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the skunks of los feliz

While I was trolling Google tonight, I discovered that the Atwater Village Historical Society site has some excellent pics of their neighborhood, of which this shot of the Hyperion Bridge (sans the 5 freeway) is one example.

Also, in keeping with the Atwater Village theme o' the evening, the Friends of Atwater Village site has posted information on a proposed mural along the L.A. River channel that would pay homage to the Red Car, with a nice accompanying pic of a street car crossing the river.

Well, it's that time of year again.

Time for traffic jams at the mall, traffic jams at the airport, and, most importantly, my favorite traffic jam of the holiday season: The LADWP Light Festival.

This celebration of the holiday season consists of one million lights, and, for those who venture forth to bear witness to this gratuitous display of the DWP's apparently bottomless well of disposable power, it often seems as if there is at least one car for each colored light.

I noticed that in an ineffectual attempt to lure people out of their cars, the DWP is now offering an electric (natch) shuttle from the Zoo parking lot, which will do absolutely nothing about the logjam that develops nightly along the 5 and down both directions of Los Feliz Boulevard. But, again, it is electric.

And, of course, health conscious Festival-goers can always hoof it along the 1-mile route, enjoying the intoxicating, positively hallucinatory, effects of breathing the emissions of thousands of idling cars: "Whoa, check out the trails dude!"

However, as much as it pains me to admit this, the best way to experience this transcendently tacky display is in the comfort of your car. Burn your best iTunes holiday mix onto a CD and throw it into your CD changer, get some hot chocolate from the CBTL on Hillhurst, and point your car east.

Cami and I will see you there.

We're looking forward to idling in front of the "DeWapPoSaurus & Volcano" display.

The GGPNC has a full slate of meetings scheduled over the next month or so. From their newsletter:

"The Parks River and Open Space Committee will have its next meeting on Monday, November 29th, at 7pm in a brand new location, the Chevy Chase Service Yard Meeting Room, located at 3900 W. Chevy Chase, Los Angeles 90039.

Chief Bratton will speak at the Los Feliz Improvement Association's public meeting on Monday, December 6, 2004. The 7pm meeting will be held in the theatre at the Autry National Center, 4700 Western Heritage Way in Griffith Park.

On Wednesday, December 8th, the GGPNC’s Planning, Zoning and Historic Preservation Committee will be meeting at 7pm in the Los Feliz Community Police Center, 1965 Hillhurst Ave. above the Citibank.

And in its final meeting of the year, the newly elected and appointed Board of Directors of the GGPNC will elect officers for the coming year at its regular meeting on Tuesday, December 21st. As usual the meeting will be held at the Los Feliz Community Police Center above the Citibank on Hillhurst, but it will start at 6:30pm…one half hour earlier than usual for an orientation session for nine newcomers to the board. All are welcome and holiday refreshments are planned."

We had some friends down from San Francisco over the holiday weekend, and took them on a whirlwind L.A. tour between impromptu meals of leftover turkey and dressing (Their verdict on L.A.? They like us! They really like us!).

During a Griffith Park hike on Saturday (just before the rains came), I showed them this garden I stumbled upon (pictured above, and at right) on a ridge along the Mt. Hollywood trail.

It's not visible from the main trail, but can be easily reached by taking the upper trail as it branches off just after the Hollywood Sign overlook, when the main trail doglegs to the northeast. Perforated hoses serve as an irrigation system for this diverse collection of succulent plants, cacti, flowers, and trees. I'm not sure who's behind the the garden, but it certainly seems to be a private effort, not unlike Dante's View or Amir's Garden.

Like any place in the park, the solitude is never absolute, but it is a nice place to gather yourself, (mostly) hidden away from the promenading masses who make the trek up and down Mt. Hollywood on weekends. The perch also offers views of the park itself, the city, and through a notch in the hills, Sherman Oaks.

From the latest L.A. Conservancy email alert:

"We hope that you can attend a crucial hearing next Tuesday -- the first Los Angeles City Council committee hearing in recent memory to be solely devoted to citywide historic preservation policies and funding. Included on the agenda will be the first Council presentation of the implementation plan for a citywide historic resources survey.

The hearing will be held on Tuesday, November 23rd, 2:00 p.m. at City Hall, 200 N. Spring St., Rm. 1010 (10th Floor), and is a special joint meeting of the Council's Planning and Land Use management (PLUM) Committee and the Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee. This may be the best opportunity we've had in years to bring Los Angeles' historic preservation program into line with other major cities, so it's very important that supporters of preservation attend this hearing and send a strong message to the City Council."

The email goes on to outline the meeting's still-forming agenda, as well as the Conservancy's wish list for possible outcomes.

Sounds interesting, but unfortunate scheduling (the Tuesday afternoon before Thanksgiving) may limit attendance by local preservationists.

To sign up for Preservation Action Alerts, click here.
The Griffith Observatory site has updated with new pics of the ongoing renovation work. Looks like it's all coming together pretty well. I'm ready for the damn thing to reopen already so I can get back to my favorite sunset watching spot on the west patio.

Once again, city leaders are attempting to craft a plan to transform the woebegone LA river from an eyesore to an asset. Amongst the proposals sure to be put forward are the building of parks along the rio's length, and the removal of certain portions of the concrete channel (which was built to protect the city from scenes like these).

It's a good idea, simply from an environmental standpoint. The river should run it's natural course, as long as it can be prevented from jumping it's banks, as the unruly body of water has done on numerous occasions.

However, I'm not completely sold on the idea that the river is some scenic wonder buried beneath the debris of a half-century of containment. I mean, we're not talking about the Mighty Mississipp' here, or the Hudson, or even the Sacramento River. This river is basically a 30 mile long culvert that dumps rainwater into the Pacific. It's not navigable. It barely exists during the dry season (in fact, most of it's summer flow is reclaimed sewer water). It smells.

Let's face it, you're never gonna have a picnic on it's banks and mistake it for the Seine.

And yet, we do owe it to the old guy to let him loose a little. The Gabrielinos built their main village on his banks. In the early days of the pueblo, he gave us drinking water. In modern times he's given Angelenos a place to dump bodies, and film car chase scenes.

In return, we put him in a straightjacket because he was too unruly for a maturing city. Maybe now we've matured enough to let him out again.
If you like Heather Havrilesky's fiercely witty TV column on Salon.com, point your browser to today's LAist interview (shameless plug!). Jessica Ritz asks the probing questions and Ms. Havrilesky gives the acerbic answers.

I rarely miss a column and I don't even watch TV (Okay, I do watch TV, but only boring old people crap like Nightline and baseball. ). I just like listening to her walk the fine line between eviscerating and embracing pop culture pap. And yeah, we all do that, being Americans and everything, but we don't all write an intelligent and acidic deconstruction of that pap in a weekly stream-of-consciousness rant.

She's an Eastsider, too.
I'm leaving Buzznet for flickr (just got tired of Buzznet's slowdowns and looong load times), hence the one pathetic placeholder photo at right. I hope to have my archives migrated soon.

It's official.

There's no justice in the world.

Dick Cheney survives another brush with his creaky heart, while Ol' Dirty Bastard drops dead in his studio after complaining of chest pains.

Oh, the humanity.
Mozilla has released Firefox 1.0, and it's great. I've been using the pre-release versions for almost a year now, and I've got to say it's stable, flexible, and feature-packed.

Tabbed browsing, live bookmarks, a nice variety of skins, improved security, and an active development community give Firefox a definite leg up on it's competitors. It's simply a better browser than IE or Opera (their ad-supported software just kills it for me).

If it sounds like I'm shamelessly plugging this thing, I am. MS has sat on the same basic IE for years now, gaping security holes and all. Obviously, the lack of competition has led to stagnancy in Redmond. Mozilla is pushing them in a way that the moribund Netscape has been unable to.

And, it's a good product. I've been waiting for something to come along to allow me to switch browsers for something other than the atavistic pleasure it gives me to give the finger to MS. Now I can give them the finger, and have a better internet experience, all at the same time.

And what could be better than that?

More LaBonge newsletter fodder (and no, I'm not on the good Councilmember's payroll):

"On Wednesday, the City Council's Transportation Committee unanimously approved Councilmember Tom LaBonge's motion to study the feasibility for a northern connection
of the Metro Green Line directly into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). "

Cool. And it's about time.

A Green Line spur to LAX would boost ridership, and also set the stage for a possible northward expansion to Santa Monica.

Of course, there are still many political hoops to jump through, but it's a start.
If you're not on CD 4 Councilmember Tom LaBonge's mailing list (and who doesn't want to receive newsletters in the form of 3 or 4 separate PDF files at a time?), you may not have heard that:

"Councilmember LaBonge invites you to Barnsdall Art Park, the location of our 4th District Community Congress on the evening of Thursday, November 18. If you haven't visited this recently renovated facility noted for being designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, we encourage you to see all the improvements.

At this session, we will conduct a Year in Review 2004, receive an overview of City art programs by Margie Reece, general manager of the Cultural Affairs Department, and discuss neighborhood beautification in CD4.

We invite your attendance. Please see the attached flyer for more details."

Of course, I could link to the flyer if it wasn't an attached PDF file, but it is.

So, here are the details:

Thursday, November 18, 2004
6:30-8:30 p.m.
Barnsdall Art Park Theatre
4800 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles 90027
RSVP (213) 978-2616
Refreshments will be served.
That didn't take long: the old Hollywood Hills location on Vermont has a new tenant, Cafe Bliss (not to be confused with the Bliss Art House Cafe on Vine, where I once spent the most horrific night of boom operating in current memory. Truly the "Worst. Shoot. Ever.").

I haven't actually been in yet, but I'm sure I will, as soon as I get completely burnt on the Alcove. Which could be soon.

Very soon if the Alcove's prices continue to climb. I mean, great patio and all, but 8 bucks for a slice o' cake?

LAPD doesn't fuck around when it comes to potential Homeland Security breaches, as this hostage taker found out today. After he snatched this pregnant woman from the Mexican Consulate near MacArthur Park, a police sharpshooter picked him off with a clean headshot.
And now, after veering off into politics for the better part of a week, we rejoin our Los Feliz-centric blog, already in progress.

Tonight's wildlife sightings:

1 skunk and 2 raccoons, running in opposite directions at the corner of Greenwood and Dracena.

If I see 3 coyotes later tonight, I'll know the Apocalypse is nigh.
Ashcroft just resigned, after unbelievably claiming "Mission Accomplished" on the homeland security front. His mendacity knows no bounds. I wonder if, now that he's packed up his medieval sense of morality and gone home to Missouri, they'll take that stupid robe off the nude statue in the Justice Department.
The battle for Fallujah is in full swing, with U.S. forces having reached the city center after meeting only light resistance so far. "Coalition" casualties have been light so far. No official count of casualties among insurgents, since the U.S. military no longer "does body counts".

I have been struggling with a fair amount of ambivalence about this operation, dubbed "Phantom Fury" by whoever gives these things names that are straight off the box of a straight-to-video action movie. Nobody wants to wish ill on their own countrymen, and I am no exception. I want every American to come home to their families at the end of this thing, alive and well. But I don't believe in this war in general, and in this operation in particular.

Innocent people will die in this battle. And yes, I know that the insurgents are killing innocent people as well. They need to be stopped. But the only reason that these insurgents exist is the American presence in Iraq.

Bush said he saw a threat, then proceeded to create that threat by his precipitous war. And I know, this is old hat, lefty peacenik whining that the election should have silenced. Except that I'm no peacenik. We needed to kick the shit out of Afghanistan, and I'm glad we did. I believe myself capable of killing Osama bin Laden if I had the chance. I'm no appeaser when it comes to fanatic Islamists. If they want to see paradise, I say we show 'em the way.

But Bush conflates jihadists with all Arabs. In his dimly lit worldview, the craggy visage of Saddam Hussein morphs smoothly into the elongated features of Osama bin Laden. "They" (the ancient code word for racial anxiety) represent a threat to our culture and need to be stopped at all costs. 9/11 inculcated within him a persistent paranoia.

Now Iraqis and U.S. military personnel alike are paying the price. So, in this latest battle, would an American win truly be a "win"? Or are we just buying some time to stage elections, after which we will pull out of Iraq regardless of the security situation? Should we root for our troops regardless of the "rightness" of the cause?

What a mess Mr. Bush has made.
For my international visitors (and according to Sitemeter, there are such people), I've added a Babel Fish button to allow instant translation of the page into 8 different languages.

Personally, I like it 'cuz the site looks cool in Japanese.
Voting irregularities are beginning to crop up in Ohio. Seems an e-voting glitch gave Bush 3893 extra votes in a precinct that only had 638 voters. It doesn't take a math genius to figure out that a few instances of this kind of vote-rigging could have delivered Ohio to Bush.
I'm slightly less bitter today. As a matter of fact, I've pretty much come to terms with the fact that the 51% of people in this country are stupid rednecks. If you get right down to it, that percentage has probably remained unchanged throughout the history of the republic. This time, the idiots voted for Bush. I'm sure plenty of idiots voted for Clinton, and FDR, and Lincoln, and other good Presidents as well. Thing is, in this election they had the chance to vote for one of their own, and they took it.

Since there is no way to keep idiots from voting (or breeding, for that matter) we've just got to live with it. We survived Reagan and his idiot constituency. We even (barely) survived Nixon and his idiot constituency. I'm pretty sure we can survive Bush.

The fun thing about a second Bush term (if you can call watching your country pay the price for arrogance and stupidity fun) will be kicking back and enjoying the show as Bush is forced to live with results of his first disastrous term.

Freedom right around the corner in Iraq? Let's see it.

Economy perking up? Show us the money.

Deficit cut in half without raising taxes? This oughta be good.

Osama on the run? He looked pretty relaxed to me.

We've just got to tread water, try to limit the damage the right-wingers inflict in the next Congress, and hope that we can make some gains in the mid-term elections.

It's not the end of the world. The republic has endured a lot worse than a third-rate tinhorn like W can dish out. We'll pull through.

Bonus: Okay people, here's the obligatory link to the Jesusland map.
Still fucking bummed.

What a fucking bummer.

I went to the Virginia Film Festival over the weekend, and all I got were some pics of Monticello and the flu. Beautiful country, though. The festival itself? Mostly yawnsville, but I'm grateful to the powers that be for sending me.
If you haven't voted yet, you might want to grab a place in line. It took me a little over an hour to vote this morning at Our Mother of Good Counsel. Looks like turnout is going to be heavy.


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