Monday, December 29, 2008

More Culture For Glendale?, Part 2

Glendale Rancho resident Joanna Hedge has a nice addendum to City Council candidate Laura Friedman's San Fernando Corridor Arts District revitalization plan in the News-Press today.
...For San Fernando Road in Glendale, this will require an aggressive and magnetic dedication of all that the city’s redevelopment staff can power up. All the freeway ramp “fly overs,” at-grade rail crossing upgrades, widened streets and baby trees in hardscape are fine and good, but they serve only as backdrops for commuting Disney and DreamWorks employees, and other pass-through visitors.

Leadership, flexibility and imagination are needed now so that the area will benefit from the preferences and revenues, even while waiting out an economic downturn, that both commuters and regional residents represent, and attract them to San Fernando Road with arts-related commerce. Now is the time for redevelopment plans for the next big steps needed to attract those businesses with incentives, publicity and the full bag of tricks required — including on a regional, federal, even philanthropic Eli Broad-type level.
Read the rest here.

What Did I Miss?

Not that I was gone exactly, but after a week of epic feasts, Christmas events, Hanukkah parties and long walks in the rain I'm back to work tomorrow and am checking back in mentally...

The biggest story in Glendale (and pretty everywhere else) has been the ghastly murders committed in Covina by local resident Bruce Pardo. He lived in Montrose at 4004 Sunset Avenue. Additionally, last night his second rental car was found in Glendale. His first rental car was booby trapped, so the discovery of the second prompted Glendale PD to evacuate a number of local residents along Glenoaks Blvd near Scholl Canyon while the LA County Sheriff's Department Bomb Squad did their thing. No explosives were found.

Here are items about Pardo in the News-Press from a local perspective:

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Glendale PD Seizes $865,000

This tiny little item jumped out at me in the activity log on the Glendale Police Department's website:
Drug and Cash Seizure – Monday, December 8, 2008:
Vice-Narcotics Detail seized approximately $865,000 in U.S. currency and several pounds of marijuana originating from a Glendale case. Four arrests were made.
I'd imagine they don't seize the better part of a million dollars in cash very often...perhaps they can afford bring back the Citizen's Academy this year?

Friday, December 19, 2008

More Culture For Glendale?

Very promising city council candidate Laura Friedman has written an intriguing community commentary in the News-Press about bolstering the arts within Glendale:
...Currently in Glendale, the Arts and Culture Commission operates under the purview of the Parks and Recreation Department. This is a missed opportunity. As a city, we need a paradigm change. Instead of considering arts and culture nonessential extracurricular activities — services facilitated by the city — we should consider them a genre of industry to be lured to Glendale.

We must view the arts as a way to draw people and businesses to the area. Cultivation of arts-related businesses capitalizes on our geographical proximity to the entertainment industry, develops economic opportunities for residents and revenue sources for the city, and at the same time, can revitalize overlooked areas.
Read the rest of it here.

Related: In Defense Of Glendale

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Making Glendale Bikeable

I'd like to welcome to Glendale Colin Bogart, who is the City's new in-house liason from the L.A. County Bicycle Coalition who will be working to make our streets in Glendale safer and more inviting for cyclists. Read about it in the News-Press here.

The initial scope of the projects being considered at the moment is quite modest, but ultimately the city needs to update the 1995 Bikeway Master Plan and actually IMPLEMENT IT.

The 1995 Bikeway Master Plan was put online in PDF form recently, and I've read it in its entirety. It's a good plan! But the only bit of it that was ever implemented is the baffling three block stretch of bike lane on Riverdale, and, very recently, the new bike lane on Glenoaks. There is currently no meaningful network of bicycle infrastructure that links up in a logical fashion or even attempts to feed the downtown area.

As I was about to bike home tonight (dark, cold, rainy), I walked my bike down the sidewalk to the curb and waited for a gap in traffic.

A Lexus stopped for me.

I waved for the lady not to wait for me.

She waved to let me enter the road.

I DOUBLE waved for her to continue through.

She rolled down her window and yelled, "I promise I won't run you over!"

An offer I couldn't refuse! I biked onto the road.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jewel City Photo: Suicidal Christmas Hot Dog

After walking through the stinking carcass of Mervyn's going out of business sale (Christmas carols blasting, of course) at the Galleria, I took this snapshot.

Reasons this image disturbs me:
  1. hot dog (dressed like Santa) suicidally squirting himself with ketchup conjures up images of a monk (dressed like Santa) dousing himself with gasoline
  2. small plastic Christmas tree neatly juxtaposed over words "Chili Dog Factory"
  3. "Christmas Special" items just regular items with no plausible Christmas theme
  4. mysteriously open employee door. WHY?
  5. no employees or customers in sight, as if a neutron bomb went off
I know what I'm putting on my Christmas card this year...

Chipotle Moving In Next To Trader Joe's

The China Inn space next to Trader Joe's on Glendale Ave. has now been leased by Chipotle. Seems a bit odd to locate it this far from downtown (my friend John actually wrote the company to encourage them to look at the Famima space) but Chipotle will by default be one of the better nearby Mexican(ish) options.

Side note: while at Trader Joes today, I weirded out the checker by wearing a neon orange jacket (I bike at night!) and only buying entirely orange products- Super Orange Flavor Emergen-C, tangerine juice, etc. It wasn't intentional!

An Incredibly Depressing Tour of the Exchange

I don't know if it's the economy, poor planning, incompetent building management, lack of traffic, or what, but the soaring retail vacancy rate at the Exchange keeps me up at night. Currently available for lease in the square block bordered by Brand, Maryland, Broadway and Wilson: Jamba Juice, Aveda, Togo's/Tom's, Famima (sadly), Ofeli, Hotter Than Hollywood, Anahis Couture, FastFrame (soon, apparently).

Are you depressed yet? I haven't even shown you the Ben Franklin bench. Poor Ben literally had THE U.S. CONSTITUTION stolen from under his nose and sold for scrap!

There are a few bright spots on the block that seem to be doing fairly well: Angela's, Urartu Coffee, Tofu Village, Starbucks, Sansai, Fortune Inn and the recently remodeled Zono Sushi. But something needs to be done to prevent this stretch of mid-Brand from turning into Detroit.

City Center Fountain Remodel Complete

And it looks, uh, okay! Less gaudy, at least. The weird statue things that were previously in the fountain are now upstairs for some reason.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Free Lunchtime Concert Wednesday, Dec. 17th

Another free lunchtime classical concert is coming up on Wednesday, December 17th. This Wednesday's concert will feature violin and cello duos.

The concert is from 12:10-12:40 at the First Baptist Church at the corner of Wilson and Louise in downtown Glendale. Please come over on Wednesday and check it out. I attended the concert on December 3rd with several co-workers and we really enjoyed ourselves.

Charles Phoenix's Moonlight Rollerway Holiday Jubilee

Here are some videos and photos from Charles Phoenix's wonderful Moonlight Rollerway Holiday Jubilee. I've been to several of Charles' slideshows before, but didn't realize that this particular event would be 1/3 slide show and 2/3 wildly inventive roller skating holiday extravaganza. The skaters of all ages were incredible. I enthusiastically second the Atwater Village Newbie's endorsement: "the best 3 hours of Christmas-related fun we could have without standing directly under mistletoe".

Thriller on roller skates.

Some adorable junior skaters.

Jewel City Photo: Frozen Peas At the Moonlight Rollerway

Taken during tonight's wonderful Charles Phoenix holiday extravaganza at the Moonlight Rollerway. Tune in tomorrow for video.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Candlelight Tours of the Doctors House Saturday, December 20th

Hey Glendale, put the credit cards down, drag yourself from the clutches of The Americana and pony up one single measly dollar for a lovely evening of entertainment. Candlelight tours of the Doctor's House are tonight (12/13) and next Saturday.

From The Glendale Historical Society:
Escape the holiday crush and retreat back to a slower, less stressful time. Stroll through the Victorian Doctors House and enjoy the decorations, music, refreshments and unique gift items.

Saturdays, December 13th and 20th from 6:30 to 8:30pm.

No Reservations needed. $1 per person admission.
The Doctors House is located in Brand Park. I volunteer at the Doctors House and will be working there tonight (12/13), probably while wearing an embarrassing bowtie...

Hooray For A New Glendale Blog

Please welcome Everything Glendale to the (very thin) Glendale blog scene! It's a group blog that just started a few weeks ago but has already done some very interesting posts about our city. Here are my two favorite posts thus far:
Everything Glendale is a collaborative/group blog and is currently looking for contributors. If you have something interesting to say about your city but don't necessarily want to deal with the hassles of your own site, please contact them and make yourselves heard.

Here's my current reading list of Glendale-related blogs:
These three real estate blogs are Glendale based and also include good community information.
There is also the Glendale Family Jewels, which is like the cranky uncle in the attic. They are certainly Glendale-oriented, but focus mostly on petty city council drama. I don't include a link to them in my sidebar because, opinions aside, I feel their reflexively dismissive tone is unnecessarily polarizing and detrimental to civic life and engagement.

If you know of any other Glendale blogs, please e-mail me or comment and I will update the list.

With the exception of the News-Press, the coverage of Glendale in major media is incredibly thin for a city of 207,000+ people. The only practical thing we as citizens can do to remedy this situation is to get out there and report what's going on in our own neighborhoods and share our local discoveries. If you'd like to start a neighborhood blog and don't know where to begin, please contact me and I would be glad to help you set one up.

Top Secret Porto's Tips

I saw in the News-Press today that Porto's is going to open another location in Downey. Today Downey, tomorrow THE WORLD!

Frequently when I mention that I live in Glendale to someone who lives far away, and the first thing out of their mouth is "wow, you must go to Porto's all the time, I love their potato balls!" or some such thing. I don't post about Porto's here very often because this is a site for people who live in Glendale, and posting about Porto's is just too obvious. Everyone loves Porto's, and I'm not going to tell you anything about Porto's that you don't already know. Or can I?

Here are my top secret Porto's tips:
  • the plain cheese rolls are the best item in the pastry case (they don't look like much, but they are astonishing)
  • if you ask nicely and know exactly what you want, in the afternoon you can order an item or two from the big pastry section on the north side via the shorter cafe line on the south side and an employee will run over and grab it for you
  • when the cafe line is choked at lunch, the coffee line will take your sandwich order
  • the side salad with balsamic vinegarette is excellent, and densely packed into a little bowl that expands to fill an entire plate
  • if you ask really nicely when Betty or Raul aren't around, you can get a free refill on the already very reasonable and tasty coffee
  • best sandwich, Glendale: Pastrami
  • best sandwich, Burbank: Italian (better bread than Glendale location)
  • best soup: corn chowder (Fridays)
  • Burbank serves amazing mini round Italian rolls with their soup, while Glendale serves horrible flavorless cracker things with the soup. They bear a strong resemblance to communion wafers. At the Burbank location, if you ask very nicely and are good at negotiating (I used to sell cars, which helped), you can arrange to buy the special soup rolls by themselves, but they'll only let you buy around 7 of them, and that's if you're lucky
  • potato balls are great for parties. they keep well and revive nicely after a few minutes in the oven
  • when they tell you a cake is "the size of a sheet of typing paper", imagine that sheet of typing paper is 7 inches tall. and made of cake.
Anyways, when in doubt, just ask someone nicely. I have nothing but praise for the staff at both locations.

Any other Porto's tips? Leave them in the comments.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Night Skies

I intended to hike with the Sierra Club in Griffith Park tonight but completely forgot about the DWP Light Festival traffic. As a result, I arrived about 15 minutes after all of the hiking groups had left, but ran into a group of 5 very nice non-Sierra Club hikers who let me join them on a hike up to Mt. Hollywood. It was quite cold, but the skies were crystal clear and a spectacular panorama of Los Angeles and Glendale was our reward. This is a view I never get tired of:

I took the picture below earlier tonight. Its not one of my more spectacular efforts at first glance.

...but it is actually a (very cruddy) picture of the International Space Station, which was visible tonight in the skies above Glendale from 5:21-5:27pm. I was unsure how visible it would be, but the dot of the space station was quite bright and I was able to easily track it as it swiftly moved across the sky, rising above Burbank and ultimately disappearing beyond Eagle Rock.

If you haven't been to the DWP Festival of Lights already, you are out of luck, as the event is now open to (hellish) vehicular traffic. I walked the festival last week with my parents, but after hiking tonight I thought it might be fun to drive through the festival with the top down on my Miata. After one look at the hundreds of cars waiting to enter the event at 9:30, I decided to save my sanity (and clutch) by heading home.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Sign Up To Decorate Glendale's Rose Parade Float

The Glendale Rose Float Association is looking for volunteers to decorate this year's entry in the Rose Parade. Last year's float featuring the Grand Central Air Terminal was gorgeous, and this year's float featuring The Alex looks fantastic too.

The online sign up form is here:

Walkability Matters

From my apartment I can walk to three markets (Albertson's, Vons, and Ranch Market) within minutes. I didn't appreciate how convenient this situation was until I had to buy supplies for a social gathering at the last minute. I walked out the door to Ranch Market, bought some hummus, cheese and a bottle of wine and was back in my living room in under ten minutes. No traffic, no stress. I found the experience very satisfying and direct.

I'm also fortunate to live within very easy biking distance from my office. I still have my car for far flung errands, but I don't need it to live my life. If oil goes back up to $200 a barrel, I'm fine. If my car breaks down, I'm fine. It's a very liberating feeling.

Tonight I've been playing with an online gadget that looks up amenities within walking distance of an address and then grades that location on walkability. My home address in Tropico scored 88/100 - Very Walkable. And my office in downtown Glendale? 97/100 - Walkers' Paradise.

Look up your WalkScore here. This would be a great tool to use when apartment hunting.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Timeshare Scam At The Galleria*

Mike at Franklin Avenue filled out one of those "Win a car!" contest entry forms at the Glendale Galleria and found himself targeted by a dishonest timeshare company. Read his account here.

Beyond dodgy timeshare schemes, Glendale has an appalling rate of fraud and identity theft, so be extremely wary of giving out your personal information and don't let your credit card out of your sight.

Over the last several years myself and many of my co-workers in Glendale have had our credit cards compromised. Frequently the method is for a restaurant server or sales clerk to discreetly swipe the credit card through a skimmer that stores credit card numbers. Those numbers are later reencoded onto the magnetic strips of other credit cards and used to make fraudulent purchases. Because of this, I avoid using plastic unless its a self swipe machine.

*Update: Here's a description of of a typical identity theft arrest from the Glendale PD activity log.
Identity Theft Arrest – Wednesday, November 26, 2008:
Officers conducted a probation search at the 400 block of West California. During the probation search, three bags of stolen mail, numerous credit cards, CDL’S credit profiles, a card skimmer, a computer and two stolen guns were located. One of the guns was stolen out of Azusa and the other was stolen out of LAPD Mission Area. The probationer was arrested.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Charles Phoenix Holiday Slideshow Coming to Moonlight Rollerway

Charles Phoenix, the world's most entertaining slide-show projectionist, is putting on two holiday shows in Glendale at the Moonlight Rollerway.

From the Charles Phoenix Events page:

Celebrate ALL the Holidays Like You Never Have Before!

  • Charles’ live comedy retro holiday-themed slide show!
  • A roller skating revue spectacular starring sixty champion skaters in a variety of costumed musical acts celebrating all the holidays- New Years Eve, Valentines Day, Cinco De Mayo, Easter, 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas!
  • Live Hammond Organ stylings by “The Worlds Greatest Roller Rink Organist,” Dominic Cangilosi!
  • FREE snack bar treats!
  • After Show All-Skate Party - FREE skate rental!
  • FREE parking across the street at Home Depot!
  • All this at Southern California’s last classic roller rink!

Tickets are $35

Just two performances…
Saturday night
Dec 13, 2008 - 8 pm

Sunday matinee
Dec 14, 2008 - 3pm

If you haven't seen his retro slideshows before I highly recommend attending. The Moonlight Rollerway is always worth a visit as well, and the show even includes skate rental and an all-skate session!

Community Garden Is A Go

Yay! From the News-Press:
Coalition for a Green Glendale, on a 4-1 vote, got approval for its first community-run garden Tuesday, and without even asking for it, seeds were sown for a second site nearby on the Verdugo Wash.

The garden site approved Tuesday will be at 870 Monterey Road, on a vacant city-owned, P-shaped lot near the corner with Cordova Avenue that can accommodate up to 40 raised plots for organic produce farming.

Unlike two other public gardening sites at Palmer and Verdugo parks, the 11,000-square-foot Monterey garden will be the first in Glendale to be independently run with bylaws and a lease agreement with gardeners, all under the administration of a local nonprofit, Coalition for a Green Glendale.

It will also include a drought-resistant demonstration garden and communal fruit trees.
You can find out more at the Coalition For A Green Glendale site. I took the liberty of converting their community garden interest form from a pesky PDF to a JPEG. If you live nearby and are interested in a plot, please print out the flyer and send it in.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Couchwatch: Day 11*

212 W. Palmer. My neighborhood. Eleven days. One couch. One sleepy homeless guy. Four phone calls to the city.

Four times I was told "We'll try to get someone over to it today."

Subpar, City of Glendale, subpar.

*Update: Couch removed on day 12.

Echo Mountain Panorama

Click to view large. If you look very very closely, you can just make out downtown Glendale through the fog. Taken today amidst the ruins of the Mt. Lowe railway and the turn-of-the-century resort at Echo Mountain.