Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Vision of Future Weekends

The weekend greets me with yellow sunlight splashing through my eastern facing windows.  It's, as always, a beautiful day out there, and I envision, along with my lazy morning, a slow few days of late brunches, leisurely wandering, people watching, window shopping, coffee dates.

This perfect weekend, however, doesn't quite exist in Los Angeles.  I know, because I've lived it elsewhere, but never here.  Here, it is just a vision, a dream, and to become reality it requires one thing: mass transit.  A thorough system that can facilitate a weekend of strolling about, exploring new and familiar areas, being a loiterer, a consumer, ending each day with the slight but envigorating fatigue that comes with experiencing a city on foot.

As it is, I must amend my vision to include hours of sitting within the confines of my car.

Imagine the possibilities if the following were real:

Some brilliant mind (specifically Numan Parada, an L.A.-area mapmaker) drafted this wishful map of what LA Metro could be. That is, a system for actually getting people around and about. Not just sort of, but really.  A system that everyone would depend on (let alone, know about - I live near the Hollywood/Western red line station and when mentioning this fact, I have, on more than one occasion received the response from fellow Angelenos, "There's a subway in LA?").

Let's compare, shall we? Here is the actual state of LA Metro:
Five lines (the orange one is a bus line and rather ineffective one at that - I know, because I've ridden it) serving none of the most visited areas of LA.  See that white space between the green and orange lines?  There lie the neighborhoods you want to visit - that is, Hollywood, West Hollywood, West LA, Culver City, Venice, Marina Del Mar, Brentwood, Westwood, Santa Monica, Malibu, Pacific Palisades.  How do you get to those neighborhoods? You drive. That is, if sitting in traffic can be called driving.

There are people and organizations in LA working toward building a campaign for more extensive metro.  And, of course, there are people and organizations in LA opposing these campaigns.  Their arguments against investing in rail consist of the amount of money it would take (potentially billions of dollars), the 'antiquated' technology of rail, the hazards of digging tunnels in an earthquake zone (does nobody remember the collapsed freeways of 1989) or in the dry desert.

Well, somehow, Moscow did it:

In the planning of the Moscow metro, the results of a 1931 geological survey showed that:
"the nature of the soil would make tunnelling particularly difficult because it consisted of sands saturated with water and dry sands, strata of different clays which permeated with cracked water-bearing and massive limestone, old washouts and quicksand. Many underground rivers were discovered. During the construction of the tunnel section between Sokolniki and Okhotny Ryad alone the miners had to cross four water flows." - see The History of the Moscow Metro.
Yet, despite the dangers and hazards, and seemingly prohibitive cost (metro projects were repeatedly dismissed for three decades due to high cost), the thing got made.  And it's one of the world's most thorough and effective rapid transit systems (I know, because I've ridden it).

Friday, April 13, 2012

Street Pianos

Play Me, I’m Yours is artwork by British artist Luke Jerram. For three weeks beginning April 12, thirty pianos, designed and decorated by local artists and community organizations, will be featured across Los Angeles County and are available for everyone to play.

Below are some Instagram pics of the pianos sprinkled around Downtown. Check out the website for a map of their locations.

Image by Veister.

Image by sarahbethrosa.

Image by moneyovah.

Image by vromansbookstore.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Self-Will and the Weather Report

I checked the weather report on my iPhone this morning, like I do every morning. The high was under 70 degrees, and I thought, perfect. I could wear a long-sleeved shirt, slacks, and a blazer - the semi-professional look needed for the audition I'd be attending later.

Most mornings, the iPhone report shows 72 degrees or higher. My wardrobe choices are limited on those days. I don't consider this a problem, though, because I enjoy being warm. I'd rather be warm than look good. Honestly, I would.

I work in a production center with a lot of other production companies. My office is next to the writer's room for a prime time TV show, and we share a thermostat. Apparently, they like to be cold while they lob ideas across a room at each other. They crank the air up, and I sit in my office, watching frost form on my computer screen.

If I have an additional layer with me, then great. I'm comfortable. Really, a blazer or cardigan are in order any day at my office. But on warm days, as soon as I leave the office, beads of sweat form on my forehead instantly - for LA sun does not shine agreeably upon layers.

Yet, I prefer to be outside. Always, in any weather, prefer to be outside, and if I can't be outside, then I want to be moving, rather than sitting. Want to be on location, or on a set, rehearsing, blocking, performing.

In considering the weather forecast, I see my chosen life. For in art, all weather is fine weather.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Fashion District

Ninety degrees on a Tuesday in March. Fruit vendors slicing into watermelons and sliding sticks through mango slices. Rows of colorful trinkets and accessories, neon blouses blowing in the breeze, glittering fabrics catching the sun, none too-shy shop proprietors shouting "Ten for ten dollars! Get it all here!"

It's a colorful of discounts and deals. It's called The Fashion District.

Santee Alley is a narrow alley off of Santee Street filled with over 150 stores selling everything from discount nail polishes to designer knock-off shoes and warehouse clothing. I scored a neon Forever 21 blouse for $15, and had to seriously restrain myself from buying a bunch of $8 metal watches. They were really cool, but I just don't need anymore watches.

I was there to film an episode of The Haul for StyleHaul. I wanted to stay and absorb the atmosphere, drink in all of its frenzy. I think it's time to go on a vacation - I mean, a staycation.

Watch The Haul here:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Silent World

Cour carrée du Louvre

Place de l'Opera

Place Montparnasse

Columbus Circle

Sixth Avenue

Speaking of Obscure Cities . . . "Silent World” is a series of photographs from Paris-based photographers Lucie and Simon. From New York and Paris to Beijing and Italy, these photographs are a depiction of some of the world’s most recognizable and busiest public outdoor spaces vacated and devoid of crowds.

I could look at these all day. And in fact, I have.

You can do the same here.

Monday, April 2, 2012

SAG-AFTRA, One Union

I've been fairly quiet, privately and publicly on the union merger, because, truthfully, I don't fully understand it. And yet, I voted for it. I voted for it, because as a very partially-employed actor who makes a little money under an AFTRA contract here, and a little money under a SAG contract there, the prospect of earning my way into Health and Pension coverage was slim to none. It'd be ages before I'd earn the minimum amount required by either organization. With my earnings coming under one jurisdiction, my chances will be much higher.

Also, I'd be thrilled to be a member of anything that this guy supports:

So now that the merger is official, I am proud that I voted for it. It's a historical moment, and I'm glad to be a part of it. Besides, I've always been a sucker for Hollywood history.