Monday, October 27, 2008

Hollywood Area Fire

Found a thick column of smoke emanating from the northwest as I left the house this morning. It looks close enough that it may still be in E-Ho. I can hear helicopters overhead approach towards it and the faint wail of LAFD sirens in the distance. This picture was taken at about 6:40 a.m. at Santa Monica and Edgemont. Acording to the LAFD blog's alert widget, it's a single-family dwelling at 5675 Franklin Ave., where a tree fire spread to a 4-car garage. It took 30 firefighters about 20 minutes to douse the flame, and no injuries were reported. Great work, LAFD!

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Today we had our last regular Obama bike ride, BARACKCYCLE 4! which rode a 17-mile route from Olvera Street through Chinatown, Lincoln Heights, Mt. Washington, Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Glassell Park, Atwater Vilage, Elysian Valley, Cypress Park, then back through the industrial areas north of Downtown back to where we started.

The pack met at the plaza at Olvera Street, as I rushed to head over via Red Line. We spent the time attaching the Obama signs to our bikes using a hole puncher and zip tie, and I also distributed spoke cards - thanks again, Stephen Box for the lamination services - and the "BARACKCYCLE!" logo buttons my sister made.

This was the first time none of the previous BARACKCYCLE! regulars were on the ride, a lot of them had other commitements. Still, we had about 11 people ride out. As each ride is in a different area, we got a different group of riders. This time, the majority of the riders were male. (Only one female rider rode, in contrast to BARACKCYCLE 3! which was all-female, save for me and two other dudes), Latino - I learned a new Obama cheer - "¡OBAMANOS!" - and the riders rode primarily road bikes. The ride was also rather quick; we finished before 2:30 p.m.

We also made pitstops at the Flying Pigeon bike shop in Highland Park for some air, grease, and a cool-down break (Josef wasn't yet in). We also dropped by the Northeast L.A. Democratic headquarters, in a minimall located at Figueroa and the Gold Line tracks, where we said "hi" to the staff, and they treated us to coffee, water, donuts and bagels. Some of the group also bought some Obama shirts they had for sale there.

Afterwards, we ended up on the campus of Occidental College in Eagle Rock, where Obama spent his first two years of college, from 1979 to 1981. We got to stop outside the Haines Hall dorm, where Obama lived during his freshman year:
It's also been said that the multicultural atmosphere of L.A. influenced Obama, as he arrived from Hawaii as "Barry Obama" and left as a transfer student to Columbia as Barack.

Instead of taking lunch in Eagle Rock, since we were well ahead on time, we just continued on and decided to finish the ride and get lunch at Philippe's. Incidentally, we saw a few other people wear "Obama-Biden" buttons.

Another great ride meeting some great folks. So what next for BARACKCYCLE!? If Obama wins, I plan to organize a victory ride in November, and also an Inauguration ride in January. I also plan to continue the last-Saturday-of-the-month ride in a different form, perhaps as a general L.A. tour, with stops at a couple eateries.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Attack of the Flying Pigeon!

I stopped off at the Gold Line Highland Park station after work today to drop by Flying Pigeon Bicycles (5711 N. Figueroa St.) to drop off a flyer for Saturday's BARACKCYCLE 4! ride.

Right there I saw the owner, Josef Bray-Ali, whom I met earlier this year at the March EHNC meeting where we endorsed the Cyclist's Bill of Rights. We chatted about neighborhood councils and how communities and elected officials can gain important resources through existing data services and the work of grad students. He was totally cool about me promoting my ride there, and even offered to have our riders do a pit stop on Saturday.

The bike shop is unique in that it sells just one kind of bicycle - a (Mainland) Chinese-made utility bike - a rather large one at that - complete with front basket, rear-axle kickstand, rack and rear-wheel lock. They come in different colors, though from their size look rather heavy. Even if large Chinese bikes aren't your thing, the shop also does bike repair and sells needed bike parts and accessories, such as tires, tubes, lights and brakes.

The shop, which has a strong "overseas" scent to it (anyone who's traveled abroad knows what I'm talking about) and a flatscreen TV that plays DVDs of martial arts films, also hosts events. On October 29 at 7 p.m., the shop will host a debate on Measure R between transit advocate Hank Fung (Yes on R) and blogger Randall Flemming (No on R). They also host a Dim Sum ride
which starts at the shop on Sundays. In addition to bike, the owners are also passionate about guerrilla gardening, where they've planted strawberries and other small plants in a pavement cutout right on the sidewalk.

Flying Pigeon adds to the already unique flavor of Highland Park, so definitely check it out if you're around.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Ode To Joy - Fishing Tackle

I stumbled upon this shop along Santa Monica the other week while walking to church: Joy Fishing Tackle (4914 Santa Monica Blvd). A fishing tackle shop, 15 miles from the nearest shore? LOL WUT? So during my deli quest today, I discovered it was open and decided to check it out.

The store sells fishing poles, tackle, nets, reel, bait (both frozen and live), other fishing-related gear, and even fishing licenses.

In chatting with the owners, I learned that this shop recently relocated from their old location near 1st and Western in Koreatown, where they had been operating for a few years. The folks behind the counter, a woman and a man, in their 50s or 60s, run the place. The guy, whose name is Shin, is the owner and I did some outreach and gave him my EHNC card. I also talked to the customer at the counter and asked him where he does his fishing. He told me he goes deep-sea fishing off of San Pedro and has been a loyal customer of Joy Fishing Tackle since they were at their old location.

Well that sort of clears it up, at first I thought opening a fishing tackle shop 15 miles from the sea was rather crazy, but if they were able to run for years in Koreatown (14 miles from the sea), then I guess that's not that too far-fetched. Anyway, when I was a kid and went fishing with my dad, he'd get his fishing gear from the local Thrifty's (now Rite-Aid), at Vermont and Santa Monica. He even got his fishing licenses there. Of course, Thrifty's didn't sell bait, we'd often get it closer to where we fished (in the local Southern Cali lakes or by the sea).

The last time I went fishing was sometime in the fall of 2003, on a boat off the coast of San Diego. And before that was when I was a kid. I guess if I wanted to take up fishing again, I know exactly where to go!

Hello, Deli!

I woke up hungry this morning, after a full night's sleep, wanting to make omelets, especially ones with melted cheddar cheese inside, and a sprinkling of feta on top. I really didn't wanna make a supermarket trip, so I decided to head over to the local deli.

A deli? In L.A., you say? Well, certain neighborhoods in town do have markets with a delicatessen counter. Here in East Hollywood, home of Little Armenia, many Armenian markets have meat-and-cheese deli counters, and the strip of Little Armenia near my place on Santa Monica Blvd is no exception. I went into the best-stocked counter, at Taslakian Market (4906 Santa Monica Blvd.) where I bought half a pound of cheddar ($3.99/lb) and a pound of Greek feta ($2.99/lb) for my needs. I also discovered they sell flaky-crust boreks here, for $1 each! In no time I was cookin' up some cheesey omelettes. Scrambled eggs with feta cheese = yum!