Archive for the Los Angeles Category

Great show last night! It helped that we were in the sixth row, so we could really see what was going on. Stevie had a daughter and two sons, all of whom were part of the show – and turn out to be pretty good performers in their own right.

Stevie played mostly newer material in the first half. I didn’t know much of it, but it sounded great, and had a nice jazz touch to it. Most of the audience wasn’t too familiar with it either, but there were some who were going nuts, singing every word.

Second half was more of the traditional hits, plus songs where he brought in the family. His older son sang some of “Ribbon in the Sky” and his younger son played the drums on “Superstition.” His daughter sang a song she wrote.

OK – here are my lame iPhone pics of the concert – it’s a shame I didn’t bring a real camera since clearly no one there cares.

Bike to Work Day, Belated

I finally had a day where I wasn’t driving the kids to school or camp, I wasn’t stopping at Trader Joe’s on the way home, and nothing else was there to preclude me from biking to work. So I did it. No problem.

My commute is about five miles each way, and I think the bike ride took maybe an extra five minutes. 

My biggest problem is that I have to ride down some pretty major streets. And LA isn’t really a bike-friendly city, so I actually took to the sidewalk in a few places, like around freeway entrances where I’ve seen many cars swing wildly across three lanes to get on an entrance ramp. In those areas, I took the safe route.

Cars in LA really don’t get how to pass a bike on the street. In fact, I’d wager that all of my energy savings were lost by having other cars crawl behind me, then jam on the gas when they thought they could safely pass.

Nice ride, in the end. No radio, no phone, just the fresh air (really) and the wind.

Sadly, no pictures. I honored that provision of the venue’s policies. I also poured my red wine into a Nalgene container (#2 – HDPE) so as not to attempt bringing a wine bottle in. But onto the music:

One of the main reasons I went was to see Elvis. I’m a longtime Elvis fan, and, as much as I like The Police, Elvis was top draw for me. Unfortunately, Elvis didn’t get the respect he deserved.

I arrived about fifteen minutes late, at 7:45, and heard “Pump It Up” blasting through the speakers. I knew they wouldn’t play a song from a band that would be on later the same night, so I realized Elvis was already on. Just fifteen minutes after the appointed start time? Things have changed since I used to go to shows, I guess. Or the entertainers are just getting older. I wasn’t expecting anything until 8:30 at the earliest. I figured 7:45 would be all-clear of good music. Unfortunately, so did everyone else. Elvis don’t get no respect.

Since the Bowl is basically known for picnicking, among other recreational activities, people were milling around, eating, drinking, setting up, going off to the sides to smoke, cleaning up their meals, etc. All the while, Elvis belted it out.

He played with the Impostors, who include Steve Nieve. They did some old stuff (Peace, Love, and Understanding) and some songs off Momofuku. Then Sting came out and did “My Aim is True” with Elvis. 

The biggest problem with that part of the show was the sound. They must have optimized the acoustics for The Police, because Elvis basically sounded like shit out there. I could barely make out some of the music. I was praying that The Police’s sound quality would be better – and it was.

So then, while the sun was still up, Elvis ended his set.

A bit later, The Police came out. Nice, casual start (can’t remember the exact song). Lighting was great – lots of effects reminiscent of Ghost in the Machine art. The set was very well designed, and, as mentioned above, the sound quality was pretty excellent at this point.

They played tons of the good hits: Roxanne, Every Breath You Take, Don’t Stand So Close To Me, De Do Do Do De Da Da Da, Wrapped Around Your Finger, etc. I was a bit surprised that they played not a single song from Sting’s solo albums.

Sting looked pretty good. Not as full of energy as in the old days, but vibrant, engaged, and interested. Andy is really getting old. I guess he’s about ten years older than the other two guys, and it shows. He still has his skill as a guitar player, but his face is pretty much frozen in place, and he looks like he has to concentrate pretty hard to make it happen. Still – the talent is there.

But Stewart killed me. I can’t imagine that the guy hasn’t seem some footage of himself and worked on his look a little bit. But I guess our dear president still says ‘nucular’ and he’s got an army of attendants. Stewart looks like some kid who grew up too fast and ended up as a real estate agent, but always wanted to jam on the drums. Again, the guy is very talented – without question. But the super-tight black jeans, the sweatband (probably needed), the hair, the printed t-shirt, and, most of all, the facial expressions practically killed me with laughter.

The showed ended with a few encores. Right out of some live album that I’ve heard a million times, Sting started introducing the band in the end of Every Breath You Take, “And on guitar, Mr. Andy Summers . . .”

Tierra Miguel CSA Box Update

Just an update here on what I’ve been receiving from my Tierra Miguel Farms Community Sponsored Agriculture box. Frankly, I feel like it’s a little light this week considering the $40 price tag. It’s generally all very delicious (the strawberries this week are amazing, and the avocados last week were luscious). But I had the idea that starting in the Spring, I’d be getting more produce. Instead, the size has shrunk since the winter.

Here’s a pic of my latest box’s contents:

The include jar of honey looks pretty good . . . that’s the first time I’ve received something processed in my box.

I just got back from Astro Camp in Idyllwild, California. I went as a chaperone on a class trip with my kids.

Everything you’ve heard about the food is true. Many had warned me, so I came prepared. I won’t harp on it too much except to say that you should get to the salad bar fast. Since the main courses are essentially inedible, you need to get to the very busy salad bar before you end up with lettuce in a soup of cold water and the dregs of the vegetables. Also, at breakfast, the fruit is at the salad bar station, and being largely untouched by the ‘cooks,’ it’s very popular and goes fast.

OK, now that that’s past I’ll move on to the great features of Astro Camp, namely, the classes.

As far as I understand the process, the school selects the classes or segments that the students will participate in during their stay. So I’m really not sure what else is out there, but I’ll give a rundown of what we did. As usual, our school’s amazing teachers really picked interesting, engaging activities for the students.

Soda Bottle Rocket Launch – Using a two liter bottle as the main body, we learned how to build on a nose cone out of clay, and cardboard fins. This activity was in part just a lot of fun, but was also a lesson in several aspects of physics and motion including how heavier objects move slower with the same amount of force and gravity (with calculations to determine the height of the rockets). In addition, this activity gave the more artistic kids a chance to build based on more unique ideas.

Zip Line – Really, all fun. 700 feet of zip line here. I was expecting some physics lesson, but it was just for sheer fun. Maybe there was a little bit of overcoming acrophobia on the platform, but otherwise, it was a blast.

Catwalk – Like the zip line in that it wasn’t about a science lesson, but this one took more nerve than the zip line. It also delivered a bigger sense of accomplishment to the kids. It’s amazing how a completely safe, controlled environment like this can still frighten. I didn’t get a chance to walk it (we ran out of time) but I was definitely a bit scared just looking up there. Some kids scrambled up and practically ran across. Others needed a little convincing and some couldn’t bring themselves to do it. But for those who needed convincing, they were ecstatic and full of pride when it was over.

Gases Class – A great lesson in physics from college, with all the good experiments in one class. We ate frozen potato chips from a liquid nitrogen bath, exploded hydrogen, imploded cans, and used vacuums to do crazy things to marshmallows and shaving cream. Oh – and the frozen balloon was completely surprising. This was a quick overview of the properties of gases in a way that challenge your imagination. Most of the kids will clearly need some more explanation of these events, although our excellent teacher Dave did have a way of describing the salient points with concision.

Beyond those classes, there was an underwater class demonstrating cooperation and non-verbal communication. There was a rock wall climb that relied on trivia facts for access. And there was a night hike complete with time at telescopes trained on amazing views. I’ll never forget the way I saw Saturn that night!

Tried Holy Cow – Fast and Fresh

Holy Cow
8474 W 3rd St
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone: (323) 852-8900

We were looking for something quick, local, and mostly veggie for dinner, so my wife came up with the idea of takeout from Holy Cow (3rd and La Cienega – in the minimall with Mishima and Kiwiberry). I’m not the biggest fan of takeout; I like to sit and relax, and I don’t like soggy food from containers, so Indian works pretty well. I can sit and the food can sit and not get soggy. Good combo.

This was our first time at Holy Cow. We’ll definitely go again.

The woman taking the phone order was nice, helpful, and clear. Unfortunately, they were out of several items we wanted, but with a good attitude from the woman, we basically didn’t mind.

We ordered four veggie entrees, plus raita, which was fine but nothing special. Of the four dishes, the weakest, surprisingly, was the dal. I often think of dal as the cheese pizza or the mu shu pork of Indian food – the standard dish that every place serves with their own flavor, and that gives you an idea of the quality and the seasonings of the restaurant. It was a red-herring here. It just wasn’t that great. Having eaten a lot of dal at a lot of restaurants, I’m guessing that theirs changes nightly or at least from time to time, so it may be worth another shot.

The other dishes were, frankly, great. Even from takeout containers. The spinach with garbanzo beans (channa sag) had a very fresh flavor, having likely been made from fresh spinach. Next, the tofu masala was in a wonderful red masala sauce that was reminiscent of a really good pasta sauce, again, with fresh vegetables. And the star of the show was the bharta – and I’m not even really a big fan of eggplant. But this is as must-get.

The nan was, well, nan-like.

Close to home, good service, and fresh, good food. No question, we’ll be back.

Amazing, but true. An inexperienced ticket buyer like myself was able to wade through the morass of the Radiohead pre-sale, and actually get some tickets. Funny enough, a message popped up on the Radiohead message board saying that all California shows were confirmed sold out, and just then my browser page completed allowing me to add four tickets to my cart.

It took a while, and it was a bit of a nail-biter, but I was able to get the sale completed. I even went so far as to correctly answer the question about my birthday (are they planning something for me?) just to be sure I wouldn’t get bumped.

I’m glad to know that WASTE isn’t letting Ticketmaster beat them out on the shipping and handling charges. They have some steep fees of their own. But it looks like I ended up with P1 seats, which I think were the best available during the presale.

Biking on Ballona Creek

Yesterday, a beautiful Sunday, we took a family bike ride down the Ballona Creek path.


For a ride in the center of Los Angeles, I highly recommend it. The ride really feels like it’s from another world.

To begin with, there are virtually no stops along the way: no streets to cross, curbs to come down, nothing. It’s just seven miles of gentle riding from Culver City to the beach, just below Marina Del Rey.

Next, being next to the creek means that you’re riding below grade, most of the time. So there’s no noise from traffic and horns and industry. There are no SUVs weaving wildly. There are just people, and some wildlife. And the creek, which, while confined to a concrete basin, actually has a nice, almost-natural quality, especially as it grows into a full-blown tidal estuary towards the end.


We parked on National Boulevard in Culver City, just where National hits Jefferson and ends. On the north side of National, just east of the park with the baseball diamond, is a ramp leading down to the top of the bike path. From there, just ride about seven miles and you’ll be at the beach!

Radiohead coming to California?

Their site suggests so, but they have no dates yet. But John Battelle posted this, at least for San Francisco.