C.I.C.L.E. (Cyclists Inciting Change thru LIVE Exchange) teamed-up with the Metro Bike Program last Saturday to bring their annual Tweed, Moxie, & Mustaches Ride to Highland Park. This year’s ride highlighted some of the historic and natural treasures along the Arroyo Seco. The ride was followed by an after-party at York Boulevard’s Hermosillo Bar, where there was a grooming acumen contest and some lucky bloke won a brand new New Belgium Brewery Fat Tire beach cruiser.
Around 350 tweed-wearing, mustached-donning and moxie making cyclists met outside Highland Park Station on Marmion Way. The weather, while gorgeous, was more fit for a Grass Skirt, Hawaiian Shirt, and Lei Ride than a ride where wearing wool clothing is the theme. 85º Heat or not, the sharply dressed would not be discouraged! Onward!
The first stop along the Arroyo Seco was the historic 103-year-old Judson Studios in Garvanza where stained-glass continues to be produced and restored for some of the most outstanding historic buildings in the region. Next was the 115-year-old Lummis Home (El Alisal) where the great writer, historian, and preservationist, Charles Lummis built his home from Arroyo stone. The last stop was on the tour was the just turned 10-year-old Audubon Center at Debs Park, home to the best environmental education and conservation center in Los Angeles.
Tweed rides are a bike culture tradition around the world. With rides in obvious places like London. But also in not-so-obvious places like San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Dallas, and even Fresno. Because what is better than prancing around your city in vintage clothing on vintage bicycles?
The weather could have been more Londonesque, but ultimately fun was had by all and no one died from dehydration and heat exhaustion. As a Highland Parker, my favorite part was seeing so many first-timers to Highland Park being wowed by the treasures of our community. (And we didn’t even see the Southwest Museum, Heritage Square, Galco’s, or any of the our many art spaces.) It was great seeing York Boulevard filled with hundreds of hungry and thirsty cyclists enjoying what that strip has to offer. This was a good day to take pride in our unique place along the Arroyo Seco and be grateful for how far it has come.
Leaving Judson Studios on Avenue 67.
Yesterday, nightlife on Figueroa in Highland Park changed drastically. It was the much-anticipated Grand Opening of The Greyhound Bar and Grill in the 1922 Commercial National Bank Building at Figueroa and Avenue 56. The space that was previously occupied by the long-suffering Salvadoran restaurant, La Arca Pupuseria. This marks a milestone for the Figueroa section of Highland Park. Whereas Highland Park’s York Blvd has been booming with new businesses for the past six years, and Eagle Rock before that, Figueroa’s business district on Historic Route 66 has languished. As far as nightlife goes, the options on Figueroa were limited. We could see a movie at the Highland Theatres, walk by Mr.T’s Bowl and curse Joseph Teresa’s son, John for running it into the ground, get a drink and listen to a DJ at 1933 Group’s La Cuevita Bar (née The Little Cave), check out an occasional Friday night art opening at Slow Culture (formerly, THIS Gallery), have some Pho at Goodgirl Dinette, or maybe catch a live show and drink with old men at the American Legion Hall on Avenue 55. It was often more convenient or desirable to take the Gold Line to Pasadena or DTLA, rather than make a night within the 90042 bio-dome.
But now, we have a genuine watering hole. A place to eat, drink, socialize, and watch sports until 2AM. All in the very walkable and transit-friendly heart of Highland Park.
The Greyhound Bar & Grill is quite a surprise for our humble neighborhood. It makes sense here, but it at the same time, it feels too good to really be here. I will let the foodies and the terminal complainers on Yelp do the restaurant critiquing. What I will say from this quick visit, is the professionalism and helpfulness of the staff here left quite an impression; a level of service we Highland Parkers are not accustomed to in our hometown. The place looks great. It is dimly lit, with 1922 tile flooring, the original picture windows, and finished wood throughout. Food and drinks are ordered at the bar and brought to unreserved booths and tables that fill the remainder of the room. The walls are adorned with framed photos showing historic Highland Park with the Franklin High School band in front of the Highland Theatre, and the original Boy’s Market that stood on Monte Vista and Avenue 55. The wallpaper is a mix of Scottish tartans and historic Highland Park photos from the Los Angeles Public Library photo archive. There are two TV’s showing sports, which is usually annoying, but for Highland Park this is perfect. Until last night, there was really only one place in 90042 where you could go watch sports with a crowd. (El Pescador at Fig and 52. And that is only if you if you enjoy watching international futbol matches.) The place is loud. real loud. Kids are OK here, but for kids it is not as great as one would hope in such a family-centric community. One particular impressive contemporary feature of The Greyhound is that they have twice as many lavatories for women as they do for men. Which any lady will certainly appreciate.
The bar looks really good. Stacked with quality spirits and lots of room for more. They have 20 beers on draft. Unfortunately, the tap handles are a bit hard to read in the dim light, and the beer menu had a few mistakes as well as lacked the ABV percentages. But gratefully there is NO HIPSTER Pabst Blue Ribbon. (Although, if you’re so inclined, there is Old Milwaukee 12oz cans for $4, and Schlitz tall boys for $5) Like any decent bar in Highland Park, they actually serve THEE BEST (IMHO) Scotch Whisky money can buy: Highland Park. (Obviously.)
Another great benefit to this new establishment is the spill-over effect such places bring to the neighborhood. Last night I witnessed foodie tourists checking out the Highland Theatre, people in line bailing for Good Girl Dinette, Follieros, and Chez Antoine, and kids-in-tow leaving The Greyhound to get smoothies at La Palapa. But the best part of The Greyhound Bar & Grill opening on Figueroa and Avenue 56, is that at last, local neighbors will now have a place to wait-out late night neighborhood lock-downs! Next time there is a manhunt in the neighborhood, this is where you will find me. Cheers!
This Sunday is the 21st Annual Arroyo Arts Collective’s Discovery Tour!
For 24 years, Northeast Los Angeles community arts organization, the Arroyo Arts Collective has brought many original cultural events to our corner of Los Angeles. Some highlights are this summer’s Puppets Retake Northeast Los Angeles, last year’s Tossed Salad at the Old L.A. Farmer’s Market, yarn bombing Figueroa with the Fig Knit-On, the site-specific art installation exhibition, For The Birds at the Audubon Center, and the much-missed Figueroa Street window installation project, Poetry in Windows that ran biennially from 1995 to 2005. All memorable, but the premier event for the collective has always been the Discovery Tour.
The Discovery Tour began in 1993 as a means to highlight the rich cultural heritage of our unique community that was all-too-often being overlooked and forgotten. As home to the city’s first museum (Southwest Museum), and the first art school (Los Angeles College of Fine Arts, later USC School of the Arts, now Judson Studios), NELA has long-been a place for arts and history. Today, just as it was when the tour began in 1993, NELA continues to be one of the most artistic communities in Los Angeles.
This tour is a great opportunity to see artist studios and homes, as well as do some early holiday shopping and buy art directly from the artists at a good discount. There will be music, there will be food, and there will be Batchelder tile. Actually, more Batchelder tile than you will ever see in one day thanks to the many Craftsman-style homes on the tour. There are over a hundred locations to visit, including the studio and historic Mt. Washington home of Gwen Freeman, as featured in the L.A. Times. There will be a shuttle bus available at Lummis Home to a few sites, other than that it is up to you to get to the locations. Billed as an “Auto Tour,” it is possible to do the tour car-free. I have walked and biked to many of the locations, although without the cable car, getting up Mt. Washington can be a challenge.
Before moving to Highland Park, I had flirted with this place many times, but it was the Discovery Tour that made me fall in love. If you have never been, go. If you haven’t been in a while, go again. Tickets are only $10 pre-sale, or $15 the day-of.
21st Annual Discovery Tour
Sunday, November 24th, 2013
9:30AM – 5PM
Tour begins at the Lummis Home
200 East Avenue 43 Los Angeles, 90031.
Tonight was the third York Park Planning Workshop for the vacant gas station lot at Avenue 50 and York Blvd. About thirty Highland Parkers attended the two-hour event at Buchanan Elementary School, facilitated by the office of Council District 14 Council Member José Huizar. Design options that the City could implement were presented followed by the community getting to play in the design sandbox by drawing on copies of the general plan. Over the past two planning workshops, the main features and shape of the quarter-acre park have been narrowed down, tonight was about refining those decisions and coming up with the fine details like color schemes, landscaping, furniture, and equipment.
At this point, part of the City requirements is that the property be fenced. The size and style of that fencing has yet to be determined. The prevailing consensus among the evening’s participants is that they would prefer as low and as least obstructive fence as possible. An interesting component of this new park is that it will have a surveillance camera that is not monitored, but only used for recording.
The participants were very keen about making sure this park was an attractive park that fit well into the neighborhood. The use of native plants, arroyo stone, and earth tones were part of the key features being stressed by the community. Another important feature the community members are requesting is a mural wall, a curated public art gallery, and mosaic elements throughout the park that reflect the artistic heritage of the neighborhood. To that end, a petition is being circulated to name the park in honor of Arroyo Arts Collective co-founder, Hendrik Stooker who died last year. (Don’t get me wrong, Stooker was a significant community member, but do we ALWAYS have to name a park for someone???)
If all goes as theoretically planned, we will have the most pimped-out city pocket park in Los Angeles. Art, mini library, play equipment, chess tables, lawn area, an amphitheater, a stage, exercise equipment, water play area, picnic tables, benches, a public restroom, shade structure, native trees and plantings are all possible options on the table at this point. Not everything will fit, but most of it will be part of the final plan that will be voted on by the community when the final design presentation is held on Saturday, December 7th at 10AM in the park site at 4956 York Boulevard. The public will have the day to stop in and vote their choice for the winning design. The park is expected to be completed by this time next year.
Today, City Controller Ron Galperin launched the city’s open data website, Control Panel L.A. The Socrata Data Portal is a massive clearinghouse of data on municipal collections and expenditures. Access to how and where the City spends our tax dollars has never been this easy.
Facts and figures from the $4,042,179,848.17 used to pay the 45,979 city employees, to the $107,742.39 difference in salary expenditures between Council District 1 and Council District 14 (*cough, cough, Godoy… cough…*) to the $101,543,248.49 it will take to pay 261 of the lowest-paid Deputy Attorneys in the City Attorney’s office. See where City’s Revenue comes from and ponder whether or not, the $17,429,757.95 that the LA Zoo collected in FY2012 is worth the trouble keeping it as part of the Department of Recreation and Parks. The public can now look at the City’s checkbook and see every expenditure made. 99,264 expenditures totaling $1,343,538,931.39 for Fiscal Year 2013 are listed. Expenditures such as $300 to Highland Park artist, Sonia Romero, or $330 to pay the Highland Park Animal Hospital for spaying and neutering, or $6000 for parking at Joe’s Auto Park in DTLA, or $7,477,472.85 for postage, or $39.20 paid by the Controller’s office on December 20, 2012 for document shredding by American Shredding Inc.
Look at audits, payroll, expenditures, revenue and if that’s not enough, there is pie! Yes, yummy yummy pie charts! Users have the ability to filter and tweak the data, code it, chart it, and download it. Creating a free Socrata account allows the user to save their assembled data, discuss, and share it.
While the website illustrates a lot of things about what city government does, it raises a lot of questions as well. At this initial phase, the data, while voluminous, is not very elaborate, with just the most basic descriptions of the expenditures with the amounts and the departments that used them. Many things are marked as private. Many payees have vague and mysterious names that one fears typing into Google. (Forget it Jake…)
The lists show that the city relies on a plethora of non-profit organizations around the city. LP’s, LLC’s, and 501c’s of every type get money from the City. For reasons unknown, we write a lot of checks to other cities. Vernon, San Bernardino, Long Beach, Santa Monica, Glendale, Riverside, Pasadena, Bell, Pico Rivera, San Dimas, South Pasadena and many others received money from the City of Los Angeles in FY2013.
At $153 Million, the Mayor has the 5th largest share of the city’s budget to use at his discretion. The City spends $16,279,050.73 on maintenance and repair, and $153,745,717.56 on liability claims. Last year we (The Citizens of Los Angeles) spent $147,000 for firework shows, and $98,488.75 on clowns. $2,240,458.35 was spent on graffiti abatement in Northeast Los Angeles alone. Roman Catholic Archbishop, José Gomez was paid $159,000 by the City. A City of Los Angeles tugboat operator in LA Harbor makes $49,503.87 more than the Mayor’s $232,425.72 annual salary.
Like ingredients, the data is only as good as the cook that uses them. But in this case, it is like the city has opened a Whole Foods Market, whereas before we had just a 7 Eleven to work with. The website is great. Ron Galperin, should be commended for getting this done just 115 days into his administration. A milestone for the city and Galperin, the first person from a neighborhood council to be elected to a city-wide office.
Yesterday, our Council District 14 Councilmember, José Huizar admitted to having an affair with his former Deputy Chief of Staff, Francine Godoy. This after Godoy, 34, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him on Thursday morning. Huizar, 45, released a brief statement saying that he and Godoy had a “consensual relationship” and that her sexual harassment claim is “absolutely false and malicious.” The statement further goes on to say “Ms. Godoy is someone seeking to damage the Councilmember’s reputation because he would not help advance her career as she expected.”
Godoy’s claim states that she was “subjected to regular physical and verbal sexual harassment, including propositions for sexual favors” and “Huizar’s sexual harassment was severe and pervasive” and that Huizar “explicitly conditioned [her] employment benefits on sexual favors and when [she] refused Huizar’s sexual harassment, Huizar began a campaign of retaliation.” The lawsuit claim centers around Huizar’s encouragement for Godoy to run for the Community College Board of Trustees. According to the claim, on Columbus Day last year, Huizar demanded Godoy come to his City Hall office that night. When she arrived after 8pm, Huizar allegedly demanded to have sex with Godoy or she would lose his support for her campaign. When she refused, Huizar allegedly threw a fit. Later on November 1, after 10pm, Huizar allegedly went to Godoy’s home to give her one last ultimatum to be “closer” to him before his scheduled CCBT endorsement the next morning. According to Godoy, she refused him and was subsequently not endorsed the next day, and a month later banned from the office and told to “work from home” with reduced assignments. Godoy then, after nearly seven years in the Huizar office, left her $132,000 salary position as Deputy Chief of Staff for a $118,000 position with LA City Sanitation in April of this year. (Yes, our civil servants are paid ridiculously for the amount of service they provide. Mayor Sam has a revealing list of CD14 staff salaries from 2011, including Francine Godoy’s.)
Last month, a Special Committee on Investigative Oversight formed by Council President, Herb Wesson began to investigate the sexual harassment claim that Francine Godoy filed against José Huizar state department of Fair Employment and Housing. Meanwhile, The City Maven reminds us that we, the lucky taxpayer, may be on the hook for paying for Huizar’s defense.
This is a sad day for CD14. As if this district doesn’t have enough problems already. And while the only corruption known at this point is matrimonially, it says a lot about someone’s character, especially when they regard themselves as a devoutly religious family man. Much like Villaraigosa, the rest of Huizar’s term will be tarnished, and his future plans to run for his third term will depend on his personal problems instead of his accomplishments as a City Councilmember.
Anyone who reads this blog will know that José is held in high esteem here. Professionally, he gets the job done. His side of 90042 is noticeably the better-maintained side. York Blvd as well as Colorado Blvd in Eagle Rock are currently experiencing the most significant street design changes since the streetcars were removed decades ago. York Blvd will have a new park by this time next year. Thanks in large part to the leadership from Huizar’s office. He is well-regarded with his preservation efforts and is currently the only member of the City Council with a Master’s degree in Urban Planning. To lose him would be a setback for those of us that want to see Los Angeles protect its history and catch up with other world-class cities in urban infrastructure.
The rumors of Huizar’s infidellity and harsh management style have dogged him for years. Much like the kid asking Shoeless Joe Jackson if the rumors were true about being involved in the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, “Yes, kid, I’m afraid it is.”
Highland Park has long been considered a special place, but now it is a very special place because right now it is the only place in the world with a Donut Friend.
Northeast Los Angeles is no stranger to the Donut Arts. This after all, is where the most powerful donut empire in the Western United States began with Yum Yum Donuts in 1971 on the corner of Figueroa and Avenue 26. And while 90042 may still be home to the best glazed donut in Los Angeles at Monterey Donuts in Hermon, Donut Friend has upped the game considerably. Over in the East San Gabriel Valley, Glendora’s Donut Man has been blowing people’s minds for decades by putting fresh fruit on their donuts. Which is awesome. But Donut Friend has electrified the acoustic guitar of pastries, their donuts goes to eleven.
Jam, cheese, bacon, bananas, basil, nutella, mint, fudge, olive oil, jalapenos, sriracha, ice cream, chocolate mousse, candied oranges, caramel, and sugar glaze are among just a few choices you can put on you’re basic $2 vegan traditional or cake donut. (For $2.50, you can get a stupid-healthy vegan baked donut.) The D.I.Y. donut option is a fun way to show yourself and your friends (who are not donuts) what an awesome or awful pastry chef you could be. But don’t let that stress you out, there is a list of Donut Friend Compilations where you can show off your music prowess by getting the band and song references that the donuts are named after. (Fudgegazi = Fugazi, Lemon Weapon = Legal Weapon, GG Almond = GG Allin, Caramel on Parade = Christ on Parade, Dag Nutty = Dag Nasty, Jets to Basil = Jets to Brazil, Rights of Sprinkles = Rights of Spring, etc…) The donuts are good. Really good. I find myself avoiding York Blvd all together, just to keep from eating too many of their donuts. To go with these spectacular donuts, they have the usual milks and juices, but also serve a surprisingly good micro-roasted coffee from The 909, called Klatch. They also make pre-made donuts that you can pre-order by the dozen and be the most popular person in your office.
The backstory about Donut Friend is that when multi-platinum record producer, Mark Trombino (Jimmy Eat World, Blink 182, The Starting Line) had to “Go big, or go home,” he went donut. Inspired by Donut Man, he decided to open a kustom donut shop on York Blvd where previously there was a Chinese massage parlor. The happy ending for us is that while people from all over California will be driving here to try Donut Friend, we can simply walk over and indulge our fancy any time between 8AM and 7PM, seven days a week.
5107 York Blvd
Highland Park, CA 90042