Chicken Corner
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July 29, 2009

Blue vinyl...

...that never was meant to see the natural, outdoor light of a 10 a.m. morning. This abandoned couch, which I am posting in honor of the glorious Abandoned Couches site of Los Angeles, sat peacefully, though discarded, Tuesday morning on Vestal and Altivo in Echo Park. Sure it was a fish out of blue water -- it lacked a group of swells with martinis and floral print poly-whatever button-down shirts. The breed is now extinct in Echo Park, according to forensic anthropologists. I suppose the lounge aesthetic doesn't work in the new bad economy. The grasses in the background look like they want to drink it.

July 25, 2009

Paddle boats - update

Chicken Corner has received the following communication from Martin Cox, who lives near Echo Park Lake and has been active in Paddle Boat rescue efforts as well as all things lotus and all things waterfowl:

'tis no rumour,
Boating is finished, last day was the 12th.
The 826LA thing is by special arrangement and not open to the public (except as a fundraising team).
We have an echoing lake sans boats, a boatless boat house, we are without a paddle AGAIN

Private funds anyone?

July 24, 2009

Mixed metaphor = a blast

As many of us know, the literary service station 826 LA in Echo Park (as well as 826's in other cities and neighborhoods) is dedicated to promoting writing skills in children. So, if they are mixing their metaphors when they ask supporters to put their best feet forward for a fundraiser this coming Sunday, we give them poetic license. Eight-two-six is holding its 2nd Annual Paddle Boat Regatta at Echo Park Lake starting at 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 26. They want to know if you have the "mettle to pedal." Or is that the "maddle to paddle"?

One big relief is in finding that the paddle boats are still afloat at EP Lake. Rumors have the city withdrawing funding for the historic recreation.

July 20, 2009

Sharks ashore

epshark.jpgFor most, the recent "No-Lotus Lotus festival" -- a.k.a. the Echo Park Community Festival - was a happy event. For some locals it was even a triumph, as getting it off the ground took determination and resourcefulness. Alas, there were a few who were eaten by a shark. No festival is 100 percent perfect. Today, Darrell Kunitomi emailed me a photograph of what he called "a terrible scene from recent Echo Park Community Festival. Many entered the maw."

At Chicken Corner, we look for courage to face the good and the toothsome alike.

Photo: Darrell Kunitomi, July 12 or 13, 2009

L.A. travel diary

Chicken Corner took an in-county trip yesterday to one of those places that draws people from all over the county, and all over the world, the lovely Point Dume in Malibu, where we heard Spanish, English, Russian and French spoken amid the crashing of waves. Ordinarily, mid July at noon is not a bad time to visit Pt. Dume. I've always had my choice of parking spaces on non-holiday Sundays. But yesterday it was different world. A long, long line to the parking lot, sheriffs deputies calling out in bullhorns that the lot was full, turn around and go to Zuma (which in the heat and stress of waiting sounded like "turn around and go to hell," though I'm sure the Zuma-goers had a beautiful day once they had found a place to put their damned cars).

We held out for Point Dume because we were meeting people who were moving to Europe on a possibly permanent basis next week, so "sorry we missed you, we went to Zuma" was not an option. When we finally got into Pt. Dume's lot, we found a lively beach and warm water. An animal rescue truck passed us on the way in: we later heard it had picked up a wounded sea lion. The sheriff's helicopter took a few low turns by our part of the beach. Everyone stood up, wondering if there was trouble, but then saw the pilot waving and realized it was more of a routine social call. Rock climbers were taking lessons on the cliffs. My Swiss-American friend who sometimes dives at Point Dume pointed out where a submarine trench - a deep underwater canyon - starts just off the shoreline at Dume. Pelicans glided around in formation. My daughter had a blast pestering little blue anemones and hermit crabs.

Meanwhile, the bathrooms were both broken, doors shut, and porta-potties had been set up outside the building. The state saving money by scrimping on repairs, most likely. Dunno.

And the crowds? As our small children dug sandcastles, the adults played with theories: It was more crowded because fewer people have the money to leave the county this summer. Or Theory B: It was crowded because the summer got to such a late start and everyone wants to make up for the lost time.

July 19, 2009

Pattern play


Corner of Duane and Echo Park Ave. An army of circles, triangles and irregular shapes was deployed this past week in the war against tagging. And, like the finest of toy soldiers, they're not bad to look at either.

This particular corner is a favorite of taggers as well as muralists. The Food market is across the street from Echo Cycles, the bike shop whose Duane Street wall has been the scene of repeated paint-outs and mural wars in the past couple of years. Most recently, a Shepard Fairey-like mural (Chicken Corner believes it was a Fairey proper) mysteriously was slapped over the outline of another muralist's prep work for a different painting. That mural then was painted over - and tagged - and the wall now is partly covered by aluminum.

July 18, 2009

Dodger Town...

...Was Company Town on Thursday. I went into the Echo Park Avenue branch of Bank of America to visit a teller - I've always wondered, a "teller" of what, tall tales? -- and I was surprised to see not a single teller or desk man/desk woman in their usual business attire. Instead, each and every one of them wore a Dodgers shirt of some variety. T-shirts, player's uniform-style gray shirts. All Dodgers.

Of course, I had to ask: "Why are every single one of you who work here at the Echo Park branch of Bank of America wearing Dodgers shirts today?" I was hoping to hear something insane like but truthful along the lines of, "We're all huge Dodgers fans, and we just all made the same fashion choices this morning in the privacy of our bedroom closets."

I got a different answer. It turned out the company/ was using its employees' bodies (as well as their dignity) to market a Dodgers/BOFA financial product: A credit card (MasterCard). My teller said all the branches, all over Los Angeles, were doing the same. (I'm assuming they're not doing it in San Francisco.)

It gives new meaning to card-carrying fandom. Or giving it up for the Dodgers.

As for this particular BOFA branch, some of you may know it is housed in one of the oldest buildings in Echo Park, recently named a historic cultural landmark thanks to the Echo Park Historical Society.

In increments

That is how a "two-week vacation" becomes a yawning gap of months at Chicken Corner. One moment follows another, turns into a day.... And now, I look down into the gap, and I see quite a few things. To name a very few:

The world changing very, very fast this spring and early summer. The incremental falling away in the face of my husband being laid off, my own corresponding need to post more billable hours, many of my friends making plans to move away from Los Angeles...for starters.

Chicken Corner took a break. But, while the blog Chicken Corner was catching her breath, time kept stomping forward at Chicken Corner proper. Not to mention everywhere else. Bit by bit. The dreaded and seemingly inexorable condo project at Chicken Corner came to a sudden halt in March. A few weeks ago, a real estate agent gamely told me the "units" were still for sale. At the edges of the construction site, the Chinese Trees of Heaven, aka stinkwoods, aka Ailanthus are now about six feet; the mustard weed done gone and flowered. The framing -- for garages? living rooms? - is intact. I am hoping for a quick forest in the midst of the cinderblock foundations and open framing.

Meanwhile, across the street, Show Pony has been stabled; the legendary, lovely shop is closed. In its place is a new boutique, Tavin.

Magic Gas sells gas again. Even though someone stole the gas pumps a couple of weeks ago. The new owners got rid of the Cocteau-like lady gas station sign I loved, but at least their prices are competitive. Under the previous owners, the prices were so high you had to laugh and drive elsewhere. A few days ago a woman who works at Magic Gas told me that Aramis, who owned the place until a few years ago, came into the café part of the station. She didn't know who he was until he introduced himself. She said he did not remember if he had named the place Magic Gas.

So many walls have been painted this way and that. Expectations have changed.

The fabled lotus of Echo Park died last year, but then it was time for the Lotus Festival and the community did an amazing thing: Last weekend it put on a community festival in place of the Lotus Fest. On Sunday, the park was full of festival-goers, and the lake was busy with paddle boats. It was the boats' last day, people say.

On July 18, these are a few of the things that mark the time since February.

Here are two pictures of Chicken Corner that I took with my phone last week, and one picture Cindy Bennett took in June 2006 of the same corner.


Chair, Man & Echo Park Bus Stop panoramic3.jpg

(photo courtesy Cindy Bennett)

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