Surreal Mural

(click image for the bigger picture)

The above image is a three-frame panorama I shot Saturday of the recently installed mural on Descanso just south of Sunset in Silver Lake (pinpoint map). No idea who the artist or artists are/were or what the meaning — if any — there is to the piece, featuring a green-eyed/blue-eyed cat, two ducklings, a Fedora’d dog on one side and a tank/purple ape on the other.

All I know is that it replaced the lovely and long-standing “Angels of Music” mural (partial image here; artist or artists also unknown) that had stood reprehensibly defaced so severely for the better part of the past year. Welcome to the neighborhood!

Hey! You Got Your Giant Heart In My Hammock Stand!

The backstory is when the tenants who rented the house next door to us moved, they left this giant, rather elaborately fabricated and constructed heart behind. After the new owners bought the house a couple years ago at some point I mentioned how much Susan and I liked the thing. So he asked me if I wanted it and I said “sure!”

Of course it then sat along the side of our house as I tried to figure out what the heck to do with it, until it dawned on me that with the hammock in winter hibernation, the backyard hammock stand might be a place to display it — at least until hammock weather returns… or it falls over.

Restoration Near Belmont Station

Click image for maximum panoramification

The extensive clean-up and return of this mural  — “La Ofrenda” by Yreina Cervantes — to its 1989 glory isn’t new. It’s been minus the layers of tags that obliterated its lower half and back to its original self for well over a month now (at least). I would have posted about it sooner, but when I first discovered it in September the mural had already been hit again by some respectless spraycanhobag rat bastards. Oops, I mean “misunderstood disenfranchised youths.”

Biking up 2nd Street out of downtown I past it under the Beverly Boulevard Bridge on my way home from the office today, and stopped to find that minor abomination blessedly removed.


This mural features Delores Huerta, a founder of the UFW, and is an homage to the strength of Latino women. It brings attention to the hardships of war and immigration, while highlighting the life and hope that endures through these struggles. The mural features a poem by Gloria Alvarez, and the bottom section, painted entirely with spray cans, was designed and executed by her youth apprentices recruited from the Belmont Tunnel, an active graffiti yard across the street.

The Two Towers


The towers on the left, visited this past weekend, put the spire in inspire. Whereas I’ve long put the dis in disdain whenever regarding the tower on the right, visited late Monday afternoon — in surprise at how almost beautiful it looked illuminated in the last rays of that day’s sun.

Both are markedly incongruous to their surroundings. The ones on the left rise from a wedge of backyard surrounded by inner-city blight, the vision and arduous 30-plus-year creation of an untrained but entirely skilled loner who “set out to do something big, and did it.” The one on the right dominates an easily mocked revision to the city’s oldest public park from an architect no doubt well trained and skilled but who set out to do… something.

From my jaded point of view that “something” was to reject any connection to the city’s downtown core and garishly set the open space apart with a color scheme that pays all its tribute to the superficial 1980s and none to the historic 1880s when its first design as a park was realized.

At one point early on in the history of the towers on the left, the city tried to reject them. With little in the way of proof, civic officials dismissed the monumental achievement as unsafe, little more than a worthless and poorly built hazard whose demolition they unconscionably ordered.

It was spared the wrecking ball thanks only to the dedicated efforts of a few citizen heroes who, realizing its immeasurable cultural value,  first purchased the site and then engineered a stress test to prove its structural integrity. Convincing the reluctant bureaucrats to allow the test to be conducted,  it ultimately proved the towers were completely safe, sound and thus saved.

Fifteen Years Ago

Today marks the anniversary of the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. The day after that horror, as the theater critic for the Pasadena Weekly I couldn’t help but draw parallels and distinctions between such a fresh hell and the subject matter of the play I covered, whose review, follows:

Taking ‘Heart’
Political drama points finger at causes of AIDS epidemic
By William Campbell

The Whitefire Theater’s production of Larry Kramer’s “The Normal Heart” opened April 20 in Sherman Oaks, one day after the tragic and horrible bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, Okla.

“So?” you ask.

Well, directly, there’s no connection, but at the close of the show that evening, it was all too easy to draw similarities between the play’s subject matter — the first, desperate years of the AIDS crisis and this country’s slow response in dealing with it — and the terrible event that had occurred in America’s heartland.

Both have had devestating effect; destroying lives and families, causing us to question our safety and security, and dragging into the light how vulnerable and fragile we are as both a nation and as individuals.

But in watching the events of the bombing unfold, amazed at the organization and mobilization of resources, appreciative of the forces being utilized to apprehend those responsible, and proud of the countrywide — if not global — outpouring of support for the citizens of Oklahoma City, the similarities abruptly end.

Because in the opening years of the AIDS crisis, well-depicted in Kramer’s play, there was no massive mobilization of resources. The only forces marshalled were those on the grass-roots level with little or no support from the government. And as to an outpouring? “Trickle-down” took on a whole new meaning in the early-to-mid 1980s.

Just imagine it if an organized, concerted effort — comparable to that witnessed in Oklahoma — had been concentrated against this nightmare disease early-on. Dream of what such a dedication of energy might have acomplished, what advances might have been made, what pain could have been eased, and what lives might have been prolonged or even saved. Because in looking back at the AIDS epidemic, a past of might-have-beens and could-have-dones, dreaming of what never happened is all that’s left — that and a lot of pain and death.

But dreaming of the non-existent past is not what “The Normal Heart” is about at all. Instead, Kramer’s semi-autobiographical drama is about hope and acceptance, triumph over fear and death, and the search for the face of truth in a world that has turned its back.

Directed by Ekta Monica Lobo and starring an ensemble cast that features Robert Bakkemo as outspoken, opinionated, brash and head-strong Ned Weeks, “The Normal Heart” takes place in New York City between 1981 and 1984, and chronicles Weeks’ struggle to create an effective organization to lead the fight against AIDS.

The production itself has a workshop feel to it, with its bare-bones sets and close-to-interminable gaps between the numerous scene and set changes, but it is not without its passionate moments.

Noir Town

With the return to service of the Angel’s Flight train this week, LA Observed has been great in posting various existences of the fascinating funicular in art and popular culture, such as this favorite of mine below, the cover of an issue from last year of Black Clock magazine. I’m subscribing.

With the woman’s look, the light, and of course the dark, there’s plenty of mood and tension inside the apartment to love in this illustration by Jeff Bridges (no, not the Academy Award-winning one). But by far my favorite aspect of the image has to be the Angel’s Flight car in the background slicing across the window like a guillotine blade. Genius.

If This Wall Could Talk

I had my biannual visit to the dentist this morning, his Miracle Mile office of which is conveniently located only a couple blocks from a freshly installed exhibit featuring sections of the Berlin Wall and commemorating the 20th anniversary of its fall.


So of course afterwards I deviated from my normal home-dentist-work route to go back over and check it out, and joy of joys you can walk right up to the panels and touch ’em and everything. You can even get all touristy and strike a pose with or without your bike in front of eight of what will eventually be 10 panels, spanning some 40 feet — reportedly the world’s largest stretch of the wall outside its hometown.

It will be up on Wilshire Boulevard across from LACMA until November 14 when the order will come to “tear down this wall” and install it permanently at the Wende Museum in Culver City.

My Flickr photoset is here.