Freewheelin’ on World Water Day

An epic public artwork, “Bending the River Back into the City,” will be topic one on Saturday.

This Saturday, Metabolic Studio dips its toes into World Water Day with installment No. 62 of its “100 Conversations About Water” series, which commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

In this conversation, Lauren Bon will discuss her much-anticipated public artwork, Bending the River Back into the City. The sculpture will use an inflatable dam to divert water from the L.A. River, which will be lifted by a water wheel and treated for public use.

The dialogue with the artist takes place on March 22, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Lincoln Heights Senior Center, 2323 Workman Street in Los Angeles. Refreshments and a light lunch will be served. For reservations, email [email protected] or call (213) 926-4785.

Posted 3/20/14

Get there, or steer clear

It's a good idea to get to know the course route before the action starts on Sunday morning.

Whether you want to get to the L.A. Marathon on Sunday or stay as far away from it as possible, we’ve got you covered.

For those who want to cheer on the thundering pack of more than 25,000 runners, here is the course map. Getting there via public transportation might be a good idea. But be aware: there are lots of bus detours in the works and Metro has the list here.

Finally, if you’d just as soon avoid the whole thing, check out the Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s list of street closures and estimated reopening times here. The DOT also reminds people to respect those temporary no-parking signs along the route. If the worst happens, they also have information on how to reclaim your towed car.

Posted 3/6/14

Government for the people

The CalFresh mobile unit takes the food assistance program on the road for Government Day on Saturday.

This Saturday, you can come home from the mall with more than just a new pair of jeans.

The Panorama Mall is hosting the Northeast San Fernando Valley’s annual Government Day, sponsored by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, on Saturday, July 27. Representatives from dozens of state, city and county agencies will be on hand to answer questions and provide information about services they provide. Looking to adopt a pet? Find out how from the Department of Animal Care and Control. Want to learn more about food assistance? The CalFresh Mobile Unit will be there to screen and register applicants. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. throughout the mall, which is located at 8401 Van Nuys Boulevard in Panorama City.

Posted 7/24/13


Free Latin tunes in El Cariso Park

Susie Hansen and her electric violin are ready to get El Cariso Park dancing.

Susie Hansen Latin Band will bring its jazzy version of Cuban Charanga, a salsa predecessor, to El Cariso Community Regional Park for a free concert on Saturday, July 20. The 10-piece band will play in the second installment of the park’s Free Summer Concert series, sponsored by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. The show takes place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and is open to all ages. El Cariso Park is located at 13100 Hubbard Street in Sylmar.

Music in the air—for free

The Hodads perform at El Cariso Park in Sylmar on Saturday, July 27.

Summertime, and the concerts are easy…if you know where to look.

This year’s lineup of free open air concerts in the 3rd District features musical offerings ranging from Latin jazz to Klezmer, in settings that stretch from West Hollywood to Sylmar.

Here’s the list of the upcoming 3rd District performances. Performances in other parts of the county are here. The concerts are sponsored by the Board of Supervisors and administered by the county Arts Commission.

Posted 5/30/13

Remembering fallen heroes

Veterans salute Old Glory at a Memorial Day observance last year. Photo/Santa Monica Daily Press

Get summer off to a good start by taking a moment this Memorial Day to remember those who lost their lives serving in the U.S. military.

Various events are scheduled for Monday, May 27. Here are some of the options.

Canoga Park will hold its annual Memorial Day Parade and 5k Run/Walk in the San Fernando Valley and the 3rd Annual Walk for Warriors in West L.A. will benefit veterans experiencing difficulty returning to civilian life. Also in the Valley, the Mission Hills Neighborhood Council is sponsoring a Civil War reenactment and 21-gun salute to mark the occasion.

Some of the cemeteries across the county will be hosting solemn, traditional remembrances. Forest Lawn Cemetery in the Hollywood Hills will hold its annual observance. At Woodlawn Cemetery in Santa Monica, the 75th Annual Memorial Day Observance will feature a Condor Squadron fly-over and the unveiling of the design for a commemorative wall. For those who want to give something back this Memorial Day, the Santa Monica event needs volunteers to help meet and greet guests.

A full list of events and observances compiled by the county Department of Military and Veterans Affairs is here.

Posted 5/21/13

A world of Earth Day options

Topanga’s colorful Earth Day celebration includes a peace ceremony with flags from around the world.

Earth Day is upon us. Folks have been marking the occasion for a couple of weeks already, but this weekend is the real deal. Here are some of the options.

Saturday, April 20

  • Los Angeles Waterkeeper will host its second annual Stand-Up for Clean Water Earth Day Festival and Paddleboard Race. There will be environmental speakers, races, stand-up paddleboard demonstrations, lessons and a beach cleanup, all at the historic Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica.
  • In the South Bay, Earth Day Bird Fest is asking volunteers to help clean up Cabrillo Beach in the morning, and then experts will lay down some science about the coastal environment and its inhabitants. Food and live music will round out the event.
  • At the Mar Vista Green Gardening Showcase, you can check out one community’s approach to urban environmentalism. Tour drought-resistant landscaping, aquaponic farming and native plant gardens—then learn how to create them in your own neck of the woods.

Sunday, April 21

  • Children’s Earth Day plants the seed of stewardship in the next generation of environmental caretakers, activists and leaders of L.A. There will be crafts, games, a recycling maze, live entertainment and over 200 exotic rescue animals—all part of a schedule designed specifically for young eco-warriors.
  • Tree huggers unite at LACMA’s Earth Day Tree Walk. Learn about the diverse trees of Hancock Park with botanist Matt Ritter, who will sign copies of his new book, A Californian’s Guide to the Trees Among Us, following the tour.

All weekend

  • Heal the Bay’s education-focused Earth Day Festival takes place Saturday, April 20, and Sunday, April 21. In addition to family-oriented fare at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium, participants can check out the BlueGreen Beach Sweep and Deck Party, which includes a conservation-minded swap party and an Eco Beer Crawl. Volunteers who participate in a Saturday morning beach cleanup receive free admission to the aquarium.
  • Downtown at the Los Angeles State Historic Park on Saturday, April 20, Earth Day Latino will feature green career exhibitions, drum circles, healthy food, bicycle safety check-ups and an overnight urban campout that will merge into CicLAvia’s car-free street fest on Sunday, April 21.
  • Topanga Earth Day takes place Saturday and Sunday, too. The theme this year is “Awakening Essence,” so there will be a variety of healthy programming—including yoga, vegan foods and dancing—to nourish body and soul. Several stages of live music will provide the soundscape in the scenic canyon.

Posted 4/16/13

Operatic opportunity, open to all

LA Opera baritone LeRoy Villanueva rehearses for Saturday's "Great Opera Choruses" event.

This one’s going out to all you shower-singing sopranos, tenors and basses out there. If you’ve ever wanted to belt out the toreador song from Carmen in public, your moment has arrived.

And you can do so under professional supervision, as LA Opera presents its first annual “Great Opera Choruses” program on Saturday, March 2.

The event is free, but reservations are required to take part in the opera’s presentation of “Sing Out Loud!” at 1 p.m. at the Campus Theatre at Cal State Northridge. Billed as a “participatory recital,” the audience will get to sing along with opera professionals on works including “Toréador” from Carmen, “Libiamo” from La Traviata, and even “Oh, What a beautiful Morning” from Oklahoma! (There will be handouts, so no worries if you haven’t committed all those lyrics to memory.)

Call (213) 972-3157 to reserve free tickets, or email [email protected].

Earlier in the day, an 11 a.m. performance of a specially-commissioned short version of Mozart’s The Magic Flute—featuring San Fernando Valley schoolchildren along with opera artists and audience participation sing-alongs—is sold out, but there will be a standby line.

The theatre is located at 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge, 91330. Parking in Lot B1 on Nordhoff is $6.

Posted 2/28/13


Grand plans for Grand Park

Election night in Grand Park, the first in a series of "Park Your Politics" events.

“All politics is local,” or so goes the saying coined by the late House Speaker Tip O’Neill.

This Monday, January 21, the newly-minted Grand Park will embody that maxim at “Hail to the Chiefs,” a community celebration of Martin Luther King Day and President Obama’s inauguration. The program will feature musicians including hip-hop artist Mathai, who’ll incorporate King’s “I Have A Dream” speech into his act. DJ Anthony Valadez of public radio station KCRW will drop clips of Obama’s inauguration into his typically eclectic set. Attendees will be invited to write their thoughts in a “Letter to the Prez,” a large scroll that will be delivered to the White House.

“Hail to the Chiefs” will mark the second installment of the “Park Your Politics” series, which was launched on election night last year. It’s one of a number of evolving programs aimed at attracting diverse audiences to the park, which fully opened last October.

“The idea of coming together to celebrate those moments that are memorable, that’s the thing we want to create in the park,” said Lucas Rivera, the park’s director. “We want to be the place that, when you are older and reminiscing, you’re telling the kids about your time in Grand Park.”

So far, the park has hosted 23 events, attracting an estimated 30,000 visitors, in addition to those who’ve been participating in a number of ongoing programs in the park, such as noontime yoga.

The biggest draw so far was the National Dance Day Celebration, which kicked off the park’s grand opening and featured “So You Think You Can Dance’s” Nigel Lythgoe. The audience-participation event attracted about 5,000 dancers and onlookers. The election night party, meanwhile, drew about 2,000 celebrants and coverage on CNN. Some events that organizers predicted would have modest turnouts have performed better than expected. They anticipated, for example, that about 20 dogs and their owners would show up for a “Pooch Party” but ended up with more than 100.

Julia Diamond, Grand Park’s programming director, said the park’s most immediate beneficiaries have been its “captive audience,” the people who work, play and do business in the surrounding buildings, like the courthouse, Hall of Administration, Music Center and City Hall.

Music Center staff members, who handle programming for the park, pride themselves on reaching a wide audience with diverse entertainment and activities. In the end, though, it’s all about growing a sense of community at downtown L.A.’s largest outdoor public venue.

“The park should always be fun and multi-sensory—great music, great food and playing with the dog you’re going to bring,” Diamond said. “The way we design our events, we let people have a hand in how they design their experience.”

For the future, Rivera and Diamond envision literacy programs for children, events for seniors, arts and crafts festivals and programming featuring the interactive Arthur J. Will Memorial Fountain. The park also has begun the process of getting its own farmers market. As for the “Park Your Politics” series, plans are in the works for live debates with local high school and university students and a speaker series based on whatever’s “hot” in politics at the time.

Larger offerings also are on the horizon, including events on the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve, which Diamond said wasn’t done this year because the park was just getting its staff in place.

“When we do New Year’s Eve,” Diamond said, “we want to do it really well.…Every event we get to know our audience a little better; every event we get to know our space a little better. What Grand Park is to me is a gathering place, and our city really doesn’t have another natural spot to gather.”

Posted 1/17/13