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March 29, 2012

Goats of New York

They were everywhere, from Central Park to MoMA, during Chicken Corner's visit last week to the Big Apple Petting Zoo. The Central Park goat, below, the one with real fur, was snapped by my friend David Peterkin. During my stay, I interviewed several residents about barnyard animals in the boroughs and learned that backyard chickens are in vogue in Brooklyn.


March 16, 2012


Flash forward to this morning. The second-generation fancy-chicken mural is gone from the exterior side wall of Chango, whitewashed away, along with the remnants of Aaron Donovan's original chicken mural. The lady gas station that Magic Gas had become is no longer a lady gas station -- the purple and mustard colors and lacy italics replaced by a proto-masculine, Fast & Furious red-black-and-white color scheme, and there's a new name: EchoFuels.

Meanwhile, Chango has changed hands; it has new owners. And even the name "Chango" has lost half its "O."

Across the street, construction is moving at a brisk, waste-not-one second pace, in a sudden race to complete the condo development at what used to be an open lot, where an urban farm once was located.

So much change-o at Chicken Corner.

As for the mural, Chicken Corner the blogger is waiting for confirmation that Aaron Donovan will be painting a new mural there. That's what we hear. Chickens? Will he paint chickens? In bondage? We'll soon see.


donovanmural.jpgWhen I began writing Chicken Corner in 2006, Aaron's mural (at left) was already mostly gone, pieces of it distributed in a mural diaspora around the neighborhood -- I even have two pieces of painted cinder brick from when the original mural wall was blown out to create a window for the coffee house. In 2008, a new chicken mural, painted by Richard Meinhardt, went up to the right of Chango's side window. That's the one that most recently disappeared.

March 7, 2012

Postcards from the Lion Farm*

palms.jpgWhen L.A. was smaller and tinted:

Actor, guide, and fly fisherman Darryl Kunitomi dug up a treasure of historic postcards of the Los Angeles area on, which he was generous enough to share this morning, with this note: "Had to send, amazing site with (mostly) 19th Century LA postcards, Echo Park and other views. What a pretty city. Smaller was better."

I happen to love those old tinted, idealized cards, and this site has hundreds -- with chapters dedicated to "Echo Park," "Elysian Park," "Eastlake Park," "Hollenbeck Park," "Calif. Oil Wells," "Lion Farm." In postcard history, places and categories are the same thing. Some of the 27 chapters (read: buttons) double up: A section of pigeon farm postcards, nine images in all, appears like a bonus track at the end of the Elysian Park cards. There are places I had never heard of, like the Japanese Deer Park and the Alligator farm. And then there's Clifton's and movie star homes. Such a trove!**

Pigeon farms? Isn't the world a pigeon farm? Not around the turn of the century in Los Angeles.

As for the Lion Farm, nowadays I think/hope we know better. You'll see what I mean.

*Update: Darryl sent this one, too--Los Angeles Past. It's a lot of fun.

**The site specifies that it is to be used for "personal, non-commercial, educational" purposes only.

March 1, 2012

Turning the tables at Taix

Talk about setting a precedent. Taix restaurant threw quite the bash Wednesday evening in honor of three employees who have not just worked for the French country-style restaurant for 50 years each but have become part of the legend of this legendary Los Angeles establishment.

Some 186 people crammed into a banquet room to celebrate the milestones of Bernard, Jose, and Fernando, AKA Bernard Inchauspe, Jose Fragoso, and Fernando Gomez. Bernard is the famed waiter, Jose works events, and Fernando tends bar. All three are known for their style and remarkable memories, for being old-school in the best sense. For many, they have been an anchor in our always rapidly changing city.

Astonishingly, there were only two no-shows, Gloria Sohacki, the hostess, told me. And I believed her. The banquet room was packed: waiters had to squeeze between chairs to deliver platters of salmon, chicken, lamb, beans and salad, which were passed down the long tables by guests -- the restaurant long has offered European style family dining, as well as private tables.

Gil Garcetti made an appearance. The honorees gave speeches. Each long table was named for a prominent local street. Everyone at my table had Bernard stories. One man loved Taix's duck, so he would call as ask Bernard to save one for him, because they'd run out. He'd get his duck and a big, warm greeting.IMG_5096.JPG

My friend and neighbor Angela Wood did not go to the dinner. But she had this to say:

I ... have a soft spot for Bernard. He's kept me going for years by calling me "pretty lady," even when I showed up in tattered, old jeans and no makeup. If I was stranded on a desert island and [could choose] only one waiter and one restaurant, it would be Bernard at Taix.

The building Taix has occupied since 1962 on Sunset Boulevard (previously, it operated downtown -- serving brandy in coffee cups during Prohibition) is a Los Angeles landmark, of course. But Bernard, Jose, and Fernando show it's the people who make it one.

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