Archive for January, 2008

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took time out from his busy schedule endorsing Hilary Clinton for president to focus on a dire civic issue: traffic. Yesterday he arrived via a behind-schedule MTA bus to a press conference staged on a downtown bridge over the 110 Freeway and outlined a multi-faceted program designed to get traffic flowing more efficiently. He’s all about: traffic signal syncing; more aggressive ticketing and towing of intersection blockers and illegally parked vehicles; implementing one-way express corridors; public transit; and more. He even gives some love to pedestrians by championing strategic all-way crosswalks at certain key intersections.

And bikes? On that sorely ignored subject the somewhat honorable ‘Tonio Villagarockstar’s said the following (pick one):

A) “I pledge to fully integrate bicycles and other alternate forms of self-propelled transportation — as well as nonnuclear forms of teleportation, and most types of homebrew aircraft and dirigibles — into the future of transportation in Los Angeles. Not as bastard stepchildren who need to be spanked and stuck in a corner for a timeout, but as equal partnters who need to be spanked and stuck into a corner for a timeout!”

B) “Oh yeah, bikes, bicycles… las bicicletas. Las bicicletas fantásticas. Riiiiiight. Muy bueno. Those things. Hmmmm. Jeez. Pffft. Yikes. Tough one! Extremadamente difícilmente! Let me fake as if I give a shit and pretend like I’ll get back to you on that, but really won’t, ‘K?”

C) Absolutely, positively nothing.

The correct answer is C, which in a lot of ways is like B, which leaves those of us enthusiastic and trailblazing urban two-wheelers trucked out to Oversight County and dumped in the reclaimed toxic landfill that is now Bigfatzeroloservilletown. Again.

So of course I wrote him a letter:

Mr. Mayor,

I’ve read through your multi-level plan to reduce traffic congestion, and while I’m impressed that you’re attempting to tackle this pressing matter, I am as equally unimpressed that in all of the options you offer, nowhere and not even once mentioned is the bicycle or efforts that could and should be made to improve its presence on the civic gridscape.

Certainly you could debate that the percentage of bicycle commuters in Los Angeles is insignificant, but that is terrifically shortsighted and short-term oriented.

As a dedicated bike commuter I accumulated more than 3,000 miles across Los Angeles in 2007, in part due to my 26-mile roundtrips between Silver Lake and Westchester at least three times a week. In this first month of 2008 alone I have commuted by bike to work 13 out of 22 working days, which is the equivalent of keeping 13.5 gallons of gasoline out of my gas tank and available for use by you or more urgently Deputy Mayor Jaime de la Vega — unless he’s recently traded his Hummer in for more a more fuel-efficient and less egregious form of transportation.

But I digress. Bottom line is I am part of a growing segment of the city’s population who have made the choice to rely predominately on two-wheels to get around town, and frankly with the continued lack of a functional city-wide network of bike routes, perpetuated by your silence on the subject I feel discriminated against. You had a long-view opportunity to include bicycles and cycling infrastructure improvements in your plan and you shamefully didn’t. Don’t continue to ignore what is an important component in the future of this city’s transportation solutions.

Will Campbell

What is this about?

The Crossing Guard

The old man with the bright orange crossing guard vest and the handheld stop sign shook his head as I Cali’d the four-way on my bike at the corner of Duquesne and Braddock south of the Culver City police station. It’s the same thing every day. I approach the intersection and slow down making sure there’s no cross traffic and if there isn’t I continue on my way. No harm, minor foul. But each time the crossing guard dude watches me and you’d think I’d just taken a public piss or stolen some little kid’s lunch money the way he scowls and cranks that judgmental head of his slowly back and forth. I can almost hear the tsk-tsk that undoubtedly accompanies it.

So today I roll up and there’s no traffic in any direction. Just me and him and the stiff onshore blow that’s moving clouds inland at a brisk pace that may or may not portend rain for the ride home this evening. He’s sitting in his little folding chair and he looks up from today’s issue of the Old Farts Examiner right at me. So I return his glare and this time I come to a complete stop up off the saddle and balanced somewhat tentatively on the pedals. I manage not to fall over while looking left, then right, then left again and then back at him and he’s scowling so severely that the corners of his mouth are threatening to drop off the edge of his jutted chin.

Guess there’s just no pleasing some.

Satisfied I’ve made a full and complete stop as required by California law, I start pedaling and pass him with a smirk and a nod and a half bow that makes him flap the paper out in front of him and with a “hmmph!” dive back into whatever article on the AARP or lumbago he had been so previously engrossed in. But he doesn’t fool me. Watching in the rear view mirror attached to my helmet I see him turn and watch me as I go. The backwards wave I give him almost makes him jump.

Early on in last night’s Clippers win over the Atlanta Hawks at Staples Center, from our sweet seats in Box B-55 thanks to Susan’s boss (click to doublify):


The last professional basketball game I attended was a Laker game at the Forum, November 5, 1991. Coincidentally they were playing the Clippers. In another far more dramatic coincidence that game also turned out to be the last one Magic Johnson suited up for (but didn’t play). The following day he announced he was HIV positive.

What is this about?


Had Greer’s exit from the bathroom stall at the back of the 10th floor restroom been one step further along he wouldn’t have been able to react to the surprise discovery of a machete-weilding assailant by stepping back and slamming the door shut to effectively prevent the rapidly descending machete from cleaving his skull.

But since he had been able to, instead of the blade being buried four inches below the crown of his head, it now sat about the same distance deep into the door, effectively preventing whoever his would-be killer from extricating the weapon, and thus allowing Jason the time he needed to retrieve the SIG Mosquito from its holstered position under his left arm and distribute the amount of rounds needed under the bottom of the door into the goon’s shins, ankles and feet until he was no longer able to stand on them and instead was writhing around the tiled floor in what could be characterized as obvious misery.

Greer opened the door and observed exactly that before warily eyeing the machete where it had been left.

“Who the hell brings a machete to work?” Greer asked his prone opponent who had brought his broken and bloody legs and feet up to his chest and hugged them whimpering. Greer stepped over him, not really expecting an answer. He set the gun on the counter and washed his hands, knowing he’d get the real information he sought. Like who this bastard worked for and why.

A lot of Greer’s colleagues scoffed that his weapon of choice was a .22 caliber pistol. They bragged reverently about the stopping power of the bad boys they probably slept with when they weren’t strapped to their bodies. But Greer wasn’t about that. Instead he liked the accuracy of the weapon and the damage it could do. Sure it wouldn’t take an arm or a head off, but a round or two to the torso did a remarkable amount of fatal internal damage. Whereas a 9mm or a .38 or a .45 bullet essentially travel straight upon entry, a .22 round will find flesh and do anyhing but. They’ll go left, right, up, down. All over. And if in their deviations they happen to ricochet off a rib or a vertebrae they might fragment, like a little grenade and double back to mess any internal organs that they missed on the way in. Indeed, without medical attention — or a lot of times even with it — death comes eventually, conveniently leaving time for an earnest Q&A, which usually ends with one last bullet to the brain.

Greer pulled a paper towel from the dispenser and dried his hands. He holstered the SIG and locked the restroom door. At the click of the deadbolt sliding home Greer’s interviewee wrenched his head around.

“Just so you and I can have a little privacy,” he said.

Yesterday afternoon I happened to lok up out of my office window and see a red-tailed hawk cruising away from the building I’m in. A trio of pigeons streaking across the sky in the opposite direction made it change course and eventually it ended up as close to directly over my head as it could be where for a moment it held that position and I was able to press up against the glass, cross my fingers and try to hold still enough to snap a really craptastic 12x digitally zoomed shot.

One of the things I love doing with such not-for-public-consumption images is put them through the Photoshop spin cycle where I’ll randomly do and undo and redo a variety of filters and adjustments and effects until I get what most like could be described as a really craptastic fauxtograph. But sometimes I like the illustrative end result enough to post it, like so (click to triplify):


What is this about?

Metro Gnome

He gunned the Harley up over the top of Topanga Canyon Boulevard and put the valley behind him. He loved going for long rides — especially canyons and along Mulholland and Angeles Crest Highway — just rocking back and forth like a big slow metronome into and through the curves of the roads. Tick. Tock.

The hog was a rental, from a place out in Arcadia. He hadn’t been on a motorcycle in years. Not since he sold his after his brother was killed while splitting lanes on the 101 — was it 12 years ago? Wow. He was amazed that it had been so long and how little it took to feel totally comfortable in the saddle of such a beast.

Just like riding a bike, he thought.

With the road mostly to himself and in no hurry, he took it slow down the mountain, arriving bout 15 minutes later to where Topanga ends at Pacific Coast Highway. He let off the throttle and downshifted on final approach to PCH. Decisions, decisions. Turn left and head back to civilization. Turn right and put it behind you, even if just until Point Dume or Point Mugu, then maybe turn around and come back down to Neptune’s Net for a pound of steamed shrimp and a beer.

Or perhaps go all the fucking way to Santa Barbara and come back to Ventura and head inland to the 126 and run that all the way past Santa Paula and Filmore back to the Golden Street Freeway.

The sun was high over the water, plenty of daylight left. He turned right.


(click to quadruplify)

Meals are totally a routine around here. When Susan starts preparing them, first for the dogs, the cats show what creatures of habit they are. Bink stays on the bed looking longingly into the kitchen. Pumpkin hops up onto the breakfast table and waits patiently. Jigsaw and Pepper (pictured) grab their places on the counter and side by side eagerly watch Susan divide a can of Fancy Feast four ways as if they haven’t been fed for days.

The process repeats at dinner.