Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A clown fish in a sea of animals

I've never been very good at video games, and I have zero patience for fighting games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat.

Maybe my dispassion goes back to the days as a kid in San Jose...my parents liked to eat at this hole-in-the-wall taqueria called El Paseo, located at Tully and King. (Actually, my dad only referred to the place as the Greasy Spoon.) I'd hit him up for a quarter, played a quick round of Pac-Man, and that was it. No second quarter, no follow-up game. The owners later rigged up the Pac-Man arcade machine to play at an impossible triple-speed. That put the nail in the coffin for my gaming career.

I am good at one arcade game...Galaga. However, I didn't take it up until I had free hours between college classes, and I had nothing better to do (study?) on campus after the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings ended.

On Saturday I noticed that the Space Invader tiles are missing from the Giant Robot store on Sawtelle. The store worker said it's been a couple years. Geez. This guy has a great photo collection of Space Invaders in Los Angeles.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Santana to Downtown and lots of junk

We were only supposed to stay in Santa Ana for 2 years. Five years later, we're still here. Putting our foot down, we're renting out this house and buying a loft in Downtown L.A. We actually saw a corner loft on 5th and Broadway with both views of the street.

Downtown has always been the holy grail for us. We've wanted to live there before the yuppies infiltrated the place and the gentrification bubbled over. Now that they're all moving out, Baddicusfinch and I can move in.

Can't wait to actually realize our dream...in the meantime, we're getting rid of our junk...well actually our beloved collection of books. Good luck to us. Imagawayaki, here we come!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Judge not before you judge yourself

I just read about a new KFC marketing scheme. They're offering to repair potholes in four "randomly picked" American cities. The trade-off...the asphalt fill would be stamped with a KFC logo.

Great...if it's not electronic billboards and supergraphics to worry about, now we have to be on the lookout for even more corporate graffiti.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A salty message written in the eaves

Here are a couple former KFCs...one on Figueroa near USC, and the other on Chapman in Orange. I'm always on the lookout for older fast food restaurant buildings that have been recycled into other businesses. Reminds me of hermit crabs taking over abandoned shells.

On the subject of fast food businesses...is that Vampire Weekend song "Mansard Roof" about McDonald's restaurants?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fashion Victim

In Santa Ana we have a decent last-chance movie theater...Picture Show at the MainPlace Shopping Center. Can't beat the $1.75 price, and there's always something to laugh about. On Saturday an older woman had no qualms asking for a senior discount. And the ticket taker decided to take a stroll..."I had to pick my 'fro," he casually explained.

MainPlace is an enclosed mall. It used to be Santa Ana Fashion Square, an open air retail center that was demolished in the '80s. Now plans are kicking around to raze the north Macy's and build a roofless entertainment-shopping area. Funny how shopping trends go...from traditional downtowns to open air malls to enclosed malls and back to open air malls and "lifestyle centers" that try to mimic traditional downtowns.

Take a look at the plaque celebrating a parking garage built in 1978 with city funds for the Fashion Square. You gotta love how the mayor and city council wanted a pat on the back. I doubt they paid as much attention to Santa Ana's downtown in those days...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Thai me up! Thai me down!

Thai Nakorn in Garden Grove is still rebuilding after a fire closed them up in 2007. They finally applied the stucco color coat to the exterior walls over the weekend. Man, this has been a looooong wait. Hurry up!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Bageldonutburgerburrito...Smell Yes!

There are days when you crave just about every type of food at once. That happens to me a lot. Fortunately, there's this crazy eatery in Santa Ana that serves bagels, donuts, burgers, Mexican food and what have you. Never been to the place myself, but the sign down Bristol always gets me. I'll check out the restaurant soon, but I'm afraid of the intermingling scents. Carne asada with a whiff of donuts and bagels? I can imagine it already.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Anti-Communist Hardliners...Chill!

I finished reading Mein Kampf last spring and it bored me to death. I don't know why I even bothered. Now, the stupid book is just sitting on my shelf. I think about selling it on Amazon but why spread the boredom?

Speaking of bores, the Vietnamese community in town is scaring me a little bit. I'm talking about the older generation anti-communist hardliners lurking in my neighborhood. I remember a few years ago when thousands swarmed a video store in Little Saigon because the owner had a poster of Ho Chi Minh on his wall. The owner denied he was a communist. He just wanted to show that in the United States there was such a thing as the power of the First Amendment. If we can't have it here, how the heck are they going to have it in Vietnam? Anyhoo, they ran the guy out of town.

A few weeks ago, these same fascists spray-painted Brian Doan's photographs at an art show in Santa Ana. His work depicted communist stars and all that jazz. Coalition Against Resolution #36 and the Yellow Flag Youth are two of the groups that organized the protests and intimidated artists and patrons alike. They succeeded in driving Brian Doan's show out of town to Cypress College. And whaddya know...the Hitler brigade followed him and threw yet another protest to get his art eradicated from this communist-free world.

This is very disturbing to me. I understand the old hate. I've read books, seen films, and talked to friends who'd experienced the hurt...but darn it, this is America. We inhale freedom of speech!

Basically I'm just waiting for the old ones to chill, and am clapping for the young Vietnamese who are beginning to vote Democratic. This craziness must stop, or I'm going to have to start making sling shots to shoo some arthritic critics out of my town.

I'll Bee There

I've been stung by a bee twice in my life. The first, a neck sting, happened in first grade, just as I was boarding the yellow submarine at the end of the school day. One more step and I would've been in the clear. A few years later I was hanging by my hands from a wood trellis beam in my backyard (just accept it for what it is...I was a strange kid), and a bee took umbrage and took me out. I fell, I hurt. Today I take solace that at least I didn't suffer the fate of my classmate Danny, who was actually stung by a dead bee just lying in a grassy field.

Ever wonder why you don't hear too many bee sting stories anymore? Simple answer...there aren't as many bees. Most likely because of pesticides screwing up nature's delicate balance, bee populations all over the United States and other parts of the world are collapsing. No bees = reduced crop pollination = farewell to some types of fruits and vegetables.

I just read about an awesome group in Orange County called the Backyard Beekeepers. The members are doing a kick-ass job saving honeybee colonies from extermination, and they're quick to diffuse the myth of Africanized bees taking over.

And speaking of bees, Thursday night's The Bird and the Bee show at the historic Yost Theatre marked the return of Koo's programming to downtown Santa Ana. I enjoyed the show...nice music, good acoustics, not-too-deafening sound. Yes, I suppose I'm getting old.