Archive for the ‘los angeles’ Category

blocks away from history

February 14, 2009

le barcito

le barcito

a hop, skip and a tumble down the street from where I live is a crusty little bar called le barcito, nestled between a laundromat and rough trade, which is a seller of…um…er…adult leather goods? i think. at least that’s what i heard somewhere. anyway, i’ve been in le barcito a couple of times for a drink on my way to akbar or the eagle or church or wherever and have always thought it was a perfectly okay place to start or end an evening.

the bar itself is a typical hole-in-the-wall gay latino bar — flat screens showing news, soccer or telenovelas, really bad techno, pop and tejano music, and semi-scary drag performances. oh, and cheap drinks. pretty standard stuff. nothing to write home about.

so i was surprised when i read this article from the LA times last november reporting that the los angeles city council had designated le barcito a historic-cultural landmark. whaaaa? pero, por qué?

amazingly, the bar, which was formerly called the black cat, was the center of major protests in silver lake in february 1967. in the 60s and 70s, life as a gay american was a lot different than today. there were no legal protections for gays and people could be fired from work if they were outed, or arrested if they were caught holding hands or kissing someone of the same sex. so in that environment on new year’s eve of 1966/1967, plainclothes cops went into the black cat, beat up and arrested 14 patrons and bartenders. two of the men arrested were later found guilty of lewd conduct, just for kissing each other as auld lang syne played, and were registered as sex offenders. these events happened two years before the stonewall riots (which are widely seen as the birth of the gay rights movement in america), and the resulting protests drew hundreds of LA residents demanding equal protections for homosexuals under the law.

Protests Outside of The Black Cat. Photo Courtesy of ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives

Protests outside of The Black Cat. Photo courtesy of ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives

in addition to a handful of my friends who live in the neighborood, the event commemorating this landmark drew superstar LA city council president eric garcetti, lillian faderman – a scholar, author and historian of GLBTQ history and alexei romanoff, who was the owner of the new faces bar (now circus of books bookstore) down the street from the black cat. (rami kashou of project runway fame was also there, and we chatted for like eight seconds. he seems really nice!)

the event made me well up with such a Snuggie™ feeling of pride and gratitude for everything that GLBTQ’s of a previous generation have done for me and the friends i love. it also gives me courage and hope for the future, and brings added meaning to the hours of protesting we did following the passage of prop 8 in november.

even though i was closeted growing up in my little hometown in florida and constantly received signals from all around me that it wasn’t okay to be gay, i knew that there were other places in the world where it was. and it’s because of the amazing sacrifices that people like alexei made to just be the person they were born to be that made that possible.


horses in hollywood

January 17, 2009


LA is always challenging your view of her. the minute you think she’s a bastion of liberal thinking, you meet a conservative from the valley already wistful for the last eight years of republican rule.  as soon as you think mother nature couldn’t have smiled more brightly over eden, a fire sweeps through the hills and destroys that one patch of green you could just make out through the concrete jungle.  because of this, i wasn’t a bit surprised to come upon this sight in the middle of my morning hike up griffith park today — cowboys…cowboys within spitting distance of the hollywood sign.  i had no idea what they were doing there, and i didn’t really care.  instead, i smiled a little and thanked LA for keeping me on my toes.

what a difference five months make

December 10, 2008

if anyone has any question about the state of the US economy, they need look no further than the price of gas. since the economy has been in the tank, factories are running at lower capacity, trucks are shipping less stuff and people aren’t going as many places.  so, demand for oil and gas is low, which is then reflected in the price. 

and to see how MUCH less demand there is, just take a look at the two pics below. i took the first one at the intersection of beverly and la brea, in LA obviously, just tonight, dec. 10.  i took the second one on july 11 of this year, when gas prices were probably at or near their peak.  if you can’t see the prices, they’re at 1.65 and 4.53, respectively. it’s scary to think how this is a reflection of where our economy is at right now.



11281721the other scary thing, though, is that there’s probably way less pressure for politicians now to ween our country off its oil habit, or for car buyers/makers to rally for more fuel efficient cars. i hope we’re at the point as a country where we know we need to decrease our dependence on (foreign) oil for both national security and environmental reasons,  but the cynical side of me is saying that’s just wishful thinking.

december’s de Lab event at GOOD magazine

December 9, 2008


one of my favorite ex-coworkers and current editor extraordinaire for curbed LA, marissa gluck, invited me to december’s de Lab event.  (curbed is actually in my blogroll, but for some reason when I updated my blog to display my twitter feed, my blogroll disappeared. argh! baby steps.) UPDATE: i figured it out.

below is a quick description of the event from de Lab’s facebook group post:

“Join de LaB on Monday, December 8 for City Listening, when we’re bringing together the best and brightest voices in Los Angeles design and architecture writing for a special evening of readings about our fair city. We’re honored to present our final de LaB of the year as part of GOOD’s Community Monday, just one of many events that will be taking place during GOOD December.”

and here’s a list of the speakers:

·         Frances Anderton: Host, KCRW’s DnA: Design and Architecture; LA Editor, Dwell

·         Jade Chang: West Coast Editor, Metropolis

·         John Chase: Urban Designer, City of West Hollywood; Editor, Everyday Urbanism

·         Christopher Hawthorne: Architecture Critic, Los Angeles Times

·         Marissa Gluck & Josh Williams: Editors, Curbed LA

·         Greg Goldin: Architecture Critic, Los Angeles Magazine

·         Sam Lubell: California Editor, The Architect’s Newspaper; Author, London 2000+

what i lack in actual knowledge of LA art and architecture i hopefully make up for in excitement as a relative newcomer to the city and the scene (although, 5 ½  years may be seen as an old-timer to some here).  needless to say, marissa and josh from curbed were the funnest (most fun? most fun.) of the speakers. they had a slideshow of some of the worst (or best) pics from curbed’s “that’s rather hideous” column, which shows actual shots from actual MLS listings of some of the truly questionable design choices some people have made in their LA domiciles (and CHOSE to make public), and then read comments that curbed readers had posted about them.  hilarious.  the other speakers were great as well.  john seemed a little off-topic and made me uncomfortable, but that probably says more about me…and who am I to judge anyway?

marissa – invite me to more of this shiz. i promise to be mostly seen, not heard.

p.s. funny coincidence…literally the day before this event, a writer named kelly samardak from mediapost (an online news site for the advertising/media industry) — whose stuff i follow and is hilarious — had mentioned in her newsletter a place called SVA. i had never heard of it, so i twittered her (which isn’t half as dirty as it sounds) and asked what it stood for.  she told me it was the school of visual arts in manhattan and was probably sighing and rolling her eyes as she typed it, but whatever.  ANYWAY, long story long, when the de Lab hosts were explaining the genesis of their series, they said that it was an event at SVA a year ago that inspired them to start it! maybe that’s really not as random or strangely coincidental as it seemed to me last night after a couple glasses of free cabernet, but i’d like to think that it was.

here are a few more pics from the event.





‘tis the season for charity.

December 8, 2008



last night i went to the always fun, always A-gay -studded fundraiser, cracked xmas, put on by the trevor project. the trevor project is an organization that runs the only nationwide, 24/7 suicide prevention helpline for LGBT(Q) youth.  i put “Q” in parentheses because it seems there’s some confusion (at least in my mind and the mind of one of the presenters last night) as to whether this stands for “questioning” or “queer,” but I think it’s the former.  anyway, it’s an indispensible, life-saving organization that serves kids who need someone to talk to when it seems there’s no hope or escape from a life where everything around them is telling them that who they are as human beings is an abomination.

the only thing i can ever afford at these events (and just barely) is the ticket, but it’s always fun to watch the “haves” shelling out money for cruises to barcelona and flights on quantas to sydney.  the highlights of the evening for me were the recently out-of-the-closet wanda sykes’ standup and anne hathaway auctioning herself off for a date with three admirers for $12,000.  fantasia also gave a fun, barefoot performance covering purple rain and something else and another song.

check out some pics and video from the event here.

trashy art

December 6, 2008

earlier today i saw this post by dakota at curbed LA about a couple of local artists who go around turning junk people throw to the curb into art.  it made me think of an online video about joshua allen harris i saw done by new york magazine awhile back.  i’m so happy these artists are out there doin’ what they’re doin’, and hope to stumble upon some of their work someday. 

below is the video from new york magazine’s story.

downtown LA culture day

November 25, 2008


on saturday, the crew and i went on a great walking tour of downtown run by the LA conservancy, followed by a visit to the MOCA’s bourgeois exhibit (bourgeois the artist, not the socio-economic class).  here’s a snapshot of what we learned:

  • majority of buildings we saw were either beaux arts or art deco (called “style moderne” back then); most were built sometime between roughly 1900-1930
  • beaux arts architecture shows baroque and rococo influences (classical columns, cornices, garlands, etc.), and the buildings are characterized by a horizontal, squat appearance, kinda like a french bulldog. examples downtown are the biltmore, the subway terminal building and the grand central market
  • art deco buildings are vertically oriented, influenced by far- and mid-eastern designs, and incorporate materials like limestone, terra cotta and marble. examples include one bunker hill (formerly socal edison and current home of my past employer golinharris; also one of my favorite buildings on the tour), the interior of the oviatt building, the library and the eastern columbia building
  • exteriors of lots of buildings have eye bolts near the corners. apparently the city had cable cars, and the cables ran through the eye bolts. can you imagine downtown LA with cable cars? take a look next time you’re downtown. neat stuff.


eye bolt in the right-center of the shot

eye bolt in the center of the shot

  • only in LA moment: they were shooting a jerry bruckheimer pilot when we were at one bunker hill. i thought it was a suzuki commercial
  • apparently the pyramid at the top of the library building was added during construction when king tut’s tomb was discovered and all things egyptian became the rage; so funny that it’s right across the street from golinharris, given golinharris launched the king tut exhibit at the LACMA a few years back (btw, that was a shout out to my peeps at GH)
pyramid atop the library building

pyramid atop the library building

  • the older buildings downtown aren’t taller than 150 feet because of an ordinance that capped them at that height until the late 50s
  • exterior of the million dollar theater — amazing; interior of bradbury building — even better


exterior of million dollar theater in churrigueresque style

exterior of million dollar theater in churrigueresque style

interior of the bradbury building where the scene in Blade Runner with crazy cartwheeling chick was shot

interior of the bradbury building where the scene in Blade Runner with crazy cartwheeling chick was shot








as for the louise bourgeois show at the MOCA, all you need to know is that the woman is a twisted genius with an obviously effed up family history, and you should see the exhibit if you can. it ends jan. 25, 2009.

see my flickr set with more photos here.