Thursday, July 26, 2007

Adios, for now...

The Bear is going to hibernate for a short while to do some summer traveling and tend to some outdoor projects at the cave (small ranch house) while the good weather smiles upon us.

Before The Bear leaves on his summer trek, I'd like to point the way for you to do some exploring on your own.

In today's LA Times, staff writer Richard Marosi writes about officials in Mexico cracking down on police extortion of tourists on the road between TJ and popular Baja beach destinations. Here's a bit of the article:

Sunday, July 15, 2007

First Felix, Now Dutton's

First, Felix the Cat (or a likeness of the famous feline) is officially deemed a landmark by the city. Next, the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission voted to designate Dutton's Brentwood as a landmark.

This, of course, upset Charles T. Munger, the building's owner. From the Los Angeles Times:
"'If the council votes to approve this, Dutton's will die as sure as God made little green apples,' Munger said after the hearing. 'These people are trying to save Dutton's [but are] using techniques that will destroy it.'"
Will Dutton's be given an institutional nine lives, like the giant neon cat downtown? (Photo by Paytonc at Flickr)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Morning Coffee

I had not yet consumed my morning coffee when I read an LA Times piece on Indonesian civet cat scat coffee. Yes, it's coffee cherries consumed by the civet cat in an Indonesian forest, excreted, collected and cleaned (really!, but to what extent?), then roasted. It's called, according to the Times:
"...kopi luwak, from the Indonesian words for coffee and civet, and by the time it reaches the shelves of swish foreign food emporiums, devotees fork out as much as $600 for a pound — if they can even find that much. The British royal family is said to enjoy sipping it. A single cup can sell for $30 at a five-star hotel in Hong Kong."
Now you know why Starbucks shares are falling. Wouldn't you rather have a good cup of (not excreted) Aged Sumatra from Peet's or Sumatra Siborong-Borong from Starbucks? Or skip Starbucks and Peet's (both of which, I frequent often) and head for a truly local latte. Maybe enjoy the caffeine and ocean breeze at Tanner's in Playa Del Rey or the pleasant confines of the Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company? (Thanks to for the link and image of Tanner's.)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Once More, We Visit Dutton's

Writer Callie Miller at the blog LAist offers a nice, brief account of why Dutton's matters. The post includes some quality photos of the Dutton's courtyard.

California Boom!

From the Daily Breeze (So. Cal.):
California, L.A. County populations will go boom: "Los Angeles County's racial makeup is expected to change dramatically by 2050, with Latino and Asian populations doubling to account for more than 80 percent of residents as the number of whites and blacks shrinks in half.

The county's population will grow from its 2000 mark of 9.6 million to 13 million in 2050, with Latinos growing to 8.4 million, or 65 percent of the total, according to state population projections issued Monday."
All of this begs the question: where are we going to park? (Oh, and maybe too, the additional hospitals, freeways, subway terminals, apartments, houses, public service entities, and jobs?) Don't worry, the politicians are all about getting this under control, especially LA's mayor. (Viva Operation Pothole!)

Times Opinion on Dutton's

Culture wins one - Los Angeles Times:
"LOS ANGELES has a way of plowing under its landmarks. It is a corollary of our enthusiasm for the new and a consequence of our free-spirited capitalism that local institutions are sacrificed to progress. The great old steakhouses have largely faded into memory, the streetcars are garaged, the grand movie houses downtown remain mostly as relics. "
Read the rest of the op-ed here.

Soon, I'll write about the loss of the great movie houses, mentioned above.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Brentwood building owner reworks plans to retain Dutton's - Los Angeles Times

A while back, I wrote a post about Dutton's Bookstore in Brentwood (LA) and the billionaire Charles T. Munger who wanted to raze the building that Dutton's occupies to build condos and stores. This wouldn't have eliminated Dutton's, but it would have changed its footprint, which would have drastically altered the nature of Dutton's. (According to the Los Angeles Times, "With its multi-room layout, ripped carpet and overflowing shelves, Dutton's is considered by many to be a city institution and one of the nation's great idiosyncratic bookstores.")

The Times reported on Friday that Mr. Munger has changed his mind. The 60-unit-luxury condo plan is " favor of erecting a two-story retail complex that would retain Dutton's Brentwood Books in a new and improved space."

Mr. Munger to the Times: "Bookstores are fragile,' he said. 'Jostle them slightly and they never reopen. The best thing is to make sure it never closes.'"

Good news indeed. Bibliophiles win, perhaps for the last time.
(Photo: Doug Dutton shelves books, LA Times)

Monday, July 9, 2007

Life is Short. Art is Forever.

My wife is constantly sending me links to a blog at the San Francisco Chronicle called, The Poop. Their mission:
Take it from us. You still rock! Life doesn't have to end when you buy a minivan. So relax, mix yourself some Kahlua and Similac Advance Infant Formula™ and schedule a daily cyber-playdate with The Poop - the blog for parents of infants and toddlers in the Bay Area!
It doesn't exactly fit my demographic, as I have discovered that I definitely no longer rock (and maybe only briefly did in the late '80s). Nevertheless, The Poop's collection of writers are great wits, and I enjoyed their Friday post enough to share it here.

First a brief aside. I'm no snob when it comes to movies. Not every flick coming out of Hollywood needs to be The Godfather or The Graduate, and I find it ridiculous when people suggest otherwise. Popcorn flicks have been shown on screens since the infancy of film, and that simply isn't going to change until people stop paying to see these films. Case in point, Transformers cleaned up at the box office this weekend. I probably won't see it, but the preview looked cool, and I can understand why it might be fun. Movies should be fun, right?

However, there are some in Hollywood who simply can't manage to have common sense. How
can you spend millions on a movie and not have some person with a basic understanding of story and the English language read or write the script? How many times have you left the theater or put the Netflix back into the envelope thinking, I wasted a portion of my life on that nonsense?

Back to The Poop. On Friday, Peter Hartlaub wrote about
the upcoming "Alvin and the Chipmunks" film, which included an image from the film poster (included in full here). Hartlaub's comments are hilarious, and I'll agree that the movie poster poses some questions: Are they now moving into hip hop and away from pop standards? Do Alvin and the Chipmunks go to the Vibe Music Awards? Will their Christmas album include a cover of Run D.M.C.'s "Christmas in Hollis?" What in high-pitched hell were they thinking?

Then again, maybe the Hollywood suits are more clever than we assume. The new look chipmunks have produced at least two blog posts. So it goes.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Summer = Steaming Wieners

Mmmmm. Look at all those steaming wieners. Do you know what they're saying? They're saying, "This is the year that Fink beats 'The Stomach'."

Summer is the time for grilled and boiled meats. If you're in SoCal, that means you're heading for Pink's or Dodger Stadium for dogs. Find yourself cruising in NoCal for a steak? Chances are that you'd head to Harris or Alfred's steak house in the winter. But it's summer, dude, so you're more likely to fire up the grill and lay down that steak yourself.

I won't wax too long about great summer meats, but I will warn you that you should refrain from "competitive eating." Vallejo, California native Joey Chestnut is now the world-record holder in consuming hot dogs. I watched the YouTube video, and it made me want to gag. I thought about embedding the video here, but I'll spare you the agony.

Eating summer food should be celebrated for it's tranquil pleasure, not it's hedonistic gluttony.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy 4th of July!

The Bear salutes all of his alert and patriotic readers on this 4th of July.

Celebrate independence!

-The Bear

Monday, July 2, 2007

Silencing Fans

In Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle there was an interesting story about fans wanting to protest Barry Bonds going to Major League Baseball games with signs, t-shirts, and other paraphernalia and being stopped at gate. According to the teams, who are responsible for items taken into the stadium, these items were in poor taste. However, according to the fans, it seems as though MLB is the one sending out an edict to teams, hoping to silence dissent. Here's MLB's response to the SF Chronicle:
"Major League Baseball has issued no edicts regarding Bonds, and each team has discretion regarding signage and fan behavior, said spokesman Pat Courtney. As Bonds has closed in on the record, security officials for Major League Baseball have held conference calls with teams hosting the Giants to discuss potential problems, Courtney said, but the teams deal with cases on an individual basis."
There seem to be no shortage of signs when the message is pro-baseball. The images here aren't exactly offensive (see photo at right from SF Chronicle), unless you're Barry Bonds. (By the way, if you don't know the story about Bonds, check out this article in Sports Illustrated. It's assumed by many that Bonds cheated or currently cheats by taking some form of steroids. He holds the single-season home run record and is on the verge of breaking the career home run record.)

Fans should speak out against MLB for not doing enough to protect the game from cheaters like Bonds. For teams to join in the effort to silence dissent is inexcusable.

MLB is not the only professional sport getting bad press these days. The NFL is under fire for not supporting retired players who are suffering from career-related injuries. (See this story in the LA Times or visit Jerry Kramer's web site for information about the Gridiron Greats program.)

I'm a fan of professional sports, and I've paid for my enjoyment of those properties. If those organizations (who have a monopoly on the product) can't find ways to provide an uncontaminated or fair product with those vast riches that they receive from fans, then I think it's right for fans and their representatives to hold the organizations accountable.