Posts tagged: Los Angeles

I Love (Downtown) L.A.

By , May 14, 2011 8:19 am

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240162_569519637798_187702431_31872518_1623658_oYesterday I attended the CTA rally in Pershing Square to protest the massive budget cuts to education in our great state of California.

The event provided me yet another opportunity to traverse downtown Los Angeles, a neighborhood that I am coming to love more and more.

Some observations:

  • The downtown architecture is stunning, especially if you are standing in the right places.
  • Despite all evidence to the contrary, there IS free parking available. Buy me a drink next time we’re out and I’ll divulge my secret spots.
  • A friend had once randomly told me that the restrooms at The Omni were amazing. Turns out he was right.
  • There are at least 2 Irish pubs downtown, although neither one really seems to compare to the one in Mid-City.
  • Walking back to my car I passed Two California Plaza, the 72nd tallest building in the United States. Way up high was a pair of window washers. The sun was setting, the air was cool, pedestrian and automotive traffic was almost nonexistent, and standing there looking up in the serene silence of the moment, I realized once again, how much I love this city.

8 years left

By , March 29, 2011 4:11 pm

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So apparently our City Councilmembers have never seen Blade Runner and don’t know just what they’ve gotten themselves into.

(…as long as I get a flashlight umbrella, I won’t complain too loudly…)

Guess My New Favorite Road – Win a Prize!

By , March 5, 2011 3:24 pm

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Once in a while, I do need to de-stress a bit. After an incredibly boring local district meeting all day Thursday, I needed to escape. Luckily, I happen to live in a place that thrives on escapism, not just in the stories that Hollywood presents to us as alternative realities, but also in terms of our amazing geography which, although being densely urban, borders some stunningly beautiful escapes from the urban sprawl. And best of all, thanks to my new smart phone’s GPS feature, I feel free to explore new places and new roads without the fear of getting lost.

And so I hit the road, and in doing so, went for an amazing drive in which I discovered the road pictured above, which is the most fun driving I’ve had in years! So much so that I felt compelled to share it here on this blog.

However, let’s make this a little bit more fun for my Angeleno readers. I’ll post my newly discovered road in my next blog post, but until then, I’m offering the prize of a beverage your choice to the first person who can correctly identify my new favorite road (pictured above)!

Good luck!

****************************************************************************

Meat Loaf – Bat Out of Hell

Smiling through your teeth

By , October 12, 2010 8:39 pm

Radiohead – Fake Plastic Trees

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A green plastic watering can, a fake Chinese rubber band…”, he began singing to himself as he stepped outside into the cool night air. The silent swish of southbound Grand Avenue traffic soared past, and the buildings on the opposing side of the street framed one’s presence with both modern Angelino sensibilities and Eastern-bloc kitsch.

True story.

In 2004, I enrolled at the Loyola Marymount University School of Education, mostly because it was what all my Teach For America buddies were doing at the time, and like any good post-collegiate succumbing to educational and aspirational (spell check doesn’t seem to think “aspirational” is a word. Well, it is now) peer pressure. Two years later, in 2006, I emerged, generally unscathed yet not significantly better prepared to be teaching my inner city students mathematics (in spite of the framed piece of paper now hanging in my office classroom suggesting the contrary).

Yet for all its foibles, LMU succeeds in its scheduling of semi-annual “networking” events in which school of education alumni and “friends” (think donors or friendly board members of charter, and Catholic school organizations) come together and schmooze for a few hours at the L.A. City Club on Bunker Hill.

While inherently not so valuable, it is certainly interesting to see exactly who is attempting to shape the educational conversation that is happening in Los Angeles, particularly within the charter/TFA/Catholic movements inherent within the city. In addition to being solicited to application to the LMU doctoral program (thanks, but no thanks), at least three individuals were interested in getting a teacher’s take on the whole L.A. Times / value-added fiasco.

What is absolutely refreshing about rehashing this now-somewhat-oldish (two months is a lifetime in the L.A. news cycle) conversation is that it’s absolutely wonderful to talk to open-minded, level-headed folks, many of whom I would desperately disagree with. Yet, the opportunity to re-open dialogue where we can see past partisanship is really the key changing educational policy in this city and in this country. Coming to “networking” reminds me that that are others committed to improving education for our kids.

Plus, the open bar sure helps.

Grassroots

By , July 28, 2010 5:47 pm

Passion Pit – Dreams

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In just thirty short minutes, I head out the door, walk for approximately 94 seconds and attend my local neighborhood meeting.

My hope, dare I say it, my dream is that something slightly more productive than neighbors ranting about the feral cats that seem to be overtaking the neighborhood (hey, at least they’re only cats, and not Starbucks stores).

On the positive side, the neighborhood does seem to have its act together insofar as we’ve successfully gotten overnight parking restrictions to be enacted on our street (keeping non-residents from parking vehicles long term in our precious parking places). Not only this, but representatives from both the LAPD and the LA City Council often grace us with their presence at their meetings. When little communities start to make noise, the folks in power start to listen.

My hope is that noise is something a bit more than “MEOW!!!!”

Going and Doing

By , July 16, 2010 2:02 pm

Jónsi – Go Do

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This picture makes me want to get up off my butt and go explore L.A. I get to do that a little bit this weekend, as today and tomorrow take me on:

Three

Separate

Trips

to Griffith Park, an amazing oasis of pines, trails, and views in the city.

Vibratissimo

By , June 19, 2010 9:19 am

Wagner – Vorspiel from Das Rheingold

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Even six years of living in this town still brings its fair share of “firsts” as last evening I attended my first opera, Wagner’s Das Rheingold, the first part in the massive four-part Ring Cycle that my little town is undertaking with both great ambition and reckless economic abandon.

While the music sits firmly in the mid- to late-19th century Romantic tradition (a musical adjective that all too often sends many of my friends running to the hills), the costumes of last night could only be described as nothing short of dreamlike Tim Burton-esque-with-a-hint-of-Star-Wars. In other words, as one of my frequently opera-going colleagues put it, “eurotrash”.

In all honesty, the opera was amazing, even if it bordered on sensory overload. Complex romantic chord progressions, layers of character and thematic leitmotifs, redonkulous costumes, and supertitles that were only visible on an adjacent wall of the auditorium made the 160 minute performance quite an endeavor to follow. But I guess that’s what opera is basically like.

My only complaint is that I discovered that in opera, since the actors and singers must take the entire stage, the orchestra is thusly relegated to a pit, which significantly limits the scope and power of their volume. The pre-recorded clips played at the conductor’s pre-performance talk were themselves louder than the musical strains coming from the opera itself, a reality which I found a bit disappointing.

Oh well. One down, three to go, and although I won’t get a chance to see any of the rest of this here in LA this year, it might just be worth it to check out the next part, The Fellowship of the Ring Die Walküre, when the San Francisco Opera takes this on for themselves next summer. Apparently, it will have a California Gold Rush theme. Interesting.

Los Angeles in 3D

By , April 26, 2010 5:08 pm

The Beach Boys – Sloop John B

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Google Maps has just been getting better and better. First they put bike routes on their maps. Then they included public transportation. Now they’ve gone ahead and allowed for a 3D view with their "Earth” plugin. While certain areas (namely, my own neighborhood) appear stale and flat, heading just a few miles east, one encounters the vastness of the beautiful downtown skyline, complete with mountains and hills in the background. If only they could somehow manage lighting based on the time of day, and snow caps based on the time of year!

Hockey Day

By , March 20, 2010 9:30 am

The Bad Plus1980 World Champion

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image Today will be an L.A. first for me. Despite living a mere two miles from the Staples Center, this evening will mark the first NHL game I have ever attended west of the Mississippi.

The Kings, who I feel not a little ambivalent toward, will be facing off against the N.Y. Islanders, a visiting team that will have at least one fan in the crowd, a fellow New Yorker colleague of mine who is convinced that I’m insane because I root for all the wrong New York teams (Mets, Giants, Rangers) versus his supposedly superior Yankees, Jets, and Islanders.

It’s about time for a hockey game. After all, after seeing my fair share of fights at school, it’ll be relaxing to see some adults duke it out for once.

What are the odds?

By , February 20, 2010 11:12 am

James Horner – A Kaleidoscope of Mathematics

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Photo_021310_002  This is the parking lot at The Grove. One of the downsides of statistics is that they put into full focus the reality of situations that can only be described as abysmal.

Yet, the TFA naïveté within me says there is hope in the midst of even the most dire situation.

At Cochran, the statistics say the situation is dire. Kids enter each grade far below grade level, and somehow expected to turn around instantaneously and make marked improvement towards the top (after all, it’s a race now). Many kids do, in fact, make improvements, albeit not miraculous, and some kids simply do not. One often wonders what one can reasonably hope for.

In my parking situation, I pushed forward onto Level 3 (notice “FULL”), and began the trek around the sardine-packed level. Yet somehow, out of the blue, the convergence of my “coming”, paired with someone else’s “leaving” did, in fact, open up a parking space, and roughly 45 seconds after snapping the above photograph (don’t worry….at least I wasn’t talking or texting while driving), I was walking out of my vehicle on the way out of the structure. In the midst of impossibility, the possible became reality.

In the midst of impossibility at Cochran, I think of C****, a former student who stopped by last week to get help filling out her FAFSA application; I think of A****, an 8th grader who last year seemed to make a weekly trip to the Dean’s office, now is the leading participant and moving faster than anyone else in her Algebra class; I think of K*******, who already a stellar student, has really upped her game to take on more leadership and meta-meta-service to other students at our school.

Hope in the midst of impossibility? Sure. Is it predictable? Never.

Go drive around some full parking lots and see for yourself.

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