Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Keeping up with Broadway

You'll find plenty of write-ups cheering the "natural progression" of Starbucks opening on Spring Street and 6th in Downtown Los Angeles. I get that Starbucks has its fans, but it just seems weird to drop a few dollars on Starbucks coffee on Spring Street when there are about five other coffee options within a block.

I've said so before, but I'm fascinated by the long-time businesses that try to stay relevant while Downtown residential and retail demographics change. That includes Stereoline, the guitar shop where I picked up a bass for EzraPounded a couple years ago. They were bumped out by Starbucks and landed a block away in a cramped space on Broadway. Not only did they lose their prime corner location, they ended their run a couple months ago when the driver of a van crashed into one of the Stereoline storefront windows.

What's a business to do when the customer base is moving to other neighborhoods? Some move to keep up with the clientele, while others drift from location to location and try out gimmicks and goofy signs.

On the 500 block of Broadway, Sassy Perfume is putting up new wall signs tonight. Check out that hot pink.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I'm fallen way behind, so here's a little catch-up. I hope you had a chance to say goodbye to the old checkered tile inside the Arcade Building. Out with the old, in with the new. The new tile is already filthy, so you can hardly tell the difference.

At one point Royal Clayton's Pub was supposed to take over a space now leased by an electronics business, but as far as I can tell the electronics businesses are still there, still handing out BARGAINS!



Via viaduct

I took a few days off work last week to catch up on some things, including my morning jog around town. On Wednesday morning the three finalists in the design competition for the 6th Street Viaduct (6th Street Bridge) replacement project set up displays inside the Los Angeles Public Works Building. Inside I went to get the lowdown on the proposals to replace the deteriorating connector between Downtown and Boyle Heights.

So it's down to AECOM, HNTB, and Parsons. The staffers representing AECOM and Parsons were kind enough to answer my bonehead questions despite my sweaty appearance, and the HNTB folks rolled up just as I was leaving. The end selection will most likely come down to cost, and you can bet the nice connections to the lower level and recreational and river access improvements will be trimmed. Whatever happens, I'll have a new jogging route to look forward to.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

El Charro de Los Angeles

I haven't been to Zacatecas, the Mexican state my grandparents hail from since I was in junior high in the 1980s. In fact, that's the only time I've been there. I have great memories of riding a burro, taking an aerial tram up a peak in the middle of town, and relaxing in natural hot springs without a care in the world, even when it started raining.

I've been talking about going back for years, and I came close when I studied Spanish in Guadalajara in 1997 only to abruptly return home when my grandfather passed away. Since then whenever I broach the idea of a vacation down south, all I hear is a chorus of "Mexico is so dangerous" and "let's wait until things get better." I realize I'm going to be waiting a lifetime, so I'm just going to have to go by myself one of these days.

In the meantime, a little piece of Zacatecas is here in Los Angeles. A bronze sculpture of Zacatecas-native Antonio Aguilar was unveiled yesterday at Placita de Dolores, which is just off Olvera Street, and the stone base was chiseled out from a Zacatecas quarry.

Of the $200,000 price tag, $50,000 came from "city beautification project funds," which sounds like a portion of the general fund, which sounds like a bad deal in these lean times. At least the artist, Dan Medina, is a local guy, so hopefully he'll recycle some of his fee back into the local economy.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Baltimore, Los Angeles

Hear ye, here ye. The gentrification of Los Angeles Street has begun. Following up on the 5th Street side of the building, work has started on the L.A. Street side of the Baltimore Hotel.

I wonder how the color will fare. The Baltimore has been a grey "color" for years, and we all know that grey is the exterior paint (and other construction material) color of the moment. Stay or go, gray or no?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Crazy signs - Finney's Cafeteria

A lot has been written about the Dutch Chocolate Shoppe and the Batchelder tiles inside the Finney's Cafeteria building (217 W. 6th Street) that will be restored if all goes according to plan.

In the meantime a MetroPCS dealer in the building has moved from one suite to another and installed an illuminated wall sign. The sign guy they hired ran electrical wire through PVC pipes, and I am fascinated by this resourceful handiwork.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Locked up

Why would anyone play a trumpet on a Saturday morning...protester? Inconsiderate neighbor? In Downtown Los Angeles you can get used to noise at night, but noise in the morning is another story.

Minor squabbles aside, I want to follow up on the mural that went up in the Arts District on the side of the Shojikiya building. This guy Sebastian Walker has redeemed what is otherwise just-ok. Nice statement about the ugly gated doorway.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sidewalk insolvency

At first glance this work in progress outside the Shojikiya building brightens up a dull facade. But as I often do, I've had second (or more!) thoughts. Color paint purposely spilling all over the sidewalk, into the storm drains, into the watershed. But then again, I'm sure the artists were considerate and used non-toxic, zero-impact materials that will easily scrub off the sidewalk and pose no harm to the waterways...right?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Cudahy City Council, minus two

Yesterday Cudahy City Councilmember Osvaldo Conde mailed in his resignation. Goodbye, crook. Since Mayor David Silva, who had been a voting member of the City Council, already stepped down, the normal five-person Council is now down to three heads.

Even the photos look lonely. Strange how the city staff removed Silva's portrait from the frame but took down the frame and all for Conde's mug.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cudahy City Council, minus one

The City of Cudahy is down to four City Councilmembers after the resignation of Mayor David Silva on Tuesday night in the wake of a bribery scandal.

Sure enough...the city staff took down Silva's photo. I wonder if they mailed it to Silva, stuck in the deep archives, or dumped it. Sorry about the window reflection in the photo I took yesterday...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fireworks in Cudahy

I worked late tonight and drove past Cudahy on the 710 Freeway. They really are a patriotic city, as we know by the sculpture of George Washington looking stately upon Clara Street as dedicated by Osvaldo M. Conde.

Not only that, undeterred by the arrest of Mayor David Silva, Councilmember Osvaldo Conde, and head of Code Enforcement Angel Perales, the city pulled together an awe-inspiring fireworks show. You should've seen the cars swerving across freeway lanes for a better view of the colorful explosions.

What a jammed packed night in Cudahy, as there was also a City Council meeting earlier in the evening. I wonder if the news outlets covering the Cudahy City Council meeting tonight took a look at the agenda. Funny...they finally had the minutes of the Council meetings from February, March, April, May, and June ready for approval tonight. It seems like the expected public scrutiny of city business following the high-profile arrests led the city officials to clean up their act and provide the long overdue meeting minutes. Just speculating...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Osvaldo Conde of Cudahy

You've heard the complaints about journalism these days...reporters and publishers are out for the quick headlines and don't have the patience or resources to dig a little deeper. The heyday of investigative journalism is in the past.

I found the local reporting about the arrests of Osvaldo Conde, David Silva, and Angel Perales, all of whom are Cudahy city officials who accepted a total of $17,000 of bribe money from a confidential informant, to be weak. We learned on Friday, June 22nd that the FBI swooped in and arrested the three, and we gleaned some more information from a criminal complaint filed by a Special Agent of the FBI.

That was the easy information. So where's the in-depth research into the backgrounds of these three screw-ups? It's too simplistic to say that unchecked political power corrupts. What was their personal motivation? I want to know more about their families, their assets, their cronies, their political daddies, their political beneficiaries.

I read that Conde was arrested after a stand off at his jewelry store in Cudahy. For a city as small as Cuday, it took a quick Internet search to track down the property. I drove by last week...take a look at the George Washington bust that's at the bottom of a pole sign advertising the businesses on the lot. You can't make this stuff up...the plaque from 2002 notes that the sculpture, honoring "the liberator, soldier & exemplary citizen" was donated by "Osvaldo M. Conde & Family."

Another search reveals that the site, located at 4949 Clara Street (or officially 7619 Wilcox Avenue -- take your pick), was marketed as an REO (Real estate owned) property in 2010. That tells me that Conde has long been in financial trouble, and if you're looking for motivation for corruption, that's a starting point. Somebody needs to take this information and run with it!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Grand misspelling?

Like most of Los Angeles, we're desperate for more parkland in Downtown. July 28 is the date Grand Park will officially open and connect the Music Center to City Hall, but as a first class urban snoop, I firmly intend to sneak in at least a few weeks in advance.

A few welcome signs with multilingual text have already been installed. Call me cynical, but I have a suspicion that before long someone will spot an off-kilter translation in there.

"I'm a jelly donut."

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Cudahy corrupted

The latest city corruption scandal in southeast Los Angeles County publicly unfolded on Friday in tiny Cudahy with three arrests, including Mayor David Silva and Councilman Osvaldo Conde. Bribery, election fraud, more news to come.

Yesterday I peeked inside the windows of Cudahy City Hall, which is the most difficult-to-find city hall I've ever the main roads, no directional signage to help you get there. The official photos of Silva and Conde smiled back at me, and I wondered how much longer they will be displayed. Let the countdown begin...

Cudahy City Hall...far from the best looking city hall out there

Hall of Fame, all right

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Eastern Central Europe

Not sure why, but it's hard for me to get back into posting stuff after vacation. This time around we had the good fortune to travel to Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Dresden, and Bratislava. We made the mistake of referring to the region as Eastern Europe..."You're in Central Europe!"

Frank Gehry in Prague

garrrrgoyles...St. Vitus Cathedral

Mexicano food everywhere...Budapest

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bike makes right

The cross-California cycling race known as Amgen Tour of California ended in Los Angeles this morning. Those bikers were hella speedy...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bottled Kobe

New sign that was installed last night on Los Angeles Street. Does it refer to Kobe, Japan or Kobe, Los Angeles?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Here yesterday, gone yesterday

These folks spent their Sunday afternoon working on this (northeast corner of 3rd & Main) only to have it painted over. I wanted to tell them that history wasn't on their side, but they seemed to be having so much fun.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Adam Yauch tribute

Today was the last day of Transmission LA at MOCA, which was put together by Mike D from the Beastie Boys.

The last hour of Peanut Butter Wolf's 3-hour DJ/VJ set was dedicated to Adam Yauch. I looked around and saw a range of emotions...folks dancing, hugging, crying. Some were clearly personally close to Yauch, most weren't, but you could tell he touched the lives of many.

Friday, May 4, 2012


I hope you said farewell to the Swoon, Shepard Fairy, and Becca art on the brick building at the northeast corner of 4th and Hewitt. They've been painted over. I first noticed the new black paint when I went by on Tuesday night, and the color detailing popped up today.

Here's the work in progress from this evening...

And here's some of the collateral damage...

Monday, April 30, 2012

Two Boots unlaced

Two Boots on Broadway is open. I had a slice of Night Tripper...sun dried tomatoes, garlic, jalapeño pesto...all delicious.

These guys are great...they deliver as far east as Vermont Ave, west to Central Ave, north to the Santa Ana Fwy, and south to MLK Blvd. Don't be sad if you live outside those boundaries...Two Boots is coming soon to Nashville, Tennessee.

April march

March in the streets yesterday morning...Downtown Los Angeles, near Pershing Square...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Story Story

The large and loud red awnings and bands of advertising that were on the Walter P. Story building at the corner of Broadway and 6th Street were removed last weekend. I heard that city inspectors were constantly nagging the property owner to remove them because they weren't fire rated, and he finally relented to safety codes when faced with a court order.

I like the banner that had been hidden for years under the material. It's advertising pagers...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Spring Trek

Star Trek sequel filmed all over Downtown Los Angeles this weekend, including Spring Street. We were just walking to a cafe for breakfast when we saw one of the actors sporting the familiar insignia.