A NATIVE SON’S LONG VIGIL FOR HIS HOMETOWN

Hits: 331
September 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Hurricane_Harvey_500

By Bob Vickrey

In recent years, we’ve watched natural disasters unfold in cities across the country that created unparalleled misery and hardships for its citizens that forever altered lives. Hurricane Katrina and super-storm Sandy remain indelible in our memories.

However, in watching the hurricane-spawned disaster play out in Houston, the circumstances were quite different. This was my hometown, my city, and my people. This time it was personal.

I left Houston more than 40 years ago, but this past week I found out that my heart still belonged to my beloved hometown and its people there. From my living room in Southern California, I watched television images of the inconceivable, never-ending rainfall that inundated my city. Read more

“Hollywood in Havana” at Pasadena Museum of California Art exhibits Spanish-language posters promoting US films as Cuban art

Hits: 23
September 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Pasadena_Weekly_Havana_art

Posted by Mary Reinholz | Aug 17, 2017, from the Pasadena Weekly

Starting Sunday, Aug. 20, the Pasadena Museum of California Art presents the exhibition “Hollywood in Havana: Five Decades of Cuban Posters Promoting U.S. Films,” showcasing approximately 40 posters advertising iconic movies — most from the capitalist heart of La La Land that were produced from 1960 through 2012. The posters were created by Cuban artists trained at a free, government-sponsored studio in the communist paradise. How the American films got past the US trade embargo against Cuba remains unclear.

CSPG_45668

Among the posters are bold silkscreen prints publicizing such Hollywood blockbusters as “The Silence of the Lambs” with Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster, which won five Academy Awards; and “Schindler’s List” directed by Steven Spielberg, which garnered seven Oscars. A few of the posters boost Cuban films, such as a documentary on Marilyn Monroe. Read more

Important Setback for Homeless Housing

Hits: 22
September 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 
Architect's rendering of proposed Lorena Plaza, 3407 E. 1st Street, Boyle Heights

Architect’s rendering of proposed Lorena Plaza, 3407 E. 1st Street, Boyle Heights

Leslie Evans

The Los Angeles City Council’s Planning and Land Use Committee (PLUM) on August 16 rejected a plan from the highly regarded A Community of Friends (ACOF) to build a 49-unit affordable income apartment house in Boyle Heights, half of whose tenants would be mentally ill homeless.

The contested property, a one-acre empty lot at 3407 E. First Street at the corner of Lorena Street in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles, is a one-acre empty lot owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. To the west is the Evergreen Cemetery. To the east is El Mercado, a combined market, restaurant, nightclub, and craft store. Read more

ESCAPING THE RAT PACK AT EL COYOTE

Hits: 36
September 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

El_Coyote_Sign

By Bob Vickrey

It seems that just about every legendary Los Angles restaurant our monthly lunch club has visited in the last couple of years, staff members invariably claim Frank Sinatra and his “Rat Pack” once hung out there.

So, fearing an uprising from our readership about overworking the “Rat Pack” theme, I decided to call ahead to our next destination and make sure Sinatra and his entourage had never held target practice in the back room with their plate of chicken enchiladas. When the host of El Coyote failed to understand my “Rat Pack” reference, I realized he had perhaps confused me with the city health inspector. Nevertheless, I knew we had found our spot for August. Read more

The Affordable Housing Crisis Won’t Be Over Soon

Hits: 18
September 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 
Mija Town Homes, 4501 S. Figueroa, Los Angeles 90037. One of the all-too-few affordable housing complexes in Los Angeles.

Mija Town Homes, 4501 S. Figueroa, Los Angeles 90037. One of the all-too-few affordable housing complexes in Los Angeles.

Leslie Evans

A daunting complex of causes stands behind Los Angeles’ crisis-level lack of affordable housing. Too few houses and too expensive ones, along with very low wages, are the single biggest causes of the city’s huge homeless population. According to Professor Dennis P. Culhane, an authority on homelessness at the University of Pennsylvania, “It’s not personal vulnerabilities of drug use or illness driving homelessness. It’s a lack of access to housing. If there were lots of available housing, all of these vulnerabilities would be hidden.” (8-2-2017 LA Times) Read more

DODGERS’ MANIA HOOKS A RELUCTANT FAN

Hits: 70
August 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 
Dodgers Pitcher Clayton Kershaw

Dodgers Pitcher Clayton Kershaw

By Bob Vickrey

The Dodgers were down 4-1 to the Diamondbacks in the bottom of the ninth inning with no outs and no one on base. That ominous situation made me wonder why I was still standing in my living room holding the remote control instead of going to bed.

But since I’m not really much of a baseball fan, the larger question was why I was watching the Dodgers game in the first place. In recent weeks, that’s also what my friends have wanted to know. “What’s gotten into Bob?” they ask. They know I’ve always claimed that watching baseball is about as exciting as watching grass grow.

So, just as I started to click off the game and head toward the bedroom, right fielder Yasiel Puig hit a leadoff single and the Dodgers’ crowd slowly began to stand and cheer as if they had seen this scenario before. Read more

More than 120,000 Students Are Homeless in LA County

Hits: 40
August 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

homeless_college_student-1

Leslie Evans

The number seems shocking. Even impossible. The total homeless in LA County from the January 2017 official count only came to 57,000. But the number is real and actually understates the total, as it does not include UCLA, USC, or the Claremont colleges.

The disparity is because the county’s K-12 system, the Community College District, and the Cal State University system have a more inclusive definition of homelessness. The official counts by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority are run under the federal HUD rules, which include only people living in a homeless shelter, or a place not intended for human habitation. The school districts include students with no permanent address, sleeping on someone’s couch or in motel or garage. Read more

LUNCH CLUB BRINGS ALONG A PROFESSOR

Hits: 135
August 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 
The Proud Bird restaurant reopens.

The Proud Bird restaurant reopens. All photos: Barry Stein.

By Bob Vickrey

The recent reopening of The Proud Bird Restaurant on Aviation Boulevard near LAX offered a different kind of experience for our monthly lunch group with its reimagined “Food Bazaar” and interactive aviation exhibits.

As we entered the open-air food hall with a giant replica of a P-40 Flying Tiger hovering above us from the vaulted ceiling, I thought perhaps they had misspelled the word “bizarre.” Communal tables, lounge seating, and the Mile High Club Bar surround the open kitchen area. The presentation appeared to be “Snoopy and the Red Baron buzz Grand Central Smorgasbord” with a little dash of “Admirals Club” thrown in for good measure. Read more

Toilet Crisis on Skid Row

Hits: 28
August 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 

Hazmat_skid_row

Leslie Evans

In January and February, 24 people from 15 organizations, calling themselves the Los Angeles Central Providers Collaborative, conducted an audit of toilets available to the homeless in Downtown’s 50-block Skid Row. Their shocking findings became headline news when they released their 64-page report, “No Place to Go,” in late June. For a nighttime unsheltered population they listed at 1,777, they found only 9 working public toilets, all of them at a single location: the Midnight Mission shelter, 601 S. San Pedro Street. This is eight blocks from the northeast and northwest corners of Skid Row and 9 blocks from the southeast border. A long walk at night. The number of estimated users was taken from the 2016 homeless count, and is today more than 2,000. Read more

DINAH’S EVOKES DINER MEMORIES OF YESTERYEAR

Hits: 160
August 1, 2017 · Posted in Commentary · Comment 
Photo by Barry Stein

Photo by Barry Stein

By Bob Vickrey

Entering Dinah’s Restaurant brought back youthful memories of my hometown diner where I hung out with friends and routinely argued about how much each of us owed after the bill arrived.

Back in the day, my evening hangout was Angel’s Grill in Pasadena, Texas (yes, we also had a Pasadena.) The place had red-pleated vinyl booths and a mini-juke box on every table—to which we repeatedly fed nickels and dimes to hear Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” and the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations.” The seasoned blue-haired waitresses patiently tolerated our excessive behavior while we stared at the cute girl with a ponytail in the corner booth who looked like Sandra Dee. (But on second glance, we realized all the girls in that booth had ponytails and looked like Sandra Dee.)

Our monthly lunch club group thought a trip to Dinah’s Family Restaurant on Sepulveda Boulevard might rekindle some of the “diner” nostalgia of our past—hopefully, without the ensuing traditional battle over the bill. Read more

Next Page »