For the first time in a long time, I got a parking ticket. It was on Christmas Eve, and I’m not thrilled about it. While the federal government had the “Sorry, we’re closed” sign hanging in the window on that day, my fair city of Los Angeles was out contributing to the betterment of society, penalizing folks who prevented the streets from being swept. Previously, I had been so good about sticking my longest finger high up in the air toward the direction of City Hall and making sure the car was in the right place at the right time. But I guess we all have a down day… a lapse here and there.

Regardless of the $73 fine left on my windshield, the street sweeping system has always made me scratch my head, due to its sometimes incredibly confusing restrictions and lack of transparency. Ahhhh, yes, lack of transparency. Gee, that’s a new description for government programs!

A couple days before Thanksgiving, I parked on the street in front of a car that didn’t have a parking permit for my neighborhood. Parking Enforcement was in the middle of issuing a ticket, so I asked the officer what days they would be enforcing that week. He said they wouldn’t be giving out tickets on Thursday or Friday. In reflection, that’s very interesting, as it’s nearly impossible to find any sort of official Parking Enforcement calendar on the city website. That kind of thing is good to know for when you plan on having friends and family visit.

On a forum regarding this very topic, one person suggested looking at the Public Library calendar, to get an idea of the holidays observed by the city of L.A. The libraries were closed on Christmas Eve, so don’t trust that advice.

Finally, the one and only thing I could find (via a Google search – not the city website) was a scan of a directive from Mayor Villaraigosa to not enforce time-restricted and neighborhood permit parking areas on the following holidays:

1. New Year’s Day
2. Martin Luther King’s Birthday
3. President’s Day
4. Memorial Day
5. Independence Day
6. Labor Day
7. Columbus Day
8. Veteran’s Day
9. Thanksgiving Day
10. Christmas Day

Here is the full text:
http://ladot.lacity.org/pdf/PDF135.pdf

Hopefully this helps. Take care out there, and let’s do our best to starve the beast!

 

As an added note, if you are interested in this topic, check out these photos and stories of Parking Enforcement violating the same rules they give citations for:

“Other Parking Citations Received by Other Victims”
http://www.slapec.org/code/other2.shtml

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This is one of those days I say a thankful prayer for. Alongside a huge group of giddy residents, I chased the retired space shuttle Endeavour as it was being transported from the Los Angeles International Airport to its new home at the California Science Center. The move is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. No doubt, more space vehicles will be retired one day, but there will never again be another space shuttle moved through the streets of L.A. Here are some photos (and a video) I took today:

 

Retired Space Shuttle Endeavour on the last leg of its new home in Los Angeles at the California Science Center.

 

Space Shuttle Endeavour Name Badge

Closeup of the Endeavour cockpit area and entrance hatch

 

Space Shuttle Endeavour’s three main engines and two Orbital Maneuvering System pods.

 

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villiagarosa welcoming Endeavour in front of the California Science Center – Oct. 14, 2012

 

Young girl wears a Space Shuttle inflatable hat behind Endeavour

Walking behind Endeavour and loving the inflatable space shuttle hat!

 

 

Luke Wilson must be a fan of the Space Shuttle, too.

All this talk about the space shuttle Endeavour coming to L.A. is pretty exciting. Like a ton of kids, I had dreams of piloting a mission to the moon or beyond, or even just floating around on the space station in an 18,000 MPH orbit.

These days, the constant coverage of the shuttle piggybacked atop a modified 747 Jumbo Jet has got me wracking my brain, trying to figure out if I might be able to look to the skies and see it chug along. But timetables keep changing, and the L.A. arrival of Endeavour has been delayed yet again because fog is expected in……San Francisco. Dang you, San Fran! The shuttle is currently about 100 miles NE, at Edwards Air Force Base. So, sensibly, the shuttle will be ferried nearly 400 miles NW tomorrow to San Francisco, then nearly 400 more miles south to Los Angeles. Oh yeah, and there’s the fact that this was all originally planned for a Thursday. A Thursday! In the middle of the day! Now it’s changed to a Friday. In the middle of the day! I sent a Twitter message to NASA, pointing out that the unemployment rate here is high, but it’s not THAT high. People here work, especially in the middle of the day!

Anyhow, at the very least, I feel extremely honored and blessed to have seen the space shuttle “Discovery” launch back in 2008. I won a Blue Man Group sweepstakes trip to Orlando that I could never recall entering… but after verifying it was legit and knowing that you could see a shuttle liftoff from the other side of Florida, I looked up the space shuttle launch calendar and specifically scheduled the trip around one of those dates.

From 60 miles away, the shuttle was like a fireball rising in the sky. It was so cool, even despite the distance. Eventually, the smoke trail stopped, and the shuttle was a small, white dot flying on a higher and higher arc. Eventually, like watching a jet crossing the sky, the shuttle got smaller and smaller until it just disappeared. You can see most of that in the video I shot below.

The whole experience was rather simple, but it really left a lasting impression. Although there’s so much negativity out there in the world, it can sure be refreshing and intriguing to consider human ingenuity and the good we’re capable of.
 

 
 
UPDATE! 9/21/12
Okay, so I take some of what I said back. As it turns out, I was incredibly blessed (yet again) and had a bunch of cards fall into place. It’s really rare for me to work in Hollywood, but today I ended up doing just that. Additionally, the Endeavour was originally scheduled to land in Los Angeles yesterday/Thursday but, due to weather, that got pushed to today. Jackpot! That meant I was in Hollywood while the space shuttle was strutting around town.

It was the hovering helicopters and people on all kinds of high-rise rooftops that tipped me off that I needed to be scanning the skies. While driving on La Brea, south of Santa Monica Blvd., I spotted the shuttle on its carrier in the haze. “Are you freakin’ kidding me? That’s all I’m gonna get?” I thought to myself. Turning down a side street to try to catch another look, I got cut off by two garbage trucks and decided to continue on to the next work destination.

The rooftop there was filled with people, and all the people pointing made it easy to keep track of the shuttle’s approximate location. So there I just stood in the parking lot. Endeavour, the 747 it was mounted on, and two military chase jets made one pass and then did so again after a couple minutes.

I wish I would have been sharing that moment with someone, anyone, because it was so astonishing and unreal. I could feel the adrenaline jolting through my body, and profanities were spilling out of my mouth. I didn’t know a moment like this could cause me to be mistaken for a pirate.

Endeavour on its Final Mission

The longer I am here, the smaller the city seems. At first, it seemed like this vast, never-ending land. I guess it is really big, but Los Angeles becomes smaller based on what parts of it apply to you. I don’t really factor in parts south of the city like Compton and such, anything east of downtown, and northeastern parts other people might consider like Sherman Oaks. Even North Hollywood seems like a stretch because I hardly go there and become is seems weird that Hollywood and North Hollywood are separated not only by a giant mountain, but also by Studio City and the Valley Village neighborhood.

Also, the longer I stay, the more dull it becomes. Every once in a while, I look at the Hollywood sign and think “I’m really glad to be here – I could be in Ohio.” But at other times I wish I were in Ohio. I guess the magic gets lost when you’ve hit up all the tourist spots countless times. I have taken family and friends to see Hollywood Boulevard – Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the legendary clubs (the Whiskey, Roxy, Viper Room, etc.) – the barely visible Playboy Mansion, the former (Aaron and Candy) Spelling Mansion, Paramount/Warner Bros./Universal, the Santa Monica Pier, and the freak show in Venice…not the one you have to pay for, but the free one outside along the boardwalk.

I suppose not enough time is spent at some of these places as the guests might like. I should ask, because the visit is really about them. As a host, it seems difficult to find a rigamarole of things to do because all the aforementioned sites can be seen in a day on a driving tour.

This all comes about because some visitors will be here next week, so it’s back to the drawing board again. Come to think of it, LACMA is nearby and often goes overlooked. They have the cool city light sculpture……and really that’s about all that’s there that excites me. I have no intention of turning this into a tirade or anything, but I wish the Getty Center and LACMA could swap places. The Getty is free and has priceless, massively famous art, while LACMA seems to be more of a collection of a bunch of huge buildings that don’t seems to contain a whole lot. Maybe that’s because they waste so much space. I used to have a membership and recall one entire room filled with nothing but a giant, weaving steel sheet that was like ten feet tall or whatever. Another building is totally devoted to simple Japanese paintings. The Tim Burton exhibit was cool but, after a while, it all started to look the same, in a similar way to the simple Japanese paintings. So maybe LACMA isn’t such a great idea, except for those lights.

One place that always seems to be worth the trip is the Greystone Mansion. Nestled in the actual hills of Beverly Hills, the huge property built by the notorious Doheny family is meticulously maintained and was probably used, in some way, in one of your favorite movies or shows. Plus it’s free to park and walk around. You can’t beat that.

The Griffith Observatory is another good option. On nights when they have star parties, which happen once a month, cars are parked on the shoulder way down the winding canyon road. Despite all the people, it’s a lot of fun. Amateur astronomers bring out their huge telescopes and everyone patiently waits in line for a turn to look at Saturn, the moon, stars locked together in a gravitational pull, or whatever. And like the Greystone, it’s all free.

Okay, okay, I take it back. I take it all back that there isn’t anything fun to do in L.A. anymore…that the magic has worn off. I guess once the dust settles and everything becomes familiar, that’s when it becomes important to step back and told another look at what you have.

Frivolity

04/18/2012

It breaks my heart a little bit to think about the rather asinine, incomprehensible choices people sometimes make. Police pursuits aren’t exactly unheard of here in Los Angeles, but they really should be. It’s one thing to think you can outrun another car, but when a helicopter gets involved, the little chase over is effectively over. The LAPD always has a presence in the skies, so any manhunt or pursuit can be followed from a much different perspective in a matter of minutes.

The latest police chase making headlines took place last week north of L.A. – in Woodland Hills – which resulted in the death of 19-year-old motorist Abdul Arian. Police had attempted to pull Arian over for reckless driving. He then fled, and a police chase ensued. When his car finally came to a stop, Arian exited the vehicle and ran, backpedaling and putting both hands up in front of him – in the same “aggressive shooting stance” manner the LAPD proclaims. Ultimately, the police fired 120 bullets at the driver, who turned out to be unarmed. Arian’s family is now suing the Los Angeles Police Department for $120 million.

News footage of the pursuit can be found online and, if the family were to watch it, they would see the young man trying to outrun the police and witness the aggressive actions he took just before he was gunned down. There is no need to seek “justice” in this case because there is nothing that needs justified. Ignorance IS NOT bliss and truth will ultimately prevail.

It really is a shame that this young man’s family has to deal with such an aftermath. No doubt, for them, there are more questions than answers, and some of the usual, defensive positions are being taken: “He didn’t even own a gun” and “The police responded with excessive force.” To address the latter notion, the police did what they had to do to eliminate a threat. Whether it was perceived or real in this case doesn’t matter because Arian clearly made it look as though he was brandishing a firearm. There is no simply no reason to hold a cell phone – or anything – and point it at officers who are already under duress.

The fact that there is even a lawsuit seems to demonstrate that some people will do anything for money. Quite frankly, the family should be embarrassed to look past most of the facts in this case and simply say “The police killed my boy, and they didn’t have to.” But the point is, the police had to protect themselves from a lunatic that called 911 during a car chase and said “If they (the police) pull their guns, I’m gonna have to pull my gun out on them.”

Updated (6/28/12):

Levitated Mass rock, LACMA, Los Angeles

Walking on the way to CBS last Friday, I noticed something – there sat the “Levitated Mass” rock all by itself, uncovered and alone, with temporary fencing still around the premises. I thought it odd that there had seemingly been no fanfare or updates about it lately. In order to not be late to my meeting, I planned on snapping some pictures of the exhibit on the way back home.

In the few hours that had passed, though, the giant rock had been covered back up by what was basically the biggest car cover you’d see ’cause, you know, it was customized for a boulder. At that moment, workers were tying up the strings at the bottom. “That’s so weird they’re covering it back up,” I thought.

I made another trip to CBS on Monday, and the temporary fencing and rock’s “car cover” were gone. People were happily walking down the slope, taking photos, and discussing Levitated Mass and all the challenges and criticism the exhibit brought.

Now having walked under it and checked it out, I still don’t get it. As you walk down the slope, it’s supposed to appear as if the boulder is floating. Well, that’s pretty dang hard to imagine, considering it’s supported on two sides. Maybe you can see it, but I can’t.

Anyway, I am happy to be so close to something that some people out there would like to see. I get the desire, but I advise against making a special trip to see the exhibit! Overall, LACMA is pretty lacking compared to the Getty Museum (which is free!), but LACMA sometimes does offer great exhibits, and the La Brea Tar Pits are also right next door. It’s free to visit Levitated Mass, and that makes it the best part.

Original Post (3/10/12):

Levitated Mass rock by J Kilmer
Levitated Mass rock, a photo by J Kilmer on Flickr.

Apparently some people still haven’t yet heard about this utterly chaotic display the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is working on. It’s a 340 ton boulder that, as of this morning, has just completed the 11 day, 100+ mile trek from a quarry in Riverside, CA to here – the Miracle Mile section of Los Angeles.

The move required a massive trailer contraption with 196 wheels, powered by three trucks, and was moved only during the night so as to not bump up L.A. traffic a notch, from really, really bad to really, really, really bad. Light poles and traffic lights had to be taken down along the way and certain bridges and roads had to be avoided since, of course, 680,000 lbs. greatly exceeds the weight a typical truck might be hauling on any random day.

Given the $10,000,000 price tag for the whole operation, the whole thing seems kinda….stupid. Thankfully, however, funding came from private donations, and I will give it a fair chance once the exhibit opens at LACMA.

What comes next is the rock will be moved parallel to the display and, somehow, will be hoisted onto its supports. “Levitated Mass,” as it’s to be called, will consist of the large boulder with a channel running underneath it, so that visitors can walk under the rock.

It’s expected that the exhibit will open sometime during this coming summer.

LACMA
5905 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Levitated Mass rock, LACMA, Los Angeles

The channel where the Levitated Mass boulder will rest

Levitated Mass, LACMA, Los Angeles

196 wheels and a whole bunch of axles