Friday, September 14, 2007

Time of Reckoning: Long Beach Water Restrictions

The extended drought affecting the Southern California region, a drought along the Colorado River that feeds much of Southern California, and the recent Delta Smelt ruling are all factors behind Long Beach's new water usage restrictions:
The Long Beach water board has prohibited residents from watering their grass during the day, and limited it to only three times a week. They cannot use water hoses to clean driveways, patios, sidewalks or any other paved or cemented areas unless they use a pressurized water device.

Long Beach restaurants are barred from serving customers water unless expressly requested by diners. Hotels have to give guests the option of reusing towels and linens without having them washed every day.

Water officials say the city will scrutinize water bills for excessive use and create a hotline and e-mail system for residents to inform on "water wasters."
LA Times.

Experts predict another dry winter this year, which may lead to similar restrictions being implemented in Los Angeles. People that are concerned about Southern California water supplies -- and everyone should be -- have probably already adopted similar types of measures voluntarily.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Metropolis Books in Downtown L.A.

Downtown L.A. now has an independent bookstore: it's called Metropolis Books (Main St. btw. 4th and 5th). Metropolis, which opened in December 2006, is right next to Blossom, the relatively new Vietnamese restaurant on Main Street, which has seen the arrival of many new businesses and developments in the last few years. Metropolis has good selections of fiction, mystery, sci-fi, African-American fiction, and non-fiction, and a small used books section as well. It's in a nice space that invites leisurely browsing, with some inviting comfy chairs in the middle of the store. The owner, Julia Swayze, a mystery author herself, is friendly and knowledgeable about her stock -- she appears to have hand-picked each of the books on the shelves.

In any event, that the opening of a bookstore is noteworthy gives you a sense of things in downtown L.A. To my knowledge, downtown residents are still waiting on a grocery store to open in their neighborhood; reportedly, a Ralphs is opening downtown sometime soon. [UPDATE: per Capt. Colossal (and other sources), the Ralphs is now open.]

For those you of you in and around downtown L.A., please support our new independent bookstore. Visit Metropolis Books sometime soon!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

On the Road: This is Los Angeles

In the introduction to his celebrated 1971 work, Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies, architectural critic Reyner Banham wrote that "like earlier generations of English intellectuals who taught themselves Italian in order to read Dante in the original, I learned to drive in order to read Los Angeles in the original."

I often continue to think of myself as a visitor here in Los Angeles. I don't know if in the back of my mind I keep alive some delusional idea that we will inevitably return to Brooklyn. Every now and then, I fully realize that I now live in Los Angeles. I had one of these moments of clarity yesterday evening on Third Street, on my way to a language class on the West Side.

I was driving into the sunset in a somewhat strange mood, having had an exceptionally uneventful day at the office; my spaciness was aided by the music was listening to: the pleasant droning and pulsing of The Field's "From Here We Go Sublime" (best reading music of 2007). I was stuck in a line of traffic at a light. In the opposite lane, cars crept by with their windows rolled down, radios blaring. A young woman looked at herself in her rear view mirror. A guy my age held his cell phone up to read a text message. I caught myself doing exactly the same thing at that moment, checking my blackberry for messages as I crept forward, and I felt at that moment very much like someone who lived in Los Angeles. I was with my fellow Angelenos in our one true public space -- gathered together in traffic. We extended each other minor courtesies, allowing people into lanes, letting people pull into traffic from the gas station, as we all continued together on our separate ways.

Banham made a kooky and fascinating BBC documentary in 1972 based on his book on Los Angeles (the 52 min. video is pasted below). He spends much of the documentary in a rented car, visiting architectural sites in the city such as the Gamble House, Ennis House, Watts Towers, and various gas stations, tiki restaurants, and hot dog stands.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Water Rationing in the Near Future?

The ramifications of the Delta Smelt ruling continue to settle in: the new talk is of water rationing in Southern California in 2008.