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the skunks of los feliz
Puente Hills fault quake could kill thousands, scientists say.


Is the USGS ever gonna give us good news, or is this Cassandra bit the only note they can hit (to horribly mangle two perfectly serviceable metaphors)?

For the chilling graphic representation of peak ground velocity during a major event on the fault click here. For projected building damage (i.e.; your apartment building pancaking down on your ass), click here.

I can't help noticing that Los Feliz lies squarely within the danger zone. I better start looking for my Triangle of Life - oh, wait, that theory's been discredited. Ah, well. I'll just have to rely on the old "keep a whistle on the night stand and pray you won't have to drink your own urine to survive while you wait for a search and rescue team" method.
The triumph of propaganda, revealed.
Saw the new Star Wars movie last night at Arclight.

It it any good?

Yep. It's good. The best one since Empire, by far.

Am I a geek?

More momentum being generated in the push to expand the MTA's rail network:

Newly elected 11th District Concilmember Bill Rosendahl was interviewed by KPCC's Kitty Felde on today's "Talk of the City" (click here to listen), and expressed in no uncertain terms his intention to champion an extension of the proposed Expo Line out to the beach.

He also declared his support for extending the Red Line to Santa Monica, as well as adding a Green Line spur that would travel northward to LAX, and then on to Santa Monica. According to Mr. Rosendahl, he has already discussed these plans with Rep. Waxman and Supervisor Yaroslavsky, both of whom responded positively.

- Also in transit related news, I found a new (to me, anyway) blog that focuses on L.A. transit issues. The metro-red-line is run by the Transit Coalition, and features news, links, transportation plans and other stuff that transit geeks love to read. Check it out, if that's your bag.
Didn't L.A. have a Latino mayor in the 1800's?

Yes, it did.
Hey, have you checked out the new Earthquake Forecast site? It says that we have a pretty good chance of having an earthquake here in L.A.!

Whoa. Good thing the USGS has plenty of spare money sitting around to fund this thing. I mean, Holy Crap! We may never have known that we were in an earthquake zone, otherwise!
Now that Antonio Villaraigosa has well and truly kicked Jim Hahn's butt out of office, the press has launched the inevitable slew of stories that frame the election as a watershed moment in the rise of Latino political power (Interesting sidebar: the N.Y. Times says Hispanic, the L.A. Times, Latino. Why? Who knows?).

Certainly that angle has some merit, and I do admit to feeling that maybe it was time for a Latino mayor here in El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles. I think, though, the real story here may be that we Angelenos are a proud people who expect our Mayor to operate at a certain, elevated level appropriate for a city as great as our own.

Let's face it: Jimmy Hahn was never gonna be a Daley, a Bradley, or a Giuliani, mayors who, despite some faults, inspired their cities to push for greater heights and became, to a certain extent, the embodiments of their respective municipalities. They may have had some ethical lapses (which may be impossible to avoid for anyone involved in big city governance), but they also had the charisma, not to mention the cojones, to lead , to dream, to bully, to build, to do all the things a great city requires of it's mayor.

Hahn is a bland bureaucrat who, utterly lacking in charisma and bereft of any noticeable leadership skills, traded on the good name of his father in order to get his shot at running the show, and gave us - What? An administration so lacking in imagination that even it's corruption was bland, run of the mill, uninteresting, even. That, and a half-baked airport expansion plan which is mired in controversy, and which may now be drastically revised.

I know that Hahn apologists will point to the Secession Battle as his legacy, a great moment in city history for which future generations of Angelenos will applaud him, but even then, his imagination failed him, and us. Rather than inspire us to want to stay together, Hahn used fear and deception to defeat the Valley seccessionists.

But all that is behind us now. Antonio Villaraigosa, who is more representative of Los Angeles in both personality and background, has won his chance to lead this great city. As el Alcalde de Los Angeles he will have the opportunity to take the city, and himself, to a new level of achievement. He has shown he can inspire. Now it is up to him to lead.

It's official.

What a cosmic alignment:

With the 70th anniversary of the Griffith Observatory, the venerable structure reaching the one year mark (maybe) until it's grand reopening, and yes, the premiere of the final Star Wars film all taking place within one week of each other, I thought it was time to get my geek on and check in with the Observatory's renovation photos page.

Last updated on May 3, the pics (scroll down for latest images) show the installation of the planetarium's new Zeiss projector, as well as progress on the Nimoy Event Horizon and the long, glass Transit Corridor, which should offer spectacular views of the basin.

Also of interest to Observatory aficianados, as well as fans of poorly produced, yet painfully earnest public access programming, is this excerpt from an Orange County astronomy show which features a walk-through of the ambitious expansion and renovation project.
With the nasty mayoral run-off campaign having finally hit rock bottom (as evidenced by some GIF-stealin' shenanigans by the Hahn Squad), it's a good thing that we can finally put the whole thing behind us when we trudge dutifully to the polls tomorrow.

For those in the Skunks viewing area, I'll see you at our normal election day meeting place: Our Mother of Good Counsel Church at 2060 N. Vermont (click here to find your local polling place if you aren't a Los Felizian, if there is such a word, or if you live west of Vermont).

As always, I'll say hello to my neighbor who volunteers at the polls, and then, once she hands me my "I Voted" sticker, we'll go back to ignoring each other whenever we share a ride in our building's rickety elevator or cross paths in the hall.

Ah, democracy (and urban alienation) in action.
Transit advocates are steaming over MTA plans to cut some late night service, a change that would, in effect, lop an hour from the agency's train service. In response to these proposed cuts, Bart Reed of the Transit Coalition fired off the following letter to city, county, and MTA officials:
Dear MTA Director:

RE: MTA Rail Span-of-Service Reductions

We are concerned about the staff actions to reduce the last hour
of service on Metro Rail without any public input or comment
or due process.

Despite staff comment to the contrary, there are many working
people that use that last hour of service and depend upon it to
get to/from late night jobs at Los Angeles International Airport
via the Green Line and to/from food service / customer service /
building maintenance and many other jobs via the Red / Blue
and Gold Lines.

Using transit is a habit and acting unilaterally to disturb this
habit will harm many of our dependent users and most are not
in a position to fight back. And there isn't late night bus service
to take up the slack or to fall back upon in many cases.

We ask that cuts to span of service to the rail network be avoided.
As an option to save, increasing time between trains is a
possibility, as trains can be made longer to hold the crowds.

Please remember that the strike destroyed the rail riding habits for
many and halted ridership growth for over 15 months. This type
of cut will have long term harm too.

Thank you in advance for helping preserve our span of service.

Bart Reed, Executive Director
To join in the fight to save late night service, you can click here for more info, and here for a printable flier.
It started innocently enough.

I was working late on Wednesday, and decided to take a jog to break the monotony of a twelve hour day. I threw on my jogging rags and headed out, crossing Wilshire and then running east on 8th, my shadow preceding me on the sidewalk, it's elongated form haloed by the fading orange light of dusk.

I made my loop, and headed back down 8th, Ramones in my ears, working myself into a nice, even sweat. I was contemplating a run all the way down to Fairfax, and my eyes were focused on the towers of Century City, which were beautifully bathed in the smoggy chiaroscuro of an L.A. sunset. Ah, what a zen moment it was.

And then I hit the tree branch. I never saw the damn thing: curving over the sidewalk, one jagged stump of a long gone limb pointing down, it's sharp splintery edge hanging just low enough to rake the left side of my scalp and peel it roughly from the bone.

I came to a stop and put my hand to my head. I could feel a groove there, and my fingers played over a landscape of torn, wet meat. A great gout of blood poured into my eyes, and I sat down on the sidewalk, pulling my iPod out of my pocket and placing it safely away from the gathering puddle of gore that was rapidly spreading across the cracked concrete.

I sat there on the corner, and took stock of the situation. Here I was, in full view of passing traffic, bleeding. A sense of melancholy, the ineffable sadness of self pity, washed over me. My hull had been breeched, my wrapper torn, my bumper crushed. The sad truth of existence had revealed itself, emerging from behind the obscuring veil of everyday life: at anytime, something bad can happen to you. And me, all alone.

Those philosphical considerations, however, were getting me nowhere, and were soon crowded out by the more germane question of what to do next. I decided, therefore, to go back to the office, clean up, and drive myself to the hospital. To that end, I lurched unsteadily to my feet, and headed back. As I made my way down Wilshire I passed a number of pedestrians who, seemingly, took no notice of me or the fact that I was covered in blood.

As I entered my building's lobby I passed the security desk. The security guard looked up and nodded at me in greeting, then went back to his paper. I began to wonder what a guy had to do to get some attention from a seemingly unconcerned public: apparently a bloody head wound does not cut it, so to speak. Maybe, I thought, it's not as bad as it seems.

One look at myself in the 7th floor men's room mirror dispelled that fantasy. I was a great, bloody mess, caked from head to toe in plasma, and crowned with an oozing wound that I was afraid to examine too closely. Better not to know, I thought. Better not to see.

The ER triage nurse confirmed that my instincts had been correct. I was sporting a gash that was two centimeters wide and about 2 inches long. My scalp was split to the bone. Thank God I didn't part my hair to get a good look at the thing. I'm not squeamish, but the thought of catching a glimpse of the exposed grey dome of my skull, the Holy of Holies, as it were, was something that I found profoundly unsettling.

I took a seat in the emergency room and waited my turn with the other unfortunate denizens of the waiting room. Crying children, ancient people in wheelchairs, worried family members - how I felt sorry for them, and how I wanted to be as far away from them, and this place as possible. I just wanted to go home.

5 hours later, I got my wish. The surgeon on call sent me home with a headful of staples, and a couple of well-worn tales of his days as an Army medic. I drove home under the pallid yellow glow the city takes on when the Pacific sends a heavy blanket of moisture to hang low under the stars, bouncing the street lights rudely back upon themselves, and suffusing the thick air with agitated photons unable to escape into the cool, peaceful night above the clouds.
I'm not a big foodie (in fact, my taste runs more to Cheech's Pizza than, say, White Lotus). Oddly enough, however, I do enjoy good food writing, so I was happy to learn that Jonah of LABlogs has launched a new dining site: la.foodblogging. I've bookmarked it right next to L.A. Ritz, and will enjoy having another source of reviews for restaraunts I will never visit.

But hey, who needs to actually eat somewhere when you can just read a good writer's description of the experience? Hell, a well-turned sentence is just as satisfying as a bite of fancified food, and much, much cheaper.

From the GGPNC newsletter comes this somewhat surprising announcement:

The DWP has just issued a Draft EIR for the construction of a "major 7 mile long water pipeline... up to 8 feet in diameter... planned to be constructed between Silver Lake and Griffith Park". The innocuously named Lower Reach River Supply Conduit is all news to me and, I'd wager, 99% of affected Los Feliz/Silverlake/Atwater Village residents.

So what the hell is this thing?

To find out, I visited the DWP website to read the EIR, but the link to the PDF file is broken (the report is also available at the Los Feliz, Atwater Village, and North Hollywood branches of the L.A. Public Library, for those who have the time and inclination to schlep down to the library and dig through public records). However, the Notice of Availability provides some clues.

To wit: the pipeline, which the DWP says is needed to replace an older line, will be built in "existing street rights-of-way, LADWP property and existing easements, or open space/recreation areas in the Los Feliz and Silverlake communities (including Griffith Park)". The Notice further states that, rather unsurprisingly, "the proposed project would have a significant unavoidable impact on traffic and transportation and air quality during construction."


At the risk of engaging in knee-jerk NIMBYism, I will venture to say that whatever this thing is, I don't like it already. The DWP better have a iron-clad case to make to residents that this thing is necessary. This community already bears the brunt of horrendous traffic due to our proximity to the 5 and Griffith Park. It's hard to imagine what traffic will be like if the DWP starts digging up Los Feliz Boulevard for years of pipeline construction.

But first things first. The GGPNC will be taking up this issue at it's May 17th (election day!) board meeting, at 7 p.m. in the Hillhurst Citibank branch. The DWP will be on hand with a presentation which, I'm sure, will provide fodder for an interesting evening of citizen-city discourse.
The Ennis-Brown house may finally receive the funding necessary to stabilize and restore the earthquake and rain-damaged structure. Councilmember Tom LaBonge has inserted a request for FEMA money to be used to repair the home and grounds into the city's 2005-2006 Federal Legislative Program.

Hopefully the money can be found to fund this request. The loss of the Ennis-Brown house would deal a disastrous blow to L.A.'s perpetually endangered architectural heritage. This Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece is as integral a part of the Hollywood Hills vista as the Griffith Observatory, and just as deserving of a similarly well-funded restoration campaign.
Villaraigosa drives another nail into the Wan One's coffin.
The City of Los Angeles is on track to hit the 4 million citizens mark by the end of this year, reports the Daily News. Seems that despite a general slowdown in growth, L.A. will easily add the 42125 new potential freeway shooting victims necessary to reach the "Big 4" milestone.

I have two thoughts on this:

- 4 million is still only half of NYC's population total. Angelenos better get to breeding if we want to catch up to the Big Apple anytime soon. I mean, c'mon - New Yorkers aren't twice as fertile as we are. Are they?

- What will the lucky 4 millionth immigrant receive as a reward for choosing Los Angeles over Riverside County or Phoenix? An earthquake survival kit? A complimentary Pink's dog? How about a Jim Hahn inaction figure with "Amazing Payola Receiving Grip"?
This article explains a lot about my childhood.


A few highlights from the GGPNC May meeting schedule:

- The Transportation Committee meets on Tuesday, May 3 at 7 p.m. atop the Hillhurst Citibank. Agenda items include a visit from an MTA rep who will discuss bus system improvements and that old evergreen, Los Feliz Boulevard traffic mitigation proposals. Also mentioned is the Transportation Summit. Not mentioned? Details on the Transportation Summit.

- The Executive Committe meets on Wednesday, May 4 at 7 p.m. in the aforementioned Citibank. They'll be hashing out details of a new GGPNC newsletter that would be distributed at the Los Feliz Street Fair, held this year on June 5.

- Also, don't forget to gather at the river this Saturday, May 7th for the L.A. River Cleanup. If you're on the fence about attending, perhaps these six words will sway you: "Coffee and Donuts for Early Birds".
Just when you thought there was no room in the calendar for yet another city festival:

Introducing the Los Angeles Sister City Festival, a celebration of the cultures of el Pueblo's 21, count 'em, 21 sister cities. Who knew we had so many siblings scattered across the globe? (You can click here for a list of consanguinean municipalities, if you'd like.) Among the highlights are A-listers like Berlin and Mexico City. Representing the second (or third) tier are such garden spots as Kaunas, Lithuania and Busan, Korea.

Regardless of their relative merits, all 21 of these burgs are, I'm certain, equal in the eyes of Angelenos. Each worthy city will therefore be represented at the festival, which will be held on the grounds of the Page Museum (otherwise known as the tarpits) on Sunday, May 22, 2005 from 12:00 noon to 8 pm.

As our friends from Guangzhou, China might say: 再见那里*

*Translation: See you there!


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