Friday, December 29, 2006

The Year in MilesThink

Why not? Every other blogger worth their salt (whatever that means) is doing it, so here goes, here's a look back at some of my favorite posts:

January 1: Namaste And, let's start the new new year off with that as well, why don't we?

February: A view of Los Angeles from Griffth Park after a big storm. Is any other major city more beautiful then L.A. when it's scrubbed clean? I think not.

February: Cooper, brought home from Ireland, tries to play with our older dog Sabrina. Hilarity and agression ensue.

March 22: The beginning of the 4th year of the Iraq war. We didn't know why we were there in March (or any time before) and we certainly don't know why now, tonight, as we learn of Hussein's hanging.

March 25: Si se puede. The political/socio-economic world begins to shift and it starts with 500,000 people marching through Los Angeles.

April 17: Mass Transit in L.A. then and now. With the expo line beginning, the eastside line extending, plans for a line down Wilshire to the beach, and traffic worsening every day, mass transit is back in our life and we'll all be better for it.

May 1: Mas de "si se puede" (photo from L.A. Times)

May 22: Lancelot Link. Sadly, I believed that the full episodes and mini doc were going to be released on DVD. Instead, some illegitimate company back east released them, incomplete and at low quality, and refused to stop selling them even as ABC (part owners of the show) sent them a cease & desist. ABC doesn't seem interested in pursuing legal action and that's where it stands. It's sad.

May 27: Kevin deLeon. He was campaigning door to door and he accidentally (I assume) left my front gate open and my dog got out. Well, I got annoyed and got up on my electronic soap box and the result was that he went ahead and became our next Assemblyman regardless of my blog and I received more comments than any other post ever. I hope he's a better Assemblyman than gate closer.

June 9: Tranny Special

June 12: Gay Pride

June 13: Who said, "L.A. is a harsh mistress, but she's my lady."

June 27: Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica at Sunset.

July 2: Why a national sales tax is patently unfair. It still is.

July 7: Habibi's Falafel? Middle eastern food in Atwater Village? As if...

August 5: Grape Stomping is not for amateurs. Watch it again.

August 15: New York Subway story.

September 10: Canele. Boy, did I get alot of comments. I loved it then and I love it now. And I guess I'm not alone. So there.

September 13: Best Interview Ever. James Brown. R.I.P.

September 28: The future L.A. subway map. Still gives me chills.

October 4: A death in Atwater Village.

October 31: Halloween in Atwater Village.

November 28: Best Burger in Los Angeles and the McGriddle: A love story.

December 6: Taco Truck Lady: A love story.

December 10: Nana Sandra. 8 days before she died. Rest in Peace.

Well, there you have it. The good, the bad, the amusing, the sad. You take them all and there you have the facts of life. The facts of life.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and more peaceful new year. Lord knows, the whole planet could use it. Namaste.

Sadam Hussein to be Executed This Weekend

So, it has been leaked by the Bush administration. I think Josh Marshall has the best take on it that I've seen thus far:

"This whole endeavor, from the very start, has been about taking tawdry, cheap acts and dressing them up in a papier-mache grandeur -- phony victory celebrations, ersatz democratization, reconstruction headed up by toadies, con artists and grifters. And this is no different. Hanging Saddam is easy. It's a job, for once, that these folks can actually see through to completion. So this execution, ironically and pathetically, becomes a stand-in for the failures, incompetence and general betrayal of country on every other front that President Bush has brought us. "

Read the whole thing.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Meta Blogging

I don't know if this counts, but one of my favorite neighborhood blogs has blog rolled me -- Atwater Newbie -- and I couldn't be more delighted. Since I do tend to be all over the place -- from family issues to political issues to Canele -- I'm thrilled at the recognition. I've never met Mr. or Mrs. Newbie, but I'm honored by their recognition and encourage you to visit them for the latest and greatest about our little neck of the woods.

Post Christmas Decorations


DSC00184
Originally uploaded by miles10001.

Decorations after Christmas and after a particularly windy night always seem a smidge depressing. Here Santa's taken a header from a strong Northeasterly wind.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Jennifer Hudson and Dreamgirls

OhmyGod. Jennifer Hudson gives the best performance of 2006 in the best movie of the year. And Eddie Murphy is spectacular. Jennifer's performance, though, could be considered to rival Barbra Streisand's performance in FUNNY GIRL all those many years ago. Seriously, she is a star. Go see it if you haven't. Go see it again if you've seen it. And get the soundtrack. It's that damn good.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Los Angeles Police Broken

So much for the "broken windows" policy. While I live in Atwater Village and the neighborhood has definitely improved over the years, in general it is ignored by the city's police department (among other departments).

On the block I live on, all street lights have been out for a week. No note from DWP or the city and a call to Eric Garcetti's office turned up a response in two days saying that they were aware of it and working on it.

Anyway, tonight, some yahoo was setting off personal fireworks to celebrate Jesus' birth (I guess) for at least half an hour around midnight. After 20 minutes, I called the local police dept. (northeast div) and they transferred me to 911 where I've been on hold for 20 minutes.

WTF?!

What if these illegal fireworks set my house on fire?

Really? WTF?

Our street has been without streetlights for a week, this was inevitable?

Where are the police?

Where is the city?

Why does it not matter?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Iraq Quagmire

Many of the left saw it for what it was, but most were left unheard. Billmon -- thankfully back again after a brief absence -- revisits his telling archives. This post may be the most depression one I've ever read. Read it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Little More About My Nana

This is some of what I plan to say tomorrow at her funeral...

What can I say about my Grandmother. I’ll start with her name. Nana. Nana Red Hair. We didn’t call her Nana Sandra. We couldn’t. Well, I couldn’t. For some reason, it came down to me. The first grandchild. I was not able to call her what my mom tells me she wanted to be called at first: Grandmama. Not only that, I couldn’t even pronounce Sandra. I just couldn’t say Sandra. So, the result, well, should be obvious. I called her Nana Red Hair. Then, we all did. And, though strong willed – more strong willed than anyone I know – she relented.

Anyhow, I’ll only speak briefly. Her first name wasn’t even Sandra. I can’t remember what it was, but it was a normal sounding name that a character in a novel or movie also had and she simply didn’t like it. So, she changed it. And no one could argue against the change. Have I mentioned that she was strong willed?

I’ll bookend this by jumping ahead decades. Well into her 90s, with me having moved back from Boston and living in L.A., she would somehow convince me to drive her everywhere. I mean everywhere…in a day. Pick her up in Westlake Village, pick up some relative somewhere in the San Fernando Valley , drive to Boyle Heights to visit her parents and aunts and uncles and cousins at the old Jewish cemetery. Then, it was off to Canter’s for a nosh – on her, of course – and then reverse the course, back to the Valley, back to Westlake Village and back home. I could have had a livery license, but I did it. She made me do it. And I loved it.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Nana Sandra

Rest in Peace. 97 years old and a couple months, she died tonight around 7. She had a good long life filled with love and tsoris. She always meant well, in my estimation, and she offered nothing but love to myself and my sister. At a time when my father and I really hadn't spoken in 20 odd years, she made us get on the phone. She knew. She was a force.

I've had too many people die in my life and Nana Sandra is the very latest. As I said before, I shouldn't be so sad for somebody who had lived 97 years, but I am. Maybe it's that the last little bit was so hard. Is that really necessary? Shouldn't the last little bit be the easiest?

I don't know for sure if there's something after life, but I hope that there is. And there, I hope she meets up with her husband and her parents and brothers and sisters and Manuela and my friends and Michael and Poppy and Denise and her friends and all that is not good here is good there. That is my hope.

God speed, Nana. I love you.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I Got a Shave Today

I admit it's becoming addictive. I think I've done it now once a week for the past month or so...and off and on for the last year. I go to Tony's Barber Shop in Silver Lake, next to the Ralphs, CVS (formerly Sav On), Starbucks, Astro mess.

Tony's has a barber pole outside, real barber chairs, black and white linouleum tile, lots of newspapers and magazines and national geographics. He plays whatever sports is on TV or Mexican music. I like the Mexican music.

All of the barbers are latino and most of them don't really speak too much English. Tony does and welcomes all. As I've sat waiting -- no reservations, of course -- I've seen everyone from gang bangers to elderly immigrants to gay men sit down, read the paper and get a haircut.

Most don't seem to go for a shave and only a couple of the barbers can even do it. But the wait is worth it. They sit you down, drape you in a yellow drop cloth, tuck a towel into your collar and tilt you back. Way back. Close your eyes and relax, you're gonna be here for a spell.

First comes the foam. They vigorously spread it across your face and massage. It feels good. Real good. Up next, the hot wet towel is layed across your face. Depending on the barber, this will either be a simple washcloth layed out over the foam and beard and patted or an elegantly maneuvered hot wet towel that covers your entire face but considerately leaves a breathing hole for your nose. It's more traditional and more enjoyable to get the latter.

After the towel, they can either apply some sort of moisturize-hot towel regimen again or go straight back for the foam and the long blade. Once the scraping begins, you've really put your face in the hands of your barber. They scrape, and pull and tug and scrape more. They push and lift and squeeze and shape. And when you think they're done, they go through it all again. And it feels great. Really great.

If you're lucky, they'll then apply another hot towel followed by, if you're not so lucky, some after shave. Oh, and does it sting? Yes, it stings. Strangely, though, once the after shave's applied and the barber takes the towel that was tucked into your collar and fans your face, all is well. You've been shaved.

How much does it cost? $12 plus tip. Well worth the indulgence. Try a shave at Tony's!

Tony's Barber Shop
2552 Glendale BlvdLos Angeles, CA 90039
(323) 663-9589

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Nana Sandra

Sandra is my grandmother. We always called her "Nana with the Red Hair" because when I was a toddler, "Sandra" was too hard to pronounce.

Anyway, she's 97 years old and is going through a hell of a time the last month or so. She's lived in southern california since about 1915 -- her family general store and farm had one of the first phones and gas stations in the valley -- and she has now lived long enough so that modern medicine can keep her alive beyond the point where she would have presumably died 20, even 10 years ago.

She can't really speak. She can't control her body. But there is a chance all this can come back to her.

I've faced more deaths than I care to admit at this point in my life. This inevitable one is no easier. Actually, when it does happen, probably harder. I don't know why. I should feel sadder for people I've loved who have died young, right? 97 years old is a good a long life, right?

I think what's getting me right now is the current situation: hospitalized, unable to really communicate, in pain: it's not fair. She shouldn't have to go this way. It's not fair.

But, it's a part of life.

John Hughes of West Newton, MA

Rest in Peace.

Father of our dear friends, Mary,Carole and John, husband of Margaret, Grandfather to many, John will be missed.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Parenting

If you think you've had a tough month, take a glimpse of Sarah's life. Oy. And I thought it was terrible picking up five bags of dog crap. Not so much.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

L.A. Taco Truck Lady - An L.A. Love Story

I live on the eastside -- though that's debatable these days -- and work in Beverly Hills. Yeah, the commute's a gas. Anyway, one of the nice things about where I work -- and this is true about most office buildings all over the city -- is that we're on a regular route of a taco truck.

And, oh sweet jesus, I do love our taco truck and our taco truck lady. She and her meals on wheels are in front of my very building every day -- rain or shine -- at 9:30a and 1p. Every day.

The food is voluminous and quite tasty. The breakfast burrito, though, is legendary. A brief description, if you will: A large flour tortilla overstuffed with at least 3 eggs, a heaping amount of cheddar cheese, a slab of hash browns, a large thick slice of ham, bacon and sausage. Oh, and the bacon and sausage are actually wrapped in the ham. Yes, I said wrapped. It's like a meat wrap inside a Burrito wrap. Crikey!

Here's how you eat it. You take two small bites off the top and then just before every subsequent bite, you fork in a little of her homemade salsa. Honestly, this one meal could end world hunger. I have at it at 9:45 and I swear to God, as my witness, I can't even consider eating until 4ish.

I have started to vary it a tad, though. It's actually too much. Sometimes no hash browns and ham. Sometimes no cheese. Today, though, I found the perfect combination: No ham and an extra piece of bacon. It filled me and, yet, I could actually have a small salad around 2:30.

Anyhow, this whole post really is about the truck lady. I don't know her name, but I love her. I think she's Korean and the ladies who work inside the truck cooking are latino. What's really amazing, though, is that she speaks Spanish more fluently than English.

God, I love that and I love L.A. for that. So, here's to you Korean Spanish-speaking Taco Truck Lady! You're the best and your breakfast burritos are unparalleled!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Clown Jokes Make Me Giggle

Especially when they're in legit obituaries, God help me.

A little song, a little dance.
A little seltzer in your pants.

Gets me every time.

(Of course, my friends and family know I prefer lines about seeing curtains in the window and just having to have them, but that's a story for a different day.)

Monday, December 04, 2006