Archive for September, 2006

The odometer on The Phoenix this morning stands at 1296.2 year-to-date miles, and I’ve done a decent share this week-to-date as well. Tuesday morning begin with the usual Silver Lake Reservoir rounds and I circled her four times for about 12 miles to and from my house. Then Tuesday evening I was invited to participate in the scout patrol for next month’s Midnight Ridazz and all in that came close to 26 miles roundtrip. Then last night before my weekly Wednesday night river romp I ended up totaling another 24 miles by first pedaling downtown to the LAPD Central Station on East Sixth Street to complete the required waiver for a Skid Row ride-along (that should have been happening right now, but instead got canceled due to the officer I was to accompany getting called to court) before heading up to Atwater Village and up into Griffith Park and back.

Which brings us to tonight for my Thursday night roll where I’ll be saddling up for IAAL•MAF’s first invitational ride, bascially a replay of the Hello Dahlia ride we did a couple weeks ago, only this time with laminated spoke cards and a larger turnout as we’ve been promoting it through various online avenues in the bike community:


It’ll be interesting to see what the actual attendance ends up being. My conservative guess is somewhere between 20 and 30. By the way, that image of Elizabeth Short above is an actual pavement stencil I’ve seen around the neighborhood (in this case serendipitously by the Spaceland club on Silver Lake Boulevard where we gather for our Tuesday morning rides) with text underneath that enigmatically reads “Silver.” No idea if that’s the artist’s name or what the message might mean, but of course I photoshopped it out and added the ride’s title.

Anyway tonight should total out to another 26 miles (give or take), so that’ll add up to 88 miles since Tuesday. Certainly not Lance Armstrong numbers, but definitely the most I’ve posted in three consecutive days since my 2003 SF-to-LA ride.

I’m not going to worry about linking back to the previous frustrations regarding the water heaters other than to remind anyone who might recall how the initial Building & Safety Department inspector wouldn’t sign off on it when he was first out way back at the end of May and I pretty much blew a gasket over that and the faulty job the contractors did that resulted in the inspector basically saying “Pfffft!”

So I huffed and puffed and grrr’d and snarled and blogged then we went on vacation and put the whole thing out of my mind until Susan was like “Hello! Where does this thing stand!?” and I was like “Oh, right!” and finally got around to doing the job myself last month — very well, I might add, though I’m not the inspector… who I then promptly forgot to call to come back out until last weekend when Susan was like “Hello! Where does this thing stand!?” and I was like “Uh, oh right!” and scheduled an appointment for today for the inspector to come out and when he showed up I crossed my fingers as he took a good look around and in the end gave me this (queue the angels singing):


And I said hell yeah!


This is Bridget. I found here on my way to Costco yesterday. She was wandering Silver Lake Boulevard at the Sunset Boulevard overpass. When I pulled out of flowing traffic away from all the other people to whom she was invisible and came to her assistance she was very happy. I was happy to find a tag on her collar that gave me her name and her guardians’ number. After leaving a message for them and going to Costco with me, she was happier still when her guardian came to get her a short while later.

I wrote about it on here. And there are more pictures of her on Flickr here.

From what I’ve been reading I am apparently one of the few who enjoyed the premiere of Adam Sorkin’s “Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip” — and I didn’t even get to watch it on television. See, I thought I’d set up the TiVo to catch it Monday night, but for whatever reason when I pushed play, although the info showed that it had recorded that very exact program, what was being delivered to me was not that very exact program. What I was being fed was Monday night’s ESPN broadcast.

Granted, I’m no TiVo master, but I’ve been around the record-a-program block enough to know what the hell I’m doing. But I won’t even begin to attempt to comprehend the malfunction that left me gape-mouthed watching the ESPN anchors recap the Monday Night Football beatdown of Pittsburgh by Carolina that I’d already seen.

But was I ass out of luck? Hell no, thanks to NBC which is exploring entirely new ways of delivering its content to me. Some of them are how’d-they-do-that fascinating, but go a little bit too far I think. Like when I turned on the hot water faucet this morning and instead of water “Studio 60” flowed out all over the counter and floor. Or the telemarketing call after that wanting to ship me out free screener copies of the first three seasons.

“But isn’t this just the first season?” I asked.

“Yes sir” came the chipper voice on the other end. “You’d be amazed what the capabilities are. If you want, I can even send you screeners of the first two seasons of all of next seasons new shows. Unfortunately they’re all still just working titles so I can’t tell you what they’re called, but one centers around a freelance writer in Silver Lake who used to work at the L.A. Zoo.”

“Uh, no thanks.”

Then there was the “Tonight Show” usher in throwback pageboy uniform out on the corner of my block who accosted me and the dogs during their walk. She wouldn’t take my no to her hardsell offer. First she said she could have me digitally added in a walk-on part in the recently completed first-season finale and then she promised a private ice cream social with Matthew Perry. For what? All I had to do is consent to having a transmitter surgically implanted into my head so that episodes could be beamed directly to me.

“Uh, no thanks.”

“Well then howsabout the dogs?” I looked at Shadow who seemed game (she’s got a thing for Timothy Busfield) but I dragged them away with me and ran. Straight to the internest, where on the NBC website I found the pilot episode waiting to be downloaded free in several compartmentalized installments. No scalpels, no phone calls, no messy clean up. Just the first episode unfolding in mock DVD-quality fullscreen on my Mac.

And I mostly ate that sucker up. Here’s why: because I rarely watched “The West Wing.” Why not? Two reasons. One, because of the few episodes I did watch the plot never failed to take a back seat to the intriguing issue of why everyone whispered so incessantly monotonally to each other and why the White House was always so freaking dark when they did so. Did the first lady forget to pay the light bill? Again? And two, because in all that dimly lighted and incessant monotonous monotonality the characters often got stuck spewing forth these righteous diatribal historical idealistic monologues that just never ever happen in the real world.

It never failed that in the middle of whatever crisis was being managed that week, one person would start a conversation to another with “Let me tell you about the Monroe Doctrine, whch was President James Monroe’s address to Congress in 1823…”” or “You know, in 1898 when Teddy Roosevelt led his Rough Riders up San Juan Hill in Cuba during the Spanish-American War…”

The point I’m trying to make is that a fat bunch of the show’s mono/dialogue was so transparently written. Preachy. Filled with factoids and minutae that were unnecessary and unrealistic. People don’t talk like that. Instead it was all about Commander In Chief Sorkin taking his audience by the hand and educating us obvious morons. Not so much because he thinks we’re stupid but that he’s just so freakin’ smart.

Needless to say it turned me off “West Wing,” which may be to “Studio 60’s” benefit… though the show and I got off to an immediatley rocky start.

See, I cringed at its opening round when Judd Hirsch delivered his character’s on-air meltdown. To be so textbook “West Wing” so quick outta the gate almost had me diving across my keyboard for the escape key. But I let that go easy enough.

Not so the next time around. The hackles really rose in the wake of Hirsch’s tirade when, despite my own ability to say “Dang that’s a blatant and relatively lame ripoff of Peter Finch’s Howard “I’m mad as hell!” Beal in “Network,” Sorkin felt the imperative to cram in plenty of references to Paddy Chayefsky and that film, which is kind of like a bad comedian telling a stupid joke that falls flat and then explaining the punchline in case we didn’t get it.

We get it, Adam.

Bottom line, right off the starting blocks, “Studio 60” was shaping up to be a “West Wing West,” which is a lose/lose in my book: Either Sorkin thinks his audience is a collective idiot or he’s just a massively lame tool.

Either way I watched the next segment with my middle finger poised over the escape key when something marvelous happened. Sorkin brought me Matthew Perry and Bradley Whitford. I can’t really explain it, but they just totally rocked. I was immediately intrigued by them. I totally bought into their characters’ relationship and I just flat out savored their performances whenever they were onscreen. I didn’t care that Bradley and Matthew’s characters were not-so-fictional representations of Sorkin and his longtime production partner (and the show’s exec producer) Tommy Schlammme. All I knew was that Perry and Whitford are perfectly cast and are compelling enough to bring me back next week and another TiVo attempt.

Where we’ll then see if they can keep me hanging on or if Sorkin will send me packing.

In lieu of an actual post, here’s a snapshot of how and where I got my day started:


And I’ve unlost a short video nugget I made of my first trip on The Phoenix around the reservoir. And yes, I do believe I’m wearing Lycra shorts. And no, that’s not the sound my bike makes when in motion.

Yesterday was the weekly Thursday evening bike ride of the mighty mighty IAAL•MAF and as I’ve done as an enthusiastic and dedicated member in the past I put a fair amount of effort into routing the journey to areas otherwise previously untouched by mine or my biking buds’ tires. Here’s an example.

This time I started with a kernel of an idea to trace part of the last few marathon bike tours, mainly across Exposition Park to Arlington down across Martin Luther King Boulevard intoto Leimert Park and then back up through the Crenshaw District. I swear to you that when it dawned on me we’d be near to the location of where Elizabeth Short’s remains were discovered north of 39th on Norton Avenue on January 15, 1947, it was strictly because I’d been there once previously when Susan accompanied me on a crime bus tour back in January organized by the folks at 1947 Project. It was only after I’d charted us past the scene of that horrible crime that I realized — duh! — Brian De Palma’s “Black Dahlia” film is opening this weekend.

Honestly, I almost killed the idea right there because I didn’t want it to seem as if I was caught up in the overhype for a movie about a 59-year-old murder that I hadn’t heard much good about and certainly wasn’t eager to see (at least not in the theater; Netflix maybe). But then I what-the-helled and just stayed the course, which included a pass-by of the house made famous by the HBO series “Six Feet Under” and lastly a mural of Steve McQueen that I’d seen once before several years ago and couldn’t remember where it was since — until I Googled “Steve McQueen mural” and there was info on it like magic. It was on Union Avenue at 12th, and looks a little something like this:


Painted in 1971 by noted muralist Kent Twitchell and later restored in 1982 it was his first public art creation in Los Angeles. Though I’d seen pictures of it and known about it for as long as I can remember, I only physically saw it once, during one of the early L.A. Marathon bike tours… maybe 1998. After that I somehow got the idea it was on nearby Hoover or Virgil avenues and as I’ve journeyed down those streets relatively regularly and never seen it since I figured it got destroyed.

Learning I was mistaken and that it was on Union gave me hope it had survived. Sadly though, it hadn’t. Riding by last night after the stops on Norton  and the “Six Feet Under” property, the house is still there, but the compelling image of Steve McQueen isn’t. I don’t know when it was painted over, but it was and Steve’s gone. Dammit. Another piece of L.A. vanished.
Anyway, if you’re interested, you can check out who and where we rolled. Here’s the 16-mile route itself, and a buncha pix taken along the way are in a photoset here.


To say they “walk together” is incorrect. While they technically traverse the block at the same time, they do so with distinctly unsynched personality and energy levels, leaving me in the middle trying to keep their leads untangled.

Shadow’s all about slow and steady and sniffing out all the latest news on the street, marking where appropriate and finding the perfect place to poop.

Ranger’s still too young to have anything to do with patience. Instead she’s all about soaking everything in simultaneously and forgetting it just as quickly — all the while ripping up and down front and back and sideways along the length of her 15 foot radius of freedom.

Shadow’s seen it all. Ranger ain’t seen nothing yet.