April 28, 2006


Atwater Village in the news:

Crews Investigate Hazardous Material Spill At Factory

Firefighters will monitor four 55-gallon drums of epoxy that blew their lids Friday at a factory in Atwater Village ... About 40 firefighters were sent to an address in the 4500 block of W. Electronics Place [map] about 2:20 pm ... The firm makes makes polymers and adhesives ... No one has been injured and there's no fire, but there are some fumes ... Some of the businesses and homes around the area were evacuated.

LA's Equivalent of Squeegee Men

Let's call it Skid Row Valet.

Maybe it was my out-of-state plates. Maybe he could see I was scouring the car for coins. I pulled up to a parking meter in downtown LA's Fashion District - southbound Maple before Olympic (map) - and this ensued:

Meter Hustler (approaching driver's window): Hey, you want one or two?

Me (in car, windows up, doors locked): What?

Meter Hustler: Do you want this meter for one hour or two?

Me: I don't need your help.

Meter Hustler: Hey, man, you afraid of me? I'm handicapped!

I played like I couldn't hear him. He eventually wandered off, but first he ranted to a shopowner about how he was just trying to help, what I jerk I was, et cetera, and so on.

Needless to say I left that spot, found parking elsewhere. It's a good thing I did. Here's how the scam works, according to an LADOT Parking Enforcement Officer:

We usually have this kind of trouble along 4th [near Skid Row] not this far down [past 9th]. Some of the homeless guys rig the meters so they won't work. Then they approach cars and ask for money so they can make the meter work. It's illegal to rig the meters but it's also illegal to park at a rigged meter, so we [LADOT] will write you a ticket. And if you refuse to pay the guy and park there anyway, you'll also come back to find your car completely scratched up.

Later I checked that meter. It read 0:00 (not FAIL) but I couldn't tell if it would accept coins. (And I wasn't about to spend my own cold hard money to find out.) The SUV parked there hadn't fed it, and scammer man was nowhere to be seen.

More about a year-old incident in this ongoing downtown Los Angeles parking meter scam from from Metroblogging LA.

Five Things You Might Not Know

  1. HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher rehearses its Friday show in front of a live audience on Thursday afternoons at CBS Television City (about eight miles from Atwater Village)
  2. Bill Maher himself comes out - yesterday on the The Price Is Right stage (same stage as The Carol Burnett Show, Sonny & Cher, All in the Family) - to recite his monologue, conduct mock interviews where his writers sub for guests, and read an extended "New Rules" segment
  3. Funniest line on tonight's new show: "Quid pro ho"
  4. Bill Maher is not a large man. Neither tall nor fat
  5. But some of the people who are available on weekday mid-afternoons to attend rehearsals are quite large. Or strange. Or lonely. Or all of the above

April 26, 2006

Ponytail Checked Out

The hipsters were there.

Or maybe they were scenesters.

Fauhemians, perhaps? Or is that just how they dress? Hmm.

I'm not sure who they all were, but they had turned 21 two weeks ago and were lured to Safari Sam's on Sunset last night for broken promises of "free booze all night!" (vodka-soda isn't "booze" apparently), a half-open club peppered with haphazard signage ("This way! Not that way!") and DJ mixes of Great Prom Themes from the 80s.

OK, so it wasn't for me. I need to find a classic bar. Not a club. Not a lounge. Not a tavern or a pub or a theme park or a scene.

How about a clean, polite, interesting bar with martinis that aren't named by Brach's and servers that spend more than a second per dollar with their customers.

Is that too much to ask?

April 25, 2006

I'll Take You, Los Angeles

Not that one little household in Atwater Village will make a difference to this beautiful, hard-to-get city, but perhaps I can offer a shoulder of recovery from this very public Craigslist breakup:

It's over, I'm leaving you...

Dear Los Angeles - As you know, well I've been unhappy with you for quite some time. The truth of the matter is you don't love me and I never loved you... More here

April 21, 2006

So What Neighborhood Are You In?

I live in Atwater Village.

But if I'm talking to someone who doesn't live in Los Angeles, I say I'm east of Hollywood.

(They've at least heard of Hollywood, even if they couldn't place it on an LA map.)

If I'm talking to someone from LA who lives west of the 101 (or God forbid west of the 405) I say Los Feliz.

(Close enough. It seems all LA locals have heard of Los Feliz, in part thanks to Kiefer. Atwater Village gets blank stares.)

Only if I'm talking to someone who lives east of the 101 - in Los Feliz or Mt. Washington or Glasell Park - do I confess the truth.

April 20, 2006

The Heat Is On

The choppers, they are a-circling.

For the last two nights - around 1:00am - a helicopter has been circling the Atwater Village environs, searchlight on.

I assume it's LAPD. But what's it looking for?

It'll be a few days before LAPD Crime Maps update for the week.

April 18, 2006

Yahoo Goes One Up

Just released, Yahoo! Maps Beta does a nice job with neighborhood-based findings. It's draggable, like Google Maps. And it offers category browsing, like Yelp. (Though Yahoo beats Yelp if only because it doesn't rely on someone reviewing an establishment before it's mapped.)

A few handy Atwater Village-centered Yahoo maps:

Movie theaters

Pizza Joints


Pet Stores

Trader Joe's

April 17, 2006

Beastie Boys Peed Here

So whatcha whatcha whatcha want for the former HQ of the Beastie Boys, an office located in "hip" Atwater Village?

How about a cool $5 million. That's $1,000 per square foot! (But real-estate agent spellcheck will cost extra.)

Next to famous Club Tee Gee. From Craigslist:

$5001500 / 5000ft²

Creative office space in
famed Beastie Boys headquartes.

Newly renovatied creative office space available in legendary office building, previous Beastie Boys/Grand Royale headquarters. Multiple spacious units of varying size and cost available. Offices/Editing/Sound booths perfect for Film/TV/Music/Apparel/Graphic design company. Located in hip Atwater Village, adjacent to Silver Lake, restaurants, shopping, and parking. Call 323-953-3543 for information and appointment. Available May 1.

[48 Interior Pictures]

[Map of 3218 1/2 Glendale Blvd.]

Mortarless Mural

Next on the Atwater Village cleanup hitlist: The mural at Mortarless Building Supply (2707 Fletcher Dr.), this Saturday April 22 at 8:00am.

Check out more photos (here and here) from the original 2001 creation of the Rafael Escamilla mural. Here's the artist in action:

The mural includes landmarks visible from Atwater Village:
  • Griffith Observatory
  • Forest Lawn Memorial Building
  • Fletcher Drive Bridge
  • Van de Kamp's Bakery
  • Great Heron Gate at Rattlesnake Park
  • Red Car from the 1940s and 50s
  • A neighborhood home

April 15, 2006

On the Borders

From an old Q&A by an Atwater Village real estate agent:

One thing interesting about Atwater is that in a city of amorphous neighborhoods, Atwater has very defined and well-recognized borders.

To the west it's the LA River and I-5...

To the east it's the railroad tracks...

To the south it's Fletcher Drive...

The northern border isn't quite so clear. Easily put, it's the Glendale city limits, but there's a spit of City of Los Angeles land that protrudes deep into what you would think is Glendale.

So on the north, should we just go with the Colorado Blvd. ramp to I-5? There isn't much above that.

April 14, 2006

I Don't Mind a Little Home Depot Action

As a new Atwater Village resident, I notice some people here don't like Home Depot. I get emails. I've seen petitions. There are meetings. And a web site.

East LA groups have banded together to oppose a new Home Depot store near San Fernando and Fletcher. (They call it Glassell Park, just across the tracks from Atwater Village.)

They oppose the store for the usual neighborhood development problems - parking, traffic, crime. But the major rallying cry seems to be: "Four Home Depots within eight miles are too many!"

Huh? How can any group, no matter what they know about the art & science of retailing, decide what density of locations is best for a chain store?

Have they checked satellite maps of Starbucks lately? Is distance between stores the only consideration for their coffee shops? Or could there be more to it. Could there be more than meets the odometer.

I've been to the existing Home Depot in Glendale. It's a pit. The employees are heinous.

I've been to the existing Home Depot in Cypress Park. It's nicer. The employees are better. But it's practically under a freeway interchange. And it's not exactly close to home.

I've driven past the intersection of San Fernando & Fletcher. It's much closer to Atwater Village. It's haphazardly developed. It could use something, if not a Home Depot.

This ruckus reminds me a lot of my old hometown's anti-Walmart and anti-McDonald's activists.

Maybe they're all just old-fashioned NIMBYs or BANANAs. But I always felt there was something else lurking behind. In the anti-McDonald's protests I'd see well-to-do white faces marching around a food joint that served and employed mostly brown faces.

Might there be a similar tint to LA's anti-Home Depot sentiment? Do they oppose this particular retailer because they don't frequent it? (Even though the guys fixing their bathrooms and decks do.)

I have a hunch these same groups might not come out as strongly against another retailer, say Costco, at San Fernando & Fletcher. They probably actually have been into Costco. Then again, they might be readying an 11-page missive headlined, "Two Costcos within two miles are too many!"

April 13, 2006

Stroll Down Glendale

This Flickr photoset takes a leisurely pace along Glendale Blvd. (west to east, but facing north) in Atwater Village.

Interestingly, only one car is seen driving on these six lanes.

It was July 4, 2005.

Give a Yelp to the Neighborhood

Here are some AV joints recently (and highly) rated on Yelp.

The write-ups on Yelp are definitely of the ifyerlookinfor style, something an editor once described to me as loathsome.

  • 4/5 stars - Kaldi Coffee & Tea - "If you miss the days of laid back coffee houses then this is the one for you. Locals (as in Atwater Village residents) flock to this place for their morning coffee ritual." (That last bit I can certainly verify. Inexpensive beans too.)
  • 5/5 stars - Asia - "It's in Atwater Village, adjacent to trendy Los Feliz and boasts a snazzy, zen decor." (See my slightly less starry review here.)
  • 5/5 stars - Indochine Vien - "If you want good pho this side of LA, I highly recommend this place." (Definitely on the To-Try List.)

Yelp also offers a fan-tastic Map-Tastic Google Maps mash-up. Pick a ZIP, click on restaurants. Or doctors. Or museums. And up they pop, reviews and all. Here's a capture from the map of reviewed restaurants along Los Feliz Blvd. in Atwater Village:

(Much cooler of course on the Map-Tastic page, since all those little numbers would be clickable.)

AV in the News

  • When angels feel a bit devilish - Much like his other bars - the whimsical Bigfoot Lodge in Atwater Village, the Little Cave in Highland Park and Lucky Tiki in Mission Hills - Saints & Sinners is proof that you don't have to cater to the Lohans and Hiltons to have a hit on your hands...
  • Paint It Dirt - Pieper’s palette recently made its way to the homey Atwater Village shop Jill’s Paint, which offers many fine eco-friendly paints...
  • Reward Offered To Find Atwater Murder Suspect - City Council offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who fatally shot a man, 41, in Atwater Village...
  • Bohemia, with a killer view - Some of Barbara Bestor's earliest projects were done on "a super shoestring" budget at the Atwater Village offices of Grand Royal, the Beastie Boys' record label...
  • LA Planner: Does it Take a Village to Raise a City? - LA City Planner Gail Goldberg was the San Diego planner who encouraged "villages" - pedestrian-friendly collections of housing, businesses, schools, public facilities, mass transit... Don't we have that action already in the form of Westwood, Atwater Village, Abbott-Kinney, Hollywood, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Melrose...

Wet Paper Stuck to Your Car?

Call this guy: George, Prodigy Insurance Services, (818) 541-7870. The 800 number he has his "guys" leave on your car in Atwater Village doesn't go through. So call him directly. He doesn't have a car himself, he says, so retaliation isn't an option.

April 11, 2006

Thank You For Smoking

Overheard at an east LA bar:

It's against the law to smoke in California bars and restaurants and can be punishable by fine. But if you should choose to do so, some people are smoking upstairs.

"Upstairs" was an enclosed bar half a flight above the main bar.

Overheard soon after in the restroom:

"When did the law change about smoking?"

April 9, 2006

More Sunday Driving

About 60 miles round trip:

  • From home sweet home in Atwater Village >>> North on I-5 >>> West on the 134 >>> North on the 170 >>> To North Hollywood Church of Religious Science

  • From North Hollywood, west on the 101 (despite rule about never taking the 101; this was Sunday afternoon in the Valley, so what the heck) >>> South on I-405 >>> West on Sunset Blvd. >>> Winding through Brentwood, then Pacific Palisades, then shortcut to ocean along Temescal Canyon Rd.

  • South along ocean via Pacific Coast Highway >>> Up California Incline (made famous by its location for a chase in It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World)

  • South along Ocean Blvd. >>> Through Santa Monica >>> To Venice >>> To a walk around the residential neighborhood of the Venice Canals

  • From Venice Canals to shopping district along a street named for the canal builder, Abbot Kinney >>> Lunch at Hal's Bar & Grill (good food, good atmosphere, service worth about 10%)

  • From lunch, east on Venice Blvd. >>> To Downtown LA >>> Northeast on Broadway >>> Northwest on San Fernando Rd. >>> Back to Atwater Village

April 7, 2006

Visible From Space

FASTCOW? Maybe EASTCOW? Image from Google maps, along the east side of Los Angeles River bank next to Atwater Village.

April 6, 2006

A Two-Story Target!

I wouldn't trade the varieties and vastness of my shopping opportunities in Los Angeles for those in any place I've lived before.


When you used to live a stone's throw from the world's largest Target store - nay, the world's largest SuperTarget store - you will always yearn for its one-stop shopping magic.

SuperTarget is Target plus grocery store. SuperTarget is like IKEA built by Americans. (I don't know what Target Greatland is supposed to be, but I can tell you it's no SuperTarget.)

So this factoid hit me like a bullseye: There are no SuperTarget stores within 200 miles of Atwater Village, Los Angeles, California.

Target, yes, about seven in LA. SuperTarget, no. In fact I don't know where the nearest SuperTarget is. Vegas?

So what a nice surprise yesterday to discover that the nearest Target, in the Eagle Rock neighborhood just four miles east of home, though not a SuperTarget, is a rare two-story Target.

It's one of about 30 multi-level Target stores peppered in US urban areas. It even has the Vermaport escalator for your cart.

Target in Hollywood is also multi-level, apparently, though no doubt much busier. We may head that way next time.

[Photo from Vidalia's Flickr page]

April 4, 2006

AV in the News

Blue Monday Through Friday

I think Tanghetto's electro tango cover of New Order's "Blue Monday" is wicked clever, too, but must KCRW play it every. single. day?

It's quickly becoming the opening theme song for the station's evening Metropolis show.

April 3, 2006

Restaurant Review: LA Speak

The new Asia Los Feliz restaurant in Atwater Village is a little too Los Feliz for Atwater Village.

(A month ago I'd have no idea what that meant, but now I can safely say that it means Asia Los Feliz - for its high prices and impersonal interior - is better suited for a location up the hill, maybe Vermont Street adjacent to more ooh la la dining like Figaro, rather than across the river near the kitschy Big Foot Lodge.)

(But I can also safely admit I broke the Three Month Rule. Never try a new restaurant till 90 days after opening. Give it a chance to work out kinks. Like high prices and impersonal interiors.)

Sunday Driving

About 122 miles worth.

P.S. - Yes, I know everyone in LA says the 5 and the 110 instead of saying I-5 or highway 110. Even on the directions page at the the LA Coliseum site. It's in the vernacular along with describing every temperature below 60 as cold.

April 2, 2006

Before & After

"Orange Crush" Before: Nickname for "crushing" Denver Broncos defense in late 1970s (but still used by Denver media on occasion whenever they feel good about their National Football League franchise)

"Orange Crush" After: Nickname for five-way freeway interchange in Orange County, California

Even Better Than 'Free Backrubs'

I entered Los Angeles into Googlism, which claims to "find out what Google.com thinks of you, your friends or anything." These were the first two results. Now. Hiring. No sweeter words for someone just moving to a new city.

One, Two, Maybe Three

WHO: Richard Kind

WHO? Paul on "Spin City" ... Mark on "Mad About You" ... Cousin Andy on "Curb Your Enthusiasm" ... Best friend George Clooney was best man at his wedding

WHERE: Walking out of The Farm of Beverly Hills restaurant (The Grove location)

WHEN: Yesterday (Saturday) around 3:00pm

WHO ELSE: Rufus Wainwright

WHO? Pop singer, the self-described "gay opera queen" version of Frank Sinatra, son of singer/actor Loudon Wainwright III, brother of singer Martha Wainwright; does one of my favorite songs about California (listen to it here)

WHERE/WHEN: Valet parking, The Grove, yesterday 4:00pm-ish

WHO ELSE (Maybe): Jaime Pressly

WHO? Star of "My Name Is Earl" and "Not Another Teen Movie"

WHERE: The Grove

WHY MAYBE: She was moving fast, wrapped in the arm of a very tall dude

April 1, 2006

Celebrity Sighting

WHO: Actor Dan Lauria who played the father on "The Wonder Years" (and in our hearts)

WHERE: Walt Disney Music Hall, third level, before a Minimalist Jukebox performance

WHEN: Last Sunday