawk, of chickens in love, has been browned out of existence. The colorful reds and other bright colors of Cache's palette have been replaced with bear brown on the side of the wall where The Kids Are Alright used to be. It wasn't my favorite Cache mural, but it was about 100 percent better than what replaced it. If you never saw it or don't remember The Kids was a hipster-ish boutique/gift shop, a nice one where you could pick up a cool Taro Gomi coloring book or a pair of gold ballet slippers. I have heard that the building was purchased recently and the rent raised, which is why it now is empty space, like a shop that never happened. Your blank (brown) canvas has arrived. My best hope is that the antiques shops aren't priced away, too. And my prayers are that the owners are not louts and don't plan to demolish the structure.
Around the corner, on Alvarado near Sunset, there is a new frozen yogurt shop, called Orange Cream, that I've heard good things about: rumor is they serve fresh fruit with their product. It took a long time for the shop to open. It's in the strip mall diagonally across from the Downbeat Cafe. And I think Orange Cream may have inspired the Rancho Market to go white. Rancho has been a dingy orange forever. But now that Orange Cream has opened it's off-white. That's the universe punning with paint, not Chicken Corner.
In other paint news: the Episcopal Church across from Echo Park Lake is said to be experimenting with grape purple for its newest color. I guess the old white wasn't bright enough. I'm heading down to see it with my own eyes this afternoon. My best hope: that it not frighten away the birds on Bird Island.
Looks like art pranksters tagged the bright green gates of Peter Shire's studio on Echo Park Avenue. Something about cats. It was hard to read. Shire has long been left alone by the more traditional -- and often gang-affiliated -- taggers of the neighborhood, many of whom had grown up with Peter or had been portrait subjects or studio assistants over the years. In fact, Shire's pottery studio work was often signed eXp (or was that ExP?), same as the Echo Park gang. Doubtful that the new breed of street writer knows about all of that. My best hope: that it's already painted over -- as if it never happened.