Saturday, December 26, 2009

One More Reason Why LA Raised Writers Like Hector Tobar Are the Future of the Los Angeles Times

There are many excellent writers at the Los Angeles Times, but few as gifted as Hector Tobar and none who are better connected with our city.

His column today is about his memories of celebrating Christmas while growing up in Los Angeles. And, once again, he proves that only a life time of first hand experience can provide the particular kind of local coverage that binds together the people of Los Angeles - and attaches them to the paper that provides that coverage.

Effortlessly, Tobar reminds those of us who grew up here what our lives used to - and what it's like to live in LA today while also allowing newcomers to our city to learn about who we are - and why we are the way we are.

So, of course, until recently - the Times felt he should spend most of his time writing about national and international affairs.  Most recently,  the Times even sent him to run their Mexico City operations while they imported young reporters from around the country to write about LA.

And we all know how well that worked.

So read the first part of the below story below - or just click the link at the top and read it all at the LA Times website.  But first, let me add a little personal note to his story about how interconnected all of Los Angeles is becoming despite what the experts are claiming.

My family first came here with the English at Jamestown, Virginia, the Pilgrims on the Mayflower, the Puritans on later ships,  the Dutch in 17th Century New Amsterdam,  the Germans in the 19th Century - and a Scottish Grandmother in the 20th Century.  And a little American Indian got added along the way.

And that pretty much summed up my family tree - until they came to LA.  And now, if all my cousins were to get together - there would be a mixture of white and Indian and Asian and black kids running around - most of whom with ancestors who came over on Mayflower.

HECTOR TOBAR

An L.A. Christmas blends many traditions
'Every celebration is different,' my mother says, 'but each is beautiful in its own way.'
Hector Tobar
December 26, 2009
This is a time when some people want to leave Los Angeles.
They dream of heading off to snowy locales-- Manhattan, frosty Alpine cabins, picturesque New England towns.
"I feel left out," my 13-year-old son says after hearing a radio report on the blizzard descending on the Midwest this week. He's never actually had a "white Christmas," but he knows what they're supposed to look like: ice on the windows, frozen sidewalks and falling snowflakes.
Blue skies and sunshine set the scene for my son's holiday show on his last school day before break. He and the other kids sang carols on our school's little outdoor stage in weather headed toward a daily high of 81.
They sang about "dashing through the snow" and "walking in a winter wonderland," and celebrating a Hanukkah where "in the window you can see the glow of my menorah on newly fallen snow."
The list of songs about California Christmases and Hanukkahs isn't long. One by the Disney-created Cheetah Girls includes the forgettable line: "We never made a snowman, but we're working on a suntan."
You won't catch me caroling that anytime soon.
And yet I refuse to believe that sweating Santas and lighted palm trees somehow make my Christmas less authentic.
Christmases with tamales and temperate weather are the only kind I really know.
My L.A. Christmas memories are bittersweet. Like a lot of L.A. kids, I had one of those childhoods in which people were always entering and exiting, thanks to divorces, remarriages and untimely death.
The cast of characters was never quite the same from one year to the next. Even the food was always changing. The one constant was the jumble of it all -- with different cultures celebrating side by side and blended together.
My parents arrived from Guatemala in the 1960s. Santa Claus wasn't the powerful global brand he is today and the bearded St. Nick was foreign to them. So was the U.S. custom of Christmas presents.
In Guatemala, the climax of the holiday season is Christmas Eve, when, at the stroke of midnight, people leave their homes to hug their neighbors. Guatemala City fills with the sounds of thousands of firecrackers.
For my parents on those first lonely Christmases in L.A, there were few friends to hug and no firecrackers. "It took me years to get used to that silence," my mother tells me.
We lived in East Hollywood and I remember one or two chilly nights out on Hollywood Boulevard watching the Santa Claus Lane parade pass a few blocks from our apartment. Santa Claus cruised over the asphalt on a wheeled sleigh with an escort of horses, cheesecake elves and some movie or TV star like Ernest Borgnine as the grand marshal.
Then my parents got divorced and my mother remarried. I moved to the Eastside and I learned what a Mexican American Christmas looks like. I was about 10 when my step-grandparents, the Velascos, taught me the joys of turkey dinners, tamales and football games on the crab grass. At their East Los Angeles home, I got my first Christmas stocking.
I was an awkward adolescent when my father remarried into a Jewish family. I soon got two new siblings and went to my first Hanukkah celebration. The Gelfands took me into their Lakewood home and I watched my little sisters light the menorah.
I was a teenager when I gave away my mother at her third wedding. Then the Dotsons took me into their home for a WASP Christmas; my new relatives were Whittier natives, and they wore tartan scarves and sweaters with reindeer on them. At their house, we drank cider and ate pie.
"Every celebration is different," my mother says, "but each is beautiful in its own way."
I'm thankful to all those Los Angeles clans -- the Velascos, the Dotsons and the Gelfands -- for accepting me, a stranger, into their families at various awkward moments of my childhood.
To me, their different celebrations all conveyed the same message: things might change, young man, but the adults around you will always try to build a peaceful home for you.
Looking back, I was lucky to be born in L.A., a city filled with newcomers and transplants.
People here are more used to sharing and mixing their cultural rituals.
When I got married....
And now click on the link above to get the ending of his story.....

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Why Christmas In Los Angeles is NOT Overly-Commercialized Enough!

Below is just  the opening of my latest Huffington Post Column.  You can read all of it at the above link.

Why Can't Los Angeles Over-Commercialize Christmas Better?


In a seeming attempt to surpass LA Times columnist Joel Stein in hate mail and death threats, fellow LA Times columnist Gregory Rodriguez recently wrote that this biggest problem with Christmas isn't that it's overly-commercialized - but that he has to listen to annoying people whine about how over-commercialized Christmas is.

And Greg, as usual, has a valid point, once he qualified he was talking about only one of the two different Christmases's celebrated in this country.

First, of course, there's the centuries old Christian holiday observed in the churches. Then there's the 19th Century Christmas shopping holiday observed in the shopping malls that has now become the world's largest economic event. It is also an economic event that Los Angeles must take better advantage of if we are ever going to pay for this city's coming billions of dollars of deficits.

Unfortunately, not only can't the leaders of Los Angeles ever properly implement even basic economic development projects - but we can't even properly commercialize, much less properly overly-commercialize, Christmas.

Contrasting the holiday displays in the shopping districts of Beverly Hills, Santa Monica or Pasadena will those in LA will quickly show why we are less unsuccessful in attracting Christmas shoppers and their lucrative sales tax revenues.

But still, much as Scrooge needed Marley to show him how to properly celebrate the true Christmas of his day - even I who already well knew the economic realities facing Los Angeles never fully understood how much the true over-commercialization of Christmas was needed in our city until one of the saddest days of my life.
That was the day my mother - whose favorite time of the year was always the entire Christmas season - was taken off her cancer treatments by her doctors so she could enjoy her final months in relative comfort. That was also the day I decided to take her to New York for her first - and last - Christmas Week in that city...

(the rest is at the above link)
 
Follow Brady Westwater on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bradywestwater  

Monday, December 21, 2009

Downtown Toy District In The Dumps


Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times picks up where the Downtown News left on the story of the long term decline of the Downtown Toy District and why its Business Improvement District was not renewed by the property owners. He also explains how the current already messy end situation is about to get a lot worse.


The BID expires Dec. 31, but the trash problem has been growing worse for weeks. The reason is that the Central City East Assn., the nonprofit organization that manages the BID, has been trying to husband the district's dwindling funds.

That means sticking firmly to its contractual duties -- hauling away pedestrian trash, not commercial trash such as discarded cartons, which is the landlords' and tenants' responsibility. As a result, garbage is already piling up. Come New Year's Day, when no one will be responsible for emptying corner trash cans -- watch out.

All private security currently paid for by the BID also ends that day and the already growing numbers of tents in the District at night are already making parts of Los Angeles Street almost impossible to walk along after dark.  There were also now be one less set of eyes to watch over the homeless and protect them from those who prey upon them at night and one less group of people trying to encourage them to accept the services and help they need.

Now the underlying reasons for the current problems in that area are due to a lot of changes in both the national and the international toy - and other - wholesale markets.  And those markets are never going to come back the way they were - and Toy Town is not going to be the place where they will be primarily coming back since since there are already places where it is easier and cheaper to service wholesale buyers.  If anything, the area will continue to decline into more of a lower quality and  lower priced swap meet alternative to the also declining Broadway retail district than return to being a true wholesale market.



The only good news is that this area is already starting - at its edges - to be incorporated into the adjoining Historic Downtown Business District as Historic Downtown slowly, store by store, expands down towards Los Angeles Street.   And, to a lesser extent, functions of both the Fashion and Little Tokyo business districts will eventually move into the Toy District.



But even though I am quoted as saying the Toy District has a long term brighter future - I - and everyone else in the area agrees it's going to get a lot worse in Toy Town before it gets any better.


Other downtown pros say the Toy District's overall future is uncertain. Brady Westwater, who works closely with the downtown historical district, thinks eventually it will be swallowed up by healthier adjoining retail districts where space for expansion is already in demand. "Its long-term future is bright, but not as a toy district," he says. That transition depends on its remaining clean and safe, however, which may not be in the cards. 

"It's going to be a mess for a while." 

Others say predictions of its death are premature. Pouya Abdi, a district landlord who favored renewing the BID, says the district needs concessions from the city, such as a relaxation of parking regulations. 

"This is an area where a Third World mentality thrived," he says. "Then the city started enforcing rules. A customer would buy items that cost 50 cents and get a $35 ticket for loading. So he wouldn't come back anymore."

The collapse of the Toy District BID illustrates one of the real drawbacks of providing municipal services on a block-by-block basis. The health of the entire downtown depends on cleanliness and safety, but one cluster of strapped or recalcitrant property owners can rip a hole in the fabric. 

Unfortunately, in Los Angeles providing trash pickup and security patrols through BIDs is a necessity, because Proposition 13 has left the city without the resources to deliver specialized services to downtown neighborhoods without special assessments. 

But creating and funding a BID requires a majority vote of its property owners. Downtown executives say that BIDs are a hard sell for some property owners even in good times and in upward-bound neighborhoods. 

"Unless we can prove that we're increasing property values and rents, it's hard to justify those additional assessments," Smith says. 

In districts where rents are on the downward slope, owners start to see the BID as just another revenue drain. 

"Our cash flow is very bad," says Saeed Farkhondehpour, the largest property owner in the Toy District. He says he opposed renewing the BID because "the work they were doing wasn't making a big difference." Farkhondehpour, whose under-construction Medallion project will be partially within the Toy District, told me his portion of the BID's roughly $500,000 annual budget came to $150,000. He believes he can get trash collected for less. "We're going to handle it internally." 

But unless he can get his fellow landlords to come together, there still won't be services for the whole Toy District. 

The landlords as a whole haven't shown themselves to be the most proactive bunch thus far. Many tenants occupy spaces without access to commercial trash service or even basic sanitary facilities. Some say their landlords tell them to dump their stores' refuse in the nearest pedestrian trash can. 

"The tenants don't have a clue," says Estela Lopez, executive director of the Central City East Assn. "That's a multilingual, multicultural area. Some of them have been told by their landlords that we are their trash service. We ended up being the de facto commercial refuse service simply to keep the area clean because if we didn't we'd have a vermin infestation and worse." 

The city hasn't been very proactive either. Jan Perry, whose City Council district encompasses the area, says she steered clear of the efforts to renew the Toy District BID because these districts are "a form of self-governance, and it's not appropriate to exert undue political influence." 

She says it's "shortsighted" for the property owners to let the BID expire, and that come Jan. 1 she'll seek a special detail to keep the district clean, but it will be "a full cost recovery operation," meaning it will be paired with stepped-up code enforcement -- and fines. 

In other words, an answer to the Toy District's future isn't on the horizon. But the broader question is how to find a solution to the city's powerlessness. "This is the system working as it should, in sort of a perverse way," Lopez says. "It is up to that community to decide for itself where it wants to go."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Downtown Art Walk Finds Perfect Leader

One of the reasons it's been so hard to replace Art Walk founder Bert Green is that even though Art Walk happens but once a month,  it's growing complexity and size now requires whoever runs it to have six different skill sets just to manage what it's become and another half-dozen to help it become what it needs to be.


It also also requires someone who can connect and communicate with everyone Downtown from the homeless to musuems trustees, from college kids out for a good time to property owners, from gallery owners to artists and who also has an inside knowledge about what makes our unique neighborhood work that only a local could possibly have to even be considered as a viable candidate.


Sounds pretty impossible - right? Well, read the resume of our new Downtown Art Walk Executive Director, Jay Lopez. 
Downtown Los Angeles, CA – December 15, 2009 - The Downtown Los Angeles Art Walk, a nonprofit corporation that oversees the popular “Art Walk” event held each month in historic Downtown Los Angeles, today announced the appointment of Jay Lopez as the organization’s new Executive Director. Mr. Lopez is an active member of both the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council Arts & Culture Committee and the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council Arts & Culture Committee, as well as the Silver Lake Gallery Alliance. Jay serves on the board of the Los Angeles Conservancy Modern Committee as the Education/Outreach council chair and is also on the board of directors for the Hollywood Fringe Festival 2010. Mr. Lopez is an accomplished event producer and coordinator whose recent credits include Beyond Eden, a new contemporary art fair, East of Eden, a multi-gallery exhibition and art fair at the Los Angeles Municipal Gallery, CA Boom Design Show held this year at the former Robinsons department store in Beverly Hills, The East Hollywood ArtCycle Street Festival and The Silver Lake & East Hollywood Day of the Dead Festival.
Congratulations Jay, a former tenant of the Spring Arts Tower on the floor right above me (not that I could ever recognize him, of course), and congratulations to the Art Walk Board for making such an inspired choice.  It is rare for a job description and an applicant's resume to ever so perfectly match.

Friday, December 11, 2009

CityWatch Picks Up My Huffington Post Column on Solving LA Housing & Traffic Gridlock Crisis

CityWatch just put up my first of six Huffington Post columns on how to collectively solve LA's traffic & housing problems. They will be part of my twice a week column called - An Rx for Los Angeles - 101 Way to Fix a Broken City - and by the end of next year - I will... finally.... have enough raw material for me to also... finally.... edit it all into book form. Half of the columns will draw upon projects I - and/or - others of us Downtown or in other parts of Los Angeles - have already done or are in the works of working on. The other half will be proposals for larger scale projects that should to be done.

Below is the start of the first column and the above link will go to CItyWatch which will take you to the HP site for the rest of the column. If you have any comments - or suggestions - please leave them at the Huffington Post site.

How to Save the Los Angeles Times, End Rush Hour Traffic, Solve the Housing Crisis (And Not Have to
Westwater Downtown
By Brady Westwater (Posted first at huffingtonpost.com/LosAngeles)

Two of the most important decisions any of us ever make is where we decide to live and what job we choose to accept. Rush hour traffic, however, proves how wrong we all can be.

But it is hard to make informed choices when there are so many housing options within 20 miles of any job. And if you fall in love with a house -- it's hard to know what jobs might be within commuting distance.

There are also those who are trapped in homes or jobs that are no longer right for them -- but who stick with them because they are too exhausted from day-to-day life to summon the energy to fix their lives.

But in chaos exists opportunity. Someday, a local media company -- such as the LA Times or Rubicon -- or someone such as Jay Penske -- will realize there is a need for a website that contains everything anyone in Los Angeles needs to correctly make those decisions.

A single site with every possible housing option in greater Los Angeles, and every imaginable job option.

A site with public school test scores, statistics for charter and private schools, locations of medical facilities, churches and temples -- and everything else (crime rates, air pollution, etc.) anyone needs to know.

A site that ranks every job and housing option -- based on your needs -- and then -- and here's the first killer app -- it sorts them first by the physical distance, and then by real world, rush hour commuting time distance by car and then by every different transit option -- between each job and every housing option.

Everyone will suddenly have far more options, while also being able to quickly reduce the numbers of those options to more manageable numbers.

But helping people already looking for a new job or a home is only a start.

The key part of this killer app is that everyone can input their desired jobs, housing and commute times, long before they need them.

They will then get emails with every new job and new housing opportunity that meets their needs.

And that's when the larger societal and personal benefits start to kick in. (The rest of Brady Westwater’s column here.)

(Brady Westwater is Mr Downtown. He helped found the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council, Gallery Row, Downtown Fashion Week, the Art & Fashion Walks while working on civic planning projects from the Police Headquarters to the Park 101 Freeway Cap and recruiting 50 businesses and non-profits to Downtown. He blogs at www.lacowboy.blogspot.com & www.downtownfashionwalk.blogspot.com. You can follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/bradywestwater . This article was posted first at www.huffingtonpost.com/losangeles) ◘




CityWatch
Vol 7 Issue 101
Pub: Dec 11, 2009




Downtown Art Walk Finds The Perfect Balance

Best Art Walk Ever! Just the right number of people, plenty of time for conversation with new friends and old, some good new artists, plenty of excitement, lots of energy and talent at the Skid Row Artists' Collective, a touch of winter in the air and the slow drizzle that began at 10:30, gently pooled the light on the streets and sidewalks, and made all of Downtown as romantic as hell.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

DOWNTOWN ART WALK IS TONIGHT! Thursday December 10th, 2009 - until 9 PM!

The sun is shinning on Art Walk Day and any sprinkles are now supposed to be after 9 PM. And the ART WALK map - plus a list of special events tonight are at: http://www.downtownartwalk.com/map - or can be picked up tonight at the galleries. See you there!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

My First Huffington Post Column; How to Save the Los Angeles Times, End Rush Hour Traffic, Solve the Housing Crisis (And Not Have to Pay For It)

(This is the first of six columns on traffic and housing in Los Angeles)


Two of the most important decisions any of us ever make is where we decide to live and what job we choose to accept. Rush hour traffic, however, proves how wrong we all can be.

But it is hard to make informed choices when there are so many housing options within 20 miles of any job. And if you fall in love with a house - it's hard to know what jobs might be within commuting distance.

There are also those who are trapped in homes or jobs that are no longer right for them - but who stick with them because they are too exhausted from day-to-day life to summon the energy to fix their lives.

But in chaos - exists opportunity.

Someday, a local media company - such as the LA Times or Rubicon - or someone such as Jay Penske - will realize there is a need for a website that contains everything anyone in Los Angeles needs to correctly make those decisions.

A single site with every possible housing option in greater Los Angeles - and every imaginable job option.

A site with public school test scores, statistics for charter and private schools, locations of medical facilities, churches & temples - and everything else (crime rates, air pollution, etc.) anyone needs to know.

A site that ranks every job and housing option - based on your needs - and then - and here's the first killer app - it sorts them first by the physical distance, and then by real world, rush hour commuting time distance by car and then by every different transit option - between each job and every housing option.

Everyone will suddenly have far more options - while also being able to quickly reduce the numbers of those options to more manageable numbers.

But helping people already looking for a new job or a home is only the start.

(MORE AT THE ABOVE LINK)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Black Friday Fashion Sales In Downtown's Fashion Walk Stores!

Black Friday Deals In Downtown Fashion/Art Walk Stores! Vintage & contemporary fashion, best seller books, art supplies & everything for your pet!

Black Friday Sales start on the NW corner of 7th and Main with a 10 AM to 10 PM Nov. 27th “Blackest Friday Blowout” 20% off sale. Z LOFT BOUTIQUE features exclusive pieces for men and women straight off the airplane from the UK, Japan, Berlin & Italy. This is where to get the hard to find serious designer vintage you can’t find anywhere else in Los Angeles. Z LOFT BOUTIQUE 111 W. 7th St. #R4 LA 90014.

Then around the corner on Main Street - just north of 7th Street - in the same building, the already amazingly low prices of Christina Wheeler’s bags (which stylists snap up as fast as she can make them), bows, and dresses – plus assorted jewelry - will ALL be a full 25% off – but only from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM Nov. 27th Friday night. And don’t miss her new bargain priced “BacSacs” line of bags. Custom one of a kind bags starting at an incredible $20 - $25. And, yes – even they will be a full 25% off – but, again, only for two hours at her Main Street boutique - SYMBIOTIC FORM - just north of the NW corner of 7th and Main.

Joining in the discounts will be premier sneaker boutique – BLENDS – with their 3 day holiday sale from Friday the 27th until Sunday the 29th. This in-house sale allows any purchaser of one pair of sneakers – to get 50% off the second purchase of specially selected items. Store hours for this sale will be 11:30 AM – 7 PM Friday and Saturday and Noon to 6 PM on Sunday. And BLENDS is located at 125 W. 5th Street between Main and Spring.

And right next door to BLENDS - the ELMER AVE entire fashionable casual to formal menswear line (www.elmerave.com) will be a full 20% off everything in stock from noon to 8 PM Friday November 27th. Plus – any custom screen printing on all T-shirts or other clothing items you bring in – or buy – you will also be 20% off. ELMER AVE is located at 125 W. 4th Street between Main and Spring.

And speaking of customizing, APLIIQ will customize any shirts, hoodies, kicks or anything else you bring in – at a 15% discount not only on Black Friday – but clear until Tuesday December 1st. Store hours are 12 – 5 this Friday, Saturday and Sunday or call 323-300-6492. Also 15% off, will be all custom items in stock at the store located on the north side of 6th Street – between Main and Spring - or any purchases made during those four days from the website – www.apliiq.com.

Then less than a block away – at 204 W. 6th Street – just west of Spring, Crack Gallery’s selection of contemporary youthful fashion for women and men will have selected merchandise from 20% – 50% off - plus all accessories will be 15% off this Friday from 11AM to 8 PM.

Also open this Friday, from 10 AM until 7 PM will be METROPOLIS BOOKS – Downtown’s leading book store - with a rare 10% off every book in the store sale this Friday. Located at 440 S. Main, METROPOLIS BOOKS has an excellent selection of books about Historic Downtown perfect for Christmas gifts and it is located right next door to Downtown’s leading art supply store – RAW MATERIALS.

Located at 436 S. Main Street, RAW MATERIALS is open from 11- 7 on Friday (as it is on all other weekdays) and 11 – 5 on Saturday and it is closed on Sunday. And starting at 11 AM Friday – for as long as the stock lasts, they will be selling 3.5 x 5.5 lined, graph & plain notebooks (that retail at $10) – for $3 each. Also for sale will be 12 piece drawing & sketching sets (retailing at $15) for $5 and 24 piece drawing & sketching sets (retailing for $30) for $10.

Finally – don’t forget to shop for holiday bargains for your pussy and your pooch at LA coolest pet supply store – PUSSY & POOCH – at 564 S. Main Street - on the NE corner of 6th and Main - with its in-store savings and special events for you and your fur friends!

Shop & Save | Fri Nov 27 – Sun Nov 29
Annual After Thanksgiving Shopping Event
Save 15% Storewide* off a variety of items that make for the perfect
gift or stocking stuffer for your pet and your pet-loving-friends'
pets, including all our best-selling toys, treats, pet apparel, collars,
leashes, harnesses, and more.
*Offer cannot be combined with other discounts. Offer excludes pet food
products and custom orders.

Shop & Save Online @ PussyandPooch.com
Shop early for your out-of-town pet-loving friends & family and Save 15%
on select online items PLUS free standard shipping with purchase of $50
or more on Fri Nov 27 – Mon Nov 30 (from Thurs 12pm midnight-Mon
12pm midnight). Enter Promo Code "thanks09" during checkout.
Shop NOW
http://www.pussyandpooch.com/store/pc/home.asp

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fashion Walk Schedule - Thursday November 19th 6 - 10 PM!

Downtown Fashion Walk – Where To Go

And What To Do When You Get There!

Thursday November 19th, 2009

6 PM – 10 PM (or later!)


Most stores will be open by noon and are

identified by a number while all one-night

events or venues will be open no later than 6 PM

(except for event at the Alexandria which starts

at 8 PM) and are identified by a capital letter.

Stores & Events Listed By Street


MAIN STREET & SIDE STREETS

1. Blends

125 W 4th St

213 626 6606

www.Blendsus.Com

Limited Edition sneakers &

Hip Urban Clothing


2. Elmer Ave.

125 W. 4th St.

888 356 3728

www.Elmerave.Com

One night only limited run of T-shirts for sale –

first come first served starting at 7 PM. Or – bring

in your own shirts and Elmer Ave will design and

customize you own shirt while you wait.

Rock and Roll Rebels Designing

High-End Formal Wear & T-Shirts


3. Skin.Graft

125 W. 4th St. #102

213 626 2662 www.skingraftdesigns.Com

Raw underground Style

combined with Sleek high-end couture


4. Stelladottir

430 S. Main St.

213 623 8464

www.stelladottir.com

Hand made, vintage inspired clothes and hats.

Last year’s Downtown News store of the year and

this year a LA Weekly Store of the Year.


5. Main Street Tattoo

438 Main Street

213-622-0387

Late night tattoos

www.mainsttats.com


6. 118 Winston

118 E. Winston Street, 2nd Floor

118winston.com

Fine Vintage Fashions & Accessories for

Men & Women – Jewelry by 4th & French

“FUTURISMO: An art installation based on our

desert in the future” Emilio Ramirez, Burak Duvenci,

Stephen Harrison Hill, and Joanna Bean Martin


7. (Sub) Urban

101 W. 5th Street

New contemporary furniture

& design store. Plus one night show

by NoA with international labels

found nowhere else in LA.


8. Pussy & Pooch

564 S. Main St

213 438 0900

www.pussyandpooch.com

Pet Couture & Grooming


9. Upper Playground (closes early)

125 E 6th Street

213 623 4300

www.Upperplayground.Com

Fusion of fashion with fine art

with locally and nationally known artists


10. Mr. Cartoon’s Tattoo Shop (closes early)

The Last Laugh

129 E 6th St

213 488 0313

www.Mistercartoon.Com

Urban clothes & classic tattoos


11. 1-Man’s Trash

7th & Main, NW corner on

Main Street

Vintage inspired and re-made vintage

for men, women and children + runway

fashion +Hard to find vintage clothing


12. Symbiotic Form

7th & Main NW corner on

Main Street

213.631.6971

Vintage inspired woman’s hand bags, hats, clothes and jewelry

www.symbioticform.blogspot.com


13. Z Loft Boutique

7th and Main, NW corner

On 7th side of building

Vintage clothing of every kind and

every price from all over the world


14. The Cooper Store

721 S. Los Angeles Street

213-243-5834

Sample sales from Cooper Building

All sales all the time!

www.cooperdesignspace.blogspot.com


SPRING STREET & SIDE STREETS


B. Crocker Club at Spring Arts Tower

After-party to Downtown Fashion Walk.

453 S. Spring Street

A club built in a basement bank vault

8 PM – 2 PM


C. Spring Arts Tower

201 W. 5th at Spring

Historic Bank Lobby

Twenty different designers and boutiques, contemporary

and vintage clothes and Louise Green Millinery.


D. Vava Rula

207 W. 5th Street

Armageddon Shoes, Japashion.com,

emerging designers, vintage fashion,

art, furniture & much more.


15. Deborah Martin Gallery

209 W. 5th Street

310-428-6464

www.deborahmartingallery.com

Ashley Hagen & Howard Seth Miller

Reflections of Innocence


16. Polyester Books

Todd/Browning Gallery

211 West 5th Street

213 623 1176

www.Polyesterbooks.Com

Fashion, Style, Art & Design Books

Vintage/Contemporary Photographs


17. Bolt Barbers

460 S. Spring

310-594-3150

Old school men’s barber shop just opened –

Fashion Walk specials until midnight

www.boltbarbers.com


E. Maggie Barry ‘Wrapped in Beauty’

Palm Court Ballroom in historic Alexandria Hotel

501 S. Spring Street

Under three Tiffany glass skylights, a photo shoot

of Maggie Berry’s new line, plus a pop-up store with 15

edgy designers, multiple bars & DJ’s, Naked Catering, and

photos by Ash Gupta. Open to public.

8 PM – 12:30 PM


18. KAPSOUL

6th Street between Main

and Spring

Cell 818-693-4180

Contemporary & vintage clothes, sunglasses


19. Flea

6th Street between Main

and Spring

213-626-2122

Vintage clothes, furniture, hats

and contemporary art


20. Apliiq

6th Street between Main

and Spring

323 300 6492

www.apliiq.com

Apliiq applies unique rare textiles

to everyday garments.


21. New York Hats

217 W 6th St

213 228 1915

New And Old School Hats

Located in historic chocolate store

filled with Bachelder tiles!

Hurry! Will close early


22. Crack Gallery

204 W 6th St

213 622 3493

www.crackgallery.com

Crack Gallery wants to get the city hooked on a new drug:

their own blend of fashion and art.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Full Fashion Walk Schedule - Thursday November 19 2009

Downtown Fashion Walk – Where To Go
And What To Do When You Get There!
Thursday November 19th, 2009
6 PM – 10 PM (or later!)


Most stores will be open by noon and are
identified by a number while all one-night
events or venues will be open no later than 6 PM (except for event at the Alexandria which starts at 8 PM) and are identified by a capital letter.

Stores & Events Listed By Street

MAIN STREET & SIDE STREETS

1. Blends
125 W 4th St
213 626 6606
www.Blendsus.Com
Limited Edition sneakers &
Hip Urban Clothing

2. Elmer Ave.
125 W. 4th St.
888 356 3728
www.Elmerave.Com
One night only limited run of T-shirts for sale –
first come first served starting at 7 PM. Or – bring
in your own shirts and Elmer Ave will design and
customize you own shirt while you wait.
Rock and Roll Rebels Designing
High-End Formal Wear & T-Shirts

3. Skin.Graft
125 W. 4th St. #102
213 626 2662 www.skingraftdesigns.Com
Raw underground Style
combined with Sleek high-end couture

4. Broadway Army Store
Might close by 7 PM
217 W 4th St
213 617 8495
http://www.broadwayarmystore.net/ArmyStore/Default.htm
Military & Civilian Uniforms, Shirts

5. Crewest (closes at 6 pm)
110 E. Winston St.
Los Angeles
213 627 8272
www.Crewest.Com
Stellar graffiti artist art & clothing

6. 118 Winston
118 E. Winston Street, 2nd Floor
118winston.com
Fine Vintage Fashions & Accessories for
Men & Women - Jewelry by 4th & French
"FUTURISMO: An art installation based on our
desert in the future" Emilio Ramirez, Burak Duvenci,
Stephen Harrison Hill, and Joanna Bean Martin

7. Stelladottir
430 S. Main St.
213 623 8464
www.stelladottir.com
Hand made, vintage inspired clothes and hats.
Last year’s Downtown News store of the year and
this year a LA Weekly Store of the Year.

8. Main Street Tattoo
438 Main Street
213-622-0387
Late night tattoos
www.mainsttats.com

9. (Sub) Urban
101 W. 5th Street
New contemporary furniture
& design store. Plus one night show
by NoA with international labels
found nowhere else in LA.

B. Billy’s Caf√©
114 W. 5th Street
Historical Exhibit of LGBT Community in
LA – and discussion of LGBT political power
by Sheila Kuehl and Torrie Osbourne.
Free to public
7:30 – 9:00 PM

12. Pussy & Pooch
564 S. Main St
213 438 0900
www.pussyandpooch.com
Pet Couture & Grooming

14. Upper Playground (closes early)
125 E 6th Street
213 623 4300
www.Upperplayground.Com
Fusion of fashion with fine art
with locally and nationally known artists

15. Mr. Cartoon's Tattoo Shop (closes early)
The Last Laugh
129 E 6th St
213 488 0313
www.Mistercartoon.Com
Urban clothes & classic tattoos

17. 1-Man’s Trash
7th & Main, NW corner on
Main Street
Vintage inspired and re-made vintage
for men, women and children + runway
fashion +Hard to find vintage clothing
818-209-4356
818-355-1130

18. Symbiotic Form
7th & Main NW corner on
Main Street
213.631.6971
Vintage inspired woman's hand bags, hats, clothes and jewelry
www.symbioticform.blogspot.com

19. Z Loft Boutique
7th and Main, NW corner
On 7th side of building
Vintage clothing of every kind and
every price from all over the world.
213-629-5638

20. Fremont
7th & Main – New, larger store
REOPENS December Fashion Walk!
323-540-9430
www.fremontapparelco.com

21. The Cooper Store
721 S. Los Angeles Street
213-243-5834
Sample sales from Cooper Building
All sales all the time!
www.cooperdesignspace.blogspot.com

SPRING STREET & SIDE STREETS

C. Crocker Club at Spring Arts Tower
After-party to Downtown Fashion Walk.
453 S. Spring Street
A club built in a basement bank vault
8 PM – 2 PM

D. Spring Arts Tower
201 W. 5th at Spring
Historic Bank Lobby
Twenty different designers and boutiques, contemporary
and vintage clothes and Louise Green Millinery.

E. Vava Rula
207 W. 5th Street
Armageddon Shoes, Japashion.com,
emerging designers, vintage fashion,
art, furniture & much more.

23. Deborah Martin Gallery
209 W. 5th Street
310-428-6464
www.deborahmartingallery.com
Ashley Hagen & Howard Seth Miller
Reflections of Innocence

24. Polyester Books
Todd/Browning Gallery
211 West 5th Street
213 623 1176
www.Polyesterbooks.Com
Fashion, Style, Art & Design Books
Vintage/Contemporary Photographs

25. Bolt Barbers
460 S. Main
310-594-3150
Old school men’s barber shop just opened –
Fashion Walk specials until midnight
www.boltbarbers.com

F . Maggie Barry ‘Wrapped in Beauty’
Palm Court Ballroom in historic Alexandria Hotel
501 S. Spring Street
Under three Tiffany glass skylights, a photo shoot
of Maggie Berry’s new line, plus a pop-up store with 15
edgy designers, multiple bars & DJ’s, Naked Catering, and
photos by Ash Gupta. Open to public.
8 PM - 12:30 PM

26. KAPSOUL
6th Street between Main
and Spring
Cell 818-693-4180
Contemporary & vintage clothes, sunglasses

27. Flea
6th Street between Main
and Spring
213-626-2122
Vintage clothes, furniture, hats
and contemporary art

28. Apliiq
6th Street between Main
and Spring
323 300 6492
www.apliiq.com
Apliiq applies unique rare textiles
to everyday garments.

29. New York Hats
217 W 6th St
213 228 1915
New And Old School Hats
Located in historic chocolate store
filled with Bachelder tiles!
Hurry! Will close early

30. Crack Gallery
204 W 6th St
213 622 3493
www.crackgallery.com
Crack Gallery wants to get the city hooked on a new drug:
their own blend of fashion and art.

BROADWAY & SIDE STREETS
Broadway stores close by 7 PM

31. Goodwill 7 PM
235 S Broadway
(213) 628-1748
www.Goodwillsocal.Org
Vintage/Used/Huge Selection!

32. Shoe Hut 7 PM
529 S Broadway
213 688 8310
www.shoehutusa.com
Huge Selection of Baseball Caps
& Shoes & Sneakers

29. New York Hats
217 W 6th St
213 228 1915
New and Old School Hats
Located in historic Chocolate
Shop with Batchler tiles

33. Chanelli Outlet 6 PM
625 S. Broadway
Rarely Seen European Brand
Bags and leather jackets. Clearance Sale!
Closes at 6 PM & pop-up opens at
Spring Arts Tower

34. Red Zone Footwear
7 PM close
629 S Broadway
213 622 8649
http://local.yahoo.com/info-20366907-red-zone-footwear-los-angeles?tab=reviews#reviews
Excellent selection of creepers, heels and punk and rock shirts
LA Weekly Best Store Selection!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween Shocker! Citizens of Los Angeles Saved from Another Corrupt Political Scheme!

First the DWP's attempted pay-off of the rate payers money to Brian D'Arcy - Measure 'B', despite the fix being in at City Hall, died a unnatural death at the polls.

Now the incompetence and lies of AnsaldoBreda, after were awarded a contract to build light rail cars for the MTA even after showing - repeatedly - they could not build reliable cars, could not build cars on time and could not build cars on budget - has managed to screw up a contract they had all but dictated to the MTA.

Yes, even after the professionals at the MTA said they did not want AnsaldoBreda to build the cars - the politicians still, in their never ending efforts to reward the usual special interest groups - voted to give the company a sweet heart contract. But even then, even with the usual City Hall fix put in place - AnsaldoBreda was still so staggeringly incompetent, they couldn't even meet the financial conditions of a contract written to their own specifications.

But - alas - it's not yet time to celebrate.

Just when you think yet another stake has finally been driven though the heart of another vampire - the president of the company has already suggested they may bid again now that the contract is open for bids again. And the politicians and the special interest groups will undoubtedly - once again - try and find a way to defraud the public.


MTA's rail-car contract falls apart at last minute, scuttling hundreds of jobs [Updated]
October 31, 2009 | 9:14 pm
A tentative and controversial deal to build 100 rail cars for Los Angeles County's transit system has fallen through -- taking with it plans to build a $70-million factory that would have created hundreds of local jobs.

Last-minute negotiations failed to result in a contract with AnsaldoBreda, an Italian manufacturer that is three years behind schedule on an existing contract to deliver 50 rail cars to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Despite those delays -- and the delivery of cars that were 6,000 pounds heavier than specified -- AnsaldoBreda was positioned to win the new $300-million contract through an option with a deadline of Friday at midnight.

Just weeks ago, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had hailed the impending deal because the company said it would build the rail cars at a new Los Angeles factory. Villaraigosa had cited a study estimating that the plant would deliver $368 million in economic activity, including 650 factory jobs and close to 1,000 union construction jobs to build the facility. The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor had lobbied the MTA board in favor of the contract.

Today, the mayor expressed disappointment. "In these tough economic times, it was important to make every effort to bring good jobs to L.A. and simultaneously exercise due diligence to protect public funds in pursuing this contract,” Villaraigosa said in a statement. “Unfortunately after months of negotiations, at the last minute, satisfactory financial guarantees were not provided and the deal was not signed.”

Hours before the deadline, the company raised new issues -- including a cap on daily penalties for delivering rail cars behind schedule, said MTA spokesman Marc Littman. Transit-agency negotiators declined to make additional concessions and the time period to reach an agreement expired.

The deal’s disintegration has ramifications beyond the future work, said MTA board member Richard Katz, a Villaraigosa appointee. He cited an agreement under which AnsaldoBreda was going to provide two free rail cars, which sell for $3 million each, to make up for building the vehicles heavier than specified. The heavier cars forced the MTA to reinforce some bridges.

In tones that reflected the soured relations between the company and local officials, Katz called AnsaldoBreda “unprofessional and so unbusinesslike,” and said the company's inability to perform under its existing contract could result in litigation.

Officials from AnsaldoBreda could not be reached, but the company has defended its work and says it can point to the successful delivery of rail cars in other cities.

[Updated at 10:26 p.m.: In a statement, AnsaldoBreda president and CEO Giancarlo Fantappié said that his company had provided sufficient financial safeguards for MTA and that he regretted a deal could not be reached "despite multiple efforts to negotiate in good faith on both sides." He added: "Despite this turn of events, Los Angeles continues to represent a focal point for our strategy in America." AnsaldoBreda is eligible to take part in new bidding to build the rail cars.]

The MTA intends to rebid the work quickly and hopes to sign a contract that will result in local jobs, Katz said.

The effort to exercise the option with AnsaldoBreda has long had critics, including county Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who in a statement called the latest development “a victory for taxpayers.”

The company “failed once again to deliver on a promise made to the people of Los Angeles County," said Antonovich, who also sits on the MTA board. “Los Angeles city insiders and special interests attempted to ram through a substandard outfit, creating costly delays in the MTA's ability to seek a legitimate firm to build rail cars.”

-- Howard Blume

Sunday, October 25, 2009

For Lease - Great Gallery or Fashion Spaces!

Have five air-conditioned spaces in Downtown with very high ceilings perfect for art galleries or fashion designers looking to house production, offices and retail in one location. One dollar a foot - net lease.

bradywestwater@gmail.com

or

213-804-8396

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Final Downtown Fashion Walk MAP & LIST now on website!

Go to the Downtown Fashion Walk website - www.downtownfashionwalk.com - and print out both the list and the map for tonight's Downtown Fashion Walk.

See you there!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Complete List of Fashion Walk events Thursday October 15th!

OCTOBER 15th FASHION WALK EVENT LIST

Below - listed by street - are the final confirmed venues and
events of the Thursday Oct. 15th Downtown Fashion Walk in Historic
Downtown Los Angeles. The special events and pop-up stores
are usually open from 5:30 to 10 PM while the existing stores
are open from noon until 10 PM. But check the
below listings to see which stores might close early.

Then by late Wednesday night, the downloadable map will be
available at www.downtownfashionwalk.com and any updates
or last minute changes will be posted on the blog -
www.downtownfashionwalk.blogspot.com. And
print out both the list and the map to best enjoy the third
every third Thursday monthly Downtown Fashion Walk.


MAIN STREET & SIDE STREETS

Blends 125 W 4th St.
Limited Edition sneakers & Urban Clothing.
www.Blendsus.com 213-626-6606

Elmer Ave. 125 W. 4th St.
Rock and Roll Rebels do High-End Formal Wear
Ask nicely - and you might get a private sneak preview
of their Saturday show
www.Elmerave.Com 888-356-3728

SkinGraft 125 W. 4th St. #102
First public showing of the stunning gowns from invite
only runway show at MOCA during Downtown Los Angeles
Fashion Week. Also selected sale items 50% off.
www.skingraftdesigns.com 213-626-2662

Fremont 120 W. 4th St.
Not open this month but Fremont reopens November in new,
larger store on 7th St. West of Main. Classic Cool Couture
www.Fremontapparelco.Com 213-626-1756

Crewest 110 E. Winston St
Finest graffiti artist art & artist designed clothing
Closes at 6 PM tonight
www.Crewest.Com 213-627-8272

The Gallery@118 Winston 118 E. Winston Street Second floor
Designer vintage and contemporary art.
Not open this Fashion Walk - see you next month!
Call for regular hours 310-422-6231

Stelladottir 430 S. Main St.
Hand made, vintage inspired clothes & hats.
Downtown store of the year last year - this year's LA Weekly's
Best Buy Open late most nights!
www.stelladottir.com 213-623-8464

Main Street Tattoo 438 Main Street
www.mainsttats.com 213-622-0387
Open late most nights

Los Angeles Center for Digital Art 107 W. 5th St.
Digital printmaking and sales gallery along with special
exhibitions of all forms of new media, including video,
showcasing artists from throughout the world.
www.lacda@lacda.com 323-646-9427

El Nopal Press 109 5th Main St.
Fine art printing and sales of Lithographs of leading
Los Angeles, Mexican, Chicano and international artists.
www.fauxpop.com/nopalpress/ 323-581-7112

"Vava Rula" 113 W. 5th Street
One night pop-up store with pre-owned edgy designer
items, tagged and altered vintage clothes, paintings &
projections by alternative artists, unique Halloween
accessories and a photo shoot art directed by Rula
Kaliroi and styled by Vava Voom.

Billy's Cafe, Art Salon & Clothing Emporium 114 W. 5th St.
One night collection of artists, designers and creative
individuals including SOUK, inFlight, Victoria Victoria,
Jeffrey Hirsch and Sanjeev Fun of Nouveau Lifestyle.

Performing at this event will be DJ Orator, veteran DJ from Los
Angeles. He DJ'ed at KPFK 90.7 FM for 6 years and will be
one of the DJ's featured on the cover of Pro Sound magazine
this November.

Pussy & Pooch 564 S, Main St.
www.pussyandpooch.com 213-438-0900
Toys, treats - and tonight - Halloween Costumes
for your pets! Also pet couture & grooming

Upper Playground 125 E. 6th St.
Fusion of fashion with fine art by locally and nationally known artists
www.Upperplayground.Com 213-623-4300

Mr. Cartoon's Tattoo Shop 129 E. 6th St.
Urban clothes & classic tattoos. Shipment of new
items of all kinds just arrived!
www.Mistercartoon.Com 213-488-0313

Soulful Commandoe Flagship Store 121 E. 6th St. #131
Ultra Exclusive Street Apparel & Accessories Company
www.Soulfulcommandoe.com 213-291-9601

Pacific Electric Ground Floor SE Corner 6th & Main
Event produced by Hearts of Hope to benefit Children's
Hospital & SESA. Doors open at 5 PM for vendors and the runway
shows begin at 6:30 PM. Showing on the runways are di'viniti, DV2,
Kanvis and Ayanna Henderson.

Vendors include Chanelli handbags & leather jackets, African Cowboy,
Hacked Club, excess baggage, Ayanna Henderson, Karen Lewis Jewelry,
Jan the Hat Woman and a Guerilla sample sale.

There will also be a charity silent auction
featuring all the designers along with the work of fashion photographer
Nick Horne. A Live DJ will perform and there will be a raffle.

1-Man's Trash NW Corner of 7th & Main on Main St.
Hard to Vintage items and one of a kind re-worked vintage
pieces for men, women and children that have been worn
by Usher Raymond, Ellen Degeneres and Carmen Electra.
818-355-1130

Symbiotic Form NW Corner of 7th & Main on Main
Vintage inspired woman's hand bags, hats, clothes and jewelry
Also unique household wares and one of a kind gift items.
www.symbioticform.blogspot.com 213-631-6971

ZLB Main & 7th NW Corner - 7th Side of Building
Vintage Clothing from around the country and around the world
of every kind and every price.

SPRING STREET & SIDE STREETS

Continental Building 400 S. Spring
From 6pm -11 PM, at the Continental at 4th and Spring, Hit + Run
will have a pop-up show at Dub Lab’s 10th anniversary celebration
art show. Hit + Run will also provide on-site free live screen printing -
so bring your own T-shirt to be printed on or buy one there.

DJ’s PAY RAY – EROK – VALTON provide the music and
complimentary drinks will be provided by Honest Tea

Spring Arts Tower 201 W. 5th/453 S. Spring on 5th @Spring
From 5-10pm the Spring Arts Tower at 5th and Spring will host the
5th & Spring Show with Money Laundry - the only clothing line
literally made out of real money, Kablan (multiple lines from
casual to ball room gowns, Valou Designs (urban contemporary jewelry),
Francisco Devila & his custom built furniture line DEVILA 3 MUERTOS,
Gigi In Style (sexy and affordable jewelry), 35MM Clothing
(men's and women's contemporary casual clothing), Jessica Seaton
(organic, sensual jewelry), Louise Green Millinery (elegant and playful hats),
and London Manori (sophisticated, contemporary luxury jewelry).

And special guests - The Bohemian Society - will arrive directly from
their runway show at the Los Angeles Theatre (around 7:30) and
they will appear at 5th & Spring with their new line until 10 PM. This space
is adjacent to the entrance to the historic vaults of Crocker Bank - now
home to the Crocker Club.

One Night Only Event! TBA! 207 W. 5th St.

Deborah Martin Gallery 209 W. 5th St.
Powerful installation by artist Evah Hart illustrating her
Midwestern family dealing with the awkwardly
permanent transience of family.
www.deborahmartingallery.com 310-428-6464

Polyester Books (Todd/Browning Gallery) 211 W. 5th St.
Fashion, Style, Art & Design Books Vintage/Contemporary Photographs.
Literally something for literally everyone!
www.Polyesterbooks.Com 213-623-1176

KAPSOUL 6th Street between Main and Spring
Contemporary & vintage clothes, sunglasses, and a wide
selection of unique and unusual gift items. As cool as
they come!
Cell 818-693-4180

Flea 6th Street between Main and Spring
Vintage clothes, furniture, hats, design magazines, one of kind
gift items and contemporary art. Perfect place to find gifts for
the person who has everything - or nothing.
213-622-2122

apliiq 6th Street between Main and Spring
apliiq applies unique rare textiles to everyday garments. Learn
how to customize your own wardrobe and find out how to develop
your own personal style!
www.apliiq.com 323-300-6492

New York Hats 217 W 6th St
New And Old School Hats. Located in historic chocolate store
filled with Batchelder tiles. Worth a visit just for the interior!
213-228-1915 May have to close early - so hurry!

Crack Gallery 204 W. 6th St.
Crack Gallery wants to get the city hooked
on a new drug: their own blend of fashion and art.
www.crackgallery.com 213-622-3493

Shoes & Hand Bags 204 W. 4th Street
Handbags, Shoes & Accessories
213-622-3493


BROADWAY & SIDE STREETS
(Most Broadway stores close by 7 PM)

Goodwill 235 S. Broadway
VIntage/Used Everything! Huge selection!
www.Goodwillsocal.Org 213-628-1748
Closes at 7 PM

Broadway Army Store 217 W. 4th
Military & Civilian Uniforms, Cool Shirts - and much more
www.broadwayarmystore.net 213-617-8495
Close at 7 PM

Shoe Hut 529 S. Broadway
Huge Selection Of Baseball Caps, Shoes & Sneakers
www.shoehutusa.com 213-688-8310
Close at 7 PM

Chanelli Outlet 625 S. Broadway
Rarely Seen European Brand Bags and great leather jackets. Clearance Sale!
Ask about the special deals. Closes at 6 PM and pop-up version opens
at the PE lofts at 6th and Main.
Closes at 6 PM here - 10 PM at 6th and Main

Red Zone Footwear 629 S. Broadway
Excellent selection of creepers, heels and punk and rock shirts - and just
named by the LA Weekly as one of LA's best stores for its old School
Melrose Punk and Metal Fashions at Downtown prices.
http://redzone7777.googlepages.com/redzonebrandsvans1.html
213-622-8649
Closes at 7 PM

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

SUPER SECRET ELMER AVE INVITE!

Now there's no guarantee you will get an invite to the Elmer Ave - aka Elmer Av - Saturday show - but e-mail them why you should be invited - and see what happens.

And if you stop by their store on 4th Street between Main and Spring during this Thursday's Fashion Walk - you might see a few reasons why you should attend. And you can then make your case in person as to why why you should be invited.


We are very excited to invite you to a very special night.
please promptly RSVP to elmerave.topsecret@gmail.com with your credentials and full names... it is imperative to do this to get the show location, time, and show details...
hope to see you there!
luv,
jonny day


TOP SECRET!!

ELMER AVE is announcing the launch of its new collection at the
TOP SECRET Fashion Show for LA Fashion Week, October 2009.
DATE: FASHION/MARKET WEEK OCT 17, 2009

LOCATION: Downtown Los Angeles

RSVP & CREDENTIALS REQUIRED

RSVP: elmerave.topsecret@gmail.com

DETAILS WILL BE RELEASED ONCE YOUR RSVP IS CONFIRMED

POST-SHOW MELTDOWN PARTY IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING




After several wildly successful Smashbox Shows in 2008, ELMER AVE is returning with a self produced TOP SECRET Fashion Show (invite only)...this season’s journey through a Combination of Classic, Military, and Punk, with the new ELMER AVE COLLECTION, including THE DOLL FIT (ladies), and introducing THE DELINQUENT FIT by Elmer Ave (kids).

Manufactured in Los Angeles and Tokyo, Elmer Ave has expanded its men’s Collection, as well as The Doll Fit, a fitted collection for women, and also the new Delinquent Fit, a children’s fitted version of the Elmer Ave Collection (with proceeds going to Music for Children Charity).

TOP SECRET “AN ELMER AVE FASHION SHOW” will showcase the new collections in a way only to be expected from ELMER AVE.

Elmer Ave is two clothing designers from North Hollywood, CA, with a mindset to give tailored suiting a high fashion Rock n Roll edge. Branching from their roots in skateboards,rock n roll bands, and fashion styling, Elmer Ave continually sets industry trends and sets a high quality manufacturing standard.

elmerave.com info@elmerave.com ph:1 888 356 3728

Fashion Week's Fashion Walk - Thursday October 15th!

This Thursday’s October 15th Downtown Fashion Walk, along Main, Spring and Broadway between 4th & 7th Streets, is right in the middle of everything that happens during Fashion Week!

The final runway shows at the Los Angeles Theatre - www.lafashiononbroadway.com - are that night and the after parties will be in the local bars. Designers – such as Skingraft & Bohemian Society will show their new clothes for the first time to the public at Fashion Walk after their runway shows, and other designers – such as Elmer Ave and 1-Man's Trash – will sneak preview their new lines on Fashion Walk before they have even been seen on the runway.

And even the fashionable KOGI taco truck will for the first time attend this Fashion Walk.

Runway couture (such as Skingraft, Elmer Ave, Fremont, 1-Man’s Trash, Symbiotic Form and Stelladottir) is only one part of Fashion Walk. Have your existing clothes customized on the spot at Appliq, find limited edition sneakers at Blends, shop walls of baseball caps at Shoe Hut. There are a dozen places to buy every type of hat imaginable including at the historic New York Hat store and even your pets can live in style with the finest in pet fashion from Pussy & Pouch.

Hard to find, unique purses & handbags are featured at Symbiotic Form and Chanelli, not to mention the rare sunglassses from Kapsoul and custom jewelry from many of the venues to add that perfect finishing touch. Artist designed urban wear from Crewest, Upper Playground & the Last Laugh, hip hop runway couture at Soulful Commandoe and women’s & men’s clothing of every kind from hipster fashions at Crack Gallery to classic workingmans’s Broadway Uniforms.

Finally - you can go vintage at Flea, 1-Man’s Trash, the Gallery @118 Winston, Kapsoul, ZLB and Goodwill, and these six stores will soon be joined by two more. And don't forget to check out two of LA Weekly’s October Issue’s Best Stores in Los Angeles – Stelladottir for her value priced custom clothing and Red Zone for their Downtown prices on Old School Old Melrose-style Punk & Metal Fashions. Most stores will be open noon to 10 PM, except on Broadway which will open at 10 AM and close at 7 PM.

As if all this wasn't enough, there are all the special events and individual pop-ups showcasing dozens of established brands and young and upcoming designers.

From 5-10pm the Spring Arts Tower at 5th and Spring will host the 5th & Spring Show with Money Laundry presenting along with 35MM Clothing, Hethan, Kablan, Valou Designs, Gigi In Style, Jessica Seaton, Louise Green Millinery, London Manori and the Bohemian Society.

Meanwhile, from 6pm-1am, at the Continental at 4th and Spring, Hit + Run will have a pop-up show at Dub Lab’s 10th anniversary celebration art show. Hit + Run will also provide on-site free live screen printing! Bring your own T-shirt or buy one there. DJ’s PAY RAY – EROK – VALTON provide the music and complimentary drinks are provided by Honest Tea

A silent auction benefiting the Children’s Hospital will at the Pacific Electric Building at 6th and Main from 6-10pm with four free runway shows including di’viniti, DV2, and Kanvis. Among the pop-ups in temporary residence here will be QueenKing Design, the Hacked Club (with new and vintage fashion), and Chanelli’s imported handbags and leather jackets.

Finally, the intersections of 5th and Main and 5th and Spring will have a variety of pop-ups operated by underground artists and indie designers for those who want something truly different proving that there is indeed something for everyone on Fashion Walk

Fashion Week's Fashion Walk - Thursday October 15th!

This Thursday’s October 15th Downtown Fashion Walk, along Main, Spring and Broadway between 4th & 7th Streets, is right in the middle of everything that happens during Fashion Week!

The final runway shows at the Los Angeles Theatre - www.lafashiononbroadway.com - are that night and the after parties will be in the local bars. Designers – such as Skingraft & Bohemian Society will show their new clothes for the first time to the public at Fashion Walk after their runway shows, and other designers – such as Elmer Ave and 1-Man's Trash – will sneak preview their new lines on Fashion Walk before they have even been seen on the runway.

And even the fashionable KOGI taco truck will for the first time attend this Fashion Walk.

Runway couture (such as Skingraft, Elmer Ave, Fremont, 1-Man’s Trash, Symbiotic Form and Stelladottir) is only one part of Fashion Walk. Have your existing clothes customized on the spot at Appliq, find limited edition sneakers at Blends, shop walls of baseball caps at Shoe Hut. There are a dozen places to buy every type of hat imaginable including at the historic New York Hat store and even your pets can live in style with the finest in pet fashion from Pussy & Pouch.

Hard to find, unique purses & handbags are featured at Symbiotic Form and Chanelli, not to mention the rare sunglassses from Kapsoul and custom jewelry from many of the venues to add that perfect finishing touch. Artist designed urban wear from Crewest, Upper Playground & the Last Laugh, hip hop runway couture at Soulful Commandoe and women’s & men’s clothing of every kind from hipster fashions at Crack Gallery to classic workingmans’s Broadway Uniforms.

Finally - you can go vintage at Flea, 1-Man’s Trash, the Gallery @118 Winston, Kapsoul, ZLB and Goodwill, and these six stores will soon be joined by two more. And don't forget to check out two of LA Weekly’s October Issue’s Best Stores in Los Angeles – Stelladottir for her value priced custom clothing and Red Zone for their Downtown prices on Old School Old Melrose-style Punk & Metal Fashions. Most stores will be open noon to 10 PM, except on Broadway which will open at 10 AM and close at 7 PM.

As if all this wasn't enough, there are all the special events and individual pop-ups showcasing dozens of established brands and young and upcoming designers.

From 5-10pm the Spring Arts Tower at 5th and Spring will host the 5th & Spring Show with Money Laundry presenting along with 35MM Clothing, Hethan, Kablan, Valou Designs, Gigi In Style, Jessica Seaton, Louise Green Millinery, London Manori and the Bohemian Society.

Meanwhile, from 6pm-1am, at the Continental at 4th and Spring, Hit + Run will have a pop-up show at Dub Lab’s 10th anniversary celebration art show. Hit + Run will also provide on-site free live screen printing! Bring your own T-shirt or buy one there. DJ’s PAY RAY – EROK – VALTON provide the music and complimentary drinks are provided by Honest Tea

A silent auction benefiting the Children’s Hospital will at the Pacific Electric Building at 6th and Main from 6-10pm with four free runway shows including di’viniti, DV2, and Kanvis. Among the pop-ups in temporary residence here will be QueenKing Design, the Hacked Club (with new and vintage fashion), and Chanelli’s imported handbags and leather jackets.

Finally, the intersections of 5th and Main and 5th and Spring will have a variety of pop-ups operated by underground artists and indie designers for those who want something truly different proving that there is indeed something for everyone on Fashion Walk

Brendan Mullen, Dead At 60

The last time I saw Brendan, at a late night diner in the Downtown Industrial District, we talked about our pasts, a future project we might do together - and how we were almost exactly a year apart in age.

That was almost a year ago and about a week ago as both our birthdays were coming up, I started looking for his phone number and the notes from that last talk. But I got too swamped with Fashion Walk and Fashion Week and promised myself I'd call him after all that was over.

Then in the middle of the day the calls and emails started coming, and by the time I had time to hear or read any of them - he was gone.

And for all he had accomplished in his life - one of my first thoughts was that he had died far too soon - and that he had so much more he was going to accomplish.

Below is the opening to the LA Times Obit:

atimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-brendan-mullen13-2009oct13,0,4056471.story

latimes.com

Brendan Mullen dies at 60; founder of influential Masque punk rock club

The Hollywood venue, which opened in 1977, quickly became a crucible for emerging, anarchic L.A. groups like the Weirdos and the Germs and later X and the Go-Go's.

By Randy Lewis

October 13, 2009



Brendan Mullen, founder of the Masque punk rock club in Hollywood that helped launch the vibrantly anarchic music scene on the West Coast in the late 1970s, died Monday after suffering a massive stroke over the weekend. He was 60.

Mullen died at Ventura County Medical Center, said his companion of 16 years, Kateri Butler. The couple had been traveling through Santa Barbara and Ventura celebrating his 60th birthday, which was Friday.

"The doctors are completely perplexed," Butler said. "They can't figure out why he had a stroke -- he had none of the indicators, his cholesterol was perfect. One of the neurologists summed it up best when he said, 'Sometimes, your number is just up.' "

At the Masque, Mullen created an underground space that became a crucible for musicians and fans who felt alienated from mainstream society. Anger, frustration and self-deprecating humor flowered in the assaultive music that had been roiling in New York and London, as L.A. bands including the Weirdos, the Germs, the Dils and the Screamers turned up regularly at the Masque for some of their earliest performances.

"He was the first promoter of punk rock in this town," veteran promoter Paul Tollett of Goldenvoice Presents said Monday. "Everything started with him."

Once word spread that a space had emerged that was hospitable to punk, which at the time was a frequent target of law enforcement, more bands quickly followed. The Masque became home to X, the Go-Go's, the Dickies, the Plugz, the Flesh Eaters and many more.

Mullen, who had worked as a journalist in England before moving to the U.S., remained humble about his role.

"For the record, I never claimed to have 'started punk in L.A.,' " Mullen wrote in his book "Live at the Masque: Nightmare in Punk Alley," published in 2007. "I'd prefer the Masque epitaph to be 'Where the SoCal scene originally came together.' "



More at the above link....

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Great Post on Photographer Irving Penn at LA Observed

Over at LA Observed, resident photographer, Judy Graeme, takes the occasion of the Getty Center and it's photography collection's acquisition and exhibition of Irving Penn's 'Small Trades' series to reflect upon Irving Penn and his influence upon her life and her work.

Below is the opening to her piece - but better yet - just click the above link to LAO's Native Intelligence and read her entire post uninterrupted.

Irving Penn comes to Los Angeles

Judy Graeme • Bio • Email

At the press preview for Irving Penn's "Small Trades" exhibit at the Getty Center, I was part of a group led through the galleries by curator Virginia Heckert. I should have been paying stricter attention, but I was distracted. All I could think was that this imposing group of 252 photographs represents just part of Penn's body of work. When an important and influential artist like Penn works for as many years as he has, a lot of people are bound to be affected on many different levels. I know I have been.


Lastly - the show at the Getty runs until January 10th, 2010.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What Do Cute Kittens And the LA Times Story - Death on the Rails - Have in Common?

This weekend's Los Angeles Times story - Death on the Rails - begins with the statistics that have long proven how riding the Metrolink - and in particular driving near it - may be hazardous to your health. The story's main writer, Doug Smith, also re-explains the well known political reasons why the agency that runs the Metrolink has been unable to internally fix its problems.

But Smith - and his team of writer Nathan Olivares-Giles, researcher Maloy Moore and data analyst Sandra Poindexter - then go beyond what we already know to give a detailed proposal about how the Metrolink system can be made safer in several specific ways - and in relatively short periods of time compared to the major long term needed improvements. The article then tackles why this has not been done in the past - and then lists the external political obstacles that have to be cleared to fix the system.

And, in this city, the Los Angeles Times is increasingly only place where this kind of intensive research and reporting and solution finding is done on a consistent basis and on a wide range of issues.

Unfortunately, the LA Times and all other print media now face an increasingly on-line future in which the expensive content the public needs to be protected from harm is often not the content that drives the necessary number of page views to keep those institutions alive.

So the the next time local critics complain about the Los Angeles Times and its on-line photo albums of cute kittens - they should remember that one day some particularly cute kitten might pay for the story that will save their lives.

Click the lnk above for the full story or you can read below the story's opening:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/metrolink/la-me-buena-metrolink27-2009sep27,0,6617016,print.story

Death on the rails in L.A.
An analysis of crash data suggests that Metrolink could significantly reduce accidents by targeting a few particularly dangerous crossings.

By Doug Smith

September 27, 2009


Although Metrolink safety lapses drew national attention last year when 25 people were killed in a head-on collision with a freight train, many more have died from commuter trains hitting automobiles and pedestrians.

Over the 15 years leading up to the deadly crash in Chatsworth, accidents involving trains running on Metrolink's system killed 218 other people, according to a detailed examination of accident records by The Times. Through September 2008, the number killed on the Metrolink commuter rail system was 244. Hundreds more people sustained nonfatal injuries.

Critics say Metrolink leaders have not paid enough attention to safety and have done little to upgrade dangerous intersections where streets cross the tracks. In particular, the public railway has failed to adopt the sorts of safety systems and improvements developed and widely used by its sister agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Some of the clearest examples are in the San Fernando Valley, which includes two of Metrolink's most dangerous crossings -- at Buena Vista Street in Burbank and Sunland Boulevard in Sun Valley.

For the thousands of motorists who pass through it every day, the rail crossing at Buena Vista and San Fernando Boulevard can be a hair-raising passage. The intersection is a maze of sharp turns and confusing signals that require drivers to move with split-second timing.

Twice in recent years, that timing has gone fatally wrong just as a train was bearing down fast, leading to the deaths of motorists.

On Jan. 6, 2003, Jacek "Jack" Wysocki rolled his Ford truck into the path of a Metrolink train traveling 79 mph. The 63-year-old driver was killed along with one train passenger; two train cars derailed and flipped, injuring 20 other Metrolink riders.

Exactly three years later, 76-year-old Maureen Osborn was killed after turning in front of a Metrolink commuter going 75 mph. Osborn's car was dragged a third of a mile before the train could stop.

Both tragedies could have been predicted. Buena Vista and similar Metrolink intersections had all seen previous accidents and near-collisions.

Metrolink took no responsibility

They also could have been prevented. But if any Metrolink official saw trouble coming, records show no evidence of action. After each accident, leaders of the regional rail system took no responsibility, choosing instead to invoke a standard industry convention: They blamed the deaths on motorists who "tried to beat the train."

Even after a blistering 2003 critique of the crossing's design and signal system by the National Transportation Safety Board, nothing was done to correct Buena Vista's flaws. Facing no legal obligation to follow federal recommendations, Metrolink, Burbank authorities and the California Public Utilities Commission -- the state agency responsible for train safety -- made only minor refinements.

One expert says the history behind the Buena Vista-San Fernando crossing reveals a glaring flaw in the mind-set of Metrolink leaders: Because they have focused more on building ridership than on improving safety, even hazards that could have been eliminated or sharply reduced have been allowed to remain. Only after the horrific Chatsworth crash did Metrolink upgrade the status of its safety unit so that it reported directly to chief executive David R. Solow.

"I call it the culture of denial and deflection," said Najmedin Meshkati, a professor of engineering at USC whose studies of human factors in accidents have led him to become a vocal critic of Metrolink.

That culture also stands in stark contrast to what is practiced by the MTA, the largest of five rail agencies that contribute funds to Metrolink.

That agency, based only blocks from Metrolink's Los Angeles office, also had a record of numerous accidents and deaths after initiating its Blue Line light-rail service between downtown and Long Beach in 1990. Since then, the MTA's safety section has examined the causes and retrofitted many of the worst crossings with systems to prevent accidents. As a result, the Blue Line accident rate has dropped significantly.


And, again, the rest of the story is at this link:

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/metrolink/la-me-buena-metrolink27-2009sep27,0,6617016,print.story

Friday, September 25, 2009

As The Neon Museum Leaves Downtown.... It's Time To Ask - Why?

latimes.com/news/local/la-me-neon-downtown25-2009sep25,0,973989.story

The story of why the Neon Museum - after 28 years - is leaving Downtown - for a second time (its current display at City Walk being its first defection) is long and complicated and it starts long before I was involved in the politics of Downtown.

I do recall, though, when its first small space in the Arts District in 1981 - around the corner from Joel Bloom's store, another lost landmark, much later opened in 1994.

I also remember when it was supposed to be the major public arts component of what later became LA Live – which instead became the Grammy Museum - but I don't recall how that came to be.

And by the time I started talking with the Museum of Neon Art – MONA - in the late 1990's, the clock was ticking on their then CRA subsidized space in South Park. It was clear then that with no new space to show potential donors or potential new board members - it would be impossible for MONA to raise the money needed to rent or buy a new space - or for them get further public grants to sustain themselves.

It also seemed clear, at least to me, that arts non-profits would soon need to consider developing earned income projects or joint ventures to guarantee their long term financial sustainability.

And this was before anyone realized local and regional governments will soon have the single largest part of their tax revenues going into the pensions and health benefits for retired workers who no longer work for the government, leaving less and less money for anything else.

So my idea was to find a large space, preferably underground or on the upper floors of an old building to keep the rents cheap - where there could be multiple food and beverage tenants sub-letting from the Neon Museum.

Those tenants would then each have their spaces displaying parts of the collection as their decor - and they would pay a higher than normal rent in exchange for those displays. The museum would then be able to exhibit those pieces at no cost to MONA and they would be viewable at night when they would normally not be seen – and there would a steady cash flow from those tenants.

But – best of all – the tenant’s build-outs would hopefully include all the seismic requirements, health and safety requirements and the entire HVAC infrastructure for the entire space.

Restaurants, lounges, bars, or music venues were the possible uses and their nighttime urban atmosphere would work perfectly with the neon.

Then, the museum itself, would have - besides its workshops and smaller display areas - one large and one or two smaller display rooms where - after the museum was closed – those spaces could be rented out as event spaces. This would bring in even more revenue and - again - allow the neon to be seen at night when the museum would normally be closed.

And even when I very conservatively ran the numbers - it seemed feasible that with the prices for underground spaces I was quoted - and how much the new venues - even after build-outs would pay - the museum should be at the very worst – totally rent-free – and that its net income would increase over the years as they amortized the costs.

I then found what I felt was the perfect space for the museum, introduced them to the owners and an agreement to agree was reached and MONA started to develop a business plan on how to do this project.

But soon after, the person who pushed the deal through at the company was hired away by another company, but the deal remained intact. Then the building was sold – and I was told the deal was, again, still on.

I then went on to other projects and assumed no news was good news. And it was only when I checked in about a year later to get a progress report did I discover - the deal had died, though I could never find out… why.

So I - and other people - tried again to find another Downtown home for MONA – as increasingly numbers of offers came from all over the country offering MONA free spaces. But there seemed to be a disconnect between what the Neon Museum was able to find - and afford - and what the City felt was the appropriate place for them to be. And with no new home in hand – MONA was unable to raise any funds themselves, so no deal could be made.

And the final place I proposed, I still feel can work for a museum of some kind in the longer term, but the amount of work it takes to make one of these deals happen.... makes doing them a full time job and I already have twenty other full time – and all 100% pro-bono - jobs.

So when the City displayed no interest in even looking at the space, I moved on.
And so now the Neon Museum appears to be all but gone from Downtown.

But that does not mean this has to be the end of the love story between MONA and Downtown. Unlike the lovers in the 500 Days of Summer, a happy ever after ending for us is still possible.

After all, the Neon Museum has once before abandoned us for City Walk - but still returned home – even while they faithfully retaining their presence at City Walk.

The good news/bad news for neon lovers is that as long as old buildings are torn down - there will be an endless supply of neon needing to be saved. So even if Glendale has the main museum - that does not stop MONA from having a branch in Downtown, once we finally get our act together.

And an auxiliary display only space Downtown would help the Glendale Neon Museum space as it would feed people from our much larger tourist base to the Glendale Museum.

But in order for us to do this – and other major cultural projects - we need to rethink how the City works with arts organizations - and how we are going to house our dozens of homeless museums of all kinds. Museums are important economic development engines and they are essential to our long term ability to attract tourists to Los Angeles.

The first step is for the CRA and other government agencies – and major foundations who are interested in helping non-profits become financially self-sustainable – to create a privately run non-profit corporation to do long term leases of potential future arts spaces.

Or - in today’s' depressed property market – give the corporation the ability buy large warehouses, or condo off the upper floors of buildings on Broadway - or condo off the basements of buildings – for use by arts organizations.

The non-profit corporation would then either do straight sub-leases to the arts groups or do some partial build outs first and then do the sub-leases. This will give the arts groups, museums and other cultural groups the benefit of the far lower rates of the master lease – plus lower combined infrastructure construction costs - as opposed to what it would cost an arts group to lease a smaller already subdivided and built out space.

And if for-profit entities are also given leases within the complex, their rents would help further lower the arts spaces rents – without any need for outside subsidies.

Additionally, each arts organization should be given an opportunity to develop their own earned income revenue streams – when possible – within their spaces. Lastly, all commercial tenants would also be chosen on the basis of their bringing synergistic audiences to the overall space.

However, if the corporation buys the buildings, then it can - over time -sell individual spaces to the arts groups. And if there are profit making businesses in the overall complex – the non-profits can collectively own those spaces and the rents from those spaces could help cover the costs of maintaining the entire building.

To give just one example of how this might work – say the Museum of California Design is given the opportunity to occupy such a complex – think of all the design-oriented retailers who would want to rent or own spaces next to that museum?

And then what better place would there be for a permanent home for the Architecture & Design Museum? Or LATDA - the Los Angeles Toy, Doll and Amusements Museum? Or a Fashion Museum? Or any other museum that is about… design?

So to do all this, the Corporation could buy a huge warehouse complex and give the spaces rent free to help these museums get started while at the same time leasing out other spaces synergistic uses who would want the proximity to both the museums and the other destination-type retailers. This would then cover the museum's rent.

And even before then, the Corporation can rent out the empty spaces for warehousing, if need be – and in their second phase, they can attract events and filming – which would become increasingly easier as the museums themselves start to install.

And this business plan has worked in the past.

During all this, business plans will be then developed and redeveloped on how each museum can either do a long term lease – or purchase of all or parts of the complex. And if one or more museums leave for another space – another new museum will have an already built out space ready to start the whole process all over again.

Additionally, parts of the project could even include future residential development to further help subsidize the overall project.

This way, these museums can get an initial space for very little money – while having a long term plan to increase their size and eventually buy the building – all of which will make it far easier for them to raise funds.

And by buying properties a bit off the beaten track to get affordable spaces, the design oriented retailers will also initially get very affordable rents themselves – while also still having the benefits of built-in audiences from the multiple synergistic retailers – and the growing complex of design museums.

But more on all this later.

Now it's time to get back to the story of the Neon Museum, and below is the latest news from the LA Times:


L.A.'s Museum of Neon Art is glowing, glowing, gone

The museum, which has been in downtown since 1981, is moving to larger quarters across from Americana at Brand in Glendale. The announcement has disappointed many downtown boosters.

By Cara Mia DiMassa

September 25, 2009


The Museum of Neon Art opened its doors in downtown Los Angeles in 1981 -- long before the city center was fashionable. For much of this time, the museum has moved around the area, looking for a spot large enough to show off its uniquely Southern California collection.

At its current location on 4th Street in the Old Bank district, visitors to the museum have a tendency to look befuddled after viewing the 20 pieces of neon and wonder where some of the more iconic pieces are located. The Grauman's Chinese Theatre dragon? The old Union 76 ball?

"People ask, 'Where's the Brown Derby?' " said Kim Koga, the museum's director, referring to the neon sign that once stood atop one of the city's most famous dining establishments and is now in the museum's permanent collection. "We couldn't get it in the door here."

Now, the museum has found the space it wants -- in Glendale. And many who live and work around the lofts and galleries that grew around the museum are sad to see it go.

The new space, on Brand Boulevard across from Americana at Brand, offers raw square footage as well as a chance to display some pieces on the building's exterior -- all in an area that has been experiencing its own sort of renaissance. No date has been set for the move.

The museum leaves a part of downtown that in the last decade has been transformed from an area of empty office buildings and sagging storefronts to one of L.A.'s most vibrant gallery districts, where thousands converge for the monthly art walk.

"We have this amazing relationship that won't end if they go to Glendale," said Bert Green, founder of the Downtown Art Walk and owner of a gallery at 5th and Main streets, "but I would prefer that they stay in downtown."

The announcement comes at a time when the downtown art scene is struggling, in some ways, with its own success. The Downtown Art Walk, which celebrated its fifth anniversary earlier this month, has grown to a point that some gallery owners and residents say has taken it away from its original purpose.

As many as 10,000 people now crowd downtown's streets one Thursday a month, according to some estimates. Many come to peruse the galleries, but others come to visit the area's bars, restaurants and many of the sidewalk vendors who also migrate to the area for the monthly event.

Green, who handed over the reins of the walk earlier this year, has moved his gallery's opening parties to the day before the event, and closes the gallery at 6 p.m. on art walk nights. He was getting 2,500 visitors to the small gallery at 5th and Main between 7 and 9 p.m.

"It was costing me hundreds of dollars to stay open," he said, mostly because of extra staff needed to manage the crowds, "and no one was buying anything."

Downtown boosters say the recession has hit downtown less than other artistic neighborhoods such as Culver City or Venice. While one gallery, the nonprofit Pharmaka, recently lost its space at 5th and Main, others are opening on upper floors, which lack walk-in foot traffic but sometimes offer more space and cheaper rent.

Brady Westwater, a longtime downtown activist, said that he was sad to see the neon museum leave, especially because it had hung on for so long when downtown's fortunes were on the decline. "We've now got Disney Hall, Gallery Row, Art Walk, SCI-Arc -- all of these things that have come in and are now institutions," Westwater said. "It's a tragedy that just as the theaters of Broadway are about to have their lights turned on again, the lights of the neon museum will be turned off downtown."

cara.dimassa@latimes.com