Friday, March 30, 2007

6th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival

Little Tokyo will hold their annual Cherry Blossom Festival on Saturday, March 31 and Sunday, April 1.

Mother Nature is providing pleasant Summer-like weather; there will be everything from food and cultural performances to art exhibitions and martial arts demonstrations.

...and cherry blossoms, too, of course. The James Irvine Garden, tucked behind the JACCC is one of the best kept secrets in Los Angeles. I can't for the life of me understand why more people don't visit it, but just as well it never gets very crowded.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

These links are not for the weak of heart, but required viewing for anyone who considers themselves an American

The sales department of the Associated Press asked on January 16, 2007 that 4,000 images of Iraqi killed or maimed hosted by Cryptome be removed. The images came from the Associated Press archive at the New York Public Library, and are free to members. Methods for obtaining a library card for online access to the collections are described here:
Once given a pin number with the card, log onto AP images here:
Cryptome offers a free DVD (190MB) of the iraq-kill-maim collection to public and edu libraries which do not have access to the Associated Press archive. Send requests to
Adapted from the website. Clicking on the header at the top of this post will take you to a page about former Staff Sargent Eric Alva on the Human Rights Campaign website.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Ben Ferrer 1960 - 2007

The best tribute to Ben is probably to be found in his work. What his portfolio won't show you, however, is how Ben used to make my mother laugh. I am forever grateful for every moment of entertainment he gave her.

Ben will be fondly remembered by all who were privileged to share his company, watch him perform, or enjoy his artistry.

Saroyan Town Walk in Fresno, April 21, 2007

The William Saroyan Society will lead their annual walking tour of sites related to the life and work of William Saroyan through the heart of Fresno's old town on Saturday, April 21st. Click on the header at top for more information.

Call the Iraqi "insurgents" what they really are: anti-Islamic hoodlums who have killed more Muslims than the West for the past millenium

Friday, March 23, 2007

Gay's the Word Bookshop in need of support

Gay's the Word Bookshop, the premiere gay and lesbian bookstore in the United Kingdom, is facing the same challenges that have caused so many American booksellers to shut their doors. They're not going without a fight, however. Click on the header at top to go to their website.

If London, which considers itself to be one of the world's most foremost literary cities, filled as it is with more than half a millenium of literary history, can't keep one of it's more important independent bookstores open, then the result will be considerably more ominous than the sun setting on the British Empire.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The New Seven Wonders of the World

Time is running out to get your vote in on the "New Seven Wonders of the World." The "New Seven Wonders" will be announced on July 7, 2007. Thus far, most people seem to still be thinking in an out-dated idea of just what the seven wonders ought to be.

Click on the header at top to go to the New Seven Wonders of the World website. And get thinking.

Memo to the suits at ABC

I've had it up to here with that little animation of dancers that keeps appearing on my favorite shows. Do you put in on during the news, too? There are certain programs which are just not going to have the same potential audience. This is no way to garner interest in your dumb show. It's easily the most irritating television animation since the Ali McBeal dancing baby craze started.

Luckily, I've got books a-plenty to read in the meantime. Not everyone who turns on the tube, after all, spends all day, every day staring at whatever crap the networks deem to throw at us.

By the same token, I've grown paranoid about even mentioning which shows I do like, since they seem to get killed off faster than you can say "Who's really buried in Ken Lay's grave?"

There have been more brave souls around Hollywood of late who question the methodology that the networks employ to determine the actual number of television viewers, but no one expects (openly) for there to be any radical overhaul of the system by which Hollywood gauges ratings.

In a real departure of the "speak no evil" policy in this company town, the LA Times even did a piece on how irrelevant those little statuettes are to a movie's long-standing popularity. They even intimated that the nonsensical game of judging everything by opening weekend numbers may be erroneous-- although they didn't explore the means by which such numbers are manipulated.

I just want to throw out to some bored-out-your-skin e-geek out there (and we know you're out there) that you give ABC a taste of their own medicine and hack into their network feed, and put those damn dancing fools someplace that will bring the issue to the bigwig's attention. If we don't do something now to display the immediate potential for viewer backlash, there will only be more of those damn things in the future to come.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

"The Perfect Fake" by Barbara Parker

Anyone who knows me knows I love maps. And I love mysteries. Especially by Miami authors.

I had the good fortune to be covering the Miami International Book Fair the year that Barbara Parker's first mystery was published, and I've read every one since then as soon as I could get my hands on it.

"The Perfect Fake," Parker's newest mystery, not only centers around Miami and maps, but the Miami International Map Fair, which is kind of like the ultimate Star Wars fan convention for lovers of maps. I doubt that anyone in Miami is better suited than Barbara Parker to craft a first rate page turner from it.

My only mistake was starting it as we went through Daylight Savings Time, as it is one of those books that makes you hang on for just one more chapter a couple of times over before going to bed.

If there's one question I hear posed to mystery authors as opposed to most writers of fiction, it's the old stand-alone or series conundrum. Here, Parker has deftly shown she can give her series heroine a rest as she returns to a stand alone, yet keeping her beloved Gail Connor conected to the story, but just out of sight.

The only thing that sucks about reading books is that they take a year or more to write and can be devoured in a matter of hours.

And Miami is so far away at times....

If you click on the header at top you'll be taken to a picture of one of the scenes from The Perfect Fake. It's not Miami, but I won't give away any more of a spoiler. Click on the link to the left for Barbara Parker's website for a bunch of cool visuals that go with the book. It'll soon be evident why Barbara Parker is one of my favorite authors!


Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
Maria Shriver

are pleased to invite

The California Recovery Team
Advisory Council

to their home in
Brentwood, California

for a
Cocktail Reception
Wednesday, April 25, 2007

and the
California Recovery Team
Executive Committee

Cocktails and Dinner
Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Founding Members to the Executive Committee
who make a minimum donation of $250,000
may rest assured that not one red cent of their donation
will go to helping California schools or the environment

...and maybe you can help decide just what the heck it is that California has to recover from

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

2007 Asian Pacific American Book Festival "Celebrating Stories, Transforming Lives"

On Saturday, May 12, 2007, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., the 2007 Asian Pacific American Book Festival will take place at the Japanese American Museum in Little Tokyo.

The authors involved at this point include Noel Alumit, Cecilia Brainard, Sesshu Foster, Naomi Hirohara,
Russell Leong, David Mas Masumoto, and Rick Noguchi.

Firehouse Dog

I just ran into Scotch Ellis Loring who told me he's contributed music to the movie, "Firehouse Dog", due out April 4 (he's in the film as well!). Check it out!

What were they thinking?, Part Two

A number of local papers reported on the recent tragic death of a 29-year-old adult film star because of his steroid abuse. Maybe I'm overly sensitive to the way it was covered, but it seems that as much or more was said about how great he looked dying at 29 (!) as about the consequences of his abuse of steroids. I have to say, I'd never heard of the young man before his death was announced, but his was not the first, nor I fear, the last, casualty of steroid abuse I'll hear of.

Given a choice between "dying like Elsie" or living, I think I'll choose the later.

For the "What were they thinking?" file

The Los Angeles City Planning Department isn't making many friends with their decision regarding the preservation of industrial space in downtown Los Angeles.

Granted, I wasn't privy to the process which lead to their decision, but even without being affected as a stakeholder in the outcome, there seems to be a lack of "big picture thinking at play here. For one thing, the industrial zone to the east and south of downtown Los Angeles is a vestige of an age when it was on the outskirts of town... now that same area is surrounded by the urban megapolis. The changes in industrial land use may make the region less feasible for heavy industry than it was a century or more ago. The intransigence of the Planning Department in regard to residential use not only shows a closed-mind attitude for the 21st century vision of the city, it also doesn't take into account that some of the land they wish to "preserve" for industrial space was at one time residential. And no one can deny that if there is a critical shortage of industrial space in Los Angeles, the availability of affordable housing is even more acute. Perhaps the Planning Department has a way for the future workers in the industrial section to commute from Arizona.

As San Francisco, Minneapolis, Miami, and many other cities have found, the areas previously utilized for industry have proven adaptable to high-tech firms, and new ways of comfortably
mixing live-work space as opposed to single-use zoning. Given the changes in the Southern California industrial landscape, I'm not sure the Planning Department even has a firm grasp of who the willing industrial users of the area would be --if they still exist at all.

Sam Hall Kaplan, in the March 12 edition of the Los Angeles Downtown News, wrote a brilliant (as always) piece on the subject. As he knows most of the players and the process with both an insider's and a professional and academic viewpoint few others possess, it would do the public officials (and anyone interested in the future of cities) to read his column.

As for the rest of us, get some popcorn and a comfy seat to watch the jousting among the players as this drama plays out.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

John Inman 1935 - 2007

John Inman, the actor who delighted American audiences in the long running BBC series, "Are You Being Served," has been remembered around the world for his long and varied career. I'd much rather see Entertainment Tonight or one of the other info-tainment shows dedicate an hour special on him than any wanna-be celebrity whose chief claim to fame was merely being ...famous.

And at least John Inman could act.

Inman was survived by his partner of 35 years, Ron Lynch, which is in and of itself an achievement that should be honored.

Peace is Every Step Peacewalk on March 17

The fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq will be observed by a walking meditation at the International Buddhist Meditation Center, 928 South New Hampshire Avenue, in Los Angeles, on Saturday, March 17th, beginning at 9 a.m.

Click on the header above for more information.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

It's Time Again for ArtNight Pasadena March 9

14 venues throughout Pasadena will throw open their doors for free on Friday, March 9, from 6 to 10 p.m., the city of Pasadena once again presents ArtNight Pasadena, with shuttles running continuously between the various sites. Over the years, I've found myself drawn more to the smaller sites --especially those featuring student art-- as opposed to the more traditional locales such as the Norton Simon, but one of the fun aspects of the event is that you're never pre-committed to any particular itinerary or order ...and the one expectation to keep in mind is that you can't see it all, so enjoy what you do see and forgive yourself for not getting to anything you didn't.

Click on the header above for a link to the ArtNight website.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Global Warming and San Francisco

In reading about the effect that sinking fill is having on San Francisco, coupled with global warming, I couldn't help but notice how similar the projections are for The City to the 19th century shoreline. Apparently, the sewers are already having a problem with salt water in some of the low-lying parts of town!

It's especially poignant given that glossy cover photo on last month's San Francisco magazine, showing all those pie-in-the-sky SoMa highrises in various stages of planning or construction. You don't want to "get in on the ground floor," so to speak.

I guess the bay will eventually reclaim that which was taken away from it over the past 150 years.

If anyone doubts this, they need only look at a photograph of the Valencia Hotel from the 1906 earthquake...