Saturday, November 29, 2008

Free Christmas Events

To pummel you in the head with Christmas spirit, here's a house I spotted in Burbank today:

And here are my completely FREE holiday event picks:

City of Glendale Tree Lighting Ceremony
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Glendale City Hall--Perkins Plaza
Description: This holiday celebration features choral music, lighting of the City Hall tree and a special visit from Santa Claus! Free parking is available in the Civic Center Parking Structure (enter off of Wilson). Hot chocolate and candy canes will be served. In case of rain, the event will be cancelled.

Merry Tuba Christmas
December 14, 2008
The Alex Theatre
The annual Merry Tuba Christmas event at the Alex Theatre features hundreds of tuba and euphonium players of all ages from throughout Southern California. Song sheets will be distributed and the audience is encouraged to sing along. Tickets are FREE to the public.

The Griffith Park DWP Light Festival (Vehicle-Free From Now Until December 7th)
Driving through the annual DWP Light Festival simulates sitting in a traffic jam in Reno for 2 hours. Make sure you go on the vehicle-free nights before December 7th to miss the traffic. Last year we parked at the Zoo before walking through and it was quite lovely.

More holiday roundups from local blogs:

Free Classical Lunchtime Concerts

This week during one of my frequent lunches at Angela's Bistro I noticed a flyer for two upcoming free chamber music concerts at the First Baptist Church of Glendale. The first concert was on November 19th and was written up by Ruth Sowby in the News-Press.

The upcoming concerts are on December 3rd and 17th at noon. Sack lunches are available after the show from Angela's for $6. The First Baptist Church is at the corner of Wilson & Louise in downtown Glendale.

Thanksgiving Quote of the Year

This blog entry from Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings sums up the post-Thanksgiving tryptophan haze quite nicely:
I’m still fat and logey and wall-eyed from our big, overstuffed, Rockwellian Thanksgiving yesterday. Last night I dreamed of Squanto teaching the Pilgrims to bury peyote at the bases of their corn plants, giving every soul in Plymouth wonderful, terrible visions of the Second Coming of their Lord, visions so intense that sparks flew from the oversized buckles on their big, black hats.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Old Town Montrose Walking Tour

On Sunday I attended the Old Town Montrose walking tour led by our own very knowledgeable Mayor John Drayman. The tour was written up in detail at Sunroom Desk, which is a new blog focused on Glendale community issues. I don't know Montrose very well beyond the menu at La Cabinita, but I will certainly be back soon to explore further.

Crumbs Is Now Open

Crumbs Bakeshop is now open on Brand, next to Granville Cafe. The space is a bit weird, with no tables or chairs in sight. I had a delicious miniature free sample cupcake and a decent cup of coffee. The sample size cupcakes are a perfect portion size for something so rich, but they don't sell them a la carte- you have to buy them in packs of 12 for $18(!). The regular cupcakes are $3-$4 and approximately the size of my head.

Free sample chocolate pecan cupcake.

Tasty though the cupcakes may be, without smaller portion sizes or a place to sit I won't be making Crumbs a regular part of my afternoon coffee break rotation.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Eighteen Memorable Miles

Today my Dad and I walked from Union Station to the sea with Franklin Avenue's Great L.A. Walk. Our route was Cesar Chavez to Sunset to Santa Monica Boulevard. I had a great time and held up pretty well physically. Here are a few photos.

There's only one way to start an 18 mile day: with a mega-breakfast at Phillippe's. I also satisfied my once-a-year craving for corned beef hash.

The crowd gathers at Union Station.

We're off!

Some hand-scrawled insanity in Santa Monica.

Finally, 18.3 miles after we started, the sweetest sight.

The hero of this year's walk was my Dad. At this time last year, he was recovering from a heart attack and could barely walk around the grocery store without getting winded. In only a year, he's gotten into good enough shape to walk 18 miles!

The full set of photos is up on flickr. And a big thanks to Mike at Franklin Avenue for organizing another great event!

Glendale Oral Histories Now Available On Library Website

Great news from the Glendale Public Library's Book Talk blog:
The Glendale Public Library is pleased to announce that its Oral History Collection is now available through the Library's website. The collection features both traditional one-on-one interviews (conducted by the Glendale Planning Department in the 1990s) and historical recordings of events sponsored by the Glendale Historical Society in the 1950s.

The recordings, in some cases being made available for the first time, can be listened to through the media player (Windows Media, Real, etc.) on any computer--at home, school, or even in the Glendale Public Library.
It's incredibly cool that the library has digitized these histories and made them freely available as mp3's. I look forward to listening to them.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Arthouse Update

This is a follow up to my letter in News-Press this week suggesting that the city attract an art theater such as a Laemmle to the soon-to-be-vacant Mann Exchange 10 space on Maryland. I've just read on the L.A. Now blog that the Laemmle One Colorado theater in Pasadena lost their lease and closed two weeks ago.

Move west, Laemmle! Downtown Glendale is very well placed to attract audiences not just from Glendale, but also from Burbank, North Hollywood, Atwater Village, Glassell Park, Eagle Rock, Silver Lake and Los Feliz. Currently the most convenient independent options for these areas are the Playhouse 7 (too far) or Los Feliz 3 (too small). Opportunity knocks!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Weekend Events: Let's Walk!

Get your feet ready for two great walks this weekend:

Saturday is Franklin Avenue's 3rd Great Los Angeles Walk. I'll definitely be going on this walk. We'll leave Union Station at 9am and hike west on Santa Monica Blvd until we hit the ocean. You can find more info in the Great Los Angeles Walk 2008 FAQ.

And on Sunday, Glendale Mayor John Drayman will lead a walking tour of old Montrose with the Historical Society of the Crescenta Valley. I'll join this walk if I can drag myself out of bed after Saturday's 18-mile journey.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Grand Central Air Terminal, 1940

Google has now made the immense Life Magazine photo archive searchable. Here is a beautiful 1940 Glendale photo from the Life archive:

That of course is the Grand Central Air Terminal with a gorgeous DC-3 in the foreground. The terminal building is still standing, barely. It has been closed since incurring damage in the '94 Northridge quake. The building is currently owned by Disney, which also owns most of the surrounding land that once made up what was formerly the premiere airport in the L.A. area in the days before WWII. The area where the DC-3 is parked is currently used as a parking lot. You can pay a visit to the parking lot and get a good look at the terminal building which is located at 1310 Air Way. Here is a picture I took of the terminal a few years ago.

The best book on the Grand Central Air Terminal is Madcaps, Millionaires and Mose; by John Underwood. It's out of print, but copies are available in the gift shop at the Doctors House.

Monday, November 17, 2008

More On Toonerville Injunction

More info on the preliminary gang injunction against Toonerville:
Glendale PD and the City Attorney have also put up a detailed press release. Here is an excerpt:
Filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, the proposed gang injunction would severely restrict the ability of the Toonerville gang to engage in criminal and nuisance activities within the Los Angeles River-Glendale Safety Zone as defined by a 4.5 square mile area within the Los Angeles Police Department’s Northeast Division and the City of Glendale as well as a 1.25 square mile area within the Los Angeles Police Department’s Foothill Division.

Terms of the proposed injunction include many of the standard gang injunctionprovisions, including limiting the gang’s ability to associate in public with other members, intimidate witnesses, to sell or possess drugs, or to possess weapons or graffiti tools.

The injunction also includes provisions for gang members to stay away from Chevy Chase Park in the Northeast LAPD division and Palmer Park in the City of Glendale – two locations known to be used by the Toonerville gang to hold meetings, engage in gang activity and intimidate residents.

According to law enforcement declarations filed with the court, the Toonerville gang has claimed the area within the L.A. River-Glendale Safety Zone for several years as its territory for criminal and nuisance activity including the sale of narcotics, graffiti vandalism, and intimidation. Members of the Toonerville gang are know to use weapons and violence to facilitate the local drug trade and have been linked to area murders, assaults and shootings.
Here are maps of the areas covered by the injunction:


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Huge Crowds Turn Out For Christmas Tree Lighting

Tonight Anne and I braved the dense smoke blanketing Glendale to walk to the Americana for the Christmas tree lighting ceremony. I'd imagine the possibility of rolling blackouts caused the Americana's operations manager some grief today. When we arrived we found the scene was absolutely mobbed. We made it into the complex and managed to drift through the masses to a spot fairly close to the tree (or "tree", after all of the trauma it's been through!). After 15 minutes of looking at a dark tree, we were getting bored and hungry, so we left to get dinner at In N Out. After eating, we walked south towards the Americana only to find police officers on the sidewalk turning hundreds of people away - the Americana was entirely full and no one else was being allowed in.

I'm sure business all over downtown Glendale was very good tonight. The streets everywhere were densely packed with pedestrians. After walking home, we watched the fireworks display from the kitchen window.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Gang Injunction To Be Filed Against Toonerville

Today I saw a 6-page public notice taped to a sign at San Fernando Road and Chevy Chase, in front of Tacos el Sauz. The notice was dated today, 11/15/08 and was on letterhead from the City of Glendale City Attorney's Office.
TO: TOONERVILLE (aka TVR), a criminal street gang sued as an unincorporated association, DOES 1 through 300, inclusive.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA, ex rel. Rockard J. Delgadillo, as the City Attorney for the City of Los Angeles ("Plaintiff") and Scott H. Howard as the City Attorney for the City of Glendale, Hereby Puts You On Notice that it will file an Ex Parte Application for an Order to Show Cause ("OSC") Re: Preliminary Injunction to be heard on November 20, 2008 at 8:30a.m. in Department 86, Los Angeles Superior Court at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, California, 90012. Before said hearing, Plaintiff will file its "Complaint for Injunction to Abate a Public Nuisance" entitled People of the State of California, Plaintiff vs. Toonerville (aka TVR), a criminal street gang sued as an unincorporated association, Does 1 through 300, inclusive, Defendants.
Toonerville is a very old Atwater-based street gang that has some peripheral involvement in south Glendale. Last I heard, their activities were heavily tamped down compared to their peak in the late 90's and early 2000's, but this should keep the lid on them even further. The injuction would make any public association between known members of the gang off limits in a huge swath of Glendale and Northeast L.A., including specific bans on hanging out in Chevy Chase and Palmer Park.

Glendale, 1905: A Survivor

While reading an old copy of the Glendale Architectural And Historical Survey Self-Guided Tour (1983) this week I came across this intriguing description:
108 N. Brand Blvd. (1905)
Although unprepossessing in its current appearance, this two story building is the most historic on Brand Boulevard. It is the oldest structure on the street, and the first brick building in the city. Commissioned by Leslie C. Brand, it housed the First National Bank (until 1918) on the lower story and a large meeting room, used by the Masons, on the upper story.
108 N. Brand is a building I walk by every day. It is now occupied by Sansai Japanese Grill and a law firm.
Here it is today.

Here it is in 1906. Things were a bit different then! Interurban rail started operating on Brand Boulevard in 1904. The First National Bank building (now Sansai) was built in 1905. A Pacific Electric rail depot was built at the NE corner of Brand & Broadway in 1906.

Here is a similar perspective today.

Inside the bank in 1909.

First National Bank (with the Pacific Electric train depot in foreground) in 1909. Note how much more developed Brand is in this shot compared to the 1906 photo above.

The Security Trust and Savings Bank (1923) was built on the former site of the rail depot and now looms over the humble First National/Sansai building. From the guide:
100 N. Brand Blvd (1923)
The first six story building in Glendale, the Security Trust and Savings Bank was erected on the site of the Pacific Electric depot in 1923. Its Renaissance Revival design by Alfred Priest has been altered; however some original features, including the frieze and the office entrance on Brand, can still be seen.

108 N. Brand. Next time you walk past, take a moment to reflect on the changes this building has seen since 1905.

Vintage photographs were scanned from Glendale: A Pictorial History (PDF) and were originally courtesy of the Special Collections Room of the Glendale Public Library.

In Defense of Glendale

There's some serious Glendale self-loathing on display in the letter to the editor page of the Glendale News-Press this week.
Is it just me, or is Glendale seriously lacking in locations or businesses remotely resembling an “arts district?” With developer Rick Caruso’s latest “contribution” to our community, alongside one of the largest malls in Southern California, I couldn’t help but think “why?” when I read the ridiculous “news” about the “hundreds of shoppers, heralded by a multimedia advertising blitz” for the opening of the Marshalls Shoe MegaShop in what used to be a pretty decent and fairly priced place to go to buy film, movies and even books (“Store Marshalls in a new era,” Business Spotlight, Nov. 3).

In a city of more than 200,000 residents of all ethnicities, ages, genders, political affiliations and sexual orientations — do we really need another useless clothing retailer? Or do we deserve a place where we can connect and meet each other and learn from one another on a level that’s a little more substantial and relevant to our minds and spirits?

Someone tell me why there isn’t a non-corporate place I can go on a Friday night in Glendale to discover and experience independent music, film, performance, art or anything other than $80 “vintage” T-shirts, tasteless $500 handbags or bland, expensive dinners. Oh, that’s right, we’re talking about Marshalls here — it’s much cheaper, therefore, it’s OK. Forget the arts — bring on more stuff I don’t really need, but should buy because it’s such a bargain!


Speaking of art, why don’t we have a museum? It really wouldn’t hurt our city one bit to work a little harder to bring some of this stuff into our own community, and at least try to challenge the general consensus that Glendale is a boring city full of boring people.

So now it’s Friday night, and I want to watch something other than “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” and I really don’t want to pay $12.75 for it either. Hmmm, what’s a nearby city that can provide a “light” version of the arts/entertainment of Los Angeles, without all the hectic traffic and impossible parking?

Pasadena, here I come.

The Laemmle Theatres do show movies I want to see. Barnes & Noble and Borders in Glendale are OK, but Vroman’s in Pasadena is an outstanding bookstore. Glendale has some good restaurants, but Pasadena has a lot more.

Pasadena has several excellent museums, while Glendale has none. Even after the Embassy Suites opens, Pasadena will still have more and more varied hotels.

In short, once A Noise Within leaves, there will be nothing in Glendale I would take an out-of-town visitor to see. There’s no reason to take a visitor to the Americana. There isn’t a single store in the Americana that a visitor can’t find in his or her hometown.

Did you think I was happy in Glendale?

With this money I can get away from with your chickens and your pies and your kitchens and your everything that smells of grease. I can get away from this shack with its cheap furniture; and this town and its dollar days and women that wear uniforms and men that wear overalls!
It's Mildred Pierce all over again!

I think Stanton is a plant from the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce. The criticisms are fair enough, except for the crack about the bookstores. Vroman's is okay, but within a three block radius in downtown Glendale we have the Brand Bookshop, Bookfellows, and Abril Books. Downtown Glendale is far smaller than downtown Pasadena yet has a phenomenal variety and density of independent restaurants, particularly on Brand north of Broadway. We are certainly short on museums, although we don't exactly have none: we have the Doctors House, the wonderful Brand Library and Art Center, Casa Adobe de San Rafael, and the museum at Forest Lawn.

Glendale is walkable, safe, diverse, and relatively affordable. Beyond downtown Glendale, I can be in Atwater in 5 minutes, Silver Lake, Los Feliz or Griffith Park in 10 minutes and at the Arclight Hollywood in 20.

If nothing else, hey, at least we're not Burbank.

(Just kidding, Burbank!)

In the spirit of constructive criticism, I've written my own letter to the News-Press:
This letter is in response to Nora Mossessian and Stanton Price's letters criticizing the lack of arts and culture in downtown Glendale. While I don't yet think that downtown Glendale is cultural black hole, at least not north of Broadway, investment in the arts in downtown Glendale is clearly needed. My bit of unsolicited advice to the city would be to redevelop Maryland Avenue and the Exchange complex into an arts district. The Exchange is almost entirely devoid of retail tenants and currently Maryland is a beautifully landscaped street featuring empty boutiques, one great independent coffeehouse (Urartu Coffee) and a dated movie theater that will be closing in 2011. Before the Mann Exchange 10 closes, the city should work to attract an arthouse theater such as a Laemmle to fill the space. If an arthouse theater were to open on Maryland, it would attract a more cultured clientele that would in turn support local arts-related businesses and provide a counterweight to the crass commercialism on the western side of Brand Boulevard.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Public Notice Of Proposed 6-Story Mixed-Use Development In South Glendale

A public hearing notice just went up on the city's website regarding a proposed development at 435 Los Feliz Road, right across the railroad tracks from the Costco in Atwater Village. I assume there is a physical public notice up, but it's probably easy to miss with the road work on Los Feliz and awkward placement of the site.

From the city website:

Avalon Land, LLC is proposing to develop a 6-story, 175,749 SF mixed-use development at 435 Los Feliz Road. The project includes the following: grocery market, day spa, restaurants, retail uses, and medical/general offices. Parking for the project will be provided in a 5-story parking structure with 717 parking spaces. The proposed project is located within the San Fernando Road Corridor Redevelopment Project Area; the 2.1-acre rectangular site is bordered by Los Feliz Road, Gardena Avenue and Fernando Court.

The Project’s architectural design will be presented to the Redevelopment Agency for Stage I Design Review approval at a public hearing.

Here's the meeting information:

Council Chambers of City Hall
613 East Broadway, Glendale
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
2:30 P.M.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

What Do I Do With This Bottle Of Wild Turkey???

Thankfully I didn't require a bottle of Wild Turkey to make it through election night. I'm not much of a drinker, so now what do I do with an ironically acquired bottle of Wild Turkey?

Currently my options are:
  • Pour down drain, find higher power.
  • Donate to homeless shelter.
  • Drink because of prop 8.
  • Send to Sarah Palin in spirit of bipartisanship.
  • Use to strip paint, sterilize bathroom drain.
  • Share with actual wild turkeys.
  • Save for 2012.
Please vote in the sidebar on the right. If you have any other bright ideas, please share in the comments.

Craiglist Scammers Busted At Borders

A couple who scammed prospective renters out of their deposits was arrested during a sting operation Tuesday at Borders Books in downtown Glendale.

Coincidentally, I happened to be walking by Borders at exactly that moment. I saw a number of normally dressed people looking intently at one man, and thought I might be about to witness a fight. I saw one man lift up the back of his shirt and pull out a pair of handcuffs, and then I realized I was actually surrounded by plainclothes police officers, who handcuffed and patted down the man they had surrounded.

At that moment, a Mustang drove by on Broadway and was pursued by a Glendale PD Charger which turned on its siren and raced across Brand. The Mustang pulled over on Broadway and two of the plainclothes officers who were in front of Borders sprinted through the crowd at the bus stop and past me towards the stopped Mustang. At the time, I had no idea what was going on and just kept moving because I wanted to stay out of the way of the police officers during an ongoing situation.

From the Police Department press release:

On October 27th, 2008, detectives from the Glendale Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit received a report of a fraudulent listing, advertising an apartment for rent in the City of Glendale. A victim reported that they responded to the listing and arranged to meet with the couple purporting to be the owners of the unit. They met with the suspects and provided a completed lease application provided by the suspects and a cash deposit for the apartment unit. The victim later learned that the suspects were not the owners of the unit being rented, and contacted the Glendale Police Department to have the incident investigated.

As the investigation progressed, additional victims were located and all related similar accounts of how the scam was being committed. Victims responded to the online ad, were contacted by the suspects, and then met them at a variety of local establishments where they provided them with money and a lease application containing a wealth of personal information.

Detectives from the Glendale Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit were able to establish contact with the suspects under the guise of being interested in renting the unit. On November 4th, 2008, detectives met with the male suspect at a local bookstore where money and a lease application were provided to the suspect. He and his female counterpart were arrested shortly thereafter. The suspects were booked on fraud related charges.

Detectives of the Glendale Police Department believe that there may be additional victims who have yet to report their dealings with these suspects. If you have any further information regarding this crime, please contact Detective Jason Ross or Sergeant Brian Cohen at 818-548-3101.
More info in the Glendale News-Press here.

Election 2008 Photos

Here's a slideshow of election related pictures I've taken this year. Direct link to the Flickr set: Drive For Change/Election 2008.

Parking Meters Coming To Brand

Yes, parking meters are coming to Brand. In addition to metering Brand, the city has increased amount of free parking time in city parking structures to 90 minutes and reduced the price of a monthly parking pass in the city structures. The goal of the meters is to increase the availability of spots for customers of businesses on Brand. Currently employees of nearby businesses often take up the spots on Brand in defiance of the current two hour parking limit, which is difficult to enforce.

Here are the city structures that now have 90 minute free parking:

Single? Signs

Have you seen those "Single?" signs around Glendale lately? They're a scam and planted illegally. This guy did research into where they come from:
Remember when I said that certain dating businesses can print money? This is one of them. A 2006 press release reveals that the company was then bringing in about $45 Million of revenue a year. I also found an unverified claim from a disgruntled ex-employee on that claims the company charges their customers from $3,000 to over $15,000 for their matchmaking services.
If you see them, remove them immediately. If you see someone planting them, write down their license plate number and report it to the city. Last week alone I removed several signs each from Brand, Maryland, Glendale Ave, Wilson, Central and San Fernando Road.

Americana Holiday Update

The 106-foot tall Christmas tree at The Americana has now been painted bright green. These pictures don't show it that well, but it really is shockingly green.

There is also a cutesy Santa house under construction. Santa will be available starting on November 16th. The tree lighting ceremony (with fireworks) is on November 15th.

In response to the dismal state of the economy, I noticed that several of the businesses at the Americana are now having discount sales and meal specials. For instance, Frida, purveyor of $19 enchiladas, has now introduced a lunch menu with items in the $8 to $12 range. This is certainly a welcome addition given that there aren't any other decent Mexican restaurants in downtown Glendale.

This week I also spoke with a valet at the Americana and confirmed that free bike valet service is now available. Thank you, Mr. Caruso!

Jewel City Photo: Seeley's

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


What a night! After Obama's stunning victory and moving speech, Anne and I joined a few Los Feliz-based friends in a massive, cathartic, happy mob at the corner of Sunset & Alvarado. It was certainly one of the best nights I've had in eight years.

(top image from here, I believe)