The dancing bicycle rider of Boyle Heights

I need some help. The man in the picture below is a complete mystery to me. He may look like an ordinary man riding his bicycle, but he’s not. I have come across this man before and I haven’t been able to get a clear picture of him, till now. Even though he’s missing half his arm and leg, you can get a good view of the man who rides around yelling and performing acrobatics/dancing on his bicycle.

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San Diego Comic-Con 2008, Day One,
Wednesday July 23, 2008
By Al Desmadre
San Diego, CA.

The first thing that strikes me about coming to Comic-Con in San Diego, is the stark human contrasts one sees in everyday settings during this week. Generally speaking, San Diego is a conservative, laid back, kind of military oriented type of town. At my hotel, mainly you see a lot of old white guys smoking cigars and talking about golf and boats. Continue reading

Attack on Salsas!

First they came for our raw tomatoes. Then they came for our chiles, lumping jalapenos in with serranos, just cuz some fools can’t tell the difference. And now, in a total assault against Mexicans and their salsas, they’re setting their targets on molcajetes, that ancient and simple kitchen tool used to grind down ingredients by hand.

When will the insanity end? At what point do we take up arms to defend our simple condiments? I wonder if right after they ordered the planes into the towers, the Ketchup Lobby planned this war against salsas? I better tune into KPFK to find out.

(Thanks to Burro Hall for that hilarious link to the terrorist lava rock bowls!)

The voice that announces stops on the bus

A few weeks ago I noticed something odd about the voice that announces the stops on the bus, it was happy. For those of you who haven’t been on the public limo, there is a voice that announces upcoming stops to passengers in a cold and robotic tone of voice, kinda like a Mr. Spell and Speak. I was in Hollywood with a friend and during our ride I noticed that voice was ecstatic when announcing the Hollywood stops. It’s something that stands out right away to any regular bus rider because the voice goes from its boring,deep, low tone to a energetic,happy high tone right away. I pointed it out to my friend and she noticed the difference as well. Well once I got home later that day I sent Metro an email on July 2 asking a few questions about the voice recording and how it works. On July 21 I received the following reply, (Note: I removed my real named and replaced it with my blog name)

Dear El Random Hero,

The stop announcements are manually recorded, but they are triggered automatically when the vehicle comes to a stop. When a stop is established, the stop is geo-coded (lat/long location) that defines the stop. The lat/long location is used to create a trigger box (typically 100-250′ from the lat/long point). Whenever the bus enters the trigger box, the vehicle will make the announcement (assuming the operator is running a schedule that uses that particular stop). Some trigger boxes are longer than others to account for a stop which may be a very heavy transit stop and shared by many lines (transit centers, airports, USG, etc.). We appreciate your inquiry and this opportunity to respond.

Metro Customer Relations

In my questions I neglected to ask about the voice recordings accent and tone of voice because I didn’t think it would be an appropriate question to ask. If I did I would basically have to ask “Why does the voice sound sad and depressed when announcing ethnic streets in more urban areas and sound high class in fancier areas ?” My hypothesis is that it’s because it’s the Hollywood line. I imagine the city wants to keep some sort of quality control to keep tourist coming back and to not scare them away. But honestly, you would think that someone involved in the recording process must have corrected the person recording on how to properly pronounce a simple street name, that’s what dictionaries are for right ? Either way I still get a kick out of that voice botching up names like Cesar E. Chavez, Rampart and of course Hollywood !!!   



I was supa excited to get to the Glow event last Saturday. How could I not, it was at the pier, all night long, tripped out art and great music mixed by the likes of Garth Trinidad and Raul Campos.

You’ve probably read how horrible it was gett to SaMo. I got off on Cloverfield and headed south to my homie’s in Venice. We hopped on bikes and rode up.

It was nuts. Some people do well in this situation, others don’t.

I had a great time. The highlight was Raul’s set. He literally gave me chills when he dropped Aly Us’ “Follow Me.” It was so hippy, so we are the world. Everyone on the pier felt the spirit. I think.

After a while I stepped behind the DJ booth to see the action from back there. At one point the crowd started chanting Raul’s name: “RA UL, RA UL, RA UL.” He couldn’t have smiled any bigger.

Raul later dropped Carl Craig’s “Throw” and I knew it was going to get the crowd even more into a frenzy. His next mix killed it. He dropped one of the biggest records in the world, Bob Sinclair’s “World Hold On.” For the chorus he cut the volume and let the people sing it, then slammed back into the beats. Needless to say the energy was so high it scared SaMo PD and they shut Raul’s set down 1/2 an hour early. Seems a Chicano can’t do his job well and be appreciated for it. He might start getting cocky and start asking for his land back. Cops claimed there were too many people on the pier.

After that I hung out and ran into old friends and saw some old ones. Rode back to Venice and called it a night.

Don’t Flip THIS House!

Piedmont Investment Office/Mia Sushi Bar in Eagle Rock

Rudy Martinez a character on A&E’s Flip This House, along with his associate, Paul Pagnone comprise the Piedmont Investment Company, the development firm that recently purchased the historic Self Help Graphics & Art Building in East Los Angeles.

The Self Help Graphics & Art building, a visual art piece of tile work by international artist Eduardo Oropeza, has been a sanctuary for over 30 years to hundreds of marginalized artists. Through Self Help Graphics’ print ateliers, use of studio spaces, premiere instruction, use of gallery walls and mutual interchange—major Los Angeles artistic voices were born. It is not by chance that an overwhelming number of artists whose work is now exhibited in the Phantom Sightings: Art After the Chicano Movement and the Cheech Marin collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) have a deep allegiance to Self Help Graphics.

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Barbie vs. Bratz

Mattel prevails in Bratz copyright trial

Jury rules toy maker owns original drawings for doll’s design

LOS ANGELES – Barbie and Bratz dolls are sisters, a jury has decided in a major victory to Mattel Inc., the world’s largest toymaker, in its copyright infringement lawsuit against rival MGA Entertainment Inc.

The federal jury decided Thursday that the designer of MGA’s Bratz characters conceived the idea for the dolls while working for Mattel — a ruling that could mean millions of dollars for the Barbie maker when the jury considers possible damages during a separate proceeding.

Mattel filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Riverside against MGA, which began marketing the hugely popular Bratz line of sassy urban dolls in 2001. Mattel has claimed it owned the rights to the Bratz line because its creator, Carter Bryant, came up with the concept while working for El Segundo-based Mattel.( Continue reading

Scratch to Lose!

The photo above was taken from a moving bicycle and with an awkwardly held camera, thus the blurriness. It’s a woman crossing her fingers, scratching for hope, and wishing for a small financial windfall, so long as the symbols match up into an appropriate pattern. I wish I could say this was something due to “La Crisis” but this is a pretty regular scene in communities of the working poor. Yes, the lottery is a waste of money and a tax on the poor, but it still represents one of the few imaginary options out of poverty. And when you don’t have many real options, those few threads that offer a lifeline to a better standard of living take on an importance they should not deserve. When you only make minimum wage, why not risk a small part of it in the hope of escaping that interminable prison? There’s a pretty messed up logic to this lottery business. I suggest you read the article by Kim Phillips titled “Lotteryville, USA” which was in The Baffler #7, now available via this google books link.

Far East LA and other sh*t I don’t like.

I found a new phrase.

Hipster Racism, I found it at Racialicious, the ladies over there are so smart.

I define hipster racism (I’m borrowing the phrase from Carmen Van Kerckhove) as ideas, speech, and action meant to denigrate another’s person race or ethnicity under the guise of being urbane, witty (meaning “ironic” nowadays), educated, liberal, and/or trendy.
AJ Plaid, Racialicious

I used to just call it the “tattooed, pseudo progressive, over-educated, asshole” problem, but this is much better.

Back in the day (the 90s) an ethnic minority in Los Angeles only had to stay away from Republican areas and never visit the Southern part of the United States (or the South Bay, oh let’s throw in Covina and Tujunga too) and they would be shielded from being openly mocked owing to what they were ethnically (not from being harassed by the cops, they will always be a problem), but those days are over.

We can now enjoy being mocked by Obama supporting, vegetarian diet, Ivy League graduate liberals, with “multi-colored” sex partners. Well thank god. We’ve come so far.
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Botanitas: July 18, 2008

Vexing: Female Voices from East LA Punk, Claremont Museum through Aug 31.

Botanitas is an ongoing feature bringing you stories and news from various sources, upcoming events and other bits of ephemera that might be of interest to LA Eastside readers. Suggestions welcome!

Bridging the grade divide in Lincoln Heights

Residential Food Scrap Pilot Program

Old Los Angeles

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Water Quality?

I got my yearly “water quality” report from the DWP a few days ago, which is now in newspaper size print. Okay, seems a bit excessive for this lil’ gripping page turner, but what do I know. But did they really need to use a picture of Echo Park and the missing lotus flowers, considering that “poor water quality” is one of the possible reasons for their disappearance? I would have gone with a different image, one that doesn’t make me look at my glass of water suspiciously. But what do I know.