December 30, 2006

Trees We Did Not See One Year Ago Today

It is December 30, 2006, ten months after we moved from Colorado to Los Angeles.

Number Two, So We Try Harder

It's awful sweet of Curbed LA to list Atwater Village among their year-end up-and-coming neighborhoods. But have they visited lately? Atwater Village pretty much up and came. The award:

Most Up and Coming Hipster Hood - WINNER: Long Beach. Another tough choice. There were only a couple of hoods/communities in the running for this category. Atwater Village and San Pedro being the other two. But we would actually leave LA city limits and go to Long Beach.

Commenters, though, kept it on the eastern tip. They added Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights, Garvanza, Glassell Park and Cypress Park as the next hipster hoods. "Basically any immediate area around I-5 or immediately east of it."

One problem, at least for hipsters who want to move that way: These neighborhoods are not included in Rentslicer's markets. Since Rentslicer aggregates Craigslist rental listings, these hoods are likely excluded because they have little presence on Craigslist.

What, no Internet on the east side? Or just nothing in English?

Unlike Housing, They Like Surveys Stacked

Friends of Atwater Village is conducting a survey about the 90-unit Casitas Avenue Housing Project. Is this the scientific study developers and leaders can rely on for unbiased reporting of neighborhood preferences? Not exactly:

    What concerns, if any, would you have about a 90 unit apartment complex being built in Atwater Village?
    Check all that apply

    High population density

    Increase in crime activity

    Increase in noise levels

    Increase in air pollution

    Increase in traffic congestion on Casitas and
    adjacent streets

    Street parking problems

    Violates the "village" ambiance of Atwater Village

    Loss of privacy created by "high rise" complex

    Further overburden city services (schools, trash
    pickup, police/fire departments)

    Would encourage further high density housing
    development in Atwater Village

    Other (specify in General Comments section of

You can almost taste the begrudging obligation to insert "if any" and "none" into that question.

While I admire their concern over the beloved trash picker-uppers, I wonder if they could swap the city services answer for one of these:

    Unique architecture would provide showpiece for Atwater Village and northeast side of Los Angeles
    Multi-unit housing would complement development of Los Angeles Community College campus at nearby Van de Kamp bakery
    Would help Castias Avenue look less like a "dump" (This one's for Sung Lim Kee)

Take the survey here, but be warned: full name, full address and email address are required. They'll want to know exactly where to ship the lawn signs.

December 28, 2006

Kenneth the Page is Running for President

Leave it to Mrs. Newbie to cleverly note that the irrepressible bumpkin who wants climb the corporate ladder on "30 Rock" looks (and sounds) a lot like the irrepressible bumpkin who wants to climb the electoral ladder to the White House.

Atwater Village Newbie's Best of 2006

Leave year-end restaurant rankings and political punditry to Los Angeles veterans. These are year-end bests for us, two of the LA newbies who helped bump city population over 4 million in 2006.

Best Secret On-Ramp - From Riverside Drive in Elysian Valley, just south of Atwater Village, there's a well-marked ramp to I-5 south. But around the bend the ramp splits, without warning or signage, to join highway 110 south toward downtown LA. Shhhh...

Best Secret On-Ramp, Spanish Language Version - In Boyle Heights, the Mission Rd. ramp to I-5 splits to I-10 East

Best Reason to Know About Secret Ramps: Closures of I-5 north from I-10 west after midnight every time we try it

Best Tacos in Walking Distance - Tacos Villa Corona

Best Tacos in View of Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory - Sidewalk tables at tiny taqueria Casa Diaz, 4666 Hollywood Blvd., give unobstructed angles on two of the icons that drew us here

Best LA Blog Family - Mike & Maria & Baby Blogger, curators of Franklin Avenue and Rate-a-Restaurant - among other blogs on every LA newbie's must-read list - and originators of the term Blog-LA-Sphere

Best Blog-LA-Sphere Member Who Graciously Answers Pesky Questions from Moving Newbies - LA City Nerd

Best Eight-Hour Stroll - Wilshire Blvd., the whole length of it, 16.2 miles from downtown Los Angeles to the ocean

Best Local Show to TiVo - Eye on LA, a half-hour of trendy and traditional hot spots

Best Web Site for Learning Where LA Neighborhoods Are and How Much It Costs to Live in Them: Rentslicer, especially cross-referenced with this city map

Best Way to Make a Colorado Transplant Chuckle: Complaining about how cold it is in LA

Second Best Way: Wearing Uggs when it's cold in LA

Third Best Way: Being excited about Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory

Best Vet for Newbie Pets: Gateway Animal Hospital, Alan Jimerson, DVM, 431 W. Los Feliz Blvd., Glendale

Best Way to Read the Los Angeles Times Online - Fishbowl LA's LAT in 90 Seconds

Best Automobile Accessory for Newbies - Thomas Guide for Los Angeles and Orange Counties

Best Grocery Store Analogy for Newbies - VONS : SAFEWAY :: Ralph's : King Soopers

Best Refurbished Grocery Store - Vons, 311 W. Los Feliz Blvd., Glendale, where employees must get paid for friendly greetings the way other grocery store employees are compensated for blank stares

Best Place to Take Visitors Who Hate LA - San Diego

Second Best Place - Pasadena

Best Place to Take Two-Year-Old Visitors in LA - Shane's Inspiration Playground, Griffith Park

Second Best Place - Travel Town, Griffith Park

Best Traffic Web Site for Newbies -

Best First Stop for Newbies Moving from a Landlocked State - IKEA, because landlocked states do not have IKEA

Best Second Stop - The Getty Museum, because 1) it's free, 2) it gets you used to the idea that in LA "free" means you still pay for parking, and 3) the view makes you glad you moved from a landlocked state

Best Song to Hear While Driving a Hyundai to Zankou Chicken in Glendale - "Debra" by Beck

Best TV Show to Sharpen LA Geography Skills - From "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip": "A caller from Toluca Lake called us Barbra Streisand loving, Michael Moore worshiping jackasses;" "I keep all your things nicely stored on a garbage scow off Catalina"

Best TV Show to Set Unrealistic LA Traffic Expectations: "24"

Best Blog by Another LA Newbie: BLDGBLOG

December 27, 2006

Where 'Winter Storm' Means More Than Chance of Rain

Back from Colorado for Christmas. Optimism in Colorado Springs:

And squatters - still waiting after one of those old-fashioned winter storms - at the Denver International Airport:

Not every traveler was as lucky as us. We suffered only slight departure and luggage delays. And from now on we will find any excuse to fly out of LA/Ontario instead of LAX. (Despite continued, persistent closures of I-5 north from I-10 after midnight. Long detour to Atwater Village.)

December 23, 2006

Next Time on LA River Trail, Look Up

And look out. This car smashed through the railing along the Colorado Blvd. on-ramp over the Los Angeles River yesterday morning just north of Atwater Village.

The vehicle teetered on the edge of the bridge, ejecting its driver to the river below. The driver was rescued and brought in for treatment.

No word on if any joggers on the trail below were treated for heart attacks.

December 22, 2006

Atwater Village Loses One to Los Feliz

Sad news of this week's deadly car crash in the 4800 block of Los Feliz Blvd. hits home in Atwater Village. From LA Daily News:

Matthew Merrill of Atwater Village [pictured], riding in the front passenger seat, and Matthew Hernandez of Fontana, a student at California State University, Los Angeles, who was driving, died at the scene.

Sean Paul Balaney of Glendale, riding in the back seat, died a short while later. All three were 18 and had been friends since Holy Trinity School.

Kyle Merrill remained hospitalized Thursday in critical condition. Stephen Castillo, 14, was also hospitalized, although his condition was unknown.

The five teenage boys were in a car owned by the Hernandez family as they headed toward the Merrill home in Atwater Village.

Thoughts and best wishes go out to the Merrill family from your neighbors in the Newbie family.

[Image of baseball cross at accident site from Bill German]

Building a Library, One Rocking Chair At a Time

From the Los Angeles Times fact-checking department:

In an article in Sunday's California section about the success of neighborhood councils in Los Angeles, Jeff Gardner of the Atwater Village Neighborhood Council said his group had provided a local elementary school with a library. In fact, the library was funded by a grant and school funds. The Atwater council provided a rocking chair and is funding the purchase of additional library books.

I guess there weren't any weapons of mass destruction, either.

December 21, 2006

First Look at New Sci-Fi Housing in Atwater Village

First image emerges from proposed housing project on Casitas Avenue in Atwater Village. Thanks to Friends of Atwater Village:

From 3234-3274 Casitas Avenue... A 4-story building with approximately 90 units/apartments ranging in size from 550 to 2,200 sq. ft. on 10 lots (5,300 sq. ft. each).

The architectural design, a collaborate effort by Patterns and LRG Architects, gives a metallic 'sci-fi' feel...

Mr. Marcello Spina gave a detail explanation about the philosophical aspect of his architectural design which he refereed to as 'intelligent urban design' and 'natural urban growth.'

(Typos theirs. And the Patterns site is "suspended" now. See the architect's other "sci-fi" work here.)

Here's an aerial look at 3234 Casitas, as it stands, just across the tracks from a future northeast campus of Los Angeles Community College at the old Van de Kamp bakery.

Some people are in favor of the project, though not very diplomatically. From FAV:

Ms. Sung Lim Lee (a recent electee to the AVNC Board as Business Representative) ... stated that Casitas Ave looks like a 'dump' and expressed her opinion that long time residents on Casitas should be grateful for the improvement this project would bring.

But apparently there's some "public outrage." (No. Really?) Something about how the developers didn't rub everyone's shoulders enough before trying to sleep with them.

The process took less then two weeks from beginning to end and totally bypassed any outreach to the various community stakeholders...

As a result of the public outrage at the Board meeting regarding the lack of community outreach the AVNC Board has called for a Town Hall meeting on this matter for some time in January 2007.

Hmm, what was that LA Times story about infighting among neighborhood councils?

So, table this for "some time in January." Unless the council caves into its own penchant for rescheduling things.

Hey, at least the H&R Block is open.

All Holiday Evils Found in Atwater Village

Experience the worst of holiday shopping at the Toys R Us store on Los Feliz Blvd. in Atwater Village. (Which is, in case you were confused, FOX11's Rick Lozano, in the city of Los Angeles.) More from LA Voice's Mack Reed:

You're moseying up Los Feliz Boulevard toward Toys R Us ... amazed at the number of times a couple of cars ahead zip from the right lane to the left and the back again...

The density of cars trying to find parking increases in direct disproportion to the likelihood of a parking space... In other words, parking at Toys R Us sucks...

Toys R Us - in addition to being a no-holds-barred cage match among burly, panicked-looking dads and grim-jawed abuelitas jockeying for position in 20-minute-long lines with armloads of immense toys - is not the perfect spot to find the Star Wars Clone Turbo Tank...

When the hell did LEGO kits start costing almost $100? Why is there nothing cool and fun related to Star Wars under $80 in this store? WTF???

Previously at the Toys R Us in Atwater Village: Employees would rather go home than search for a barfing child.

Terrorists Have Already Won War on Christmas

Santa won't be flying commercial this year. From the lists of prohibited items for air travel, courtesy of the Transportation "Security" Administration:

Snow Globes: "Snow globes regardless of size or amount of liquid inside, even with documentation, are prohibited in your carry-on."

Wrapped Gifts: "Do not wrap gifts. If a security officer needs to inspect a package they may have to unwrap your gift. Please wrap gifts after arriving at your destination."

Looking forward to traveling this holiday season.

Maybe Not the Best Time to Fly Back

Mostly Sunny
67 | 46
Mostly Sunny
66 | 45
67 | 43
71 | 45

Chance of Snow
31 | 12
Mostly Sunny
36 | 15
Mostly Sunny
29 | 11
Mostly Sunny
34 | 15

We have tickets. But flights from LA/Ontario to Denver International Airport are delayed. Possibly for days. Because DIA looks like this:

December 20, 2006

Nikki Finke Wants Them to Have - Or Have Not

It doesn't matter if reality-show contestants are rich or poor. As long as all of them are rich or poor. So sayeth the bumblebee behind Nikki Finke's money-obsessed Deadline Hollywood Daily.

On the next season of The Apprentice: "Most disgusting is that each week's winning team will luxe it up in a Beverly Hills mansion, while the losers are in hell sleeping in two tents in the backyard without hot showers.... I'm nauseous thinking about it."

On the next season of Survivor: "While one team will live the life of luxury, the other team is left with virtually nothing. Uh, doesn't that defeat the whole point of the show... This high concept doesn't make any sense."

I'm not sure how much Nikki travels, but believe me, there are worse places to camp than Beverly Hills.

OK, back to Atwater Village cheerleading.

Apologies for the diversion.

December 19, 2006

Obligatory Canele Mention of the Week

From a Los Angeles Times piece about what restaurant workers do when restaurants are closed:

Corina Weibel, chef at Canele in Atwater Village [3219 Glendale Blvd.], is planning a holiday party for her crew at Lucky Strike, the bowling alley and eatery at Hollywood & Highland.

Previously: Bistro Gets One Last Flan Job, Canele Love December 2006

[Image from Shes-crafty.]

At Valleybrink and Sunnynook

FOX11 Learns Where LA Ends, Glendale Begins

This morning on FOX11's journalistically iffy Good Day LA, ace reporter slash community activist Rick Lozano got schooled in Los Angeles geography. From the mayor, no less.

Lozano's holiday charity "Toys for Tots" segment began at a Toys R Us location in, the TV caption said, Glendale. Problem is, Glendale doesn't have a Toys R Us. The store is at 2901 Los Feliz Blvd., in Atwater Village, in the city of Los Angeles.

Banter between Rick and the mental zeroes back in the studio posited that this remote locale might actually be "on the border" of LA and Glendale but, no matter, there were needy ethnic kids to exploit.

After a flurry of speculation over the future of Donald Trump's misbehaving Miss USA, another Toys for Tots segment started.

Again, it had the Glendale caption. But this time it had a special guest who was certainly not from Glendale.

Lozano spilled the beans. We've been debating, he told Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, what city we're actually in, that we might be on the border of Los Angeles and Glendale.

No, said the major of LA, this is "most definitely" LA.

By the end of the segment, no more than 30 seconds later, the caption across the bottom of FOX11's broadcast had changed from Glendale to Los Angeles.

No Fair Using US Bank Tower As Hint

Match the downtown skyline with snowy mountain backdrop money shot to the correct photo credit.



Does the image belong to...

A. The Los Angeles Times front page, photo by Stephen Osman, published today, Dec. 19, 2006, to illustrate a freak smog-clearing cold snap, or...

B. The Denver Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau photo library.

December 18, 2006

At Least the Psychic Saw It Coming

The Atwater Village Pedestrian Oriented District [PDF here] has been a subject lately on the AV forum [here] and Friends of AV blog [here].

What is it? The POD represents "communal" portions of Los Feliz Blvd. and Glendale Blvd. as they pass through Atwater Village to "encourage people in the surrounding neighborhoods to walk and shop along these streets." Click map on right to see larger vision of how the POD is "orientated."

What kind of businesses discourage walking and shopping? These apparent ne'er-do-wells, from the list of Prohibited Uses [PDF pages 3 & 4]:

  • Adult Entertainment
  • Auditorium
  • Automotive Painting
  • Automotive Repair and Service
  • Automotive Sales, used
  • Automotive Storage Area
  • Automotive Storage Garage
  • Automotive Upholstering
  • Bail Bond Broker
  • Baseball Batting Range
  • Body Piercing Establishment
  • Bowling Alley
  • Cable Television Broadcasting
  • Car Wash
  • Day Labor Site
  • Fortune Telling, Psychic
  • Gasoline Stations
  • Helicopter Landings
  • Hospital (contagious, mental, drug and alcohol)
  • Miniature Golf
  • Night Club
  • Open Storage Area
  • Pawnshop
  • Pool Halls
  • Public Storage Facility
  • Recycling Business
  • Rescue Mission
  • Restaurant, drive through
  • Roller Skating Rink
  • Shooting Gallery
  • Skateboard Track
  • Skating Rink
  • Sports Arena or Stadium
  • Tattoo Studio
  • Tow Truck Dispatching

A finer NIMBY wishlist has hardly been produced. My favorite: "Automotive Sales, used," as if "Automotive Sales, new" is so much more pedestrian friendly. And let the NFL know Atwater Village will not be bidding for LA's new pro football stadium.

So how did existing gas stations, psychics and car washes get there? According to a Los Angeles Independent article [PDF here], they must have beat the 2001 ordinance: "Those businesses that appear on the list but already exist in the area would be exempt."

That's one way to keep the competition down.

Unneighborly Neighborhood Councils

The LA Times reports on where 86 neighborhood councils have taken the city so far:

Seven years after a network of neighborhood councils was created to give Los Angeles residents a greater voice in city politics, the groups' effectiveness remains blunted by infighting, poor community outreach and a lack of influence with key city departments...

Infighting? Surely not in our banana-shaped haven, where neighborhood elections were delayed three times. No, not here. We're too busy procuring pencils:

Jeff Gardner of the Atwater Village council said his group provided supplies to two local elementary schools, including a new library for one.

December 16, 2006

Neighborhood Bistro Gets One Last Flan Job

Seriously, for 2006, can this be the last heap of love piled on Canele? I think the column inches dedicated to this tiny Atwater Village bistro have surpassed its ability to seat customers.

Update to the update on the LA mediasphere's drooling affair with 3219 Glendale Blvd., from Los Angeles Magazine's first annual (and not yet available online) restaurant awards.

Finest Flan - A great dessert is an exclamation point. It continues the atmosphere imparted by a meal while bringing the experience to a close. The flan at Canele might not seem like much, yet it is everything. The caramel is nut brown and a powerful contrast with the custard - and what a custard. It's been poached slowly in a water bath at such a low temperature, not a single bubble has formed. As the flan is unmolded - the ribbon of pooling caramel supplying the sauce - we are reminded of what a lot of care can accomplish with sugar, milk and eggs.

The LA Times also flaunted the flan:

The kitchen also produces a superlative flan, again in a classic style, with a fine silken texture, napped with irresistible burnt caramel. And built to share.

Previously: Canele Love: December 2006 Edition

Atwater Chatter

Land Here, Spaceships: Ben High's post captures the mysterious Glenfeliz Blvd. tire circles. They were made just one block from an elementary school. Nice.

Porn Talk at Bigfoot Lodge: Gram Ponante's page is most definitely completely entirely not safe for work; this page took out the dirtier pictures.

In Defense of Glendale: This Denver Post article, by a writer from my old hometown, appreciates our neighboring LA suburb like I do.

Next It's Paris Hilton at Canele: These pictures show Britney Spears across the freeway at the LA Zoo. This 911 call has Nicole Richie's back-ass driving maneuvers starting somewhere around the "Los Felix exit."

Rent Check: $925, $1,350, $1,950, $3,150.

December 13, 2006

What Will These Developers Think of Next

A 90-unit housing development around the corner from a new campus for Los Angeles City College? How... convenient. From an Atwater Village Neighborhood Council committee meeting:

Architect, and professor of architecture, Marcello Spina presented a futuristic designed loft style housing development proposed for 3234 Casitas Ave.

The renderings showed a sloped design that looked more like a pyramid than a box. The design will not tower over any adjacent property.

The proposal includes eighty to ninety units ranging from five hundred to several thousand square feet and will conform to the existing forty five foot height limit.

Units will be designed for artists and professionals, but would accommodate families.

The neighborhood has at least two similarly-sized developments (one on Perlita Ave., another on Los Feliz Blvd.) but if the Casitas Ave. project is anything like Spina's other works, it will look like little else in Atwater Village. I've asked to see the designs. These are some of his others:

[Images from the hyper-hyphenated firm P-a-t-t-e-r-n-s]