Saturday, October 30, 2010

House of Basturma

After talking about it for ages, we finally went to the House of Basturma in Pasadena and had a basturma sandwich!

So what's a basturma? Basturma is an Armenian cured meat that reminded me a lot of Spanish cured hams, except that it's intensely flavored with spices like paprika, garlic, salt, and fenugreek. Doing some research, I found out that basturma is found all over what used to be the Ottoman Empire and can also be called pastirma. Apparently pastirma has the same etymological roots as pastrami but the two meats are worlds apart, since pastirmas are not cooked. Armenians make basturmas out of beef or lamb, but it can also be made from goat or camel. I liked it, but a little goes a long way.

The House of Basturma's sandwich is very simple, but really good. Wonderful toasted Armenian bread, flavorama meat, two slices of tomato and voil√†.  The House also has lulukebabs, shawermas, koftas, soujouks, and other Middle Eastern/Armenian specialties.

I really liked the House. Clean, spacious, with super nice, relaxed owners.

House of Basturma
2487 E. Washington Blvd.
Pasadena CA 91104
626 345-9090



Friday, October 22, 2010

Chasaengwon


We were wandering around Koreatown looking for parking (of course) when we found the nicest tea store in the middle of a strip mall. A branch of the Hankook Tea company, the tiny store is called Chasaengwon and it sells primarily tea from the Gwangju area of South Korea. But what I really loved about the store was the beautiful teaware they had on sale, exquisite teapots and matching cups that can tempt you into personal bankruptcy.

Chasaengwon also has some unusual food items and a small area to taste tea. Definitely worth a visit if you're in the area.  And certainly a place to check out if you need to buy a gift for someone.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pasadena Armed Forced

As regular readers of my blog know, I was amazed to find out that the Pasadena police uses old military helicopters to protect its citizen.  Now I'm even more amazed to find out that they have purchased a BearCat armored vehicle.  I found out this little tidbit from Pasadena PIO (click here for more info and picture).  So is Pasadena preparing for an explosion of zombies or something?  WTF.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Church of Scientology



I accidentally walked into the new Church of Scientology building in Old Town Pasadena. This is easy to do because, for all intents and purposes, the building and its lobby looks like a swank hotel.  I felt really tricked.  Now I'm started to get flyers from them with "I.Q" tests.  Looking at all the questions, it's clear to me that the test is really for their benefit, a way of identifying to most vulnerable and lonely people to indoctrinate.  Scary.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Kogi Truck at Altadena


In LA, the Kogi Truck is the mother of all Korean taco trucks. Originally it was just one truck, but the trucks grew in number and they now even have a small restaurant. One of the Kogi trucks makes it out to Altadena once a week on Tuesdays so we finally decided to try them out. What an experience. We got in line at 10:33.  The line was a block long.  And it didn't move for forty minutes. I mean, what the hell are they doing in that truck!  And the whole system was crazy. Like the line goes the wrong way around because you have to snake to the front of the truck to give your order and than snake back down to get your food. Oh, and you wait another half hour to get the bloody food after you order. Like I said, what the hell are they doing in the truck.  So we got in line at 10:33 and got our food at 11: 55. Gee, just in time for the truck to close. Of course, it was a cold, damp summer night and I caught a chill waiting.

I learned two lessons here:  1. food trucks with long lines aren't really worth it & 2. if they want your name with your order, make up a crazy name or give a number so that there's no confusion (like if you're named Mike, say your name is Mickey Mouse because there's going to be a dozen Mike's all waiting for their order).

So how was the food? Pretty good. We got two tacos, the spicy pork and the BBQ short ribs, and the kimchee quesadilla.

Oh!  Parked along with the Kogi truck is the Get Shaved shaved ice truck, and they make mighty fine shaved ice. We're talking real shaved ice and not chunks. Flavorings could be a wee bit better, but oh well.

The Kogi Truck is in Altadena on Tuesday from 10:30pm - midnight on 2029 N. Lake Ave. Their full schedule is on their website.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Intelligentsia Pasadena :)


Yeah! Intelligentsia finally opened in Old Pasadena this morning! Went exactly at 10 to find there was already a good hustle and bustle inside.  Pretty impressive as they'd only announced the opening yesterday afternoon.

The place looks great.  The decor is reminiscent of their Venice Beach branch, but with more seating; the staff was very friendly, and for Intelligentsia, strangely chatty.  The guy at the cash register went on and on about their strained opening and how they had the wrong cables for their cash register and blah, blah, blah. The Pasadena branch offers the usual coffee and tea selection.  In addition, they're offering individual siphon coffee makers.  AND they're going to start making real food, like grilled cheese sandwiches and lasagna.  Probably why they have all that lovely seating.  Just what Old Pasadena needed.

I also noted that Intelligentsia was right opposite Baskin-Robbins, which means that you can order an espresso from Intelligentsia and then fly over to Baskin-Robbins for a scoop of vanilla so you can make an affogato!

More excitement as we drove home:  just as we drove out of the parking garage, we got stopped at the intersection by a cop on a motorcycle.  WTF, we asked?  Turned out there was a police escort for two large parade floats.  Can this town get anymore exciting?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Caltech Does Olive Oil

When I found out that Caltech produces olive oil, it was one of those WTF moments.  But having toured the campus, it now makes sense.  Caltech's campus has lots of olive trees with big, fat olives on them.  So why not make olive oil?  They even celebrate their endeavors with a Caltech Olive Harvest Festival.

BTW, Caltech also has an abundance of turtles.  If you go to the central campus, you'll find tiny streams and ponds filled with turtles anxiously waiting for you to feed them.  But you must not feed them because that is absolutely verboten.  Sorry, turtles.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

LA Highway to Heaven

I have to confess I'm still freaked out by the LA highways.  It's such a huge, convoluted mess, with lanes constantly breaking off into opposite directions with almost no warning.  Sometimes with no warning.  One moment you're happily driving along, the next, you realize you're five seconds away from missing your exit.  And you're not the only one who's had this sudden epiphany — so have several of the other drivers around you and you're all now part of an ugly scrum to make this rapidly-approaching exit, which just happens to be three or four lanes away.  And if you're in the carpool lane, God help you.

I'll never forget my first time.  I was in Studio City trying to get to Eagle Rock.  I get on the highway and I see the guy ahead of me merge past three lanes of traffic in less than a second and I shout, "Did you see what that Nut Job just did!"  Five seconds later, I realize I should have done exactly what the Nut Job had done because I had thirty seconds to get to the right lane.

That's what makes LA highway driving so fantastically scary — everyone is merging this way and that, the exit lane the exact same lane as the merge-onto-freeway lane.  I've been on highways all over Europe and the US — this merging thing is really uniquely Californian.  I can see why so many pileups happen.  You want to merge — there's the perfect spot — you start to slide in — and then you see him — the guy from the opposite lane who saw the exact same cute little spot you did, wanting to do exactly the same thing you are — disaster.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

BLD Tweet A Dish

When I found out that one of my favorite restaurants, BLD, has an on-going Twitter contest for free food, I knew I had to enter.  I really like BLD.  It's just one of those great neighborhood places where you can go for good food and good wine, where the staff is knowledgeable and friendly, the atmosphere both fashionable and relaxed, where you're perfectly free to dress up or dress down — you can even bring your kids.  Unfortunately, it's not the sort of place I can go to too often because most of the entrees are in the $15-$27 range, and when you're pinching pennies, even a $6 hamburger can seem formidable.

So how does the contest work?  You go on Twitter and suggest a dish that BLD might want to make for its Thursday night special.  Past winning dishes have included chicken and dumplings and Moroccan tajine.  I suggested that yummy Portuguese dish of pork and clams.  Well, much to my surprise, I actually won.  I mean, I never win anything, and I'm one of those poor suckers who enters everything.  I can't tell you how many stupid hoops I've jumped through, from writing slogans for lawn mowers (we really needed one) to designing t-shirts with eco themes for a hopeless chance at a Smart car.  Well, finally!  Who knew all those hours of reading cookbooks would pay off!

The prize for Tweet A Dish is a complimentary 3-course meal for two!  And that includes wine!  I was in heaven...!  Originally, I thought part of the deal was that you had to have the special you suggested, but, no, the staff said we could both order anything we wanted!  BLD is just so generous.  Absolutely no fine print involved.  As our waiter Peter said, "We just want you and your guest to have a good time."  And boy did we.  The featured wine for the night was this incredibly fun, delicious white from Slovenia called "Jarenincan" (Crnko winery), an interesting blend of riesling, sauvignon blanc, and chardonnay which made for a slightly sweet flavor with the most floral, fruity aftertaste — starting off with that how can anything go wrong?

Of course I couldn't wait to try my special.  I'd noticed that on the menu, the dish had become "Portuguese sausage and clams".  I hadn't realized that there were two similar Portuguese dishes, one with pork and clams done in an Alentejo style, and another with sausage and clams called cataplana, which is a specialty of the Argave region and is more like a bouillabaisse with lots of seafood.  BLD did the cataplana version, only with their own spin, making it more like a risotto, or, paella, I suppose.  The dish was very delicious, full of flavor from the shrimp stock, and with plenty of nice heat.

It was such a wonderful evening, with all my thanks going to BLD.  They really go all out to make the Tweet A Dish winner feel special, and it's that kind of graciousness which makes L.A. a fantastic town.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Reporter Gets Parking Tickets Live On Air

This is what I love about living in LA!  KTLA was doing a live segment about cars and this meter maid comes and starts issuing tickets — for all eleven cars!

Via Boing Boing:  thanks!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Junk Trucks

Ever since I moved to LA, I've wondered about all the junk-hauling trucks that are parked around residential neighborhoods.  Usually the trucks seem to be from legitimate companies like 1-800-Got-Junk and I just assumed that they were there as cheap, if annoying, advertising ploys.  But lately, I've seen trucks with more unfamiliar names constantly parked around different neighborhoods.  Sometimes the trucks don't even have names on them.  I was curious, but never worried.  Until now.  Altadenablog.com is reporting that some of these trucks are involved in crime.  These trucks definitely haul stuff, but stuff that you might just want to keep, like your pipes.  The operation is quite sophisticated, involving mother ships and cruisers.  For a more detailed report, please go to the link above.

If I think about it, I shouldn't be surprised.  Driving around parts of the SGV, you see a lot of really nice furniture on people's porches.  This is something I never saw when I was living in England, the reason being that enterprising thieves will come in the night and haul anything not bolted down.  You can't even leave potted plants out.  Not that anything was safe in broad daylight — people have come home from work to find that all the paving stones from their driveway have disappeared.  Is the SGV so different?  I guess not.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Parking Hell

We've had two parking tickets in three years and it's always at Silver Lake.  Specifically, at Sunset and Hyperion, near Intelligentsia.  I guess everyone has their parking hell hole, and this is ours.

The first time, the sign was vandalized and we couldn't read the parking times.  We filed a complaint with L.A.  They claimed they never got it and so we had to pay.  This time, the sign was over the hill so we didn't see it.  What's really irritating is that we wouldn't have gotten a ticket if we hadn't waited around for Ricky's Taco Stand to show up!  (Which it never did — the ticket was for $55 so it was the friggin' most expensive fish taco we NEVER ate.)  Man, some days, it just doesn't pay to leave the house.  Screammmmmmmmmmmmmming my head off!!!!!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Things I Never Had To Worry About Before Moving to LA

1. Black Widows (the spider)
2. Earthquakes
3. Raging fires
4. Flash floods
5. Raccoon warriors fighting it out on top of the roof
6. Attacking squirrels
7. Packs of coyotes
8. Hellish parking in strip malls
9. Skunks who spray constantly
10. Cars that drive sideways
11. Sig alerts
12. Reverse 911 calls
13. Coughing like a TB victim due to dust
14. Having to read signs in Spanish and/or Chinese and/or Korean

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pasadena Power Plant On Fire!

They were doing tests and whoops!  One of the gas turbines caught fire.  But luckily, it all got put out very quickly.

So...how many of us knew Pasadena had its own power plant?

Anyway, bad news for people living in Pasadena.  The cost of the damage was $20 million.  Does that mean the cost gets passed on to the folks of Pasadena?  For more info:

Pasadena Star-News

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Market Grill


I guess this is an update to my big hot dog post.  The Market Grill has a lot more than hot dogs, including sandwiches and hamburgers, but it was the hot dogs that interested us because of the unusual buns.  Instead of serving their dogs on the traditional rolls, The Market Grill uses homemade New England style hot dog buns.  The difference?  The New England style buns are split on the top and the sides don't have any crust.  So it's sort of like rolling the dog in a thick slice of toasted bread.

Pretty much everything at the Market Grill seems to be homemade.  The owner mans the grill and his wife makes all the rolls, which ended up being a problem on the day we went because they'd sold out of all but one roll!  The dangers of making sure you only serve fresh food.  I have to say the Grill's dogs were very good, the inside of the buns grilled with butter.  The only complaint I had was with the dog itself, which was a bit flabby in taste.  The nice thing is that the dog is around $4 and comes with a huge side of absolutely fabulous french fries.  (Warning about the homemade lemonade — it's flavored with mint and artificial sugar.)

Overall, I thought the Market Grill was a great place and I want to go back soon!

The Market Grill
525 S Shamrock Ave
Monrovia CA  91016
626 303-4314
www.themarketgrillmonrovia.com

Friday, April 30, 2010

Bungalow Heaven

Last weekend was the 21st Annual Bungalow Heaven Home Tour in Pasadena.  It's an interesting tour because Bungalow Heaven is a neighborhood with a collection of over 800 historic homes, built from the 1900s to the 1930s.  Many of these bungalows were prefab — you could order a kit for around $650! The homeowners here take their heritage pretty seriously.  Bungalow Heaven was the first neighborhood in Pasadena to be granted the Landmark District designation, and in 2008, was added to the National Register of Historic Places. 

The tickets were a little pricey, so we just walked around, which turned out to be pretty interesting.  Many of the homes weren't open to the public, but had these green signs on their lawns that told you when they were built and when they were last opened to the public.  I liked that so many of the enterprising neighborhood children decided to open up old-fashioned lemonade stalls — one stall had its very own chamber orchestra!  All very cute.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hummingbird Feeder For Your Head

As regular readers will know, ever since we got a hummingbird feeder, I've been very fascinated by these tiny helicopters of nature.  I can easily see how people spend hours staring at the feeder as bird after bird come foraging for nectar.  Even as I write this post, I'm staring at the feeder, wondering who's going to pop by next.  We have about a dozen regulars, each with a very distinctive personality, from Tiny to Valium (Valium is a rather jittery bird and I'm hoping the name might do it some good with a little bit of sympathetic magic).  But, my fascination has limits.  And the hummingbird face mask feeder is that limit.  See below and maybe you'll understand?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Gratitude of Bones


Kartika Review just came out with their fabulous Home issue.  OK, I am a little biased as my short story "The Gratitude of Bones" is included.  But it is a pretty cool issue with tons of wonderful things to read, including essays by Asian American artists on what home means to them.  To download the full issue, just click here!  And please read my story and say something nice in the comments because I'm a pretty sad charity case and am not too proud to beg. ;)

Intelligentsia Update

The Pasadena Intelligentsia is going to serve food!  At least according to LA Eater.  I think that's a great idea!  Of course, only if the food is going to be good.  The pastry stuff they serve at the Silver Lake Intelligentsia is pretty blah.  And often stale.

Talking about Intelligentsia, I finally got to try their Venice Beach location.  Having been a regular at the Silver Lake location, the VB location seemed very strange.  Totally different feel and decor, which was all wood and high, exposed pipes ceiling aesthetics.  The pastry counter was also much bigger and the pastries looked really good (didn't get a chance to try any :( ).  The crowd was very different too.  No Hipsters.  Couldn't identify any writers.  Very dressed up in that 90210 way.  And every fifth person seemed to have those bulky SLR pro cameras around their neck (girls too).  Was it Bring Your Camera To Work Day?  The only thing the two locations had in common was their bathrooms — totally out of paper towels.  Who had the better cappuccino?  I'm going to have to say Venice Beach.  I think that was the best cappuccino I've ever had.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Vietnamese Coffee

It's called cafe sua da.  Most happily served as iced coffee, it's a fantastic concoction of coffee, condensed milk and ice.  At its best, the coffee is made at your table, using a Vietnamese coffee filter (pictured above).  But in LA, it's awfully hard to find a place that does it this way.  Usually, the coffee will be premade and served to you like any other iced coffee.  Which means, it's hard to find a great cafe sua da (although Banh Mi Che Cali's premade cafe sua da is pretty darn good).  But finally, we found a place that does cafe sua da the old-fashioned way, complete with the agonizingly slow flowing Vietnamese coffee filter!  In San Gabriel, the place is Vietnam Restaurant and their cafe sua da is really, really good.  Oh — and so is their food.

Update

Had traditional cafe sua da at Golden Deli — not bad (much faster filter than the cafe sua da at Vietnam Restaurant).

Vietnam Restaurant
340 W Las Tunas Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776
(626) 281-5577

Golden Deli
815 West Las Tunas Drive
San Gabriel, CA 91776
www.goldendelirestaurant.com

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Is Pasadena hip?














So is Julia Child's hometown finally becoming as hip as Julia?  I mean Pasadena of course.  Using restaurant openings as a gauge, things definitely do seem to be chillin'.  Last year, The Counter opened up on Lake.  Super cool hot dog place, The Slaw Dogs, opened a few months ago.  Then I heard that Urth is going to open up.  And, as if things couldn't get better, Intelligentsia decided to head on over.  Oh, and get this — supposedly Intelligentsia will be serving alcohol!

You know what else Pasadena needs?  A really hip hair salon.  And better broadband.  Internet connection choices here suck (even Sierra Madre has FiOS).  What's with that?  Pasadena is the home of Cal Tech and JPL!!!  The good news is that Pasadena is participating in Google's Fiber for Communities program (Google is going to give a few lucky communities super fast internet connection).  But I'm not seeing any plans for Pasadena to change its name to Google.  Is Pasadena so much better than Topeka that it can't beg?  Hell, Pasadena should change its name to Larry Page.  Megalomanics like that.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Local News

I was in Old Pasadena yesterday afternoon and couldn't help but notice the three ABC7 News vans parked outside the Apple store.  iPad fever, of course.  Local news was covering the iPad launch the way network news used to cover war campaigns.  Well, I suppose it is a war of sorts.  The thing is, I've been noticing that ABC7 News is always reporting from Old Pasadena now.  Need the Common Man's opinion about the weather?  Grab someone walking through Old Pasadena.  Need the Common Man's opinion on lettuce?  Old Pasadena — just over brimming with Common Man*.  ABC7 News used to hang out at Studio City, on the intersection of Ventura and Laurel Canyon Blvd.  I used to live near Studio City.  Now I live near Old Pasadena.  Is there a connection?  Is ABC7 News stalking me?

Anyway, if appearing on the local news is part of your Bucket List, head on over to Old Pasadena.

*Here I'm using the Old English meaning of man, a term that was not gender specific and meant person (I'm thinking we need to revive that great old meaning).

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Hot Dog Fever

At the moment, hot dogs are really hot in LA.  Wiener specialists are opening up all over the place, introducing Angelenos to things like rippers and Chicago dogs.  Not that hot dogs were unheard of in LA before this new trend:  Pink's is a legend, and so is Carney's.  Roughly in the same Hollywood area, Skooby's has a die-hard following.  But now you have genuine altars to the dog like Fab Hot Dogs (Reseda), Vicious Dogs (N Hollywood), and, the latest darling of every LA food blog, The Slaw Dogs (Pasadena).  Oh, and there's Let's Be Frank Dogs (Culver City), a gourmet hot dog stand which I guess would be a portable altar.  And to remind you that we should thank the Germans for the humble dog, there are Brats Brothers (Studio City) and Wurstkuche (Downtown).  No signs that the trend is slowing either — heard that Big City Dogs, which is based in Michigan, will soon be opening up a branch in Old Pasadena.

Which altars are my favorite places to worship the silly dog?  Well, I can't claim I've eaten at even 10% of the hot dog joints in this town, but here goes anyway.

Carney's (8351 Sunset Blvd & 12601 Ventura Blvd, Studio City)
If you have kids, this is a fun place because you eat in a train.  The dogs aren't anything special here, but they're still pretty good.

Pink's (709 N. La Brea Blvd)
Only if you're a tourist.  The average wait seems to be around 45 minutes, but Pink's is legendary, having started out sometime during the Great Depression.  And all the Hollywood stars seem to love getting their hit here — usually they'll send a flunky with a limo, but, hey, you might see someone worthy.

Fab Hot Dogs (6747 Tampa Ave, Reseda)
I really hate that they're all the way in Reseda.  And that seating is so small.  And that you can't get in ever since Guy featured it on a Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives episode.  What they're really known for is their rippers — a dog that's been deep fried.  Amazingly good.  And so are their tater tots — why don't more places do tater tots?

Brats Brothers (13456 1/2 Ventura Blvd, Sherman Oaks)
Cozy place in Sherman Oaks with very good European-type dogs.  Very friendly.  Can't believe they don't have beer.

The Slaw Dogs (720 N Lake Ave, Pasadena)
They still have their new car smell, but they're already very popular.  Great relaxing room with plenty of space (unless it's lunch time or Saturday night).  Their menu of toppings is crazy huge, from the humble sauerkraut to kimchi, jalapenos to truffle oil.  Slaw's philosophy is definitely "Pile It On!" and they always look at me strange because I'm a purist and like my dog modestly dressed — just sauerkraut and dark mustard.  Probably one of the only hot dog places that do salads (which are really good).  Going back to the dogs, I'd really suggest you get the natural casing dog and have it rippered.  OMG.  And the chili dog — Slaw probably has the best chili in LA (the secret is the Newcastle beer).  Certainly in Pasadena.  The nicest thing about Slaw (besides the really good food)?  They treat you like good friends.

So, does LA have a dog of its own?  Actually, yes.  It's called the Street Dog because it came from the streets:  Mexican hot dog vendors liked to wrap a bacon around a dog.  Because of health regulations, you can't legally get an authentic Street Dog from a vendor anymore.  Luckily, Fab does one.  In any case, the story of the Street Dog is fascinating, and this LA Weekly article does a pretty good job telling it.

One last thing:  what happened to the corn dog?  Is it considered sacrilege for a hot dog joint to serve up a good corn dog?  Because I love corn dogs.

Here's the YouTube video on Fab Hot Dogs:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Oinkster on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives

The Oinkster, one of my favorite restaurants, was finally featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives!  In Eagle Rock, which is pretty close to downtown, they do an awesome pastrami sandwich (I think the chef got his know how from Langer's, the Pastrami Masters of the Universe).  Oh — their chili fries are to die for!  I love going there because the outdoor dining area is so nice and the staff amazingly friendly and helpful.  Of course, they have their critics, and I have to admit that they're not always consistent (like I wouldn't ever go during their slow hours), but when they're on, the place is pretty amazing.

Here's the video, straight from YouTube:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

L.A. Street Names

I found this at Curbed L.A., a video about how various LA streets got their names.  The info is fascinating, the delivery deathly.  I have no idea what they were thinking.  The narration is the worst, voices that might have well have been processed through a computer.  I can't believe the National History Museum of LA was responsible — do they want to perpetuate the myth that history is deadly boring?  Come on, guys, you're in Hollywood!

Anyway, thanks to the video, I finally found out how to pronounce Micheltorena Street!  Hallelujah!  It's me chell tor ena.  Micheltorena was a Spanish governor.  Turns out a lot of street names like La Cienega are named after big rancheros.

Monday, March 15, 2010

LA is an Oil Town — Didn't You Know?

I found this out when, one day, we were using one of the side roads near LAX and I saw rows and rows of little oil rigs.  I was like, "What?  Are we in Texas?"  Turns out LA produces a hell of a lot of oil.  Only no one knows it.  Like who would know that the Beverly Center shopping mall is an actively drilled oil field?  And the famous Farmer's Market on Fairfax?  I didn't, and I've logged a helluva lot of hours at both malls!  There's even a building on Pico that's a complete facade — just there to hide the oil wells!

I found all this out watching a scrappy little documentary called "Uneven Terrain: Oil of L.A."  So worth watching just for the shock value!  I mean, LA is the third largest oil field in all of the friggin' US!  So my question is this:  how come LA is so dirt poor right now?  Where is the money going?  I feel like we're living in Nigeria!  My god, even the citizens of Saudi Arabia see something from their oil revenue:  no income tax, free medical and free education!  All we get is a lame-ass mayor who'd rather cut the education budget than his own expenses.  Oh — and the Oscars.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Pasadena Air Force

Living in Pasadena, one simply does not expect to be under siege from military-style helicopters.  Night and day, they roam overhead, searchlights at maximum intensity, avidly patrolling the deadly streets of Pasadena.  It would seem more reasonable to think we were all part of a big movie set.  Or a video game.  But, no, these helicopters are for real, used by the Pasadena police as a legitimate tool to enforce and deter crime.  Yes, to deter crime.  And I'm not kidding when I call it the Pasadena Air Force.  The police are using actual military planes from the Vietnam War era, which they got for free from a military surplus program.  Okay, they no longer have gun turrets or armor plating, but I still feel like Robert Duvall is going to pop out and napalm me.  (I will give the Pasadena council points for knowing how to get free stuff.)

There are more details in "Trouble Above", a very interesting article in the Pasadena Weekly.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Rose Bowl Parade Post Float Viewing


If you decide to go next year, here are a few things we learned.

1. You can buy tickets at the venue or through the website. If you buy advanced tickets through the website, it will cost you an extra $10 or so. Buying advanced tickets is supposed to save you time waiting in line at the venue, but we found out that if you go through the west gate near E Washington Boulevard, there's hardly a line at all.

2. Park-and-ride shuttles were provided at two locations but we were really glad we avoided the shuttles. The shuttle areas were such a mess, the roads surrounding them were clogged even for passersby. Instead, we parked near the venue on an off-street and walked the ten minutes. There were also enterprising people offering private parking for $5-$10. The lots near E Washington were pretty empty, even by 11.

3. Go early. We got there around 10 — by 10:30, the crowds were so thick, you could hardly move. There doesn't seem to be any attempts at crowd control at all.