Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sequoia time

My dad and I have been backpacking Sequoia National Park each summer the last three years. After he retired he took up ultralight backpacking in a big way...and now I'm hooked. 

Wow, he's 60-something and in incredible shape. I'm reasonably fit, but the elevation can take a toll on my legs by the time I'm back at work on Monday. For the record, I made it to work, but Tuesday I took a day off to let my legs unravel back to normal.

Funniest moment this trip...Dad chatting with a park ranger and asking her if she'd be interested in meeting my younger brother. "I'm flattered, but I'm really off the market now."

Stove, cooking pot, and windscreen...lite!

Back in Boston

It's been a few weeks...but we were in Boston for a weekend for Brotherman Dan's surprise 50th birthday party. He had no idea...hahaha.

Since this was a repeat trip to the Boston area and primarily a family visit, we set aside the important historic monuments for more contemporary sites.

Stata Center, MIT - Frank Gehry
ICA - Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Swoon in the ICA

Saturday, September 3, 2011

25 years later - Aeromexico Flight 498

A few days ago was the 25th anniversary of the air disaster in Cerritos where an Aeromexico passenger jet and a small plane collided mid-air. The City of Cerritos hosted a memorial gathering at a sculpture dedicated to the victims of the accident.

Two of the passengers, Raul Leanos and Elva Leanos, from the Aeromexico flight were from San Jose, and I remember them both. I'm baffled (but not surprised) that the San Jose Mercury News ran an Associated Press article about the memorial that didn't mention Elva and Raul. This was huge news in 1986...what a lazy newspaper to go with a short AP article rather than provide local insight and reflection about the tragedy.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I'll build a geodesic dome and sail away

Spent last weekend in Santa Fe/Albuquerque/Taos, after driving straight from Los Angeles. Too long to drive without a sleepover somewhere.

First impression...nice architecture in the Santa Fe central area. After a few hours, though, the sameness wears thin, sorta like Santa Barbara with the highly regulated theme architecture. There wasn't much time to take it in, but I much preferred the redeveloped warehouses in the Railyard District.

Now I have Beat and the Pulse by Austra stuck in my head...it was playing on the radio when I was halfway sleeping on the ride into Santa Fe.

Them Dukes were in Taos...

Friday, August 19, 2011


Yesterday I picked up a cake at the Porto's Bakery in Downey and had a few minutes to stop by the to the apartment buildings bought in the '70s by Karen and Richard Carpenter. Only Just Begun and Close to You face each other on opposite sides of the street. Not sure if the properties are still in the Carpenter family, but they're in great shape.

Aside from snippets on the radio, my main memory of the Carpenters songs is from the mid-'80s when Richard Carpenter was hawking a best-of compilation (probably K-Tel) on television. When you're a kid watching those commercials every day, you eventually expect to hear the songs in a specific order. Did he get crap for those ads in those days? And look up the old footage...he looks like Mark Wahlberg.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mas Moss

I ran a red light today on the way to work. I don't make a habit of running reds, and I wasn't purposely sneering at the law, but I have to admit I'm often distracted by the roadside scenery. Luckily no cars crossed my path, and luckily no Sheriff's deputies were around.

I often crane my neck while driving eastbound on the 10-freeway for a quick look at the Petal House by Eric Owen Moss, but Saturday I finally drove in for a close up. An asset to the neighborhood.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Claudio Ethos from Brazil working on something big on Main Street in Downtown Los Angeles. Joe's Parking finally let him use the lot so he wouldn't have to streeeeetch from the street. From what I hear, it's a gift to Tom Gilmore, who owns the parking garage getting the treatment...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Seven Apple Trees Gang

My earliest graffiti memory dates back to 2nd grade at Hellyer Elementary in San Jose. The Seven Trees neighborhood was in walking distance from school, and to that point my dealings with Seven Trees involved checking out Shel Silverstein and Doctor Dolittle books from the Seven Trees Library.

I used to take the yellow school bus to Hellyer, and Dewey the bus driver would drop us off in the morning with about ten minutes to spare. One morning when Dewey let out the busload of rowdy students, I saw that a crowd of kids had already gathered on the sports field.

That's when I saw it...10-foot VST letters had been hacked out from the grass. My little mind couldn't make sense of the vandalism, and I asked this kid George (the same kid who thought his mother's name was "mom") the meaning of VST. He explained that it stood for Varrio Seven Trees, a gang from Seven Trees. Gang? At that point my point of reference for gangs was the Apple Dumpling Gang, a Disney movie with Don Knotts and Tim Conway.

Opening tomorrow is MOCA's Art in the Streets exhibition...Friday I took a look at the outdoor setup setting up...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Let there be landmarked homes

My parents started their own cross-country drive today. We caught up with them in Arcadia, where we ate lunch at Din Tai Fung (can you believe they have an Ikebukuro location in Tokyo?) and had that damn-good black rice in coconut dessert at Phoenix.

To get them in the spirit of all the historic sites they'll hit up, we swung by the Upton Sinclair house in Monrovia...for sale now for $1,300,000...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sumo in Torrance

At the Torrance Art Museum on Saturday night...two heavyweight sumo champs...Daishochi and Wakanoho...

Torrance has definitely come a long way since the Torrance Community Dance Group took Westwood by storm.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Riot suppression

Governor Jerry Brown still can't strike a budget deal with the Republicans in the state legislature. That's California politics for you.

Without the tide turning against the public sector unions in the middle of the budget negotiations, there's a huge pro-union march and rally happening in Downtown Los Angeles today...Ozomatli is going to play a set at Pershing Square.

Looks like the city's gearing up for a showdown in the streets...they're sending in the elite Burger Brigade...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chiune Sugihara

There's a sculpture in Little Tokyo that's easy to miss or pass over without reading up. It's the likeness of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat stationed in Lithuania during World War II. He's known for saving the lives of thousands of Jewish Lithuanians and Polish refugees by issuing exit visas to get them away from the Nazis.

I overheard some misinformed folks suggesting that the American government helps out countries in times of need more so than any other people. "And who's going to help us when we need help?"

Yes, we give billions of dollars in foreign aid, but when you look at that amount in terms of a percentage of gross national income in comparison with other countries, we rank around number 18. Number one giver...Sweden!

Well, who's to say our assistance helps anyway? We do a lot, we do what we can, and if the topic of giving has to do with Japan, I can't help but think of Mr. Sugihara and his defiance of his Japanese superiors to keep good people safe.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I know it's been up for "a while," but last night I finally got a photo of Mr. Brainwash's painted red sidewalk take on the red carpet...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Japan warning

Civil defense siren at King and Western...

We're relieved to hear that our friends in Japan are safe.

But now with the red-alert nuclear reactor meltdown threats over there, the news that Southern California's San Onofre nuclear plant can only withstand up to a 7.0 earthquake is kinda disconcerting. I'm not an alarmist, but this little factoid is giving me pause...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

One night Clifton's Cafeteria lights the outline of their metal screen reveal, and tonight they're illuminating the edge of the roof...exciting stuff, folks...stay tuned for more electrical updates...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Clifton's unscreened

Lookit...the new owner of Clifton's Cafeteria...Andrew Meieran...has peeled back a section of the metal screens that've obscured the building frontage for a few generations...

Monday, February 28, 2011

Represented by the lights

There's a new window display at the Bert Green gallery. Not sure who the artist is, but the art has my eyeballs.

I know he had his reasons for going from a stroll-in-when-you-like storefront to an appointment-only business, but to me it feels like the neighborhood's lost something.

Hey, try to get your hands on the California Gold episode from several years back when Huell Howser paid Bert Green a visit. The fans hanging around the sidewalk and sharing stories were hella funny!