Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mid-Evening Madness at the Egyptian

The American Cinematheque is throwing a massive scavenger hunt on Saturday, May 10, followed by a screening of early 1980s cult fave "Midnight Madness." The movie takes place in and around Los Angeles.

What?! You've never heard of "Midnight Madness"? Did you not have HBO in the early 1980s? The pay channel ran the sprokets off this movie.

"Midnight Madness" wound up -- as much as "The Amazing Race" -- being the inspiration for my 2003 race and 2004 race around Los Angeles. In the movie, teams hit spots all over L.A. -- including the old Pabst brewery, the old Johnie's on Wilshire, and the Bonaventure -- in one big overnight race.

The Cinematheque will be throwing its own race (run by The Go Game on Saturday, May 10, from 3:45 to 6 p.m. After a dinner break, winners will be announced, and the movie unspooled. Here are the details:

The American Cinematheque partners with The Go Game for a movie-scavenger
hunt combo! This fast-paced, high-tech, real-life adventure game is like nothing you've ever experienced. Solve clues and perform challenges as you scramble around Hollywood Boulevard for fun and prizes. Dinner break after the game and then the winners will be determined (7:30 - 8:00 PM) in front of the live audience, before the screening of MIDNIGHT MADNESS (details below). Play the game with MIDNIGHT MADNESS director David Wechter.

Movie and scavenger hunt are $32; $28 for members. Regular ticket prices apply for just the movie -- which, by the way, is Michael J. Fox's cinematic debut.

Where My Hot Dogs At?

(Photo: Karen Tapia-Andersen/LAT)

Los Angeles is a hot dog town, the L.A. Times' Food section proclaims:
We have our old-time dog houses such as Pink's in Hollywood, Cupid's in Northridge and the notorious Oki Dog, with its indefensible topping of pastrami and cheese. A lot of Angelenos are waiting to find out what will happen to Hollywood's famous Tail o' the Pup stand, which has languished in a warehouse since 2005. Look on the Internet and you can read of the grief felt when Sherman Oaks' 36-year-old Wiener Factory closed last New Year's Eve.

I've always loved that as much as L.A. is a health food capital, we're also home to some of the best not-so-healthy fare in the country as well.

OK, so maybe this sounds a little more stereotypically L.A.:
"Our motivation was to pay homage to the hot dog as an iconic American food," says Murray Wishengrad of the Stand chain (Encino, Century City and Westwood), "to elevate the hot dog in both quality and environment. All our places have beer and wine licenses, so you can have a glass of Merlot with a great hot dog."

The story goes on to talk about some of the new gourmet hot dog spots around town, the opening of two Chicago hot dog chains in the region, and a quick history of frankfurters.

It's Always Sunny in North Hollywood

There I am with new pals Danny DeVito and Rhea Pearlman, Tuesday night at the Academy of TV Arts and Sciences headquarters in North Hollywood.

I was there to moderate a panel on FX's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," one of my favorite half-hours on TV. (We've listed it down below as a "favorite thing" for years).

DeVito, who plays Frank Reynolds, was there, as were Kaitlin Olson (Dee Reynolds), Rob McElhenney (Mac), Charlie Day (Charlie Kelly) and Glenn Howerton (Dennis Reynolds).

It was a great panel, with lots of laughs. We touched on all sorts of topics regarding the show, and screened the episode "Sweet Dee Is Dating a Retarded Person." Below, a shot of me with Charlie:

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Travel + Leisure Hates Los Angeles links to the new America's Favorite Cities poll being conducted by Travel + Leisure magazine -- and Los Angeles is getting killed by the haters.

The survey ranks Los Angeles near the bottom (out of the nation's top 25 destination cities) in Environmental awareness (!), safety, access to outdoors (!), cityscape, cleanliness, pedestrian friendliness, public parks/spaces, skyline/views, architecture/notable buildings and Historical sites/monuments.

Then there's the people categories. We're ranked DEAD LAST when it comes to friendliness and intelligence, and near the bottom in "fun" and "worldly." We're below the top ten in diversity (!) as well.

Gimmie a break. Do people hate the concept of Los Angeles so much that they refuse to acknowledge our city's strengths?

License Plate of the Day: Michael Scott Edition

I know, this family loves its kids. But after this week's "The Office," I'd like to imagine this plate was inspired by Michael Scott:

"How can I be lonely with my boys? A famous person once said, 'Boys on the side.' But I don't. I disagree. I say, 'Let's hear it for the boys.'"

Architectural Identity Crisis

My apologies if this is your house... but what a bizarre addition. A Tudor-style, castle-like second floor has been slapped on the back of this Spanish-style house. Spotted in Atwater Village.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Dear Americana Neighbor: We're Having A Party, And You're Not Invited

Gee, thanks for the head's up, Americana. Guess my invite got lost in the mail. Here's the letter we received over the weekend as an "Americana at Brand Neighbor" (bold and italics are theirs):

We are pleased to announce the Grand Opening of the Americana at Brand mixed use project on May 2, 2008 at 10AM. We hope you are as thrilled as we are when you take your first steps onto this luxurious new property that features such exclusive amenities that will surprise and delight you and your family for years to come!

As a good neighbor, we want to take a moment to personally inform you that we will be hosting a private party on the evening of Thursday, May 1, 2008. This by invitation only event will feature fireworks and musical performances staged between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. It is of great importances to us that our neighbors are informed of the event details so you will not be alarmed when you hear the fireworks or performances from your home or business.

Oh, I won't be alarmed. Annoyed, yes.

Thoughts on a Dodger Stadium Visit

Our Big L.A. weekend continued on Sunday, as the Kid Formerly Known As Blogger Toddler and I hit Dodger Stadium (Maria, alas, is still recovering from her nasty virus).

The KFKABT devoured his Dodger Dog, and enjoyed watching the man throw the ball to the man hitting the ball (of course, it didn't matter if L.A. or Colorado was up to bat, he just wanted to see some baseballs fly through the air). The Dodgers beat the Rockies in 10 innings, 3-2. (We did the L.A. thing and left at the start of the ninth inning. The KFKABT had seen enough, and I didn't think he'd be a fan of the stadium traffic.)

Some pics:

Coolest golf cart ever? This Dodgermobile got a thumb's up from the KFKABT, who wanted to drive it.

Base hit!

On such a hot day, fans mostly avoided the upper decks.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Atwater's Music and Arts Festival Makes a Splash

Oh, one festival isn't enough for us. As part of what's shaping up to be another big L.A. weekend for the Franklin Avenue crew, we also checked out the nearby Artwater Music & Art Festival in Atwater Village on Saturday evening.

By the time we arrived, around 6:30, the weather was starting to cool down, and the crowds were coming back. The Artwater Fest was small, managable and not too crowded -- in other words, a perfect stop in our eyes.

Some photos:

Rockabilly band performs to grooving-out audience members -- as well as several kids.

Your usual festival food.

Atwater pride!

Sidewalk chalk mural competition

A Novel Saturday at the Book Festival

Hoping to avoid the crunch -- not to mention the swealtering temps -- the Kid Formerly Known as the Blogger Toddler and I drove out to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books early on Saturday -- and I'm glad we did.

(Maria was at home, still recovering from a terrible virus that knocked her out for several days. Yeah, it's been a pretty rough week here at Franklin Avenue HQ, between that and the car accident.)

Parking was $8, but ultimately worth being so close to the festivities. (In years past, we've gone on a Sunday and hunted for free parking spaces.) The real reason we got there so early: "Johnny and the Sprites."

Getting there before 10 didn't make much of a different with the heat; it was a sauna all day.

If you're going tomorrow, one reminder: Don't pay for the overpriced, disappointing vendor food; just go to UCLA's Ackerman student union, where there are several fast food choices.

Now, some shots from Saturday:

Ahh yes, the main reason we were there with the Kid Formerly Known as Blogger Toddler: A live performance on the Target Children's Stage by Playhouse Disney's "Johnny and the Sprites." "Avenue Q" star (and "Sesame Street" alum) John Tartaglia headlines the show, and appeared on stage with two of the show's puppet characters. Ex-Blogger Toddler enjoyed it, as did his cousin (who we met up with); I now have those damn songs in my head. (It was actually a pretty good, nearly half-hour show -- not bad for free. Gladly took this over seeing those creepy "Doodlebops." Would have liked to have seen "Choo Choo Soul," but that performance was slated for the afternoon.)

J. Eric Lynxwiler and L.A. Observed's Kevin Roderick man the Angel City Press book, signing copies of their Wilshire Blvd.-themed book.

The spirit of the book festival: Strangers standing side by side, solving crossword puzzles together.

Hi De Ho Comics promises "books with pictures."

Pop culture historian Charles Phoenix holds up one of his great books, a colorful look at life in post-war Southern California. Charles confirms that he's taking a break from doing his Disneyland-themed tours of downtown L.A., but he's excited about his Roller Skating Spectacular at Glendale's kitschy, historic Moonlight Rollerway. Event, which takes place May 17 and 18, includes Charles' retro slide show, this time celebrating roller skating, and an after show all-skate party, among other things.

The "Comix Strip" row of mostly animation/comics-related booths (although, strangely, several non-comics booths resided there as well, including Tribune's Metromix).

Pretty self-explanatory.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Retro Friday: L.A.'s 1970s Dance Party

For a decade in the late 1960s and early 1970s, one-time "Boss Jock" The Real Don Steele hosted his own dance party on KHJ-TV, Channel 9. In this 1974 episode, Gary Glitter guests. I don't know what I love more: Don's microphone, the "Real Don Steelers" dancers, or the note at the bottom of the screen that this show is "UNedited for television."

As a bonus, clip opens up with an ad featuring a then-unknown Farrah Fawcett.

747 Flies Into the Valley

What would the guys from "Swingers" do? Back in 1996, the movie's characters could easily determine what kind of girl they were chatting up by her digits: Either 310, 213 or 818.

Twelve years later, just in the immediate region, we have 310, 213, 818, 323, 626, 562, 424... and soon, 747.

Nearly a decade after the 747 was introduced as a potential new San Fernando Valley area code, state utility officials approved it on Thursday. The good news for businesses: 747 will be an "overlay" code, which means new phone users in the 818 will be assigned it, but old 818 users can keep their number. (818 users will now have to dial the code in all cases, however.)

It might have made sense to separate Burbank and Glendale into 747 and keep the Los Angeles portions of the Valley with 818, but "overlay" area codes are gaining in popularity (such as 424, which now shares West Los Angeles with 310) as a way to placate businesses and consumers.

The 747 area code will be launched in March. If I were doing PR for the California Public Utilities Commission, I'd make sure the very first number went to the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank.

Los Angeles: Ad Town One in a series

In this spot for Farmers Insurance, a man on a tricycle drives out of his office parking garage and on to the streets of downtown, then a freeway onramp, and finally, up this hill... close to downtown (not sure why he needed te freeway as part of his commute, but I guess it served for comedic purposes).

The point? It blows to be in a car accident (um, something I've learned quite well this week), but this certain insurance company will help you out.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sundae, Fudgy Sundae

Gridskipper lists the best Hot Fudge Sundaes in Los Angeles -- and apparently the epicenter is in the Alhambra/South Pasadena area, where three hail: The always wonderful Fosselman's in Alhambra -- where Twohey's Restaurant also resides -- and South Pas' Fair Oaks Pharmacy.

But you'll never guess Gridskipper's choice for top Sundae in town: The Disney Soda Fountain tourist trap across the street from Hollywood & Highland. Guess we shouldn't pooh-pooh it until we try it, and Gridskipper swears by the joint's Black & White creation. Hey, if it doesn't fit the bill, you can always grab a milkshake from Lucky Devil's, a coupla blocks east on Hollywood.

Why You Won't See Us At Coachella

Sure, I'd love to see Prince, or the long-awaited Portishead reunion, or plenty of the bands on this year's lineup. But I also have no desire to cook under the 100 degree sun for 7 hours straight. Enjoy, folks, and I'll read all about what I missed.

Take This L.A. Times Reader's Wife, Please

Well, they're Henny Youngman-style comedians, at least. From the comments on this week's story about Stephan Miller, the show biz grizzly trainer killed by one in Big Bear:

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Revealed: The Long-Lost Fourth Jonas Brother!

Teenage heartthrobs Kevin Jonas, Joe Jonas, Antonio Jonasraigosa and Nick Jonas participate in Earth Day festivities thrown by Disney. (Photo via Disney press release.)

L.A.'s Most Functional Jogging Suits

Conceptual artist Sarah Ross' "Archsuits" don't look all that comfy, but they are quite functional: "Archisuit consists of an edition of four leisure jogging suits made for specific architectural structures in Los Angeles. The suits include the negative space of the structures and allow a wearer to fit into, or onto, structures designed to deny them."

(Link via Funny Pages 2.0.)

One of L.A.'s First Bloggers Hits The Decade Mark

(Flickr pic by AAJA-LA).

That's Darleene Powells along with me, at the recent AAJA panel she organized on the intersection of journalism and blogging -- a subject Darleene (who now works at KCBS/KCAL on their web team) has quite a bit of personal experience with.

As noted by, Darleene has been a part of the blogosphere (not to mention the Blog-LA-Sphere) for ten years now. A decade of continuous blogging -- very few bloggers can claim that. (And here we felt so special at Franklin Avenue because we finally hit the 5 year mark last month!)

Here, she tells how she got started -- in an age when no one had ever even uttered the word "blog":

10 years ago, I was checking out the cool websites of all these other people and thinking to myself, I want one! So I literally began the blog as a way to learn HTML and how to build a website. I had no platform (Blogger debuted a year after I began blogging, I think I read on Wikipedia) — all I had was a free Geocities account and HTML Goodies, where I learned the basics. You should have seen the silly, animated gifs I employed…

Congrats, Darleene!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Rate-A-Restaurant, #167 in a series

Restaurant: Samurai Sams

Location: 5757 Wilshire (Mid-Wilshire)

Type of restaurant: Asian/Fast Food

They stipulated: The fast casual restaurant gives two ways to order: Specific entrees/bowls, or made-to-order bowls similar to the assembly line setup of sandwich shops or Chipotle. Choose your rice/noodle, your veggie, your meat (or fish/shrimp) and your sauce.

We stipulated: The portion of Mid-Wilshire home to Variety, E! and others has long been a vast wasteland of lunchtime eateries. Bored of Koo Koo Roo, Baja Fresh and Johnnie's -- and grossed out by Marie Callenders (and turned off by Organic to Go's overpriced entrees), we cheer any new addition to the lineup across the street.

What we ordered: I got the a bowl with brown rice, mixed veggies, salmon and lemon pepper sauce ($6.99).

High point: Price is decent, especially when compared to what you get at Koo Koo Roo or Baja Fresh. The sample I ate at the sushi station was also nice. And even though the line was far outside the door when we got there (told you the 'hood was starved for new choices), it moved very fast.

Low point: Given the big build up and the breathless promotional copy, I was expecting more from Samurai Sam's. But the food itself was just OK, and on par with a bowl from Koo Koo Roo or other fast casual spots. I guess that's servicable enough... but I was hoping for more than servicable.

Overall impression: It's nice to have another lunch time alternative in the neighborhood -- and now I have a spot that will always be that fallback choice when there's nothing to eat and I haven't brought my lunch. But if I didn't work across the street, I'm not sure I'd go out of my way to find a Samurai Sam's location.

Chance we will go back: I'm sure the novelty will wear off fairly fast, but for now I'm sure I'll wind up there every once in a while.

For a complete list of our nearly 170 restaurant reviews, check out our companion Rate-A-Restaurant site.

A Car-Free Wilshire on Earth Day

Emerald City has the details on the Earth Day celebration at Wilshire Center. Closing down a chunk of Wilshire (between Harvard and Western) for most of the day -- pretty big, and sure to cause some driving headaches. (I know it will affect my commute). But I suppose that's the point.

I wish I could join in, and go car-free for at least one day. But there's just no logical mass transit way to make it from our Glendale home to my mid-Wilshire offices that wouldn't take hours and hours. I'd also love to see the free Michael Franti show; Franti puts on a good show, and manages to mix cool beats with socially relevant lyrics. But it's Tuesday... so there's no chance to make it down there.

Nonetheless, the festival goes on from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., so make it down there if you can take the Metro Purple Line straight to the festivities, or Metro bus. Or bike it, Emerald City's Siel suggests.

License Plate of the Day: Politically Confused

Apparently, he loves Limbaugh, she loves Dukakis. The result? "Limbakis."

Monday, April 21, 2008

Not Nuts Over California Pizza Kitchen

Maria, the Kid Formerly Known as the Blogger Toddler and I headed to the Westfield Topanga mall on Sunday to meet up with the extended family for lunch at California Pizza Kitchen.

It was Evan's nine-year-old niece's cousin's birthday -- but the CPK wound up giving me an unexpected, shiny gift instead.

As I dug into my Chipotle Chicken pizza (not bad, like the spice), I bit on a small, hard nugget. Must be some sort of overcooked corn kernel, I rationalized.

And I nearly swallowed it. But something told me to spit it out anyway, it case it was a bone of some sort.

It wasn't a bone. I spit out a nut.

No, not a peanut or any sort of nut. I mean, metallic nut, as in nuts and bolts.

Was someone working on construction right above the pizza making area? Should I have clarified that I prefer my pizza to be free of metallic hardware?

I told the waiter and showed him the nut -- complete with my saliva, still on it -- and he promised to have another pizza quickly made. Later, we saw that the pizza had been removed from the bill.

The waiter uttered one "sorry about that," but we never heard from the manager, and we weren't ever offered anything as an apology. Should we have made a bigger stink? What would you have done?

And remember, if you're dining at the Westfield Topanga branch of California Pizza Kitchen, do yourself a favor and run that pizza through a quick metal detector -- you'll be glad you did!

(Above, my leftover pizza -- yeah, I still ate it all.)

Psst, President Bush, $4 Gas Is Real

It's not just a hypothetical anymore... and it's not just for premium any more, or just in pricey neighborhoods. Here's $4.09/gallon regular unleaded gas at a run-of-the-mill 76 station in Van Nuys.

Taco' The Town

I've seen some confusion on the whole taco truck issue, so a reminder via The new L.A. County law only regulates taco trucks in unincorporated portions of the county. That means your favorite truck in Highland Park, Eagle Rock or downtown is OK... but if you live in the unincorporated East Los Angeles (or in those unincorporated portions of south L.A. County), then your fave truck indeed has a problem on its hands.

Prior to the proposal becoming law, a reader received this response from County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who drafted the law:

"Thank you for contacting my office to express your views regarding the proposed changes to the Los Angeles County peddling ordinance. Please be aware that this ordinance is effective only in the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County.

The proposed changes to the ordinance allow peddlers to remain in one location in a commercial zone for one hour. The current ordinance permits 30 minutes in one location. For your information, vending from a sidewalk has never been permitted in Los Angeles County. Our ordinance will protect the health and welfare of our residents and respect the needs of our business community.

Nonetheless, the folks at Save Our Taco Trucks are concerned that L.A.'s unique taco truck culture may start to disappear under Molina's law, which was passed last week. They've put together a petition:

Let’s send Gloria Molina and the L.A. Board of Supervisors a message that we cherish our local vendors and don’t want to see them move away. This new law needs to be repealed!

According to the L.A. Times, ground zero for the taco truck debate is East L.A., where brick and mortar restaurants brand the trucks a "nuisance." The paper writes:

Some taco trucks park in the same place all day, despite an existing law that requires they move every 30 minutes. But because the fine is only $60, many truck owners view it as a cost of doing business.

The new restrictions, proposed by Supervisor Gloria Molina, increase the penalty for violating the law to a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine and/or a six-month jail sentence. To soften the blow, however, she would extend the time a catering truck can be parked in one place from 30 minutes to an hour.

Restaurant owners have long complained to county officials that taco trucks have an unfair advantage: If customers don't come to them, they can drive to the customers. And because they are small and mobile, their overhead costs are comparatively low.

But taco vendors see it differently: They say they provide good and affordable food to communities that sometimes lack places to eat.

After the law passed last week, taco truck owners told the L.A. Times that they won't budge:
"They can try to move us, but we're not going to go," said Aleida De La Cruz, whose taco truck has been a family business for 20 years. "What are they going to do, take us all to jail?"

Is carne asada a crime?

Spring L.A. Postponed

Bad news: Due to unfortunate circumstances, we're gonna have to postpone SPRING L.A., our race around Los Angeles, which was originally scheduled for May 3. We're still planning on pulling the race off this year -- perhaps either in June or early fall. Stay tuned for details!

Rate-A-Restaurant, #166 in a series

(Flickr pic by He Cooks She Eats.

Restaurant: Fraiche

Location: 9411 Culver Blvd. (Culver City)

Type of restaurant: French/Italian

They stipulated: That you gotta drive to Culver City. Ha. Joking -- as you well know, Culver City has become quite the foodie mecca, and Fraiche is at the forefront.

We stipulated: Meeting an exec for lunch, my colleage Joe and I suggested several spots -- and Fraiche came up as a good, classy lunch choice.

What we ordered: I got the Pan Bagnet -- seared albacore tuna, black olive, anchovy and egg sandwich ($14). For dessert, we all shared piccolo pasticerria -- plate of assorted cookies ($6)

High point: Plate of cookies? Simple, yet pretty damn good, thanks to the handiwork of pastry chef Miho Travi.

Low point: Service, as noted elsewhere, is spotty. I kept getting skipped over by the waiter -- basically, I had to nail him down to get my order taken. When dessert was ordered, he asked everyone at the table if they wanted coffee -- except me. Then left before I could order one.

Overall impression: Named one of Los Angeles magazine's top 75 local restaurants, Fraiche is good, and an excellent lunch choice if you're meeting people on the west side -- but I guess I'll reserve the "better than good" debate until after I check it out for dinner. My sandwich was delicious (perhaps because it was quite salty -- thank you, anchovies!) but I don't feel like I've gotten the full Fraiche experience. Perhaps dinner, with wine, is necessary.

Chance we will go back: Possibly, although probably won't be getting to Culver City for dinner anytime soon, so another lunch with execs is more likely.

For a complete list of our over 166 restaurant reviews, check out our companion Rate-A-Restaurant site.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Retro Friday: Flame Throwin' Hit Radio 93 KKHR

In the mid-1980s, Hit Radio 93 KKHR made a run at KIIS-FM as a contemporary hit radio station. Here, Jack Armstrong -- who recently passed away -- handles his shift. Watch him as he manically tosses from song to song, jumps in with his fast-paced delivery (complete with his alter ego, Gorilla) and plays the hit music of 1984.

When I was a kid -- right around 1984, as a matter of fact, when I was 11 -- THIS is what I wanted to do when I grew up. So yeah, I didn't become a high energy top 40 jock , but I still love sitting behind a radio board -- hence the reason I do my KCSN show (coincidentally, the KCSN board is nearly identical to the KKHR one you see in this video).

KKHR lasted at 93.1 from 1983 to 1986; now, of course, the "Jack FM" format -- which airs without jocks all together -- is on 93.1 (with the calls KCBS-FM).

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Battle of the Buses Is On


Bus Race! Bus Race! Will Campbell writes in that today's the day he faces off with The Bus Bench's Bus Tard to see who makes it to Downtown first.

Will explains:

I’ll be on the MTA’s No. 439 catching up on my reading of Mercedes Lambert’s “Dogtown” and he’ll be bribing the driver of Big Blue’s No. 10 to skip stops as we travel from our respective points of embarkation deep in the westside sometime shortly after the 5 o’clock hour then call crawl our separate ways across town to see who gets to Clifton’s at 7th and Broadway first. With fingers crossed that we both get there before the place closes at 7:30 p.m., we will then retire inside for loser-buys dinner with perhaps whiskeys at Seven Grand afterward, or just we’ll pass around The Bus Bench Publisher Browne’s bottle of Everclear.

Will will be posting his progress via Twitter.

License Plate of the Day: Who Would Have Guessed?

Or... "Who'da Guessed?"

(Unless this driver happens to be a booker on a talk show, and the license plate stands for "Who Da Guest?")


The Staircases of Los Angeles

(Flickr pic by Cory.)

Five years ago we talked up Los Feliz's Radio Walk and Prospect Walk staircases in the Franklin Hills. Back when Franklin Avenue actually lived on Franklin Avenue, we used to hike those steps all the time for exercise.

The L.A. Times this week reminded us that there are staircases all over the city -- and they're popular among hikers and exercise fiends. The paper writes:

The "Music Box" staircase, which shoots straight up from Vendome Street to Descanso Drive, is one of 52 stairways in 46-year-old writer Dan Koeppel's personal 16.2-mile stair hike -- comprising 4,182 steps, with a 7,445-foot elevation gain.

The walk hopscotches up and down a matrix of city-owned steps around Silver Lake and Echo Park, just north of downtown Los Angeles, and offers up dazzling overlooks of East Los Angeles, Griffith Park Observatory, the Hollywood sign, the Silver Lake Reservoir and downtown Los Angeles. The overall effect is a little like taking a local historical garden tour while going full throttle on a StairMaster.

Bob Herzog, co-chairman of the Silver Lake History Collective, notes that the steps around the older parts of the city were built mostly in the mid 1920s, and led down to Red Car transit points. The Red Cars are long gone, of course, but the stairs remain.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Crusading Against the Public Library's Proposed $1 Fee

The folks who helped save the 76 gas station balls now have their sights set on the Los Angeles Public Library.

Kim Cooper and Richard Schave, who are behind Esotouric bus adventures
and the 1947project time travel blog, are leading a crusade against the proposed $1 fee for books that must be shipped in from other branches.

At, Cooper and Schave argue that the $1 fee would be "disastrous to the thousands of families, elderly people, students and scholars who rely on the offerings of a free public library to feed their minds."

From the Save LAPL folks:

As the city faces the biggest financial crisis in decades, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is completing his 2008-09 budget for approval by City Council. And unless the public speaks up now, the LA Public Library, already barred from buying new books since a February spending freeze, will soon begin charging a prohibitive $1-per-book loan fee for any book requested from another branch. With the launch of the SaveLAPL website, thousands of Library users are first learning about the threat and telling Mayor Villaraigosa they want him to keep the Library free.

The group notes that April 14-19 is National Library Week.

I'm torn on this issue; with the massive budget cuts across the state, something's gotta give -- and a $1 fee for the LAPL to transport books from one branch to another doesn't sound unreasonable, given how desperate the library is for money.

But I also am concerned about the precedent. How depressing that things have come to this. Your thoughts?