BasketCam: Buster and Us At The 2018 Blessing Of The Animals

We’ve been coming to Olvera Street’s annual Blessing of the Animals event since 2004. First a couple years with Shadow and then one with Ranger. Buster, our 18ish-year-old Russion tortoise, has been the designated representative of the various pets of our household every year since 2007.

This is the second year that we’ve joined with the fine folks at the Reptile & Amphibian Rescue Network and been a part of the initial processional. Last year we lucked into accompanying them basically by being at  their booth wherein they invited us, and this year we did the same thing, thereby getting ceremoniously doused with the holy H2O by Archbishop Jose Gomez at the front of the long line of other pet owners, and allowing Susan and me to quickly get to the real reason for coming downtown: margaritas at La Golondrina.

I set up our GoPro on a corner of Buster’s basket and timelapsed from prior to the event’s commencement of the procession to well into our lunch. The following stills pulled from the video show Buster and me prior to the event; the moment a bemused Archbishop Gomez flings water in our general direction; Buster in line at La Golondrina with a curious little girl; and lastly the moment Buster escaped the confines of the basket. Thankfully her freedom was short-lived thanks to Susan’s sharp-eye.


This Sunday is the next CicLAvia, in which a route through the city is closed off to motor vehicular traffic and open only to the wide variety of self-propellers: cyclists, walkers, joggers, skateboarders, skaters, and the like.

I’m looking forward to this one in particular because of a couple firsts. The first first is that the course is brand new, spanning between downtown and the beach mostly via Venice Boulevard (click the graphic below for the bigger picture).


The second first is that contrary to every one of the past five CicLAvias I’ve participated in, I actually don’t have the day to myself and instead have someplace to be. Fortunately that place is down South Bay way and thus I’m relieved that I can avoid missing my first CicLAvia by incorporating it part of my overall roundabout outbound commute.

Specifically, I have to be in Hawthorne by 1 p.m. ready to participate in an spcaLA-offered beginner dog training class. So my plan is to roll downtown around 9 a.m., and just get meandering west until I arrive at Venice and then make my way around the marina and across Ballona Creek onto the bike path that winds its way alongside the sand out of Dockweiler State Beach. From there I’ll bail inland and back onto the streets via Imperial Highway, working my way onward via a staircase of eastbound/southbound/eastbound/southbound streets until I arrive at my destination, like so:


Depending how I’m feeling about pedaling the entire distance home afterward, I may head up Crenshaw to Leimert Park and roll back home across the basin, or I’ll just ride the rails back into downtown by intersecting with a Green Line train to the Blue Line (perhaps working in a stop at Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers since I’ll be in that area).

Solo Spillsville At CicLAvia

Sigh. During yesterday’s awesome CicLAvia I ventured to the northernmost section of the extended route, which ended at Cesar Chavez Avenue by Olvera Street. So I decided to go off the course by making a left onto Cesar Chavez and another left onto Spring and get back on it down at 1st Street to go to its southernmost point by the Coca-Cola Building on Central Avenue.

Dutifully I waited behind a city vehicle in the left turn lane and when the green arrow came I got up off the saddle to get some momentum into the left turn. After clearing the crosswalk, with my left pedal at the top of its turn I pushed down and my chain jumped the rear sprocket and basically with no resistence I free fell in surprise onto the top tube and handlebars. What played out was a couple seconds of me battling gravity and actually managing to stay upright. For a micromoment I was actually amazed to think that I might somehow keep the round side on the down side, but that joy evaporated when I then timbered hard into a heap onto the asphalt.

Fortunately there was little damage to El Naranja, but I somehow managed to sustain road rash to my left shoulder, knee, hip and knuckles, along with a small cut inside my left calf. Judging from the ding in the plastic covering on the left side of my helmet, there was impact between that and the ground as well, which is WHY I ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET.

Emotionally there was that moment of abject embarrassment wallowing there in the middle of the busy intersection where I just wanted to pull the road over me and hide. But of course I got up and moseyed on to the crosswalk where I soon returned the slipped chain to its position and rolled on to enjoy a spill-free blast the rest of the event.

And since my chest-mounted GoPro cam caught the whole brief thing I figured why not share the less than joyful few moments. If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?

An Example Why Contemporary “Art” Leaves Me Insulted & Wanting To Smack The Artist Upside The Head

Susan and I made a getaway to MOCA downtown on Grand Avenue to check out the awesome “Naked Hollywood” exhibit of  photos by Weegee, and afterward we walked through the halls housing the museum’s permanent collection, where we found many creations that left me shaking my head — especially the one pictured above. This “painting” literally makes me want to slug anyone who’d dare earnestly defend it as “art,” which in this bullshit’s case can only qualify if art is defined as “paint applied to a canvas that’s hung on a wall.”

Three For Three

Getting a ride in was a bit iffy again yesterday. I didn’t see my way out of the house and onto the saddle until around 4:30 p.m. for what initially was going to be an errand roll to the Echo Park library and back to return a book (“El Niño,” by Douglas Anne Munson aka Mercedes Lambert if you are into those kind of details). But once that task was complete I kept the wheels rolling away from the house to downtown to observe the “Occupy LA” protesters at City Hall before scooting east through Little Tokyo, south to skidrow and then back west on 7th Street to pick up the freshly painted bike lane past Westlake all the way to Koreatown. From there I turned north and made my way up to East Hollywood before coming home. Total: 13.66-mile route.

Just for kicks I’ve looked back over this year and found that the ONLY other time in 2011 that I got on my bike over three consecutive days was the Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday of Bike Week in May — obviously because it was Bike Week. To someone for whom every week used to be Bike Week, who used to regularly bite off four and five days riding in a row, that’s tough to swallow.

Vote Early, Vote Often!

So when I heard that the Active Arts program people with the Music Center were seeking “a day in the life” type photo submissions for an exhibit that was to be part of its “Celebrate The Pulse of LA” event this coming weekend, I chose a subset of the massive number of photographs I took during the second CicLAvia last month and submitted them to be considered for inclusion. Last week the Music Center notified me that they were in. Yay!

The Music Center also informed me that it would be holding a contest, with the six top vote-getting photographers winning a camera bag, a $300 Samy’s Camera gift card, and coverage in an ensemble feature to run in the LA Times’ Brand X magazine.

The reason I’m telling you all that is because in addition to in-person voting at the Music Center this Saturday and Sunday, there’s the option of voting via text message, which started today coinciding with the opening of the online photo gallery (my set is here), and I would be totally thrilled if you’d vote for me by texting 2410017 to 22333.

If you’re extra enthusiastic and supportive, up to 10 texts are allowed per cellphone number, and I’ve been assured the texter’s digits are kept completely private and no spam will result from it.

Thank you!


Last Night We Bought A Train Trip For A Penny

In celebration of Angels Flight’s 109th anniversary, fares on The World’s Shortest Railway were rolled back on New Year’s Eve from their present day quarter to 1901 prices: one cent. And since plans were in place to see “Next To Normal” at the Ahmanson, rather than park at the Music Center, I opted to park down at 4th & Hill, the better to ride the historic funicular up to Grand Street and walk the rest of the way.

After arriving at the top and depositing the three pennies in the pay slot (and wondering aloud to the stationmaster what else can be purchased for so little; short answer: nothing) I opted to spend an additional dollar in purchasing a commemorative ticket printed up specifically for the occasion), the front and back of which I scanned in for your commemorating enjoyment (click for the bigger picture):

After the show, Susan and my mom opted to hang around the warmth of the theater while I trekked back to retrieve the car. I could’ve paid with the above ticket for the return trip down to Hill Street, but instead opted to keep it intact and used figuratively the last penny in my possession.