Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Back in the early 90's I spied a photo in a coffee shop/gallery in Santa Rosa. The photo was called "Johnny Get Your Gun" featuring a gun point blank at the camera, the shooter blurred in the background. I had to have it, but back then I couldn't find the $100 bucks. I kept the phone number on a little slip of paper, but I never called. One day, my boss (Helen) said to me, I want to give you a performance award and I know a plaque won't cut it with you, how about you buy something you want and I pay. And so it was; Helen (who abhorred the photo) became my financial backer in my first art acquisition (okay, my only acquisition). As I dialed the number I thought "this has been too long, the phone number is probably no good, the picture probably sold," etc. etc. But to my surprise, it wasn't and it hadn't.

The photographer answered the phone on the first ring. She was moving she told me, tomorrow and although she didn't really want to sell the print, she desperately needed the cash. When I came over, cash in hand, she handed me the framed print, but as I took it, she didn't let go and a little push and pull happened. As I realized that it meant something very important to her I promised her it would always have a place of prominence in my home. With that she accepted the sale. I felt terrible. I mentally promised myself I'd return it to her someday, that she was really just loaning it to me.

I left the house as she returned to packing. As I walked down the path I heard her crying, wailing really and I almost turned back, but something told me it wasn't the right thing to do. She was letting go of something and I was part of it.

And now almost twenty years later I still carry this print around. There's something so objectionable about it that I have yet to have a visitor who admired it and untrue to my promise, it has often sat on floors and closets, occasionally pulled out with ambivalence and some regret.

Such was the case last week, as I came across it sitting on a dusty floor. I picked up the print and set it on a bench, propped against the wall where I could see it.

It was Fall, an odd transitory sort of season as it is, when the LA Fires began. The fires burned and burned and as they did the City filled with soot and the air clouded over with smoke. Yesterday it was so bad that when the sun began to set, the smoke turned the sunset blood red. It was at that moment that I looked around my darkening room and saw the red sunlight shining straight on, and only on, Johnny Get your Gun.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Exploring North East LA Stats

I've been living in CD 1 for almost eight months now, walking and driving around, exploring the neighborhood; but I can't say I've learned that much. Tonight I checked out Councilman Reyes website and I was surprised how little I knew. Council District One has a population of 222,165 people. Seventy percent of our district, or 154,927 people, are above the age of 18. The remaining thirty percent or 67,238 people, are under the age of 18. 

The communities that make up District 1 include: Glassell Park, Cypress Park, Highland Park, Mt. Washington, Solano Canyon, Elysian Park, Echo Park, Westlake, Angelino Heights, Temple Beaudry, Lafayette Park, Chinatown, Forgotten Edge, Lincoln Heights, Montecito Heights, Pico Union, Adams-Normandie, Mid Cities and Mac Arthur Park.

Forgotten Edge? I can't find anyone who can tell me where it is. Have they all forgotten?
Geographically, CD1 is the 3rd smallest district in the City and is the only district in all of Los Angeles that does not border a separate municipality. 

CD1 is one of the most ethnically rich districts. According to the most recent census data, District 1 is 75.5% Latino; 15.1% Asian; 5.4% White- Non/Hispanic; 2.6% Black/African American; 1.0% Multi-racial; 0.3% American Indian and 0.1% Other.

Maybe the 0.1% Other lives in Forgotten Edge?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


I realized tonight
this is probably the closest to living in a garret
that I'm ever going to get.

Friday, July 27, 2007


Reporting from Little Tokyo, Los Angeles

I've passed by this Bronze on my endless rapturous trips into and out of the Little Tokyo Starbucks. I figured (incorrectly) that this "man on bench" was part of a city-wide series by the same artist as the "man with head in wall" over by the plaza at 8th & Figueroa.

I can honestly say I was startled by "him" only when the bench was occupied by carbon-based friends--creating the necessary juxtaposition for a true cognitive dissonance. Too bad for me that nobody sat down on the bench today for my pic.

So today, I paused. I wasn't as overly enthusiastic to get my Starbucks as I was (back in the old days) when I was rushing to work. I paused and wondered why the man was holding a pamphlet and noticed (for the 1st time) that he was Asian. At the top of the plaque was, of all things, a quote from the Talmud: "He who saves one life, saves the entire world". Followed by the unbelievable but true story of Chinune "Sempo" Sugihara. "A Japanese consul in Lithuania who issued handwritten visas to 1000's of Jewish refugees, against the express order of his government, and saved innocent lives during the Holocaust."

Why was Sempo or any Japanese man working in, of all places, Lithuania during WWII? I don't know, but there he was and he did what one man could do for Justice. And now he sits, in front of Starbucks, something we can be sure, he could never have imagined.

Credits: The sculptor: Ramon G. Velazco; I haven't found anything about the artist online. Anybody know more?


Unrelated but something else wonderful I came across on my search for LA sculptures, which led me to LA Neon Signs, etc.

In 1949, Raymond Chandler wrote in The Little Sister (via Michael Web)

 "I smelled Los Angeles before I got to it. It smelled stale and old like a living room that had been closed too long. But the colored lights fooled you. The lights were wonderful. There ought to be a monument to the man who invented neon lights."
Is Chandler God-like or what?


I wonder if the sculpture is part of one of the downtown LA tours (probably not the Raymond Chandler tour, but one never knows). The company: Esotouric "bus adventures into the secret heart of Los Angeles." This writer recently breakfasted with fellow blogger Richard Schave, husband of tour guide/founder-owner Kim Cooper.  

Disclaimer: We have no business relationship, financial or otherwise; but let me take a risk and call them my (wait for it...) partners in crime? I've been carrying around their brochure for months. Time for me to hop on that bus!

Saturday, July 21, 2007


How to Describe Happiness in Downtown LA

Anyone remember the little Charles Schultz book "Happiness is a Warm Puppy"? It came out in 1963 and was around through the early '70's. From then on "Happiness is..." became ubiquitous. At the height of the Vietnam War, the release of the Beatles White Album with it's infamous track "Happiness is a Warm Gun", reflected the transformation of America's youth from innocence to cynicism. The fab-four crooned the lyrics to a sweet 1950's "shoop shoop" tune, giving the hard edged 'I need a fix cause I'm goin' down' a painful punch.

Nearly Forty Years Later...(ouch that hurt to write)...I find myself still evoking the "Happiness Is..." form. My office sits at the corner of Olympic and Hope. A crash at the intersection is a weekly event. At each screeching stop, our office staff tense, and when there is no crunch, you can almost hear the collective sigh. When there is a crunch, a crowd runs to open the windows. One day we watched a hit-and-run (sad little car dragging it's bumper tried to limp away with newly bruised car giving chase). The race at a staggering 20 mph ended at the corner gas station when neither car could muster an other rev).

This particular week, there was a screech, it was a long screech, and then nothing. I typed on. Later there was another long screech and then nothing. "I've never heard so many of those before" I remarked to a co-worker. "They are shooting a movie" he replied.

Another misunderstanding so common now as to be unremarkable (okay I remarked, so sue me!) After all I live in a place where fiction and reality are one and the same. Later the same week, stopped at a red light, weary-eyed, I gazed at the glass windows of an office building. The windows were covered with bullet holes. Large, large bullet holes. As was the window above it and the window next to it. A man who appeared to be a window washer, carefully ran his squeegee over them. This time the reality break didn't phase me as I saw he was pasting ON the bullet hole decals, not washing off the remains. Another day, another movie.

Really it is remarkable that it is unremarkable, but I digress.

I also live on a very busy street. Each night there are one or two screeches outside my window. And "Happiness is a screech without a crunch" has become my credo.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Heard on Hope Street today over a police bullhorn:

"what do you think you're doing? this is a one way street!"

Enough said.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


I've been down with a cold for the past few days and I'm sure the Griffith Park and Catalina fires haven't helped. Worse, only an empty refrigerator awaited me in the kitchen. In desperation I beseeched a friend to bring orange juice and chicken soup. "I'm falling apart" I told her. On hearing she would come to my aide, I stood up to leave the door ajar for her arrival. Completing a series of unfortunate events, the door handle came off in my hand.

I'm resourceful, but this repair made the best of me. The door was (mercifully) already open, but the handle was not in the mood for going back on.

After fortifying my soul with chicken soup, I called a locksmith. Low and behold he arrived in twenty minutes. "You have a very good lock" he informed me. I was glad to hear I was safe behind my door. Ten minutes later, the charming man had fixed the lock. Seventy dollars later he was on his way. I closed my door and returned to bed.

As I closed my eyes, the phone rang. It was the locksmith. I had written his name wrong on the check. I went again to open the door. More Murphy's law, the door refused to open. The key would open the door (as he tested), but the door would not open from the inside.

I tossed the key to him out the window, laughing because if I hadn't written the check wrong, I would not have discovered that I was locked in. Ironic but fortunate, I had a visit from the locksmith.

He came in and again set to work on the lock. To test his work he turned the handle. Again it would not open from the inside. When I heard the door rattle we both burst into laughter. Now he was locked in too!

Chagrined to say the least, he asked for knife to pick the lock. My "good lock" opened in one second with the butter knife.

This time we tested the job from both inside and outside and happily it worked.

I said goodbye to my dubious hero and went back to bed.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


From my Lincoln Heights bedroom, what is "the first star I see tonight"? Hint: it's the color of burning sodium. Yes, the standard ghastly American street light. Such an unfortunate staple in city life, that I confess I never noticed it. blinked off. A peace came over me that could only mean that it been a constant (albeit unnoticed) source of stress.

Each night now, it blinks on for three or four minutes, and then off for three or four, and then on again. Stress. Peace. Stress. Peace.

My own personal midnight sun.

Last night the now familiar pattern changed from orange/off/orange to orange/white/off/orange. Making my streetlight more and more star-like. An old, old planet burning toward eventual destruction.

It's said that it is always darkest before the dawn, but for me, it is always brightest before the dark.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


"Well I’m heading back home it’s been so so long/It must have been ten years or more/I’m on a long lonely stretch of Route 66 but my minds in 1984/I'm walkin' down Main Street..." Walkin' Down Main Street, Dana Agnellini

"Well it winds from Chicago to LA
More than two thousand miles all the way
Get your kicks on route 66"

What lies beneath in Lincoln Heights? Ask Kim Cooper. She has a great post on her "1947 Project" site: "Historic Cobblestones Exposed in Lincoln Heights" on the 1947 Project site.

Recorded history is such a tenuous thing. A little road construction and another world is revealed. So random that Kim would walk across the street and see the original cobble stone momentarily revealed. She also risked life and limb to bring us pictures. When the road paving is finished it will be gone again.

She posted her finding on a site concerned with preserving the history of LA in 1947, although the cobblestones are not a product of 1947. She just happens to live there. Still, when you finish her post you might be intrigued by the rest of the '47 Project. This from the site bio:

"Los Angeles in 1947 was a social powder keg. War-damaged returning soldiers were threatened by a new kind of independent female, who in turn found her freedoms disappearing as male workers returned to the factories. These conflicts worked themselves out in dark ways. The Black Dahlia is the most famous victim of 1947's sex wars, but hardly the only one. The 1947project seeks to document this pivotal year in L.A., through period reporting and visits to the scenes as they are today."


Kim Cooper edits Scram, a journal of unpopular culture, and compiled anthologies on bubblegum music and the greatest records you never heard. Her latest book is “Neutral Milk Hotel’s ‘In the Aeroplane Over the Sea.’”

Sunday, March 04, 2007


For some it is "the butcher, the baker, the candle stick maker", but for moi, the artsy loft dweller, it is "the decorator, the photographer, the musician and the film maker"

Every night I come home to the same driveway, the same parking spot, the same pine trees, the same iron fire stairs. But last week, I drove in to a different view. An antlered deer head was mounted to the pine tree and underneath stood four sullen rock stars straight out of the sixties (running black eye liner, pale faces, long oily hair, heroin-thin and wearing paisley).

Our building photo artist was doing a shoot. "You're looking at rock stars", he told me. I took a hard look. I couldn't tell if they were famous rockers that I ought to be star struck by, or if he meant soon-to-be stars (after his photos shot them to the top). So I shrugged and said "hi rock stars" and trudged up the stairs.

There should be a special word for the happiness that incongruity can bring. That deer head just struck my silly bone. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. It was all gone when I came back out, the rock stars, the deer head, the photo shoot. It was just me, my parking space and the tree, back to earth.


What to do with a whimsical blue shape painted on the floor? What to do? What to do?

One year later, I have finally arrived at the combination of color and shape I was searching for.

Now to get to work on the rest of the place!

Sunday, February 25, 2007


It's a radiator, it's a light, it's chair, it's a file's the new new thing. Glorious radiator by Marco Dessi; acrylic light by Brave Design; chair by Vitra (no doubt inspired by Danish designer Verner Panton's Panton Chair); and "spinny cabinet" by Hive.

When I happen upon a pile of money (a very big pile), these are the objects de'Art that would be first on my shopping list. I would even move somewhere cold just to put that white radiator a la double helix on my wall.

Truly original, I had to post these for fear I'd lose track of these objects of my desire.

The Radiator: who would have thought this creature would be the subject of design? No sooner had I pondered this, but I came across the Bisque Radiator Awards proving once again, the limitations of my imagination.

I really have to stop reading MoCo Loco; lest I live in a perpetual state of longing.


When I saw the pictures on Craigslist, I knew this was THE place for me. Although the photos that captured me were professional shots (taken for Architectural Digest I believe), art lived up to life and I moved in 30 days later. But since that day, my friends have said that they couldn't really visualize the space I live in from said photos.
Since then I've come to really appreciate those first photos as I've struggled to catch some sort of my own. My father gave it a "shot" as well. His best captured the hallway art and entrance way (published previously in another post).

Can one live in a work of art? But of course darling! And no, I did not get the cat to match the loft.

The most interesting part has been co-existing with illusion. I, after all, being pretty much real (the fact that my Mom says "you're unreal" notwithstanding).

"Warming the place up" seems antithetical to the design. Likewise covering its flaws (the remains of the original 1800's fireplace for example) takes away the charm.

The part I resisted so much on moving in, is the constant striving towards simplicity within the constrains of "real life".

If you want to know how many colors clash with orange/red and primary blue just ask. I've come to love red as an accent only; I've come to love chartreuse; I've come to love throwing things away;

If I could just excel at this last then storage would become a non-issue.

Friday, February 23, 2007


If this isn't love...
then winter is summer
If this isn't love...
my heart needs a plumber
-- Finian's Rainbow

I've had an email subscription to Daily Candy for years now, and I have to admit I mostly just trash them. When I do peak it's a size zero fashion store or some ten-million dollar face cream. Why don't I just unsubscribe? Maybe it's because I held out hope that I'd have an email like the one I received today. I know the email probably went out to a hundred thousand Angelinos, yet I feel like I have made the most amazing discovery.

For years I've been lusting over Mies van der Rohe, Eileen Gray, Le Corbusier, Charles Eames, George Nelson, and Marcel Breuer and have often wondered who would join their company; and the answer is: Tanya Aguíñiga. From her shadow chair, to her modular lounge, to her low rider stools to her embrace chaise... she's made the modern furniture home run.

My loft-ment offers some daunting furnishing challenges. The white walls are painted with geometric shapes in primary colors (red and blue) and non-colors (black). The shapes form interesting optical illusions, forming a single object when viewed from the proper vantage point. Fabulous as they are, what is a girl to do to furnish, without clashing, a place that is essentially pre-designed?

Lucky for me, I love the pre-existing design (it's in the structure, the interior architecture, the colors). It's tempting to reside in an empty space (with maybe a single tall white floor light) and a simple white bed sans frame. In point of fact that is all it requires, but not all I require.

This is why "discovering" Aguíñiga made my heart skip a beat. In particular, the QB table seems MADE for my abode. I wonder if there was a secret collaboration (Giovannini (the lofty designer of the place I call home) and Aguíñiga)???? In any case, I feel an affinity a la great-minds-think alike.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Tonight there are two new LA blogs in town:

Blogger "Trucha" who lives and works within the urban core, shares his musings (and amusings) on city life; not the ordinary fare of LA blogettes (martini reviews, star sightings, etc. etc.), Trucha gives us the antidote with a unique perspective on the City of Angels. Read Truch's musings at: l.a. (a)musings

Then there is Dorothy, writing about The Emerald City A sparkling voice in the blogosphere, this Oz-like site is worth your perusal. If it just happens to be penned by yours truly, then I plead guilty as charged. I never tried plugging myself before, and I have to say, "hey, it's better than writing your own obituary!" I've opted for a Loft Living spin-off to keep this one "on topic". Viva la loft!

Sadly with the two newcomers, there comes a la loft "funeral": LoftLust blogger Brittany takes an "intermission" with these words:
"After much time away from this sweet blog and considerable consideration, I’ve decided that I no longer have the time or the gusto necessary to continue this site in its original and/or recent format. I’m open to suggestion for where to take LoftLust from here, though its fate is regrettably quite precarious. So consider this post a suspension of sorts, of all things familiar from this soapbox. Perhaps another day LoftLust will return to some sort of publishing schedule, with a different look, or a different purpose completely. My love for design and great products will always be there, but that affection regularly reinvents itself and what to do with it yields perpetual bemusement. So continue to have fun with what you are doing."
It's just my luck to find her blog after it's gone, but I hold out hope she leaves her site up, because it's full of delicious design tips!

So, two blog births, one funeral, and there's still time left for a wedding:

Yes, it's another pam-i-licious blog: Midnight Musings wedding thoughts that keep me up at night. Come along as I obsess on the mythological implications of overcoming fear of marriage!

Saturday, February 17, 2007


More Modern Love: The Frank Gehry Story
observations by pam ashlund, film by sydney pollack, genius by Frank Gehry

I may always be a day late and a dollar short, but today I'm reacting to Sydney Pollack's documentary Sketches of Frank Gehry by Sydney Pollack released back in May, 2006.
“Decoration is sin, that’s the mantra of modernism” Frank Gehry
"Simplicity requires a continuous shedding" Pam Ashlund
Is it cheating to quote yourself? After all if I can be presumptuous, how about Sony calling it a "Sony Classic?" Who gets to self-proclaim themselves a classic before the film is released? "Sure to be a Classic" sure, but come on... Read my last modern post to find my quote (or is that "post-modern?" Or see the flick to hear a few of Gehry's "classic" quotes.

But seriously folks, I loved this documentary "sketch". I love its message although I don't have a pithy quote for it. The message, as best I can put it, is "dare to follow your dream" "take a risk" or "jump off a cliff" and see what happens. Maybe that's a truism, maybe that only works if you have a super talent, but then again how many people have such a sense of self that they even know there's a cliff?

Want to read more of Pam's endless musings on Modernity?

Modern Love: Part I

or checkout my favorite "illusionist" architect's (Joseph Gionvannini) review by the same name:

Modern Love (October 25, 2004 Architecture Review, New York Magazine)
At the Cooper-Hewitt and Cooper Union, two exhibits highlight Modernism’s legacy

Thursday, February 15, 2007


and in NorthEast LA...What the past has to tell us about ourselves

Preface: This is going to be a long introduction folks, but I invite you to come with me as I wind my way to the lofts of downtown LA by way of Washington, D.C.

On a visit to the nations capital, I found myself in the embrace of a snowstorm, or as those of us from snowy regions know, more of a "sleet" storm. Sleet is Snow's ugly cousin, like mud is to water and earth. Then there is sleet and its byproduct: slush.

Slush regardless, I ventured out and found refuge in the 2nd Story bookstore; which was, incidentally, perfect. Complete with the smell of pipe tobacco smoke (and of course no pipe in view). Inside were rows of used books, punctuated by beautiful glass encased antique offerings (oh if only I could afford a vintage copy of Alice in Wonderland).

I was momentarily overwhelmed by the prospect of choosing a browsing topic. Cardboard signs handwritten in black marker offered categories such as "the Kennedy's!", the other signs (Civil War, Ancient Greece, etc. were not appointed with exclamation points; as if the writer was unable to contain his passion for the Kennedy section.

My own exclamation points would have been for "Pop Culture!", "Modern Furniture!" or "the Sixties!" Eventually, I ended up somewhere between "Sociology" and "Art History" and picked out a copy of "SoHo: The Rise & Fall of An Artists' Colony".

Inside I found a snippet from a 1977 article that could have been written about downtown LA in 2007. Thirty years and things are really the same (only the names have been changed...)
" is a SoHo heresy: Space, open space, is the whole thing: the reason people suffer the broken boilers and pour vast amounts of money into leaky roofs, and rotting lintels; the reason to put up with the tourists who displace locals in the old neighborhood haunts. Space. And the atmosphere created by people who needed it to work and who rescued a neighborhood only to find that they're beginning to need even more space to breathe." Ellen Bilgore, Town & Country, 1977 (from Richard Kostelanetz's recent effort "SoHo: The Rise & Fall of an Artists' Colony"
Although this is not a review of Kostelanetz's book, I have to say that reading about SoHo gave me pause. He painted a picture. To live in a building zoned only for manufacturing, to live without heat, to live without garbage pickup, to live having to hide your bed from an occasional inspector...took heart. No casual poseur would go through that much actual suffering. He made me believe there was real artistic integrity there, not just a romantic nod.

I know I wouldn't have the courage. I know that once I saw the rats or once I had to live somewhere that the elevator didn't run at night or once I had to go discretely disperse my garbage among many bins so as not to call attention to living in a place not zoned for living...that I wouldn't or couldn't go through with it.

Although it IS true that some of my friends won't visit me in my neighborhood, that I have NO elevator, that it is sometimes noisy or cold, it just isn't suffering to park my Porsche in my gated parking space and drive off to a job every morning and do my writing on a laptop over an espresso.

The other distinctive difference was that the SoHo artists weren't displacing anyone and thus didn't have to contend with the ugliness of gentrification. Even drug dealers and homeless did not live where the artists ventured.

It's true that all changed and that in a decade or two SoHo had become SoHo and it was never the same. A moment to be retroactively romanticized. But even a romantic such as me has to acknowledge there was something special there; and I know that something isn't what's happening in the gigantic developed lofts selling for $500K. That even amidst a backdrop of skid row and drug deals, that these seem to only add the impression of grit. That these buildings have doormen should be a tip off.

I know that poverty is not all it takes to be noble, but that no amount of money can buy it either.

Monday, February 12, 2007


I'm so excited (okay so I'm easily excited). Lofty Thoughts was named the "Lincoln Heights Nerd" by the LA City Nerd blog.

Back in January, the LA City Nerd blog, following the lead of "Blog Downtown" post How Would You Summarize Downtown LA. issued a couple of challenges:

  1. Craft a One Sentence Description of LA and then narrowing the scope;
  2. How Would You Describe Your Neighborhood in One Sentence?
I don't have my own just yet, but here's one that resonated (from my friend Hector):

"LA isn't a city, it's a moment"

And a '92 snippet from an anonymous friends poetry:

"Summer came to Spring Street
as something came crashing out of a third story window.
The curious few stop to wonder at its meaning,
And then move on, as if in disappointed agreement:
“It was only a chair.”

Sunday, February 11, 2007


How LA defies description, every street I turn down reveals another world. I still lose my breath occasionally, sometimes at the beauty, sometimes at the devastation and chaos, and sometimes at the unintentional wit. There is always something.

One thing I've had to come to grips with: I do not define the city, the city defines me.

The fact that I drive back and forth between Hollywood and my neck of the woods (Lincoln Heights), is a reflection on the town. Some sort of oceanic gravitational field pulls me in, and then spits me out.

Some nights I see ghosts as I drive into the darkness. Some nights, leaving the neon behind, I see the night closing in on me under the crushing reality of economic class.

But this night, (once again heading for Lincoln Heights from Hollywood via Hancock Park), I am struck by the universal sense of humor of our town.

My last glimpse of Hollywood is the decrepit piano store "Stein on Vine" (still hanging on in the run-down area where Vine literally fades away as it transforms into Rossmore).

At Larchmont the grimy Hollywood ends, the streets seem to take a breath and expand.
A row of apartments guard the perimeter of the prestigious Hancock Park area. There the 1930's art deco apartment the Mauretania, winks at me. The Mauretania...JFK's former pied 'a 'terre and alleged love nest where Marilyn and he might tryst.

Just a few blocks west sits a large Hasidic community, with Shuls on every corner. There are Persian Shuls, Russian Shuls and the “classic” eastern European variety. But could LA ever be content to allow this phenomena to occur without adding a touch of irony? On the corner stands a Honeybaked Ham store (do you think they offer a Kosher one?)

Leaving the Hasidic world and heading down La Brea, I check in on my favorite combination breakfast joint and flower store “Rita Flora”, which features the appropriately named “well stacked pancakes”.

But I digress...back to Hancock park. The wide avenues are bordered by trees that form an arch of green. The trees are punctuated by the occasional majestic African palm. As I travel further, leaving the homes of the affluent behind... the trees thin, their tops no longer touching, and finally grow increasingly sickly. The needles on the pines grow brown and the trees themselves come further and further apart until you are suddenly dumped into Koreatown. There the grim skyline of downtown L.A. appears in the distance.

These streets can no longer be aided by a tree or two, they give a fresh meaning to what used to be called the mean streets. Mean, but somehow intoxicating. Here mingle Mexican Panaderias (bakeries), Salvadorian Pupuserias (places that sell “pupusas”), Korean Barbecue, tiny mercados (markets) and Vietnamese Boba shops.

Here I sail through the outskirts of Echo Park, over the river to Lincoln Heights. My roller coaster ride through town comes to a jolting stop. The adrenaline fades, I am home.

Want another taste of Art Deco LA? Try one of the Art Deco Society's events:
February 23rd, 6:00 to 8:00 pm
Cocktails in Historic Places

Broadway Bar
830 S Broadway, Los Angeles 90014

Based on Jack Dempsey's New York bar of the same name, Broadway Bar brings 40s-style glamor downtown's burgeoning nightlife scene with antique touches and a lounge fit for a kingpin. Located right next to the Orpheum Theater, the 50-foot circle bar, the chandeliers, the upstairs lounge bar make this a particularly appealing and successful example of "creative reuse."

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Oh LA River/Fishless concrete channel
--p. ashlund

First there is a river
then there is no river

From alligator attacks in Florida, Coyotes in Beverly Hills, to Mountain Lions and Bears in backyards, the story of mans infringement on the native habitats of animals continues to play out.

In the case of the LA River, man finally beat the habitat into submission in the '50's and '60' paving it! To an environmentalist, the whole concept of flood control has no meaning. If housing wasn't built in a flood plain (even a 100 year flood plain) there would be no threat. It seems so simple, and yet...

Seemingly dead, does our River still have any hope? The LA River Master Plan proposes "yes". It seems to be a very savvy plan, to couch an environmentalist agenda in terms of "revitalizing the economy". After all, how can we build more housing on the River, if it is so darn ugly?

Bottom line? I'm for anything that removes some of that concrete. I've never known such a painful image.

Want to participate? It's not too late. Attend the final series of workshops on the draft Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan (February 24th, 27th and 28th).

Come to the meetings and learn about the five "Opportunity Areas where revitalization efforts will be focused. Public input is a critical component of the process.

Want a copy of the draft LARRMP? The Plan may be viewed online at the LARRMP website

Friday, February 02, 2007


Lookin' for love in all the wrong places...

Bought a little book on the Feng Shui of love:  Feng Shui Do's and Taboos for Love.  I can only assume it's over-simplified for pop consumption..but that I am the target audience. A once-again single, middle-class anglo girl with time on her hands (and who has $8.95 to spare for an impulse purchase).

The book offers do's and don'ts to help optimize your home for love. Intent on applying the advice as soon as possible, I poured over the text as if it might hold the answers to the universe.
My home is (as you know by now or could assume by the blog's title) a Loft. I soon found out I would have my work cut out for me!

Here are some of the do's and don'ts Angi Ma Wong offers:

  • Don't place your bed at the short wall of a pitched ceiling.

  • Do avoid geometric shapes, especially triangles in your bedroom...decor.

  • Don't make a room with irregularly angled walls your bedroom.

  • Don't choose a bedroom with high or cathedral ceilings.

  • Don't choose a home in which the master bedroom is in the front of the house facing the street. It should be protected in the rear.

    To appreciate the relevance of this to my abode check out pics of the loft in question in these earlier posts:



  • Angi goes on to warn:

    Don't adorn your home with morbid or depressing ...images

    Hmmm, do you think the skeleton wedding couple counts? Let's just say I have put away my Dia del los Muertos objects just in case.

    A side note: Back in the early 90's I took a Feng Shui course of the discipline known as the Black Hat school. The teachers (two Berkeley-esque white guys) were a little defensive about their right to teach this traditionally secret material. After a disturbing experience after chanting the "Kundalini rising" prayer to raise energy, and the "heart opening" prayer to open to the pain of the universe, I decided the objectors might have a point.

    I do recommend the following book (as opposed to the pop version above) for those interested in a less superficial pursuit of the art of Feng Shui. At first glace this book appears to be an interior decoration/feng shui text, but instead is filled with the rituals, chants and intents almost never addressed in the Feng Shui Fad Books.

    Thursday, February 01, 2007


    Originally, I met her at at a Christmas Crafts Fair. I came to buy gifts for friends, but all that went out the window when I saw the jewelry.

    At the table by the door sat a beautiful young lady, Lisa Rocha, the owner/jewelry maker of Ilaments.

    She was charming and her work was stunning. I went straight for a pair of drop earrings. She told me that they symbolized balance. She had me at "balance". They must have been one of kind because they aren't featured on the website (those pictured to the left are the same stone, but not the style mentioned).

    The stone was Carnelian, which is said to have the capacity to calm a troubled spirit and bring about inner peace.

    I was also drawn to a silver link bracelet, with a carved red wooden heart charm. Part of her Day of the Dead “Cempazuchitl” Collection.

    As I picked it up to admire, she smiled and said "A kind of Latina Tiffanys yes?".

    “Cempazuchit -Nahuatl word meaning “the flower with four hundred lives” referring to it’s seeds. Marigolds are a significant symbol for Day of the Dead and are known as the “flower of the dead”. Their scent is believed to attract the souls and draw them back home.

    It's not too late to own a limited edition piece, and on sale too!

    For more info call: 323.257.2512 or
    Go to

    Tuesday, January 30, 2007


    "Nowhere to run to, nowhere to hide"
    Martha and the Vandellas

    There's a pattern to the challenges of living in a loft space. The available space is vertical, the space is open, the mundane objects of existence must be stored in plain sight. The nature of the beast demands attention be paid to the placement of every object. I find it alternately challenging and aggravating.

    No matter how sparse I keep it, no matter how carefully placed each object is, there is always something jarring. Simplicity requires a continuous shedding.

    The balance of functionality and beauty is a dance whose feet I frequently step on. The first rung of choice: keep or discard and the second: placement. That was why I lined up my martini glasses. I just didn't want to throw them away!

    They'd been sitting there upside down for many moons when a houseguest came to visit. She stayed home while I was at work and always cleaned the kitchen to earn her keep. When I came home (to a spotless kitchen) I saw that she had carefully placed a colored cocktail umbrella on each of the glasses.

    They really were a thing of beauty.

    Here I was always so focused on subtractions and she made an addition to such a delight. I marvel when I meet someone with that "eye" for detail. When they arrange it, it seems obvious, as if it had been put in the only place it could be.

    For me it is mostly an effort that comes from inspiration by others (and sometimes imitation). I've only met a few with this gift, my sister and two of my friends. But every time I witness it, it brings me back down to my place among the humans. Humbled and impressed.

    Here it is (from several view points), may I introduce...the work of Sara Zuniga:

    Monday, January 29, 2007


    One of the joys of living in LA is discovering the great shortcut. I hope the oft repeated notion that people will actually refuse to share these secret routes is an urban myth. What would the rationale be? Fear of some sort of stampede that would turn aforementioned shortcut into a traffic jam?

    Since Lincoln Heights sits at the center of the famous Glendale Junction, it would appear to offer access to every area of Los Angeles. It is after all a place where seemingly all the major freeways of Los Angeles converge. Somehow I have failed to find a satisfying way over to Hollywood...and happened. I found the perfect shortcut.

    Here it is in all it's glory: Jump on the 5 North, zip up to 134, take the Forest Lawn exit and sail down to Barham, which flows into Cahuenga, which flows into Franklin, which deposits you promptly on Sunset Blvd. Voila. I was no longer a world apart.

    Like any secret route, I had to run it many times before I got the kinks out. One false move and you wind up in Burbank or stuck in a traffic jam at Highland and Hollywood Blvd.

    Because driving at a cruising speed is a rarely experienced pleasure, I've come to really enjoy this run, especially at night. Forest Lawn, so named as it traces the border of its namesake, the Forest Lawn Cemetery. Appropriately, the road is as dark as an old country road, and curves gracefully across the miles of this peaceful place of eternal rest.

    The remains of Bette Davis are entombed here, adorned by her epitaph "She did it the hard way".

    Each night drive home, just as I come up the hill, I see the arch of an entryway, and it's white marble sign with its tag line prominently displayed. It reads: "One call or visit arranges all".

    Better a truism there never was. One visit is all it takes.

    Sunday, January 28, 2007


    Enough complaining already! One of my co-workers heard me b---ing about the sick trees on my block. "Well if you want to learn about trees how about getting out there this weekend?"

    Oh wow, you know me, I can't back down from a challenge.

    The crews were out planting 37 trees in Boyle Heights. I participated in getting two of them in the ground.

    Things I learned about myself: 1) I can't swing a pick axe to save my life; 2) this might well have been the first time I used a shovel; 3) I prefer accounting!

    Yes, yes, I did feel closer to nature, but more importantly I feel a lot more hopeful about my ability to help "my" trees on Broadway.

    Friday, January 19, 2007


    Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...
    Time to write "I love my loft" on the blackboard 100 times.

    Looking over the street from my second floor perch gives me an eagles eye view of the world outside. Fearing inhaling the car exhaust, I don't open my window until the evening. I can tell it's all clear when I see the neon blue and red of the taqueria blink off for the night.

    I sit by the window and listen to the quiet interrupted by the sights and sounds of the evening street. Occasionally the loud sucking sound of two gentlemen and their crack pipe. Sometimes I watch a man standing on the curb peering intently at his open cell phone. As a car drives by he steps back into the darkness and as it passes, back to the curb.

    Last night by the window talking on the phone to my sister, the smell of "smoke" wafted up. "I think I'm catching a buzz Sis," as I burst out laughing.

    "I swear I didn't inhale" (wink wink) I told her presidentially.

    Just then my loud doorbell buzzed. "Identify yourself" I ordered. The familiar voice of my friend Jon, doing a poor imitation of a Monty Python dude, called out "It's a crack addict! Can I have some crack?" Sorry that's down the block now!

    That was when it occurred to me: the intercom as social intervention. Now, when the mood strikes me, I push the "talk" button and intone "This is God speaking, step away from the doorway!!!"

    I love my loft, I love my loft, I love my loft...


    Welcome to Lofty Thoughts!

    If you’ve just landed here, Lofty Thoughts launched in July, 06. The blog is devoted to observations about loft living in Lincoln heights; especially the natural contradictions created by gentrification. I'm still in wonder of the neighborhood that envelopes me and the work of art I live in.

    If you aren't a subscriber yet and want to catch up, here are a few highlights by topic to get started:





    loft /lɔft, lɒft/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[lawft, loft]

    • a room, storage area, or the like within a sloping roof; attic; garret.
    • an upper story of a business building, warehouse, or factory, typically consisting of open, unpartitioned floor area.
    • such an upper story converted or adapted to any of various uses, as quarters for living, studios for artists or dancers, exhibition galleries, or theater space.
    • Also called loft bed: a balcony or platform built over a living area and used esp. for sleeping.
    Here I am writing a blog about Lincoln Heights Loft Living and I have yet to write a post on the Lofts of Lincoln Heights. Solipcistically, the only Loft I've featured is the one I dwell in. So let me correct that...

    First let's talk nomenclature: Loft - an apartment with a "Loft", something maybe built in an old warehouse, maybe just the bed is above the rest of the room, just to maximize limited space..maybe originated in New York?

    Now, my apartment, a cross breed, an apartment that is loft-like having some of the features of a loft, and some of an apartment, thus a "Loft-ment". Definitely a re-purposing of a building which has sat on Broadway since the 1800's. I get a kick out of living on part of the original route 66.

    In stark contrast, there is Puerto del Sol, newly built complex, a hybrid of apartments, condos, low-income house and senior living. Took a tour of some of the condo units last month. The condos advertised as "Lofts" hardly seemed to qualify. Just doesn't seem right that you build something new and call it a Loft. At least some of the units had a "loft". The work seemed shoddy, the units had those plastic hardwood floors, an elevator that "wasn't working yet"; a courtyard that screamed "I'm a development".

    Am I alone in thinking that you can't make a loft from scratch? Something is just so wrong. Especially annoying was the day I got caught in the infamous CD 1 speedtrap on Spring Street. After writing me a ticket, the cop leaned an elbow on my window and said "so...ya live over in those lofts?". God! You can give me a ticket OR you can flirt, but you can't do both.

    I wanted to scream "those aren't lofts!" and yes I live over there, but in a REAL loft. Sigh. I decided it was better not to press my luck and just get the h*** out of there.

    Wednesday, January 17, 2007


    Every morning I look out my window; if it's a clear day I have a beautiful view of the downtown skyline. But even it's not a clear day, I gaze upon the face of "Our Lady of Lincoln Heights". This beautiful painting is displayed on banners all along Broadway and Main Street. But until today I did not know the artists identity.

    An anonymous Lofty Thoughts reader clued me in. The artist who brought us "Our Lady" is Irene Carranza. I am awestruck by her work; checkout her gallery.

    Her painting, Cariño Maternal, won the 2001 Mujer Award.

    Her work is currently showing at Carlotta's Passion in Eagle Rock. I missed the reception last Saturday, but I will be there before the showing ends on February 14th!

    All Hail Irene!

    See my original post at: Our Lady of Lincoln Heights

    Monday, January 15, 2007


    "The sun is shining.
    The grass is green.
    The orange and palm trees sway.
    There's never been such a day
    In Beverly Hills, L.A.
    But it's December the twenty-fourth,
    And I'm longing to be up north." from the "lost" first verse of "White Christmas"

    I haven’t had a camera around lately and so I’ve been taking some mental “shots”. They exist in my memory just as I had captured them on film, sadly, I can not share them with others, in fact I can’t really keep them at all, as they were moments, gone and unlikely to be repeated. Here are a few:
    • Lincoln Heights, today, Saturday, January 13, 2007, walking home down North Broadway from the LA Bakery with my morning coffee. I walked about a block behind a man in a cowboy hat. Even from behind I knew he was a vaquero—the Mexican variety of cowboy. His gait was bowed (as from a lifetime of riding a horse). His hat was red (i.e. decorative not functional), and he sported a matching red scarf in his back pocket. What really struck me was that as I saw this figure ahead of me, was a mental flash I had, of the archetypal western cowboy. “There’s only room in this town for one of us” I thought. The reason? He walked with his arms away from his body, bowed similar to his legs, as if poised to reach for a pair of pistols. John Wayne would have approved. And me without my camera. 
    • I was heading for my ex’s house, traveling down Alameda from Downtown towards South Gate. The neighborhood (if could call this industrial strip a hood) gets increasingly (shall we say) rough. Here vendors walking the median strip are common place, selling anything and everything, from socks to incense. But it was nearing Christmas and the goods were aimed at last minute shoppers. At a stop light, up walked a heavy set Mexican vendor, leather bag slung over his shoulder, and on his hand…a bright yellow duck puppet. The ducky was so cute and fluffy, and the man so grimy and gruff, I couldn’t stop laughing, which unfortunately only encouraged the salesman, who then quacked his duck with ever more fervor. I would have died to have a camera with me for that one.
    • I made a wrong turn coming home from just before Christmas, and ended up driving through Burbank I came to the intersection of the roads, a brightly lit area, and noticed a crowd gathering. I looked over and saw a brand new red Miata convertible with the top down, driven by Santa Claus. Only in LA, Santa in a Miata (which makes me wonder what it would be in Northern California: Santa in a Prius? – in Chicago, Santa in a Buick? - In Manhattan? Santa in a Taxi? There is such potential here.
    • A tall black man dressed in red from head to toe. A red suit, red hat, red socks, red shoes. I really, really wanted a pic of him, because my father has a great shot of what he calls the “blue man”, shown at right, and it would have totally cracked him up. If only I could have had a shot of "red man". Too bad. You'd think I'd learn!

    Sunday, January 14, 2007


    Before enlightenment chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. -Wu Li

    What would Wu Li say if he lived in Los Angeles Lincoln Heights neighborhood? How about: Dead Tree, Broken Meter?

    In April of 2003, Council District 1, City of LA, planted five trees on North Broadway. The budget was small, small enough that the trees that were planted were only 15 gallon plants, not the 24" boxed trees that the downtown lofts have ponied up for. Price difference? Under $100 for the 15 gallon's; $250-$750 for 24-36" boxed.

    The 15 gallon tree is the minimum size the City of LA's Street Tree's Division permits; and the trees shall be secured to the stake with two rubber trees ties (as you can see, ours have only one tie.

    Here's the 2007 tree report (four year update):

    The tree on the East side of the street in front of the gas station: snapped in half (vandal? car impact?). The tree was removed (source unknown, the gas station owners, the city, a passer-by?). Tree's on the west side of the street: Of the four trees, one dead, three sickly. We can only hope that the semi-living trees rebound come the spring.

    I could go on and on about what's wrong with the town but..What's good in the City? Tree People

    Their mission? " inspire the people of Los Angeles to take personal responsibility for the urban forest..".

    Consider me inspired.

    Friday, January 12, 2007


    Boba-boba, fa-boba, Boba! In Chinatown the other day (for the Jackie Chan film festival) I ordered a smoothie. "Would you like Boba with that?" the proprietor asked. What the heck?

    Boba, I now know, is an interesting thing, part food group, part desert. I would describe Boba as a small gelatinous ball made of tapioca. These little balls rest at the bottom of your drink (iced coffee, fruity drinks, etc.) and are chewed slowly after slurping your drink. Unfortunately the straws are so wide that one can (as I did on my first try) suck one straight through the straw into ones windpipe!In large parts of LA, the Boba place has supplanted the coffee shop. Even places that still call themselves coffee shops offer Boba.

    The Boba stores have names like: Bobalicious, Boba World, Bobapioca and the perfectly cross-cultural (and my personal favorite) Boba-loca.

    Perhaps this delight might sound more appealing if one thinks of them as gummy-bears (but not as good). Boba is sometimes known as “bubble tea” or “pearl tea” and is typically served in iced tea, now can be found resting at the bottom of anything from a strawberry smoothie to a cafe latte.

    There is even a web site called boba-fate which offers (if you can deign to email them a photo of your Boba, (and by-the-way they suggest you use your camera phone for this)) a fortune-teller to study and interpret your Boba image. You will receive a return email with your fortune (in less than a day)! How about that? I can’t say I ever considered my future might lie in a Boba (except that one that landed in my windpipe)!

    Thursday, January 11, 2007


    Anybody know who she is? The artist I mean.

    I never stop marveling at the existence of a winery in the Los Angeles city limits. Kind of ironic that I moved all the way from Sonoma County (wine country) to land within a mile of a winery!

    Monday, January 08, 2007


    Defying logic, every once in a while I still get lost in Lincoln Heights. This time the goal was to find the Macy's furniture outlet. At the point where Broadway branches into North and South Mission Blvd. I made the wrong choice. It was twilight as I cruised over the bridge past the beautiful Lincoln Heights park. For the first time I saw open space instead of urban grit. I had a flash of times past, a time when Lincoln Heights was the chic "IT" place to live.

    It was getting dark, and I drove a while and when I reached Soto, I circled back down Mission. It was after work and I was getting tired, so I ditched the Outlet quest. In the darkness, the glow of a large red LED sign caught my eye. Words scrolled by...Los Angeles County Coroner.

    I had to wonder, on the heels of my recent encounter with a coyote, was somebody trying to tell me something? Maybe this is how the angel of death lets you know it's time....with a message on a scrolling LED sign. Anybody remember Steve Martin's talking sign in "LA Story"?

    The message scrolled by, and another appeared: Visit

    "Somebody is pulling my leg!" I thought. Why in the world would a coroner have to advertise? It's not like they need to drum up business and even if they did, how exactly would that be accomplished by a website?

    Laughing all the way, I couldn't help rushing back home to my computer to check out the website. Just when you think you've seen everything...there it was at the top of the page: "Skeletons in the Closet--for those of us with dubious taste". I'll let you see for yourself, but in case you don't have the time (or have good taste), you are invited to open the closet. Inside you will find such cheesy options as "BOOverley Hills Drive, Pacific Ghost Highway, Earthly Remains", etc.

    The point of all these corny puns? A store of course. I have to admit, I have my eye on a toe-tag keychain. Can I interest anybody in a "Body Bag" garment bag to carry their suit on the next business trip? Try that one on homeland security!

    Mercifully, profits go to a drunk driving prevention program for young people. Whew!

    Now you know what I want for Christmas next year!


    I heard a howl on Broadway last night. Yep, you heard right, howl. I had the TV on low while a car commercial ran. I figured the howl was part of the commercial and disregarded. Then it came again. Awooooooooooooooooo. It's true I have my share of drunk guys stumbling out of the Social Club downstairs, and so far I've heard a few songs belted out, but never a howl. I looked at the television, no sign of a werewolf.

    Awooooooooooooooo. That time the howl scared me. I ran over to the window and pulled up the blind just in time to see a dog running across the street to the gas station. I felt a chill, fearing that the poor baby had been hit by a car. As I watched, he stopped by a pump, sat down and raised his head and howled. He didn't look hurt. He howled again and then loped away into the dark neighborhood.

    Loped? Loped. Not ran off. That's when it occurred to me that maybe it wasn't a dog. Had I had a wolf sighting on Broadway? It looked like a wolf, it howled like a wolf, it loped like a wolf. Dog or Wolf? Or...a Coyote.

    I admit I'm a bit of a Castaneda fan and even superstitious on occasion. Maybe it was a vision? my spirit animal come a calling to remind me that there was still mystery in the world. Howling to tell me to turn off my television. I obeyed.

    But in the morning, the timer turned the TV back on. There on the news ran a teaser: "Coyotes in Los Angeles? More at the end of the hour".

    This from the Associated Press:

    The number of reported coyote sightings has increased in West Hollywood, the Hollywood Hills and Beverly Hills, officials said Thursday.There have been about seven coyote sightings in the last seven to 10 days, said Sam Baxter, West Hollywood's facilities manager.

    I didn't report the Lincoln Heights sighting. Who says only the rich people see Coyotes?

    Sunday, January 07, 2007


    Cultural diversity is one of the things I love about living in Lincoln Heights (and LA in general). Our area is a mish-mosh of ethnicities. A bit of self-segregation happened at the opening of the new State Historic Park (Phase I). I sat to the left of the aisle and looked over to the right and saw a beautiful display of parasols across from me:
    The scene led me to ponder the origins of this custom. Tonight with the photo above in mind, I checked out "umbrella"on WikiPedia ( know, I know, by its very nature it's a fallible source), but veracity aside, I really enjoy it.. You can read the whole thing yourself at WP, but here's a slightly hacked quote:
    The...umbrella (was) ancient China, roughly 1,700 years ago. The Chinese character for umbrella is 傘 (san) ...a pictograph resembling the modern umbrella... (The) tradition(of carrying an umbrella) ...originated in ...banners waving in the air, (and) the use of the umbrella was often linked to high ranking (though not necessarily royalty) in China."

    I myself thought it was something more simple, like keeping out of the sun.