Monday, July 31, 2006

Watch Mike Act Like a Fool on Cable TV!



The topic: Should Hollywood make TV shows into movies, and vice versa (a timely topic, with "Miami Vice" opening this past weekend)

The setting: G4's "Attack of the Show" daily entertainment roundup.

The faceoff: Film Threat's Chris Gore, Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker and me.

It was my second appearance on "Attack of the Show," and even though it was tough to get a word in between the chatty Gore and the long-winded Tucker, I did a few times. And yes, they told me to be animated, so I apologize for the goofiness. See it all here.

This Summer's Top Tunes, According to the Rock Insider



My favorite music blog? No doubt it's Jax's Rock Insider. Maybe it's because her tastes are spot on. She hasn't steered me wrong so far -- every time I download an MP3 she features, I dig it. Jax (above) hits every show (and takes pics!) and owns the east side -- the Rock Insider is your one-stop shopping to find out what's going on in cool music here and elsewhere.

Jax's site recently hit the bigtime, getting a nice mention in Entertainment Weekly. Not bad for a girl who has finally come to terms with her Hipster-ness.

Because I've been so busy with work/kid/home extension/etc., I'm ashamed to admit I've been lax in keeping up with new sounds this year. So I decided to hit up Jax: Tell me your top ten songs of summer. Not only did she graciously oblige, but she filled me in on why I should be downloading said tracks:

10. Birdmonster - "Cause U Can": This track pretty much kicked off my summer (I saw the band play at the first little radio BBQ of the summer). It pretty much set the tone for following weeks. I saw the Birdboys twice in New York and once again in San Francisco.

9. Bonnie Prince Billy - "Cursed Sleep": Amazing song. I haven't had a good nights sleep in 2 weeks because of this heat wave. My cheap Echo Park apt has no air conditioning and fans only do so much. I'm dying.

8. Cold War Kids - "Hang Me Up To Dry": Sigh I frickin love these guys and I'm soo amazed at all the success they've seen in the last few months. They deserve every last bit of it. I've had "Hang Me Up To Dry" on every summer mix I've made.

7. Michael Leviton - "Summer's The Worst": Ditto for this track. Amazingly upbeat song abt how much watching summer lovebirds when ur lonely stinks.

6. The Black Angels - "Bloodhounds on My Trail: This song sounds like a bad ass chain gang on the run from the law. Great roadtrip track.

5. Ferraby Lionheart - "A Crack In Time": Love the way my heart kind of pitter patters when I say his name (try it. Fer-ra-by) ooh... chills. If you think his name gives u chills wait till u see him live. Wow.

4. Briertone - "Strawfoot (16 Horsepower)": iTunes playcount since I got their Sojourners ep end of june = 34. I listen to it at least once a day.

3. Sound Team - "Your Eyes Are Liars": I've officially played this song soo much that it has seeped into my subconscious and I now find myself tapping out the opening bass line on every chair, bookcase, table in site.

2. Lily Allen - "LDN": This song sounds like a rainbow popsicle from an ice cream truck in brooklyn on a scorching hot day with kids playing in a fire hydrant spraying out into the street.

1. The Knife - "We Share Our Mothers Health": Track of the summer? Fuck yes. Track of the year? Ummmm FUCK YES.

I love that Lily Allen track; most of these, however, were new to me. Thanks, Jax!


And don't forget to hear her on Little Radio every Monday...

Friday, July 28, 2006

Secret of "Lost": Revealed!



Forget about the Hanso Foundation, the "others," the four-toed statue, the black smoke, or any other of the "Lost" mysteries. This is what really baffled me last season on "Lost":

Everything in the hatch was from the late 70s. The computer, the record collection, the filmstrip, the appliances. Except for the washer and dryer (see above; I suppose you could argue that the blender also looks pretty new and modern).

Whaaa? As Lost fans obsessed at the time, it just didn't make any sense. Why a brand spanking new washer/dryer, when everything else was so old? Was there a secret Best Buy store on the other side of the island? Did Desmond sneak out to Sears a year or two earlier?

Losties tried dissecting a greater meaning from the modern machines:

the machines appear to be graphite Kenmore He3t or 4t machines. From Fricking Sears. They were first available in the US in the fall of 2000.

If it's a 4t (I'd need to see a close-up of the controls) then it's only been avaible for a year.

So yes, the washer dryer is a dead giveaway that a delivery of a washer/dryer took place almost certainly within the last five years, and that could possibly be narrowed down to an even smaller window.

Last week at the TV Critics Assn. press tour, I ran into "Lost" exec producer Carlton Cuse -- great guy, and a lot of fun to chat with as he entertains your "Lost" theories. So of course, I had to ask him about that damn washer and dryer.

He chuckled. Forget about reading too much into it. Apparently the producers at the time thought that those machines looked like an old washer and dryer! So they placed them in the hatch set, not realizing the kind of uproar it would cause! But that's the power of "Lost" -- a simple continuity error can be taken for something much greater.

As you know, the producers semi-addressed it midseason, when Libby (Cynthia Watros) pointed out to Hurley (Jorge Garcia) that the washer/dryer seemed newer than everything else in the hatch. Hurley brushed it off, saying he didn't know -- he just knew that it washed his clothes. Carlton more or less admitted that that exchange was a nod to everyone on the web who had the same question as I did.

Mystery solved! Now, who the hell are the Others?

Air Conditioning as a Status Symbol



Of all the things we've done to our house (where we've now lived for two years) -- and we've done a lot of stuff -- No. 1 on the list remains "adding central heat and air."

It was necessary -- our house didn't have either. (Remember, we bought in 2004-- when sellers could get away with offering up no-frills homes and still pocket big bucks.) With a baby in the house, we needed both (we were improvising with portable electric heaters through the house -- and fans in the summertime).

Along came this summer, and every day I'm happy that we installed the AC. Our house may be tiny, but it still heats up like an oven. When we shut it off and head out for a few hours, we inevitably return home to a thermostat well over 90 degrees.

Today's Los Angeles Times notes that just one in four L.A. households has central air, but that's changing:

As homes are sold or passed down a generation, more people are deciding that air conditioning is a must-have amenity.

They may need it only five days a year, but "those days are our critical days," said Claudia Chandler, assistant executive director of the California Energy Commission. "On any hot summer afternoon, about one-third of the electricity that's being consumed is being used to drive air conditioners."

When forecasting energy use, California officials factored in new-home construction, with almost all homes equipped with one — and often two — air-conditioning units.

People "just wouldn't buy" a new home without air conditioning, said John Young, president of Young Homes and of the Building Industry Assn. of Southern California.

Surprisingly, the story doesn't touch on the sticker shock that's sure to be hitting mail boxes in the coming months. Having run our AC almost constantly the last few weeks (hey, again, it's for Blogger Baby), I'm truly dreading that electric bill.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Neon Los Angeles



The L.A. Times today takes in the Neon Cruise (run by the Museum of Neon Art):

In 1923, Los Angeles became home to America's first neon signs when a Packard car dealership downtown purchased a pair from Claude.

Over the next two decades, neon signs sprouted in Los Angeles' theater district, on grand apartment buildings such as the Gaylord and on cheap motels lining Route 66 (now Sunset Boulevard), bringing the night skyline to life with a splash of futuristic colors.

Plastics technology leaped forward during World War II, and plastic signs lighted with fluorescent tubing became cheaper than neon. The number of neon craftsmen in the United States declined from about 5,000 at the end of World War II to fewer than 500 in the early 1970s.

Neon has since experienced something of a resurgence, and newly minted neon graces Amoeba Music on Sunset, as well as the ubiquitous red-and-blue "Open" signs in restaurant windows.

Thankfully, several vintage neon signs throughout the city -- such as in the MacArthur Park/Westlake Park area -- have been restored. But plenty more have been lost.

Check out Public Art in LA's excellent roundup of L.A. neon signs to find out where to look. And also check out the excellent book on Los Angeles neon.

Meanwhile, I'm floored by this quote from the story, as uttered by someone else on the neon tour:

"I've lived here for 22 years, and I know very little about the history," said Sandy Ivanhoe, 56, a writer and retired nurse from Pacific Palisades who was on the neon tour with her husband and another couple. "The Bunker Hill part was really interesting — I wasn't even sure where it was before."

Whaaa? You've lived here 22 years, and you didn't know where Bunker Hill was??

Ahh, Los Angeles!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Onion Comes to Los Angeles




Finally! The Onion will distribute a Los Angeles print edition for the first time starting next month.

August 10 is the launch date here. According to the Onion's media kit, its initial Los Angeles run will be just 50,000 papers, distributed at 1,000 locations:

With a distribution network composed of high-traffic street boxes, bookstores, music venues, restaurants, nightclubs, cafes, and retailers both large and small, The Onion circulates 50,000 papers to its loyal readership every week. The paper is strategically located in areas where our core audience of young, affluent opinionleaders lives, works, and socializes, maximizing advertising exposure.

Blogging.la noted last March that the paper was looking for a "culture-savvy writer to work as the Los Angeles City Editor," overseeing the local elements of the Onion A.V. Club.

When I lived in Chicago ten years ago, I used to pick up the print version of The Onion every week. Here in Los Angeles, I've had to make do with the online version for the past 10 years. Fine, but there's something about seeing the famed satirical news source in print that makes it even more, well, subversive. Welcome, The Onion, to SoCal!

(Hat tip to Joe.)

Putting the Heat into Perspective



Granted, the heat here in L.A. has been brutal the past few weeks. 119 degrees in Woodland Hills?! Unbelievable.

But this summer still doesn't even come close to what I experienced in 1995, when I was living in Chicago. In an apartment without air conditioning. I'll never forget that summer's heat wave: You'd wake up in the morning to humidity so stifling, that you'd literally have to crawl to the bathroom to take a shower. By the time I took my short walk to the El train, I'd be soaked in sweat. At night, we'd jump into Lake Michigan to beat the heat. It was horrible.

But what I still remember most from that summer: Picking up the newspaper every morning and reading about more and more poor, mostly elderly residents dying from the heat. There's still no exact count on how many people died that summer -- the estimates range from 500 to over 700 people within a short span. It was a true tragedy, although mostly forgotten outside of Chicago 11 years later.

Last year, Slate compared the Hurricane Katrina disaster with Chicago's 1995 deadly heat wave -- and noted the inadequate government response in both cases:

As with Katrina, meteorologists identified the treacherous weather system at least a week before it hit Chicago and advised the city to prepare for the worst. Instead, Mayor Richard M. Daley and many of his Cabinet members set off on summer vacations, returning to Chicago only after dead bodies began piling up at the morgue. In the absence of its leaders, the city failed to pull its forgotten heat-emergency plan from the shelf. Local emergency managers refused to call in additional resources to help with the unfolding health crisis, even though paramedics and ambulances were readily available.

Affluent and middle-class Chicagoans had little trouble getting out of harm's way. They either turned on their air conditioners or fled for cooler destinations. Thousands of poor, old, isolated, and sick people, especially those concentrated in the city's segregated African-American ghettos, on the other hand, were effectively trapped in lethal conditions. Neither federal nor local agencies did much to assist them. Instead, city patrols cracked down on young people who opened fire hydrants.

Luckily, we haven't experienced a similar disaster here in L.A., although the L.A. Times notes that the death toll throughout the state from this record heat wave has risen to more than 50, mostly in the state's Central Valley:

Among the hardest hit was Fresno County, where hospitals are filled to capacity and the morgue is out of room for the first time in its history.

"We've never had this many before," said Fresno County Coroner Loralee Cervantes, who said she suspects that heat played a role in killing a third of those whose bodies lie in the morgue's refrigeration unit.

A survey of coroners around the state found an estimated 53 to 57 deaths under investigation as heat-related by late Tuesday. It will take up to four weeks to conduct the necessary autopsies to determine whether heat was the specific cause of death in most of the cases.

More on Chicago's 1995 heat wave here.

Thai This On



Driving around the Valley this weekend, Maria, Evan and I stumbled across the Wat Thai temple, the largest That Theravada Buddhist Temple in the United States.



Located near the intersection of Roscoe and Coldwater Canyon, the temple draws a large crowd on the weekends to sample cheap (but delicious) Thai fare at several food stands. And of course, the temple itself is quite a sight.



According to the Wat Thai website:

The monks at Wat Thai are members of the Theravada section of Buddhism, a section that adheres closely to the pure teachings of Buddha. They are very reserved and hold strictly of what Buddha taught and they have changed no teachings laid down by Buddha. Theravada has flourished in Thailand, Cambodia, India, Laos, Burma, Sri Lanka etc., while Mahayana sect of Buddhism, the developed form, has been maintained in China, Tibet, Japan, Mongolia, Korea, Vietnam etc.

The LA Weekly's Jonathan Gold reviewed the scene a few years ago:

On weekend afternoons and during festivals, the air around the temple almost throbs with the smells of Thai cooking: meat grilling at satay stands, the wheat pancakes called roti sizzling on massive griddles, pungent, briny salt crabs being pounded for the ultraspicy green-papaya salad. This spread may be more or less the equivalent of the smothered chicken and collard greens eaten after services at some African-American churches, and it feels just as homely; the inexpensive Thai feast is open to everyone who cares to come.

Having just come from dim sum with the family, we weren't too hungry -- but we still bought a few chicken satays (at just $1 a pop!) to go. Quite a bargain -- and quite delicious.

J5 Does GW

Tip of the hat to LAVoice.org and Mack Reed, who point to the brand new Jurassic 5 music video for "Work It Out." The video, filmed downtown, features a faux George W. Bush as he mindlessly jogs around the city, high fiving homeless people and jacking up gas prices along the way. It's worth a look, as Mack says, just to see so much of downtown L.A.:

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

More to Observe



Busy day at LA Observed, the pre-eminent blog about all things Los Angeles. Founder Kevin Roderick has expanded his footprint, adding two new companion blogs (LA Biz Observed and SoCal Sports Observed). He has also added additional voices to the LA Observed community, making it a group blog for the first time in its three-year history. Kevin explains the change:

This seemed like the right time to expand a bit in content and ambition. Adding these voices could be a giant step forward for LA Observed as an independent journal of reporting, observation and opinion about the metropolis where we all live. Or, of course, it could be a bust. But I don't think so.

All three blogs have been busy today, with plenty of fresh posts. I've particularly enjoyed the coverage of Monday's L.A. Times pony rides.

This Fall, L.A. Plays Itself



After years of fronting for plenty of other series in primetime drama (New York, Chicago, etc.), Los Angeles has finally been getting its due in recent years. This fall's new ABC drama "The Nine" (above) continues that trend.

Exec producers Hank and K.J. Steinberg, who met with reporters last week as part of the TV Critics Association summer press tour, said they initially flirted with setting their show (about a group of nine strangers who bond after surviving a bank hostage crisis) in New York. But they changed their mind, Hank Steinberg told the crix:

It became very apparent to us that Los Angeles was the perfect setting for this show -- Los Angeles, a city of millions of people that are driving around in their cars and very disconnected. And this idea of nine people in Los Angeles winding up in this place through a series of fateful moments seemed very apt.

And it's incredibly fun to be able to shoot the show in L.A., having shot "Without a Trace" in L.A. for New York and having to look like this all the time and shoot around the palm trees and spend all this money to make it look different from what it is and have it kind of be a rough approximation of New York. This is so fun to go out there and explore all the great nooks and crannies. And L.A. is an incredibly visual city and is a perfect backdrop for the actual stories that we're telling.

Indeed, one lengthy scene -- a party in the backyard of a character's Angelino Heights home -- is indeed visually stunning (with the city skyline in the background).

Eagle Rock Plaza: Back to the Future



Westfield has quietly dumped its Eagle Rock location, selling the mall to Pennsylvania-based Centro Watt. It's Centro Watt's entry to the Los Angeles market, although it's already in the region, including Oxnard (Esplanade Shopping Center) and San Bernardino (San Bernardino Center).

As part of the change, Centro Watt has returned the mall to its original name, Eagle Rock Plaza. It had been known by that name from its opening in the early 1970s until just a few years ago, when Westfield went on its branding binge (hence the "Westfield Eagle Rock" moniker).

The Eagle Rock Plaza, as we've written about before, is an interesting and highly unusual mall. Portions of it feel like a throwback to the 1980s (indeed, you get a time warp feel while walking through it). Yet it boasts a relatively new Target store.

It's home to one of the saddest Robinsons-May locations you've ever seen -- including a furniture department which, I swear, has been trying to unload the same couches for a decade. Yet Macy's is now taking over -- and I've got to believe a makeover is in the works. (I had a feeling that Macy's wouldn't take over the Eagle Rock location, but I was wrong.)

There is no food court, no movie theatre. But it just opened a Chuck E. Cheese... and most fascinating to us, the Eagle Rock Plaza continues to add more restaurants and stores from the Philippines. That includes Goldilocks Restaurant and Bakery and the Jollibee fast food joint... and soon Chow King (another fast food spot), Bench (a clothing store) and Seafood City (grocery store). We sometimes call the Eagle Rock Plaza the "Mall of Manila" because of it.

Perhaps this unusual mix of stores scared Westfield into selling. I personally am looking forward to the new Bench and Chow King outlets... and will keep watching to see how Centro Watt tries to revitalize the mall.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Los Angeles, Through Ansel Adams' Eyes



LAist wrote about it last March, and the LA City Nerd and Montecito Heights blogger pick up on it now: A series of great, old shots of L.A. taken by photog Ansel Adams.

Gerard Van der Leun found the shots, which Adams took for Fortune mag, through the Los Angeles Public Library and its online photo collection. Van der Leun took a bunch of the shots and organized them on a Flickr set.

Above, a classic shot of City Hall -- with the beautiful (and sadly, long, long gone) Hall of Records next to it. And below, a pic of the Earl Carroll building (now Nickelodeon on Sunset), which has been in the news lately (because it's about to be sold, and its fate in unclear).

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Holy Crap, It's Hot



We've been slow to post this weekend... but it's because we've melted. (I've also been busy with the TV Critics Association summer press tour in Pasadena.)

But seriously, can one of you do something about this weather? I mean... 110 degrees? Really? That's completely unnecessary.

Blogging.la shares these tips from KABC/Channel 7's website (where we also swiped the above graphic -- thanks, Dallas "No Really, It's My Actual Name" Raines!):

* setting thermostats at 78 degrees or higher
* using fans instead of air conditioners
* drawing the drapes to keep out sunlight
* turning off unnecessary lights, appliances, and electronic devices
* using big appliances in early morning or late at night and not during peak afternoon hours

We've got our thermostat at 79 degrees -- but it doesn't matter; the house is so hot, the AC is running constantly anyway. Can't wait for that electricity bill!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Eleven Years Later



The L.A. Times notes that it was 11 years ago today that the Los Angeles Raiders officially hightailed it back to Oakland, leaving the nation's second-largest city without an NFL team:

July 21, 1995: At a National Football League meeting in Chicago, Raider owner Al Davis formally requested approval to move his team back to Oakland — which would leave Los Angeles without a home football team.

One owner told The Times' Bill Plaschke that approval was "a done deal."

The day before, the league's finance committee had decided not to recommend that the team pay a relocation fee because Oakland was not considered to be a "hot" expansion or relocation spot, according to Plaschke.

"Not only is the NFL going to allow the Raiders to leave Los Angeles without a fight, they are probably going to allow them to leave without a fee," he wrote.

Owners had told him they didn't have much choice about Davis' plan.

"While most of the owners are upset that Los Angeles will be left without an NFL team for at least one year, they will approve the Raiders move because they can't force them to stay," he wrote.

"At least one year," of course, has turned into 11. And the debate over how to bring an NFL team to Los Angeles -- or even if we need one -- goes on.

Sister City in Trouble


Dennis Zine and Eric Garcetti with Beirut Vice Mayor Tawfik Kfuri and Mayor Abdel Mounimariss, from Garcetti's CD-13 Flickr page

As things look pretty grim right now in Lebanon, it's astounding to think that just earlier this month City Council president Eric Garcetti and member Dennis Zine were in Beirut, formally welcoming it as Los Angeles' newest sister city.

In the midst of the terrible turn of events there, I'd actually forgotten about Garcetti and Zine's trip, until Blogging.la mentioned it.

Before leaving for Beirut at the end of June, Garcetti wrote on his blog:

A bustling city of over 1.5 million residents, Beirut serves as a model of diversity. Arabs, Palestinians, Kurds, and Armenians live side-by-side and converse in languages ranging from French and English to Arabic and Armenian. Councilmember Zine and I will be meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Seniora, Minister of Interiro Ahmand Fatfat, and many other official, religious, and social leaders as we work to broaden our ties with Beirut and Lebanon in general.

The Sister City program continues to open dialogue between cities and between cultures. It provides student and professional exchange opportunities and strengthens international ties. The dynamic relationship between Beirut and Los Angeles will continue to flourish. You can track our progress on the Los Angeles-Beirut Sister City website, providing updates on news, events, and opportunities associated with the Sister City Agreement.

Zine and Garcetti returned to L.A. early in July, right before tensions began to escalate there. But according to Blogging.la, three members of Garcetti's delegation are still trapped in Lebanon.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Listen to the Best of L.A.



As mentioned by LA Observed (where I swiped the above link), next month's Los Angeles magazine includes its annual "Best of LA" roundup. This year's list names KCSN as L.A.'s "Best University-sponsored radio station," and name checks several of our fine shows. (Too bad they didn't have room to mention a certain Hawaiian music show...)

Check out Hawaiian Eye tonight at Midnight on 88.5 KCSN!

Adios, Aqua?





In 2000, the guerrilla pop art group Heavy Trash erected several gag signs around town (above) promoting a fake "Metro Aqua Line" from downtown to the ocean.

When the MTA approved its Mid-City/Exposition Light Rail Transit Project, it actually took a cue from the Heavy Trash group and dubbed it the "Aqua line."

Here's where it gets unnecessarily complicated: City Councilman Bernard Parks has decided he doesn't like the "Aqua line" name, the L.A. Times reports today. He also doesn't like the MTA's other suggestion, the Purple Line.

Why? "Those are colors that don't resonate," Parks explained.

Huh?

Parks proposes that the new extension be called the "Expo Line" -- even though every other line on the MTA's rapid transit system are named after colors (Red, Green, Blue and Gold). His other option? The "Rose Line."

Seriously. He doesn't think "Aqua" or "Purple" resonates, but "Rose" does.

Writes the paper:

Rose represents Exposition Park's rose garden, the city councilman said. It was his second choice.

Parks and others decided his first recommendation — gray — was too similar to the San Gabriel Valley's new Silver Streak, a rapid 40-mile bus line from Claremont to downtown Los Angeles...

The Friends 4 Expo Steering Committee and the Mar Vista Community Council Board of Directors endorsed the color aqua.

Darrell Clarke, co-chairman of Friends 4 Expo, offered several reasons for rejecting Parks' color choice, including that it had not been vetted by the public.

The color rose also "is most identified with Pasadena — the Rose Bowl and Rose Parade — on the other side of town," Clarke, who lives in Santa Monica, wrote in an e-mail to members of his group.

The Aqua/Purple/Expo/Rose/Whatever Line is slated to run from downtown to Culver City, with a second phase eventually proposed to run from Culver City to Santa Monica (and the ocean -- hence the "Aqua" tag).

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

It's Official: The Song of the Summer



Everywhere you turn, you hear it: The Raconteurs' "Steady, As She Goes." The breezy pop gem from Jack White's other outfit is destined to be the track I remember most from the summer of 2006.

Especially because of this video, featuring Paul "Pee Wee Herman" Reubens, and shot at Griffith Park:



This is actually the second video for "Steady, As She Goes." You can view the first one here.

What's your pick for the song that best sums up the summer of 2006?

Reason for KFI to Be Immi-Grateful



Whatta performance for AM talker KFI. According to the spring 2006 Arbitron ratings for Los Angeles, KFI has sprinted to No. 1 in the market (tied with Spanish Contemporary KLVE-FM).

It's the first time in several years that an AM radio station has led the 12+ ratings in Los Angeles. Clearly the dramatic debate over immigration -- which (love 'em or hate 'em) KFI hosts, particularly John and Ken, covered extensively -- had an impact on the numbers. This was a debate tailor made for AM talk radio, and KFI clearly benefited, growing to a 4.8 percent share of radio audiences (up from 4.0 in Winter).

That's only part of the reason, however. After all, fellow talker KABC-AM wasn't helped by the debate, and actually saw its 12+ rating decline.

Overall, KIIS-FM dipped to third place, followed by regional Mexican KSCA-FM (posting a solid gain) in fourth, and smooth jazz KTWV-FM ("The Wave") in fifth. The Wave jumped from a 3.3 to a 4.3 share this time out -- who knew that "smooth jazz" was still so damn popular?!

The rest of the top ten: Alternative KROQ; adult contemporary KOST; regional Mexican KLAX-FM; Spanish oldies KRCD/KRCV; and regional Mexican KBUE/KBUA.

Return of the Tofu Festival



Maria and I were excited to see that our favorite food festival of the year, Little Tokyo's Tofu Festival, is less than a month away. The event, which takes place August 12 and 13, is a fundraiser for the Little Tokyo Service Center, which provides services to low income, immigrant, homeless and distressed seniors and families.

Yes, it's a good cause, but here's another reason to go: The food is cheap, plentiful and tasty.

I know, I know. "Tofu" and "tasty" aren't regularly used in the same sentence. First off, you're wrong -- last year I tried a tofu chili dog that was absolutely delicious. And secondly, the food vendors do offer a lot more than just tofu.

Some vendors already confirmed, and their planned menu: Arroyo/Chandra Catering (Pad Thai Noodle with Veggies, BBQ Chicken Sticks, BBQ Tofu, Thai Ice Tea); Bamboo Hut (Fried Sweet and Sour Tofu, Yakisoba Noodles with Tofu, Vegetable Tempura, Fried Rice Tofu); Berth 55 (Tuna Poki); Blue Hen (Fried Tofu with Scallion Sauce, Tofu in Ginger Corriander Sauce, Vietnamese Curry with Tofu and Potatoes); Chandra Thai Restaurant (Tofu Satay, Lemongrass Chicken, Pad Thai Tofu, Garlic Tofu with Rice); LL Bakery (Tofu Ciabiatta, Tofu Bruschetta, Tofu Pasta Salad, Tofu Pizza); Maison Akira (Smoked Salmon with Balsamic Reduction and Wasabi Furikake, Grand Marnier Marinated Strawberry and Fresh Mint on Tofu with an Almond Cookie); Your House Thai (Sticky Rice with Mango, Tofu Thai Salad, Fried Tofu with Bananas and Taro); and more.

Blackalicious headlines the entertainment, performing on stage at 8:30 p.m. on Satuday, Aug. 12. Also scheduled to appear are Real Food Daily's Ann Gentry; Iron Chef Morimoto; PBS chef Tommy Tang; and contestants from "Hell's Kitchen," "Top Chef," and "The Next Food Network Star."

The Tofu Festival is also kid-friendly; check the Tofu Festival website for discount coupons.

Previously on Franklin Avenue: Tofu or Not Tofu (August 2005)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Rate-A-Restaurant, #109 in a series



Restaurant: Blue Hen

Location: 1743 Colorado Blvd. (Eagle Rock)

Type of restaurant: Vietnamese

We stipulated: It was a busy weekend -- I had press tour for much of it, while Maria was left to mostly deal with Evan's fever. So we decided to treat ourselves to an early Sunday dinner -- and we've wanted to try Blue Hen, as we continue to eat our way through neighboring Eagle Rock.

They stipulated: Almost everything is organic, including the chicken, tofu and dairy. Also, no reservation is necessary -- and kids are welcome; there's even an item on the menu for the little ones.

What we ordered: Fresh Spring Rools, $5.75 (Vietnamese spring rolls stuffed with organic chicken or tofu served with a peanut and soy butter sauce); Carmelized Ginger Chicken and Tofu, $8.75 (Braised organic chicken and tofu served with rice and side of market greens); Tomato and Basil Tofu, $9.25 (Slightly crispy organic tofu with tomato and served with rice and a side of market greens). For Blogger Baby: Baby Hen, $5.25 (Vietnamese noodle soup with fries). To drink: Lime Tonic, $2.50 (Fresh squeezed organic limes and sparkling water)

High point: The service was great, as the waitress -- herself a new parent -- brought out crayons to entertain Evan.

Low point: Unfortunately, the stellar service and pleasant decor couldn't mask the lackluster food. The chicken was dry and tasted old (not exactly organic); the tomato tofu was nothing special; and the brown rice we ordered (50 cents extra) was dry.

Overall impression: In the battle of the new, hip neighborhood "Vietnamese" spots around our neck of the woods, Indochine easily has Blue Hen beat, no contest.

Chance we will go back: Not likely.

(For a full roster of Franklin Avenue's restaurant reviews, check out our companion Rate-A-Restaurant site.)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Countdown to Macy's



The farewell to Robinsons-May is right around the corner. The department store's website (above) is now just a promo for the switchover (in other words, no more online shopping) and a link to macys.com. If you've seen Robinsons-May's latest newspaper ads, they tout "NOW A PART OF THE MACY'S FAMILY" in large type underneath the logo.

And the most striking change is taking place at the stores: The Robinsons-May nameplate has already been removed at several malls, replaced by a cheap, temporary banner with the logo. Those banners are covering up the Macy's logo... so that when the official transfer of power happens at the end of next month, just a simple yank of those banners will reduce the Robinsons-May name to just a memory.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Magic Time



CSTV's Keith Marder, one of Franklin Avenue's biggest fans, kindly asked for a post dedicated to him. So here goes: A 1979 CBS Sports promo, touting an NBA matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers (and the national TV debut of some guy named Magic Johnson) and the San Diego Clippers.

Valley of the Damned



Turns out "Entourage's" Johnny Drama was on to something:

Vince, You know my policy. Except for work, I only go to the Valley November through March. And even then, only to Sushi Row.

At least this week, Drama's spot on. Damn, it's hot.

100 Years of Forest Lawn



Now that we live Forest Lawn-adjacent, I'd be remiss not to point out the Glendale cemetery's 100th anniversary. As today's L.A. Times notes, Forest Lawn's bells and whistles have likened it to a "Disneyland of death":

Over the last century, Forest Lawn has been mocked by novelist Evelyn Waugh and blamed as the cause of soaring burial costs. It also became an unlikely magnet for tourists who see the feel-good cemetery as a distinctly California invention.

So the 290-acre burial ground that straddles the Glendale-Los Angeles boundary line has plenty to commemorate.

It may have been the first cemetery in the United States to ban above-ground, monument-style tombstones and instead require ground-level markers (better views, less cemetery-like).

It was the first to incorporate distinctive architectural motifs, creating faux European castles and cathedrals that critics have likened to a Disneyland of death. The designs were meant to entice visitors to linger in a park-like setting.

As it marks its 100th birthday, Forest Lawn isn't the tourist draw it was in its heyday — and some of its more flamboyant flourishes, such as talking statues, have been toned down.

Press Release of the Day: Survivor -- No, the Band. Really. The Band? -- Edition



Several questions arise from this release, which came across my desk Friday:

1. Who?
2. He's leaving the megahit CBS reality show?
3. Wait, you're talking about the band Survivor? They still exist?
4. How do you write a press release about the band Survivor and not include an "Eye of the Tiger" pun?
5. "Kasey Kaseem"? It's called Google, people. Unless, of course, they're talking about Jimi Jamison's Memphis neighbor Kasey Kaseem, unrelated to radio DJ Casey Kasem.
6. Who?

Vocal Legend Jimi Jamison Leaves Survivor

Vocal Legend Jimi Jamison Leaves Survivor to pursue touring and recording with his Jimi Jamison All Star Band. Jimi Jamison rated by Kasey Kaseem as one of the greatest Rock Vocalists of All-Time resigned in early 2006 from Survivor.

Memphis, Tenn July 15, 2006 -- Jimi Jamison, rated by Kasey Kaseem as one of the greatest Rock Vocalists of All-Time, has resigned from Rock Band Survivor over creative, contractual and long term simmering business differences with Frank Sullivan. Jamison who has been in the forefront of the band on most of the hit songs that the band had in the top 10 has been miffed in recent years by the band's use of his vocal performances on records and in movies, films etc. without royalty or any monetary payment for his vocal performance or contributions to the band and its success.

Creative differences also between Jamison and Sullivan over the direction of the music, the quality of the songs and their creative content as well as Jiimi wanting to make the LIVE show more exciting to fans have led Jamison to say enough is enough.

Vincent Wolanin, Chairman of TopNotch® Entertainment commented, "Jimi Jamsion is known as the contemporary legendary voice of Survivor and it got to the point where there was never going to be a meeting of the minds between Sullivan and him so Jimi said best to be on my own and let the fans judge me for who I am as a singer, songwriter and performer as my goal is to make them feel good always"

Jimi Jamison will continue playing LIVE and recording with his own band the Jimi Jamison Band an All-Star Band and will press on playing LIVE all his HITS from Survivor, Cobra, Target, and the ones he did as the honorary member of ZZ Top. Also on tap for Jamison is his All-Star Band featuring the lead vocalists from other famous bands under the banner the Vocal Legends™ Show creatively produced by TopNotch® Entertainment Corp.

Wait, Mark Burnett has nothing to do with this? And where is Jeff Probst in all of this? I'm confused.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Surfing through Surfas


Cafe Surfas entrance

We've been on a Culver City kick here at Franklin Avenue... including a recent, long overdue visit to the new Surfas location. The professional restaurant supplies store -- which is just as popular with amateur chefs as the pros -- has moved around the corner from its old location. The new shop feels smaller, but more compactly organized... and more importantly, now boasts a cafe.

Eating LA's Pat visited Cafe Surfas back in January, and mostly approves:

Surfas is like the sandwich shop I sometimes dream of when forced to eat in dreary delis on Wilshire -- a place where every dish has a little extra zing of flavor from quality ingredients like Maytag blue cheese, celery root slaw or chipotle ketchup.


Inside Cafe Surfas

We hit Cafe Surfas at the worst time possible -- at 10:30, during the half-hour that it doesn't serve breakfast or lunch. So we settled for a scone and some coffee -- and we'll have to return to properly review at some point.


The Surfas floor

What CD stores like Amoeba are to me, Surfas is to Maria: She could spend hours there. We scored several finds, including a new stainless steel pan that we've already put to good use.


Cookie chips!

Surfas history, from their website:

Owned and operated by the same family since 1937, we have served three generations of satisfied customers in the food service industry. Surfas has a reputation unsurpassed for excellence in design and installation of beautiful commercial kitchens. We maintain a warehouse stocked with thousands of items and are considered to be the ultimate source for fine imported and domestic food items, ingredients and cookware at discount pricing. Surfas is paradise found for serious food enthusiasts and professional chefs.


Surfas test kitchen

The new store also includes a test kitchen, where free demonstrations are regularly held on the weekends.

Rate-A-Restaurant, #108 in a series



Restaurant: Tender Greens

Location: 9523 Culver Blvd. (Culver City)

Type of restaurant: Salad/Sandwiches

We stipulated: It was a quick, last-minute business lunch, and none of us had much time to spare. Joe suggested Tender Greens -- and since I'm currently in a Culver City mood, I was game.

They stipulated: No table service. Order upfront, and bring your food to your table. (Yet once again, my pet peeve: There was still room on the credit card slip for a tip. Do I give one? Yet, I brought my food to my table. I dunno. I left $2.) The menu is simple: Ten varieties of salad, at $9 a pop, or four different kinds of meat (or veggies), which you can stick in a sandwich... or put on a hot plate. Not much difference, just one has bread, the other mashed potatoes.


Ahi tuna salad (I ordered the sandwich, but I couldn't find that photo online, and I forgot to bring my camera... so this is close enough.)

What we ordered: Line caught ahi tuna sandwich (with simple salad side of romain hearts, caesar dressing, shaved parmesan and garlic croutons (Mike; $9). Free range chicken hot plate with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and side caesar salad ($10).

High point: It may not be the best ahi sandwich out there (still a tie between Breadbar and M Cafe de Chaya), but this is pretty good, and a relative bargain at $9. Food also was ready fast, meeting our objective; A fast lunch.

Low point: The chicken portion on Joe's plate was surprisingly small. Also, no croutons made it onto our salad! And the workers forgot to mention that beverages included a Watermelon juice. By the time we found out, it was too late -- the watermelon was gone.

Overall impression: These kind of places usually try too hard to become a trend... but instead fizzle. Tender Greens appears to be sensible in not offering too much, but still touting its mission as an inexepensive, healthy bistro.

Chance we will go back: There's a decent possibility... although, I have better places to score ahi sandwiches, and it's still much cheaper to buy a salad bag at Trader Joe's.

(For a full roster of Franklin Avenue's restaurant reviews, check out our companion Rate-A-Restaurant site.)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

MacArthur Park: Not Just for Dealers and Fake I.D. Peddlers Anymore



The transformation of MacArthur Park over the past five years has been nothing short of monumental, the L.A. Times writes in today's paper. Several unrelated events came together to make it happen: The rise in economic power of immigrant Korean residents in K-Town. The decline of civil strife in Central America, which was spilling over via immigrants in the U.S. The "broken windows" policing policies of Police Chief William Bratton. The escalating value of real estate across the county. And more:

By the early 1990s, MacArthur Park was becoming "almost 'Blade Runner'-like," said David Marquez, a former City Council field deputy who is now a consultant to the nonprofit group Carecen.
The park wasn't merely the average open-air drug market. It was a regional crime emporium. Drugs, stolen goods, fake IDs and prostitutes — "anything and everything" illegal was available, Officer Mike Wang said.
In 1991 and 1992, homicides in Rampart peaked at world-class levels of savagery, with 138 deaths in 1992 alone. Bodies were found floating in the lake. At one point, detectives made their own grid map of the park showing every rock and tree, just trying to keep track of all the murder scenes.
Police were defeated by what Lt. Paul Vernon called "the overwhelming-ness of it all." Rampart officers were stretched to the limit. In 1991, they handled 50% more calls per officer than their counterparts would a decade later. It took them hours to respond to low-priority calls.

The late-90s Rampart scandal shook the city, yet didn't reverse the gains seen in the MacArthur Park area (part of the LAPD's Rampart district):
Larger market forces were beginning to close in on Rampart. The area was now lodged between two of the hottest development markets in the region: downtown and K-Town. A subway ran through it. It had new schools, classy old buildings and newly restored neon signs. Home Depot opened in 2001, then a Starbucks.
There was also the park — the mirror lake, the curving paths, the long shadows of palm trees striping the grass and the red-tailed hawks bathing at the crown of the fountain.

The Daily News Daily News also looks at the MacArthur Park comeback:

Connie Rice, chairwoman of the Blue Ribbon Rampart Review Panel, said its rebirth can become a model for collaborative approaches by police in other communities.

"The tipping point was when the police realized the whole community was not only with them, they were out here helping them," she said. "(The community) wanted to participate in the cleanup. They could see what LAPD was doing and they appreciated it."

If you haven't been around MacArthur Park recently, it sparkles these days. (And Langer's is just around the corner, so you really owe it to yourself to visit.)

(Vintage postcard via Yesterday L.A.)

From the Franklin Avenue Mailbag

Some notes that have crossed our Inbox in recent days:

Like Free Stuff? Check Out This New Blog: The mysterious "Free Man in LA" sends us this note:

If your readers would like to know about totally free performances in the L.A.area - ranging from Sugar Ray to Mavis Staples to the Indigo Girls to Cleo Laine & John Dankworth - please refer them to Free in L.A. I'm writing about free stage performances - mostly Shakespeare - and book signings from prominent authors.

Silver Lake Neighborhood Council Gathering: "Silverlake" or "Silver Lake"? It's been a burning question for years. Doesn't look like they're going to tackle that issue, but the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council has other stuff going on:

The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council (SLNC) will hold a special "Summer Celebration"? on Saturday, July 15th at the Micheltorena Elementary School located at 1511 Micheltorena beginning at 10am. The Celebration? will combine the bi-annual SLNC Issues Meeting with its annual Election Kick-Off celebration. To make the day as enjoyable as possible, the SLNC will also have a 10am Breakfast with the Board? in which local stakeholders will have a chance to meet their SLNC representatives over juice and pastries. In addition, local musicians will perform throughout the day.

At 10:30am, Speak Out, Silver Lake will begin the Issues meeting portion of the day. While local Silver Lake stakeholders are free to bring up any topic they like, the main theme of the meeting will be Saving Our Schools and will center on whether or not Mayor Antonio Villiaraigosa should take control of the LAUSD.

The Creepy Old Lady from Pasadena: Those 1947project folk are busy. When they're not Saving the 76 balls, they're planning a new bus ride through the sordid side of Pasadena:

On July 22, the first busload of crime fiends will enjoy a five-hour guided luxury coach tour to the darkest
recesses of Pasadena history. From celebrated cases like the RFK assassination, "Eraserhead" star Jack Nance's strange end, black magician/rocket scientist Jack Parsons' death-by-misadventure and the 1926 Rose Parade grand stand collapse, to fascinating obscurities, the tour's 70-plus murders, arsons, kidnappings, robberies, suicides, auto wrecks and oddball happening sites provide a alternate history of Pasadena that's as fascinating as it is creepy.

Crime Bus passengers will tour the old Millionaire's Row on Orange Grove, thrill to the shocking Sphinx Murder on the steps of the downtown Masonic Hall, wonder about the unknown fiend who sneaked past a little girl to poison her father's beer, hear several strange tales from the annals of the Hotel Green, discover why people named Judd should think twice before
moving to Pasadena, and explore the racist spirit of the early 20th century through two forgotten stories: that of a Chinaman with leprosy whose suicide by hanging was treated as a novel entertainment by hundreds of citizens, and the case of wealthy mulatto Archie Hill, who shot a white trolley ticket-taker dead for shortchanging him.

For more info on the blog or Crime Bus tour, visit http://www.1947project.com. $47 includes snacks, beverages and five-hour luxury coach tour.

Piece of Cake: My answer was unconventional -- Cakery Bakery in La Canada Flintridge. ( 1119 Foothill Blvd.) It's where we got our moist, delicious wedding cake. But I should have told her the tres leches cake from Portos (315 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale). Ohh, yummy. Here's the note Helen emailed last week:

Can you guys suggest a good place to get a birthday cake for my dad? It's for this Saturday and I don't need a big cake because it's just serving 4 people (mom, dad, brother and me)… but I want it to be delicious. I've ordered from Sweet Lady Jane's, but I wanted to try something new. I was thinking Susina, since it's near here, but since I live in Los Feliz, anything around that area is cool too or even Glendale… any suggestions?

Damn You, Hollywood Magic!



Add us to the list of Atwater Village-adjacent bloggers who were disappointed to discover that the new Habibis Cafe on Glendale Blvd. is a complete fraud.

Actually, that's not entirely true: It will exist... but as a Middle Eastern restaurant in the film "AmericanEast." Pat has the details:

Did you think a new Middle Eastern restaurant was coming to Atwater? Well, not unless Tony Shalhoub is the head chef. The film AmericanEast, about Arab-Americans, constructed an realistic-looking restaurant set in the former Manila Oriental market space on Glendale Blvd., just up the street from Osteria Nonni. Filming will continue for another few weeks.

That was disappointing news for Miles (who took the above photo):

Saturday, I'm on my regular constitutional through the neighborhood of Atwater Village and, lo and behold, a new middle eastern restaurant where before was a longrunning Philipino Market. I'm thrilled. THRILLED. I haven't had a good falafel since I lived in Hollywood and Me and Me at the corner of Crescent Heights and Santa Monica closed. THRILLED!

So, Wednesday night after work, I decide to walk by and maybe purchase some falafel and hummus. Well, upon close inspection, it's closed. Looks great, though. Big counter, nice floor, few tables...but wait. There are two tall stands. Could it be? Is it possible?

Nope, it wasn't possible. Meanwhile, the Atwater Village Newbie also weighs in:

But if AmericanEast turns out to be some kind of Arab-American Pulp Fiction cult hit, our disappointed hunger may someday turn to hipster boasting.

Oh, you should have seen it, we'll say. That's exactly the spot where Tony Shaloub gets into it with Al Faris. Classic!

Sad to also hear that Osteria Nonni, which was a great go-to place for simple but solid Italian (and not to mention a baby-friendly spot to bring Evan) is in the process of being sold. Miles, in Pat's comments section (feel the blog love!) reports that Nonni will shut down at the end of the month.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Westside Crybabies



There's panic on the coast, as Westsiders in the 310 area code are being led kicking and screaming to 10-digit dialing. Yup, in just a few weeks everyone in the 310 will have to start dialing "1-310" before punching in their neighbors' numbers. And under the new "overlay" plan, 310ers and 424ers will reside side-by-side in the region. Poor babies, as the L.A. Times notes that residents aren't quite ready:

After years of debate and delays, residents of the 310 will no longer be able to dial just seven digits to make local calls starting July 26. That milestone will be followed a month later with the overlay of the 424 area code. With 310 numbers being depleted, phone companies are set to begin distributing 424 numbers to new customers on Aug. 26.

The 310 zone is the first in California to get an overlay. Typically, regulators simply split areas when numbers begin to run out. But neither the Westside nor the South Bay wanted to give up the vaunted 310. State regulators approved the overlay last year, allowing existing phone customers to keep their 310 numbers.

If the 310-424 switch proves successful, overlays could be applied in other California area codes running out of numbers, including the 714 in Orange County, the 408 in San Jose and the 818 in the San Fernando Valley.

Oh, you whiny Westsi... wait a sec. 818? Us too? (Actually, I'd be perfectly fine with Glendale scoring its own area code.)

Possibly the Oddest Slogan in Southern California



That honor goes to La Crescenta, which has adopted the rather awkward catch phrase "The Balcony of Southern California." Talk about a mouthful. The Balcony? Not the prettiest word.

And if La Crescenta is the balcony, what town or neighborhood would be Southern California's front porch? Its guest house? Does Southern California have a two-car garage? Central air and heating? Does the region come with a home warranty? (OK, I could go on. But I won't.)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Unfortunate Juxtaposition



A 4-year-old girl has been wounded in a South Los Angeles drive-by shooting... just not this 4-year-old. (Unfortunate pairing of story and ad for a real estate development found in the San Jose Mercury News.)

Los Angeles: Come for the Sunshine, Stay for the Terrible Roads



The L.A. Times asks its online readers to choose the worst stretch of highway out of the list above... and it's probably no surprise that the clusterf--- that is the 405/101 interchange is No.1, according to their votes. Just try to hop from the 101 North to the 405 South at virtually any time of the day -- it's a long process.

The paper, meanwhile, doesn't think that much can be done immediately to help revolve California's highway crisis. Details:

California's highways, the system's most costly feature by far, were once the nation's gold standard. But as the interstate highway network celebrates its 50th anniversary and the summer driving season accelerates, the state is known for something else: some of the busiest, most dilapidated and under-financed roads in the country.

Over the last several years, money for highway projects has virtually disappeared, the victim of budget crises, stagnant federal funding and a gas tax that has not been raised in a decade.

Check out the roster of California's worst roads -- including recommendations on how to fix them -- here.

Hollywood Buildings in Flux

The L.A. Times brings together the various Hollywood projects mentioned previously here and elsewhere, including proposals to add new development to the Hollywood Palladium; Columbia Square (which has recently changed hands again); the Old Spaghetti Factory (once home to KMPC-AM, among other former tenants); and the Nickelodeon on Sunset theatre (which has also gone through several changes through the years, but is being sold by current owners the Sunset-Gower Studios). All four buildings are historically relevant... and their fates are unclear.

The Times reports:

The projects are part of a rush among developers to renovate several older buildings and transform many of the district's parking lots into condominiums, apartments and shops.

More than 1,000 new housing units are under construction or have been completed in the last three years, and an additional 4,500 units are anticipated. Some of the largest projects are planned near the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, where more than $1.2 billion of development has been proposed.

"Hollywood is one of few places in L.A. that can elegantly accommodate growth," said Tom Cody, a principal at home builder Gerding/Edlen Development Co., which plans to build condominiums at one Sunset Boulevard site.

Looks like the L.A. Conservancy and groups like Hollywood Heritage will have their hands full in the coming months. We've already lost so much in Hollywood (it still saddens me to see the bank on the corner of Sunset and Vine where NBC's art deco radio studios once stood).



The Nickelodeon on Sunset space started out in the 1930s as the "Earl Carroll Theater"; it was later renamed the "Aquarius Theater," where The Doors once performed and "Hullabaloo" was taped. Later, "Star Search" made its home there. It suffered its worst indignity in 1993 when it was briefly renamed "The Chevy Chase Theater," where the comedian hosted his ill-fated talk show. Nickelodeon signed a 10-year lease in 1997, and since then has used the space to shoot live-action comedies such as "All That."

Fox 11 + MySpace = MyFoxLA



Fox 11/KTTV, which has long been stuck with the worst website of any local station (well, except sister KCOP, which still has an even worse -- and stagnant -- one), is finally getting serious about its online presence.

The Fox TV Stations group is taking a page from News Corp.'s MySpace phenomenon and building a network of local "My Fox" websites. That means here in L.A., Fox 11 will soon replace its current site (www.fox11.com) with www.myfoxla.com. (In New York, the site will be www.myfoxny.com, and so on.)

The new Fox 11 site contains much more content than the previous site, which only contained news headlines and station info for the most part.



News Corp. is really getting infatuated with that whole "My (blank)" terminology. Their My Network TV programming service launches locally on KCOP/Channel 13 (which has just been given the new nickname "My13") on Sept. 5.

A Lotus Festival Without the Lotus



The annual Lotus Festival took place this weekend in Echo Park, and we were there with Blogger Baby. Sadly, the freaky weather this winter wasn't kind to Echo Park Lake's lotus plants, which hadn't yet bloomed. Here's how it looked a year ago, when Evan and I also took in the event:



The annual event celebrates the giant pink flowers that emerge every summer from the lotus bed in the northwest corner of Echo Park. According to the park's history, no one knows who initially planted the lotus -- legend has it that they were planted by missionaries from the nearby Angelus Temple after returning from work in China.

This year, despite the heat and the lack of Lotus flowers, the crowds still crammed the park and even seemed larger than last year. Attendees took in live music, various food and craft booths, all celebrating L.A.'s various Asian cultures. This year the focus was on the Philippines.

We also caught a glimpse of the festival's famous Dragon Boat races, although we came too late to cheer on our pals at Blogging LA. The Blogging LA crew, along with Mack from LA Voice and Sha in LA, raced on Saturday, and managed to do their blog proud, beating all other media organizations (although not taking home the ultimate prize).

More shots from Saturday:


The lake's ducks


The festival main stage


More from the festival

Previously on Franklin Avenue: Lotus Lowdown (July 2005)
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