GLAWkers GLAWking

Hey! Here’s yours truly with my friends Joni and Don at the beginning of Michael Schneider’s 5th Great Los Angeles Walk (GLAW). I found the above screen capture in Michael’s walk recap on his Franklin Avenue blog, taken from the piece Eyewitness News did Saturday afternoon on the event. Peace.

And for more visuals along the almost-16-mile hike, check out my photoset here on Flickr, and the GLAW group pool here.

Circa 1890s: Sunset & Castelar

I’ve had this image for several weeks, found in one of my swims through the LA Public Library’s digital archives, but I’ve refrained from posting it because the information packaged with the image is sparse. It lists this is street scene as Sunset and Castelar in 1890, but I’d never heard and could find on no current map this mystery thoroughfare.

Until my copy of the awesome and anticipated Los Angeles in Maps arrived this week and it wasn’t long before I found cartographical proof as to the street’s location, which is basically now Hill  Street.

So if my guess is correct that the photographer is standing in the middle of the intersection of what was then Castelar and now Hill, then what  you’re looking at is eastward along Sunset Boulevard toward the plaza.

And just in time for Halloween, what you’re not seeing behind you to the right beginning with the southwest corner of the intersection is what had been the old Fort Hill Cemetery, a graveyard of Los Angeles pioneers. Thanks to unscrupulous city officials  who subdivided the 10-acres into residential lots in 1884 and subsequent unethical developers who built upon it without relocating many of the remains, there very well still might be bodies buried beneath what’s now the new high school and — typically — a parking lot that stands upon the property now.

From the Southern California Genealogy Society (SCGS) website:

In 1884, the city sold twenty-four residential lots on land previously part of the city cemetery complex. Several years later, Major Horace Bell, in his study on the land boom of the 1880s, decried the sale: “…A recital of the various forms of rascality perpetrated by the boomers would fill a volume. But the one greatest piece of rascality of all, to my mind, was the desecration of one of the city graveyards. It was a small pioneer graveyard covering ten acres. Some of the most honored California pioneers and officers of the army were interred there, but it was no longer used for burials. The city allowed promoters to map it, cut it up and sell it off in small building lots. In building streets through it, human remains were excavated and scattered and to-day [about 1900] wagons rattle through streets built up over buried human bodies. Houses stand on graves. The city of Los Angeles sold…this cemetery plot, a municipal burying ground, without pretending to remove and re-inter elsewhere the bodies resting there.”

The SCGS concludes that the cemetery’s final chapter was written in 1947 with the last remains finally removed perhaps in preparation for the 101 Freeway that would soon be built along the south side of the space. But (queue the spooky music) are we so sure they got every body out…? Mwaaaaaahahahahaha.

A Show Of Admiration & Support

Yesterday, a new newspaper hit the streets of Los Angeles for the first time in the form of blogdowntownWeekly. This is important to me not just because I will always be a fan of ink and paper — especially in this age of contraction in which I absolutely  love to see new incarnations of the format born — but more directly because it was started by my friends Eric and Kathy Richardson as a physical companion to their long-running and popular blogdowntown blog.

And frankly while I’ve known a bunch of publishers of the various magazines and newspapers that I’ve worked on throughout my career, I haven’t known anyone who started a newspaper from the ground up before, let alone been acquainted with them on anything beyond a business level. Certainly I’ve never gone bike riding with them like I have had occasion to do with Eric and Kathy.

So in thinking about that unique distinction and connection, I decided I had to do something more than just rah-rah the first issue’s arrival here in my blog. I had to go physical with my cheerleading and be an actual supportive part of that first edition. So I put my money where my mouthpiece is and did something that in itself was a first for me: I bought an ad — a small one that looks a little something like this*:

The picture is one I snapped of Kathy and Eric and other cyclists in the background during the inaugural “Ten Bridges” ride I put together waaaaay back in 2007. It’s not the best image owing to us all being in motion on our bikes at dusk, but what it lacks in clarity it makes up for symbolically to me in that they’re both captured side by side coming westward along the historic 6th Street Bridge toward downtown. Toward the place that would define their future. And now that future is here.

Maybe I’m working to hard to contrive a connection between the photo and their new endeavor, but the sentiment I express is sincere.

* I haven’t had a chance to get downtown yet and grab me an actual copy so I’m not sure how the ad looks in real life, but that’s what my questionable graphic design skills hath wrought.

Gimme A Sign: Entranced By Enterance

Forgot aaaaall about this fella found on an afternoon bike ride of about a couple weeks ago (but who’s counting? I am. It was 16 to be exact.) at the corner of Mateo and something near the Arts District. I pedaled past it. Did a double take. Turned around. Stared at it for a bit suddenly doubting if it was spelled incorrectly.

You know how it is with some words you’ve known all your reading/writing  life but you see them in print wrong and they just catch you off-guard by suddenly looking right? It’s the flip of words that look wrong when they’re right. Like “weird” as an example. Weird always looks weird to me.

Anyway. So I snapped the above picture and forget about it 25 seconds later because since my cellphone had died I was on the hunt for a payphone to call 911 about a guy I saw from the 6th Street Bridge I’d just come across back from Boyle Heights who was prone in the LA River bed about midway to the 4th Street Bridge and thrashing about like he might’ve been hurt and who couldn’t hear me yelling at him to see if he was all right and so I figured since the LA River at dusk is waaaaaay down my personal list of places I’d like to be laying about and flaying I decided that while I certainly could be wrong it might not be anywhere near that dude’s first choice either so I reconciled it would be the far, far better thing I do not to ignore his potential plight and instead to summon people who might be able to help him if he needed it.

But that’s another story. Actually, no it isn’t. Other than finding that payphone across from Wurstkuche and reporting the situation and hoping the guy was OK, that’s about all of it. But wow. I don’t if I’m more impressed by the digression or the length of that run-on sentence.

Annnnnnywaaaaaaay. I remembered the typo when I saw the shot of it this morning browsing through my archives, and damn if it still made sense to me enough that I resorted to looking it up in the dictionary just to make sure “enterance” wasn’t in the dictionary.

And it wasn’t.

But it still looks like it should be.

Sometimes There Is Just No Winning The Battle

Coming home last night from work in the still-light late afternoon I opted to go the “long way” east across Jefferson to pay my annual spring visit to the Exposition Park Rose Garden, then up Figueroa to 2nd to Glendale around Echo Park Lake and home via Sunset.

Everything was awesome, up until I was northbound on Fig approaching 4th and the latest in the endless stream of inbred motorists dickwads — this one in a full-sized silver pick-up — passes less than two feet from me and lays on his horn despite having room to pass me without the honk and also to move to the left.

Here he is in mid-pass from my sunglasses cam, close enough not only to scare the crap out of me with or without the horn, but also close enough for me in the truck’s wake to get a solid whiff of the skunkweed emanating from the closed cab.

In the next frame, you’ll see he’s further up the block, prepping to make a right turn on 4th and either oblivious to or not interested in  my loud and heated invitation for him to stop and let me physically demonstrate my disdain upon his head and ass until he apologized for being a self-entititle cromag with no respect for anyone but his drug dealer.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. In the next frame I’ve arrived at 4th and I’ve wisely decided that the dipshit isn’t worth chasing down, much less the prison time I’d incur from stomping a hole through his stomach. So I stay on Fig and give the truck a dismissive wave and shake of the head as I pass. Trouble is those two fixie riders on the sidewalk you see there? They see me wave and for some stoopid reason they think I’m dissing them.

Of course I don’t know this until I get up between 3rd and 2nd streets and pull off to the side of the road, seething and half-hoping the truck might be coming back onto Figueroa from 3rd. This doesn’t happen, but in short order the two fixies pass me and the second guy makes a deliberate effort to dismissively wave at me and shake his head as he goes by, like so.

At first I’m all WTF, but since I’m not the dimmest bulb on the chandlier I figure they must’ve thought I was insulting them as I passed them at 4th and they were returning the favor. So, when traffic cleared I get in the left lane for my turn on to 2nd and catch up with them at the intersection, where I seek confirmation of my theory. The guy smiles and shrugs when I ask him if they thought I’d been dissing them and so I tell him he’s got it all wrong, that  I had been waving at a truck on 4th that had almost hit me, not them.

Dude didn’t look too convinced and was all “Whatever you say, man.”

I started to launch into a defensive sermon about my love for bikes and how I’d be the last sumbitch on the streetz to behave so ignorantly toward another cyclist, but I could tell it was lost on him so I just went on my way home chuckling at how only in my world can a motorist harass and disrespect me with absolutely no consequences — and in the end I’m left having to placate to some sensitive misinterpreting cyclists all because I elected to do the right thing and avoid confronting the bastard.


Angel’s Night Flight

(click for the bigger picture)

With the world’s shortest railway’s 33% grade and its twin cars Olivet and Sinai shaped accordingly, I’ve always thought of it more as an Angle’s Flight than an Angel’s, but that’s irrelevant.

What’s relevant is that starting this past Monday the funicular returned to service after a 9-year absence, and I took the long way home from work to take a ride on the beloved landmark and some pictures, such as the highly stylized one above.

I wrote about my first ride on it way back in March of 1996, here on LA Metblogs.