Last Night At The Frogtown Artwalk

Susan and I made good on plans to partake in the festivities infusing the second-annual Frogtown Artwalk, and as a bonus Susan and I biked all the way over there and back where we took a river tour led by Joe Linton and then met up with friends Stephen and Alice to explore the various participating studios, culminating with a visit to the Brand Name Label space to marvel at the daring doers who strapped themselves in for wild rides aboard a 32-foot-long 360-degree industrial swing, like this happy lass:

Afterward the four of us rode over to Gingergrass (Susan’s and my first time there) and I enjoyed the shaking beef dish and Susan savored the walnut shrimp. Flickr photoset can be viewed here.

Those Were The Days

Look what I found on an old buried computer disk (click to quadruplify):

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It’s not just every day or just anyone who gets to sit in the Dodgers dugout with Congressman Xavier Becerra and his three wonderful daughters. But before you go thinking I was some political insider or something even more dubious, rest assured my only claims to fame was that I was friends at the time with a fellow L.A. Zoo docent named Laure McNulty who was full-time nanny to Becerra’s girls and since the trio of tots spent a lot of time at the zoo that summer I got to know them and subsequently their high-powered dad and mom well enough to have the honor of accepting their invitation to be the guests of the Dodgers for the June 21, 2002, game, which included pre-game field (and obviously dugout) access before settling in to a luxury suite on the first base side.

It was a dream come true and I’d thought this image, snapped by Laure was long gone.

 

Transition Time

It came early this year, the signal. Just now. I went outside and saw it and smelled it and felt it, and I said “Yep, there it is.”

Scientifically I know of nothing to back it up. I’ve never really heard anyone else talk about it. Maybe it’s all in my head or there’s some physiological connection — I don’t know. Don’t care.  What I do know is that for as long as can remember there’s always that moment on the downhill of an L.A. summer when the light changes ever so slightly and the air smells a little crisper and there’s just something different-feeling about the place and it all combines to tell me that summer’s leaving and fall’s on its way.

That’s not to say all the leaves will turn brown immediately and there won’t be some more blazing hot days in our immediate future. All I’m telling you is that every year usually at some time between mid-August and mid-September I can always count on receiving this message. Loud and clear.

I don’t force it. I don’t sniff the wind or look longingly out at the horizon wondering if it’ll take place sooner or later. It just happens when it happens. And it just happened.

Sunset Junk Shun

If there’s one moment that shows my hip quotient to be less than zero when divided by one while also calling into question my credentials as a native angeleno it occured in the run-up to the long-running  Sunset Junction streetfair in 2001 when a fellow coworker at the time — who was so hip her last name was Urban — asked me if I’d ever been to it.

Been to it? I’d never heard of it.  Of course, I didn’t say that. I just fibbed about “having always wanted to go” and then went online to find out what I’d been missing.

In my defense I was 17 years into a 19-year stint in the valley and it was all too easy to miss or ignore all the stuff that was going on within the faraway other side of the Santa Monica Mountains. So when in 2003 I escaped to Silver Lake Adjacent and was actually living in an apartment building nestled in the crook of the elbow formed by the actual junction of Sunset and Santa Monica boulevards I made it a priority to finally attend and when it came around I walked up to the entry gate, coughed up the “suggested donation” (can’t remember if it was $7 then or had climbed to double digits), wandered the length and back, met up with my friends Cybele and Manny, wandered some more and wound up a few dozen rows back in the crowd in front of the stage listening first to a band whose name I can’t remember but had scored a hit with their song “California” that year in large part because of its use as the theme for the TV series “The OC,” and then second to the Dandy Warhols, who I don’t remember dick about other than they were a half-hour late for their set.

Then I went home and on that hot August night with the sliding glass doors of my junction-facing balcony open I tried to go to sleep to the Circle Jerks’ lead singer who shouted “Coup d’Etat!” about 500 fucking times along with everyone in the audience there for them. Very cool.

By the next fair I had moved in with Susan east and away from the madness and really had no desire to go so we didn’t. In 2005, having reunited with my daughter I invited her and a friend to go and it was interesting to acquaint Katie with the event. And last year Susan and I went in part because we’d been given access to the special “VIP” area set up at Cliffsedge restaurant and after a couple mojitos we paid the ridiculous entry fee essentially to walk from one end to the other and then go home.

This year access can be had for the low-low of $15 and the only thing suggested about the  “donation” is that the fair’s organizers suggest you fuck off if you don’t wanna pay the now-mandatory fee. And sorry, but when Morris Day & The Time is the only act I’m interested in seeing (purely for nostaligia reasons), I’ll pass.

And I’ll regret never having attended back when the event was about inclusion not exclusion.

The good news is that the footprint of the fair has changed. Whereas it previously ran on Sunset between Manzanita all the way to Maltman, this year it only extends east to Hyperion on Sunset, hanging a right down along the headwaters of Santa Monica Boulevard. So if Susan and I get the urge for margaritas at El Conq or a combo at Tacos Delta we can go there without getting fleeced passing through any bullshit checkpoint.

Why Is This Dragonfly Smiling?

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click to quadruplify

Susan and I walked to and from the last day of the Lotus Festival at Echo Park Lake today, in part because we’d never been and even moreso because we volunteered to be a part of Team Metroblogging Los Angeles in the dragon boat races that run the north south length of the lake.

The good news is that while we won our head-to-head race, finishing at 8:17 a good 20 seconds ahead of our competition, the bad news is we came in second in our bracket — the media division. Why is that bad news? Because there were only two teams, and first place went to the KTLA team which about an hour after we crossed the finish line zoomed out and back during their race in 6:59.

Oh well, it’s not every day you get to climb into a boat that’s got a dragon head in the front and a tail off the bow and row around Echo Park, plus it was as much fun as it was a workout.

Afterward Susan and I took in the sights and sounds before heading on back home through the heat.

The Flickr photoset of the day is here. Susan’s is here.

Where Else Do You Go When Today’s Date is 7-11?

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I have to admit my interest in “The Simpsons” tailed off after the first few seasons (or about 15 years ago), but man I just can’t get over the absolute marketing genius that went into these convenience  store conversions , so with tonight’s river ride I called for an excursion to the Burbank version where my pal Stephen and I braved the 20-minute wait in line, replete with doorman security and I had myself a pink movie donut and a Buzz Cola Squishee with a three-pack (store per-person limit) and a box of Krusty-O’s to go.

Flickr photoset is here.

Tomorrow might be a bit quiet around these here parts. The long slow arm of the jury system has tapped me to be present and accountable downtown at 7:30 a.m. where I may or may not be blogging offline (the equivalent of “live on tape”) the events and proceedings.

Post-Walk/Game/Fireworks Report

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Click to quadruplize, of course

I don’t fancy myself a sports reporter, and I certainly try not to kick a person when they’re down, but in regards to the game Susan and I walked to and from last night things were going relatively well for Dodger pitcher Mark Hendrickson and his team through the fifth inning (picture above) even though by the end of it they were down 2-1 to the Atlanta Braves. That was when manager Grady Little decided to yank his starter and bring to the mound some middle reliever named Brett Tomko to start the sixth. A third of that inning later Tomko got the hook having pitched as if he was getting a little $umthin’ $umthin’ under-the-table from the Braves: the first three batters he faced got hits. And before Tomko’s mess could be cleaned up the Braves ended up adding a couple more runs, ultimately winning by a score of 5-2. The Dodgers did manage to bring some life back to the party by putting two men on and the tying run at the plate in the form of pinch hitter Olmedo Saenz with two out in the bottom of the ninth, but Saenz struck out. Game over. Feh. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

Pretty much everything else that afternoon went according to plan — with the exception of the bars that we found closed during our walk. My friend Stephen had called with advanced warning that Barragan’s was taking the day off, so we were prepared for no margaritas. But arriving outside the Silver Lake Lounge we had no clue that place was shuttered as well. What the hell’s up with that!? You’d think this was a holiday or something!

Fortunately our timing was such that the No. 4 bus was approaching while we were shaking our heads in front of the Silver Lake Lounge so we decided to decrease our output by boarding it to Echo Park where we were relieved to find the Gold Room open for business like true patriots and stepped inside its dark confines where a couple regulars kindly slid down a stool so Susan and I could sit and enjoy our $3 Newcastle drafts and soak up a bit of the local flavor of the cool cave as Mexico and Venezuala battled for soccer supremacy on the flatscreen TV off my left shoulder.

Adjourning the Gold Room we headed east on Sunset passing Barragan’s with disdain then crossed Douglas before making our way to Sunset’s north side where we escaped the heat by entering the Shortstop bar nondescript except fora sidewalk placard out front touting its Dodger home game-special $1.50 Pabst Blue Ribbon drafts. Inside with pints in tow we learned of free barbeque for the taking outside the back door.

With a tasty beer in one hand and an equally tasty burger fresh off the grill in the other, for a fleeting moment — actually several of them — I thought about not leaving My New Favorite Bar’s uncrowded corner in the pool table room. But like the 56,000 others in attendance and the (632 who didn’t drive) we had a game to get to and so undaunted and duly fortified we proceeded up the hilliest section of the trek, past all the cars piled up at the gate with occupants waiting to pay their $15 until we were at last standing sheened in sweat in the shade above Section 10 of the Top Deck, just in time for “God Bless America” and the National Anthem followed by a flyover from a massive and loud C-17 transport:

Afterward, we stayed put in our seats for the fireworks that were a far cry better than our last July 4 at Dodger Stadium. That pyrotechnical display in 2005 was shut down early on and unceremoniously after two small fires erupted in foliage near the launching site. Thankfully no nearby brush was harmed in the making of this year’s extravaganza and the finale was delightful — and the walk home was a special treat if you like strolling through smoke-filled streets of a simulated warzone of firecrackers, bottle rockets, the occasional M80 and regular series of sky-high starbursts and booms that rivaled the scope and sound of some we’d seen at the stadium.

It was almost enough to make me want to grab Susan and dive into the Shortstop for cover (and more beer) as we passed it on the walk back home, but not quite.

A Flickr photoset of pix from the walk, the bus, the bars, the booze, and the game can be viewed here.