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the skunks of los feliz
Antonio Villaraigosa hasn't even taken the ceremonial oath of office yet, and he's already scored a nice little political twofer: he's glommed onto a popular plan to expedite construction of a car-pool lane on the 405, a position that not so coincidentally allows him to stick his finger in Der Governator's eye.

Nicely done, sir!

The Los Angeles Zoo has completed their overhaul of the zoo entrance, and zookeepers have now moved the sea lions into their new, luxurious, salt-water digs, "The Cliffs at Griffith Park". The $18 million dollar development, which is nestled in the leafy foothills of the eastern Santa Monica Mountains, features landscaped grounds, tremendous views, and a 165,000 gallon swimming pool, amongst other amenities.

This gated, highly exclusive community caters only to the creme de la creme of unbearably cute sea mammals. In fact, the sea lion homeowner's association has set the membership bar so high that even sea otters, those frisky, adorable clowns of the NoCal kelp beds, have had little success in buying their way into "The Cliffs", a fact that has caused underlying, unspoken tensions at the Zoo to bubble to the surface.

Says one otter, who spoke on the condition that his name be withheld, "Just because we eat mollusks and sea urchins and they eat fish, they call us 'bottom-feeders' and 'fish-haters', and say we're not refined enough for The Cliffs. But who the hell are they? They haven't even figured out how to use rocks to open clamshells! Sheesh!".

A spokesman for the sea lions shot back: "Otters should stay in their kelp beds where they belong. The last thing we want is for those furry little ragamuffins to move in. If we opened our doors to them, they'd just bring their kelp bed 'culture' here: broken clamshells lying all around, sharks circling at all hours of the night, and of course, that nasty smell of fermented sea urchin guts. No thank you! Bark!".

Zoo officials, meanwhile, have done their best to publicly downplay the animosity between the sea mammals, even while they have reportedly held a clandestine series of inter-species sensitivity workshops to try to defuse the situation before it escalates further.

Whether or not this approach will work remains to be seen. According to sources in the reptile house, during a clam-bake/peace rally organized by the elephants, a sea lion who had ingested one too many pickled herrings made an obscene flipper gesture at a group of young otters. Only the quick intercession of a nearby troop of orangutans prevented the incident from turning violent.

When asked to comment on the so-called "Clam-Bake Commotion", as well as the ongoing sea lion-otter discord, the Zoo released the following statement:

"We categorically deny any pattern of discrimination against sea otters at the Los Angeles Zoo. Unlike 'Animal Farm', no animals here are more equal than others: some are just better box office draws."
L.A. Haiku, Volume II:

Midnight: two gunshots.
One street over, has blood spilled?
The Nightsun won’t say.

I've been a neglectful neighborhood blogger.

I stumbled upon the brand new, just launched GGPNC newsletter at their booth at the Los Feliz Street Fair, filed it away for a future post, and promptly forgot about it until just now.

I have failed in my self-imposed mission to offer timely neighborhood reportage. I am an irresponsible ink-stained wretch, afflicted with the curse of procrastination so common to the type.

Mea culpa. I apologize.

And yet...

There are second acts in the lives of bloggers (even those who write long, overwrought apologia just to amuse themselves while they post from work). I can commit myself anew to bringing Los Felizians everywhere the latest news from east of Normandie and north of Hollywood Blvd.

I can, and will!

And so, the review of the GGPNC newsletter (which you can view for yourself here):

It looks pretty good, in contrast to the group's inelegant, rather utilitarian website. When I first heard about their plans to create a neighborhood newsletter, I had visions of a blurry, mimeographed one-sheet - not so. Well laid out, with an accessible design and easy to follow format, it's an easy, breezy read.

As for content, the (somewhat unimaginatively titled) "GGPNC News" features articles on such topics as street paving work in the nabe (without mentioning the botched job on Finley between Vermont and Hillhurst, where traffic was allowed in before the asphalt was dry, with predictable results), the city's decision to reject a proposal to build a luxury restaurant at the Observatory (thank God), and the pros and cons of inclusionary zoning.

The editorial voice tends towards an unfortunate equivocal stance, as in a fence-sitting position paper on permit parking which is headlined "Permit Parking: We Say Yea and Nay", but it's probably unreasonable to expect hard-charging, muck-raking journalism from the official organ of an elected body like the GGPNC.

As well, it succeeds in it's main task, which is to inform the citizens of Los Feliz, in a timely fashion, of news that they can use.

Neglectful neighborhood bloggers can only aspire to do the same.
Contents of the gift bag given out at the L.A. Film Festival Filmmaker Reception last night at Skybar:

- Tazo Awake Tea Kit w/ Infuser.
- Maryland Film Office combination flashlight/key chain/belt-clip.
- Necklace by Sepia.
- Pop-Secret/L.A. Film Festival popcorn bowl.
- Tin of original flavor Altoids.
- Tin of Altoids Sour Apple Chewing Gum.
- WGA notebook LED light.
- IFCTV.com mousepad.
- SAGIndie hat.
- Tin of Pucker Up lip balm by Tarte.
- Package of cinnamon Momints.
- Guy Pearce CD: "Music from A Slipping Down Life".
- A Race of Angels CD: "Broadcast No. 1".
- $1000 gift certificate from the Laser Eye Center.
- A complimentary acupuncture session from the Santa Monica Wellness Center.
- Sampler of Singles greeting cards.
If you live in CD4 you might, from time to time, say to yourself, "Hey I like Tom LaBonge and all, don't get me wrong, even though he's not a snappy dresser like Eric Garcetti. He sends me a calendar every year, and he, like, leads hike up Mt. Hollywood and stuff, so that's cool. But what has he done for me lately?".

And so, almost as though he heard your plaintive cry, in his most recent newsletter Councilmember Tom LaBonge has enumerated the municipal largesse he has bestowed upon us, his constituents, as part of the 2005-2006 City Budget.

Some highlights of the new budget, with an eye towards those pork projects that are so very, very close to the hearts of all CD4 residents:

- Provides funding for increasing the number of park rangers at Griffith Park: van-rockin', boots-knockin' citizens and trash-munching coyotes beware. The man is fixin' to crack down.

- Allows for continued expansion of the Los Angeles Zoo. The elephants will, I'm sure, be glad to move out of their dirt-covered paddock and into some cleaner, more arboreal digs.

- Doles out money for road construction! Yay, road construction!

- Funds a study to evaluate the feasibility of safely expanding the Red Line westward, through the methane gas pockets along the Wilshire Corridor. Of this development 9 out of 10 transit geeks say "cool". The lone holdout harrumphs angrily about "more busways".
Before it gets so hellishly hot that hiking becomes a lung-searing, dehydration-inducing ordeal, you might want to squeeze in a early summer hike with Councilmember Tom LaBonge next Tuesday, June 21.

The annual Summer Solstice Hike up Mt. Hollywood kicks off at 6 p.m., and will terminate with a mountain-top pot-luck dinner around 8 (Two hours to scale Mt. Hollywood is a milquetoast crawl - in other words, you can make it!).

This year's hike salutes L.A.'s Sister Cities (a theme the city has been hammering away at lately), as well as the hard-working Los Angeles Consular Corps, who must "suffer" through the hardship posting that is Southern California.

Those interested can gather at the Charlie Turner Trailhead at the north end of the Observatory parking lot, presumably with your world famous tuna casserole in one hand, and a bouquet of flowers for the Ambassador from Malawi in the other.
Don't know how this poor bastard feels about it, but if I woke up from a coma to find that my face, feet, and penis had been chewed off by bloodthirsty apes, I'd probably be begging to be put back under, stat.

June gloom be damned!

Los Felizians hit the street today for the annual Los Feliz street fair, which returned to Vermont Avenue after it's year in exile on Hillhurst.

It was the usual affair: lots of dogs, kids, a severe shortage of parking, and a surpising show of cowboy hats (western lovin' Eastsiders? Sante Fe by the sea?). The petting zoo pimped out a menagerie of farm animals for the kids to run their hands over. A folksinger on loan from Silverlake serenaded the crowd as they snacked on churros, slurped Robek's smoothies, and did not buy unclever Fred 62 t-shirts: "My Grandparents went to the Los Feliz Street Fair and all I got was this lousy t-shirt". Heh, heh.

Corny? Yeah. Fun? Hell yeah.

These kinds of things are the glue that holds a neighborhood together. We can all promenade up and down the street, checking each other out, taking the measure of the people we share our lives with. We can nod at the firefighters who are lounging next to their immaculately clean fire engines and know that these guys will be there when we need them. We can connect with the organizations, like the GGPNC and the LFIA, who work to make the neighborhood a better place. We can finally sample the wares of that restaurant we've been meaning to check out, doled out at a discount, and quickly wolfed down off of flimsy paper plates.

And, perhaps most importantly off all, we can pay a dollar to pet a mangy looking chicken.


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