Lit Rail

Photo courtesy of The Figurehead

In 2008, I wrote the self-indulgent post below, the re-telling of an anxiety driven dream. At the time, I was skeptical of the fabled “Subway to the Sea,” I thought it would never be finished. There was much resistance to the trains/subways crossing certain areas of the Westside. Wealthy residents complained of noise and traffic issues, all the usual NIMBY stuff. Many of us felt like the resistance was really rooted in not wanting the train to deliver teeming masses of urban folks into their neighborhoods. Funny, how much has changed since 2008. For one, the teeming brown masses of the city are increasingly being pushed to the margins of the County, and out of the urban core. Most of the neighborhoods currently being gentrified are neighborhoods along the new train lines.

A couple of years ago, I went to a house flipping workshop, out of curiosity and to chuck tomatoes and rotten eggs at the pompous house flippers (not really, sadly, I behaved). The house flipper or rehab investor or whatever professional euphemism is in use, explained how he looks for homes that run along the Gold Line. His target homebuyers were hipsters wanting to live near train lines, not so much for transit purposes but because it gives them identity. He said, they want to know they can “drink in Downtown bars and catch the train home.” Doubt they are using public transit, most likely it’s uber or lyft. The only drunk people using public transit are the same drunk people that have been using it. This is not Berlin. Our current transit system was developed to help move people, workers, across the city but those workers are being displaced from their neighborhoods, and replaced by casual transit riders. Metro ridership is down.

8 years later and you can now take a train, the Expo Line, to Santa Monica from Boyle Heights (you have to switch trains, but still). The Purple Line, the O.G. “Subway to the Sea” won’t make the coast until, maybe, 2035. Guess we can’t complain that the Expo Line takes about an hour for the crosstown trip, at least it’s not a hologram.
I’ll be back in 8 more years with the next part of this story.

From 2008:
It was sometime in the future, I had recently returned to Los Angeles after a long absence. I was pleased to discover not only had the Gold Line been finished but I was told the subway to the sea was also completed. I entered the Gold Line station at Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights hoping to get to the ocean. Around me the station teemed with thousands of Brown folks. I followed the masses down escalators, assuming they were headed to the platform where I could catch the train to the beach. The escalators kept going down, down, down and then I ended up wandering through a complicated Escher-esque maze of escalators and tunnels. Finally I could see this intense bright, light coming from the floor I was heading to. As the view became clearer, I see the ocean, so brilliant blue, the sand, the palm trees swaying and I can feel the ocean breeze. At a railing, Latino families stand admiring the vista and smiling. As I get closer, I make a shocking discovery. It’s not the ocean at all but a giant hologram, an extremely realistic simulation of the beach. No one around me seems to notice and I feel like that character in the Twilight Zone episode where a woman is yelling to the humans boarding a spaceship to another planet that the alien book titled “To Serve Man” is a cookbook not a manual for the betterment of humankind. I feel incredibly disappointed and let down. Worse yet, I look over and notice in between the teeming tunnels and escalators are stands for every fast food chain and long lines of people waiting to order.
Keep dreaming Los Angeles.

Summer Vacation

This blog is on vacation! No time to write, all my extra time is spent in the garden or at dinner parties. And soon some traveling. Be back soon.

All comments will be turned off for a couple of weeks. I can still be contacted at the page “yo!”

Today’s Inspiration: School Sucks!

Photo courtesy of Liese-Lotta

Valedictorian Speaks Out Against Schooling in Graduation Speech

(h/t Sign of the Times)

The following speech was delivered by top of the class student Erica Goldson during the graduation ceremony at Coxsackie-Athens High School on June 25, 2010

I am now accomplishing that goal. I am graduating. I should look at this as a positive experience, especially being at the top of my class. However, in retrospect, I cannot say that I am any more intelligent than my peers. I can attest that I am only the best at doing what I am told and working the system. Yet, here I stand, and I am supposed to be proud that I have completed this period of indoctrination. I will leave in the fall to go on to the next phase expected of me, in order to receive a paper document that certifies that I am capable of work. But I contest that I am a human being, a thinker, an adventurer – not a worker. A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition – a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class and doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I’m scared.

Read the whole speech here.

The Berlin Wall

The Ex – State of Shock (90s song by Anarcho-Dutch group)

Two days ago marked the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

I just happened to have a few pen pals in Berlin when the Wall came down. They sent me bits of the broken wall as mementos. Pieces with graffiti were more desirable so some entrepreneurs decided to start spray painting parts of clean walls and then breaking off chunks so that they could be sold internationally for a higher price. Strange. I bet Eduardo Galeano could re-write this paragraph and make it profound.

I have photos somewhere of the Wall being torn down sent to me by a pen pal.  I should find and post them.

East Berlin is now gentrified. The modern architecture lovers were turned on by all that boxy Soviet construction. Funny world we live in.

In Los Angeles, we don’t need walls. We have freeways, bridges and a big concrete river to keep us apart.


Found the photos! Please click to see a much larger image.






My Berliner pen pal who I met once when he visited Los Angeles. I don’t remember his name.

Random News: March 2, 2009

Random bits of news that caught my interest today:

article-0-03b05683000005dc-812_306x516 From

“Do these mysterious stones mark the site of the Garden of Eden?” asks Britain’s Daily Mail. I thought it was an odd choice to present this discovery of an early human sacred site in such a definitive biblical way.  A Kurdish shepherd uncovers Gobleki Temple, a Turkish Stonehenge.

From the Wall Street Journal: Mexican gardeners not losing as much work as their paisa cousins in construction and other trades. Wait until water rationing goes into effect. Many Immigrants Still Till the Land of Opportunity.

Remember the Orange Revolution? Unrest grows in the Ukraine, the economy is on the verge of collpase. Our economy is too but folks here can’t be bothered, they’re too busy watching TMZ. Unrest in Ukraine appears on the rise.

Everybody’s been linking to this video but it really is hilarious. Speaking of hilarious, I realized today I’m the only person I know who thinks Flight of the Conchords isn’t all the humorous. I don’t get it…

Louis CK on Conan O’Brien

Tomorrow and Wednesday, the greatest living Gitano Flamenco family, Los Farruco will be performing right here in Los Angeles. They are sure to bring the house down. See here for more details and info on half price tickets.