Let There Be Lights

While wandering through my entirely unorganized image archives for no particular reason beyond nostalgia’s sake, I came across these snaps made during an Echo park stroll with Susan in June 2004 of the landmark Jensen’s Recreation Center sign illuminated, an occurrence that’s pretty rare these days.

The pix themselves are nothing I’d brag about other than they capture a beloved link to the area’s past in its glory (click the thumbnails for the bigger picture):

From a 2005 post on the Historic Echo Park blog:

For more that 50 years, the 17′ x 28′ incandescent sign (illuminated with 1,300 red, green and white light bulbs) atop the building that depicts a bowler throwing a strike was dark. A testament to the neglect and disrepair the building and the neighborhood sometimes suffered over the years. In 1997, the sign was restored to its original appearance through a cultural affairs grant. For many residents, the relighting of the sign was a momentous event that signaled the revitalization of the community and gave the neighborhood an identity.

The sign’s most impressive aspect not found in these images is the animation depicting a bowler rolling a strike along the top of the sign.

Annnnnnnd Action!

Those deathless herkyjerky timelapse videos I compile from my bike rides are often filled with a whole lotta nothing happening beyond a 12 frames-per-second commemoration of whatever route I’ve taken.  But usually I can count on encountering something  eye-catching and worth a second glance. Maybe it’s a unique pedestrian or a scenario or an architectural aspect that I’m happy to have been able to capture.

Such is the cloud-crowded frame above (cinematic, if I do say so myself; click it for the bigger picture), snapped as I was making my way east across the Sixth Street Bridge onward to Montebello for some Broguiere’s egg nog last Monday. Pedaling  past these independent filmmakers during a break in the traffic flow as they rolled on a key moment between what I’d guess could be the protagonist and his or her love interest against a background of the downtown skyline.

Since my approaching presence posed no danger or impediment that forced them to yell cut and flee to the sidewalks, maybe the final cut of the film will find me pedaling along the outskirts of this scene.

It Is Easier To Destroy Bridges Than To Build Them

A Thursday Los Angeles Times article on the then-pending City Council vote to demolish the historic 6th Street Bridge over the Los Angeles River in favor of a replacement of more modern design, illicited a strong enough reaction to what seemed the councilmembers’ foregone conclusion that I wrote the Times a letter that morning.

My issue is not with the bridge’s required destruction — that’s long been mandated by its increasing instability due to a chemical reaction that’s slowly decomposing its concrete. My issue is with those factions who are demanding that no aspect of the 79-year-old icon be incorporated into the new bridge, which renderings depict as having little more character than a Golden State Freeway overpass in Burbank.

On Friday, the council — with the surprising notable exception of Tom LaBonge — did as despicably expected and decided not to remember history, but to forget about  it.

My letter ran at the top of today’s opinion section. Here’s a snap of the print version (click it for the bigger picture):

Touring My Town

On the occasion of my cousin Margaret’s last day in Los Angeles before flying home to Nashville, I picked her up from my mom’s to show her some sites, and we ended up doing more than I expected:

Watts Towers
Central Avenue Jazz District
Central Library
Disney Concert Hall
Angels Flight
Grand Central Market
Million Dollar Pharmacy
Million Dollar Theater
Bradbury Building
Pershing Square
Biltmore Hotel
Olvera Street
Union Station

We really lucked out in that Disney Hall was offering access to its auditorium since the philharmonic was practicing at the Hollywood Bowl:

We headed south on Grand and caught the Angels Flight back down to Hill Street where we strolled through Grand Central Market to Broadway. After a visit to the awesome botanica-ness of the Million Dollar Pharmacy, we found the gate to the Million Dollar Theater half-up and though I was hesitant to try the lobby doors, Margaret had no reservations and found them unlocked. With the permission of a gentleman stationed near the concession stand we were able to admire the auditorium’s unique circular design.

After that we wandered back to the library via Pershing Square and the Biltmore and made our way to Olvera Street for lunch followed by a walk through of Union Station before getting her back to my mom’s. Awesome!

Walk: On!

Just a companion post to redunduntally augmentalize what I tossed up on Blogging.la this morning. My 2nd-Annual March March is set for March 5 (if raining, postponed to March 12).  I’ll be heading east to explore the historic and amazing Whittier Boulevard.

But instead of an out-and-back entirely on foot, we’ll be gathering at Union Station for a 10 a.m. departure to board the Gold Line out to East Los Angeles. Along the way we’ll be detraining at a few stations (to be determined) for quick loops around those stops.

Eventually we’ll reach the end of the line at Atlantic Boulevard and from there we’ll start walking in earnest, first south to Whittier and then westward until we cross the historic 6th Street viaduct. We’ll then cut up through the Arts District and make our way into downtown and back to Union Station via Los Angeles Plaza and Olvera Street.

With the Gold Line eliminating a substantial amount of mileage, this walk’s total distance will depend in part on the number of tangents we take. The main stretch back to Union Station from East Los Angeles through Boyle Heights is about 7.5 miles, so the total will probably fall somewhere between the 10- to 14-mile range. I’m betting we end up somewhere around 12 miles.

What: 2nd-Annual March March — Whittier
Starts/Ends: Union Station (main entrance)
When: March 5, departing at 10am. (if raining, March 12, 10am rain or shine)
Costs: Bring money for food/drinks and a $6 Metro Day pass is highly recommended
How far: About 12 miles, give or take
How long: Approximately 5 hours. Could be longer, could be shorter

Hope you can come along for the stride.

Follow-up: LA Plays Someplace Else

Back in November on Blogging.la, I posted about a fancy new fully cinematic and futuristic Air Force “It’s Not Science Fiction” commercial I saw on TV that utilized a decidedly disaster-struck  6th Street Viaduct (over a CGI’d full LA River below) upon which a dramatic rescue operation takes place. I paused the TV to get the following still of the wreckage-strewn bridge:

A search upon the internest for an embeddable version of the ad was fruitless — at least until I saw the ad again a couple days ago and so reminded I did another search that was fruitful. Here’s the full spot in its incredible scifitastic entirety (I particularly love the monster medevac jet coming straight over an enhanced downtown LA skyline and coming in for a landing directly upon the derelict span), but I’d highly recommend going to its YouTube page and experiencing it in all its full-screen HD glory.

Ironically, given the projected 70% failure rate of the decaying bridge in the next natural disaster, the footage showing the bridge collapsing is the one bit of reality in an otherwise fantastic fantasy.