We went to LA and did some things

While North Carolina somewhat mysteriously tried to recreate the Atlanta Snowpocalypse of 2014, we went to LA (on a trip planned fully 2 months in advance, mind you). 

We had such a great time I feel like I need to extend some shout-outs to the people & places responsible.

This was our first AirBnB experience, and it was lovely. We stayed here.

This was the view out the front window:


We were staying in the Echo Park neighborhood, which, we found out, is the neighborhood where Aimee Semple McPherson started her Angelus Temple (which apparently persists to this day). She was the preeminent radio preacher of the 20s; she also spoke in tongues & did faith-healing. The character Sharon Falconer in Elmer Gantry was based on her. We were bummed that Elmer Gantry isn’t available for streaming.

For the first time in the history of our decade of vacationing together, we batted 1000 meal-wise, at the following restaurants:

Here’s the carrot salad at Allumette:


We did the omokase at Kiriko at lunch, which was only about half as expensive as it would have been at dinnertime. Every single piece of fish was sublime. I don’t know where Kiriko stands in worldwide sushi rankings (although Jonathan Gold ranks it pretty highly in LA), but if you’re normal mortals & not wealthy world travelers, it’ll maybe go partway towards fulfilling your Jiro dreams.

The next most remarkable thing, across the board, was the freshness of the vegetables, and the willingness of non-vegetarian restaurants to really experiment with & put the vegetables front-and-center. Obviously the year-round California growing season helps enormously, but I still feel like our local restaurants could learn a lot.

In fact, generally speaking, nearly everything we ate at nearly every place in LA pretty much kicked the ass of just about anything you’d find in the Triangle (not surprising, given LA’s size, although it’s not like we were eating our way down some LA top-20 restaurant list, since we couldn’t afford to eat anywhere like that). Someone should tip off the New York Times; LA might just be the next Durham.

We didn’t just eat, of course. We saw a documentary about a rich obsessive named Tim (the guy who invented the Video Toaster back in the 80s, for those of you who were paying attention to computer graphics in the 80s) who became convinced that Vermeer had used a particular type of mirror apparatus to paint his paintings, and decided that the only way to prove this was to reconstruct Vermeer’s workroom/studio, including all the furnishings, in order to then paint his own version of Vermeer’s “The Music Lesson.”

It’s called Tim’s Vermeer & is pretty fascinating. For some reason Penn & Teller made it. It will apparently be playing the Triangle in the spring.

We saw the final chunk of the James Turrell retrospective at LACMA, which was even better than I had hoped. I’m pretty sure we subsequently decided to try to visit as many of the publicly-held Turrell SkySpaces as we can on any/all future vacations.

We checked out the Getty Museum, and spent most of our time outside because the weather was gorgeous, as were the gardens and the architecture:


We drove down Sunset Blvd to the beach:


We revisited the mighty Watts Towers, and this time took a tour led by a guy who had grown up in the neighborhood, who reminisced fondly about climbing up the 99-foot towers when he was a little kid:


We also revisited the Museum of Jurassic Technology, which seemed to be slightly the worse for wear compared to the last time we were there. Still a fascinating experience, but there were several exhibits out-of-order (and not just the intentionally broken one). If you’ve never been, it’s still worth a trip.

But if you’ve been before, maybe you won’t want to risk damaging your memories (although you should probably make a donation or buy something in the online gift shop to help them make repairs & keep the weirdness alive).

Our rental car came with this demonic feature that counted up the number of minutes spent in the car. At the end of 5 days we’d spent nearly 10 hours in the car, which I guess is as much a part of the LA experience as anything else.

Since the gods conspired against us, architecture-wise, on this trip (everything was either closed for renovations, mysteriously closed in February, or only open on weekends), we’ll be returning to LA. Probably in midwinter again, because honestly, the very best part of the whole trip was the weather, particularly in comparison to the snow-related news coming from back home.

We went to LA and did some things

A statement by the Durham City Council regarding future marches in the Bull City

I received this today from Durham City Councilman Steve Schewel, in response to my query about the statement cited by WRAL and by Diane Catotti. Both Steve and Diane stressed that this statement is based entirely on existing laws & ordinances.

I sent a note to Steve asking for clarification regarding the specific laws they have reference to. In particular, I’m curious as to how they would justify limiting access to the grounds of a public building like the police station.

I’ll post a follow-up if I get any more info.

Full text of the council statement begins here:

February 6, 2014

Durham is one of the most progressive cities in the nation, and
we are noted for our cherished understanding and appreciation of the rights of free speech and assembly to which all citizens are entitled under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Many of our Council members have participated in numerous public protest marches over the years for civil rights, justice and peace. So we welcome all of those who wish to participate in peaceful marches in our city.

We are saddened by the tragic death of Jesus Huerta, a
young and promising 17-year old tenth grader at Riverside High School,
and by the fact that his family has lost a son and a brother. Our prayers
go out to them, and many of our members attended the moving and
poignant service held in Jesus’ memory at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

Since the death of Jesus Huerta, three marches have been held during which some protestors have ignored both city ordinances and state statutes by marching at night without a permit, wearing camouflage masks, damaging both public and private property, and impeding traffic by marching in our streets. In addition, during the last three months, these marches have cost taxpayers over $11,000 in vandalism, including window repairs (office and police vehicles) and graffiti removal, and approximately $17,000-$20,000 in overtime police protection. This does not include the intangible costs incurred because our officers and detectives could not perform their normally assigned functions that day.

The Durham community respects the laws of our city and state, and we appreciate our police department’s public safety efforts in an exceedingly difficult and challenging environment.

We embrace the open, constructive and sometimes difficult community discussion now taking place at the Human Relations Commission regarding police practices. We recognize that there is confusion and mistrust among some people concerning the death of Jesus Huerta and others. We welcome all peaceful and lawful expressions regarding any of these matters.

At the same time, we want to be absolutely clear that these issues do not provide any excuse or justification for engaging in violent or unlawful activities which represent the antithesis of the values which the people of Durham hold dear. We expect that such activities, if they occur, will be met by appropriate action by our police department. This City will neither condone nor tolerate any acts of violence or vandalism.

* * *

For clarity to all concerned, this City Council outlines the following
rules of conduct based upon city ordinances and state statutes that all marchers must obey.

If and when our police department becomes aware of the potential for a march, the Council has the expectation that the department will pro-actively communicate about these rules to any potential marchers, if possible. We also expect that any police response to illegal activity at a march will be appropriate and proportionate to the situation. The City Manager and his staff will evaluate the police response and keep the Council informed as necessary.

Rules of conduct:

Anyone wishing to march upon the public streets shall first obtain a parade permit from the City. Such parade permits only allow marching during daylight hours. Demonstrators shall not impede traffic upon the City streets and may not wear masks, hoods or devices which conceal the identity of the wearer, other than masks which are worn in accordance with state law which includes exceptions for seasonal events. Demonstrators shall not damage property, commit assaults, participate in disorderly conduct, possess or use pyrotechnics, or possess dangerous weapons including the possession of any object capable of inflicting serious bodily injury such as rocks, bricks, etc. Demonstrators shall not enter upon Police Department headquarters and substation parking areas or grassy areas immediately adjoining the Police Department headquarters and substation buildings.

A statement by the Durham City Council regarding future marches in the Bull City

Letter to Durham City Council re: restrictions on protests

Letter to Durham City Council re: restrictions on protests


Letter to Durham City Council re: restrictions on protests

(in reference to this bit of news: http://www.wral.com/violent-marches-lead-durham-to-change-protest-rules/13369730/ )


If the WRAL coverage I just read was accurate, then surely you realize that aspects of the new protest restrictions are patently unconstitutional, particularly the restrictions on time and location of protests. 

Why do you elect to waste the taxpayers’ money defending the city against the inevitable lawsuit (one that I myself will happily donate to the ACLU to fund)?

We can do better than this. Perhaps we should start by solving the real problem of police brutality, bias and incompetence.

Ross Grady

(note that I was dead serious about funding a lawsuit: I’ll pledge the first $500)

Letter to Durham City Council re: restrictions on protests