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April 30, 2010

Lotus festival still alive

Even though the lotus are dead. Rec and Parks posted the dates on their website -- July 10 and 11 this year at Echo Park Lake. The Lotus Festival Without Lotus, kind of reminiscent of Flannery O'Connor's Church of Christ Without Christ for being ironic without meaning to.

Speaking of the lake, on May 2 one Big Sunday charity event will be taking place at the rec center, just across the street from the south side of Echo Park Lake, in which Yours Truly and family will be serving lemonade from 1 to 4 p.m. under the aegis of the tireless Ellen Lawler, who organized. Proceeds benefit the Harmony Project, (of which Echo Park violinist/photographer Julie Fowells, a friend, was one of the founders).

Thirsty, but don't want to drive, bike, walk, crawl all the way to Echo Park? Click here, for a list of lemonade stands (on both weekend days) that will benefit Big Sunday charities.

April 26, 2010

Food trucks

Yesterday was food truck Sunday in Echo Park. On my way to the Hollywood Farmer's Market with my daughter I saw four food trucks parked along the sidewalk on EP Ave. in front of the storefronts. A dosa truck, a cupcake truck, southeast Asian, and something else. They were still there when we came back at 2 p.m., so I pulled over to take a look, parking in a red zone because I expected to stay no longer than the time it took to buy a masala dosa -- or something comparable -- to go. The sidewalk was busy with people buying food, hanging out with their dogs, eating, hanging out with their friends. I was delighted by the scene, but heard from one shop owner that some neighbors were so upset by the presence of the trucks they had threatened to call the police. A quality of life disturbance? None of the truck sold tacos? (I have more sympathy for the objections to the taco truck that used to park in the early morning hours on Logan Ave., where it attracted violent crime and public urination.) At least one of the shops had arranged for the trucks to come -- and they had saved parking spaces. So, we bought water and a very tasty dosa (a kind of sourdough pancake with savory filling from south India), talked to Genevieve who owns Delilah cafe a little ways up the street, and lost the key to my car. (It's a VW key, if you happen to find it.) I'd had that key for nine years. I was lucky to run into a friend named Terry who said he'd drive my daughter and me home to get the spare key, but I'd have to climb in through the passenger window of his car, which I did. My car was still there, unticketed, when my daughter and I returned. The trucks were there, too. I'll be happy to see them again.

April 23, 2010

Gates open only for those who are leaving

From the department of corrections at Chicken Corner: The Scott Avenue Gates will be open this Saturday only for patrons who are leaving the Joel and Victoria Osteen "Historic Night of Hope." Not for arrivals.

April 22, 2010

New 'indie rockers' getting a greengrocer in EP

While we're on the subject organic and urban gardening:

No lesser a pop personage than Ann Powers, music critic of the L.A. Times, recently opined on Facebook that urban farming is the new indie rock. Ann, who is a friend, is not the type to keep backyard hens, though many of her friends are certain to do so.

So, decently produced food is groovy/indie now. Even the crankiest among us should hardly be annoyed by that. I mean, who has a secret love for square tomatoes? Though I have to admit ambivalence at the idea that growing onions is cool.

Still, I am delighted to learn that we are getting a greengrocery on Echo Park's Gallery Row -- which now has a coffee house, the grocery cum-general store El Batey, a hair salon/gallery, a real estate office, a by-appointment clothing designer, two vintage boutiques, a pet supplies store, and one or maybe two empty spaces. Instead of having turned into the shadow of a cool gallery moment ten years ago, the Echo Park Avenue strip of storefronts is dynamic in a mature and unusual way that seems organic to the neighborhood.

Marta Teegen, who is known to many in the urban gardening world for her Homegrown brand of classes and other edible-garden-related products, will be the purveyor of the new shop. Teegen says its name will be Cookbook, and she could not provide an opening date because the permitting process is still underway.

In an email, I asked about the name Cookbook, and Teegen mentioned cooking and food, but she did not say that books would be a major part of the endeavor.

My hope is that Cookbook will be a viable place to shop on a budget, not a food boutique -- or not only a food boutique. Right now, the only place to get organic or non-spray produce in Echo Park is the farmer's market on Fridays. The Echo Park Farmer's Market is reasonably priced, and its vendors accept food stamps. It brings people together, as the best markets should do.

April 20, 2010

Coming and going

Chicken Corner reported earlier today that when Joel and Victoria Osteen preach the Gospel of Success at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night, the Scott Avenue gates would be open only for incoming traffic. Turns out that wasn't quite correct. I got an email time-dated 2-something this afternoon from Noel Pallais, Dodger PR person, who said the gates will be open coming and going:

Please note that due to an oversight on my part, the email from yesterday relative to the event on Saturday should have mentioned that the Scott Avenue gate WILL be utilized for outbound traffic. All other information was accurate.

And, yes, if you're wondering, those are the same gates the Dodgers promised (just the neighborhood) wouldn't be open any way but one way. Well, seems to Chicken Corner that if Osteen is going to use baseball imagery in selling the gospels and, if Osteen is going to attract the same number of cars, the same promises to the neighborhood should apply.

Big church at the temple of baseball

Dodger Stadium will be the location of a pre-ordained "Historic Night of Hope" this Saturday, April 24 -- as you know if you follow the itinerary of Joel Osteen, the big-media pastor, whom some call "America's Voice of Hope."

According to Osteen's website for the event:

On April 24th, Victoria and I will be honored to conduct a "Historic Night of Hope" in Los Angeles, California at one of the most treasured landmarks on the West Coast, Dodger Stadium.
God is giving us an opportunity to present the Good News of the Gospel in the entertainment capital of the world. At a site dedicated to champions throughout the ages, we are going to share a message of the Greatest Champion - Jesus Christ. ...

All well and good: EP has a rich history as a home to evangelical revivals, most notably Sister Aimee Semple McPherson's, and let's not forget Azusa Street nearby in Downtown. It's a common sight to see church groups in Elysian Park picnic grounds on weekends, and at Echo Park Lake. Still, here's to the hope that for Osteen's nighttime service the traffic and crowd flow through the surrounding neighborhood is managed more effectively than we've seen at the ballgames. Or maybe say a prayer to that effect.

Set-up for the event, which is expected to sell out, begins tomorrow.

Dodger PR official Noel Pallais sent an email informing Echo Park residents of set-up and sound-check times, along with the information that the Scott Avenue gates will be open for arrivals.

No word yet on whether the new shuttle that takes baseball fans from Union Station to the stadium will be serving the faithful at this event.

Meanwhile, Vanity Fair has a cute "Out to Lunch" column on Osteen in this month's money issue. During a lunch in Manhattan, Osteen reveals he's unfamiliar with bok choy, apparently never having shopped for vegetables in the vicinity of Dodger Stadium, so many miles away from Manhattan and Osteen's home in Houston. Well, it's never too late to try something new.

The Dodgers' Pallais wrote:

Dear Neighbor: As the season continues, we would like to provide you additional information relative to the timeline for the Joel Osteen Ministries event scheduled for Saturday, April 24th at 7:00PM.
· Set-up will commence on Wednesday, April 21st in the parking lots immediately adjacent to the Stadium. During the set-up stadium lights will be on;
· A sound check for the event will commence at approximately 3:00PM on Saturday;
· Parking gates will open at 5:00PM, event will start at 7:00PM and the will conclude at approximately 10:00PM;
· The event is expected to be a sell-out and all parking gates will be used for inbound traffic. However, to minimize the impact on the community please note that the Scott Avenue gate will not be utilized for outbound traffic and the City will not close any streets but the "Local Access Only" barricades will be placed at the previously agreed upon locations;
· Event breakdown will commence on Sunday, April 25th and will be completed on Monday, April 26th – as will be the case for the set-up the stadium lights will be on.
Finally, you may contact our Neighborhood Focus line at 323.224.2636, should you have any questions, require additional information or to report any security concerns.

April 17, 2010

Marsha Perloff's neighbors include...

...this guy/gal in Tujunga:


Photo courtesy Perloff via Facebook. The former EP resident and current dog trainer to the stars and canines of Echo Park travels in interesting circles.

April 13, 2010

Dodger diary

Opening day: The fans were avid, and the neighbors were livid -- some of them at least. On a neighborhood list, there are several reports of police bullhorns at five o-clock in the morning outside of people's homes near Scott Ave. and other south-side of Elysian Park areas. Despite the police presence, booming car radios made their speakers felt. As one cranky resident put it, the police are supposed to keep things orderly, not add to the noise. (Whom do you call when the police are even noisier than the yahoos? The fire department?) Take me out to the ballgame -- quietly, if you will!

Barnsdall JAC: every year a fight for funds

On Saturday, for the fourth time in fewer than twelve months, I went to Barnsdall art park to register my daughter for art classes. The Junior Arts Center has been offering low-cost, high-quality classes since 1967, and the registration process is routine: registration begins at 8:30 a.m., with place-in-line numbers handed out beginning at 7. If you're one of the first 60 or so, there's a chalk box written onto the ground where you can hold your number down. You also get a sign-up sheet with your number on it, if you're the kind of person who wanders out of place (as do I). One time, I arrived at ten to seven to find myself an anxious #170 or so, watching as classes filled up. This time it appeared to me that there were fewer than 100 parents.

Saturday's trip would have been a routine for me, as well as Barnsdall, except that the registration was held two weeks late, for a session that was supposed to have been canceled. (If you're just tuning in, the Los Angeles City Department of Cultural Affairs announced about a month ago that it was shutting the program down. The City Council stepped up to help the Department of Cultural Affairs "find" the money -- and the will -- to reinstate spring classes. Even though it may have been an action by the City Council that led to the cancelation in the first place.) As Paul Gamberg, the founder of a nonprofit that created an umbrella group that supports the Junior Arts Center and the adult arts program, let me and other parents in line know, this could be the last of the Junior Arts Center sign-ups if people don't speak up in support of the program. And others like it, Chicken Corner will hasten to add.

It has seemed baffling to me that the Department of Cultural Affairs could fail to support such a popular program that was already in place and even had a legacy. Once upon a time, according to Gamberg, Barnsdall's arts programs -- and the whole system of neighborhood arts centers -- were the darling of Mayor Tom Bradley. Still, he said, every year in recent decades the Center has had to fight for city funds, and this was not the first time the program had come close to being shut down. In Gamberg's opinion, the Department of Cultural Affairs defines its mission in terms of PR and tourism, that it wants to attract visitors to Los Angeles with big programs that will raise the city's profile outside of Los Angeles -- and supporting small, local arts centers that provide low-cost classes is not a priority for the agency. As we have seen.

Well, here at Chicken Corner HQ we have our bias, based on the belief that a better city has better programs and services for its residents, even in a dire economy. A better place to live is a good place to visit.

April 12, 2010

Hidden stairways

Got my paws on a copy of Secret Stairs, Charles Fleming's "Walking Guide To the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles" today. The reporter and author makes a solid argument that Los Angeles -- of all places! -- "secretly is a wonderful place to walk -- if you know where to go." That, of course, is The Big If in pedestrian L.A. With Secret Stairs, Fleming starts in Pasadena and zigzags his way west, through Montecito Heights, Highland Park ... to Santa Monica. In Echo Park, he maps six stairway loops (that's public stair street to regular street to stairs...). He counts the number of steps in each flight, and he knows his history, making this a nice reconfiguration of a landscape that is human-historical as well as altitudinous. The book contains maps and details for 42 excursions.

Round trip

There's Abandoned Couches. Then there are Abandoned Mattresses. Like this one on Ewing St. in Echo Park. It wasn't lonely for long. I took this picture on Friday. By Sunday, the mattress was gone without a trace.


April 9, 2010

Barnsdall registration... Corrected*

...for kids classes is April 10. As in tomorrow. It was supposed to take place March 27, but the Los Angeles City Department of Cultural Affairs, which administers the cherished program, had planned to cancel it. Then the city council stepped in, and bad press was everywhere, Mayor V. denied having anything to do with cancellation plans, and money was found to run a session. Late = much better than nothing.

So Chicken Corner will be out there tomorrow, staking a place in line -- I usually try to get there no later than 7 a.m., and I am one of the later folks. It's a chatty scene, with beautiful scenery.

*Correction -- the session is late but not abbreviated.

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