Friday, July 29, 2011

smells like teens' sticky icky spirit

in case you can't read the shirt below, it says, "so tax me."  i'm not a horticulturalist, but i do believe that's a personified marijuana leaf supposedly making this statement.  while some would be content to merely wear their political convictions on their chest, this young couple made sure everyone around could smell that they live their beliefs.  ahh, the idealism of youth.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

no airbags

there are no airbags on the train.  the cowboy behind the cardboard box knows this.

Monday, July 25, 2011


at first glance, there's nothing remarkable about the following picture.  it's just a bunch of people riding the red or purple line to ... well, somewhere.  if you ride everyday (or even close) though, then perhaps you'll see what i saw in this scene.

on the near side (closer to the camera) of the train, you've got about eight passengers (some, including me, not pictured).  on the far side, you will see precisely zero (if it's not evident in the picture, you'll have to take my word).  this is not the usual spatial distribution of passengers.

turns out the next stop is the end of the line.  it also turns out that the near door is the closest to the platform's exit on this car (i'll leave it to the reader/rider to figure out which line and which end i'm talking about).  all these passengers have these two pieces of information within their personal crystal balls.  when dealing with the statistical world of bus arrival times, these sorts of optimizations can save up to an hour, though that may all change with nextrip.  you'll often see very specific train doors more crowded than the others.  i often wondered why, only to find that the crowded door opens right to the escalator or stairs at a particular stop and most of the crowd empties.

sure enough, when the train stops, four of the people near the door scramble to the exit just a few feet away, bound up the steps two at a time and scurry on their way.  like i said, this can save up to an hour, but this time i see all of them on the platform at their (and my) connecting train.  at least they avoided the crowd piling out from the other cars.

Monday, July 18, 2011

not of this earth

when driving, attention is sometimes too focused on the road and other cars to notice the scenery.  taking the train and bus gives you time to look out the window, but more importantly, also makes you walk a little.  one place i used to walk by was the lot where "everywoman's village" was.  apparently, it closed down in 1999, ending a 30+ year run of educating van nuys.  i regret not taking pictures of the lone building that still had a mural on it, which has since given way to some new cookie-cutter thing that's as forgettable as well, all the other stuff i've forgotten.  there are some photos over at life magazine, unfortunately mostly interior ones (on the way to yoga, art class, more art class, even more art).

living with the regret of that time, i took the following series of pictures while walking through culver city on my way from the bus stop to my final destination.

chances are pretty good this building won't disappear anytime soon.  though you may wonder about the value of a science-fiction museum, not too far away from this building is the museum of jurassic technology, which is far weirder than science-fiction.

what exactly is this building that has this wonderful mural on it?  this is the culver city department of motor vehicles.  i think they were hoping that one day they would be issuing permits for driving on the moon.  perhaps they still harbor that hope.  after all, spacex is only a few miles away in hawthorne.

the dmv isn't exactly well known for its aesthetics nor its preservation like, say, l.a. dwp.  however, it's also not as well-known for conspicous building renovation as, say, lausd.

so long as people are living and driving in culver city, i'm guessing this mural is pretty safe.  hopefully those folks appreciate this as much as us hikers.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

recycling, bus-waiting style

shopping carts get stolen a lot.  this is a pretty well-known phenomenon.  not everyone who shops has a fancy horseless carriage to move their goods around in.  not everyone who doesn't shop has a structure around which they can sleep (see brenda's living quarters, for instance).  and, finally, to tie this all back to the topic of this here blog you're reading, not every shopping cart that is stolen simply disappears.  this young lady, for instance, doesn't want to wait with me or what look like might be her peers down the way, so she simply turns the shopping cart into a bus bench.  "creative re-use" if ever i saw it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

blind blue-line beggar

regular blue-line riders know from the title alone who i'm talking about.  for the rest of you, yes, it's true that there are lots of beggars on the blue-line, particularly during evening prime-time.  there really aren't that many blind people though (i know, i just wrote about one, but believe me, it's pretty rare).  even if that weren't the case, this particular blind beggar on the blue-line is noteworthy.  for starters, he's shameless and loud during his announcement.  it doesn't come across as annoying like other shameless, loud activities though because he keeps it pretty brief.  also, the announcement is bilingual.  so, if anyone is trying to learn english or spanish, they get their own personal rosetta stone.  but most noteworthy is that this man will take out his fake eyeballs to prove that he's blind.  usually, he'll say something like, "folks, i'm really blind.  i'm not faking it," then pop out an ojo de plastico and continue, "there are plastic and i really need help.  today is twofer tuesday at popeye's."

i write just to let all his friends know that he is still alive.  he's a bit skinnier than the last time i saw him and he has quite a bit more white hair.  however, his clothes did look cleaner than usual and while he still didn't smell great, it wasn't as bad as in the past.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

"personal" space

usually, the sandals-with-socks types on the gold line aren't the type to instigate.  of course, they usually don't have a du-rag on nor do they usually sport red with white polka-dot manicures either.  they do usually sit in the handicapped/elderly seats, though, which is where this particular sandals-with-socks was sitting.

since i sit all day at work, sometimes i stand for the trip even though seats are open.  i grab one of them poles you're supposed to grab when you're standing, you know, for the safety of yourself and others.  it happens to be one that sandals-with-socks was sitting next to.  i didn't think anything unusual was going on, just staring out the windows like i usually do.  suddenly, a "PFFFFTTT!!" forceful enough to send spit-icles into the air comes from sandals-with-socks, accompanied by some arm-waving.

"what's the problem?" i ask.

"uuhh!" she exclaims, throwing her arms down in frustration.

"what's the problem?" i ask again, thinking something was genuinely wrong, like something had spilled out of my bag onto her.

"could you BACK UP!?" she tells me.  this was just plain odd to me because with the exception of my arm and hand, the rest of my body was at least half a foot, if not a full foot from the pole i was grabbing.

so, i say, "i gotta hold on to one of these to make sure i don't fall."

"go hold that one over there," she tells me.

"but then i'm in that guy's space," i said, not thinking such a simple statement would actually end the conversation.

she's on her phone with someone and says, "can you see what i'm dealing with?"  up to this point, i couldn't hear a thing she was saying, so i guess she was raising her voice.  she got so frustrated with the fact that i wouldn't move, she said, "fine.  i'll get the next train," which she did.

another gentleman was getting off.  he smiled at me and said, "good luck."

thinking back on it, that was a weird thing to say, but the look on his face and his body language was positive, so i just said, "thanks."

socks-with-sandals said something, emphasizing one of the words with a point directed at me.  i honestly couldn't hear her, so i just smiled, waved and said, "have a nice day," as the doors closed.

i got some congratulations about taking the high road from the guy who was sitting next to the pole that socks-with-sandals would've preferred for me to stand next to.  i'm grateful that people appreciated what i did, but i can't help thinking something went gravely wrong in socks-with-sandals' life and she could use some real help.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

trash porn, pt 2

in a previous post, i took a few pictures of what seemed like not-such-lucrative use of land smack in the middle of los angeles.  well, there are many such scenes to photograph from a train.  nimbys won't let light rail through their oh-so-delectable piece of the american dream and budgets rarely allow for acquisition of such in any case.  so, here we go, some more trash porn for those that think huge piles of discarded objects are fascinating (like me!).

oh, and there's some pretty cool graffiti work too.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


what do you think of when you hear "portable music blasting in public?"  if you were alive to see the first spike lee joints, you probably think of something like this:

portable music then (from

such public displays of music are still so feared that even new signs that warn of fines explicitly depict them.

well, since then, "portable" has come to mean something else.  but it can't stop (indeed won't stop) some from sharing their tunes in public.

the man in yellow above was helpin us all out with a little lesson in hip-hop.  wasn't quite as much bass as in spike lee's early days.  wasn't quite as much in the mid-range either.  but i sure did enjoy the cymbal ridin.

Friday, July 1, 2011

nature preserve or recession? BOTH!

when humans falter, nature takes over (that's right, humans are unnatural).  oh my, what have we here?

thanks to the recession wiping out any development plans, we have ourselves about 10 acres of nature preserve (those splotches in the sky are from the train window i took this from).  yeah, it's partitioned into three sections by chain link fence.  yeah, some human or another has probably set foot in there for "maintenance" purposes.  but, by and large, the grasses are growing and the insects insecting.

i hope some other wildlife makes whatever really-awesome, eventual development jump through lots of extra hoops on account of being endangered or unique in some way.  biologists and naturalists, this plot of land is calling YOU!