Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Coma como en el D.F.

The OC Weekly has a good read about Santa Ana's taco trucks. Check out the postings from Los Hermanos Lonchera sin Frontera at twitter.com/loshermanosLSF. They've certainly taken their cue from the Kogi folks.

I lived in Japan for a year in the '90s, and I spent an inordinate amount of Tokyo time searching for a half-decent burrito. The best I found was at a restaurant called El Sol in the Umejima district, but the most interesting was from a beaten up roach coach in Shibuya. The owner had decorated the green truck with Don't Mess with Texas stickers, and he was quick to warn me that "Japanese no like beans," so naturally the burrito was beanless. I'll have to dig up my photo and post it up, but in the meantime the photo above is from Garden Grove's Korean District.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Lone Wolf and Cub

Since my dad retired a few years back and moved from San Jose to the Fresno area, he's gone from casual hiker to disciplined ultralight backpacker. He cuts ounces by any means...no tent, sawed-off toothbrush, minimal changes of clothes. He's even perfected his own stove made from a Heineken can.

After a few misses, we were finally able to coordinate a trip together. I'm still recovering from last weekend's backpacking in the upper reaches of Sequoia National Park. The payoff of otherworldly granite crags, clear lakes, shooting stars, melting snowpack, and spectacular views was worth the hours of steep trekking and the rationed toilet paper. Thanks, Dad!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bob Bablah

I've been getting rid of my accumulated junk, simplifying and getting ready for a move to a smaller home with less storage space. I sold off my records, donated bags of clothes, and threw away useless scraps of paper. I'm still asking myself why I hung onto GTE phone bills from the '90s for so long. On the packrat scale of 1 to 10, I'm somewhere in the 7 or even 8 range, so it's a good feeling to finally let go.

Amongst other holdovers, I'm now down to one box of comic books. My old DC favorites, including the Perez/Wolfman era Teen Titans and Earth-2 titles like All-Star Squadron, are awaiting final judgment. I didn't realize I had so many Bob's Big Boy comics from the days when the restaurant would hand them out to customers.

I took another drive by the almost completely demo'd Johnie's Broiler in Downey that's being restored to a new life as a Bob's Big Boy. I caught the sign contractor in action...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Santa Ana Library...the fee's knees

The miserable Santa Ana Library charges $2 for each DVD or VHS checkout, and starting July 1st our lovely city kicked in a 50-cent fee for CD checkouts. Although I'm a Santa Ana resident, these fees are partly why I patronize the City of Orange Public Library way more frequently. No charge for DVDs or CDs there.

The Santa Ana budget for the 2009-2010 fiscal year is revealing. According to the budget, last fiscal year's library rental charges only amounted to a skimpy $5,870 for the city coffers. That divides out to about 56 movie checkouts each week. Total. For a city with a population hovering about the 350,000 mark.

Newsflash to the Library Board and the Library Executive Director...uh, I mean the Parks and Recreation Executive Director, because the Library Department was just swallowed up by Parks and Rec...you will take in more library revenue if you eliminate the DVD/VHS/CD fees, which would increase circulation, and inevitably lead to late returns and late fees! How do you think video stores make the big bucks? (Pssst...l a t e f e e s.) I'm constantly coughing up a dollar here and a dollar there at the Orange Library because of my forgetfulness, so you can say I'm personally funding a decent film and music selection in my friendly neighboring city to the northeast.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


I grew up in a nondescript San Jose neighborhood with housing tracts constructed in the mid-'70s to the early '80s. Not quite East San Jose, not quite South San Jose, and no catch-all name for the neighborhood, unless you count the Ramblewood tag that never really took. Something tells me South Central San Jose won't stick either.

I remember being upset that I lived in a nameless place, and to this day I have difficulty explaining the location. It doesn't seem right to describe a neighborhood in terms of freeways and freeway exits or the nearest shopping mall. Maybe I'll start saying I grew up near the Lord of the Rings streets. Maybe I grew up in Middle-earth.

Los Angeles neighborhood identity is a tricky business. A sliver of the Van Nuys neighborhood wants to leave and join up with the adjacent, tonier Sherman Oaks neighborhood. Valley Glen and Lake Balboa also split from Van Nuys in recent years. Poor Van Nuys. I don't know what's worse...to be a neighborhood with zero identity or a neighborhood with a negative identity.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Santa Ana LiBarely

I'm still upset with the Santa Ana Library. The old bad news...we're down to two libraries in a city of over 350,000 residents.

Now I'm looking at the budget approved by the Santa Ana City Council for the fiscal year starting July 1st, and it looks like the axe just kept chopping away. The department will be merged into the Parks and Recreation Department, music CDs will be 50 cents for each checkout, adult funding will be reduced 24%, children funding will be reduced 40%, adult material acquisitions will be slashed from an already low 5,400 items to a paltry 2,200 new items...and on and on...

Last week I stopped by the Main Library, and the house was packed! In these shaky economic times we need more library materials and services, not the barebone joke we've been served.