Saturday, September 29, 2007

Bike Racks Finally Come to Hel-Mel

Ten new "Inverted-U" bicycle racks were installed by the City of Los Angeles' Department of Transportation on September 29 on Heliotrope Drive at Melrose (a.k.a. "Hel-Mel"). The corner already sees a heavy amount of bicycle parking usage, from the Bicycle Kitchen and Orange 20 Bikes to City College Cafe, Scoops Ice Cream and the Pure Luck Pub. Previously, bicyclists had to settle on locking them to parking meters, which is illegal, but not enforced. Local bicycle activist Stephen Box (who's been dubbed somewhat of a "Jedi Master" by a certain area blogger) was responsible for lobbying to have the racks installed, which he described as a "year and a half-long process."

No word on why 10 racks were installed at nearby Majestic Golf Land on Melrose Ave. when they are sorely underutilized by clients of the golf driving range.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Guatemalteca Opens!

Guatemalteca Bakery and Restaurant, on 4770 Santa Monica Blvd, is now open. The eatery serves Guatemalan fast food and is the newest store in the local chain; another store has been operating not too far away, just a little over a mile south on Beverly Blvd. It also sports its own bakery that produces tons of pan francés (french-style rolls, which come with nearly every combo plate) as well as a huge selection of pan dulce and European-style pastries. The place is also a mini-market with shelves selling dry and canned good products, beverages, imported frozen fruits and vegetables and even a refrigerated case that sells milk, cheese and eggs for the convenience of people in the neighborhood.

The establishment, which opened on September 15, is spotless, has an inerior painted in pleasant colors and well-designed -- the parking lot is in the rear (no mini-mall format here!), there's even a bicycle rack, and the front of the building is landscaped, with room for possible sidewalk dining. The restaurant has unique hours: 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Yes, there's a desayunos menu for the early crowd - the real early crowd, catering to a working clientele that starts work before dawn.

I got to try a combo plate with chile relleno, beans and rice. It wasn't anything mind-blowing (this is fast-food, after all) but the sauce was real good. It also came with a pan francés roll, which probably would have tasted even better if it were warm. They also have an extensive antojitos menu (tamales, etc), as well as tortas. The prices are way affordable so, I'll be dropping by once in a while.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

EHNC Candidate Information Session

Independent Election Administrator Stephen Box fields questions from EHNC candidates.

Nearly twenty East Hollywood stakeholders who are considering running for one of the the 17 seats in the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council's inaugural election attended a candidate information session on Monday at the Hollywood Youth and Family Center.

The session, led by Independent Election Administrator Stephen M. Box, was designed to inform potential candidates on the basics of the EHNC's upcoming October 30 Governing Board election and also let them know what was expected of them if they were to be elected to the EHNC's Governing Board.

A number of of people from the nine-member Interim Board or were active in the EHNC's formation committee have announced their intention to run, but many new faces also expressed interest, notified by the bilingual election information leaflets distributed to the neighborhood on Labor Day weekend.

Of the 17 seats in the election, 11 of them represent specific geographical areas known as neighborhood districts. The other six represent at-large stakeholder categories: Renter, Property Owner, Business, Student, Community Services (faith-based and non-profit groups) and Youth. All voters will be able to choose one candidate for each other 17 seats.

If you are interested in running for the neighborhood council, contact IEA Stephen Box at 323.962.6540 or email him at For more info on the EHNC's elections and to download candidate registration forms, visit their election website at

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture in San Pedro

This weekend is the 15th annual Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture (FPAC) at Pt. Fermin Park down in San Pedro, an annual celebration of arts, entertainment, food and activities focused on Filipino American culture.

Though the event itself is not in East Hollywood, the organizer of the festival, FilAmARTS is based in E-Ho at the Hollywood Youth & Family Center on Vermont, and the festival itself was born from humble beginnings on the campus of LACC back in Spring of 1992 and 1993 before moving down to 'Pedro.

With a visible presence of markets, restaurants, church parishoners and medical center staff - not to mention a good number of residents, the Filipino community is one of the most culturally-visible ethnic communities in East Hollywood. I should know - I'm one of them. My first FPAC was in 1993 and as a Filipino American music artist, I've performed at the festival for seven straight years from 1999 to 2005.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and tomorrow and admission is $5. Consult the website for information on shuttle parking in the vicinity.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Pure Luck Vegan Pub

A number of local bloggers have been raving about The (New) Pure Luck vegan pub on Heliotrope & Melrose, on our hip new "Hel-Mel" corner. Run by former Bicycle Kitchen volunteer Ben Ling, he bought out the former establishment this past May, which went under the same name, and had a soft opening leading up to the Bicycle Film Festival's block party at Hel-Mel in early July. The place serves up vegan versions of select Mexican and Asian dishes using plantains and jackfruit as a meat substitute, and aren't subjected to the overinflated prices you'd find at other vegan joints - everything is pretty affordable here. Their rosemary french fries are also a popular item, especially with the amazing selection of mostly microbrewed beer (Craftsman IPA, Fat Tire Ale, among others) on tap for just $4 a pint!

I'm not vegan - not by a mile - but I do like to eat healthy most of the time, so this adds to the choices out there. Plus, it's a great place to hang. Even Tai Kim of SCOOPS likes to drop by and hang out for breaks or after he closes down (TPL closes at midnight).

The Pure Luck was formerly a Korean-Chinese restaurant (which served HUGE portions -- I ate there in 2005 with five other friends and only ordered three dishes -- one of us still had to go home with a ton of leftovers), which had changed owners various times but still retained the name. Even before that (Circa '90s) it was an establishment known as the Mambo Cafe.

The Pure Luck
707 N. Heliotrope Drive

Sunday, September 2, 2007

DEFISAL- El Salvadoran Independence Day Parade

The streets of East Hollywood will play host this morning to the annual DEFISAL (Desfile de Independencia Salvadoreña) - the El Salvador Independence Day parade. El Salvadorans will whip out their blue-and-white pride to celebrate the anniversary of their independence from Spain on September 15, 1851. The local El Salvadoran community celebrates it on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend with a parade down Santa Monica Blvd. past popular El Salvadoran restaurants and shops, ending with a festival at Los Angeles City College.

The El Salvadoran community, which also has a large presence in the Pico-Union district (where the organizers of DEFISAL are based) is one of the most culturally-prominent ethnic communities in East Hollywood and has had a growing presence in E-Ho since the era of the Salvadoran Civil War from 1980 to 1992.