Thursday, February 21, 2008

Tonight! Two Free Shindigs in South Park

Tonight there will be two free shindigs going on in South Park aimed at downtown residents.

First, from 6 PM to 9 PM, the O Hotel is hosting a downtown residents night at the Oh! Restaurant and Bar (with complimentary Sangria). The O Hotel is located at 819 S. Flower St., just off the corner of 8th and Flower.

Then, starting at either 7:00 PM (if you go by the website) or 7:30 PM (if you go by their flyer and announcement in the LA downtown News), the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council will be hosting a mixer at the Figueroa Hotel. The Figueroa Hotel is located at 939 S. Figueroa St., between Olympic Blvd. and James M. Wood Blvd/9th St.

UPDATE! DLANC is saying that RSVPs are required. Get you name on the list by calling Mamta Patel at 310-428-3248 or e-mailing Greg Schumann at

If you look at the map, you'll see that the two locations are very close to each other. I'd say, grab some free Sangria and check out the O Hotel around 6:30 and then wander over to the Figueroa Hotel around 7:30 for the DLANC Mixer. And if you live in South Park, be happy that you won't have far to walk home afterwards.

Friday, February 15, 2008

My First Downtown Art Walk

And boy, do I feel like an idiot for waiting this long to actually go on one. On the second Thursday of every month, many of the art galleries in downtown participate in the Downtown Art Walk. By my count, since moving downtown, I've missed 16 downtown art walks. Now granted, last year I did so much traveling that I missed many of them because I was out of town. Anyway, enough whining...

I started the evening by wandering up Figueroa to 7+fig for the debut of their "Art Space". I have to say, I was let down. It's plainly obvious that they haven't been able to find a tenant for the space, so they decided to turn it into a showcase for art. Currently on display is a exhibition entitled Many Waters by artist Kyungmi Shin. As expected, every piece on display had some element of water involved, be it the collage from a third-world city in a tropical locale or video of a river cruise with lily-pads superimposed above the video. I'm a little surprised that they participated in the Art Walk since the venue is well off the path. In fact, if it wasn't just a little out of the way from home, I probably would not have visited.

My next stop was Weeneez at 5th and Spring. Every time I've been there, I've enjoyed their hot dogs, but this time I wanted to try a cheeseburger. Alas, earwax. Because it gets very crowded on Art Walk nights, they don't server burgers. I "settled" for an LA Hottie (grilled hot dog with chilli, cheese, peppers, and bacon) which was yummy. The restaurant also features a wall of terrific rock show posters. Sorry, no photos, because I did not feel comfortable taking photos inside. When I finished my dinner, I walked into the attached Julie Rico Gallery, which had an exhibition entitled Dreaming With Your Eyes Open with etchings by Rafael BuĂ’uel and paintings by Peggy Reavey.

After enjoyi9ng the exhibit, I decided to walk to the Museum of Neon Art (which used to be located across the street from my home). Unfortunately, I arrived too late. The museum had a special Valentine's Day Neon Cruise, and had closed early. (Either that, or they weren't open at all). My disappointment at missing the Neon was tempered by wandering down Broadway at the end of the evening.

Next stop was Crewest. they hosted what I thought was the best theme for the night -- Fatally Yours. It's described as a show featuring works by artists disheartened with Valentine's Day. Again, no photos, but all of the art work fit the theme to a tee. Keeping with the urban theme, my next stop was the Sphinx Studio Tattoo & Body Art Shop & Gallery. This was one of two venues where a live band was playing at its entrance. The band was decent, and the art on display inside was cool to look at.

I kept wandering down Main Street, stopping in at the Dale Youngman Gallery followed by the LAMP Art Project Gallery. The photo at the top of this post was taken outside of the LAMP Art Project Gallery.

My next stop was the corner of 5th and Main, where, outside of PHARMAKA, another band was playing. The band attracted a bit of attention. First a dancer...

And then, a couple of guys dressed for the day:

Cupid and Pan seemed to hang around the area, as they posed for photos outside of Bert Green Fine Art:

The Bert Green had a display by 3 sculptors. I enjoy looking at 3-D art (particularly when its in motion), since, from different angles, you'll see different details. Still, the most unusual display I saw during the night was next door to the Bert Green at a party rental space:

If you want to see what's decorating the ceiling, click here. As I said, definitely unusual. After leaving the space, I walked back to Spring St. and on to the 626 Art Gallery (sorry Stitch fans, but it's named for it's address, not a cuddly blue alien, though I did see a not so cuddly alien and a cuddly plush pink lion during the walk) Anyway, the exhibit (called Colors To Life Beautiful) of art inspired by The Color Purple was my favorite for the evening.

With that, I needed to head back home. If I didn't have work the next morning, I would have stayed longer. (Of course, I didn't sleep much, because I spent time catching up with Survivor and Lost and then edited the photos) On my way home, I stopped outside several of the Broadway theatres to get video of their signs:

The Palace:

The Los Angeles:

And finally, The Orpheum:

So, will I return to Art Walk? Absolutely! The next one is on Thursday, March 13. If you've never attended, you should. I have to wonder if anyone will dress up as Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, or Brutus.

Anyway, for all of my photos from the evening, check out my flikr set for the night.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The James M. Wood Walk

First, a little history. After Pam and I moved to the Packard Lofts, we found out that Mike at Franklin Avenue wanted to celebrate his 10th anniversary of living in the Los Angeles area with The Great Wilshire Walk -- walk the full length of Wilshire Blvd from Grand Ave. to the shores of the Pacific. Due to a previous commitment, I was not able to participate in the entire walk. Still we were able to join folks for breakfast and walk as far as Valencia St. before heading back home. Pam has photos from the day here. If you want, you can read Mikes' post-walk post here and see a video here.

Anyway, one of the other walk attendees was Shannon of sha in LA; She was inspired to host her own 6th Street Stroll the following February. Neither Pam nor I were able to participate. However, when she announced that this year, she would host The JMWB Walk (JMWB is for James M. Wood Blvd.) from Wilshire and Western to the Hotel Figueroa, I said "Why not?"...

I really enjoyed the walk. Photographically, here are a couple of highlights:

The Oxford Apartment Homes

The Wilshire Mediterranean Apartments

Bathroom at The French Chateau

Susana Machado Bernard House

Frederick Mitchell Mooer's House

The rest of the photos are in this flikr set.

In addition Shannon has posts about the walk here and here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

How we ended up in downtown los angeles

In 2003, Pam and I were still living in Berkeley. I spent much of that summer working on a massive data migration at 20th Century Fox. During a late night drive back from the Fox lot to my hotel, I was scanning the radio until I heard some Hawaiian music on KCSN 88.5 FM; The program was called Hawaiian Eye. Naturally, I followed the link to the DJ, Mike Schneider's blog -- Franklin Avenue -- and made it a regular stop on my web browsing.

Anyway, while I was spending my summer at Fox, I was told that I would be spending more time in southern California. With that news, I asked to be relocated. The next year, Pam and I moved to Anaheim. After two years, we decided that it was time to move. At first, we were looking at some places in and around the North Hollywood Arts District, as they had good access to public transportation, and were closer to most of customers' sites.

In June 2006, Mike announced that for his 100th Rate-a-Restaurant he wanted to have a special gathering. Pamela and I had a good time at the gathering. One of the other bloggers at the gathering, Eric Richardson, who contributes to blogdowntown, suggested that we take the Downtown LA Housing Tour. We signed up, and toured several properties. We have photos from the tour here. We enjoyed our visit to The Packard Lofts enough that we returned a week later. When they offered us a nice move-in special, we signed a year-long lease for our current apartment. Since then, we have extended our lease for six months.

Still, while we like the location (it's one block from the downtown Ralphs), the rent is a bit on the high side and while we have a nice patio, we don't use it, and we get very little natural light. As such, we'll be moving. More on that later.

The 2008 Golden Dragon Parade

Saturday was the 2008 Golden Dragon Parade, celebrating the Year of the Rat. In the four years that I've lived in southern California, this was the first time I made the effort to see the parade. The day itself was gorgeous and clear. I debated taking the Red Line from 7th and Flower to Union Station and then walking the rest of the way against taking the Downtown Discovery DASH. Cheapness won out, and after paying my quarter, I was on my way to Chinatown. Unfortunately, when the bus made the turn on to Cesar Chavez, it got bogged down in traffic. To compound the mess, because of street closures, the bus driver informed us that the next stop was the Chinatown Gold Line Station. It would have been nice if the LADOT had added some temporary stops for the day (how about at Cesar Chavez and Broadway). Still, I had plenty of time to wander the parade route and get some photos.

There are more photos from before the parade here.

After wandering around, I settled on a spot on the west side of Broadway along Alpine Street. This enabled me to watch the parade start down Hill St. prior to it turning round and coming down Broadway. I chose the spot because the parade would be heading toward the sun and get good light. And it worked (for a while):

However, as the parade dragged on, it got frustrating. First, the parade suffered from a back-up, where it would stop for some random length of time and then start moving again. Then, as the sun made it's trek across the sky behind me, the shadows across Broadway lengthened, and impacted my shots:

The rest of my parade photos are here.

Next year, I think I'll take a spot up where the parade makes the turn onto Broadway.

After the parade finished, I walked to the New Years Festival area, where I was a bit disappointed. There were sponsors booths and some food booths (none with real Chinese food) but only one thing made me stay for any length of time -- to see the firecrackers explode when the parade was completely finished:

That was NOT disappointing.

After my experience on the Downtown Discovery, I decided at first to take the red line. However, when I realized that I could walk the distance, I decided to do that instead.

The rest of those photos are here. All in all, in spite of my disappointing moments, I was glad I went to the parade. I have my lessons learned to enjoy next year's parade.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Gotta wonder if this was legal

Earlier this evening, I shot some photos from the top floor of the Packard Lofts. As I went to take the stairs down to the ground level, I noticed something projected on a building one block away at the corner of Flower and Olympic:

The source of the projection was this...

I wonder if these guys got permits.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Met Lofts' Lights

A little after sunset, I wandered around South Park to investigate some music I heard emanating from the area of LA Live. When I reached the corner of Figueroa and Chick Hearn Ct. (which runs between the Staples Center and LA Live), I found that Chick Hearn Ct. was blocked off and a stage had been set up to face the LA Live courtyard. Some event staffers were preventing folks from walking beyond the barricade unless they had credentials. I guess this was some sort of Grammy Awards gig. I decided that this would be a good time to shoot video of the lights on the Flower Street face of the Met Lofts:

Hollywood Bowl 2008

Most of the 2008 Hollywood Bowl schedule has been published. Here's what's caught my eye so far:

Wednesday, July 16, 8:00 PM
Swing Night
featuring Big Bad Voody Daddy, The Manhattan Transfer, and Sophie Milman

Friday, July 18 and Saturday, July 19, 8:30 PM
Julie Andrews: The Gift of Music
Julie Andrews is the host; It doesn't say who's going to sing.

Friday, August 1 and Saturday August 2, 8:30 PM
Not The Messiah (He’s a Very Naughty Boy) with Eric Idle
Sing it with me... "Always look on the bright side of life"

Friday, August 29 and Saturday, August 30, 8:30 PM
John Williams: A Hollywood Legend

Sunday, August 31, 7:30 PM
The Big Picture: The Films of Warner Bros.

Wednesday, September 3, 8:00 PM
Bossa Nova at 50

Friday, September 19, 6:00 PM
Sing-A-Long Sound of Music

New Year's Day Sunrise in LA