Bigger and Better in Los Angeles

I’m doing my best to limit myself to one political musing per day, and I’ve met my quota. So let’s turn to my city and county, Los Angeles, and see how it is on the brink of some big changes:

  • Biggest IKEA in the US. Come February, the current Ikea near the Colony Theatre is closing, and a gigantic (shall we say “yuuuuge”) IKEA is opening down the street. The store will be 456,000 square feet, nearly twice as large as the previous Burbank store, replacing a total of 19 different storage buildings. The store will also include parking for 1,700 vehicles, a childcare facility, and a 600-seat restaurant significantly larger than the dining area at the existing Burbank location. The store will display the whole range of products that Ikea has to offer. Shoppers will be issued Firhot Flare Guns upon entry, together with Gaarmaan GPS maps and whistles to call exclusive IKEA Doog robots if shoppers get lost.
  • The Chargers Return. The San Diego Chargers are coming to Los Angeles, where they will be known as the San Diego Chargers of Los Angeles. Perhaps I should say “returning”, after all, they played their first season here before giving up and heading south in more ways than one. The general reaction of most people in the city is “yawn”. Inglewood is happy, because they will have even more nights with “home” football games. I’m not sure whether they will be successful in the move. I’d wish them the same success as the Rams, but I’m trying my best not to be nasty. Meanwhile, the Oakland Raiders are planning to run to Vegas and have a quick nuptual presided over by Elvis (who is getting a street named after him, but that will be a different post)
  • A Magical Duplication. There is an old convoluted, invitation-only, black-tie house in the Hollywood Hills called the Magic Castle, operated by the family of Milt Larsen, where it serves as the home to the Academy of Magical Arts. Evidently, an unknown side-show magician who was once on TV has indicated more slight-of-hand magicians are needed in Washington DC; as a result, the Larsen family has decided to open a second Magic Castle. The new castle will be near Santa Barbara and called the “Magic Castle Cabaret”, and will overlook a lake and nature preserve in Montecito (the property formerly housed the Casa del Sol restaurant and events center). The structure is about a fifth the size of the Hollywood castle and will feature a 50-seat theater and a lounge.
  • Ewoks in the Park. George Lucas has announced that he has finally selected where he will put his musuem of Star Wars Ephemera and randomly collected art works. Exposition Park. As if that park didn’t have enough museums and attractions with the California ScienCenter, the African American Museum, the Rose Garden, the Natural History Museum, the Space Shuttle Pavilion, plus an LAUSD elementary school, the Coliseum,  and the new LA Soccer Stadium. There’s plenty of space and parking. Right?
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Chained Chum Looking for a Theme

Observation StewAs I read the various posts that become essay prompts, I collect articles of interest that become themed news chum posts (which typically require three or more common-theme articles). Sometimes, however, the themes never materialize or prove insufficient for a post on their own. When that happens, we have chum looking for a theme… like this. However, in writing these up, it turned into a “chain”, post: where there might not be a connection between the articles, but there is a chain of connection between any two bullets.

  • You’re The Top. Food waste in this country is incredible. From perfectly good food we throw away because it is “expired”, to edible food we don’t realize is edible. In the latter category go the tops of many of the vegetables we eat. But they don’t have to go into the trash: here’s how to use them. Here’s a great quote: “We throw an enormous percentage of food away, not only wasting food we know about but also food we don’t think of as being part of the farm-to-table sequence. Sometimes, when I’m at my neighborhood farmers market pulling beet greens and carrot tops out of the discard bins behind the produce stalls, someone will ask me what I’m doing with them. Or, more often, they’ll ask the nearby farmer whether the tops of the various vegetables they’re buying are edible. Fresh greens are gorgeous, fragrant, healthful and enormously flavorful; they’re also endlessly useful in cooking. Not only do we use herbs and greens in soups, salads, sauces and stocks, but also in bouquets garnis, as garnishes, even in cocktails. Why we value some more than others is pretty arbitrary.”
  • Is all Salt the Same? Speaking about food ingredients, normally, when we think of an ingredient, we think it is interchangeable. After all, does it make a difference what brand of pasta we use, from what company the herbs are sourced? Well, it turns out that when you’re talking about salt, it does. I’m not talking sea vs iodized: I’m talking Kosher Salt. Not all Kosher Salt is the same. Representative quote: “a cup of Morton is nearly twice as salty as Diamond Crystal. Its thin crystals, made by pressing salt granules in high-pressurized rollers, are much denser than those of Diamond Crystal, which uses a patented pan-evaporation process, called the Alberger method, that results in pyramidal crystals. While different brands of fine sea salts and table salts generally have around the same weight by volume, kosher salts do not. “And it’s not only the weight,” says Lalli Music. “Morton is a coarser salt. It takes a little longer to dissolve.” So even at the same weight, it actually performs differently. It’s easier to add too much of the slow-dissolving Morton salt because it may not have fully liquefied when you’ve tasted something.” The difference is so telling, recipes have to specify the brand.
  • Clip It. Little things like salt are critical. We often don’t think about these little things. For example, clips. Now I’m not talking MS Clippy (although I did read a fascinating history of Clippy). No, I’m talking bread clips, those little pieces of plastic that close our loaves of bread. It turns out there is a whole family of different clips and types, and some have gone as far as to develop taxonomies of the clips. Favorite quote: ““Much like insect wings,” the site authors elaborate, “occulpanids are grouped according to the dentition (or lack thereof) in their oral groove, which often dictates both their ecological niche and biogeographic location.” Each bagged specimen is also tagged on the site with an “ecological classification” based on the biomes in which it has been found (e.g. grocery aisle, hardware store, asphalt road, landfill, oceanic gyre or gastrointestinal tract).”
  • Knit One. Clips bring things together, as does knitting. My wife is a knitter, so articles on knitting catch my eye. The first in this group explored the history of knitting, from the earliest  days to the present day. Representative quote: “Despite high hopes, my research revealed neither mortals nor gods. Instead, knitting’s history is made up of an assortment of clues, competing theories from scholars and half-rotted fragments on the verge of disintegration. Not exactly the fun romp through fairy tales I was hoping for. Unlike spinning or weaving, knitting doesn’t figure in any ancient myths. In fact, there isn’t even an ancient Greek or Latin word for knitting! The word “to knit” didn’t make an appearance in the Oxford Unabridged English Dictionary until the fifteenth century and wasn’t part of any European language until the Renaissance. All this confirms that knitting is a relatively new invention.”
  • Purl Two. The other knitting articles are connected in a different way: the describe two groups of knitters on each coast. On the East Coast, Alan Cumming (of Caberet) fame has opened a new club that has a stitch-and-bitch night. In a club promising “Downtown Debauchery”, “It’s like a jamboree, with our ‘Knitmaster’ Tom teaching people different types of stitches, and having a weekly challenge, such as hat, scarf, shawl, and then working to have a few gifts for the holiday season,” Nardicio revealed.  On the West Coast, a tight knit (heh) community has formed around a UCLA Campus Club that teaches knitting. Now, this isn’t a touchy-feely “north campus” club, but a club that meets in the Engineering building.  Started by a third-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student, the i-KNIT-iative knitting club meets in Boelter 5514, providing a space for members to learn how to knit, crochet and do other forms of needlecraft, while socializing and de-stressing in the process. The club is also working to produce scarves and beanies for donation to homeless shelters around Los Angeles at the end of fall quarter. While members bring their own projects, the club supplies materials such as bags stuffed with yarn and knitting needles for members who plan on donating their finished product.
  • Men Using Their Organs The Right Way. Knitting is an activity you do when you’re bored. Where is the best place to be bored? A baseball field. But all is not boring there. Here are two interesting stories about baseball organists. The first is about the organist for the Boston Red Sox, Representative quote: “They’ve devised various challenges to accomplish this. “Sometimes, he plays a song, and I’ll play a song it reminds me of,” Kantor says. “We also do theme nights.” Earlier this year, when members of the ‘67 pennant-winning team were in attendance, they only played songs from 1967. On July 20, the anniversary of the first moon landing, they always stick to songs about space. “Fans will get into it, too,” Connelly says, if they notice. When the April 21 game became an impromptu Prince tribute, it made national news.” On the other end of the country, there is the organist for the LA Dodgers, who tries to do something similar. Representative quote: “Ruehle took over in 2016 following the retirement of longtime Dodger organist Nancy Bea Hefley, who had held the post for a remarkable run of 28 years. But he has quickly earned the respect of music aficionados among the Chavez Ravine crowds for his savvy use of pop, rock, R&B, hip-hop, classical and other genre song snippets woven in with the boilerplate baseball-organ repertoire.” Both articles highlight one of those things that are often in the background, yet are so importance for providing a special ambiance.
  • So Is That XL, or XXL? An old joke, oft told between guys about their organs, is that comdoms only come in L, XL and XXL, because no one would ever buy a small. But with condoms, size is importance and not all men are the same: and you don’t want it slipping off because it is too large. This has led to a new business: Bespoke Condoms. A Boston-based company has begun selling custom-fit condoms in 60 sizes, in combinations of 10 lengths and nine circumferences. As the custom-fit condom company, Global Protection Corp., pressed the F.D.A. and industry standards associations for changes, a key priority was smaller sizes, said the company’s president, Davin Wedel. Until recently, standard condoms had to be at least 6.69 inches long, but studies find the average erect penis is roughly an inch shorter.
  • Getting the Rage Out. Now we move from one form of baseball bat to another: real baseball bats. In Los Angeles, a downtown “Rage Room” has opened. Here, co-founders Peter Wolf and Edwin Toribio allow guests take out their angst on a variety of delightfully fragile inanimate objects with their weapon of choice. As Emperor Palpatine would say, “Let the hate flow through you.” Rage Ground offers five separate rooms of various sizes for smashing, though they’re all linked in such a way that a large group could turn them into one massive anger-fueled free-for-all for around 25 guests at a time. Various packages include a variety of objects to obliterate, including glassware and household appliances. For instance, a $13.99 starter package gets a single person five minutes with three small items and two medium items. The “Get Smashed” package ($29.99), which is particularly popular, scores one person 10 minutes with eight beer mugs, five shot glasses, and three martini glasses. For an extra fee, Rage Ground also offers specialty items for destroying (they’re currently all out of Trump pinatas), or guests can make a special request for a particular item in advance.
  • Native LA. Speaking of Los Angeles, last week brought Indigenous Peoples Day in Los Angeles. Yes, the banks were closed. But it did bring out an interesting article on the natives of Los Angeles: The Tongva-Gabrieliño tribe. California was home to thousands of people before Spanish settlers arrived—around 350,000 across the whole state—and the Los Angeles Basin in particular was home to the Gabrieliño-Tongva people. The movements of the Tongva peoples set the stage for what would eventually become Los Angeles. Their footpath through the Sepulveda Basin was the original 405 freeway. The L.A. State Historic Park was formerly a fertile basin within a mile of Yaanga, the Tongva people’s largest known village in the area. The Hahamog’na, a band of the Tongva peoples, settled along the Arroyo Seco river, which now comprises Northeast Los Angeles.
  • Jacked Around. The Tongva got jacked around, but if they were buying a new iPhone or Pixel, that couldn’t happen. No jacks. The 3.5mm jack is increasingly disappearing — for no good reason other than profit. Don’t believe the BS about more space in the phone. 3.5 mm jacks provide a universal way for things to connect. Bluetooth is touted as universal, but typically tends to be a walled garden forcing you to a particular manufacturers product for the best sound.  Always remember this: Even if you are the customer, shareholders come first. Changes made aren’t always for the benefit of the customer, but for the profit of the company.
  • Software Replacements. A great example of this is software, where a few articles on replacements caught my eye. Google is replacing the easy to use Google Drive with Backup and Sync. What’s changing are the apps. The major difference between Backup and Sync and Drive File Stream is the latter’s ability to stream files from the cloud—the popular “placeholder” capability that can display copies of all of your cloud-based files, without actually storing them on your PC. Backup and Sync syncs files more traditionally, placing local copies on your desktop, and then backing them up in the cloud. If you want to back up your photos and videos, you’ll use Backup and Sync. Ditto with a generic USB drive that you want to add to the cloud. On the Microsoft side, Skype for Business (the meeting app we love to hate) is going away. It is being replaced by Microsoft Teams, ostensibly to put pressure on Slack. Microsoft is also promising better meetings with Teams in the future, thanks to AI. Microsoft is building in machine learning, cognitive services, and speech recognition to improve a meetings experience and make it easier to set them up and receive follow ups after the meeting has concluded. But some replacements are never as good as the original. For example, RSS and similar syndication is still the best way to keep on top of things.  [and although not mentioned in the article, Newsblur is still my RSS reader of choice.]
  • Running Away. All these changes make you want to run away. If you do, you probably want a passport, given the mess with RealID. The winter is the best time to get one, according to the LA Times. They report that the State Department is claiming that Americans should apply for or renew their passports before January because processing times are shortest between September and December. Demand for passports typically heats up in the new year and continues into summer. If you want to get your passport back quickly, now is the time to apply or renew. Why get a passport? Something called the Real ID Act will go into effect in 2018. The law, passed in 2005, requires state driver’s licenses to meet certain security standards to be considered a valid federal ID you can use at airport security checkpoints. California is one of the states whose driver’s license does meet the requirements. If you have a license issued by a state that’s not compliant, a valid passport is your best bet for airport identification. Not to mention that you need a passport now to go to Mexico or Canada. [Hmm, mine is from 1976. I think I should renew.]
  • End With The Best. If the fall is the best time for passports, here are some more bests: (1) Best VPN services; (2) Best Art Supply Stores in LA.

 

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Coming and Going in the Southland

userpic=van-nuysToday’s news chum post has nothing to do with this year’s election, even though Hillary Clinton just left the Southland after visiting her ATM, and the Donald wouldn’t set foot again in the land of fruits and nuts, as temptation might get the better of him. Instead, it focuses on non-candidate things in Southern California that have been coming or going:

  • Coming: A Hotel at CSUN. It appears there are plans to build a smallish hotel on the grounds of CSUN, roughly where the Orange Grove Bistro is now. The hotel plan is to feature 150 rooms and will be between four or five stories. The restaurant that will be either within or attached to the hotel lobby; will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner services to both hotel guests and students.  It will serve a greater purpose for lecturers, families of students, members of the CSU Board of Trustees, visiting athletes and recreation and management tourism majors. The developer will be the source of funding for the hotel if approved; CSUN contributes only the ground lease. The idea arose because the Bistro building, as one of the oldest on campus, will require renovation soon and there are no funds for repair or replacement.
  • Going: Irvine Meadows. The last concerts are playing out, and soon Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre will be no more. Irvine Meadows was built in 1980 by the Irvine Company and it opened in 1981. It was the largest amphitheatre in Orange County, with 10,418 reserved seats and 5,667 on the lawn. In 1981, when it opened, the amphitheatre was part of Lion Country Safari. In November 1984, after more than 14 years in business, Lion Country Safari closed permanently. In 1986, part of the former Safari Camp became Wild Rivers Waterpark. The water park operated until September 2011. It’s now the site of Los Olivos, the largest apartment complex in Orange County, with 1,750 units. More overpriced apartments are planned for the site of the amphitheater when its lease runs out in 2017. The Lion Country Safari name has long been erased. Moulton Parkway adjacent to the site is now called Irvine Center Drive. (It’s still Moulton Parkway after Lake Forest Drive.)
  • Coming: Porter Ranch Statues. Returning, however, is a bit more precise. For decades, the statues of two waving mounted cowboys at Devonshire and Tampa had greeted visitors outside The Porter Ranch, a Northridge development of model homes in what is now the neighborhood of Porter Ranch. In the 1980s, they disappeared. Turns out the fabled cowboys had been carted off to Leona Valley near Palmdale. Now, after a full restoration, the Porter Ranch statues are back. They will be shown at their temporary digs at Valley Relics Museum before being installed in a 50-acre Los Angeles park being built by Toll Bros. home builders.
  • Going: Jerry’s Deli (nee Solley’s) in Woodland Hills. After 43 years, Jerry’s Famous Deli, at 21857 Ventura Blvd., will serve up its last order of lox, bagels and cream cheese on Sunday, 10/16. The restaurant opened in 1973 as part of the Solley’s Delicatessen chain. Studio City-based Jerry’s Famous Deli, Inc. bought the Ventura Boulevard eatery and one on Van Nuys Boulevard in 1996. The Van Nuys store retained the Solley’s name but closed in June of last year. Why is it closing? The Ventura Boulevard deli still made money but there was a problem with the landlord, San Diego-based Retail Opportunity Investments Corp.
  • Coming: Massive Development at the Promenade. An enormous new mixed use development could be on its way to the site of a declining shopping mall in Woodland Hills. Plans filed with the city Thursday call for the construction of 1,432 residential units, along with two hotels with a combined 572 guest rooms at what is currently Warner Center’s Promenade mall. The plans also propose 244,000 square feet of retail space, including a grocery and drug store; more than 600,000 square feet of offices; and an entertainment and sports center. It is unclear the timing of this construction, or the impact on the few businesses, and the remaining AMC theatre, on the property (which have longer leases). The AMC building is a separate building; it could remain while construction goes on around it.
  • Going: The Sports Arena. The Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena — now a mass of dusty concrete and steel — is slowly being razed with little public outcry. It’s a finale that characterizes the city’s apathy for a 57-year-old has-been that plodded through the decades in the shadow of glitzier venues. Soon to rise in its place is a 22,000-seat stadium that will host a Major League Soccer franchise. It was the first home of the Los Angeles Lakers, shelter to the Clippers for 15 years, and the dutiful servant of UCLA and USC basketball teams. At least it didn’t become a ghost arena.
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Los Angeles: Going, Going, Gone

userpic=van-nuysThis collection of news chum has coalesced around the theme of Los Angeles — in particular, some well-known (or somewhat well-known) Los Angeles landmarks that are either gone or seemingly threatened… or coming back in different incarnations.

 

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Some Tasty Afternoon Stew

Observation StewNow that the highway pages are done, and the water heater is repaired, I can start some stew cooking on the stove. Loads of interesting articles in here. I’ll group them the best I can.

Things Dying and Dead, But Then Again….

  • The iPod Classic. Nine years ago, Apple introduced the iPod Classic. Last week, they introduced the iPhone 7. The iPod Classic had 160GB in a spinning hard disk, for $349. The iPhone 7 can have 256GB for almost $850. Is this the replacement for the Classic, finally? Or, is it still better to get a 7th Gen iPod Classic off eBay, or from that drawer you’ve been hiding it in, and replace the hard disk with a Tarkan board, some solid state memory (I put in 512GB), and keep the classic. Going the Tarkan route is less than $400, and gives you more memory for about the same cost. Oh, and it gives you a 3.5mm headphone jack as well, so you needn’t pay for adapters or lost AirPods. Then again, the headphone companies don’t care. They’ve got product to sell you.
  • The Colony Theatre. Oh, the poor Colony. We thought you would survive. Now you’re having to rent out your space just to stay alive. And your poor subscribers: We’re left holding the tickets for shows that we will never see (literally — there’s no way I’m gonna see Patty Duke in Mrs. Lincoln — both are dead). Will the Colony come back? At this point, I’m highly skeptical. What they need is new artistic direction, a new board, and a new way of thinking about things. Their collapse shows the perils of keeping the same leadership for far too long.
  • The Advertising Jingle. Perhaps you hadn’t noticed, but the advertising jingle is dead. Who killed it? Cover artists and the licensing of modified lyrics, that’s what. Those are more easily recognizable. So, our hats are off to you, “I’d like to teach the world to sing”, “Like a good neighbor”, and “Plop Plop Fizz Fizz”. We’re just left with the Empire Carpeting jingle.

Los Angeles Development

Sensitivity and Culture

  • Tiki Bars. Here’s an interesting question: If you were going to add a third arm to your body, where would you add it? Whoops, wrong question. Try this: Are Tiki Bars offensive to Polynesians? NPR endeavored to figure that out. It is hard to know: Tiki bars are about as close to something really Polynesian as the Chinese Food you got downtown in the 1950s and 1960s was to real Chinese food.
  • Napalm Girl. The furor yesterday was over Facebook and “Napalm Girl” — the famous photo of the napalmed Vietnamese girl. First it was taken down. Facebook banned it. Then they reversed themselves. It makes me think about a debate that occurred many many years ago when that photo was first published: Should photos like this be published? When does news value override sensitivity? These questions are still relevant today.

And the Rest…

 

 

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News Chum Stew: Onesies and Twosies

Observation StewLast night, we had a Shabbabaque at Temple (“Shabbat” + “Barbeque”). There was a bunch of food leftover, and so I brought some home — the sliced tomatoes and roasted zucchini — and threw it into a crockpot. That’s a great thing to do with leftovers: make a stew (and I intend to suggest formalizing that next year*). Just like at the Shabbabaque, I’ve got loads of leftovers — onsies and twosies of news articles — that don’t make a coherent dish. Perhaps they’ll make a good stew. What do you think?

Jewish Summer Camp

Food and Eating

Local Returns and Departures

The Body

History

What’s Left

 

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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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Los Angeles News Chum

userpic=valley-los_angelesBefore I start writing up this week’s Fringe shows, let me clear out a bit of news chum. Here are a bunch of articles, all related to Los Angeles (the city I love) and its environs:

 

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