Thursday, December 31, 2009

Out With The Old, In With The New

Effective January 1, 2010, this blog will no longer exist. Hijo de E-Ho has been re-branded and is moving to a new location. The new blog is called elsongeles.

The URL for the new blog is: http://elsongeles.elsongs.com

I figure it's a great way to start anew...see ya on the other side!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Change Is Gonna Come...

This is my first attempt at blogging, but with too many gaps between posts, I'm gonna go re-tool this thing and come back fresh with a slightly different angle and direction. So on January 1, 2010, look for my new blog - I'll post the link here.

Monday, August 3, 2009

'Community' Comes To LACC

On my way biking back home on Heliotrope after being interviewed today at City College Cafe by a Cal State LA Sociology student on community issues in East Hollywood, I passed by Los Angeles City College and saw the peculiar-looking sign pictured atop, which read, "GREENDALE COMMUNITY COLLEGE."

Being a Hollywood-area native, I knew what was up without even guessing. It was obviously a prop for a film shoot. But the odd thing was, there were no film crew trucks nor cameras anywhere in sight.

Just to be sure, I knocked on the "concrete" sign. Yup, sure enough, it gave me a hollow tone, which meant the thing was nothing more than wood and plaster, constructed by a prop house.

I did briefly confirm with a campus security guard, who told me, "We're still LA City College, don't believe the hype." I asked him what was the filming for and he said he thinks it's "Greendale Community College."

Sure enough, while walking past the TV this evening, I see a promo for an upcoming NBC sitcom called "Community." After a trusty Google search, I learn that the series premieres this Fall, and stars comedian Chevy Chase. And lo and behold, the synopsis mentions a "Greendale Community College." Eureka!

The NBC website also created a mock Greendale CC website for the school, meant for promoting the show. Hollywood comes to East Hollywood. So there it is - "Community's" Greendale Community College is LACC. At least they're filming something in my neighborhood besides "The Shield."

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Off The Wall: E-Ho Remembers Jacko!

After his shocking, sudden death on June 25, it didn't take long to memorialize the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson - depicted in his '80s Thriller-era look - at this wall at Hel-Mel (Heliotrope at Melrose). The mural is an aerosol piece by David "Rabi" Torres of dtladesigns, who also did the new Villaraigosa mural at Santa Monica and Madison.

"Michael Jackson's music has always been the shit! When I was about seven I wanted to be him....along with everyone else in the world," said the artist. "His message was love and happiness. So when he passed, I remembered that Michael."

Rabi also added that he spent seven hours on Friday, June 26 - the day after Jackson died - making the mural.

The wall stands next to a storefront that was once the 1980s home of DMC Records, a record store catering to DJs, which moved a few miles west down Melrose in the early 1990s.

Speaking of the '80s, this mural stands right across the street from where another iconic '80s scene, from the movie Breakin', was filmed.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Our Farmer's Market Is Finally Here!

Today Kaiser Permanente's Los Angeles Medical Center Farmer's Market made its debut, to a lunchtime crowd of medical staff, nearby employees and members of the community who perused the stalls set up at Barnsdall Park's street level parking lot to enjoy their new weekly market.

In keeping with Kaiser's "Thrive" program, promoting healthier lifestyles, the market features fresh, mostly-organic produce (grown in Southern and Central California), baked goods, flowers, food stalls and live entertainment.
I bought some sweet strawberries ($6 for a 3-pack box), some lettuce and arugula, and lunched on Fijian Soul Food - a tasty fusion of Polynesian, Indian and African American cuisine. East Hollywood seems like the perfect place to have a diverse dish, of course!

The new farmer's market is open year-round every Wednesday from 12 noon to 6 p.m.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Remembering the Amrenian Genocide

Today across East Hollywood, Glendale and elsewhere in Southern California, Armenian-owned businesses will shut their doors in honor of the 1.5+ million who were killed in the Armenian Genocide.

April 24 marks the anniversary of that day in 1915 when Ottoman Turks arrested over 200 community leaders, intellectuals and influential men in the Armenian community, who were subsequently jailed and later executed. Many historians believe the systematic killing of Armenians started many years before 1915, but this event, which was intended to weaken the community by removing its thinkers and leaders, marked the symbolic and obvious beginning of what was to unfold over the next eight years.

Thousands in the Armenian community will wear black and take to the streets of Little Armenia (along Hollywood, Normandie, Western and Sunset) in a march and rally at noontime today to call to the attention of the occasion, and to protest the Turkish government's longtime refusal to officially recognize the Genocide.

Though the observed start of the Genocide was in 1915, the issue still makes headlines today, especially weeks ago when President Obama visited Turkey. The handling of the issue caused much controversy both in and outside the Armenian community.

Tomorrow, during the East Hollywood Earth Day Festival, at 11:00 a.m. a Canary Island Pine tree at Santa Monica and Vermont will be dedicated to the memory and legacy of assassinated Turkish Armenian journalist Hrant Dink.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Celebrating Songkran on Hollywood Blvd

The sixth annual Songkran - Thai New Year Festival today attracted over 100,000 to Hollywood Boulevard in Thai Town to eat, drink, see, dance, paint, buy or just hang out on a nice warm Spring Sunday afternoon. It's hands down the biggest yearly party in East Hollywood!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Long Way From E-Ho!

Today's the day I fly off to Sydney, Australia for a week's vacation. I haven't left the US since 2003 when I visited the Philippines, as well as Singapore and Malaysia.

It seems that every two years I take a major trip that involves an airplane: in 2007 I went to Portland, OR; 2005 I fortunately got to see New Orleans 5 months before it was devastated. In 2003 was the aforementioned Asia trip, and I also got to visit the East Coast as well. In 2001 I visited the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia as well as Hong Kong. In 1999, New York City. In 1997, the Philippines. 1995, Europe (England, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium); 1993 the East Coast and 1991 the East Coast and Canada.

This time, it's the Land Down Under. Why? Because it's far away. It's also the end of Summer there (though it's starting to get summer-like here). I'll also get to fly there in a Qantas Airbus A380, and thanks to the recession, I got a sweet promotional deal on my ticket ($877 RT)!

I plan to explore the city of Sydney on foot and transit (maybe rent a bike if I can) for three days, then rent a car - yes, I'll be driving on the left side of the road (wish me luck)! and visit the Blue Mountains National Park, and Canberra, the capital city of Australia (which is like driving the same distance from L.A. to Tijuana). Then I return to Sydney then leave on Friday the 27th.

I travel because I love to learn. I've discovered I learn way more traveling than sitting in a classroom. And like any place I've never been to before, I have no idea what to expect aside from any preconceived notions I might have. But once I'm there, they will all be shattered, replaced with experiences that become memories upon my return home.

Sydney, like Los Angeles, is a diverse metropolis of 4 million with many immigrant communities. One of my hopes in Sydney is to stumble upon a community there that seems to resemble East Hollywood. I've already gotten some leads via some Internet forums.

This being the 21st century, though I'll be some 9,000 miles from home, I'll still be tethered to the world I know through technology. I will hopefully update this blog while I'm there, as well as my Facebook and Twitter (twitter.com/elsongs) profiles. If you've been there before, feel free to send any tips my way!

Until then, G'day, mate!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Taking Notice: A DC-Based Blogger Gives Props to E-Ho!

Just got an email from Washington DC-based blogger Kaid Benfield of the National Resources Defense Council who took notice of the ArtCycle video on Streetfilms.org, who did some research of his own and found my humble old 'hood (and the work of the EHNC) to his liking, featuring it on his neighborhoods and sustainability blog, Switchboard. It's always cool to see people from outside Los Angeles, much more even outside California/the west take notice! Thanks, Kaid!

Garcetti Jams With The Soul Barkada!




After getting my video camera back (my sister borrowed it for her trip to the Philippines), and wrestling with YouTube's uncertain upload process, I finally got the video of last week's election night party, where my R&B/funk/soul band, Elson and the Soul Barkada got the honor of playing for Council President Eric Garcetti's election night party at the Avalon Hollywood on March 3. So here's my band, singing "Are You Ready (For Garcetti)."
I also got the honor of introducing my councilman, who joins in with the band. I think we'll make him the honorary 9th Soul Barkada member.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Good Morning

The eager rising sun peeking over the clouds, illuminating the San Gabriel Valley. Morning, everyone.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

TortaQuest '09 Continues!

Still on this torta fix, I decide to drop by the infamous twin taco trucks of East Hollywood, which are on the lot of an auto repair shop on Western and Lexington avenues, right by the 101 Freeway. The trucks, which are here every night, have gained a reputation as one of the best taco trucks in town, most notably the northernmost one, El Matador, which LA Taco.com claims as its #1 taco truck in town.

Well, they sell tortas as well - "Delicioso" as the menu claims. Alrighty then! I order una torta de pastor.
Note the nearly-transparent grease spots on top. They ain't foolin' here. The bread is nice and a little toasty, and the al pastor pork is characteristically spicy as anyone who's had an El Matador taco would attest. However, due to its greasiness, the whole thing kind of flops over when held. Don't get me wrong, this is good stuff, but the grease content was a bit high even for a torta! I'll stick to their tacos.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Transit Titos!

Growing up Filipino, a "tito" is your uncle, whether he's your parent's brother, cousin or longtime friend. Titos have long been a source of either wisdom, entertainment or humor (sometimes not intentionally). A typical Filipino party usually ends with a group of titos, bodies full of varying amounts of alcohol, singing into the Magic Mic Karaoke (with full echo engaged of course), singing Sinatra's "My Way."

So in my commute home after an overtime day of work, I get on the Red Line at Union Station and two Filipino guys, about the same age as my dad, maybe a little older, come on board, and ask the riders in the subway car to produce their "teeykets" and passes.

Now, I believe a Filipino can do anything, but someone donning a Sheriff's Dept vest on a subway train with the slight possibility one illegitimate rider might react in an unruly manner after being questioned, made me wonder. Certainly there could be a big, surly Filipino dude somewhere who can ask riders for proof of fare payment.

But if I was the only rider in the train amused by the fact that the validity of my subway ride was checked on by a pair of titos, then so be it.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

In Search Of The Perfect Torta, El Taurino

Hankerin' for a torta on a Sunday evening, I head over to El Taurino on Hoover and 11th in the Pico-Union district. A favorite taco joint of a certain noodle-headed friend of mine, I decided to check it out after long last.

Expecting an outdoor stand a la E-Ho's El Gran Burrito, this was a completely indoor place, with two counters and two lines - both rather long.

I figured it must be good, so to bide my time I decide to pull out the ol' Blackberry and do a Facebook update:

Elson is @El Taurino, in search of the best torta. (7:21 p.m.)

Which was followed up by:

Ken L. at 7:24pm March 8
Where is the best torta, you think? I'm fond of the Taco Reyes taco truck on Sherman Way, but I'm happy to continue the search for delicious tortas.

Elson at 7:26pm March 8
I've been on a torta trip lately.
You're quite a bit Valley-biased, aren't you? :)
But thanks, I will leave no stone unturned, and will check it out next time I'm over the hill!

Joe B. at 7:34pm March 8
gerlie says there's a good one in monterey park where they bake their own bread. don't know the name of it though.

Ken L. at 7:35pm March 8
I'm on the LA side a bit as well, so I would love to hear about any good torta trucks/restaurants.

I'm Valley-biased, sure, but only because I live out here, not because I think all the good tortas are out this way!!!


Elson at 7:35pm March 8 via Facebook Mobile
Joe: hot damn! I gotta check that one out!


Ken L. at 7:36pm March 8
Joe, please find out!!

Although most of the time when I'm out that way, I'm at Ocean Star Seafood or Dumpling Master, etc. on Atlantic. No tortas there.


Peter H. at 7:37pm March 8
It's called Cook's Torta's...on Atlantic Blvd....at the intersection of Floral Dr. Its pretty good. I do tend to prefer the proper roach coach though, lol. I'll have to pick you up and take you there Elson, they even hand make their own tortillas for their tacos.
*Drooling already*


Elson at 7:37pm March 8 via Facebook Mobile
Ken: Just jokin witcha man! :) There's some good Valley spots so I'll check out any suggestions there as well!


Ken L. at 7:40pm March 8
The taco truck one I mentioned is my favorite so far. It's a good torta, a little bit hit and miss, but almost always good, but I'm looking for an absolute killer torta. I ate at El Taurino a while back, and King Taco (had tacos at both, not tortas), and enjoyed both.

Thanks, Peter!


Elson at 7:40pm March 8 via Facebook Mobile
The line @ El Taurino is long..been here over 10 mins. This better be good! Big Korean clientele too! I'm getting the bistec con queso torta...cheeseteak!


Peter H. at 7:44pm March 8
Geeze, I really dislike King Taco. The salsa's are icky, I guess i'm just used to what my Mom makes here at home. ONE taco stand on Fletcher Drive (next to Foster's Freeze) had VERYYYY good tacos. Great variety of meat....the Al Pastor kicks butt there.


Elson at 7:47pm March 8 via Facebook Mobile
Peter, you're so Atwater Village-biased, lol! :)


Ken L. at 7:48pm March 8
The one time I've eaten at King Taco was in Pasadena. It was good. It wasn't killer. Still on the lookout for killer. You can't ever beat homemade, I don't think, but it doesn't mean you don't keep looking!! :)


Peter H. at 7:53pm March 8
The little corner place on Fletcher is AWESOME. I mean, I could eat there nightly and not grow tired. Salsas are g0o0o0od, lol. I'm from the hood Elson, what do you expect :p

The hospital I run is a few blocks away from Cook's Tortas in Monterey Park. I'd rather hit the roach coach scene than eat there. Just my opinion....I say we meet up and go on a sample night, haha!!


Elson at 7:54pm March 8 via Facebook Mobile
I've ordered, am waiting. I'm. #662 and they're only calling #636!


Elson at 7:57pm March 8 via Facebook Mobile
Haha, the lady sitting across from me is on the cellphone w her man, she said, "They don't sell tortas @ King Taco!" Guess I'm not alone in TortaQuest '09!!


Joe B. at 7:58pm March 8
cook's tortas
1944 S Atlantic Blvd


Peter H. at 7:59pm March 8
Hey EL....that's when I throw in the towel and go to YOSHINOYA :p


Elson at 8:00pm March 8 via Facebook Mobile
BTW thanks guys, you're making my long wait a little less tedious, haha


Elson at 8:03pm March 8 via Facebook Mobile
This place is quite trilingual! EspaƱol, English and Korean...


Peter H. at 8:04pm March 8
El, where is the place you're at located?


Elson at 8:06pm March 8 via Facebook Mobile
El Taurino on Hoover, half block S of Olympic


Peter H. at 8:06pm March 8
Could you imagine some kimchi on your torta instead of onion and cilantro? Hahaha. ACK!


Elson at 8:08pm March 8 via Facebook Mobile
Peter; That's not too farfetched: www.kogibbq.com


Peter H. at 8:09pm March 8
Damn boy, you're too far out for me. I live in a box, lol. UNLESS I'm going to MANNA all you can eat Korean BBQ....then it's acceptable to travel south on Western. Otherwise I ain't doing a drive for food that's far away. Yet you ask yourself "The how does this dude stay to damn fat, haha." I ONLY went to Rosemead today because I was already in Monterey Park checking in on my nurses.


Elson at 8:15pm March 8 via Facebook Mobile
I'm just lol'ing at the size of this comment thread! I was in the area, was driving on the 110 near downtown after church and felt an urge to stop by El Taurino (1st time here).


Peter H. at 8:17pm March 8
Hey, i'm just trying to entertain you. It seems you'll be there all night long, lol. Holla if you need company. I think it's time for a HUGE bowl of cornpops, haha.


Elson at 8:21pm March 8 via Facebook Mobile
No prob man. HEY TORTA IS READY!

Ready, yeah. Take a look at the timestamp. It's been one hour since I got in line. ONE HOUR?!?!
So here it is in all of its torta glory:
Peter H. at 8:23pm March 8
ENJOY!


Elson at 9:43pm March 8
30 replies, all about a freaking sandwich! :) I love Facebook!


Ken L. at 7:26pm March 9
Hey, so how was it?


How was it? After posting a photo of the said torta, I captioned it so:

Great torta, but not worth waiting an hour for!!!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

A Day of Boxers and Bikes: Manny, LA Bike Summit and Lance Armstrong

My Saturday: 18 miles, 13 hours, four locations and two world-class athletes.

It was one of those days. And what a day.

I left the house at about 9 a.m. and rode the two miles to Historic Filipinotown to catch a "Mayor's Community Day of Service" event at SIPA on Temple, where there were already hundreds of people there partaking in a mini neighborhood fair on a closed-off Robinson Street. City-sponsored young citrus trees were being given out to residents, teams of volunteer cleanup crews, armed with brooms, left and returned, music played and people waited patiently to see the champ: Manny Paquiao.

At about 10:30 a.m. he came out, planted a tree on Temple, and was given a proclamation by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. When Manny spoke, I was curious as to how the champ would botch the mayor's name, as most people are prone to anyway (FTR: he pronounced it, "Billyaaaaaa...uhhh...agosa." Close enough for jazz!).

Surprisingly, yet unsurprisingly, scores of community folks came out: Filipino senior citizens, Filipino American college students, and even the Los Angeles Derby Dolls - who are tenants of SIPA-owned property - united in keeping the neighborhood clean. Of course, without Manny it wouldn't have been a big deal (nor as well-attended), but whatever works, works.
An hour later or so I skeedaddled on bike down Temple, Glendale, Figueroa, 4th and down Flower to L.A. Trade Tech college, where the LA Bike Summit was taking place. The usual workshop format I'm quite used to as a community person awaited me, but it was cool nonetheless.

I did see many familiar faces in the local "bike culture" scene, including people I've never seen outside of the Hel-Mel element. That made me wonder whether this preach-to-the-choir event had any efficacy to it at all, or whether it was meant to inspire optimism, organizing, advocacy and action.

One of the workshop sessions I attended was LA County Bike Coalition's "CiclLAvia" concept of setting up a weekly network of streets closed, yet permeable, to automobile traffic (open to bicycles and pedestrians) based on Bogota, Colombia's "Ciclovia," which has been a tradition there since 1976.

The concept got everyone's minds a-buzzing, bringing up ideas and concerns alike. Some people asked about how transit buses would be affected, which was a legitimate question. I suggested that outreach be done to community groups and nonprofits to increase buy-in by having them schedule coinciding festivals or events. I also recommended including churches (who are also prone to be affected) and having them encourage their congregations to ride their bikes to church.
I'm curious though to see the after-effects of this program. Granted most people or organizations already knew each other, and probably see one another fairly often on bike rides. But Saturday was a day to keep the two-wheeler stowed away and use our heads for a moment.

Still it was cool to be in the company of bike-minded folks, (including fellow Barackcyclist Carlos Morales from the East LA Bike Club) who want to make a difference.

Afterward, I rode with friend and fellow cyclist blogger type Will Campbell back to East Hollywood where we caught up with 698 other riders for the 2.3-mile LiveSTRONG ride with none other than Lance Armstrong.
We donned yellow shirts reading "Hope Rides Again" (the lucky few got to wear black shirts and
start the race alongside Mr. Armstrong. All this time I couldn't help but be amused by the fact that the world's most famous cyclist will be riding a bike in my neighborhood, reputedly the center of the city's bicycle culture. Just amazing.
We set off towards the Sunset along...well, Sunset. Yellow boxes of chalk were given away for people to draw or write messages expressing their or their loved one's experiences with cancer.
I also got a kick out of someone scrawling "MIDNIGHT RIDAZZ" and the skull logo on Sunset by Edgemont, wondering whether Mr. Armstrong saw it...
The ride ended not too long after it began, with a dramatic swoop of yellow-shirted masses turning due north on Vine Street. We dismounted just yards ahead at Selma, and parked our bikes at the bike valet, when lo and behold a giant Shepard Fairey iconic mural for Armstrong was painted on the south wall of the Ricardo Montalban Theatre. The messages: "Defiance, Courage, Action!"

Inside we were treated to a private audience with Mr. Armstrong himself, alongside Lance Armstrong Foundation head Doug Ulman and Nike CEO Mark Parker, and later joined by artist Fairey. Armstrong was introduced by actor and comedian Ben Stiller, with the night closed by a concert by another famous Ben - Ben Harper and his new band, the Relentless 7.
Mr. Armstrong was humble, honest and inspiring. He even made a comment advocating for better safety for cyclists on the streets.

An interesting point, as when I talked to some fellow cyclists prior to the ride, I noticed that most of them were the "sport cyclist" types that ride only in closed-road conditions, one I talked to told me he was "terrified" to ride on the streets! This is something I do every time without much thought...Just an interesting perspective on the different types of bike riders that are out there.

To end this real long post, and to tie it all together, I'm reminded on the power of celebrity. Los Angeles, and especially "Hollywood," for whatever definition is applied, gets a lot of flak for its association, or even obsession, with celebrities. But todayI saw the power of celebrity being used to encourage and inspire -- whether it's fighting blight on the streets of Historic Filipinotown or fighting cancer worldwide, prominent role models can get people off their apathy chairs and into action...if it works, it works.

Now, imagine if we can get Lance to advocate for bicycle safety awareness by motorists on the streets. Imagine a PSA with a motorist cussing out a cyclist on the street, only to learn it's Lance Armstrong. And no one would cuss out Lance Armstrong. Again, if it works, it works.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

East Hollywood ArtCycle Video!




Streetfilms' Clarence Eckerson Jr., who rode along on the 3:00 p.m. ArtCycle ride I led (The 2-hour Extended Director's Cut edition :)) made this great video that shows the energy and excitement of last weekend's East Hollywood ArtCycle. Check it out, you might also see some familiar faces too...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Endorsements: Garcetti, Amerian


Today is election day in the City of Los Angeles, and like any active informed citizen, I'm gonna vote at my local polling place, which is Lexington Primary Center.

So here's who and what I'm voting for, heck it's my blog:

City Council, District 13: Eric Garcetti

Running for his third and final term, Garcetti is the deserving choice for re-election. As an organizer/activist in my community, not just here in East Hollywood, but also in nearby Historic Filipinotown, among many reasons, he's one of the few public officials anywhere who understands the issues of this City's ethnic communities. Plus, his staff is some of the coolest people around, and hey, the dude is on Facebook.

I won't say anything negative about the character of Garcetti's opponent, who happens to be a friend of mine and is my colleague on the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council governing board. Gary Slossberg has been a hard-working and responsible board member and treasurer/corresponding treasurer. However, despite his knowledge of the issues in the Hollywood and East Hollywood areas, I don't feel he knows very much about the other 2/3rds of the 13th district, neighborhoods that have very different issues.

Here's what some people from the East Hollywood community, both of whom I know, have worked with and respect, have to say about Garcetti:








City Attorney: Michael Amerian

In one of the more hotly-contested races are five candidates vying to succeed Rocky Delgadillo, two of which happen to have the same name. Michael Amerian, the only candidate with actual experience in the City Attorney's office has been nice enough to outreach to me and my community by attending one of the EHNC's meetings and the recent East Hollywood ArtCycle. I haven't heard from any of the other four, so Amerian gets my vote.

Measure B: COIN TOSS!

One of the most controversial measured in this ballot has to do with the use of solar energy in the City. Both sides support solar energy in L.A.; one side says it'll bring more jobs and economic development in a time when people need it and the other side says the plan is poorly drafted and without proper community input. I have very good and respected friends on both sides of the issue and still none of them have made a clear argument for me on why I should vote their way. So I will bring a quarter to the polling booth, flip it (heads yes, tails no) and vote accordingly.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Kaiser's On A Roll

This week, the new 7-story wing of Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center on Sunset Blvd opens, the first major step of the hospital's modernization project. This weekend, I noticed the building will have colored lighting effects illuminating parts of the facade, which shift in color a la the LAX light towers.

The new building is designed to be built as a replacement for the existing Kaiser facilities, which will move in. Long term plans for the hospital have the other buildings towards Edgemont St be demolished and replaced with new structures. Exciting but also a little saddening for me personally, since this is the very place where I was born (the 2nd floor maternity ward, to be exact...), and where my mom worked for 25 years.

According to Ellen Zaman, who heads community affairs of neighboring Children's Hospital LA, to commemorate the opening of the new Kaiser wing, the three major medical centers of East Hollywood, which also includes Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, are trying to get the City of L.A. to designate either an area or an intersection with signage to recognize the hospital presence in the area, but a name hasn't been decided yet.

I've heard the hospitals jokingly referred to in the past as "Bedpan Alley." But I guess myself being the "Hijo de E-Ho" (So I guess that's a title of royalty now?), having been one of the people to come up with the "Hel-Mel" name for Heliotrope and Melrose, has thrown this suggestion for the med center zone:

"Healthcare Square"

Saturday, February 28, 2009

East Hollywood ArtCycle!

Today was the big day for East Hollywood ArtCycle, our community's version of an art walk/artcrawl. It was something that was born in the fall of 2008 at the EHNC Arts & Culture committee meetings, and it's the brainchild of the co-chairs of the committee -- Jennifer Moran, an artist, and Enci Box, a cyclist. After months of planning, organizing, outreach and a $2500 budget from the EHNC, it finally happened.

But a simple artwalk on two wheels it was not. It was helluva lot more than that. It was a street festival at Hel-Mel, it was a concert, at least four candidates in this coming Tuesday's municipal election showed up to represent, and there was even a (n illegal) fireworks display!

Much of the people came from elsewhere, but nothing wrong about that - part of the reason this was organized was to highlight East Hollywood. I did see the neighborhood Latino and Armenian kids and families either curious join in or extended the party to their front yards by putting up lights and blasting their own music.

I got to lead one of the four hourly bike rides through the neighborhood from Hel-Mel to art studios in the Cahuenga Library area to Sunset Junction - which is technically Silver Lake, but it's still East Hollywood Adjacent, to La Luz de Jesus gallery on Hollywood and a couple of private studios in Thai Town. My ride, which had over 20 people, left Hel-Mel at around 3 p.m.

Of course, myself being the "Hijo de E-Ho," I wanted to show off some of the 'hood...so I gave them the Director's Cut. The 1/5-hour ride turned into a 2-hour ride, not only stopping at the designated galleries and studios, but pointing out things like the histories of the Ukrainian Cultural Center, LACC, Thai Town, Little Armenia, and even Keifer Sutherland's secret lair (shhhh!), the lighting yard-cum-park to be and the "EAST HOLLYWOOD" advertising kiosk at Hollywood and Sunset.

The event attracted several hundred people. Not bad, eh?

It was a true community event. I got to re-connect with familiar faces in the community. I got to
connect with new people involved in the EHNC. I even met, for the first time, a neighbor of mine who lived in East Hollywood about as long as I have, and he even rocked his own Y-Que "East Hollywood" t-shirt. One of my friends turned up just because he read my Facebook status on ArtCycle!

Personally speaking, I'm real tickled. This is the first major event of the EHNC that I didn't have to directly plan and organize, and I'm actually happy about that - it's about damn time! Most of all it's gotten the "East Hollywood" name out there, as the event posters have attested, and it would leave no doubt to the visitors as to where and what E-Ho is. Kudos to Jen, Enci, everyone who helped out and look forward to ArtCycle 2010!

Friday, February 27, 2009

My New Laptop, Sorta!

Just got a new keyboard delivered at work today - no, not a music keyboard, nor a computer keyboard. But it's a Freedom Universal2 Keyboard, a foldable keyboard that works with cellphones and PDAs via Bluetooth. It's also got a little retractable stand for my phone - which is really more like a micro laptop computer, since it's got way more computing power than the 386 I used to rock when I was in college.

I got this just for my Blackberry Bold - so I can maximize my time, especially writing and blogging while during my Australia trip. This way, I don't have to haul around a big laptop -- and be afraid of it getting lost or stolen -- nor do I have to search for an Internet cafe. Closer to home, I also might want to do some writing while commuting on the Metro to or from work.

So far, it works great, Bluetooth was a slight enigma at first but it works smoothly now. My only complaint is that the right-hand "SHIFT" key is waaay too small, and I'm having trouble typing out capitalized characters. I got it for just under $100 including shipping from BlackBerrySource.com.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

WE'RE #1!!!!

This week Forbes magazine unveiled its list of America's Worst Intersections [sic], the last word being a misnomer, since once reading the article, you learn they're talking about highway/freeway/expressway interchanges and exits and not a place where two surface streets cross, unless the Forbes folks live in a region where an "intersection" means something else - kind of like how those Midwesterners call carbonated soft drinks "pop."

Anyway, I was pleased/displeased/amused to learn that not only is Los Angeles ranked #1 in traffic congestion (w00t!) but the worst bottleneck is in East Hollywood -- namely the Vermont on/off-ramp of the Hollywood Freeway (101). Ain't that a dandy.

This, folks, is a cause for celebration.

Of course, I try to avoid this as much as possible. I'm speeding about 55 mph in a subway train 60 feet below the street to and from work every day, and in a car I'm wise enough to use Beverly or Temple as a reasonable alternate route.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday @ The Cathedral

Went to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels right after work on Wednesday to get some black stuff put on my forehead. Also took some pics from the plaza, which also included the towering "space coaster" or "robot statue" thingy from the "Central Los Angeles New High School #9," the moon and an airline contrail lit by the setting sun:

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Small Businesses Don't Have To Suck

While biking home from my campaign volunteer activities and CD shopping at Amoeba, I passed by this humble little vacuum store on Fountain and Hobart that had n array of upright vacuum cleaners lines up inside the shop, outside the door and right at the curb.

Seeing that I've long procrastinated buying a couple of small attachments that got lost from my Hoover upright vacuum cleaner, I wondered if this store would have them in stock.

I asked the man at the counter and he told me he didn't think he had them but found a compatible part, much bigger than the one I looked for, yet still able to fit the Hoover vacuum hose.

Then looking down at one of the used Hoover models I pointed out that the attachments looked exactly like those attachments, and the proprietor, whose name was Sabatino, told me he'd be willing to sell them to me. The price was $4 each - making the purchase $8. I produced a five and three singles from my wallet right away.

He told me his business was only around for a couple months, having relocated from Sunset and Tamarind (near the Arby's)...and that my $8 was the first sale he ever made.

I was kind of floored. I don't know how many of you reading this (if at all :)) are in need of a used vacuum cleaner or repairs to your existing one, but if you do, this store can give you what you need. It saved me from an online purchase that would charge me more in shipping than it would for the item itself! So come check out Sunset Vacuum Shop & Service on 5324 Fountain Ave (at Hobart). I just love it when everything you need is pretty much nearby.

I also did some neighborhood council outreach, telling him about what we do and gave him my card, offering to help him out with any city-related issue he'd see in the neighborhood.

Yeah, there's a joke somewhere that says that no matter how well you do in the vacuum cleaner business, it's always going to suck...But sometimes it doesn't have to!

Hooray for Hollywood

As the area gears up for the Academy Awards on Sunday, on my bike ride en route to Central Hollywood to do some precinct walking for Eric Garcetti's campaign, I happened upon the sight of Charlie Chaplin waiting for a DASH bus at Fountain and Vine(!).

Okay, sure it's one of those impersonator dudes who stand in front of Mann's Chinese Theatre, but you just can't pass this up. Where else but in Hollywood?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cirrus-ly Speaking

Nothing more to say other than the simple beauty of the purplish cirrus clouds following the setting sun on a Friday evening.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Show Some Love For Children's Hospital LA!

East Hollywood's very own Children's Hospital Los Angeles needs your support!

The medical center is currently part of an Internet competition among 11 hospitals nationwide as part of the "Show of Love" program sponsored by the Colgate-Palmolive company and the Starlight Foundation to help seriously ill children cope with the pain, fear and isolation that often accompanies serious illnesses, such as Sickle Cell Disease. Each of the 11 hospitals will be receiving a Starlight Fun Center mobile entertainment units for pediatric patients, but the top three hospitals receiving online votes by February 27 will get a second one!

The "Fun Centers," valued at $4300 each, consist of a Sharp LCD HDTV, a DVD player, and Nintendo Wii video game console and are designed to help seriously ill children cope by providing fun and diversion at their bedside.

Currently, CHLA is ranked #3, right behind hospitals in Houston and Detroit. Keep CHLA in the running and support a winner in East Hollywood! The voting ends at 12 noon EST on Friday, February 27. You may vote once per 24-hour period from any single computer. Vote early and vote often!

To vote, visit this site:
http://www.colgate.com/app/Colgate/US/Corp/CommunityPrograms/show-the-love/vote.cvsp

Then select "Los Angeles - Children's Hospital Los Angeles," enter the capcha code and submit! It won't cost you a dime, only a minute of your time!

Metro Kettle Corn!

I happened upon quite amusing sight when I emerged from the Vermont/Santa Monica Metro station at the end of my commute: A kettle corn booth! Right smack dab in the middle of the station plaza! I love kettle corn! So I shelled out the $6 for a big bag...had to show my support.
Normally kettle corn booths are a common sight at county fairs or farmer's markets. This time, it takes on a decidedly more urban setting.

But perhaps we'll see a farmer's market in East Hollywood. SEE-LA, the Hollywood Farmer's Market operator, had been running a small Wednesday evening farmer's market at the old Sears parking lot near Santa Monica and Western since 2001, but had to move out due to the new Paseo Plaza development coming there soon. They're currently looking for a new home in East Hollywood, possibly setting up in Hel-Mel (a.k.a. the bicycle district at Heliotrope and Melrose).