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February 27, 2010

Dog update: the shelter didn't have a camera


Here is a picture of the mama dog who was found at Sunset and Logan. It took more than two days to see a photo because the shelter where she was taken, Lacy Street (as the northeast shelter is known around here) had a broken camera, which meant that no photos could be posted of new animals who had arrived around the time mama dog was brought in. Laura Weekes, who found the mastiff mix at the busy Echo Park intersection, came back to the shelter with her own camera after becoming frustrated that no picture of the dog was showing up on the animal shelter's internet site. Talk about invisible victims.

Meanwhile, a foster has been found for the lactating dog, and a permanent home will be sought. But mama and puppies have not been reunited. Not a word about the little ones.

Into the mix of good news and bad news as concerns LA Animal shelters, we toss the following: Shelters will finally be opened for part of the day on Sundays. It may not help the lost mastiff-mix puppies of Echo Park, but it may be a lifesaver for other dogs (and cats).

February 23, 2010

Sunset and Logan...

... is in the commercial heart of Echo Park. It is where you can find the Jensen's Building, whose tenants include a pawn shop that displays mostly power tools in the window and, soon, a fancy ultra-vegan restaurant. The fish place, El Pescado Mojado (sorry for the redundancy if you speak Spanish), sits on the opposite corner. There is lots of foot traffic, it's a crossroad for all kinds of races, ethnicities, age groups, even species. This morning, a desperate mother was found there, possibly seeking help, possibly abandoned.

According to Laura Weekes, one of the neighborhood's most dedicated animal helpers:

I found a mama dog running down Sunset at Logan this morning. She is a large black, mastiff mix.
She is completely emaciated (I have never seen a dog so thin in person), but has has puppies very recently. She is lactating and still oozing out. ... I am concerned that there are puppies somewhere that are needing her. She was only too glad to have me put a leash on her and get in the car with me even with my crazy mutts in the back. She lay her big head on my lap the entire ride to Lacy Street. Her intake # is A1092773. No microchip.
PLEASE keep an eye and ear out for any puppies out there that might be hers.

Chicken Corner can only hope they are reunited.

February 22, 2010

Hipster diary

Many months ago, my daughter must have heard me grousing about how hipsters in SUVs were, in real terms, probably more dangerous than the gangbangers whose former homes the former moved into. Not to get sentimental about the psychopaths whose actions have led to the deaths of too many children in this neighborhood. But I am sure that the careless driving of some of the pretty folks is more of a live hazard than the statistical unlikelihood of being caught by a stray bullet. I have said it before: At least the gangbangers drove slowly.

Be that as it may, my five-year-old daughter, Madeleine, may have heard me reflecting on this particular (now well-worn) pet peeve because she has formed the notion that traffic is caused by hipsters. When we get stuck in traffic she shouts from the back seat of the car, "Come on, hipsters! Move!"

At first I didn't have a theory where the notion came from. I asked Maddie if she thought it was a bad thing to be a hipster. She declined to respond. So I explained what a hipster was: someone who basically is interested in new art forms, new music, new clothes. I said they were easy to make fun of, because they didn't blend in, and many people were jealous. I said hipsters are like anyone else: Some are annoying, and some are cool. We even know a few here and there. They are part of the natural landscape of Echo Park these days, something to study not something to yell at from the back seat. In fact, much of what is fun and joyful in our neighborhood is created by hipsters. And we do not dislike people based on broad categorizations and...blah, blah.I was talking to myself. At the stoplight at Glendale and Duane: "Tell that hipster to move his car!" It was a gardener's truck.

I had to think about it for a while before I came to my theory about how Maddie arrived at her definition of the word. It was the fast lane from something I said months ago, to my befuddlement of the present. If I'm not off-track.

So we're caught on the 110 north going through downtown on Saturday. We are trying to get home to Echo Park. Maddie is falling asleep. In front and behind us a frozen river of hipsters, bumper-to-bumper. I wish I had a serviceable name for it.

February 19, 2010

Free monkeys

I couldn't resist stopping as I passed this box on Morton Ave. in Echo Park today. Monkey see, monkey do.



To my relief, all the monkeys had been taken. Now I am hoping not to be confronted with a photo of myself scratching my head and belly and looking into an empty box.


No monkeys.

February 18, 2010

Armed and dangerous

Things have been scary on a neighborhood list serv this week. There was a report of a large dog -- one post says it's a puppy, about 70 pounds -- that was attacked in Elysian Park by a loose pit bull and badly hurt. The pit bull was described as a brindle, its owner as looking a bit like Danny Devito. According to the puppy's owner, the pit bull's owner basically fled the scene, walking away quickly and leaving the injured puppy without asking questions or giving his own contact information. The puppy's owner has asked for help in identifying the pit bull and its owner.

The attack quickly led to an extended song of fear on the list serv: Dog owners who fear for their safety and the safety of their dogs. One woman says she has a .22 and is considering bringing it with her to the park so that she can shoot a dangerous dog if it tries to attack one of her four dogs. Another woman says she already carries a stun wand. Someone asked where to get one. At least two maybe three say they pack pepper spray, but one person says it's hard to use.

Oh, my. There's nothing more fearsome than fear.

There are of course counter-notes being struck on the list. One person remarked that she thinks it's illegal to carry a concealed handgun. Another asked the gun owner to consider bystanders in the park and children on the street above. She might even shoot her own dog.

With fewer gangbangers working the streets of Echo Park, some of us thought the chances of being hit by a stray bullet had decreased. Maybe so. Maybe not.

Meanwhile, I walked my dog in the park this morning. It was lovely and mostly bucolic -- except for the bulldozer that was packing the trail on the far northern edge of the park: it nearly ran my dog and I off a cliff. But otherwise, the people I passed and said hello to all looked as though they had no reason to carry a gun or a stun wand. The view showed the city looking hazy, as though the gauziest of spider webs had been draped over everything, with the grand exception of St. Andrew's Orthodox Church, whose gold spires shined as though the sun were shining on them and nothing else.

February 11, 2010

A treehouse goes down in Elysian

The L.A. Times published a story today about a treehouse in Elysian Park, high in a eucalyptus tree, that the city is taking down. The article, by Kate Linthicum, reports that many homeless people camp in the 600-acre park, in tents and other makeshift dwellings. The Eastsider reported this a couple of days ago, as well.

Which leads us to ... homelessness in the park being one thing, but new homes another. Once again the issue of Barlow Hospital's desire to sell part of its property within Elysian Park to residential developers is all over the neighborhood lists and blogs. Echoparknow posts news of a brochure (which I never received) sent to neighborhood residents. When EP Now's editors tried to respond to a request for neighborhood input, the online system did not allow. We are talking 888 residential units. Presumably, the city won't be dismantling those. But they should, before anyone gets a chance to move in.

It makes me think of Central Park. The city of New York has never allowed development within the confines of its fabled park, though I'm sure the money would be tempting to some.* And keep in mind that Central Park was built before there was significant development on its north, west and east sides. It was created with the expectation that eventually people would build all around the park.

What we're wondering down here at Chicken Corner is why that kind of forward thinking doesn't seem to be evident in L.A.'s treatment of Elysian Park.

February 9, 2010

Taco trucks and drain works

It doesn't take long, just three rain sessions in a row, to make it seem it's been raining forever.

Just this Saturday afternoon the sun came out. It broke in time to save the Echo Park Art Walk, which looked to me like a success. Lots of people and a care-free vibe. But now we're back to worrying about drainage -- where it doesn't work around my house -- and worrying about drainage -- where it works too well in taking rainwater to the ocean.

A few days ago, I had coffee with a friend, whom I have known since childhood. I started blustering about the wasted water from all this rain, and he agreed it was a bad thing, but he also had some perspective, having actually talked to engineers in the foothills about storing water. Big surprise, it isn't that simple -- it sounds enormously difficult in fact. (I couldn't try to explain the particulars.) ... But then again, I think, didn't they drain some huge swamps to create Central Park in New York and, of course, much of upper Manhattan? It took about 4,000 laborers to create Central Park, which is designed to evoke the wilds of Connecticut. And that was over 150 years ago.

Cluck, cluck.

Meanwhile, it was a few days ago, Saturday, but now I am looking back fondly to the Artwalk. It stretched from Chicken Corner (Grafton-Delta streets on Echo Park Ave.) to Fix cafe a ways up the road. I skirted the edges of it, peeking into a few of the 20 gallery/installations, with my dog on leash. I enjoyed the sight of clumps of friends and solo walkers filling the sidewalks, consulting their paper maps -- coming to the neighborhood to feed their sense of connection to the culture at large. They came to be nourished, but they also were there to be fed: Three taco trucks were parked on north Echo Park Avenue, where you never see them, though only two actually sold tacos. One sold burgers and pommes frites and a dish it called "carcass." French, maybe?

One of my favorite installations was a "self-help center," which was set up in the dog supplies store Blue Collar. It was made of plastic sheeting forming three walls. Inside was a desk, some paper and pens, and a small library of off-brand self-help texts. It wasn't the only kind of help available in the store. While I was there, a couple came in with a big orange-colored pit bull they had found wandering on Echo Park Avenue. The unneutered male had been visiting the galleries and following other dogs, including, earlier, my own. (I had shooed the pit away.) Now the young man and woman wanted to know what to do with the dog, and a small crowd of helpers formed.

Outside on Echo Park Avenue, the husband of the woman who owns the boutique Tavin played jazz on an electric organ in front of her shop. I wandered into Lucas to make an appointment to have my hair cut. An artist showed paintings on a sidewalk table made from a surfboard. It was a lucky thing the rain had stopped.

February 5, 2010

EP Notes: A different kind of cat burglar

People in Echo Park and surrounding don't seem to have to buy dogs and cats. They just show up, ready to live with you for 20 years, or you steal one. My cats showed up. To name two: There was Flipper the Maine coon whose previous guardians caught on that the FBI was staking out their house: They fled, but they left Flipper (whose name at the time was Calvin) as well as at least one car and a houseful of furniture and other belongings. We had Flipper for 15 years, until he died. There also is Monkey, a manx, who began a siege upon our house the day we moved in. No matter what door you went to, Monkey was there, trying to get inside. She clung to window screens like a bat. Being fed wasn't enough: She wanted the keys. And, yes, as I type she is laying comfortably on my her bed with her paws in the air. I tried to give away Monkey and Flipper, but fate resisted until I wouldn't have parted with them for anything much less than a million dollars.

I didn't have to buy those guys (or any of the nearly one dozen -- no joke -- that have showed up and needed homes over the last few years). But I didn't steal them either.

I make the distinction because there's a cat-theft story developing on an Echo Park list serv. A couple of weeks ago, I started noticing postings that read: "Have you seen Sonny?" Apparently there were phone-pole flyers, too. I always think coyote when a cat is missing, so it was a nice little surprise when I saw that Sonny's owner, whom I do not know personally, reported that his cat was back after five days absence.

But that was not the happy ending. A few days later, Sonny's owner wrote on the neighborhood list serv that he had received a call from a neighbor who said Sonny liked to stake out his bird bath (read: cat-snacker) and that the neighbor had been feeding him. According to Sonny's original owner, the neighbor "also threatened that if I did not get Sonny a collar and a tag that 'we'll find a new home for him."'

Story goes: next time Sonny was allowed out of the house, he disappeared for a day and returned with a bandanna tied "snugly" around his neck. His guardian then bought him a collar and tag (he was already micro-chipped). Latest news is that Sonny has disappeared again and is not responding to the whistles and calls that usually bring him home on the quick.

Sonny's owner put up a post asking for constructive suggestions -- and wondering if anyone thought he should call the police. One community member recommended a pet detective (she included the gumshoe's phone number). Another sensibly suggested a face-to-face discussion with the suspect.

Another possibility: Perhaps Sonny should be placed between the two houses -- equal distance to each -- with each neighbor standing in their doorway calling; then Sonny can decide. That is, if he can't live in both places, belonging only to himself.*


*There actually was a case many years ago in NYC -- reported by The Village Voice, but told to me by the dog's owner -- in which a sheepdog that was tied to a parking meter was stolen by an NYC cop. The "real" owners of the dog spotted him a few months later, and the case ended up in court, the cop claiming both that the dog had been abandoned and that his kids loved the dog too much to give back. The dog was ordered to be brought to court, where he ran to his original people, who regained custody. I met the dog at a farm in New Jersey, where he was obsessed by the pond, running at the water and then backing off repeatedly, whimpering all the while. "Oh, he has hydrophobia," I was told when I asked what was wrong. We all have something.

February 4, 2010

Love letters and bottle caps*

Another reason for TGIF: The Echo Park Farmers Market, which now has a Time Bank vendor-stand.

Yes, the Echo Park Time Bank does more than bank just hours. It bottles and trades in all kinds of skills and products -- love letter writing, dress-making, handmade robot heads. These things and more can be acquired at Echo Park's Farmer's Market, an institution that week by week is growing to represent the community it serves. Food stands accept food stamps, there are two gourmet cheese vendors -- and, of course, Time Bank dollars.

Here's an internal memo from the Time Bank:

Stop by the Echo Park Farmer's Market on Fridays from 3-7PM. The Echo Park Artisan Co-op will be there selling their wares. All sales will directly benefit the Artists and The Echo Park Time Bank. Megan Hobza will be selling hand made robot heads, Nyenye will be writing love letters, Orchid will be selling her beautifully designed clothing and Gretchen and Autumn will sell their upcycled bottle cap necklaces. We will also be making produce bags out of t-shirts inspired by Leslie Van Keuren's workshop last month. ... Drop by the market and listen to the Jimi Hendrix impersonator with us for a while. Foxy!

Chicken Corner luvvs recycled Hendrix. She also loves that at least one of the food vendors -- in beans, I believe -- sometimes abandons his tent to jam on the sax for a while. It takes a good time to know a good time, as they say at the market.

Meanwhile, New York City knows a good thing when it sees it: the NY Daily News reported recently that the big apple's big cheese (AKA Bloomberg) has directed the city to invest in a time bank.

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