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September 30, 2010

Maria: 2,289 know her as Orange Bill


Maria the goose of Echo Park Lake is famous to many people in the neighborhood for her attachment to a man named Dominic, who visits her regularly. They walk around the park together, and the big domestic goose tries to follow when her human pal leaves. Sometimes she flies after him.

But the big brown and white goose, who stays mostly away from the other resident fowl at the lake, has a second identity as Orange Bill -- and she has a Facebook page, too -- with 2,289 Friends. Story goes our goose earned the name Orange Bill during a June 2010 video shoot for the band OK Go, which spent three days or so at the lake shooting. She got in the way a lot; she was a friend and a nuisance -- and in the end she figures prominently in the last quarter of video for the song "End Love." (The visuals are in fast-motion, but you can't miss Maria.) No mention of Orange Bill on the Chicago band's official website.

I visited Orange Bill's Facebook page, of course, and found it infested with scam-ish looking postings but also many genuine, affectionate shoutouts to Maria...or the man/woman behind the curtain. One Friend posted "His name is Taco!"

So she has three names, it turns out. Or more?

This is Maria, AKA Orange Bill, AKA Taco (she has six or seven passports, as well). I took the photo last week in front of the Boat House at Echo Park Lake. She said hello to me, but it was Dominic she was waiting for.


Echo Park Lake crayfish


This fancy-looking guy or gal showed itself yesterday while Chicken Corner was taking a walk around the park with her pal Martin Cox, dog Chyla, and for a little while Dave Foster, who manages the park on site for Park & Rec. The crayfish stayed in view for about 40 seconds, then hastened into the crack in the cement (mid-ground in the photo), exactly where it was headed at the moment Martin snapped the photo with his cell phone.

Toward the end of the walk we encountered the famous goose Maria, who stayed away from the other birds, preferring the proximity of a few guys with fishing poles and a few others smoking a joint as well as a guy washing his face in the drinking fountain. Dave Foster said that Maria has become a handful. She is attached to a man named Dominic who comes to visit her at the lake. But when Dominic leaves on his motorbike, she flies after him and has nearly been hit by cars. So now, the park employees grab her when Dominic is ready to leave and put her in an enclosure, until Dominic is gone.

Foster said there's talk that a pond or two could be created during the draining of Echo Park Lake so that the year-round ducks, geese, heron (there's about 12) and other birds will have a place to live during "construction."

And the crayfish?

Still, Chicken Corner is hugely in support of an on-site pond plan.

September 29, 2010


Meet the Fabulous Four:




And Cutie Patootie!

They arrived in the mail yesterday, via I had ordered five, and that's what we got, but one was dead. The Easter Egger bantam hens are now three days old. My daughter, Madeleine, and I had eagerly awaited them for almost a month (I had chosen Sept. 27 as the delivery date, and they came a day late). My husband was not so eager -- he thought the money spent on a coop, medicated feed, watering dish, feeding station, wood shavings, everything but dress-up clothes, would have been better spent on shoes and maybe a few postage stamps. We're hoping he'll end up being charmed by the little ladies. It's about time Chicken Corner had some chickens scratching around the yard.

Tuesday morning, I got a call that the chicks were en route to the Edendale Post Office. I got in the car to go meet them. I waited at this door:


The four survivors were peeping loudly in that box:

One was dead. Three were fine. The tiniest of them, Cutie Patootie, seemed distressed. She was listless for part of the day. So Madeleine and I held her and fed her plain yogurt. She turned the corner for the better in the evening, and now she's the quickest, hungriest, and most active of them all.


September 24, 2010

R.I.P. Robert Trachinger*

trach.jpgI am sad to learn of the death September 19 of Robert Trachinger, who was a professor at U.C.L.A., where he taught production and ethics in media for 30 years, and before then was an engineer and producer for ABC news and sports as well as documentarian. Trachinger's daughter, Mia, is a friend of mine, and I only met Robert one time -- at a birthday party for his granddather, Lotte, who is a friend of my daughter. But I have known his work for my entire life -- if not his name -- as Trachinger developed the first handheld video camera. The images we all hold in our minds of cameramen running through battlefields in Vietnam (even those of us who were too young to see them when they first were broadcast) are due to innovations by Trachinger. A note of historical interest: Trachinger was technical director for the broadcast aspects of the Kennedy-Nixon debates. His work helped change the way we all see the world.

For anyone who has shot on the Red, HVX, Mini-DV: Here's the first handheld TV camera, developed by Robert Trachinger.

*Edited post

September 23, 2010

Landacre press turns up in Carson

File this under the "strange and unexpected return of the long-lost": A blog called the Clog reported on Sept. 7 that a Paul Landacre printing press, which was stolen in Echo Park in the 1920s or '30s, has turned up in Carson at the International Printing Museum. The news was passed along to Chicken Corner by LADWP architect Scott Fajack.

According to the Clog blog, which left us with a cliff hanger:

The Clark Library's Head Cataloger was at the International Printing Museum in Carson, CA to celebrate 100 Years of Wood Type with the Southern California chapter of the American Printing History Association. If you've never been there, you should know that there are literally hundreds of printing presses, a few linotype machine, monotype casters, acres of moveable type and other typographic goodies. They have classes, demonstrations, a small yet impressive reference library, and an army of knowledgeable volunteers. What's even better? Most of the presses on display to the public are in working order.
On this particular Saturday in August, the Washington hand-press (no. 473) manufactured by the Cincinnati firm, C. Foster & Bro., was set up for attendees to try their hand at the pull. During the time it took to ink up the forme, it was revealed that this particular press was once owned by the "famous Los Angeles-based wood engraver, Paul Landacre."

Paul Landacre is one of Echo Park's brightest lights from the 1930s and beyond. The Moran Street bungalow where he died, on the site of the former Semi-tropical Spiritualists Tract -- nown just above the 2 Freeway -- became a historic landmark a few years ago.

September 20, 2010

Syrah! Echo Park

Heather and Joe D'Augustine held their annual harvest of the grapes party at their house/vineyard yesterday ("annual" minus 2009, when smoke from the Station Fire seems to have put a damper on the event). Neighbors and friends from all over came to the Echo Park micro-vineyard to pick grapes, sort grapes, and load them into some kind of mushing machine with a funnel. Perhaps 500 pounds of them, Heather estimated, based on past yields. The guest workers were paid in pizza that was baked in the D'Augustine outdoor pizza oven. The first part of the party was more Calvinist than Dionysian, but a great deal of fun nonetheless. The second half involved an open mic. But the crowd was spared the spectacle of seeing Chicken Corner clucking into a microphone: My daughter's bedtime arrived before the music started (and before we left), with Monday looming.




September 18, 2010

Puppies on the floor, dogs on the wall

It was supposed to be a simple haircut at the Echo Park salon Lucas, but all of a sudden it was a puppy festival, as the front door opened and in walked a woman with a box of babies, which "belonged" to Alice, who happened to be cutting my hair at that very moment.

"The puppies are here," Alice said, dropping her scissors -- leaving yours truly with her hair wet and hurrying across the room, the high-ceilinged place filling with overlapping cries and squeals of "puppies!" All hair cutting and other salon work stopped as the women in the place -- soon to be joined by a man and a boy -- hurried over to play with the five little darlings, which are the sons and daughters of Alice's dog. Their breed, officially, is "dog," in their case meaning part corgi, part dachsund, and part "other." They are five weeks old, have short legs, long-wide snouts, fat bellies, and Alice was hoping to find homes for them.

Set loose on the floor of the salon, they started waddling in all directions. Then they got tired and piled on top of one another in their box. Sometime in between business-as-usual resumed.

Meanwhile, the large-scale Michael Faye photographs on the walls at Lucas showed dogs who were looking for a different kind of home: on the wall. The salon-gallery art opening for Faye's show was set for Saturday night (Sept. 18). Alice was considering bringing the puppies to the gallery reception, but she hadn't decided. At Lucas, it was a dog day afternoon into the evening.

Lisa at Lucas, with puppies.


September 4, 2010

The Plumbean Report: Iguanaland

Subcategory #1: Pure Plumbean. Chicken Corner fluttered past this joyful, closely managed Silver Lake exterior on Friday, appreciating the unified execution, the way the inhabitants (I assume) have so meticulously stuck to his/her/their vision. The name Iguanaland is an invention of Chicken Corner, who wonders if giant iguanas rest lazily on the grounds.
Chairs and torso after the jump:



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