Way way out there

Category: Los Angeles

Beer Garden, LA Style

CoLAboration, a brainchild of some of the luminaries of the Los Angeles craft beer scene, is a “pop-up beer garden” that aims to provide a space for Angelenos to gather and enjoy taps of some of the best beers available. After the WinterFest event was canceled due to the heavy winds back in December, the event was rescheduled at an indoor venue, downtown LA’s Belasco Theater, for this past weekend. Itching to get out of Hollywood to avoid the Oscar madness for the afternoon we hit the Metro station for the quick ride downtown and met up with Hamish (read his recap here) to sample some brews. Read the rest of this entry »

Los Angeles has Two Seasons.

The Off Season & Baseball Season, and today is the Solstice.  On that harrowed field nestled in Sulfir Canyon, adjacent to the freeways, warehouses, and skyscrapers of LA’s urban core, America’s pastime will commence again as the Boys in Blue, the Bums, The Briedgrooms, the Los Angeles Dodgers will take the field at Chavez Ravine to face their storied rivals the San Francisco Giants.

When the  ceremonial first pitch is thrown, this year by Dodger legend Fernando Venezuela,  an event with all the astronomical and astrological power of the Solstice, innumerable fans across our country, and the globe, will experience the zenith of their hopes for the season.  All 30 teams on equal footing.  All records 0-0. All batting averages .000 and ERAs 0.0, and our lives will again be filled with the promise of peanuts and Cracker Jack, walk-off bombs and crushing called third strikes.  Favorite players will fall to injury while names unknown rise to stardom, and maybe fall back to earth.  Win or lose there are 162 games on the schedule and 162 games worth of lengthening days and warm nights to enjoy before the seasons change again.

My Off Season began with the whimper of the 2010 team being unable to finish the season with a winning, or even a .500, record and it spiraled down through loss, death, and a dark and cold winter that shook me to my core.  The most difficult element of coping with the death of my mother and my mother-in-law has been the slow realization that life goes on.  It moves forward for everyone around you first, while you are still mired in the new reality foisted upon you.  Then life sweeps you along and your only option is the white-water or to kick hard for the shore.  I’ve spent a lot of time swimming over the past months.  Towards what, I never seem to know, but I’m fighting the rapids and keeping my head above water.  And today the struggle gets a little easier as even a losing season or a full-blown implosion of the team cannot eclipse the joy and hope of the top of the first inning when all the boxes on the scorecard are empty.

That is perhaps Baseball’s most beautiful trait: there are so many fresh starts in the sport.  The start of the season of course, but also always another no balls no strikes at bat; always the chance of a 9th inning comeback; or the chance to “get them tomorrow.”   It is this hope and opportunity that makes me love the game so much, and life’s ups-and-downs seem so much more manageable against the backdrop of April’s young season or the dog-days of July and August, or a tight pennant race in September.  The successful teams are the ones that can look past the hindrance of injuries, the despair of a slump, or the despondency of a protracted losing streak and see that hope and opportunity and find ways to succeed. They say that baseball is a game of adjustments; hitters have to make minute course corrections at the plate over the 162 games to be productive.  Pitchers need to make careful tweaks to their mechanics to keep their pitches sharp. Managers influence the game with small changes to the line-up or the rotation.  Any one of these could be enough to turn an at-bat or a game or a season around.

Baseball’s galaxy of statistics are the basis for many of these adjustments.  Untold numbers of  statisticians churn though ever iota of data to quantify every aspect of the game.  the beauty of the numbers is just below the surface of the game and it’s something I am fascinated by. I often wish that everyday life had such a multitude of metrics to measure our progress.  Something to base personal course-corrections on and measure week-to-week accomplishments and progress by.  Instead I struggle against the external judgments and even harsher self-opinions that face every decision.  After a lingering off season and the brief run-op of Sprint Training I am ready for the fresh start. Ready to move past the winter’s doldrums and eager to hear the crack of the bat and watch a ball sail, a tiny while orb against LA’s azure sky, deep into rabble seated in the pavilions.

Today, when Vin Scully speaks the words “It’s time for Dodger baseball,” I will probably shed a tear.  A tear for the losses and pain since the last time he spoke those words to the innumerable fans.  A tear for the part of myself that was lost and forever changed. A tear of realization that now it will always ring differently to me.  But also a tear of joy and of excitement for what the imminent future will bring.  Win or lose it is time to take the field, wait for the pitch, and put a good swing on the ball.

The seasons are changing in Los Angeles, and Baseball brings me and hope and a new outlook.  Play Ball!

My Five Favorite Songs about Los Angeles (off the top of my head.)

The internet loves a list, so I figured I’d throw the curtain off this new site and kick off the weekend with a hastily thrown together and not really researched list-post at the top of the page.  Here are 5 songs that I thought of first when I sat down:

“Los Angles” by Frank Black

To me this song is inexorably linked to it’s awesome video that features Black Francis himself driving around the desert in a hover craft (driving?) directed by They Might Be Giant’s John Flansburg. The first single off Frank Black’s 1993 solo debut which remains to this day one of my favorite albums of all time.  I’m still trying to suss-out the meaning of the tune…  I feel like it is about the love-hate relationship with Los Angeles and a desire to escape the “pouring sun” for some OTHER LA, perhaps the one in South Patagonia.

“In California” by Neko Case

A haunting ditty on a bunch of different twangy guitars about lovers separated by geography  and by mentality.  She name-drops K-town, the 405, the Black Dahlia. The song captures the longing and blind hope/ambition/ then resignation of so many of the California Dreamers.  It’s a cover, but I can’t recall who wrote the song.  Neko makes it her own and it I dig the harmonies so much.

“Paradise City” by GN’R

I don’t think they ever mention LA by name, but come-on. Not my favorite of the album, actually I don’t really like the song all that much at all.  I really dislike the outro.  But it was on the top of my head so…

“Ventura Highway” by America

I love the acoustic guitar riff and the bass line on this Arrow 93.1 classic.  Some more tasty harmonies on this one, though I couldn’t begin to tell you what it is about.  “Alligator lizards in the air?” Indeed. Technically I guess it is about Ventura and not LA, but maybe they are driving OUT of Los Angeles…

“Under the Bridge” Red Hot Chili Peppers

Trite and over played maybe, but did you realize that this song is TWENTY YEARS OLD.  Yeah.  And it still holds up w/o sounding dated.  Easily the best John F’s guitar sounded on that album.  Another anthem about the lost and lonely Angelino finding solstice in the arms of the city herself (or is that heroin?)

I’m sure that I’m going to recall an even MORE favorite song even MORE off the top of my head as soon as I hit “publish,” but there are the 5 that I’m going with for now.  Do you have a favorite Los Angeles song?  Or even a song that makes reminds you of LA?