The Changing Valley

userpic=san-fernando-valleyThis week I’ve seen a number of stories about changes in the San Fernando Valley and environs. I’ll note the first item is tangentially only related to the valley — but is area related and so neat I had to include it:

  • Here’s a neat animated map that shows how Los Angeles grew as a city. I’m not sure there are other cities that have growth like this — certainly not equivalents such as San Francisco or New York. It shows why, in many ways, LA is unique.
  • In Reseda, the Reseda Theatre — near the corner of Reseda and Sherman Way, and long long long time shuttered…. may be coming back to life as a Laemmle Multiplex. This is great news — it will help change the nature of the neighborhood in a good way — in a non-Caruso way — bringing in supporting businesses and perhaps pushing out some of the pawn shops and tattoo element. The Los Angeles City Council last week approved an exclusive negotiating agreement with developer Thomas Safran & Associates for a mixed-use project on the site near the corner of Reseda Boulevard and Sherman Way. The plan calls for a new Reseda Laemmle Theater at 18443 Sherman Way with 34 senior citizen units on top of and behind the theater building. The Reseda theater will probably have six screens.
  • In Panorama City, change is coming: the long-empty office tower — vacant since the 1994 Northridge Earthquate red-tagged it — is going to be revitialized. Developer Izek Shomof bought the Panorama Towers building last year for $12.5 million and plans a seismic retrofitting  to make 192 live-work units and retail space on the ground floor. It’s the centerpiece of several major changes coming to the area. Another developer has purchased the struggling Panorama City mall and plans improvements. An old Montgomery Ward department store is being transformed into a mixed-used living and retail complex that will include a grocery store, movie theater or big-box retailers. No word on what is happening to the former Ohrbachs, which last I recall was an indoor swap meet. This is yet another area ripe for revitalization.
  • In Santa Clarita, it is being reported that Congress wants to turn the St. Francis Dam Site into a National Monument. Specifically, the U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously to establish a national memorial and monument in honor of the hundreds of victims of the catastrophe. Congressman Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) authored the bill, and the Daily News reports that similar legislation may soon be introduced in the Senate. The memorial would be funded by private donations and would establish a 440-acre national monument administered by the National Park Service. Of course, the dam is the inspirations behind one of my favorite Christmas shows ever. Just remember: All dams leak.

In closing, some parting words from William Mulholland: “I can deal with the shit. It’s the farts that wear me down.”

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Better Get Them To Sign It In The Next Coupla Days…

Every year I post this on the 4th of July. For all that certain groups purport to know what this country’s founders wanted, I think it is best expressed in the sentiment “life, liberty, and the purſuit of happineſſ”. We still have that, for all the complaints. At times we may not like our leadership, at times we may think that those running for political office are clowns or buffoons, and at times we may be frustrated at how our government is working (or not), but it is still the best system out there. Lastly, as much as I get annoyed at what those on the other side of the political spectrum say, I am still pleased to live somewhere where they have the right to say it. Happy Independence Day!

Narrator: The trouble continued to brew. It was a time for action, a time for words. On a hot July night in 1776, Benjamin Franklin was aroused from his work by the call of destiny.

(door knocks)
Jefferson (J) (faintly): Hey, you in there Ben?
Franklin (F) (grouchily) Who’s that, Sylvia?
Sylvia (S): It’s the call of destiny.
F: C’mon, take a look through the curtains.
S: It’s Tom Jefferson
F: What? Again?
J: Pounds on door harder
F: Well, it’s no good, I’ll have to let him in. (walking to door) I’m coming, I’m coming.

(door opens)
J: Hi, Ben.
F: Tom.
(door closes)
J: You got a minute?
F: To tell you the truth, we were just going out of town for the weekend.
J: But it’s only Wednesday.
F: (signs) Well, you know. A penny saved is a penny earned.
J: (pauses) What does that got to do with anything, Franklin?
F: I don’t know. (chuckles) It’s the first thing that came into my head. I was just making conversation. An idle brain is the devil’s playground, you know.
J: Say, you’re pretty good at that, aren’t you?
F: They’re some new “wise sayings” I just made up.
J: Wise sayings?
F: Yeah, I call ’em “Wise Sayings”.

F: What can I do for you?
J: I’ve got this petition I’ve been circulating around the neighborhood. I kinda’ thought you would like to sign it or something. It’s called a Declaration of Independence.
F: Yeah, I heard about that. Sounds a little suspect if you ask me.
J: What do you mean “suspect”?
F: You’re advocating overthrow of the British government by force and violence, aren’t you?
J: Well, yeah, yeah, but we’ve had it with that royal jazz.
F: Who’s “we”?
J: All the guys.
F: Who’s “all the guys”?
J: George, Jim Madison, Alex Hamilton, Johnny Adams… you know, “all the guys”.
F: Heh, the lunatic fringe.
J: Oh they are not.
F: Bunch of wild-eyed radicals. Professional liberals. Don’t you kid me?
J: You call George Washington a wild-eyed radical?
F: Washington? I don’t see his name on there?
J: Yeah, but he promised to sign it.
F: (laughs) That’s George for you. Talks up a storm with those wooden teeth of his. Can’t shut him off. But when it comes time to put the name on the parchment-o-roonie, try to find him.
J: What are you so surley about today?
F: Surly to bed and surly to rise makes a man…

J: Alright, Alright. Let’s knock off the one-line jokes and sign the petition. What do you say, huh, fellow?
F: Well, let me skim down it here. “When in the course of human events…” so-so-and-so. hmm-hmmm-and-hmmm. “… and that among these are life, liberty, and the purſuit of happineſſ?”
J: That’s “pursuit of happiness”
F: Well all your “S”s look like “F”s
J: It’s stylish. It’s in, it’s very in.
F: Well, if it’s in. (clears throat and continues) “…we therefore, representatives of the United States of America…” so-so-and-so. hmm-mmm-and-hmmm. “…solemnly publish and declare…” hmmm-hmmm-and-hmmm. “…and there absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown.” And so on.

F: A little overboard, isn’t it?
J: Well, uh?
F: You write this?
J: Yeah, I knocked it out. It’s just a first draft.
F: Why don’t you leave it with me, and I’ll mail it in?
J: C’mon.
F: I’ll tell you Tom, I’m with you in spirit. I’m sure you understand that, but I got to play it conservative. I’m a businessman. I got the printing business going pretty good. Almanac made book of the month. I’ve got the inventions. I’ve got pretty good distribution on the stove. And, of course, every Saturday evening, I bring out the “mag”.
J: The what?
F: “magazine”
J: Oh. That reminds me. That artist I sent by, did you look at his stuff?
F: The Rockwell boy? Skinny kid with the pipe?
J: Yeah, that’s the kid.
F: I glanced at it. Too far out for me.
J: Yeah, I know you gotta play it safe. But getting back to the signing of the petition, how about it, huh?
F: Well, uh.
J: It’s a harmless paper.
F: Oh sure, harmless. I know how these things happen. You go to a couple of harmless parties, sign a harmless petition, and forget all about it. Ten years later, you get hauled up before a committee. No, thank you, I’m not going to spend the rest of my life writing in Europe.
J: Ah, c’mon.
F: C’mon what?

(bell note)
J: C’mon and put your name on the dotted line.
F: I got to be particular what I sign.
J: It’s just a piece of paper.
F: Just a piece of paper, that’s what you say.

J: C’mon and put your signature on the list.
F: It looks to have a very subversive twist.
J: How silly to assume it
J: Won’t you nom de plume it,
J: today?

J: You’re so skittish? Who possibly could care if you do?
F: The Un-British Activities Committee, that’s who?

J: Let’s have a little drink-o and fill the quill.
F: It sounds a little pinko to me, but still…
J: Knock off the timid manner
J: If you want a banner, to raise.
F: (banner to raise)

J: You must take (F: I must take)
J: A stand (F: a stand)
J: For this brave (F: for this brave)
J: New land (F: new land)
J: For who wants (F: who wants)
J: To live (F: to live)
J: So conser- (F: so conser-)
J: vative? (F: vative)

F: I don’t dis- (J: he don’t dis)
F: agree, (J: agree)
J and F: but a man can’t be too careful what he signs these days.

(musical flourish, and the song ends)

F: Well, if I sign it, will you renew your subscription?
J: If you promise not to keep throwing it on the roof. If it isn’t on the roof, it’s in the rosebushes or in the mud.
F: My eyesight isn’t what it used to be, you know. Besides, it’s hard to hit the porch from a horse.
J: C’mon, all we want to do is hold a few truths to be self-evident.
F: You’re sure it’s not going to start a revolution or anything?
J: Trust me.
F: OK, give it to me. You got a quill on you?
J: Here you go.
F: Look at this showoff “Hancock”. Pretty flamboyant signature for an insurance man. (signs it)
J: You did a good thing, Ben. You won’t be sorry. Now if I can just get another three or four guys, we’ll be all set.
F: I’ll tell you one thing…
J: What’s that?
F: You better get them to sign it in the next couple of days, before they all take off for the Fourth of July weekend.

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Saturday Stew: A Little Bit of Everything

Observation StewNote: In case you missed my posts earlier this week, I had one with a collection of articles related to why I decided to support Hillary Clinton; a collection of articles related to food and diet; and a summary of the shows that I’m planning to see at the upcoming Hollywood Fringe Festival. But now it is Saturday, and I’m staring at the list of links I’ve accumulated over the week… and realizing there’s not a coherent theme buried in there.  You know what that means — it is time to make News Chum Stew!

 

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For Your Seder Discussion: Kosher L’Pesach News Chum

Observation StewFirst and foremost: to those who observe: May you have a happy Pesach (Passover). May your seder move you in ways that matzah never will. Here’s some accumulated news chum for the week for your Pesach discussions. I promise you they’ve only been thickened with potato starch:

  • Seders for Christians. If you are like me, you probably we brought up on the belief that Jesus’ Last Supper was a Passover seder. After all, it was a meal with a large group, and Passover occurs around the time of Easter, right? But then again, I’m Jewish. What do I know? But we all should have been suspicious of the “Take this bread” comment.  But as a result of this misbelief, Christian groups have been holding their own seders to remember the Last Supper, and Jews have often invited Christian friends to their seders. The Coffee Shop Rabbi has a nice informative piece that sets the record straight: To Christian Friends Coming to Seder. Well worth reading.
  • Expect to See This on “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me”: Do you ever read an article online and go: “We’ll see this on Wait Wait?” Here’s an article destined for the show; I could easily see this in the “Bluff the Listener Game”. It is a story about the next advance in the Internet of Things. Here’s the quote describing the item from Slashdot: “Do you worry that your significant other is having mid-day romps in your bedroom while you’re stuck at work banging out TPS reports? There’s an app for that, and a smart mattress with built-in sensors to detect when between-the-sheet activities are taking place, with or without your participation. It’s part of what a mattress company in Spain is calling its “lover detection system.” You can’t make this stuff up. Or maybe you can. You might seriously question whether or not the so-called Smarttress from Durmet is a real thing or an attempt at a viral marketing stunt. By all accounts, it certainly looks real. There are two dozen ultrasonic sensors embedded in the springs of the mattress. These tell-all sensors detect the speed and intensity of motion, how long the mattress has been active, and the history of encounters. That data is used to create a 3D map in real time, which you can view on your mobile device with an app for either iOS or Android devices.
  • Expect to See This on “Planet Money”: Then again, there are those articles that you know will show up on Planet Money from NPR, especially after they have already done a podcast on the subject. Hot on the heels of that podcast, which was about how Argentina racked up great debt, and then refused to pay it leaving bondholders in the lurch. Most eventually settled for pennies on the dollar (or whatever the Argentinian equivalent is). Today brings news that, in order to get the black mark of bond default off their record, Argentina is paying off the remaining bondholders in full. So, two questions: (1) If you were a bondholder who settled for bubkis, how would you feel? (2) Given this history, would you lend this money country, or invest in a pension fund that does?
  • Diversity and Hollywood. In the recent past, I’ve highlighted some very interesting podcasts that have increase my understanding of diversity, including some excellent episodes of both Startup and of Reply All. Here’s another interesting question on diversity: Why does Hollywood keep casting whites in Asian roles? Performance art (theatre, movies, TV) clearly has a diversity problem: both on-stage/before-the-camera and in the unseen creative and production roles. If this country is truly a melting pot, then our creative results should reflect that. But here’s a question as a result: As a result of this, one culture’s expression may become popular with all. How does one balance broad acceptance with cultural approbation? For example, I saw a friend posting about a Color Vibe run. I saw it, and instantly thought of the Holi Hindu color festival. Think about the first item in this chum, about Christians picking up the Seder custom. Cultural approbation? It even occurs at the Seder: look how the idea of the Orange on the Seder Plate was adopted and changed by the male majority.
  • Cybersecurity Chum. Here are a few cybersecurity items to scare you:
  • Development Chum. Two development related articles: Boyle Heights — a community in Los Angeles that was home to the first synagogue and has a vibrant hispanic life — is battling the attempts to gentrify the community and change its nature. If it happened to DTLA (excuse me, Downtown Los Angeles), it can happen to you. Up in the Bay Area, there has been more success: although the area around the original Mel’s Drive In is being converted to housing, Mel’s will remain.
  • Behind the Scenes. Two interesting articles that take us behind the scenes. The first looks at the dying life of the film projectionist in the UK. The second takes us behind the scenes of Medieval Times, the faux knights-and-damsels pageant. Both are extremely interesting reads.
  • Drugs and Brains. Our last article is something I’ve reported on before: how common allergy drugs can create problems for the brain. This is of particular concern: I”m a regular user of benedryl, and have other drugs that affect the head but help the migraines.

 

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Chum of Controversy

userpic=los-angelesThis collection of news chum may be controversial. It touches on a number of hot button topics: religion, racism, trolls, and sexism.

  • To Bear or Not to Bear, A Cross Too Far. The origin of the user pic to the right is a battle from many years ago when Los Angeles County redesigned their county seal to remove the cross. A few years after that, one of few Republicans on the Board of Supervisors got it added back. A judge has just ruled that the cross must go: that a cross has no place on a county seal.
  • Dress Shirts and Racism. When sizing a shirt, what questions can you ask? This was an issue faced by an internet startup that wanted men to be able to order shirts that would fit them perfectly. He started collecting statistical data, and found out that one of the best predictors was… race. He then discovered that just asking the question put him into a cultural minefield. As the article notes: “There’s no denying the satisfaction of a smartly tailored shirt. But with this one question, the once mundane world of dress shirts is now dabbling in a kind of racial profiling. Are we ready to dredge up centuries of racial strife, simply for a perfect fit?”
  • The Troll Under the Bridge. Have you ever thought about the characteristics that define an Internet Troll? Boing! Boing! did, and came up with a quad chart of seriousness and sincerity. It came up with four categories that it categorized as Squares / Jesters / Worms / Trolls. It turns out, when pressed, there was a diagonal correlation: Squares to Trolls, and Jesters to Worms. A fascinating theory.
  • Gaming and Sexism. I’d seen the source article on this, but Vox had a great summary of a new issue that, is in a sense, an outgrowth of GamerGate: Sexism and Tabletop Gaming. I’ve been boardgaming for years, and I haven’t seen it in the community; then again, I might just have blinders that need to be recalibrated. But I can certainly believe it in the role playing and heavy wargaming  communities. We’re learning more and more about the sexism and aggression that was under the surface, that just wasn’t seen. Part of me longs for the days of my youth when we didn’t need to worry about this, but then I realize that although seeing these aggressions and problems is uncomfortable, it is necessary in order to move society above those problems.

 

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An Alphabet of Chum: From A to Almost Z

userpic=masters-voiceOur life is a litany of interesting news articles, of news chum, ripe for the discussion. Shall I enumerate? I shall.

 

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News Chum – In No Particular Order

Observation StewBefore I work on the writeup from last night’s show, I want to clear out the accumulated news chum links. I don’t have the time to put them in any particular theme or order, but I’ll try to give some idea why I thought they were of interest.

 

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Smoke ‘Em If You’ve Got ‘Em

userpic=valley-los_angelesWhile reading my RSS feeds over lunch, I came across an article from Eater LA about the closure of My Brothers BBQ in Woodland Hills. I had known about the closure already, from one of the various Valley Facebook groups to which I belong. Near the end of the article, however, was something raised by ire, and prompted me to post this while finishing my lunch. Here’s what bothered me:

Whatever the ultimate reason, it’s still a loss for the Valley, as My Brothers had been serving up reliable plates of ribs and roasted chickens for generations, and at some very respectable prices. No word on what, if anything, will replace the corner location, but Valleyites needing their barbecue fix will now need to head east to the likes of Dr. Hogly Wogly’s or Boneyard Bistro.

I call Bullshit and Bias. For a long time, Eater LA has been regularly ignoring the excellent food options in the Valley, believing the only decent food is on the LA side of the hill. Their recent discussion of Phad Thai is an example; they ignore some of the best Thai places in the valley (e.g., Lum Ka Naad). And as for BBQ, well, everyone I talk to believes that Dr. Hogly Wogly’s is overpriced and overrated. I haven’t been to Boneyard Bistro. Here’s some BBQ that Eater LA missed:

  1. Mom’s BBQ House. SE Corner of Van Nuys and Hazeltine, Van Nuys. Perhaps my favorite place for Southern BBQ and soul food.
  2. Rogers Rib Shack.  9350 Corbin Ave, Northridge. Another southern style BBQ, with wonderful brisket and tri-tip. They recently moved from a small location to a former Kenny Rogers Roasters. Hopefully, they will last longer than other tenants at that location.
  3. Les Sisters. 21818 Devonshire St, Chatsworth. New Orleans and Southern Style BBQ in Chatsworth.
  4. The Bear Pit. 10825 Sepulveda Boulevard, Mission Hills, CA 91345. Missouri Style.
  5. Rib Ranch BBQ. 4923 Topanga Canyon Blvd, Woodland Hills, not far from My Brothers. Western Style.
  6. All American BBQ. Shopping Center at Reseda and Devonshire, NW corner. They took over from the Outdoor Grill, and just opened.
  7. Rosies BBQ.  Now at 8930 Corbin, Northridge. They have changed owners, and I’ve only been once under the new owners.
  8. Rosies Chatsworth. Originally part of Rosies Northridge, but now seemingly independent. Primarily take out.
  9. Ribs USA. 2711 Olive Avenue, Burbank. More Western Style.
  10. Reds BBQ. 3090 Cochran, Simi Valley. Western Style
  11. El Paso BBQ. 18938 Ventura, Tarzana.
  12. The Bar-B-Que Bar. 10863 Magnolia, North Hollywood. We often eat here before going to shows in NoHo.

These are just the places that I’ve been to. I know there are more from some quick searches. There are also the chains, for those that like chains: Lucilles Smokehouse, Wood Ranch, Stonefire Grill, Dickies, Famous Dave’s, Tony Romas, and the like. So where are your favorite places?

[Edited to Add (ETA): In a discussion with the author of the EaterLA article on Twitter, she mentioned Barrel and Ashes in Studio City as worth trying.]

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