Thursday, December 31, 2009

Spotted on Spring Street

I don't know why. But there it is.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Downtown grows up!

MB here,

Those of you who regularly read our little blog (and we thank you for your attention!) have probably noticed by now that we just haven't been posting that much. Sure, there's the occasional rant about noise or street corner comedians or whatnot, but we aren't writing as much about our life downtown as we used to.

I wondered why, myself. We aren't tired of writing, or bored of the blog, or blogging in general. It is, I think, that this was conceived as a blog about our adventures of moving downtown with a child, and that part of our life is no longer interesting, and I mean interesting in the sense of that old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times!"

When we started this blog, it was an exciting event to hear of a new shop or eatery opening, and trying to minimize our car trips outside the 'hood was something of a puzzle. Now, we have burgers and groceries across the street, ice cream and waffles around the corner, several choices for Breakfast and I either walk to Ralphs and complain about the prices or bite the bullet and drive to the newley remodled Vons on glendale (or better yet, Gold Line to Trader Joes!) The Downtown Parents Group is going great, the play dates and get togethers are crowded and I spot pregnant hipsters scooting in and out of the loft buildings most every weekend. Hell, H'wood is even setting rom-coms down here in dreamy dreamy DTLA (still waiting for the "300 days of summer" mash-up.)

So what does this mean? We are more comfortable here. And as our comfort grows, the prod of discomfort that pushes us to post dulls somewhat and becomes, how can I say it? Less Pokey.

This is not a "sorry I havn't updated my blog" post, or a good-bye of any sort. It's a recognition that Downtown, or more correctly our relationship to Downtown, has turned a corner. I'm posting to recognise that, to mark the moment, as it were.

And now it's time to get on with it. My next post may or may not be directly Downtown related. Perhaps I'll expand the area of interest of this blog beyond just navel-gazing in the City. Oh, who am I kidding? It will be about Awesome Coffee available right around the corner.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Beep beep BEEP

MB here...

It's noisy downtown. The general noise and hubub of the city doesn't bother me. Our loft doesn't face the street, we face a "light court". The building is U-shaped, and we have a nice little patio on one leg of the U, high enough to overlook the open air above the "arcade" portion of the Mercantile Arcade building. I have a nice view of the California Plaza buildings, and overall, it's pretty quiet back there. What noise there is is of the background variety. Traffic, laughing neighbors, etc.

The Arcade building consists of two 12-story towers, one facing Broadway just north of 6th street, and one fracing Spring street. Connecting the two towers is a walkable arcade filled with shops, so you can walk from Spring st. straight through the building to Broadway. It's been sitting empty above the ground floor ever since we moved in, but recently there has been an explosion of activity. Apparently the owners have overcome whatever obstacle has been in the road, and the conversion of the building to lofts is back on track.

The construction hasn't been loud or annoying at all. What has been annoying is the alarms. Occasionally, an alarm would go off in the building. Either a whoop-whoop alternating with a prerecorded voice instructing all within earshot to stop work and make for the exits, or an exceptionally annoying electronic beep. Beep beep beep. Three loud electronic tones emitting from the upper floors or roof of the broadway-side tower. Oddly enough, you really can't here the alarm from the floor of the arcade, but you can hear it from the parking lot north of the building on Spring, and you sure as hell can hear it in my loft.

For a while the alarm had been going off at odd times and running for anywhere from half an hour to a few hours before shutting off. But a week ago monday the alarm started beeping at noon and didn't quit until 10:00 PM. Really annoying.

Beep beep beep.

The following Wednesday, it went off again around Noon. Beep beep beep. I went next door and wandered around until I spotted some guys with "fire control" on their shirts. They really couldn't say anything about it, but they went and fetched a well-dressed young-ish dark haired guy they identified as their "big boss". "We are doing occasional tests, but it shouldnt' be going off on weekends" he told me. "It's going off now" I replied. "Now?" "Yes, Now." "Um, ok..." He got on the phone, and got the alarm shut off, but it was clear he had no idea it was running at all.

Beep beep beep.

Of course the beeps where back the very next day, at 10:00 AM. I had no idea how to contact anyone over there... I had neglected to get a number for the Fire Control guy, and there is no "In case of emergency" or "Managed by..." numbers on the building itself. There's probably some easy and simple way to get emergency contact info for any building downtown, but I don't know it. The building permits I retrieved from the Dept. of Building and Safety's web site gave the contractor as "Santa Fe Construction Co Inc; Lic. No.: 871003", with an address that Google showed to be a single family home in Winnetka. The contractor's phone #, (818) 326-3533, was a cell phone the no one picked up. The listed "Responsible Managing Officer (RMO)" for Santa Fe is Gregory Martin, and some googling of that name found that Greg Martin is the owner of the Arcade building, or a VP of the developer, "Fifth Street Funding", or perhaps the elusive avatar of a trio of front companies holding real estate on behalf of a wealthy and mysterious Australian family. Whatever. Calling Fifth Street Funding led me to Lucia Parisi, the manager of the Arcade Building.

Beep beep beep.

Lucia was able to get the alarm shut off in short order, once I convinced her that this wasn't just "testing", and that it was in fact running continuously. And the alarm pretty much stayed off, 'till today.

Beep beep beep.

The alarm is running when I get home today at 1:30PM.

Beep beep beep.

I call Lucia at 2, she's not in.

Beep beep beep.

I call Lucia an hour later, she's in but in a meeting.

Beep beep beep.

I convince the receptionist to break into the meeting, but Lucia "is aware of the situation and will take care of it ASAP"

Beep beep beep.

I call again at 4:30, everyone is gone for the day.


Listen developer people. I am your neighbor. I live here. I get to watch the comings and goings of your little construction project. And I'm not going away. Do you really want me to be the pissed off neighbor who spends his time filing complaints and taking photos and raising "issues" with the city and county, the police and the BID? Organizing the community? Showing up at every hearing to voice my concerns? Filing complaints with the LAPD Noise Enforcement Team? LA Building and safety? Of course not. And I don't want to be that guy. So shut off your goddamned alarm and pick up the phone when it rings. ok?

Monday, November 23, 2009

NY Magazine Profiles Bratton

Just wanted to share: New York Magazine profiles former LA police chief William Bratton.

In the debate over whether policing is an art or a science, Bratton is a firm believer that it’s a science. His successes, he says, were attributable to two basic policing strategies: CompStat and “broken windows.” The former is the system Bratton and his NYPD deputy commissioner, the late Jack Maple, developed in 1994 that introduced computer analysis of crime patterns and strict accountability measures to modern policing. The latter is the theory first articulated by the academics George Kelling and James Q. Wilson in 1982, and later put into practice by Bratton with New York’s transit cops and then with the NYPD, that by cracking down on minor quality-of-life crimes—graffiti, fare-hopping, breaking windows—police can reduce serious crime as well. “There’s nothing going on in Los Angeles that’s different from what I did in New York,” Bratton says. “I have CompStat and I have very assertive cops making a lot of arrests.”

And yet it was Bratton’s willingness to adapt these strategies to two very different environments that accounts for his successes. In other words, he was as much of an artist as he was a scientist. One crucial adjustment was patience. In New York City, Bratton had commanded 38,000 cops and was able to flood multiple high-crime areas simultaneously with hundreds of officers. In Los Angeles, he had only 9,000 cops. “Throwing 50 cops at a problem in Los Angeles was really difficult,” says Kelling, a consultant to the LAPD during Bratton’s tenure. “It meant he couldn’t do everything at once.” So, while Bratton cracked down immediately on prostitution in Hollywood, cleaning up the city’s notorious skid row had to wait. “This was much more of a patient, unfolding enterprise,” says John Linder, a consultant who worked with Bratton in New York and Los Angeles. “He was not as worried about the immediate impact as he was in New York.”

More here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Kidlo gets his Swine Flu Shot on Skid Row.

MB here...

I wanted to get Kidlo his Swine Flu shot while the season was still young enough for it to do him some good. But no one seems to have it... His pediatrician doesn't have any, my doctor doesn't have any, Walgreens is out of stock... Kaiser Permanente has some, due to a decision by the state that the LA times says was "not previously discussed publicly" but the state says was not made in secret. "It was done openly with all our public health partners," said Mike Sicilia, spokesman for the Department of Public Health. I'm not sure who those partners are, but I expect these meetings could take place in a phone booth and still have room for coffee and snack service.

Anyway, this pretty much leaves the county Flu POD (Point of Dispensing) clinics as the only place for Kidlo to get the H1N1 shot, and as luck would have it, today there was one on 6th and San Pedro, not half a mile from our loft, in the heart of Skid Row.

The flyer said 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and as I had read about the mess that was the Glendale POD last weekend, I decided to get there early and be prepared to stay the day. County Dept. of Public Health had blocked off 6th street between San Julian and San Pedro, and set up tents and tables. There was six or eight cops hanging out watching over a small crowd that had gathered.

And by small crowd I mean small. They put us in two lines, one "Family" line (kids, pregnant mothers, caretakers of babies under 6 months, etc.) and another line for "everyone else". The "everyone else" line was in the hundreds, stretching around the corner and down San Pedro for a block or so, and seemed to be mostly Skid Row people, homeless or sheltered. Our line, the "Family line" as the staff called it, was maybe forty people. Maybe.

We waited. Volunteers came around with forms to fill out. I talked to the other families on line. The family crowd was pretty diverse. The family behind me had driven an hour to come here from the 'Burbs. He had actually driven around here last night to see if the neighborhood was safe enough to bring his wife and kid to. I guess it was, or at least his fear of Flu won over his fear of Skid Row. I lent my cell phone to the family in front of me so they could call their relatives and give them directions. No one in the family had used a cell phone before, so I had to dial it for them.

A KNBC news guy and cameraman came around talked to some of the families at the head of the line. They didn't seem interested in Kidlo or the Suburbanites behind me.

Soon enough, the line was moving. There was a short delay as they rearranged the tables -- all us parental units were blocking the way with our strollers -- but we were in and out in under an hour. Sweet!

So if you are hankerin' for a Flu Shot (they have seasonal flu shots as well as N1H1) and are in the neighborhood (and in the target group), drop on by.

It's a great day to be a Newsman!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Citizen journalism

Reader Chad passed on this news:

I live at Santa Fe and I enjoy your blog. Last week there was a guy who climbed up on our buildings AC pipes about 15 feet up off of the ground. This was during one of those rainy cold days that we had.

After a big the police showed up, then the firetrucks. He got down via a ladder the firemen placed.

With bonus cool pics!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Channeling Carter's Blog

It's 74 degrees, going up to 83, and I just saw a woman in Starbucks wearing a wool coat with a fur collar, tights and boots. WTF, Angelenos.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Inventing LA (and downtown)

MB and I watched a great documentary last night: Inventing LA: The Chandlers and Their Lives. It's about the family who founded the LA Times and owned it until it was sold to the Tribune Company in 2000. The Chandlers didn't just run a newspaper--they also played a huge role in the land acquisitions and water rights shenanigans that shaped modern LA. (John Huston's character in Chinatown was based on Harry Chandler). As a downtowner, it was very cool to see photos and footage of downtown from the late 19th Century to today. Downtown LA was amazingly crowded and vital all the way into the 50s. It's kind of sad to see the old photos and films and compare it to downtown today. Even though the neighborhood is taking off, the streets are really empty in comparison.

You can watch the documentary online here. Also check out the great photo galleries with pics of downtown and Hollywood.

ETA: The segment covering the 1910 bombing of the LA Times building on 1st and Broadway.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Anyone want an old TV?

We just bought a new TV and are looking to get rid of our old one. It's old and bulky and has a non-working VCR attached, but the TV part works and comes with a digital converter box. We can cart it down to Goodwill but I figured I'd ask if anyone is interested taking it off our hands--maybe one of the residential hotels or shelters could use it? Let me know. If I don't hear from anyone, it's going to Goodwill this weekend.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Offer I refused on 6th Street

"I'll tell you funny stories about black people if you give me a dollar."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Space for Yoga Classes

Today I got this request from a friend of mine:

I am emailing you because you live and/or work in or near downtown. I'm looking into possibly renting out my own space for a couple hours every other week to teach some classes. I am trying to gauge if you, anyone you know or your company might be interested in something like this? Also, let me know if you know of any places renting out by the hour for this kind of thing...they might be nicer and cheaper than the ones I am looking into.

Does anyone know of a space that would work? Maybe a loft space that's used as a studio?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Throwdown at Ralphs Fresh Fare!

'Sup G, MB here.

So I needed to buy a few thangs, so I go to the Ralphs Fresh Fare in Southpark. Not my hood, ya know, but whatever. So I'm at the checkout, and there's some noise over by the door...

A security guard is all up in the face of a big bearded guy in a white t-shirt with an armload of groceries. They're bumping chests, next thing I know, the guard grabs a double-handfull of t-shirt and shoves the guy four feet accross the lobby and on to his ass!

You bet it's on now! The big guy comes up swinging. The guard lowers his head and takes the fight down to the mat, UFC style. They roll around trading punches while the fans customers run around excitedly. I grab my camera, but by the time it's powered up the fight is almost over:

That slight woman in the blue? That's my checker. Yah, she ran over and stopped the fight, while everyone else was standing around with their hands in their pockets, picken' their noses and taking bets on the outcome.

After the fight, and after Daniel wimped out and didn't bring the guard over, my checker brought the guard back to where the dry cleaning is. The manager steamed over, no doubt annoyed that the guard made like Royce Gracie and went straight to the mat instead of boxing a little and making it interesting. I think I saw smoke coming out of his ears.

SO that was it. I gathered my groceries and took the elevator down with a very nice Grandmama who'd bought a silver balloon for her g'daughter. Sweet!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Loco (motive) on Spring Street

Small annoyances

The upstairs neighbors are screaming 80s tunes into a karaoke machine. It wouldn't be so bad except they're drunk, tone deaf and slaughtering classics like Little Red Corvette. *sigh*

ETA: Ah shit, they just started in with Men at Work.

ETAA: MB pointed out that karaoke is, by definition, supposed to be sung by drunken tone-deaf people. Fine. /curmudgeon

ETAAA: Now they're doing Blitzkrieg Bop. This one I approve of.

Wayback Machine

Found this cool photo on Wikipedia and thought I'd share. It's a shot of 4th and Main in 1923. Look at how crowded it is!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Music for your wheels

I see this guy on 6th Street almost every day. His taste in music runs to funk--no surprise there.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Quote from my mother

"There are a lot of people in this neighborhood who walk around talking to themselves."

Monday, September 14, 2009


MB and I hung out at Syrup Desserts today. He had a root beer float made with a locally brewed (and amazingly tasty) root beer and I had a latte and a macaroon. It's a really comfortable space, especially the second floor lounge, and they have wifi. I'm always looking for new places to write and I think this is going to be great--out of the apartment so that I don't get distracted by Kidlo, but close enough for me to pop in and out when I need to. Also, because they have outdoor seating, they really fit in on a block that has a lot of outdoor seating already--LA Cafe, the Mexican joint (sorry, can't remember the name), California Pizza and even the grocery store all have their little bistro areas. I hope Syrup Desserts sticks around.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

One New York import we don't need

Went to the new 7-11 on Broadway and preaching right next to the entrance was a group of Real Israelites. They believe that blacks are descended from the lost tribes of Israel and are the true Jews. They are also obnoxious aggressive assholes. They make a lot of noise, block the sidewalk, yell at people who take pictures. You get the idea. I used to see these people all the time in Times Square and it sucks that they're now in Downtown LA. Below is a sample of what they're like.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Grandma Downtown

So my mother is visiting for 10 days and it's been really cool to see her reaction to Downtown. She's a total New Yorker, has lived in the Bronx since her family moved there from Puerto Rico when she was five. And she loves Downtown LA. She keeps saying, "Wow, it's so lively down here! There's so much to do! It's really nice!" Art Walk was a huge success. Kidlo got his photo taken at a gallery, MB and my mom bought some gear at Kapsoul (which is owned by our former neighbor and had its grand opening yesterday), and I scored two fabulous prints photographed by two Marshall High School students for $30. Mom loved all of it, the crowds, the art, the music.

Mom had actually been kind of biased against Downtown because she'd seen a news story about Skid Row. She'd called me afterwards and was like, "I saw on TV that there's a shelter on 6th Street. Don't you live on 6th Street? Are you guys safe?" But she's been here three days and she's cruising around the neighborhood by herself, bought a sandwich at LA Cafe ("Damn, that was a good sandwich!"), has been hanging out with Kidlo at his preschool and just generally fitting right in. I've had a bit of a sense of Downtown LA not being quite ready for primetime, but at least one New Yorker thinks it's great right now.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Good news for 9th Street Elementary

Right on the heels of my post on kids on Skid Row is news that the LAUSD is going to build a $58 million facility to house 9th Street Elementary and a new middle school to be run by Para Los Niños. The facility will also feature a clinic offering medical and mental health services. According to Blogdowntown, construction will start in the fall of 2011, with the new facility completed in the fall of 2013.

This is truly fantastic news. Para Los Niños is a very well-respected organization and the services they provide are badly needed by the children who attend 9th Street Elementary. It's a good day for the kids of skid row.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Up on the roof

Kidlo and I were using the pool this morning when an emaciated platinum blond appeared wearing a thong bikini, double-D factory installed boobs and stripper heels. She climbed up on the roof and posed for photos snapped by someone I presume is her boyfriend, then put her robe back on and scampered off.

Living downtown can be so weird.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tale of Two Downtowns, Redux

On Saturday, I walked past the residential hotel on 7th and Main and saw a young woman with her son, who was about Kidlo's age, two or thereabouts. The woman looked no older than 20 but she was so sad and the little boy looked listless and unhappy too. It must be hell to be in a shelter with a little kid, no air conditioning, having to listen to the drug dealers out on Main all night.

When I got home I did some googling and found a documentary about kids on skid row. It's a terrible situation and it's a terrible situation unfolding just a few blocks from our loft.

ETA: Turns out the NY Times did a story in Sunday's paper on homeless children: A Surge in Homeless Children Tests School Aid Programs

Saturday on Broadway

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Minor annoyances

Dear Jesus People on Broadway,

Just because I'm wearing a dress and pearls doesn't mean I want a copy of your damned pamphlet. And it especially doesn't mean that I want to have that pamphlet shoved at me by four different people within two blocks.

You worship whoever you want. Just stay out of my face, mmmkay?


Monday, August 31, 2009

Los Angeles is burning

Sorry about the crappy cell phone quality. I'll try to get legit shots tomorrow.

We're crazy but not that crazy

I got this email through the blog this weekend:

Hi there,

My cousin introduced me to your blog because I live in the Alexandria as well, and I was just curious how a family of three is able to manage in that building. I could be wrong, but I had thought the biggest units were one bedroom, and that the income stipulations were pretty strict so that only low income people could qualify. I'm not accusing you of being a fraud or anything, like I said I'm just curious.

Nice blog, btw.

Your neighbor,

Just to clarify: we *PARK* under the Alexandria, we don't live there. We love downtown but we're not insane enough to raise a child in a residential hotel, even one that has a fancy schmancy restaurant in the lobby.

ETA: The post that inspired the blog name.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Building Momentum

Susana Benavidez hosted a pool party on Saturday for Downtown families and it had a big turnout! At least 20 families showed up over the course of the day. It's been really challenging to get people together for various events, but now that we have a Facebook group for Downtown families, they are realizing that yes, there are other people raising kids downtown.

For those of you who are interested in meeting families downtown, Susana has also organized a weekly playdate. Details of the next meetup:

Date: Saturday, September 5, 2009
Time: 9:00am - 10:00am
Location: Grand Hope Park, Hope/9th St in front of FIDM

You can also get more information by joining the Downtown LA Families Facebook group.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Art Walk, Old Skool.


You kids are probably too young to remember, but once upon a time images were captured not with electrons and silicon, but with "film", a gooey mixture of chemicals slathered on a strip of (probably flammable) plastic or paper or whatever happened to be at hand. And there was none of this "instant gratification" you youngsters talk about. With film, you didn't get to see your photos until you took the film home and soaked it in poisonous chemicals in your bathtub. Yuck. "How could this be possible" you ask? Well, luckily for you, I discovered a working example of one of these ancient devices during an archaeological dig in the ruins of a garage in Burbank, California, and I brought it with me to Art Walk. What follows was recorded using that quaint and now-so-obsolete technology.

To say that Art Walk was "crowded" is an understatement. Wall to wall people made it hard to walk on the sidewalk (but there were plenty of cops to keep you from stepping on to the street.)

There was art, as you would expect. But it seems the more popular Art Walk gets, and the more people there are, the less art I see. This isn't a cut an Art Walk, mind you. This is me people watching rather than art gazing. As I live in the 'hood, Art Walk has become an adventure in finding art I would like to return to and enjoy later while enjoying the party in the right-now.

Art, meet commerce.

I have no idea what was going on here.

The newly-expanded Art Parking Lot, featuring extra fuse-popping lights.

Bars and bands were hoppin'.

A new bar "Down and Out" at the site of the old "Charlie O's" soft-opened for Art Walk. The place has sliding glass doors that give the effect of the party spilling out into the street. Note the portraits inside above the bar. Not seen in this shot: O.J. Simpson.

But mostly just people, people, people...

These old-fashioned cameras don't focus themselves, they rely on you to do it for them. You get to twist a knob whilst peering through the viewfinder until you stop seeing double, which is impossible to do when it is dark, and you are drunk.


You kids with your new-fangled electric cameras... (The police car is responding to a "415", which seems to be the police code for "a guy holding a bag of ice to his face.")

On the way back to the loft, I was hit by frozen tater-tots thrown from one of these windows. The bastards ducked back inside when I turned and pointed the camera at them... There is nothing subtle about these antiques. Getting a candid shot takes skillz with a "Z".

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


4th Street

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Do you think the Downtown News understands how funny this article is?

From the Downtown News:

Over two months, Central Area detectives had been investigating two suspects believed to be responsible for six armed robberies and an additional attempted robbery. One suspect, described as heavyset, was known as the “Braids Bandit,” because of his braided hair; the other, who appeared slimmer, was labeled the “Do-rag Bandit,” for the head covering — a sort of nylon bandana — that he wore.

Police now believe that Anthony Brown, a parolee who was arrested on Wednesday, Aug. 5, in Skid Row, is behind both sets of crimes.


“We were prepared to… ask the public for their help in capturing the Do-rag Bandit,” Vernon said. “Turns out, we can let everyone know instead his crime spree is over.”

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

For when you have a 2 a.m. jones for Botox

Main and Washington

Monday, August 3, 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

My Husband Loves Me

MB is away for the weekend, and when I came home from work I found this.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Free Diapers

I have about 50 size 5 diapers and 60 size 6 diapers that we can't use (it's a brand my son doesn't like). Does anyone want them? Do you know of a shelter that can use them?

Update: Someone has claimed the diapers. Meanwhile, if any of you are interested in donating diapers to poor families, a commenter named Santos made the following suggestion:

my neighbours donated their unused diapers to LA diaper drive, you can contact them at or call (310) 230-8626. i don't recall if they were picked up or dropped off.

baby2baby also accepts opened packages of diapers.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Nanny needed in South Park

A friend of mine in South Park needs a full time nanny ASAP for her seven-month-old daughter. My friend works from home so the nanny needs to be able to deal with that. If you know of anyone looking for work, email me through the contact button in the right hand column of the blog and I'll put you in touch with her.

Monday, July 20, 2009

New Facebook Group for Downtown Families

There's now a Facebook Group for Downtown families. Join the group and find out about weekly kid-friendly events and planned playdates.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

When worlds collide

Seen in the cereal aisle at Food4Less: Three hipsters, two guys and one girl, earnestly discussing why it is essential to always use organic maple syrup.

Think they made a wrong turn on the way to Trader Joe's?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Downtown Parent and Kids Meet and Greet on Sunday!

From the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council:

Ever wonder if you’re the only parent downtown? Bring the kids and meet other parents who call Downtown LA home.

Light refreshments and snacks will be provided.

Sunday July 19th 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The Exchange
114 W. 5th Street between Spring and Main

For more information, email or (please write Downtown Parent Meet & Greet on subject line)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Another View of the East Side

I followed a Flickr link on Curbed LA and found the most amazing series of photos by a photographer named Tom Andrews. I think the subjects, Cassy & Sethesha, epitomize the LA ethos--the ability to think of yourself as a *~star~* no matter what your surroundings.

I sent the link to a friend of mine and she said, They make me feel all kinds of things, mostly sadness and tenderness for humanity. I agree.

Cassy & Sethesha Gallery, photographed by Tom Andrews

Friday, July 10, 2009

Craft fair this weekend

The Renegade Craft Fair

Hello! The first ever Renegade Craft Fair in LOS ANGELES will take place JULY 11 + 12 from 11am – 7pm, at the California Market Center. We’ll be taking over the entire 13th floor penthouse of the Center, where gorgeous 360-degree views of downtown LA will provide the backdrop for our FREE urban art, craft and DIY extravaganza! We’re so excited, let’s say it one more time: FREE!

Over 200 artists are traveling from all over the country and abroad to participate and sell their handmade goods at Renegade Craft Fair – Los Angeles. From clothing and accessories, to stationary and concert posters, with everything from bath products and ceramics in between – there’s surely something for everyone! Be sure to check out our artist page to start working on your wish list.

The most exciting contemporary crafts organizations from across the LA area will be on site hosting interactive workshops and demonstrations. Silver Lake-based ReForm School is offering hands-on lessons in linoleum block-printing both days of the Fair, and The Urban Craft Center of Santa Monica will be leading workshops in zine-making and needle-felting on Saturday, July 11. Clean out your closets before heading to the Fair on Saturday, July 11, as Swap-O-Rama-Rama will be in full swing that day – transforming your discarded clothes into one-of-a-kind, recycled creations!

DJs from Silver Lake’s KXLU will be on site both days of the Fair providing the best indie, commercial free radio found on either side of the Mississippi – breaking only for a penthouse-shaking, hour long performance by LA based jazz-punk mobile ensemble KILLSONIC on Sunday, July 12 at 3pm!

Other event features include free raffles from Jenny Hart’s Sublime Stitching, Stencil 1, Craftside Publishers and Faythe Levine’s book Handmade Nation at the Renegade Craft Welcome Station, food and beverages for purchase from Tiara Cafe, and, as always, lots of surprises! Be sure to check out The Postcard Machine for a little fun with robots and don’t forget to get your photo snapped at a free-photobooth provided by Oh, Hello Friend!

We hope to see you July 11 + 12 at the California Market Center!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Tale of Two Downtowns

Last night I met with the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council’s education committee. I attended so I could bitch share some of the frustrations loft-swelling families are having with the downtown school and park situation. But instead I got a reality check.

At the meeting was a rep from the LAUSD who oversees programs for homeless children and works closely with 9th Street Elementary, which is the school zoned for downtown. He had a lot to say about the school, most of it not good. Approximately 75 percent of the children at the school are homeless. The school has some of the lowest test scores in the LAUSD. In addition, the school has “safety issues” (his wording, so not sure exactly what that means) and they also have a big problem with churn–-kids entering and leaving the school mid-year because of their housing situation. In addition, because LAUSD has eliminated summer school for the elementary grades, these kids are not getting free breakfast and lunch during the summer and there are concerns about their basic nutrition.

One bright spot is the principal, who I'm told has a lot of energy and is working hard to improve the school. But other than that, it’s a pretty dire situation overall. The DLANC is trying to launch volunteer efforts to support the school as well as reach out to businesses based downtown to get some financial support for the school.

In terms of middle class parents downtown, I really think that there is no way in the foreseeable future that middle class families will be able to send their kids to 9th Street. The reality is that the school is struggling to adequately serve the poorest and most at risk kids in the city. With the economic crisis and a lack of a stable population base (which means no stable community of parents to organize and rally around school reform), I don’t see the situation changing any time soon.

If you own a condo and can't sell and move to a neighborhood with better schools, you're going to have to scramble for a charter/magnet school spot or drop a lot of money on private school tuition. Of course, in comparison with what the homeless families are going through, this is not a tremendous hardship. But it is going to be a big disincentive to living/buying downtown for any couples who are planning to have kids.

I’m still going to be doing volunteer work with DLANC and the school because they need all the support they can get. What I'm hoping is that we can reach out to the local business and art community and get them involved in working with 9th Street Elementary, either as volunteers or helping with fundraising events. Even $1,000 would mean so much to them.

The Downtown community is really two communities, one relatively affluent, the other desperately poor, all sharing a compact neighborhood. It's a situation that you don't see anywhere else in LA and it creates a lot of very difficult problems. I'm not sure how these problems are going to be resolved, especially as the downtown population grows on both sides of the spectrum--people are moving into the new buildings downtown while at the same time more and more people are pushed into homelessness by the economic crisis.

As for us, we're renters and have a lot of flexibility in where we live, and as I said in an earlier post, we've pretty much resigned ourselves to moving in a year or two. But while I'm a part of this community I'm going to do what I can for 9th Street Elementary.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Daycare slots available in Highland Park

We finally found a daycare for Kidlo, La Casita Verde in Highland Park. A little farther than I wanted to be, but it's only about a 15 minute drive in the morning since it's a reverse commute. I really got a great feeling about it when I visited--it's clean, the house and yard are beautiful and the kids look happy and well-behaved.

As it turns out, they have plenty of openings for kids age 2 1/2 and up, because parents are pulling their kids out due to state funding cuts and job losses (we've been very lucky on that score, at least so far, knock wood). They are actively recruiting kids for the open slots and have asked me to put the word out to other parents. So...the word is out!

Art Walk Kitty

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Neon Nights