May 31, 2007

Glendale Wants to Handle Our Hardware

ACCORDING TO A RUMOR at Curbed LA, Lowe's is considering a new location nearby: "I called Glendale Planning... They were happy to report that Lowe's would be building a store at the old Levitz site."

The old Levitz site is at 5375 San Fernando Road West. The important word here is "West." This isn't regular San Fernando Road. It's a frontage road on the west side of the tracks. It's 90039, entirely within Los Angeles city limits, part of Atwater Village.

So back off, Glendale Planning. It's not our fault your Home Depot might be closing.

(Although I can already hear the next NIMBY rallying cry: "Four Lowe's Home Improvement Centers Between Northridge and Pico Rivera Are Too Many!")

Calling All Videographers to Glassell Park!

EVEN IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, some neighborhoods could use a little more sunshine. Watch this six-minute video to find out how the Glassell Park Neighborhood Council tried to keep a May 15 meeting in the dark - possibly in violation of state law.

Scariest quote, both grammatically and in high-falutin' un-American guilty-till-proven-innocent style, from GPNC Chair "Bradley" at the 5:00 mark: "My concern is that if you really had a concern with regard to legalities, as a respect, you would just cut it off automatically until you find out for sure what you can or can't do. But you haven't even done it. You have just continued to tape."

As will everyone else, sir, June 5, 7:00pm, and June 19, 7:00pm, at the Glassell Park Community Center, 3750 Verdugo Road.
P.S. – Perhaps a camera or two at our own Atwater Village Neighborhood Council meetings might prevent the next Atwatergate election scandal.

Thanks, LA, for a Visitastic First Year

May 29, 2007

'We're Here at the Beautiful Goddam LA River'

RUN-AND-GUN TV HOST Huell Howser gets cleverly spoofed in this six-minute video shot along the LA River in Atwater Village or, as the puppet calls it, "downtown Los Feliz, which means of course The Feliz in Spanish."

At the 5:00 mark, reporting from the historic Red Car train mural: "That's a beautiful mural depicting a possible solution to LA's horrendous traffic problem. I don't know about you, but if there's anything that would make me leave this God-forsaken hell hole, it's the traffic."

Via LA Observed.

Because the Trees Weren't Enough, Apparently

ANYONE LOSING COUNT? Just this spring we've seen not one but two fires from Griffith Park across the freeway. Now this one hits closer to home:

May 27, 2007

Heroin for Toddlers

GOOD NEWS IN TIME for Memorial Day Weekend. The city's Griffith Park Recovery blog announces that Shane's Inspiration, a.k.a heroin for toddlers, has re-opened after surviving the recent park fire. This weekend, parents, load 'em up on BBQ and get them to LA's greatest playground. Open in Griffith Park as of May 25, 2007:
  • Autry Museum
  • Bette Davis Picnic Area
  • Bicycle Rental
  • Boy’s Camp (scheduled events only)
  • Crystal Springs Picnic area (scheduled events only)
  • Ferndell south of Red Oak Dr.
  • Ferraro Field
  • Girl's Camp (scheduled events only)
  • Greek Theater (Friday, Saturday, Sunday nights)
  • Griffith Observatory (by shuttle only)
  • Harding Golf Course
  • LA River Bike Path
  • LA Zoo
  • LASUD Magnet School
  • Live Steamers
  • Live Steamers Picnic Area
  • Los Feliz Golf Course
  • Merry Go Round
  • Mineral Wells Picnic Area
  • Park Center Picnic Area
  • Pony Rides
  • Pote Field (scheduled events only)
  • Pump Seven Picnic Areas
  • Ranger Station
  • Riverside Recreation Center
  • Roosevelt Golf Course
  • Shane's Inspiration
  • Sunset Stables (access to Mt. Hollywood Drive only)
  • Trails Cafe
  • Train Rides
  • Travel Town
  • Upper Ferndell Area/Section 9
  • Wilson Golf Course

May 26, 2007

Neighborhood's Next $100,000 Car Not Such a Gas Hog

IF YOU SPEND ANY TIME around the corner from our new Starbucks, you see them - the Bentley, the Escalade, the Humvee - parked along Glenfeliz Blvd.

While Atwater Village must have its fair share of residents who can afford to leave six-figure vehicles on city streets, the more likely culprits are visitors to the recording studio on the block.

And one of them has a new car to pay off.

The New York Times automotive blog reveals that Black Eyed Peas member Will.I.Am spent "roughly $100,000 with options" for a Tesla Roadster, the all-electric sports car that zooms to 130 MPH, and zero to 60 MPH in four seconds. He's slated for the 59th Roadster from Tesla's factory, behind George Clooney (8th) and Governor Schwarzenegger (10th).

Start ducking into your driveways this fall, as the first round of customers take delivery in October.

Soaking It In

FROM A VALIANT ATTEMPT to define an awkwardly worded new trend, "social spa-ing," in the May 6 LA Times:
"With bare feet soaking in a sudsy pedicure tub, Lanzi, an executive with Junior Achievement, is surrounded by his employees, who seemed to be having a good time making fun of the boss's calloused feet. Lanzi, for better or worse, invited the office to Happy Hour Friday at Dtox, a new place to socialize in Atwater Village near Griffith Park. Despite the name, Dtox isn't a bar, or a rehab joint, but a day spa that once a month throws open its treatment room doors to add a social element to massages, facials and pedicures...

"Dtox, the eight-month-old spa in Atwater Village, is built around a tropical-feeling central lounge, where men and women flock to the monthly happy hour, pay $39 to $99 to hang out, sip wine and get mini treatments such as pedicures and massages. Together but, thankfully, clothed."
For nearly a year our neighborhood spa has been working out east-sider kinks. Let's hope Dtox also worked out some early customer service kinks.

May 22, 2007

New in the Blog-LA-Sphere

THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES maintains a helpful Griffith Park Recovery blog, with updates every few days. Sad to see our favorite godson destination, Shane's Inspiration - a.k.a. heroin for toddlers - still closed after the fire. Does anyone know if the playground sustained any damage?
ALSO ADDED: See a great new take on the neighborhood as a New Yorker declares Atwater Village is for Lovers.

May 21, 2007

Oh You Funny Little Flat Neighbors

THANKS TO BOOSTED capabilities in Google Book Search, we can all enjoy the heavily forward-slashed wit and wisdom of Barbara Bestor's Bohemian Modern: Living in Silver Lake without ponying up full retail. From page 193 in the book's Atwater Village section:
"Atwater Village is a funny little flat neighborhood just across from Silver Lake on the other side of the LA River. In the mid-nineties, the Beastie Boys built a recording studio there where they recorded most of Check Your Head. Actually, it was more accurately a recording studio/basketball court/indoor skate park/Mulberry Street style 'private social club...'"
And in another nod to our lack of topographic interestingness, page 194 describes Atwater as "a great place to build, with plenty of flat sites and great old buildings set against the concrete-lined, industrial-romantic landscape of the LA River."

All Aboard! Last Day of Red Car to Atwater

Last Day of the Red Car
THIS BIT OF HISTORY comes from photographer Alan Weeks, snapped more than 50 years ago during the waning moments of Red Car rail service at the Subway Terminal Building (now the fancy Metro 417 apartments), 4th and Hill Streets in downtown Los Angeles.

Note the sign on the right pointing to boarding lanes for Edendale (now Echo Park, Silver Lake), Atwater (now Atwater Village), Glendale, North Glendale and Burbank.

Also note the sign at left announcing the final day, June 19, 1955, of the Los Angeles-Glendale-Burbank Red Car: "Service will be operated with buses. Rail service will be discontinued. Subway Terminal will be discontinued as a passenger station."

And the people rejoiced.

Thanks to the Metro Transportation Library and Archive Collection for sending another gem. More historic Red Car maps and photos here.

May 20, 2007

Neighborhood Photographer Stops Time

ANDREW HALL GETS SHORT - 1/8,000th of a second short - with his subjects. From today's LA Times West magazine:
"After moving from London to Los Angeles in 2005, Hall, 44, set up his studio in a former cosmetics factory in Atwater Village. He takes his pictures in total darkness, controlling what he can, including the method and speed of the pour, as well as when to activate the flash."
More of Hall's photography of water, fire, smoke and gas at

May 19, 2007

One Year Ago on the Newbie Blog

HERE'S WHAT WAS WORTH typing (or pasting) one year ago on the Atwater Village Newbie blog. Which begs the question: When do I stop being a newbie? (See item #2.)

Pedaling Paradise Lost

A Pedaling Paradise
EXHAUSTED FROM PEDALING along the LA River for Bike to Work Week? You probably didn't do much of it south of Atwater Village. Blog-LA-sphere friend Will Campbell scores an op-ed commentary in this morning's LA Times:
"To experience the full dysfunction of Los Angeles cycling, there's no better place than the Los Angeles River Bikeway. Its northernmost four miles, from Griffith Park to Atwater Village, are a pedaling paradise: smooth pavement, lighting, a dedicated bridge over Los Feliz Boulevard. But cross Fletcher Avenue and the riding gets rough..."
Will argues that the "Fletcher Divide," the vanishing bike lane on Santa Monica Boulevard and other planning missteps continue to show that LA cyclists are a "transportation afterthought."

Or as this handwritten Fletcher Divide warning sign so eloquently puts it, "dangerous slippy slide slime."

This Is Not the Bike Path

May 17, 2007

The 'Best Bars in America' in LA are in Downtown LA

Drinker's Guide to Downtown LA
GILLETTE, WYOMING, HAS ONE. Lawrence, Kansas, has another. Here in Los Angeles we score eight of the "Best Bars in America," according to the June Esquire, and all of them are downtown. Take that, west-siders. East-side-o-phobes. AFTRA-SAG Credit Union members. Whatever you're called.

Here are The Eight, linked to Yelp reviews, with quotes from the printed Esquire, since doesn't have this article posted:
  • J Lounge - "For a city with such predictably good weather, LA has surprisingly few patio bars..."
  • Golden Gopher - "Stylishly dim..."
  • The Edison - "Seventy-foot ceilings... old power plant..."
  • Broadway Bar - "Liberace-esque..."
  • La Cita - "Lifted from a Robert Rodriguez movie (or the other way around)..."
  • Bordello - "Weekend burlesque shows..."
  • Redwood - "Divey..."
  • Bar 107 - "Postcollege crowd..."

May 16, 2007

A Cat for People Who Aren't Yet Cat People

WE MET THIS GENTLE GIANT at the Atwater Village Farmers Market. She is Francesca, a "senior" at age 10, up for adoption at a neighborhood no-kill shelter, Casitas Cat Hotel.

Part Maine Coon, she is, as Mrs. Newbie puts it, the cutest cat not currently in our house. And if we weren't already at our max pet per square foot ratio, Francesca would have already sized up the competition.

Maybe someone else will see this and help the old gal.

May 14, 2007

The Monster of Atwater

A TIMELY RECAP OF EVENTS, four years in the making, as opening statements begin today in the trial of Timothy Joseph McGhee.

From the LA Daily News:
"A Latino homie with an Irish name, he goes by the street handles 'Huero' and 'Eskimo.' His tattoos include an eagle eating a snake - symbolic of the Mexican flag - emblazoned on the back of his shaved head, a place that skin artists say is the most painful spot to be tattooed.

"His spiral notebook of rap lyrics depicts McGhee as a 21st century American psychopath, devoid of conscience, who used the Atwater Village area as an urban killing field...

"McGhee, after all, is believed to have killed one young man - 16-year-old Ryan 'Huero' Gonzales in 2000 - simply because he thought Atwater Village wasn't big enough for two people with the same nickname.

"It is the kind of violent rampage for which McGhee came to be called in his neighborhood 'the Monster of Atwater.' Some cops even compared his murderous nature to that of Charles Manson..."

May 10, 2007

A 50-Year-Old Game of Guess Where LA

LONG BEFORE THIS WHOLE Internet thing took off, and way before people guessed the locations of mysterious photos posted to Flickr pools, the Los Angeles Times printed "Know Your City." Here's the photo and clue from April 6, 1956:
KNOW YOUR CITY, NO. 140 - "These things keep getting easier and easier. Surely you recognize this scene. It isn't a Answer, even if it does have the same name. See? Even if it is easy, we keep giving it away. What is it? See Page 28, Part ll."
And if you don't happen to have Page 28 of the 50-year-old paper around, see the answer below in the comments section.
Photo copyright Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library. Licensed under Creative Commons. Tip from David Markland at Metroblogging LA.

New Life Rises From Ashes

WE MAY HAVE LOST much of Griffith Park, but we seem to have gained new life on Glendale Blvd.

Starbucks is open. At last.

Thanks to Miles for reporting it amidst all the smoke.

May 9, 2007

Now 47 Photos in Griffith Park Fire Timeline

AND GREAT VIDEO, in the midst of it all, from Jacob Soboroff.

Plus a new series from another Atwater Village neighbor.

May 8, 2007

Atwater Village Chokes In It

6:38pm, originally uploaded by Atwater Village Newbie.

FOR MORE COMPREHENSIVE UPDATES and analysis on this tragic Griffith Park fire visit the LA Times breaking news blog. Also:
  • My Photo Timeline of Griffith Park Fire [Flickr] - As seen from Sunnynook footbridge, Los Angeles River trail and Baum Bicycle Bridge over Los Feliz Blvd.
  • Fire Brings Us Closer Together [LAist] - "It was an interesting night in Los Angeles. A community generally lost to each other in the confines of Bluetooth headsets and commuter traffic united in a somewhat macabre spectacle: watching Griffith Park burn." [LAist]
  • LA City Council President Eric Garcetti [CD13] - "Griffith Park is not lost, of course, but it is damaged. We'll rebuild it, where we can, and it will grow back lush and green. It's the single largest urban park in the country; few other parks compare to it in its size and wildness."
  • Four Hour Time Lapse Video [via Curbed LA] - Smoke from the Griffith Park fire.
  • Griffith Park Fire Update [LAFD] - From the detailed Los Angeles Fire Department blog

Mrs. Newbie Wants to Know: Meal Prep Places in LA?

WE SUBMITTED THIS QUESTION to the all-knowing Erin of Erin's Kitchen, but perhaps our Newbie readers have some ideas.

Know any meal prep places in Los Angeles that offer fresh, organic foods? You know those kitchens that let you build a week's worth of meals to take home and cook later? Dream Dinners in Burbank is most convenient, but they get their food from Sysco - just like my old college cafeteria. No. Thanks. Know any places with higher quality foods?

May 7, 2007

Sing a Song of Suburbs

SOMETIMES OUR FRIENDS across the tracks in Glendale get a bad rap. And sometimes they (or streets named after them) get mentioned in rap. Or rock. Or R&B. You be the judge:
Beastie Boys - Do It
Glendale Boulevard Boulevard
Glendale Boulevard is where I'm at
It's where I'm at, Where I live
Check it out because my head is like a siv

Beck - Debra
I pick you up late at night after work
I said "lady, step inside my Hyundai"
I'm gonna take you up to Glendale
Gonna take you for a real good meal

Bright Eyes - Cleanse Song
On a detox loft through a Glendale park over sidewalk chalk
Someone wrote in red, "start over"
So I muffled my scream on an Oxnard beach
Full of fever dreams that scare you sober
I found only three solid examples. Surely others have immortalized the suburb that brings us both Porto's Bakery and Brand Bookshop.

When To Talk at the Movies

Friday night at the ArcLight, originally uploaded by stutefish.

INSPIRED BY TWO CHATTY DUDES behind us last night at an Arclight Cinemas showing of "Spiderman 3," I've assembled this helpful list.

Too tired of using your "theater" voice? Confused about subtle etiquette differences between a living-room TV set and a 500-seat auditorium? Feel like your $14 ticket comes with more rights than my $14 ticket? Need a change of scenery from AMC Universal CityWalk? Then this list is for you.
When To Talk at the Movies (Only for People Sitting Directly Behind Me During Sold-Out Screenings)
  • During previews of coming attractions
  • During opening credits
  • During musical sequences or montages
  • When you recognize - or think you might recognize - an actor
  • To offer what you can remember of the actor's filmography
  • To show how well you can read a particularly interesting word from a subtitle, t-shirt, sign, product or poster
  • To ask for help reading a word from a subtitle, t-shirt, sign, product or poster
  • When you recognize a location or building
  • To warn a character of impending doom
  • To appreciate the setup of an impending comedic event
  • To share excitement over the mention of your city or state
  • To obtain a recap of events during a restroom/concession run
  • To repeat something you found clever or amusing
  • To get someone else to repeat something you didn't hear
  • To guess the next line during a dramatic/comedic pause
  • To rewrite the script more to your liking
  • To transition from laughing loudly to sitting silently again
  • When you're startled - or just tricked into being startled
  • When taking a call
  • When responding to a text message
  • When trying to quiet a baby/child
  • When trying to make a baby/child
  • When you actually are a baby/child
  • On a first date
  • On any subsequent date
  • When kissing/lovemaking scenes make you uncomfortable
  • To wonder about a plot point that is only partially revealed
  • To offer a review of the film
  • To guess the ending before – or as – it happens
  • To prove you knew how it would end
  • To share adulation with a director or star who is not present

May 5, 2007

Call Me an 80s Child

CALL ME, MORE ACCURATELY, an 80s teen. And a bona fide Crowded House fan. This is a deeply talented Kiwi pop band I thought I'd never see again. A band that called it quits more than a decade ago.

Now, 20 years after "Don't Dream It's Over" hit #2 in the US, it's not over. Crowded House quietly re-formed - with Beck's former drummer - for a new album and tour.

The band's first California stop: The Glass House in Pomona. Tickets sold out in 90 minutes. I was too slow.

The band's second California stop: Coachella. Other reunions overshadowed. Bottles flew. I was too old.

Now I patiently wait. Crowded House returns to California, playing two nights in August at the Mountain Winery. Till then, the amateur videos. Enjoy:

May 4, 2007

A Little Bird Told Me

I FEEL LIKE I HAVE been in this very spot. Behind this very woman. Watching her take this very picture.
"Monday Noticed"
Solo exhibition by Maxwell Boas
Opening reception May 19, 7pm
LittleBird Gallery
3195 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village

May 2, 2007

Meanwhile, Kaldi Coffee, the Block is Yours

OUR GREAT STARBUCKS MYSTERY popped up today on Curbed LA:
"What's up w/ that Starbucks in Atwater Village? It's had a 'Coming Soon' sign on it for 5 months."
More like nine months, but who's counting? Certainly not neighborhood fave Kaldi Coffee, a few storefronts up, cashing in (literally; no credit cards taken) on its latte domination of central AV.

The phone number listed for the Glendale & Glenfeliz SBUX just rings. And rings. And rings. Yet the store is still coming "soon," insist the banner and web site.

"You keep using that word," goes the famous quote. "I do not think it means what you think it means."

You Say Crayfish, I Say Slimy River Alien

AN INTREPID VIDEOGRAPHER captures Los Angeles River wildlife at its slimiest. Narration by Sabrina Drill, video by Arthur magazine's Jay Babcock, "south of the Crying Girl, north of the submerged Darth Vader head," Atwater Village, April 28, 2007.

May 1, 2007

Making Up for Lost Weekends

Orange Drain Cover Cat, originally uploaded by theturningman.

I HAVE BEEN RIGHTLY tsk-tsked for my absence from a shining moment on our neighborhood's spring calendar. The Artwater Music & Art Festival (previewed here) swept the sidewalks and storefronts of Atwater Village two weekends ago. Thanks to these kind persons, this is my blog's only first-person account:
It wasn't culturally groundbreaking and we didn't stay overly-long, but my kid got to get her face painted, I met the sweet li'l old lady whose portraits are hanging at the J. Ferrari gallery, and Kaldi was selling espresso jello parfaits on the sidewalk.

Overheard dialogue between a father and tween-age son as they walked toward one of the performance stage areas (the guitar case-toting son, ostensibly about to perform):

Son: [grumbling] Aww, man! This looks lame!

Father: [pleasantly clueless] What's that? You say you think it's going to rain?
No, I was not boycotting. I was in Fillmore, of all places, for the annual pilgrimage to ride this cartoon-faced locomotive. Nothing personal. Let's enjoy together: