Sunday, August 31, 2008

Good weekend

MB spent Saturday and Sunday at his house in Lancaster so it was just me and Kidlo this weekend. On Saturday we had breakfast at the Nickle Diner, the new place on Main between 5th and 6th. The space is beautifully decorated with red leather booths and tiled floors, and the staff were super nice and falling over themselves to be of service.

They didn't have a high chair for Kidlo but co-owner Kristen assured me they'd have high chairs by next weekend. Good thing too since I saw two other families in the restaurant while we were there. Kristen and I chatted a bit and she said that she was glad to open the restaurant on a stretch of Main that in the past had been a bit intimidating for women to walk down alone (more on that later). She also claimed that the menu items were chosen with women in mind, though I'm sure that even the most macho guys would enjoy eating here. I had the baked eggs with polenta and sourdough toast--so good that I came back on Sunday when I ordered the even-better scramble with goat cheese, spinach and bacon with homemade salsa.

I was happy when I found out the Nickle was opening because as Kristen said, that stretch of Main has always felt a bit intimidating to me, mostly because residents of the Hotel Leonidas hang out in front. But I'm thinking that perception may not have had much to do with reality. After eating breakfast, Kidlo and I walked past the Leonidas and were greeted very politely by the men standing in front. One guy even said, "That looks like a happy baby!" Same thing on Sunday when I went back. It was a nice reminder that most of the people who live in the residential hotels are just neighbors (though I'll admit it's pretty f-d up that I needed reminding at all).

After eating at the Nickel on Saturday, Kidlo and I walked to Olvera Street. The walk was very nice--I enjoyed looking at all the beautiful Art Deco (I think) government buildings. Olvera Street is very touristy but it's a nice place to take kids. Kidlo had a great time toddling past the vendors and through the oldest house in Los Angeles. I'm really happy that there are so many kid-friendly destinations that I can get to without a car.

Jesus on the wall of the Oldest House in LA

Sunday Kidlo and I hung out by the pool. Not surprisingly, it was pretty crowded and everyone looked surprised to see a baby in the water. It's funny how most loft dwellers think of Downtown as being a kid-free zone. (FYI, the baby population of my building increased by one this week.) The pool was great--no chicken floating in it or anything.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Veterinarians Downtown?

My kitty Chula (pictured at right; Archie is the kitty at left) is pretty sick. Her liver is so enlarged that it's pressing against her lungs and heart, and her kidneys aren't working too well. I took her to Echo Park Animal Hospital on Glendale Boulevard but I don't think the doctor is very good and I'm looking for a second opinion. Can anyone recommend a vet close to downtown?

Update: Thanks to all who recommended vets. Chula is doing okay for now--she's eating and seems to be comfortable. I'll let you all know what the vet says on Tuesday.

No Recycling For Us

We got a flyer about a month ago announcing that our building was starting a recycling program. I was very pleased since one of the reasons I like living downtown is that it's less wasteful in almost every way to the traditional single-family-house, driving-everywhere lifestyle. But yesterday I found out that my building isn't recycling anymore. Apparently people in the building were dumping trash instead of recyclables into the bins and the landlord decided he didn't want to deal with it.

So, a few questions for anyone who's reading: Is this legal? Can the landlord just decide not to recycle? And do I have any other recycling options? I'm willing to walk a few blocks to avoid polluting landfills with more crap.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This trend must end

I've seen at least three girls in the neighborhood with skull tattoos right in the middle of their chests. Big tats that stretch from shoulder to shoulder. I'm too much of a chicken to take photos of these girls, but Flickr has plenty of examples of what I'm talking about.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Man on Wire--see it.

MB and I went to see Man on Wire at the Laemmle in Pasadena last night, and wow. It's the story of Philippe Petit's wire walk between the towers of the World Trade Center. The movie unfolds like a crime caper--think the Great Escape, only Petit and his buddies are breaking into the World Trade Center instead of breaking out. The movie has you on the edge of your seat until Petit finally sets foot on the wire, when the mood shifts to an almost spiritual awe. In the words of Sgt. Charles Daniels, who was one of the officers called to the scene:

I observed the tightrope 'dancer'—because you couldn't call him a 'walker'—approximately halfway between the two towers. And upon seeing us he started to smile and laugh and he started going into a dancing routine on the high wire....And when he got to the building we asked him to get off the high wire but instead he turned around and ran back out into the middle....He was bouncing up and down. His feet were actually leaving the wire and then he would resettle back on the wire again....Unbelievable really....[E]verybody was spellbound in the watching of it. I personally thought I was seeing something I would never see again. I thought it was once in a lifetime.

The movie never mentions 9/11 and it doesn't have to, since you can't help but think about it as you see the beautiful photos of Petit making his crossing. It was the right decision for a lot of reasons.

I think the spirit of the movie is really captured by this New Yorker cover, which appeared on September 11, 2006.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Halloween Fashion Show for Downtown Kids (with custom-designed costumes!)

Just got an email about a special Halloween event.

Hi all,
So I just received some exciting news -- there will be a family oriented event taking place at the Grand Hope Park (FIDM campus)this Halloween. As part of the festivities, a children's Halloween costume fashion show will be staged.

Downtown families with children 12 and under are being asked to sponsor a student from FIDM in the amount of $30 who will in turn design a special costume (with your child's input) for your child to wear in the fashion show. After the event, your child gets to keep the costume! Boys are encouraged to participate as well.

If this sounds like something you would like to take part in, email me OFF LIST with the details below. I will then forward your info to the event coordinator who will contact you directly with information about matching your child with a designer and to answer any questions you may have regarding rehersals, fitting times and dates, etc. Deadline to submit your info is this Friday (August 22). Spots are limited so please send your info as soon as you can.


  • YOUR name
  • GENDER AND AGE of each child you'd like to participate

$30 for a custom-made costume? I'm signing up Kidlo today!

I don't want to publish Maria's email address, so if you're interested in signing up your kid, contact me in the comments or through the contact link at the top right of the blog page.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Children's Programs through the LA Philharmonic

A woman I work with told me about the LA Philharmonic's programs for children. It turns out they have an amazing number of things going on, many of them free or low cost. Here's a sample:

Toyota Symphonies for Youth: Eight concerts created especially for children age five to eleven and their families. Conducted by Assistant Conductors Joana Carneiro and Lionel Bringuier, and Conducting Fellow Ward Stare, these concerts are a perennial favorite of old and young alike. Pre-concert activities such as art-making, singing, dancing, and story-telling open this fun-filled and thrilling event.

Music and Art for Kids at the Hollywood Bowl: Six weeks of morning concerts and fine arts activities engage children and their families in learning about the world of music.

Youth Orchestra Los Angeles: Inspired by the pending arrival of Gustavo Dudamel as the LA Philharmonic’s music director, and El Sistema, the music education system that nurtured him, the Philharmonic has initiated with partners and community stakeholders plans to increase access to quality instrumental music instruction and youth orchestra experience for Los Angeles children with limited resources. The first youth orchestra established as part of this initiative is the EXPO Center Youth Orchestra in Central LA – a partnership between the LA Philharmonic, The Harmony Project, and the EXPO Center, a City of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks community center. Participating children, ages 7-16, come from over 20 neighboring public and private schools, and receive free music instruction, instruments and the opportunity to participate in a community youth orchestra. As part of the larger effort to provide sequential pathways of instrumental instruction and orchestra experience for more children, the LA Philharmonic is also convening on a regular basis over 30 stakeholder organizations including LAUSD’s Arts Education Branch, LA’s BEST, existing community youth orchestras, and many more to assure better coordination between in-school and after-school music programs.

For more information, go to

Reading is Fundamental

Kidlo and I went to the Central Library today and wow. It's amazing! I'm ashamed to admit that this is the first time I've ever visited, even though I have a library card and used the local branches a lot. I was blown away by the gorgeous murals and the atrium.

The children's literature section is wonderful--really big with a nice reading area where you can lounge with your little ones. It also features a puppet theater, where we sat and watched a cute show featuring an update of Rumplestiltskin. Kidlo is a little too young to sit still for a whole show, but he had a great time during the Bingo sing-a-long (There was a farmer who had a dog...). Oh, and the show was free.

Also at the show were Maria, the woman who founded the Yahoo Group City Kids LA, and her three daughters. They are a seriously gorgeous family and the girls were so much fun to hang out with. Maria's daughter, Ava, took a particular shine to Kidlo and helped me keep him corralled.

Also in the children's area are galleries featuring items from the Library's permanent collection and an exhibit on images of children in picture books.

Outside of the library is a lovely patio area with benches and grass where kids can run around, so this helps to alleviate (to some extent) the lack of parks downtown.

The Central Library really is an incredible treasure and I'm looking forward to spending a whole lot more time there with Kidlo.

Central Library Children's Literature Department

Kids Events (all free!)

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Word is, after cleaning the historically-protected Stock Exchange doors, they spray painted them gold. With non-historically-correct gold Paint. I tried to get a picture, but by the time I got there today, there was a guy with a paintbrush and some kind of solvent taking it (the paint) off. Then a tough looking guy in a red "Ferrari" polo shirt came out and gave me the stink eye, so I left.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tableaux at a swap meet

Taken on Broadway between 7th and 8th.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

This afternoon I spotted workmen pressure-washing the door of the Stock Exchange, with other work going on inside. Is the S.E. going to reopen as a club? "I think so," opined one of the workmen.

I don't know how the folks at City Lofts feel about SE reopening as a club, but the doors will look great.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Driving down and gasoline revenues down too

Interesting article in the Wall Street Journal describing how changes in driving habits are affecting tax revenues:

An unprecedented cutback in driving is slashing the funds available to rebuild the nation's aging highway system and expand mass-transit options, underscoring the economic impact of high gasoline prices. The resulting financial strain is touching off a political battle over government priorities in a new era of expensive oil.

A report to be released Monday by the Transportation Department shows that over the past seven months, Americans have reduced their driving by more than 40 billion miles. Because of high gasoline prices, they drove 3.7% fewer miles in May than they did a year earlier, the report says, more than double the 1.8% drop-off seen in April.

The cutback furthers many U.S. policy goals, such as reducing oil consumption and curbing emissions. But, coupled with a rapid shift away from gas-guzzling vehicles, it also means consumers are paying less in federal fuel taxes, which go largely to help finance highway and mass-transit systems. As a result, many such projects may have to be pared down or eliminated.


As debate revs up, the retreat from the roads shows how consumers are altering the transportation equation. With driving down, the number of people riding Amtrak has risen 11% this year, and mass-transit systems in many areas, including Seattle and South Florida, are experiencing ridership increases of 30% or more, according to the American Public Transit Association.

APTA President William Millar rides Washington's Metro rail each weekday between his home downtown and Falls Church, Va. He used to be able to find a seat at some point on his trip, but these days, he said, "I can't even squeeze onto the train" during the afternoon rush.

Earlier this year, the House passed legislation that would provide an additional $1.7 billion to transit agencies over two years. Both chambers have passed bills that would significantly boost Amtrak funding.

In other non-driving news, a New York Times article talks about the benefits of living in an older (i.e. more walkable) neighborhood.

Can where you live play a role in how much you weigh? A new study finds that it can, and reports that people who live in older neighborhoods appear less likely to be overweight.

The key, the researchers say, is walkability. Older communities are more likely to encourage people to drive less and walk more, which can help keep weight down.


With each extra decade of a neighborhood’s age, the researchers said, the risk of obesity was 13 percent lower for men and 8 percent lower for women.

There are several reasons older neighborhoods are more walkable, said the lead author, Ken R. Smith of the University of Utah: better sidewalks, trees to provide shade and intersections at shorter intervals.

But older neighborhoods have something even more basic when it comes to luring someone into heading out on foot.

“You always want to have something to walk to,” Dr. Smith said. And unlike many modern residential areas, older communities may have stores and other businesses near houses.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Crossing the street and surviving

Kidlo and I went to the California Science Center on Friday. I decided to take the bus since I'm a big believer in public transportation and I just didn't feel like driving.

The bus trip itself was great. I caught the DASH F line on Flower & 7th with no problems--bus came quickly, I was able to get Kidlo's stroller folded and on the bus with minimal hassle and Kidlo loved being able to check out fellow passengers and look out the window. In fact, he liked the bus a lot more than he likes riding in the car--being able to sit on mom's lap and check out scenery is way cooler than being strapped into a car seat alone with nothing to look at.

But when we got to Exposition Boulevard, things got a lot more unpleasant. Phase 1 of the Expo Line is under construction and it's a complete pain in the ass to get across the street. I won't complain too much about that since it's for a good cause and I'm sure I'll use the light rail once it's built.

But I will whine about the traffic lights at that intersection. They just don't give you enough time to get across the street. I practically had to sprint while pushing Kidlo in his stroller--what about older people or disabled people? What if you're just loaded down with packages and can't get across in the 22 seconds allotted? And this is in a university neighborhood where presumably there are a lot of students without cars. This is a dangerous situation, made worse by the fact that Exposition and Flower are big streets and adjacent to the freeway.

C'mon city planners. I know that you have an interest in keeping traffic moving. But with oil prices up and mass transit becoming more popular, you have to start keeping walkers in mind too. Don't make pedestrians feel like they're in a remake of Mad Max every time they cross the street.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Seen on Saturday morning

Two guys carrying at least two dozen boxes of Vans sneakers into their loft. I love downtown entrepreneurs.