Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Ergo, Ego

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Fun with captions:

ego

In the above image by AP Photographer Richard Vogel of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa discussing the city’s new $7-billion budget while backed-up by a squad of Los Angeles City Firefighters now forced by department cuts to do double duty as unpaid bodyguards, Villaraigosa is shown:

  1. Demonstrating how big his ego used to be?
  2. In mid-applause after introducing his new former Miss-USA girlfriend who just happens to be another telejourno like the last one?
  3. Approximating the width of a Class II bike lane while admitting he doesn’t know much about them?
  4. Launching into a rousing rendition of R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly.”
  5. Asking for a hug?
  6. Telling an unidentified member of the press “”Now go get yer fuckin’ shinebox!”

Provide answers and other captions in the comments.

Bike To Work Week From A Bike To Work Geek

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

I suppose I should just zip it and rah rah about another Bike To Work Week, but I have my issues with the annual five-day faux fest kicked off yesterday. Sure it increases awareness and all that jazz, and without a doubt it is commendable as a catalyst that gets however many people out of their cars and onto their bikes.

But as someone who biked to work last week and will be biking to work next week, to me it’s weaksauce. Good intentions aside it’s primarily a masquerade covering an uneasy peace between various governmental agencies and advocacy organizations that come together with forced smiles in something of a pretend partnership promoting pedal power. The other 51 weeks of the year pretty much they’re back at odds with each other — with the city and politicians and the MTA largely ignoring the alternate commute option and ways to integrate it into the transit grid, and groups like the LA County Bike Coalition pounding their heads against the bureaucratic walls in epic futility trying to grow it.

See to me, biking to work has become first nature. Of the 257 work days last year, I biked 197. Of the 97 this year so far, I’ve biked 80 of them. Silver Lake to Westchester in the morning. Westchester to Silver Lake in the evening.  Thirty miles a day.

It’s what I do.

But what the civic/county/state/feds and their various transit agencies do is fly a Bike To Work flag for a week, then fold it up and put it back in storage because there’s more important stuff to do like the multi-year gazillion dollar expansion of the 405 Freeway that isn’t going to do jack shit beyond make a little more room for a lot more gridlock down the road.

Instead — and you’ll call me flippin’ nutso — what we could be doing is what’s been done in the German community of Vauban that I read about here in today’s New York Times:

Street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden in this experimental new district on the outskirts of Freiburg, near the French and Swiss borders. Vauban’s streets are completely “car-free” — except the main thoroughfare, where the tram to downtown Freiburg runs, and a few streets on one edge of the community. Car ownership is allowed, but there are only two places to park — large garages at the edge of the development, where a car-owner buys a space, for $40,000, along with a home.

As a result, 70 percent of Vauban’s families do not own cars, and 57 percent sold a car to move here. “When I had a car I was always tense. I’m much happier this way,” said Heidrun Walter, a media trainer and mother of two, as she walked verdant streets where the swish of bicycles and the chatter of wandering children drown out the occasional distant motor.

Vauban, completed in 2006, is an example of a growing trend in Europe, the United States and elsewhere to separate suburban life from auto use, as a component of a movement called “smart planning.”

Wow.

But instead in Los Angeles we can’t even get the city and the department of transportation to coordinate in delivering on a promise of sharrows — shared-use arrows, an economic and far more efficient alternative to Class II bike lanes. And speaking of bike lanes? Getting more of those painted either requires a 12-year feasibility study or an act of god. Or both. And don’t get me started on the still as-yet uncompleted L.A. River Bikeway between Fletcher and the south end of Elysian Valley.

The MTA, one of the biggest sponsors of Bike To Work Week continues to be one of the most hypocritical, still prohibiting bikes from its railways during peak traffic hours, when what they should be doing is accelerating a viable solution to include more bikes on the trains.

How awesome would it be if instead of parading a stoopid Bart Simpson caricature out for a photo op with some politicians on bikes yesterday at Olvera Street, the MTA had instead announced the elimination of the ban of bikes during rush hours along with the simultaneous unveiling of finalized plans for modifications to the cars to allow safe storage of a minimum of four bikes per car — to be implemented immediately.

Say it loud: I’m flippin’ nutso. But then we already know that because I ride a bike in LA. Practically every freakin’ day.

Standing Out In A Crowd

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Inauguration at L.A. Live

Thanks to my friend Eric Richardson of Blogdowntown and his excellent coverage of the inauguration event held at L.A. Live’s Nokia Plaza Tuesday morning, I now have visual confirmation of my presence in his photo, above.

See me and my bike there? No, over there. In the back — what can I say I got there just before Aretha sang. No, I’m on the right. Farther right. Keep going. By those two giant yellow arrows . Yeah, those. The ones labeled “Me” and “My Bike.”

Click for a much larger version where you still can’t see me in those moments immediately following the administration of the oath, standing in the middle of Chick Hearn Way and tearing up like a baby while clapping like a madman.

Bonus! For a less teary and mad and decidedly less hard-to-find me, check out this screengrab featuring an image the camera-ready Bryan Frank got shortly after I arrived and introduced myself to him as a long-reading fan of his blog BeFrank. Dude went and posted it to and inauguration slideshow at the CBS/KCAL site:

befrank

Inauguride

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

I biked downtown this morning to L.A. Live. Grand plans had me getting down there at 6 a.m. for breakfast at the Pantry and then hanging out until Obama gave his first speech as the 44th President of the United States of America.

What actually happened was that I left the house around 8: 15 a.m. and got town to L.A. Live with just enough time to meet a fave blogger Bryan Frank of BeFrank (that’s his pants and camera below in the upper right corner thumbnail. Then as I milled around Aretha sang. Then Vice President Joe Biden took the oath. Then Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma and others played an original composition. Then President Barack Obama was administed the oath of office. Then he gave a terrific speech that brought tears to my eyes.

Then I got on my bike and I opted to ride in to work via a route that would take me on or across streets named for past presidents: Washington, Adams, Jefferson and Hoover. I thought about adding Lincoln in the to the list, but I was already an hour late. So instead, I included Martin Luther King Jr , where on that boulevard I encountered a  heartbreakingly magnificent female pitbull who I doubled back and gave my kibble stash to eat. And then after that I encountered what I can only suspect was a bitter McCainiac behind the wheel of an SUV with Nevada plates 711 VHS who intentionally  lane-hogged me not once but twice on Sepulveda, probably because of the red, white, and blue bike jersey I was sporting for such a momentous occasion. After that we exchanged fingers and he made his getaway.

thumbz

Photoset of the above screencaps is visible here on Flickr. YouTube timelapse vid is here.

In Awe Gu Ra Tion Day

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

obamadayThat picture pretty much represents the moment it sank in that the country had elected Barack Obama as its next president. Immediately thereafter I felt a compulsion to attend the inauguration that took me a bit by surprise. I wastd little time putting requests in to my various elected representatives for tickets  — three: for Susan, my mom and me — and I started scoping out airfares and hotel costs.

Reality soon set in. My humble pleas for ticket consideration went unanswered, and the only rooms at inns in our nation’s capitol wre going to cost a LOT of money. The cheapest the four-day trip was going to set us back was something like $3,000. That’s not counting the time off work, the pet sitters… food.

And so I let most of the dream go, begrudingly so.

The last nail came last week, when I finally got an email response from Congressman Xavier Becerra’s office about my November 5 ticket request. In so many words, it said “Sorry, can’t help a constituent out,” and that’s just as well.

I suppose had I been reeeeeeally motivated I woulda/coulda found a way and gone. After all, there’s a kid from nearby Highland Park who biked across country to be there and I’m sure there are a helluva lot of other people gathered in DC right now who didn’t let nonresponsive politicians, or responsibilities, or costs, or the lack of convenient lodging (or any for that matter) kill their desire to be an eyewitness to history. Good for them.

As for me, here in LA I’ve already hung the stars-and-stripes from the front porch, and a little later I’m going to put on my red, white and blue bike jersey on and roll downtown to take in some of the festivities leading up to the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama as the 44th President of the United States.

Then I’ll go to work.

A Tale Of Two Stickerz

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

stickerz

There are two stickers on the rear window of my truck that need to come off. Both are homebrew and have been there awhile. One demonstrates my support for a local radio station that until this week did its best to buck the system. The other showcases, somewhat cheekily, my ceaseless disappointment in the man tasked with leading this nation these past eight years.

They’re coming off — one sadly and one happily — because neither are little more than memories.

Will Everyone Just Shut The Hell Up About Rick Warren Already And Go Back To Boycotting El Coyote

Friday, December 19th, 2008

I’m not often prone to political snarkage here, but I can’t turn around in the blogosphere lately without having to STFU and read diatribes from apopleptic people who are ready to kick Barack Obama to the curb because he apparently signed off on whoever in his inauguration committee picked Pastor Rick Warren to say a few religious words at the president-elect’s big day.

From the venom and outrage and yowls of betrayal and FAIL being shoveled around the internest you’d think Obama had tapped Duhbya as our next energy secretary, or Osama Bin Laden to head up the defense department… not some conservative evangelical pastor from Orange County to give an invocation.

And this comes too quickly on the heels of all the misdirected hate-filled lameness after Proposition 8, which passed not because the No On 8 campaign put up so little of a pre-election fight thinking they had it in the bag, but apparently because  a mormon lady working at  El Coyote gave a hundie to the Yes side when her church told her to. Who knew!

But just as I mostly kept my mouth shut through that tumult, so did I keep clammed up when the Warren news broke and the liberals starting harmonizing their choruses of outrage.

But now I’m reading there’s going to be anti-Warren protests this weekend in Hollywood and Silver Lake and frankly I’m  sick of these big whiny battles being waged over such meaningless machinations — and don’t start with all the scary talk about how this selection portends an evangelical shift in Obama’s religious leanings. Even if that’s true: So. The. Hell. What.

I don’t know who frustrates me more: righteous rightwingers or lock-step lefties. I think I despise them both equally.

The irony is that many of the protesters that will be out there feeling ripped off and disappointed and sporting “Impeach Obama” signs spent good parts of his campaign nodding wistfully every one of the 12 million times Our Next President said sincerely that you better expect him to reach across aisles in an effort to bring the country together.

Guess that’s only okeedookee until Obama actual goes and does it.

Look: I get the anger and in fact I don’t agree with the greenlight given to Warren. He’s anti gay and pro-life. He probably thinks the earth is only a few thousand years old and it’s all intelligently designed and for Obama be it directly or indirectly to give a fella like that a soapbox from which to proselytize is questionably suspect.

But that’s about it.