Street Art is somewhat rare in these parts. Sure we have many murals, thanks in large part to the Los Angeles Mural Moritorium rarely being enforced around here. Yes, there is lots and lots of graffiti on every reachable surface in our corner of Los Angeles. Tags, toys, stickers, stencils, sometimes a random hanging bear or knitted installation, and there are plenty of impressive pieces along our alleyways. But Street Art, its not what we see much of around here. That is why about a year ago something beyond the daily stapled flyer, nailed yard sale sign or graffiti tag on the telephone pole caught my eye.
At first, I thought the nailed metal was just hardware placed by a utility company. But then, upon closer inspection, I realized it was something more, something artistic.
It was then that I started to notice the nailed metal pieces seemingly EVERYWHERE around Northeast Los Angeles.
Highland Park, Cypress Park, Glassell Park, Eagle Rock, all have them. The wooden telephone poles of Colorado Boulevard, Eagle Rock Boulevard, York Boulevard, and Figueroa Street are all potential pop-up galleries for the artist who calls himself “5150.”
Crazy or not, the artist 5150 (Or as Amy Inouye reports in September’s NELA Art News, his name is either Blake, Blaine or Brent) has made traveling about Northeast Los Angeles a lot more interesting. Finding the art about town is a lot like coming across geocaches, often hidden in plain sight, they add value to the day’s monotony.
The pieces are usually just abstract scrap metal repurposed from Lockheed Martin aerospace parts or metal container lids nailed to telephone poles with an abundance of nails. Sometimes 5150 creates a star or flower pattern with his nails, but for the most part the shapes are non-representative. So far, I have come across 32 of the art pieces, and surely expect to find more. Especially when I hear that hammer in the night.
It is August in Highland Park. Which means that it is time for FIGEATER BEETLES!
Cotinis mutabilis, the Figeater beetle is not a June Bug. And yet, that is exactly what many of us (myself included) have called this beetle all their lives. (Blame the yoke of the East Coast transplants to Los Angeles.) But then again, we should know better: June Bugs emerge from the soil in June. Whereas the overshadowed Figeater beetle emerge and take their sloppy flight in August.
Figeater beetles are common to the southwest United States and northern Mexico. Like their eastern cousins, the June Bug, they are notoriously poor flyers that have the capability of achieving a 100% Success Rate at flying into your hair, regardless of where they are actually trying to go. But while they are quite annoying when airborne, they unlike their eastern cousins, are not brownish green, but a gorgeous iridescent green and gold. The Figeater spends most of its two-year life living in soft soil and compost piles as larvae, eating the same things that pill bugs, and earwigs like to eat. In August, the Figeater takes flights, feasts on Figs, nectarines, peaches, plums, sunflowers, and pollen-plenty flowers. It mates, lays tiny yellow eggs in the soil, and drops dead to the ground to menace us no more.
Supposedly the larvae is edible, very rich in protein and a favorite treat for the packs of raccoons that frequent the urban setting of Highland Park. But rather than eating them, I remember them best as those little creatures we liked to enslave for our amusement as kids:
Thee very best in local children’s entertainment can be found every summer at the Occidental College’s Remsen Bird Hillside Theater in the form of the Occidental Children’s Theater. Now in their 18th year, the Oxy Children’s Theater brings original and intimate hour-long productions to the lawn of the Hillside Theater located near the top of Oxy each summer. Created and directed by Jamie Angell, the plays are typically hilarious adaptations of traditional folktales performed aerobically by Oxy Alumni without the use of props or scenery. The current production is a mash-up of the classic folktale of Noah’s Ark, and the 1993 film, Jurassic Park. To get some idea of the gist of these plays, some previous titles include: Trumpelstiltskin, 1001 Arabian Nights of the Living Dead, PinocchiOklahma!, Repunzilla, Dr. Jeckyll And Mr. Rogers, Snow White And The Seven Samurai, Han Solo And Gretel, among others. (To get even more of an idea, Angell happens to be life-long friends with The Simpsons creator, Matt Groening, the two share wonderfully subversive senses of humor.) The plays are tremendous fun for just a pittance of only $10 Adults, and $7 for kids.
Occidental Children’s Theater
July 11 through August 24, 2013
Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 10AM.
Remsen Bird Hillside Theater
Occidental College, Eagle Rock, CA 90041
Tickets are $10 Adults / $7 Children, Group Rates available.
Today is the Third Annual Galco’s Summer Soda Tasting fundraiser for the Friends of The Southwest Museum. But I won’t be there this year because John Nese broke my heart. You see, Mr. Nese does not like bikes. That in itself would not be so bad. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But Mr. Nese is actively working to prevent people from riding bikes on York Boulevard or to his store, just as I used to do all the time.
A year ago in May, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation attempted to install a much-needed city bike rack in front of his store. These bike racks can be requested from LADOT’s website. It was a big surprise to this blogger, as well as many other long-time Galco’s enthusiasts, to learn that Mr. Nese would actually work to prevent the installation of a free bike rack on the public right-of-way outside his store.
Mr. Nese likes to claim that he is not anti-bike, yet he has been working so hard over the past year to prevent the implementation of the 2010 Los Angeles Bike Plan in Northeast Los Angeles. Over the past year he has organized his fellow Friends of The Southwest Museum to turn-out at local Neighborhood Council meetings and oppose the installation of bike lanes as part of the already-approved bicycle lane network in Northeast Los Angeles. And while I can’t say I will never shop at Galco’s again, I can say as someone who would regularly bike over to his store for a six-pack, I no longer feel welcomed doing so. (It is sort of like a Person of Color in 1955′s Alabama being told they are welcomed on the bus, as long as they sit in the back.)
Mr. Nese made a name for himself championing small independent bottlers of soda pop. He rejected the large multi-national corporations that demanded shelf space in his store. A classic tale of the underdog triumphing against Goliath. A minority niche soda market given the space they deserve. Yet he intends to keep bicycles marginalized to side streets and parks. More ironically, Mr. Nese wants regular hours restored to the Southwest Museum, even though attendance numbers would not warrant it. Yet, he makes the same argument that bike racks and bike lanes should not be installed because not enough people will use them.
Support Friends of The Southwest Museum, support Galco’s too. But if you think bikes belong, be sure to let Mr. Nese know.
The results have been certified. The people have spoken. Another member from the California Legislature has been sworn into the Los Angeles City Council. 10,152 residents of Council District 1 voted for Gil Cedillo and 9,389 voted for Jose Gardea, giving Cedillo a victory by 763 votes. For all intents and purposes this could mean the next twelve years will likely be spent with Gil Cedillo as Councilmember for CD1 until he is forced-out by law after three terms.
Now our City Council with the most lucrative salary of any municipality in the United States ($178,790 annually) is nearly half-filled with professional politicians who were forced-out of the state legislature by term limits, with more certainly on their way in the coming years. This unintended consequence of term limits is explored by David Zahniser in a recent article in the Los Angeles Times. The fear is that a council filled with old-pros instead a diverse pool of local faces could hinder the democratic process. That a Council obedient to the charming yet iron fist of former Assembly speaker, now Council President, Herb Wesson will not serve the people who elected them. This growing lack of diversity in City Council could be found on July 3rd when a council comprised ENTIRELY of men came to order in Council Chambers. (First time since 1969.)
The good news is that Gil Cedillo is a capable leader with many political friends in labor and in the California Democratic Party. How will that will be applied to Council District 1 is unknown. What is known is that Highland Park will be getting more attention by mere proximity with the addition of his district office on the corner of Figueroa and Avenue 56. So that’s a plus. Maybe he will be successful in fulfilling Reyes’ promise to make the long-vacant Security Pacific Building across the avenue into a Northeast Los Angeles City Hall. There is a lot for Cedillo to learn about local issues, luckily for him, an opportunity to educate our new councilman will take place this Tuesday, July 30th from 7pm to 8pm at
Ramona Hall (4580 N. Figueroa St) Mt. Washington Elementary School (3981 San Rafael Ave). We will have just an hour to express our concerns for CD 1 at what he is calling “Mt. Washington Town Hall.” See Patch for more.
“In a democracy, people get the kind of government they deserve.”
Election Day for Highland Park’s District 1 is today, May 21. The choice is between termed-out state legislator, Gilberto Cedillo and Jose Gardea, Chief of Staff to our retiring CD 1 councilmember, Ed Reyes.
Council District 1 is the most densely-populated district that occupies the central and most historic core of the city. The district covers the diverse neighborhoods of Highland Park, Mount Washington, Cypress Park, Glassell Park, Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights, Solano Canyon, Dodgertown 90090, Chinatown, Elysian Park, Echo Park, Angelino Heights, Westlake, Pico Union, and portions of West Adams and Koreatown.
On one side of the ballot, you have Jose Gardea who has spent nearly all his life in Council District 1 and worked as the Chief of Staff for Ed Reyes for the last 10 years. (To say he is familiar with CD1 is quite the understatement.) Gardea is endorsed by the LA Times, Eric Garcetti, Ed Reyes, Jimmy Gomez, and Highland Park’s other councilmember, Jose Huizar among others. On the other side is Gil Cedillo, who has represented the heavily Latino 46th California Assembly District, later the 45th Assembly District, and the 22nd California Senate District for a combined total of 14 years before being forced out by term limits. Cedillo is endorsed by Governor Brown, Mayor Villaraigosa, and essentially every Who’s-who of the California Democratic Party. (Interesting to note he also claims to be endorsed by Eric Garcetti, but is not.)
Gil Cedillo has done a lot for California. He is among the top five Latino politicians in the state. No legislator has fought more for immigrant rights in this state than him. His greatest achievement is authoring the California DREAM Act for undocumented students of California. He has stood with union workers and championed the core Democratic causes. And yet, in this race, in this district, he represents the Right Wing of the two candidates. He is actually the most conservative candidate this area has seen since Sam Yorty prodigy, Art Synder ran the adjacent District 14. He is for Big Business, heavily supported by Chevron and the billboard industry (as if you haven’t noticed). He wants to build a Walmart in Chinatown. He is also THAT GUY, who for reasons most of Northeast Los Angeles, Pasadena, and South Pasadena can’t understand, keeps voting to spend millions and millions of dollars on trying to extend the failed Interstate 710 Freeway by any means necessary.
Cedillo likes to ask people when he meets them if they need a job. Which is a pretty clever way of getting people’s attention. That has been his focus for his CD1 Campaign: Jobs. How the Reyes administration hasn’t created jobs, how he will create jobs, how it is all about jobs. Because we all want a job, don’t we? The problem is, his approach to job creation is about empowering his corporate donors, rather than empowering the people of Council District 1. When I think about what the a city councilmember can do for their district, I think about how they can make our city safer, how they can improve transportation, how they can enhance our neighborhoods, how they can effectively provide a high standard of city services.
If you want to understand what a candidate’s campaign is really about, all you have to do is follow the money. When looking at who is contributing to who, one soon realizes this election is being bought by outsiders. Simply look at the zip codes and amounts being contributed to the different candidates: 38 people in 90042 contributed to Gardea, compared to Cedillo who received funding from only seven. (And that is with his campaign headquarters being located here.) On Cedillo’s donor list, you are more likely to find contributors outside Los Angeles (Beverly Hills, Sacramento, New York, etc…) while Gardea’s contributor list is made up almost entirely by individual donors who reside in the district he serves. This election comes down to promoting the man who has done the day-to-day administration for this district for over ten years to the elected position of City Council; verses electing a seasoned Sacramento politician who needs the job with its $178,789 annual salary. (Highest city council salary in the nation.)
The City Council is all about the myriad of day-to-day little things that make a big difference. It is about administrating the city resources effectively and providing the services constituents need. It is about adding value to the quality of life in our fair city. Our city is about abandoned couches, dead opossums, graffiti, housing, health services, dogs and cats, sanitation, utilities, small business development, parks and recreation, public transportation, public safety, police and fire service, building codes, historic preservation, community redevelopment, neighborhood empowerment, urban planning, roads, sidewalks, street trees, arts and culture, libraries, museums, street lights and parking. There is only one candidate that is well-versed in all those departments, one candidate who has made his career to serve the city, and has worked with all of these Los Angeles interests to make our city a better place.
Today there is only one good choice for Council District 1: Jose Gardea.
It has been over two years since posting here. People have been born, people have died, many have moved in, many moved away. The wind has blown, the rain has fallen, the earth has shaken, and our planet continues to increase in temperature. Many things have changed, yet many things remain the same.
What has happened since the last 90042 post:
- The massive sewer project on Figueroa was finally finished
- Trees were felled, property damaged and we survived days without electricity after the December 1st Windstorm of 2011.
- Scores of Highland Parkers attempt to participate in the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council, only to become disillusioned and walk away.
- In an effort to compete with the Tuesday Old L.A. Farmer’s Market at Highland Park Station, Figueroa Produce invites food trucks to its store for weekly parking lot dining. Figueroa Produce goes out of business and E.A.T. @ FigandYork remains.
- Los Angeles Veteran’s Square is fenced-off to the public in an effort to dislodge homeless from lodging there. The parking lot wall at the Highland Park Senior Center is removed to further discourage homeless congregating.
- The Metro Line 81 gets new buses.
- Metro Gold Line stops selling paper tickets.
- Voters forced the City of Los Angeles to restore staff and services to our Los Angeles Public Library.
- The Autry re-opens the Southwest Museum to the public. (Saturdays 10am – 4pm only, refers to it now as their “Mt. Washington Campus.”)
- Heritage Square gets Historical Cultural Monument status, and builds a new building to house the Colonial Drug Company collection.
- Maximiliano opens at York and Aldama.
- Proof that one cannot overestimate the need for caffeine in 90042, Highland Cafe opens four doors down from Cafe de Leche.
- King of the jackfruit tacos, Plant Food For People begin selling tacos around Highland Park and Eagle Rock.
- A plethora of restaurants, boutiques, bars, and art galleries open on York Blvd.
- The number of Highland Park record stores increases by 400%.
- Highland Park finally gets a book store! (And a comic book store too.)
- Rudy has yet to replace the street tree at 5137 York Blvd as he promised. (There is just a planter there now.)
- As part of the “New York Blvd” street enhancement project, the FIRST parklet in the city of Los Angeles opens at 5040 York Blvd.
- An agreement is made by Jose Huizar’s office to buy the vacant former Texaco gas station lot on the corner of York Blvd and Avenue 50 and create a public park.
- Bike lanes are extended on York Blvd from Avenue 55 to Figueroa.
- People are shocked to learn nice guy owner of Galco’s Soda Pop Stop, John Nese really really hates bikes.
- The Judy Baca mural on the AT&T switching building is restored.
- The worst-reviewed gangster film of the 21st Century uses Figueroa Street to recreate 1949 Central Avenue.
- The funky paintings by Will Palomares become more prevalent than ALZA’s.
- The rise of yarn bombing and guerilla knitting around Highland Park.
- Brian Mallman retires as director of NELA Art.
- To much delight, the first edition of NELAart News is published and distributed on newsprint.
- MorYork Gallery stops participating in NELA Art 2nd Saturday Gallery Night, begins “Secret Songs” concert series.
- THIS Los Angeles has its last opening.
- American Legion Hall continues to grow as a nightclub venue, becomes the epicenter for the Los Angeles square dancing scene.
- To many-a-patron’s chagrin, Mr. T’s Bowl continues to be mismanaged.
- Good Girl Dinette expands their hours.
- Dodgers donate a new baseball field at Highland Park Recreation Center.
- Highland Park cat herder and comedian, Marc Maron gets a TV show on IFC.
- Someone posts a flyer for “Dog Walking” in 90042.
- Aldama Elementary, Franklin High School, and Burbank Middle School have outstanding years.
- Jose Huizar is re-elected to City Council for District 14.
- Controversial local city councilman from the Sam Yorty-era, Art Snyder dies in Huntington Beach at age 79. Gets a room named after him by the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council at Eagle Rock City Hall.
- David Fonseca leaves Patch for Huffington Post.
- LA Eastside mysteriously closes and stops blogging for a year.
- Echo Park based Eastsider LA still thinks Eastside includes places on the map located WEST of downtown.
- The historic Manning’s Coffee sign is restored and re-lit, along with the Highland Theatre sign. (Unfortunately, half the bulbs have already burned-out.)
- Bicycle Station closes on Figueroa, Riffi’s Bike Shop opens on Figueroa.
- Ten more beauty salons open in 90042.
- Frank’s Camera at the Kress building is still for sale.
- Little Cave becomes La Cuevita.
- Auto Zone opens in the former Pep Boys building.
- MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Council) opens their west coast offices on the corner of Avenue 50 and Figueroa.
- Both candidates for Council District 1 choose Figueroa Street in Highland Park at their campaign headquarters.
- The promised Northeast LA City Hall in the historic Security First National Bank building on Figueroa still sits empty.
- The Avenues and Dogtown gangs nearly disappear from our neighborhoods as the Highland Park gang works to fill in the void.
- I am no longer the only guy in the neighborhood reporting gunfire.
- Seven people have been murdered here in two years. Including homeless man, Carey Snyder, aged 63, stabbed to death on the corner of Avenue 58 and Figueroa on the night of December 29, 2011. His murder remains unsolved.
This list could go on with all the many things have happened in and around Highland Park in the intervening two years. But why return to this blog now?
Highland Park is at a particularly pivotal point in its history. There are a few important events on the horizon in 2013 that have compelled me to start-up this blog again. For me, this blog has always been about participating, sharing, reflecting and advocating for 90042. In the coming posts I hope to illustrate the opportunities we as a community have, and how our choices will affect the path we take.
While I may be using the HLP90042 twitter account from time to time, I do not plan on maintaining the robust tweeting regiment it had previously. This blog while active again, won’t be that active. More like that Sunday ride you take out to cruise every now and then.
Thanks as always for taking the time to read 90042, thanks even more for taking the time to comment. I look forward to further exploring this place we call home.