Thursday, October 15, 2009

Made in India

We'll be traveling in India the rest of October...see you in November!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sylvanjail bears

I attended San Jose's Sylvandale Junior High in the '80s, when the school district installed a ten-foot high chain link fence topped with barbed wire around the perimeter. Sylvanjail was born.

Even then I didn't like feeling like a prisoner, and I'm still not a fan of gates, walls, window bars, private streets, vacated alleys, and security check points.
I prefer hearing about walls being dismantled, fences reduced in height, bridges constructed, bus stops added, rail lines planned, and hiking and biking trails extended and connected.

The photo shows the Hayward Hotel at Spring and 6th in Downtown Los Angeles. A gate on the Spring Street side has been removed...that's what I'm talking about.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Century City's got everything covered

I found this 1960s sign advertising a Century City construction project. It's still sitting in the most run-down, godforsaken vacant industrial lot in the city I work in. If you look carefully at the upper right corner of the sign, you'll see the faded words, "An Alcoa development."

I'm amazed that I've been at my current job for almost five years. My previous employment was a three-year, whacked-out tour of duty with the State of California, and ahead of that was scattershot work with titles including words like...substitute, contract, part-time, temporary, assistant, or student.

One gem was retail work hawking souvenirs at the since-demolished Schubert Theater in Century City. I tended a little kiosk before and after plays and musicals, and occasionally I'd recognize a face from film and television. This one co-worker (I forget his name, but he looked exactly like the Chief from BSG) was always on the active lookout for celebrities to harass.

Michelle Pfeiffer wandered over by herself one evening, and sure enough, the Chief came running over from across the way. "Has anyone ever told you you look like Michelle Pfeiffer?" he panted. He always used that line.

"Yes, because I am Michelle Pfeiffer."

"I knew it! I knew it! Can I get an autograph?"

He never succeeded in getting an autograph.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Sunday papers don't got no eyes

This sad LA Weekly newsrack had been yanked...most likely for being an oddball color...and was sitting on a scrap heap behind the Historic Downtown Los Angeles BID HQ on Spring Street. A Newsrack Ordinance has been on the Los Angeles books for several years, and one of the regs stipulates a single color...Ivy Green...for all racks.

When I moved back to Los Angeles after five years in Santa Ana, I suspended my Los Angeles Times subscription, and I intended to try exclusively reading the online version. I gave it a month, but I had to resume delivery to my new place.

Say all you want about the death of print media, but there's really no substitute for flipping the freshly printed news sheets, folding the paper under your arms, or getting lost in column inches continued from the front page. And I was having a hard time lining the birdcage with LA Weekly tabloid-style pages.

My only complaint is that the delivery person drops off the morning stack at the front security desk in my Downtown building. When I lived in a multi-story college dormitory in the '90s, the delivery folks had no trouble walking upstairs. What happened?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Last century modern

On Wednesday night (I know, might as well have been the Jurassic in blog-time) EzraPounded and I attended a panel discussion about preserving '60s architecture, set up by the Los Angeles Conservancy and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. They're ramping up for the magic year of 2010, which is the 50-year mark for 1960, and 50 years carry a ton of legal weight in HistoricPreservationLand.

It will be interesting to see how the preservation battles continue to play out in the upcoming years, especially here in Southern California. In Los Angeles County alone there are 88 individual cities, and a good share of them incorporated around 50 years ago, starting with Lakewood in 1954. In fact, 43 out of the 88 cities incorporated in 1954 or later. That means that preservationists will need to keep tabs on a lot more cities -- young cities -- that had not previously put too much thought or care into saving and restoring local treasures.

Here's a building on my watch list...the Pico Rivera Library, a nice circular library built in 1961. County Supervisor Gloria Molina has pledged $6 million in matching funds if the City of Pico Rivera is ever ready to cough up for a library replacement, blasting the existing library back up to the mothership. So far, no movement.