Friday, December 30, 2011

andrea 3000

my initial reaction to the scene below was "where your manners, girl?"  but all it takes is one look in that face and you can see she's a young wanda sykes.  her answer'd just be "i don't give a fuck."

my next reaction was "that is some style she's pullin' off."  she may well have had to go to every thrift store in town to get all the elements of this ensemble, but i'll be damned if she's not rockin it like andre 3000.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

portlandia in l.a.

just put a bird on it and call it art.

uh-oh, portland, you've gone commercial.  this backpack looks neither fair trade nor hand made.

Monday, December 26, 2011

paris, venice on the blue line?

i only know either of the cities in the title from my trips to las vegas, which means i probably know nothing about them.  nonetheless, the following whisked me back to my visits to those casinos.

there are a lot of musical performances on the train.  you get beatboxing, singing and rapping.  those don't need no equipment.  you get some guitar.  those are easily had enough.  you even get a bucket and tambourine on occasion.

in my 12 years of ridin metro though i'd never seen and heard an accordion.  well, here it is.

i'd also never heard anything but urban and folk music out of these live performances.  well, this here dude is playing the sounds of gay pah-REE.  first up was a rendition of frankie's "my way."  after that, the spirit of the season came through with "here comes santa claus."  interestingly enough, he, his wife and kid looked like they may have been from the south of france.  maybe the music infected my vision.

Friday, December 23, 2011


yes, the footlong mohawk spikes do happen in real life.

last time i saw such a do, it was on a teenager at a swap meet who called his mom from the pay phone.  he had to turn his head sideways when she came to pick him and his friends up.  the man pictured above will suffer no such humiliation.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

comedy troupe

this may look like your average evening on the blue line.  however, several elements in the picture (and one that isn't) conspired to make it more memorable than that.  we'll kick things off with the unpictured element.

mini-scene 1: one of them amateur vendors gets on to try to sell christmas lights.  i ain't never seen this particular product on the train, but there they were, vended by santa himself.  he tripped over the handle bars of the bike you see the wheel of and yelled out "fumble!"  after he regained his footing, "that was almost an interception."

mini-scene 2: even though the comedy routine seemed like it was over, santa noticed the bandaged toe.  "damn!!  what'd you do to yo toe!?"
    "i kicked someone."
    "i hope you kicked the shit out of," pause as he noticed the kid with the dreads, "that sumbitch."
    "he was tryin' to sell me christmas lights," to which dreadboy and his two ladies busted out laughing.  they were laughing like hyenas for most of the train ride, so this laugh being their loudest says something.

mini-scene 3: santa steps on the guy's foot.  "dude, that's fucked up," replies toe-man.

mini-scene 4: the hyena on the left of dreadboy says in her best dork voice, "these black people.  they're just so ignorant."  she's only kind of hiding the fact that she's looking straight at the white boy in front of her.  hyena on the right is laughing even harder than she did in mini-scene 2.  hyena left continues, "he probably got his glasses at the end of his nose."  more laughter.  "i wish i had some glasses just so i could put em on the end of my nose."  even more laughter.  i usually try to play it cool, but i was having a hard time stifling laughter at this point.

mini-scene 5: dreadboy does his best michael jackson.  dave chappelle once said,"boy's eight years old.  he don't remember thriller."  i don't think this boy was born when dave made that statement.

Monday, December 19, 2011

young jedi's teenage years?

we saw this young jedi a few months ago.  completed his training he has not.  like any youngster in training, his hair and clothes have changed a bit.  this new jedi-in-training is embracing dark side aesthetics, it would appear, trading simple blonde tips and a hoodie in for a mohawk and black (p)leather(?).  at least the earrings and neck tats keep it real.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

trash porn, pt 8

i don't usually wait until i'm at the bus stop to decide whether or not i need to wear pants.  what a diverse world we live in.

Monday, December 12, 2011


train comes to a stop.  don't start again.  conductor's on the platform talkin on the phone.  not good.

gaggle of fare inspectors and sheriff's deputies amble down the platform.  two lafd ambulances roll by.  they stop at the station entrance.  not getting better.

"i need everybody to get off the train," comes the unhurried announcement a couple minutes later.  three traincar-loads of cummuters follow orders.

the gaggle regathers in a close pack.  a stretcher rolls by.  girl on the stretcher is shielding her eyes from the sun and looking around, not the least bit dazed.  she's up on one elbow.

conductor starts the empty train up.  everyone watches it roll away, still empty.  maybe some kind of haz mat inspection is on tap.

another train rolls up.  i'm pleasantly surprised metro and lafd got me to work only 20 minutes late.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

oops ... the wind blew it away

yall may have heard of some windstorms in l.a. a little while back.  all sorts of trees went down, power went out and rather than take the opportunity to appreciate just how complex and difficult providing electricity is, folks got all indignant about why they couldn't get it back sooner.  "lazy city agencies blah blah blah..."  i'm sure you know the routine.  anyhow, looks like someone not only got in an accident, but had their car part blown off the 105 onto this here bush.

or maybe not.  maybe someone got into the accident on the street and didn't feel like hauling it away.  or maybe the bumper was tied on with bungee cords in the first place and when it flew off the 105, it hit the concrete wall the ivy is growing on, which caused the dent and there was no accident at all.  or maybe god just put it there to test my faith.

Friday, December 2, 2011

pretty flowers

spontaneous art?  no, probably just forgotten.  if the metro cleaning crew didn't get to it first, it was probably still there when whoever forgot it went back to look for it.  that's because train patrons are notoriously respectful of beautification.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

tis the season

care of metrolink (click image to enlarge).

not exactly sure who the intended audience was, as it left before my train got there, but it was going full blast the whole time all us on the gold line platform were enamored by it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

brain teasers, pt. 2

undertaker or JABGIAS (just another bald guy in a suit)?

super-successful accountant or future dictator?

west african diaspora or JAHWAB (just another hippie with a bike)?

recent entry into pubescence or harris from freaks and geeks, sufferer of heinsbergen syndrome?

Friday, November 25, 2011

personhood initiative

so, personhood initiatives have failed quite miserably a couple of times now.  i'm pretty grateful for that.  except there is one thing nagging me on this black friday, when we most put things over people.  those hunks of silicon, plastic and magnetic stuff are behaving with more humanity than the humans nowadays.  collectively, they're giving better directions, recommending better music and providing more videos of cats farting than any group of what we currently consider "persons."  it appears someone on the train agrees with me.

not to be outdone, across the aisle, another hunk of metal tries to elevate itself into personhood.  awwww, they're holding hands.

and, of course, who wouldn't treat their bottle of soda as a person?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"medical billing" used with "hero" non-ironically

i'm not sure where else this ad runs, but i saw it on the train first and haven't seen it since.

doctors are held up as heroes every once in awhile.  usually, though, they have to give way to some military man of action, captain kirk, a frog* or, in very rare instances, an investment banker**.  never in my entire life have i heard someone, real or fictional, say, "that guy in billing saved my life."

who knows?  maybe medical billers and coders really are heroes.  but wouldn't that be kind of sad?  that we find those brave enough to navigate the bureaucracy heroic?  welcome to terry gilliam's brazil.

* -- new muppet movie is coming out soon and i doubt bunsen honeydew will get the hero's role.
** -- harold always seems to be bailing kumar out, though it's more of a team effort in a very harold and kumar christmas.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

ask and you shall receive

a little over a year ago, i wrote about safe bike lanes after an incident where a bus driver honked aggressively at a biker and the biker proceeded to ride past and slam the bus right under the driver's window.

well, here they are.  real bike lines, inspired by the work of those in nyc, led by occidental college alum janette sadik-khan.

Monday, November 21, 2011

nerd love, i think

just read the book "american nerd" not that long ago.   though i'd recommend it, i was kinda hoping to read more of myself in the book.  one question it's raised that i haven't been able to nail down is "what is a nerd?"  it's sorta like supreme court justice potter stewart's take on hard-core pornography: maybe it can't be defined, but you "know it when you see it."  well, upon seeing the pair below, i knew it.  i have no idea if any love at all is involved here, but these two are definitely very good friends and they're having a way better time on the bus than your average rider.

another item of interest from the book "american nerd" is that being a nerd isn't the stigma it used to be.  hopefully, that's a sign of broadening tolerance and increased curiosity about the things nerds are interested in.  regardless, these two never hide, having animated conversations about anime and, yes, even watching it on their bus ride.

Friday, November 18, 2011


not the most welcoming bathroom sign i've ever seen.  let's see, all i gotta do is jump down off the platform, hop the train fence, cross two more tracks, climb another fenc--OH NO!  TOO LATE!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

necessity's children

i see a lot of baby/kid shoes on the train.  they're not always attached to the child they belong to, babies being prone to kicking and screaming and all, but usually they're not too far away.  so when i see the kids' shoe below and no associated child, i look a little longer.

you might not be able to tell from this picture, but the woman is looking into a mirror, doing her makeup.  what's this got to do with the shoe?  that's her makeup bag.  i'm gonna guess all her kids outgrew that size.

who needs a blue bin for recycling?

Monday, November 14, 2011


i'm often baffled at the work credentials i see displayed on the train.  it's not very often i want complete strangers knowing where i work and my full name.  while the likelihood of any negative consequences from displaying such information is remarkably small, it's remarkably smaller when not displayed.  but, more importantly, lanyards and belt clips make an otherwise professional looking person look sloppy (though, admittedly, "otherwise professional" isn't always applicable).

whatever the safety and fashion implications of work credentials are, i don't think i'd be alone in thinking they are magnified many-fold when you hold up a big, fully-addressed envelope address-side out.

who knows?  maybe she's just delivering this to the post for someone else.  maybe she's part of a criminology research project to see just how dangerous flashing your full-name and address together in public is.  maybe she just don't care.  and maybe she's even trying to be discovered and wants to be stalked.  any of these might be true for her.  but unless they're true for you, please PUT YOUR CREDENTIALS AWAY and protect your pii (that's a census term, google it).

Friday, November 11, 2011

coffee mate is not ouzo

i came across this ad in the train station.

the guy reminded me of another guy in another ad i saw once.  a friend of mine was telling me about ouzo and sent me this picture about how it should be enjoyed.

no matter how similar the happy expressions of these two ads are, coffee mate can not possibly make you as happy as ouzo.  though, to be fair, i've only tried one.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

trash porn, pt 7

some people may recognize the house below as "where strawberry lives."  some may ask "who's strawberry?"  strawberry was a vietnam veteran.  strawberry was a cool uncle who threw cool parties.  but most notably, strawberry was a fictional character in cheech & chong's first movie "up in smoke," who had a distracting birthmark and flashbacks while operating a motorcycle with cheech in the sidecar.

these pictures feature in trash porn because for many reasons, this house should be worth a fair amount and, by extension, well kept.  it's centrally located, close to a train station, in an historic zone, on a corner lot, has very unique features (sculptures and a frickin turret with frickin cannons*) and is a symbol of the pride the neighborhood takes in having been featured in a groundbreaking, seminal movie that still influences how people dress, talk and, well, not be sober.  as you can see though, the yard and the sidewalk around it mostly collect trash.

it should be noted that the view in the second picture is usually obscured by parked cars so i had to wait til street-sweeping day to get a clear picture.  naturally, much of the trash got swept away.

* -- well, things made to look like cannons anyway

Monday, November 7, 2011

spouting water

i can't help but think the natural version of the waterfall below would be much more appealing, but this one's pretty cool too.

i'm a little surprised the city didn't think a giant column of water right over a parking lot was a problem when they built this overpass; but given the spread of the downward plume, perhaps the city's fluid dynamics folks know more than i do.  we won't see who has the last laugh until it rains hard without any wind though.  my money's on a nice little complaint, possibly followed by a lawsuit, from whoever's parked beneath this little spout.

in case you're wondering what this has to do with mass transit, it's just one of those things that i wouldn't have passed by if i were driving, much like the most awesome dmv ever.

also, as a completely arbitrary aside, connected to this post only through the single word "plume," nasa's cassini spacecraft is orbiting saturn and just yesterday completed a flyby of the moon enceladus, one that has ice volcanoes such as the many below.  from my very amateur estimates, the combined plume pictured reaches out about 180 miles, greater than the mean radius of the moon itself.

check the cassini mission in the coming days for the new images.  currently, the images from a fly-by of enceladus from a couple weeks ago are on the front page.

Friday, November 4, 2011


i was trying to figure out which of the names on the sign above went to the trouble of renting the helicopter parked in their shared lot, shown below.

my money's on hooters.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

i see moose

the fall temperatures must have dropped below 70°F (21°C for the "civilized" world).  that's what angelenos refer to as the "moose hat point."

Monday, October 31, 2011

economy bouncing back?

the empty lot i was hoping some naturalist or biologist would save from development by making some discovery is now under development.  i guess no discoveries were made or it wasn't important enough or the economy really is rebounding for someone.

there aren't enough hotels around lax already so another one is being built. with three separate office-park/strip-malls with "for lease" signs on them across the street, the view will be wonderful.  being a half-block away from a leading industrial gas supplier's delivery point to a defense contractor will be great for the guests too.

as they say in real estate, location, location, location.  blocks away from lax and minutes away from the beach make this a prime locati--you know what?  fuck it, i'd rather have a nature preserve.  if i try sometime, maybe i'll get what i need.

Friday, October 28, 2011

real, live music

i don't usually take kindly to aural impositions on public transportation, in case you didn't already know.  bosses suck, kids drivin you crazy, salon done fucked up your hair uh-GAIN, don't know when your cousin's family is movin out.  sometimes it's kinda interesting, but it's usually the same old.

i don't usually give money to panhandlers either.  yeah, i'm sure your niece needs surgery, your mom needs cancer treatment, child support hasn't come through, (what in god's name is ebt anyway?), someone or another's funeral expenses are due and your church is trying to rebuild AND it all happened last week.

but this family here had me ready to pull out all my change.  at first, i was worried the tambourine would hurt my sensitive hearing and i've oft been disappointed by music played by people in wifebeaters, but once the song got underway, it was, as they say, awwwll goooouud.

they busted into a hyped-up, cracked-out version of "come together" (yes, acoustic but cracked-out).  while i'm not the biggest beatles fan, i will say this was my favorite rendition of the song.  and lest you think them boys is just playin percussion, they jumped in to add some backing vocals.

of course, the one time i wanna reach for some change, i'm like spearhead.  i got a hole in my pocket...dear liza.  if only i knew where they were performing next.

Monday, October 24, 2011

brain teasers

just a few puzzles i haven't figured out.

hipster or german emigre?

burnout or roadie for the only samoan band to ever open for ozomatli?

hot rod junkie or real-life pirate?

duckie dale's nephew or kid who had to throw together an outfit out of his grandpa's closet?

Friday, October 21, 2011

skaters, pt 2

here's the second installment of skater pictures (click on any to enlarge).

it's not unusual for the people i ask to photograph to be a little skeptical of my motivation.  this guy was one of them.  most people aren't asked by strangers to take their picture most days, so i understand.

this guy was not skeptical at all.  though he didn't mind having his picture taken, he did ask about this here blog, at which point, the big dude with the binder next to him asked about it to.

that style "A" is ingrained in my memory as the one that that baseball team uses on their uniforms.  i have no idea if they still do though i'm guessing even if they do, that's not why this guy has it on his board.

i actually talked to this guy (caesar or maybe cesar) for a bit.  he's a discretionary train rider.  though he has a car and has used it to commute to cal state long beach, the parking and traffic are too much for him to bear.

i gave salvador props in the last skaters post for customizing his board.  this guy is definitely giving him a run for his money.  this board has eight wheels mounted on four trucks.  when i asked him what was up with that, he said he can glide right over train tracks without even feeling it.  with eight wheels, there's always a pair in front and one in back making contact with the solid ground on either side of the track.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

backpackers. no, real backpackers.

when you live in a city, it can be hard to remember or understand that there are tourists.  okay, maybe if you live in waikiki or las vegas, it's not so hard, but in l.a., people forget that modernist architecture (eg capitol records, theme building), the entertainment industry (eg sony pictures, grauman's chinese theater) and, yes, even the shopping (eg melrose, robertson) can be an attraction; and even easier to forget is that griffith park is the largest city park in the country, almost five times the size of the famed central park in manhattan.

i can assure you though, europeans are drawn here every summer.  being european, they tend to count on the trains to get around, so you see a lot of people like those pictured below, especially near downtown.

who knows if they're camping in griffith park or not, but they look like they could if they wanted to.  hell, it looks like they could camp anywhere if they wanted, maybe crawl into the backpacks themselves.

the eclipsed guy in the white cap
has his own eclipse-inducing backpack

for the most part, when i hear the big-backpackers talk, it sounds like german, but a couple of british accents greet my ear as well. someone once said to me, "in l.a., you can ski in the morning and surf in the afternoon."  i guess the european version is you can hike to a campsite from downtown (no, the pictures were not actually taken downtown, but take my word that these folks went there).