Google Video pick of the week #011


In my neighborhood, when the jack hammers and tractors get rolling at 2 a.m. you know they won’t stop until well after 5a.m.  I try to ignore it, just bury my head under my pillow a little deeper, until I muffle all the sound. I’m not too light of a sleeper, but some nights these past two months, it got hard to sleep. Here’s why. And for that, I’m not trippin.

That is to say … I know that sound.

It’s not  just an annoying 10 ton clatter that makes its way up and down Cuauhtémoc Ave. It’s more than that.

It’s the sound of progress. Road infrastructure, public transit, just .38 cents and you’re home.

It’s that Westside extension putting a hole in Beverly Boulevard.  And it’s something like the Metro Rapid in the Valley, except out here you MUST pay to get on.

It’s also the extension of the Metrobús in Mexico City.

Which brings me to this week’s GVP. I picked the documentary, Bogotá: building a sustainable city, not because Brad Pitt narrates it, but because it’s about Bogotá, Colombia. Maternal lands.

You see, Colombia, along with Brazil were the forebearers to the style of bus service called BRT that Mexico has been recently using. It started out as a model of sustainable design, and now is a way of life that’s growing and costing lots of money.  Colombia’s Transmilenio was the first BRT I ever rode on back in 2006, when I visited.

So, check out the video, below, and learn what Bogotá can be like.  I’ll be fighting mucho ruido trying to hold on to at least a few hours of REM sleep. All in the name of progress.


Ground Zero

There´s a very disturbing poetry to Alejandro González Iñárritu´s short from the compilation for September 11. It´s disturbing, but also satisfying for me, because it shows the reality of  the  horror of that day. No sugar added. No cushion.  Just an unforgettable, disturbing horror. I get the same feeling, however minutely, every time I pass by Ground Zero.

I´ll no doubt be doing some heavy thinking on Sept. 11 when I take RW1 this fall.

I wasn´t living on the East Coast when it happened, so I feel some disconnect.

I moved to L.A. in mid June 2001. About three months later, my mother, who was working in Downtown Manhattan, called me, crying, ¨Turn on the T.V., they just crashed a plane into the World Trade Center.¨

What a way to wake me up.  I didn´t believe what was happening, until that second plane hit.  Then I was like,  ¨What should I do?¨ I felt helpless out there, 5 minutes from Disneyland. In my crummy Anaheim apartment.

Continue reading “Ground Zero”

Brick City

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This is the longest I’ve been in Newark in almost 10 years.  And it occurred to me that there really isn´t a solid iconic image of the city. In the slideshow are pics I´ve taken while cold April showers blanket the Tri-State.

Walking around, I can still feel the gritty desperation that keeps it an empty place after the office workers, hockey fans and students go home. Under the mayoral watch of  the young, Stanford-educated Cory Booker (up for reelection next month), Newark´s experienced a revitalization in many ways. Crime is still an atrocious problem, and this is one of the most dangerous cities on the East Coast.

After living in L.A. for a while, Newark feels like it should be a sister city (but only in appearance, since its population isn´t even half-a-million). Maybe it´s the new light rail system, the  sprawl, or the intense gang situation that reminds me of my West Coast home. I don´t know. But if you took Silver Lake, South L.A. and Watts, and smushed them all together, you would get a dynamic somewhat close to Newark´s.

But not really.

After all, Newark has  its own identity, one of the places George Clinton tagged “‘Chocolate City“. It just takes a little getting used to.

These guys can save your life

And they even speak Spanish.

This is the Hollywood location of this world-famous multimedia store. It does two types of business with you: buying and selling. Record dealers, collectors and the myriad DVD rental stores who’ve been pushed out of business within the last 10 years know this place. It saved their lives. As long as they had no scratches. I’ve seen Weird Al on the sale line. Strange. But that’s Hollywood. His hair was long, gray and he had a box of cassettes. “My wife said I had to get rid of some stuff,” he said. Anything you made in that stack, I asked. He just laughed.

If you live anywhere on the planet — are into music —  and you come to L.A., then you have to visit Sunset Blvd.

Physically located only in Hollywood, San Francisco and Berkeley.

Some great performers drop by for their in-stores (live show RSS feed).

Amoeba Hollywood is live streaming an Ozomatli performance on April 20th at 6 p.m.

Bunker Hill in the L.A. night

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

From Bunker Hill Towers, a place I would not want to call home when the ground rolls, I could always see the eastside of Downtown encroaching me. There’s a sky bridge that connects the Bunker Hill apts. with the World Trade Center and I would walk across the traffic on Flower and Fig. The bridge is part of a system of Downtown L.A. pedestrian skywalks. Your feet never have to touch ground if you’re just going for a Subway sandwich at the Bonaventure. Wonder what Fante would have thought?

He might agree that the traffic-jumping bridge doesn’t change the overall problem of how that section of L.A. has carved its space. During the day it was all office workers getting exercise, or taking a shortcut to lunch. At night it’s another crowd, once, I saw two transsexuals taking night photos with the L.A. skyline as the backdrop. Another night, a homeless man taking advantage of lax security below and enjoying a brown paper bagged tall boy near the spiral staircase.

For more on Downtown L.A.’s historic Bunker Hill, check out this local blog. A Boston site has this forum post with pictures that capture Bunker Hill in the daylight.

California Sunshine: L.A. L.A.

Big City of Dreams

For all my family and friends on the East Coast enduring crazy weather this weekend, just remember, L.A. She keeps you safe and warm; like in California Dreamin´.

Click on the picture of the skyline and take a quick drive through downtown L.A.  of the early 70s, in the opening minutes of  Steven Spielberg´s Duel (1971), courtesy of Google Video.

Photo of downtown Los Angeles taken from top of L.A. Times Spring St. garage, 2008.