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The Passage Ride _ The Uncanny Alley

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"Ride the same streets in the city often enough, and you’ll get into the habit of knowing exactly where you are in relation to everything else. Naturally, this greatly simplifies such problems as getting from one place to another. But if you are concerned with experiencing the city in new ways, then this constant knowledge of where you are can in fact be a kind of problem in itself. Everything starts to seem just a little too… familiar. Now, of course, this is not a bad problem to have, as problems go, but it is a problem that requires a new solution each time it is solved. And so it is that this week we happen upon one particularly elegant solution: alleyways!

Beyond simply offering new territory to explore, alleyways present us with surfaces that are stripped of signage and other features that might serve as landmarks. The care that is taken to differentiate businesses, houses and apartment buildings on the surfaces facing the street is not in evidence in the alleys. They are the functional interface where buildings get plugged in to the various networks of services that the city provides. And as the “plugs” are all quite standardized (another dumpster, another utility pole, another garage door) it is quite easy to get lost. Oh, indeed.”

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Westlake / MacArthur Park

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Angeleno Heights

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Chinatown

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Free Top Choice Steak _ Industrial District

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Fashion District

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Metro Blue Line _ LA Convention Center

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Heartbeat Stephanie _ Toy Lofts, Downtown LA

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Good buddy Stephanie recently donated a kidney to her father.  To mark the successful occasion, she and Brian held a celebration with friends and family at artists’ Sasaki’s loft in Downtown LA, where Stephanie had her heartbeat drawn.

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From Brian: You all know that Stephanie donated a kidney to her father in December. Knowing that this was a big event in both of our lives, I decided that I wanted to somehow record the event as a before and after, a milestone.

After doing a little soul searching we thought it might be interesting to engage Sasaki, a friend of ours who records peoples heartbeats as artwork, as a means of marking those points in time.

We decided to make our pre surgery record a relatively private matter, not only because we were unsure about how we would feel having ourselves recorded, but also because we genuinely didn’t know what was going to happen moving forward and wanted the moment to be our own.

The “after” portion is slightly different. The surgery was successful and not only do Stephanie and her dad feel great, they look great as well. So, given the resoundingly positive outcome of the experience, we figured why not turn the record into a more celebratory occasion and take the opportunity to surround ourselves with the friends and family who we cherish the most.

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Stephanie, with her pre- and post-surgery heartbeat paintings behind her.

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The Passage Ride _ The Afterlife of Architecture

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The Brown Derby Dome _ Wilshire & Alexandria

"Los Angeles is known as a place ready to bulldoze its past in order to make way for what it sees as its future. This has less to do with instances of individual, architecturally-significant structures being demolished (though examples of this are not hard to find either), than the city’s willingness throughout its history to erase whole neighborhoods from its grid in the name of economic development — or, all too often, highways. The callousness (and classism and racism) needed to see people’s homes as, essentially, empty space on the map is galling.

This is perhaps the big story, but it is not the whole story. Because the city’s relationship to its built environment is quite complicated and probably unique. For one, there is the seismology factor: many older structures that would be perfectly satisfactory in most other places come to be understood as unsafe here. Some are torn down; some sit unused for decades as they await their fate. And then there is the motion picture industry: buildings that, elsewhere, would probably either be actively repurposed or otherwise meet the wrecking ball live on as only occasionally occupied shells here. Countless “available for filming” signs designate this ubiquitous backlot crosshatching the city.

Other stories exist as well, of course, but there’s only so much one can (or should) say in an event announcement email, right? So let’s get to the point: this week’s ride will visit a few sites that have managed to escape the urban cycle of erasure and live on past the end of their initial usefulness in one way or another — sometimes heroically and sometimes decidedly otherwise — be it through conscious and caring preservation, reuse and recycling, or merely historical accident.”

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The Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools (the former Ambassador Hotel) _ Wilshire & Alexandria

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The Bunker Hill Towers _ Figueroa & 3rd St.

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The John Ferraro Building _ 1st St.

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The State Office Building _ Spring St. & 1st St.

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San Fernando Rd. & Arroyo Seco Parkway

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Heritage Square Museum _ Montecito Heights

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Morengo St. & the 10 Freeway _ City Terrace

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City Terrace Park _ City Terrace

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Los Angeles City Hall _ Downtown LA

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After a lunch picnic at neighboring Grand Park with buddy Kelli, we ventured into LA City Hall.  Having lived in LA City for the majority of my independent adult life, I still had not stepped foot into our city’s iconic city hall.

LA City Hall is open to the public.  I know, right?  After passing through security on the 1st floor at the Main St. entrance, visitors have access to most of the floors, including the viewing platform on the top 27th Floor.  

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Grand Park.  Surprisingly, there aren’t many other tall buildings surrounding City Hall, so you are able to get a very impressive, expansive, and unblocked views in LA’s urban core.

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The empty parcel at the corner of 1st and Spring St. still has the outline of the demolished state office building which used to stand there (the marble floors are still there!).  The site has been razed, empty, and fenced off for over 20 years.  The City recently purchased this corner parcel, and plans to develop it into an adjoining park to the very successful Grand Park.  I vote for a swimming pool!

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The Tom Bradley Room on the 27th Floor.

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I was also able to visit good buddy Ashley, who works for the Mayor.

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Third Floor Rotunda.

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Surprisingly, City Hall has many touristy accommodations that I did not have time to fully explore - like the vintage photos lining the halls of the entire 4th floor.  It’s hard to think that the building is simultaneously an office building and a public tourist attraction at the same time.

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The Sports Museum of Los Angeles.  I’m not sure if it’s a museum of Los Angeles sports, or a museum, located in Los Angeles, about sports.  Either way, it’s in a nondescript warehouse building in an industrial area of Washington and Main.  Open by appointment only.

The Sports Museum of Los Angeles.  I’m not sure if it’s a museum of Los Angeles sports, or a museum, located in Los Angeles, about sports.  Either way, it’s in a nondescript warehouse building in an industrial area of Washington and Main.  Open by appointment only.

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A Day On Broadway _ Downtown LA

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A Day On Broadway celebrated the 6th anniversary of the Bringing Back Broadway initiative with an open house! They’ve done a lot to revitalize the historic corridor, including advocating for the Downtown LA Streetcar and the Streetscape Master Plan- a planner’s dream!  Six of the historic movie palaces on Broadway were open to the public for the day.

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The Palace Theater (1911), originally called the Orpheum Theater.  The facade features the first use of multi-colored stone.

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The interior of the Palace Theater.  The murals replaced side boxed seats.

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The Los Angeles Theater (1931).  The lobby.

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The interior.

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The Men’s Room.

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The Nursery

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The Women’s Room

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Los Angeles River _ Downtown LA

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Good buddies Michael and Niall (and Tobey, the dog) ventured into the LA River for a bike ride.  Surprisingly, I’ve never ventured as far north as we did this day - all the way to the Arroyo Seco Confluence.

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Part of our excursion was to explore the concrete bottom portion of the river, and also to give Tobey a wide-open, unending path to run alongside our bikes without a leash.  As one can imagine, there aren’t many places in the city for a dog to run full-speed for long stretches at a time.  We clocked Tobey at 22 mph!

We entered the river under the 6th St. Viaduct Bridge, which is in the process of being replaced.

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While there was plenty of water flowing, it was mainly contained in the center trench of the concrete river, leaving plenty of bike-riding and dog-running pavement.  However, where the water did break out of the central trench, we had to walk our bikes to avoid slippage.  Niall learned that even walking your bike through the slippery water didn’t keep you safe from falling.

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Main St. Bridge.

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Metro Gold Line Overpass

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110 Overpass.

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Soon-to-be-demolished Riverside-Figueroa Bridge, and the soon-to-be-completed replacement.

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Rail Bridges.

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101 Freeway Overpass, where we met some “artists”.

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SparkleBlob’s Doublewide Roadside Holiday Snowflake Show _ Automata, Chinatown

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It was the 6th annual holiday show by the good people at SparkleBlob, presenting a “fabulous puppet show and live-action stunt show all rolled into one.”  I’ve been meaning to go for the past years, especially after good buddy Avishay did this KCRW story from last year’s show. 

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Liberace Puppet!

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The Annual Echo Park Bike Posse Holiday Ride _ Downtown LA

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The Echo Park Bike Posse's annual holiday ride. This year, we biked to some festive holiday spots in Downtown LA.  First stop, the nativity scene at the gazebo at El Pueblo de Los Angeles on Olvera St.

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There was snow!

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Second stop, the Christmas Tree at Grand Park.

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Third stop, 4th St., followed by LA Live.

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Echo Park

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Yes, there was a Santa Sleigh Bike Trailer.

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