As it turns out, maintaining roadside phones for stranded motorists isn't very cost effective, especially when 90% of drivers carry cell phones with them. Starting July 1st, Metro and the Los Angeles County Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies (LA SAFE) will begin a non-emergency road side assistance cell phone number (#399) for LA County highways. If you already have AAA the operator will forward you there and if not you will receive assistance from the Metro Freeway Service Patrol.
This weekend I went to three very different musical gatherings in the greater LA area. I wrote about it for LAist.
This past weekend Penelope and I drove up to the Bay Area to visit Merrilee and Keith. We attended a traditional wedding in Old Town Orange on Friday before we hit the road. The service was beautiful and the church (St. John's Lutheran) was lovely. We had to leave early in order to make it to Oakland at a semi-reasonable hour (2am).
Penelope and I woke early and went for a strenuous jog in the Oakland hills, man those are steep! After the jog, Keith and I surveyed the area in the back of the house where a stairway is to be built. We measured once and cut twice... oh wait did we get that bassackwards? Well anyway we planted stakes where we planned to drill holes for the load bearing members of the stairway. When we were done surveying it was time to pick up Merrilee who had just ridden 62 miles in training for the Death Ride. We prettied ourselves up and headed to the Pagan Re-Wedding of our caving friends Bill and Peri Franzt and Ethan and Courtney Frantz
I have never been to a Pagan Wedding or Re-Wedding and I didn't know what to expect, but the ceremony was really quite beautiful. There were about a hundred people in attendance and after drinking a variety of home made brews we all joined hands in a circle and started singing a short chant which I now forget the words to. The circle doubled back on its self and everybody kissed everybody on the cheek. The ceremony the involved the 7 couples who were remarrying drinking some wine and eating some bread and then spinning a wheel of life which we all also had the chance to spin.
The next day Penelope and I went for our hilly run again, then we all went to the Montclair Farmers Market where I scored some cheese and organic baby greens that had edible flowers mixed in. The edible flowers were really tasty and a bit spicy almost like horseradish. Merrilee and Keith picked up some fresh non-farmed salmon for dinner wich they later BBQ'd after soaking in a delicious Pernod marinade.
Penelope, Merrilee and Josh headed to Berkeley to visit the Sake Factory and buy Jim a father's day present and Keith and I headed to the lumber yard (Not Home Despot!) to pick up some tubular cement forms for the staircase. With the forms in tow we proceeded to the rental company and rented an auger with a 12" bit.
Neither Keith nor I had ever used an auger before, but we weren't too worried and as it turns out, using an auger is pretty straight forward. The only problem we ran in to was spilling a little bit of gas when we improperly laid the auger down on the ground, but no harm no foul. It took us a little over an hour to drill 6 holes and we even had a chance to take a break and have some water before we returned the auger.
After we were all done and the auger was returned I suggested to Josh, who is a photographer, that we head down to San Francisco to take some photos of the Golden Gate Bridge. We drove in to the city and made way to the Persidio where we parked near Fort Point and took some Bridge photos. I also photographed some sea gulls who were mugging it up for me.
We headed over to the Palace of Fine Arts where the Exploratorium is located and shot that famous landmark. Finally we stopped at Treasure Island to shoot the city from afar and while I shot a few pics, Josh sketched the San Francisco skyline.
When Josh and I pulled up to the house the coals were getting hot and the drinks were flowing. We ate, drank and were merry and in the morning it was hard to get up and leave, but we had to get back to LA. Penelope and I both had a great trip, albeit too short, and we look forward to the next time we make it out to the Bay.
Last week I posted that I noticed LAPD was increasing their presence in my neighborhood and hassling drug dealers (as I type this I have seen LAPD cruisers and motorcycles roll by twice). I guess it wasn't just random and they have added an actual beat through gallery row according to this article on LA Downtown News.
What is homelessness? Why are people homeless? And how is it, that this city is the homeless capital of the world?
To which I responded:
Homelessness is the state of living in which you have no home to hang your hat in. People are homeless for a myriad of reasons ranging from extreme poverty to drug addiction to mental problems. Urban sprawl over a hundred miles of coastline has concentrated the homeless problem into a very small area where they are tolerated. Greater Los Angeles is a huge population center in a state where mental care funding was cut under then governor reagan. Drug addiction is treated only as a crime and not as a disease and thus the war on drugs has created self-imposed internment camps for the hardcore addicts.
Obviously not every homeless person requires the same kind of help. Some need mental health care / medication and counseling, others need drug counseling and rehabilitation, many just need help finding work and affordable housing.
My fiance updated her blog... it is an honest to goodness miracle I tell you! Soon she will have her photos up there too and post on a more regular basis! Wow! Go Penelope!
I just saw this hilarious (and insulting if you are a street artist) photo on Hexodus' flickr stream. It has a link to a site called streetartblows.com which is somewhat of a protest site created by an anonymous graf artist (I'm guessing). Here is what s/he has to say:
When we first moved in to our new loft a few weeks ago, we noticed that scores of homeless and drug dealers hung out at a bus stop on Main St, which we had a perfect view of. We have spent many hours watching people sell, buy and smoke crack down on the street below our house.
Every couple of days we would see an LAPD cruiser pull up and watch as the people scattered like so many cockroaches. During the past week, LAPD has upped their patrols to every hour if not twice an hour. They also have bike cops patrolling, and these are real LAPD officers, not the purple-shirt-wearing security guards. This is having a good effect, as there are much fewer people hanging out and I see far fewer crack deals and crack smoke-a-thons. Thanks, LAPD!
That being said, I do feel that chasing people off and/or arresting them is not the solution to the problem. Our country and her war on drugs makes problems like these worse by treating them as a crime and not a disease. Drug addiction is a disease and it should be treated like a disease. Locking up addicts does not cure their addiction.
I already volunteer a good portion of my time to Search and Rescue, but I realize that there is more I can do down here. I want to interview the people on the streets, to learn their stories and to record them for posterity. I also think volunteering at the Midnight Mission would be a positive use of my time, so I have contacted them and offered my time and services.
In Downtown LA there are not many places to relieve yourself if you are not a paying customer. If you are homeless and roaming 6th Street and suddenly hear nature calling, you can't just use the public restrooms provided by the city, as there are none. There is no reason you can't just squat down and take a crap on the sidewalk, well no reason other than human decency and/or self-respect.
Just in case you didn't realize that you could use the street as your own personal toilet, local artist Richard McDowell[via blogdowntown] has made wonderful signs that let you know you can. Don't forget to Bring Your Own Paper. According to the rumors on blogdowntown, the signs are part of a film that the artist is making. There are also drugrelated signs in case you have trouble finding a drug dealer in Downtown.
I didn't mention it, but there are actually portapotties a few blocks to the southeast on 6th.
One of the more resourceful homeless fellows who frequents my block has come up with quite the ingenious money making system. When a car arrives to park at a meter he offers another plan... give him what change you have and he will trick the meter into thinking you paid. He will even hang out for more than an hour (he always hangs out anyway) and keep "feeding" the meter. The trick is he doesn't put money into the slot, but instead uses a bent paperclip to trick the meter and give you time. Pure genius I tell you.
I am really loving the view from our loft. I can see almost all of my favorite buildings... all except One Wilshire... oh well. I took this photo on Thursday night after Respect with my Canon EOS 20D. I think it was about a 20 second exposure.
Today I walked a few blocks to Little Tokyo to meet my mom for lunch. We ate at the Curry House, which is located next to the New Otani hotel. I love the sweet, savory flavor of Japanese curry. I could tell from a block away that I was going to enjoy the fare just from the rich curry aroma that wafted down the street.
I ordered Beef Katsu with extra curry (hot of course) and my mother had the seafood curry. The portions were prodigious and pleasantly arranged and the curry was hot and delicious. The large portion I ordered came with a supplemental bowl of curry to smother the rice and beef katsu in once I finished what was on the plate. I washed it all down with a can of milky sweet Calpico (which in Japan is call Calpis, which sounds somewhat like Cow Piss).
If you find yourself craving curry this is the spot to appease your needs.