Thursday, May 29, 2008

Glendale's 911 Center

Last night I attended the second class in the Glendale Police Department's 12 week Citizen's Academy. There are 30 people in the class, and every Wednesday we will learn about a different aspect of the police department and police work in Glendale. The first week was devoted to general orientation and a tour of police headquarters.

This week focused on Communications, and featured an extended question and answer session with Glendale's Police Chief Randy Adams and a presentation by the Communications supervisor on life as a 911 and radio dispatcher.

Here are some things I learned:
  • Caruso Affiliated gets a monthly bill for the additional police services necessary to secure the Americana and control traffic in the area
  • Glendale PD has 271 officers
  • compared to the ethnic make up of Glendale, Armenians are underrepresented within the police department, although the department is actively trying to recruit additional Armenians
  • Glendale has fewer officers per citizen than Burbank and Pasadena, yet has a far lower crime rate than either city
  • The Americana has been getting 400-500,000(!) visitors on weekends. Remember that Glendale's entire population is only 200,000.
  • Glendale's 911 center was overwhelmed with 250 calls from scared residents immediately after the infamous 11:15pm Americana fireworks display
  • The busiest time for 911 is 3pm
  • if you are on a cell phone, you are probably better off calling Glendale PD's 7 digit number rather than 911. That number is: 818-548-4840. You should put that number in your phone now rather than when you really need it.
We listened to several actual 911 calls to hear how the dispatcher responded. I was surprised to find myself getting tense and sweaty just listening to the calls. One radio call showed how cool the dispatchers had to be under severe stress- an officer was holding two suspects at gunpoint and calling for backup. We heard the dispatcher radio to several nearby units. A nearby unit responded, and you could hear his siren in the background. A minute later, that officer was t-boned in an intersection and seriously hurt. So he was calling the dispatcher for help while in obvious pain, and trying to describe the vehicle which hit him and ran, and in the meantime the other officer is still calling for backup as he is still holding two guys at gunpoint, and the dispatcher was juggling back and forth between them, dispatching some units to assist the injured officer, and others to the other situation. Intense!

Here is Glendale's 911 call center on the fourth floor of the police building. Note City Hall in the background. The people on this shift like the room dark.

Their computers are linked up to various databases, information about which units are on patrol and their status, as well as a map of the city. Some patrol cars have GPS, and their exact location shows up on the map.

If you're cool as a cucumber, can multitask and don't have any felonies, they're hiring dispatchers.

Griffith Park On Horseback

On Monday I went horseback riding in Griffith Park with some friends. I haven't been riding in years so it was nice to literally be back in the saddle. We rented horses at the L.A. Equestrian Center and were led over the L.A. River, under the 5 freeway and to a trail loop in Griffith Park. Through the Equestrian Center, horse rental is $25/hour (including guide), cash only. There are several other nearby stables that also rent horses. I was surprised to find my sit bones bruised the next day, so I recommend wearing cycling shorts under your jeans!

Grand Details

Last Saturday I found a wonderful detail at the Grand Central Air Terminal that I had never noticed before. On the island in front of the terminal building, there is a stairway that leads to a closed door. Check out the detail in the pattern.

The pattern is the silhouette of four airplanes.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Phoenix Lander's Robotic Arm

As you've probably heard, the Phoenix Lander made a spectacular touchdown on Mars this Sunday afternoon. It has now begun to deploy its robotic arm, which will dig trenches and collect soil and water samples for analysis. The robotic arm was built at JPL, and I took some photographs of it at the spacecraft assembly facility there in 2006.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Barbershop Hieroglyphs Solved!

In the comments of the previous post, reader Art translated the following image into 50s guy-speak:

"Holy mackerel, look at the ass on that tomato!"

The barbershop is Rudy's of Glendale, which is downtown just south of Porto's on California. Vaughn, Rudy's son, is my barber. Rudy is still around. The boxing gloves are because Rudy was quite a boxer in his day, and the walls of the shop are lined with clippings from his boxing career.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Mystery Of The Barbershop Hieroglyphs

This illustration is on the back of a business card for a local, very old school barbershop.

Can you guess what it means? I couldn't figure it out and had my barber explain it to me. Were whimsical hieroglyphs on the back of business cards a common thing in the 50s?

I will leave it to the hive mind (if the hive mind happens to be reading!) to guess the meaning in the comments. If no one figures it out or comments, I will put up the solution (and the front side of the business card) next Wednesday.

I used to have my hair cut in a tiny barbershop by an old Armenian man who spoke no English except "How are you?" and "Thaaank you". Sample conversation:

Me: Hi, I'd like a haircut.
Barber: How are you?
Me: I'm doing well, how are you?
Barber: Thaaank you.

And the rest of the cut would proceed in absolute silence, which was part of the appeal. For about a year he did a great job and was almost comically attentive. He would actually use a straight razor to do a lot of the work. I had to stop going to him after a visit during the World Cup. He had the TV on, and barely looked away from the game to cut my hair! It showed.

Update: solution posted here.

$38,000 Ring Stolen At Glendale Galleria

The world's simplest heist, from the Glendale Police Department's Activity Log:
Burglary/Grand Theft - Monday, May 19, 2008:
An African-American male adult entered Romano Jewelers at the Galleria and requested to see a two-carat solitaire ring valued at $38,000. The suspect left the store on two occasions, allegedly to make phone calls, but kept returning to see the ring. The third time in the store, the suspect suddenly ran out carrying the ring, fleeing through JC Penney into the parking structure. Employees gave chase but lost the suspect as he descended the parking ramps.
He got away, although his image was captured on numerous surveillance cameras.

More hijinks at the Galleria: a man whose $550 cell phone was stolen in Pasadena found himself face to face with his robber, who happened to be his cashier at Macy's! They did catch that guy, who was given to Pasadena PD.

Jewel City Photo: Musical Silhouettes

Composite of several shots taken on California between Brand and Orange. The City seal is from a bus stop on Broadway. The silhouettes look almost like Tintin.

*here's the piano girl.  Artist Michael Daedalus Kenny points out that the silhouettes appear to be in the style of 1920's illustrator John Held, Jr.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Jewel City Photo: Bee Industrious

Yesterday I spotted a giant swarm of bees buzzing around the sidewalk and glass of The Way To Happiness Foundation on Maryland Ave. What's really bizarre is that the bees were specifically swarming on the "Be Industrious" panel posted on Maryland.

*Stunt photo by my friend Michael.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Roadsters Off Road

At the Planes of Fame Air Show this weekend, the only parking available was in a muddy field. Here are some cars that were obviously unprepared for impromptu off-roading.

I couldn't believe seeing the Lotus Elise and Exige out in the muck. Here is someone who overprepared for the occasion. His choice of vehicle: a Unimog!

Planes of Fame 2008

I've uploaded a set of photos from today's Planes of Fame Air Show onto Flickr. It was a great day but the heat was brutal. The highlight for me had to be seeing two P-38 Lightnings in flight, as they are exceptionally rare.

Glendale's airport, the Grand Central Air Terminal, was converted to a P-38 base and used for training operations and the aerial defense of Southern California during World War II. The P-38s themselves were built right down the road at Lockheed in Burbank.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Jewel City Photo: Date Night

Spotted in downtown Glendale.

Subtle Graffiti In Burbank

Spotted on the wall of the massive condo complex under construction on Palm St., across from the AMC movie theater.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Trolley Crash At The Grove

The trolley at The Grove has apparently had a brake failure, causing an accident which injured several people. The injuries sound fairly minor.

From an AP report:

The trolley did not come off the tracks or hit anyone, said Davies, who didn't immediately have more information.

Witnesses and people injured on the trolley said the bus hit a bunch of plants.

"I was on the top of the trolley and it was going full speed and then we just crashed," said Wonoh Massaquoi, who was celebrating her graduation from the University of Southern California with family and friends.

Massaquoi said her mother, who was also on the trolley, injured her arm and was treated by paramedics.

Massaquoi said she saw three injured also being treated.

"They were all bloodied," she said.

From ABC7:

A 50-year-old woman and a 27-year-old man suffered minor injuries and asked to be taken to a hospital, Davies said.

Five children aboard were also treated at the scene and released to their parents, Davies said.

The trolley that travels from Farmer's Market to The Grove, lost its brakes at the end of the track near The Grove, Davies said.

"It hit the stop at the end, but it was not going that fast," Davies said. "The trolley had very minor damage."

Here is some information on the trolley's braking system:
The trolley, designed by George McGinnis, retired from Walt Disney Imagineering, and Dave Williams of Caruso Affiliated Holdings, sits on an historic undercarriage from a Boston street car of the 1950s. Its exterior ornamentation includes red oak running boards and custom-cast brass handrails and fittings. Two spiral staircases lead to the upper deck. The trolley has redundant braking systems as well as a parking brake with fail-safe caliper brakes to prevent skidding.
This does not bode well for The Americana's trolley being open this weekend.

Glendale Galleria Signs Illegal

You know those tacky vinyl signs scotch-taped to the side of the Galleria facing the Americana? Illegal. Now the Galleria owners have had to request a variance from the Redevelopment Agency after the fact, and the City Council is pissed. From the Glendale News-Press:
Councilman Dave Weaver took issue with the after-the-fact process, saying the Galleria “needs to get their act together,” in between comments from the majority of his colleagues that the design of the banners was inadequate and too low-end.

“I’m not thrilled about the idea that it happened in this manner,” Mayor John Drayman said. “I don’t think [the banners] speak well for the city. I don’t think they speak well for the Galleria.”
“It looks, how can I say it cheap,” Councilman Bob Yousefian told Galleria executives of the banners.
The Galleria has until October 1 to submit plans for permanent physical changes and have them approved by the city.

How about a big sign saying "AIR CONDITIONED"?

It's 97 degrees in Glendale right now. Last summer we had days that were over 110. Pretty soon walking around outside in the direct sun at the Americana won't be so appealing.

Stay Off The Green (Temporarily)

The grass at the public park in the Americana had just a few days to establish itself before being flooded by thousands of people- many of them wearing high heels. As a result of this, the grass is now very tired and brown. This picture shows the contrast between fresh sod and the current state of the grass:

To combat this, The Green has been temporarily closed to allow the grass time to recover. However, this policy doesn't seem to be too friendly to dog owners, who are already up in arms over The Americana's 25lb limit on canines. Here is a dog owner who hopped over the velvet rope to let his dog poop before being shooed away by security.

It was really fun watching the lone security guard run all over the place trying to keep people off the grass.

Trolley Problems At The Americana

The whimsical trolley at The Americana has broken down. I've stopped by the development twice this week and both times the trolley was locked up. I called The Americana today to ask when the trolley would be running and they said they hope to have it operating again this weekend. It's supposed to run every day.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cecilia Rasmussen/Leslie C. Brand Event Is Tonight

I almost forgot that tonight is Cecilia Rasmussen's talk at the Brand Library about her research into the secret life of Leslie C. Brand. Perhaps Mr. Brand's ghost will make an appearance.

7pm in the Brand Library Recital Hall.

A Preventable Accident In Atwater Village

Yesterday I saw the immediate aftermath of a car accident in Atwater Village. This is right across from the 3-par golf course (where I spent my morning) and the Rancho Los Feliz apartment complex. According to my friend who lives in Rancho Los Feliz, this is the second identical accident in this spot this week. Cars frequently collide here because street parking is allowed right next to the Rancho Los Feliz and golf course driveways, so when drivers attempt to pull out, they can't see cars coming their way as their view is blocked by SUVs and large service trucks parked on the street. Additionally, there is pressure to make the awkward unprotected left here because if you make a right, you'll be halfway to Hollywood before you find a legal place to make a u-turn back towards Glendale.

Cost of a solution? Some red paint. Lose the street parking here, City of LA.

Another Sunset

That's Burbank down there. I slacked off last week so I'm trying to hike every night this week.

The Devil Made Me Do It

From the Police Report:
300 block of Jackson Street: A Glendale woman reported Monday that someone had broken the right front passenger-side window of her car and stolen her Bible.
Wow, I haven't seen this crime before. We'll see if this becomes a trend like GPS and catalytic converter theft. This week's police report also contains another Americana shoplifting story. This time a woman shoplifted $8 worth of candles from Rite Aid.

Monday, May 12, 2008

An Idyllic Scene

Here is a lovely pastoral photograph taken a mile away from my extremely dense, walkable neighborhood.

Of course, you don't see or hear Los Feliz Blvd. immediately to the left and the 5 freeway just beyond that hill. But we truly are lucky to have so many varied recreation opportunities just minutes away.

Dodgy Glendale: Slimmer Body and Smoking Lasers

Sometimes you see things in Glendale that are just plain dodgy. You see them and think, there's no WAY this is legitimate. Here are two examples from downtown.

Coming Soon: Palate Food + Wine

Walking back from downtown yesterday, I passed a promising looking restaurant called Palate that looked nearly ready to open. I took some pictures of the interior and googled for information when I got home. Eater LA had the scoop:
Becerra gave us the scoop: Palate will be restaurant, wine bar and retailer, cheese cellar, and "eno-gastronomic library" on the ground floor of the seven-story Bekins building on Brand Avenue (former Cinnabar space). The food will be simple with Mediterranean sensibilities and seasonal and artisinal ingredients.
Should be a nice addition to the otherwise really boring, car dealership dominated stretch of Brand where I live. Here is the interior:

One Week Later

Anne and I walked over to the Americana for breakfast yesterday and somehow failed to spend any money there. We had forgotten it was Mother's Day (we did something for my mom earlier in the week), and that Mother's Day is probably the worst day of the year to have breakfast at a restaurant. After finding a 55 minute wait at the Granville Cafe, we wandered around downtown a bit and had lunch at Porto's instead.

The grass at The Green has seen some serious abuse over the past week, and was dotted with bright green patches of fresh sod.

Dozens of kids were enthusiastically using the play equipment.

We didn't see the trolley running. Has it broken down already? Did they take it out of commission temporarily because of the crush of pedestrians?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Bombers Over Burbank, Again

This weekend the Burbank Airport is hosting the Collings Foundation's B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator, B-25 Mitchell and P-51 Mustang. They are open for walk-through tours ($12 for adults, $6 for kids 12 and under) and rides ($425). If you hear them coming, be sure to run outside to appreciate the incredibly rare sight and righteous rumble of 65 year old bombers flying overhead.

In the forties, it would've been extremely common to see a B-17 overhead- 2,750 of them were produced in Burbank by Lockheed-Vega.

If you have any interest in classic aircraft, you're in luck- next weekend is the Planes of Fame Air Show in Chino. If you've never been, I highly recommend it.

Police Report

After weeks of boring crime (GPS theft, possession, drunk in public), the latest police report is full of interesting details:
  • 800 block of Americana Way: A 50-year-old Glendale woman was arrested Tuesday at a Rite Aid for allegedly stealing two packs of M&Ms and $127 worth of makeup.
This is the first Americana crime mentioned so far. All those high-end shops and this lady goes for M&Ms and makeup?
  • 1100 block of North Louise Street: A 23-year-old La Crescenta woman was arrested Tuesday for allegedly being drunk in public after officers found her in an apartment building’s laundry room vomiting.
That's a low moment- stumbling into a random laundry room to vomit into a hamper.
  • Mountain Street at North Verdugo Road: A 50-year-old Glendale man was arrested for riding his bicycle on the sidewalk and for allegedly being in possession of marijuana.
Please note that riding a bicycle on the sidewalk in Glendale is against the law. The only place I've seen Glendale PD consistently enforcing this is downtown on Brand- unless they need a pretense to stop someone dodgy looking, which was probably the case here. Riding on the sidewalk is legal in the City of Los Angeles provided you stay away from pedestrians.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

One Year Since the Fire

As the Atwater Village Newbie and others have noted, it's been one year since the massive fire that consumed 800 acres of Griffith Park. I recommend commemorating the occasion by going on a Sierra Club night hike tonight. The explosion of wildflowers over the last several months has been breathtaking.

7pm in the upper merry-go-round parking lot.

Ghettobird Makeover

I'm an aviation nerd, so as I was driving along San Fernando Road this morning I found it unusual that a black and white Eurocopter was circling low over Atwater Village. I got this quick snapshot while stopped at a light. I've never seen a black and white LAPD chopper before, so I assumed that it was a fake police helicopter being used for a film shoot.

I did some searching and discovered that this is LAPD's newest Eurocopter AS350. Paint scheme: black and white. Apparently blue and silver is on its way out and all of LAPD's new helicopters will be wearing black and white.
Paint scheme concept illustration
This helicopter at March Air Force Base Air Show this weekend

Here's the old paint scheme:

Still Have Your 3d Glasses From the JPL Open House?

If you attended the JPL Open House over the weekend, you were given a pair of anaglyphic (red/blue) 3d glasses. Wondering what to do with them? I saw this via BoingBoing this morning: 3d anaglyphs of Italian anatomical waxworks. And I just happened to have a pair of 3d glasses right next to the computer! Thanks, JPL!

If you ever have the chance to see actual Italian anatomical waxworks in person, I highly recommend it. In Florence last year, Anne and I visited La Specola, which has the most impressive collection of these incredibly detailed wax models in the world. It's like an non-creepy version of Body Worlds.

Here is a Flickr set of anatomical models from La Specola.
Here is a Flickr group devoted to anaglyphic images.
This gentleman has a number of stereoscopic images, including several of Glendale.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Foggy Skyline

Glendale Rose Parade Float To Feature The Alex Theatre

The City Council just approved funding for this year's Rose Parade float, which will prominently feature The Alex Theatre. Mining Glendale's historic past for float ideas has led to a tremendous improvement in quality over the embarrassing floats of years past. Last year's float, featuring the Grand Central Air Terminal, was beautiful. Perhaps this year I'll actually get my act together and help decorate. Volunteer sign-ups start in October.

Glendale News-Press Article

Glendale Rose Float Association

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Abandoned Zoo

Just when I think I've exhausted all of the possibilities for awesomeness within Griffith Park, I come across something new. Yesterday, after a trip to the driving range and putting green, I walked over to the site of the Los Angeles Zoo before it moved to its present location in 1964. I had heard about the old zoo and seen glimpses of it on hikes, but I never imagined that it would be so extensive and accessible. Far from being hidden away on some remote trail, it's a giant picnic area.

A post-apocalyptic, rusting, dangerous picnic area. Cool!

Full set of photos here. I highly recommend a visit. It looks like something from the island on Lost.

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