“Slippery Oasis”

image by Damon Casarez linked via Los Angeles Magazine

NICE PIECE up at Los Angeles Magazine by Jesse Katz about Westlake’s “slippery oasis” known as MacArthur Park.

A snip:

The people who turn up in the lake these days may look different from those who perished a century ago. They may come from different parts of the world and inhabit different social echelons. We may have a more sophisticated vocabulary for their breakdowns, a more nuanced understanding of addiction and despair. But the guile of the lake—the melodrama of our city—is not a modern condition.

Every fall, I think about my old across-the-landing neighbor who worked graveyards undercover with LAPD, his beat to spin around those shadows in the Park. I know he could write a book or two. Jesse’s piece brought all that back…me standing, balancing with my laundry listening to native noir stories.

More of Jesse’s wonderful, moody piece here


The Spirits of the City

“Figueroa Spectres, 1935-1997,” a photo montage by Philip J. Ethington. via USC Dornsife

A FEW weeks ago I spoke with Philip Ethington, a professor of history and political science at USC Dornsife, about his 15-years-in-the making project, Ghost Metropolis. Due out next year, the multimedia “book” explores layers of Los Angeles — its history, its built environment, its contested territories, its major arteries and industries — in hopes of examining and cataloging the distinguishing details of Los Angeles, past and present.

“I see myself making ghosts visible,” he explained.

Those pieces of from the past that so many Angelenoes consider to be razed or lost, haven’t been entirely erased, they are often, Ethington points out, just hiding in plain sight.

The project — which assembles a series of essays, interactive maps, photographs (his own set alongside archival images) and video — will tell a 4D story about the region across epochs.

From the piece:

“I just want to tell a great story about a great city. Great in a massive sense, but also in a creative sense. Because it’s not all about the bad guys and the injustices and the oppressions. I also want achieve accountability. That’s a real big goal.”

To read the piece and see some of time images and maps, click over to USC Dornsife’s site here.

The View from the Air — Life Along L.A.’s airwaves…


I CAN’T remember when I wasn’t radio-obsessed. Growing up in Los Angeles, the radio was my first set of keys. You could visit so many far-flung places by way of announcers, DJs and deep, loose mixes that brought together textures of a vivid city. The radio could inspire. It could also be a release valve. Call letters were addresses to places where you could wander in and sit a spell.

Tonight at Clockshop in Frogtwon we are having our first “LAtitudes: An Agneleno’s Atlas” event, bringing together four writers from the project. Wendy Gilmartin, Josh Kun, Michael-Jamie Becera and I will talk about ugly buildings, L.A. soundscapes, tacos and ghost frequencies, respectively.

You can read an excerpt of Latitudes here, now up at KCET|Artbound (thanks!) And here is a little tumbler I created to go with the piece if you want to hear some of the touchstones, music, voices I’ve referenced in the essay. Click here.

After tonight’s formal presentations , Josh and I will be playing music either inspired by or recorded in Los Angeles.

And of course, there will be tacos and L.A. spirits to go with the stories …

Come share your L.A. with us.

How Well Do You Know Your City?

YOU DON’T only traverse L.A. via its boulevards, streets and avenues. So much of what we learn and understand about the city is a busy map that’s comprised of personal experience, memory and ever-evolving point-of-view.

This weekend we will be gathering at a few spots around the city to talk about what’s not always easily discernible on the city’s East-West/North-South gird. And,  while we’re at it, we’ll be celebrating publication of LAttidudes: An Angelenos Atlas.

If you’d like to join in, this weekend you have a couple of events to choose from:

Saturday the LAttidues crew will be A Clockshop in Elysian Valley (AKA Frogtown) for an event called “Uncovering LA” It will be in an opportunity for readers and Atlas writers to interact. Guests will spend 5-10 minutes with each writer, rotating from table to table at the sound of a bell. Josh Kun, Wendy Gilmartin, Michael Jaime-Becerra and I will be on hand sharing stories from our essays. (I’ll be reading a little bit from my essay, “The View from the Air” — about L.A. radio).  Atlas editor, Patricia Wakida will join us as well — and Josh and I will be “spinning” music after the talks are through.

Your admission includes on the house tacos plates (vegetarian optinos) by María Amezquita. Special drinks based on LAtitudes by mixologist Forrest Hudis will also be available for purchase.

Sunday is the LAttitudes Launch Party @ Skylight Books

May 3, 2015
5:00pm 7:00pm
Skylight Books
1818 N Vermont Ave in Los Feliz

There will be readings, a presentation by cartographer David Deis about what went into the design of the maps, and a signing afterward. Also, you’re encouraged to join the short walking tour beforehand (at 4pm). Led by LAttidues contributors, the tour will begin at the Sunset/Vermont Metro station and will make Atlas-related stops along the way, finishing up at Skylight.

For more info about LAttidues and other upcoming events, please click here.