Archive for October, 2008

For the fifth October 31st in a row Susan and I have carved pumpkins and done up the front yard and the only place we’ll be going is out on the front porch in hopes of trick-or-treaters to come get some candy and enjoy our decorations.

So this morning I’m reading that our long national West Hollywood nightmare is over. Apparently the Orange Grove Avenue homeowners who, under the guise of Halloween decorations and the protection of the First Amendment, costumed a mannequin to represent Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin that they then hung by the neck from their roof, have finally caved in to pressure from neighbors and elected officials and cut her down.

Was it a tasteless display lacking in all propriety? Absolutely.

Did I think it needed to be taken down? Well, I’m certainly not sorry to see it gone as it stood — er, hung — but had the people responsible been a little less angry and a little more creative, not only would Palin still be aloft, but she would never ever ever have garnered the overblown exposure and outcry.

It would have been a simple compromise really — especially since part of the installation includes another mannequin representing John McCain emerging out of a fake-flame engulfed chimney above her. Just remove the noose and fashion the rope as strings dangling from a crosspiece in McCain’s hands down to Palin’s arms. And voila: a political statement of puppet and puppetmaster, with none of the deplorable implications of violence and death. I guarantee you no one but the neighbors and passers-by would have known about it. FTW.

I usually am not one to count my clicks before they pass, but as it stands this morning I’ve pedaled 625 miles during a record-breakingly hot October, and with three bike commuting days left until the end of the month I not only can look forward to topping my record of 684 miles traversed across June, but of also eclipsing the long-elusive 700 mark.

Here’s approximately 16 of them, from my ride home Monday night:

There’s a relatively new blog in my environs — a good, informative and readable one that’s been around a few months. Based out of Echo Park its creator Jesus Sanchez opted to call it The Eastsider LA. I wasn’t so much perturbed by that at first, but I am now. And though I know there are a lot more important things worth being perturbed about at this moment, this trivial thing bothers me because I’ve finally realized why I can’t stand it when my area of the city — Silver Lake, Echo Park, Angelino Heights — is referred to as the “eastside.”

Never mind that the argument ender is simply the historical and geographical fact that the true eastside of the city is comprised of those richly entrenched neighborhoods and communities east of the L.A. River beginning with the likes of Boyle Heights. Lincoln Heights. Then there’s East Los Angeles to consider.

But none of that matters in the slightest to those intent on such flippant misrepresentation.

In fairness, Sanchez does not fall into that category and his coverage radius extends well to the east. He even recognizes that area’s claim to the term in an historical context. Having been born in Boyle Heights and having grown up in East LA Sanchez sees his long-standing residence of Echo Park as an extension or expansion of where he grew up. Hence the name.

But then he trips himself up in closing a defense last month to critics of the naming decision with: “But I have no interest in setting up an Eastside Boundary Task Force to decide who can or can’t call themselves an Eastsider, who does and does not belong, who is in or out. That’s so westside.”

That may be “so westside” Jesuz, but what’s even more westside is to call where you and I live eastside, and that’s where my resentment lies. It just doesn’t get more blithely elitist westside-centric than that.

See, where I live in a house built on a plot of land not long after it was first deeded 102 years ago — that was the westside. And long before that In the late 1800s, Angelino Heights was one of the first residential sections of the city established west of downtown. And Western Avenue wasn’t arbitrarily named. It marked the city’s western boundary. On the other side of it was not much more than swamp and tar that would have to wait a whole bunch of years before some westsider would look disinterestedly inland and imagine everything¬† on the other side of Western proprietarily as the eastside.

Ultimately it’s a winless argument — and a tired one, too. But no one will ever convince me it’s one without meaning. Especially since people are always going to hold the city’s true cultural history with such little regard, respect or consideration..

And that’s so very L.A.

UPDATE (10.29): Call it kismet. The morning after posting this I found LA Observed’s YouTube vid reporting on the 3rd Annual L.A. Archives Bazaar, which featured discussions on that topic not only in regards to East Los Angeles but also the denizens of Central Avenue who in that street’s heyday called themselves “The Eastsiders.”

As seen from my window on the 10th floor of the office building I’m in at the Howard Hughes Center yesterday morning (around 9:30) looking in the general direction of LAX. Looks like someone left the defrost on outside. I punched through the wall of soup while on the creek path approaching Sepulveda Boulevard. MOIST.

Mmmmm. Sooooop!

Saturday was the first Tour de Ballona ride along the creek. It drew about 60 riders, including me and Susan, and of course I timelapsed it (below) with my handlebar cam and also took snaps along the way with another.

Up until a few moments before this picture was taken on Santa Cruz Island in 2004, if you’d said I’d ever get this close to a Jerusalem cricket aka potato bug without having to be physically restrained and sedated, I would’ve punched you in the arm and said you were nutso.

But there I am. Letting one crawl upon my hand (albeit begloved) that we found near the site of one of the island fox captive breeding pens we were invited to the island to build (see previous post).

After the jump is a reprint from the archives about the childhood backstory to the phobia and this fateful encounter that to me is indicative of my present respect and consideration for all critters — especially the ones prone to illicit irrational revulsion. Except maybe camel spiders — I’m still working on accepting them into the big circle of life.