City of Tickets and Technicalities

Of all of the angles in the City of Angels, none is more aggravating, prevalent and reliable as the parking ticket scheme.

Administered by a dedicated corps of governmentally hired hench-people called the parking enforcement bureau,  or the “vulture squad” as some recently-fined citizens refer to them, these over-priced, overly-distributed tickets are a civic curse and inescapable insult to LA’s residents and visitors alike.

While Los Angeles has yet to deal with rampant homelessness, deteriorating sidewalks and 3:00 AM helicopter traffic, it has no problem propping up the city’s coffers with a dubious ticket system that is by many accounts the most outrageous in the country.

No one can argue if they park their vehicle in a non-parking zone for the day and get penalized for it.  If someone dares to take a handicapped-space so that they can run in a 7-11 to buy their smokes, damn right they should pay a fine.  Don’t pay a meter because you forgot?  Okay that sucks, but you still accept the ticket.

But there are tickets and there are tickets.

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As this photo shows, a prominently placed parking permit sticker that would be visible to anyone with the gift of sight, it’s ironic that a dedicated member of the vulture squad apparently didn’t see it and wrote a $68 ticket to a resident in front of her own Miracle Mile house.
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Michael Bay Apocalyptic Film Set or Future Academy Museum?

 

City of Angels and Angles today only had to walk up the street from our Miracle Mile office to take a peek at the blown-out setting for what looks like a future blockbuster.  Naturally, this being L.A., I drove.

Sorry, Mr. Bay, it’s not your back lot version of America 2125.  This site belongs to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences , and while it’s clearly not ready for its Hollywood close-up yet, the future Academy Museum promises to be a game changer when it debuts.

Game changer in both good and potentially bad ways.

Not only will it up the glitz/glamour quotient of the area, but it will change the game for traffic in and around the middle of already overcrowded Wilshire Blvd.  Such is the price to pay for bringing yet another world class showcase to the Museum Square area, joining LACMA’s  redesigned  future campus and the red-clad Petersen, Automotive Museum, which revs its engines right across the street.

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The future Academy Museum looks like it has a perfect place for a 50-foot Oscar. The Petersen is in the foreground.

Here’s what the front looks like now, the gold façade still familiar to longtime Los Angeles residents as the former May Company Department Store.  If you’re not quite that old you still might remember the building as the place that had the King Tut exhibition over a decade ago.

That cool deco front façade is sure to change into something spectacular, but nothing will match the impact of the giant glass  bubble  that will eventually replace the growing rubble pile on the other side of the enormous structure. Surely this futuristic fish bowl as theatre entertainment venue will displace  the floating rock at LACMA as the most popular sort-of-circular tourist destination in town.  The balls at MacArthur Park lake held that title in the fall but they are gone now.
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Survey Says: Enough is Enough.

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I don’t know how it is where you live, but L.A. is not only the capital of glitz and glamor, thanks to the prevalence of showbiz, but we’ve also become the center of all things survey.

Surveys are now a daily nuisance in our lives no matter where we go.

I understand the potential upside for taking a survey when it comes to something useful like voter rights or neighborhood improvement campaigns and other areas where there might be significant change at the end of the rainbow, but do we really need surveys every time we step up to a cash register.

At the post office I’m asked to go home and do an online survey.

At the supermarket I’m asked to rate my cashier’s performance.

At department stores, movie theatres, car washes and anywhere else that I happen to do business I’m being hammered with survey requests.

At Subway – Subway! – they’re asking me to take a one minute survey in exchange for the chance to win a cookie!  It’s madness.

Enough is enough.  I’m done with it!  Stop asking.  Don’t offer me sweet gifts, discounts or other useless perks which will only amount to another survey somewhere down the line.

What are you people going to do with all this survey info anyway?

Is the cashier at Ralph’s going to be retrained to count out my change quarters first instead of nickels first if I put that in my survey?

Will the clerk at the post office somehow manage to eliminate the forty-five minute holiday line if I put that note in the comments section?

Will the lady at Auto Suds get a pay raise if I say she was terrific in stamping my frequent flyer card?

None of this means anything, it’s a complete and utter waste of time. Yet some overpaid MBA, no doubt influenced by our rate everything society (see Yelp, Facebook, You Tube, et al.,)  came up with the scheme that is now rampant across our city’s businesses and no doubt around the world.

I’m just waiting for the company that wants me to do the survey to send me another survey asking how their customer service was?

And no, there is no survey at the end of this column, so don’t feel obligated to leave one of those nasty anonymous notes that are so common in the land of the ‘comments’ box.

 

 

 

 

 

Petersen Automotive Museum Lights It Up

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The Petersen Automotive Museum has been reimagining itself for  this past year and just tonight they threw on the exterior lights in prep for next week’s grand opening.

City of Angels and Angles office is right on the same block so we’ve put up with the gnarly traffic delays as part of the process, and if the outside is any clue as to what’s inside it should all be worth it.

And how about it Petersen…any earlybird tickets for the locals?

Naming Rights For A Rock

Creative flair is everywhere in the City of Angels and Angles,          and never has a city been more worthy of the saying, “Art is in the eye of the beholder.”

Wall murals, site-specific theatre, competing orchestras, random cows statues, otherworldly art installations, roaming, slow-motion mud characters, buskers, web series, TV series, above ground art walks, underground art exhibits, open mics,  closed screenings, L.A., has it all – good, bad, memorable and forgettable.

And rarely can you get two people to agree what merits applause or a closing sign.

True, one person’s artistic pleasure is another’s pain, and even if you’re not into that kind of thing, you can understand the foolishness that comes with trying to get people to agree if something is good art or bad art or even art at all.

I generally try to stay out of art arguments because paint gets everywhere and in the end no one is ever fully right,  especially, when it comes to big bucks museum acquisitions, where, perhaps, the more appropriate saying might be “Art is in the eye of the check holder.”

But I do have a thought about how art is named. Yes, named.

Which brings me to the giant rock currently floating outside at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art –LACMA.

Floating, as the hype around it purports that if you view “Levitated Mass” at just the right angle, you’ll believe it hovers in the air.

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Okay, Where Actually is L.A.?

Los Angeles Map... sort of
Los Angeles Map… sort of

Even casual followers of our fine city vaguely know about the labyrinthine geographical complexities of Los Angeles. The old line, “There’s no there there,” which I always took as an outsider’s misguided slap at L.A., sort of makes sense in the context of our map.

Look up sprawling in the dictionary, or rather on dictionary.com these days, and you’d expect to find an aerial shot of this city of angels and angles. L.A. proper seemingly stretches on forever, which means the inevitable hours in traffic if you’re going anywhere across town. Okay, we get that, we handle that as part of living in one of America’s urban treasures.

The thing is, though, that sprawl often isn’t even a part of our city, although it’s smack dab centrally located in it, or inside it, or about it anyway.

Confused yet? You will be.

Long ago, some people came up with the bright idea that it would work well if other cities and towns were allowed to be placed directly into the middle our already spread out metropolis.

Were they playing a practical joke? Okay, it worked. We’re all confused. I’ve lived here for two decades and I’m never 100% sure when I’m in L.A. or in a neighboring location, although this neighbor lives kind of in our house, not next door. Continue reading Okay, Where Actually is L.A.?

Found in Beverly Hills, er, Los Angeles

In Los Angeles you can buy your window replacements at Beverly Hills Glass on Pico Blvd., purchase your seating at Beverly Hills Chairs on Westwood Blvd. and drive off with a fancy set of wheels from Beverly Hills Unique Sports Cars on La Brea.

All of which can be found in Los Angeles, not Beverly Hills.

Need hormone replacement therapy or perhaps some hair replacement? Make a trek to Beverly Hills Rejuvenation Center. Looking for something cuddly to hug? Call Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Company. Pipes gone bad? Call Beverly Hills Plumbing Supply. You’ll find all three of them but they won’t be in Beverly Hills. They pay taxes to the city of L.A.

Apparently the Beverly Hills name carries some serious clout, even when it has nothing to do with the actual Beverly Hills.

Okay, Beverly Hills BMW, I get. They actually started out there before relocating east to their swanky new showroom on Wilshire near Highland, which is in Los Angeles. I guess the name reads sexier than “Just West of Koreatown BMW” on license plate frames.

But what is the deal with all of these other L.A. businesses dropping Beverly Hills in their names when they’re not even located in the tiny, yet uber-wealthy, sister city of Los Angeles?

Well, it’s all about name association of course. Products just sound like they’re going to be a little spiffier, of a higher quality, and services more polished when they come with Beverly Hills attached. It’s good ol’ fashioned advertising and it works. I know firsthand because I’ve used one or two of the above.

It’s understandable for ventures right on the edge of Beverly Hills – like Beverly Hills Tanning and the Four Seasons Hotel Beverly Hills. After all, you can walk twelve feet and be in the 90210, or at least the 90211. Across the street locales aside, though, this name game angle has taken on a life of its own.

Sticking to the ever-popular hotel category, the Courtyard Marriot in Century City (that’s Los Angeles) now advertises itself as the Courtyard Marriot Century City Beverly Hills.  Huh? A family booking a stay there and hoping to spot some celebrities may be a bit surprised to see they are in visual proximity to a nice Ralph’s Supermarket but not Ralph Macchio or any other celebrity named Ralph. More upscale but employing the same tactic, is the Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, which, as you may have guessed is not at all in Beverly Hills, but it is right across the street from the famous Beverly Center, which also isn’t in Beverly Hills.

Now, I’ll play along if the product is superb. The next time I need a taxi, you know I’m calling Beverly Hills Cab Company, which is located east of La Cienega by the 10 freeway in Los Angeles. Note: They are near Rodeo, however, that’s Road, not Drive. Wherever they are, the taxis are clean, the drivers friendly and they won’t give you a meter rip-off tour of Los Angeles when you just want a ride from mid-Wilshire to the airport.

And if you can afford the fare they’ll even take you all the way to Beverly Hills Furniture, which is located in Jersey City, New Jersey.

T.M.

discovering Los Angeles