Underground Eats

File under “things I didn’t know about 505 Flower before tonight”:

  • Despite almost everything else in the complex dropping their shutters after lunch, Saffron stays open until 9 PM.  So now I have an option other than Subway, Carl’s Jr., Famima, The Standard or Casey’s.  Even better is the fact that it’s Indian food.  Which I love.  So yay for Saffron!
  • Speaking of Famima, they’ve got a huge one hiding down there.  And it’s stocked better than the one off 6th and Grand.  Their refrigerator case had a pile of extra spicy tuna rolls, the steamer was loaded with bao and the shelves were brimming with a bunch of exotic Pocky.  Until the one right across the street from our building opens up, this totally is my new go-to Famima.

You might think I’m easily swayed, but both of these things (along with the fact that Weiland serves Craftsman) have pretty much redeemed that bomb shelter of a food court for me.

Bye Bye, Indie

Indie Logo

A little more than five years after it fired up with a rather curious DJ-free playlist, Indie’s going off the airwaves in LA. And while I’ll miss being able to tune-in while driving around, I’m happy that they’re going to try to keep things going online.

If I ever miss it enough while rolling thru my hood, at least I can load up Tuner on the iPhone and patch it into my car stereo. The quality may suffer a bit, but at least the reception will be a little bit better… ;)

Update: Variety has a fantastic obit that does more than just regurgitate the closing statement plastered across the front page. If you listened to the station for even a few minutes, it’s worth a read.

Update: According to an interview with Mr. Shovel over at The Daily Swarm the announcement running on the radio after every song is a little disingenuous:

None of the primary DJs or music programmers at the station are involved in the website and it’s not being run by people who ran the station – there may be one person from the station. My concern is that people are confused. They are running an ad on the air saying we couldn’t play the corporate radio game anymore and that we didn’t want to change our format to be more mainstream and that we decided to play music on the web. But the guy making the announcement is the head of sales! God love him, he’s a good guy, but the staff of Indie had no control in the decision to shut down the station. I guess they had some success with the web and want to keep it going. But I don’t want the listeners to be confused.

I listened to the web stream for a good portion of yesterday and they were still playing tracks from Check One…Two artists with pre-recorded bits from Mr. Shovel.  That just seems a little off to me.

Going Feral

While reading Jori Finkel’s piece in the New York Times on Machine Project’s LACMA invasion, I was struck by something that Margaret Wertheim said:

I don’t know of any city other than L.A. with so many feral groups.

Now while she was referring to the Los Angeles art scene, this sort of applies to the tech scene here as well. There are plenty of folks trying to make this city relevant when it comes to tech. A streamlined, less paunchy version of Silicon Valley that does yoga and drinks wheatgrass. And that’s fine. They can keep doing that. But to lift a quote from Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, “Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken.”

I’m not really talking about them tho. Honestly, the most interesting shit that is going on in this sprawl is on the fringe. Groups like Dorkbot SoCal & Betalevel and meetings like Mindshare are where people are doing the really sexy, fun, creative stuff. Well, the stuff that’s worth paying attention to at least.

Seeing as how I’ve helped foster it along, why would I exclude BarCampLA from that tiny (and rather incomplete) list above? Well, first of all, my ego isn’t that big.

Most importantly tho, it isn’t one of those feral members of the fringe anymore. Sure, it may have been a bit of a wild dog in the past, but as time goes on, it has become domesticated. With well over 300 people wandering in and out over two days and the schedule slowly seeing product pitches, SEO talks and social media chatter dominating the landscape, it’s sort of losing some of its original charm.

Think I’m crazy for saying that? Consider BazCampLA. A “mad science only” event, their plan is to get together about two weeks before the next BarCampLA to make sure their technical talks are well tuned and ready for the big show. From the chatter that I’ve seen, they’re sort of worried that this will be seen as a condemnation of BarCampLA. A middle finger to its participants and the Los Angeles tech scene as a whole. But totally I get what they’re trying to do — and I admire their goals.

Frankly, I hope the BazCampers either take the schedule at the next BarCamp over by force or they end up building a framework for a better event. Like one that would make BCLA obsolete and allow me to take a vacation. Lord knows that I could use the rest… ;)

Downtown’s Secret Community Pool

Today, the coworkers decided to celebrate the birth of our country a day early by grabbing a quick lunch by the pool at The Standard and taking a post nosh dip.

Apparently, all you need to do to swim in the rooftop pool is buy a drink or grab a bite to eat. Had I known this, I’d have tried pulling that little scam off much sooner.

Some hipster girl let us know that she makes it over to The Standard a few times a week despite working at the Bonaventure because it’s not too crowded on the weekdays. Good to know.

With that being said, mojitos run about $13 — and beers are only slightly less expensive — so you might want to take that into consideration.

Still, it’s a fun way to kill an afternoon. You should go try it sometime…

Bad Gas

It’s gas prices like these (spotted last night on the corner of Cahuenga and Franklin in Hollywood) that make me really glad that I take the Red Line to work.

It should be noted that I filled up on Monday in northernmost Orange County for $4.13 for regular — so this station is likely gouging a bit due to its proximity to the freeway and tourist spots — but that doesn’t really matter. This sign feels like a fairly decent indicator of what’s to come.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it looks like it’s time to go price out a bicycle…

The Importance of Being Earnest

A few days ago Michael Arrington dropped a piece of his Silicon Valley into my LA by throwing an absolutely massive party down here. And after talking things over with friends and spending some time thinking about the events of the evening I’ve realized that they are two great tastes that don’t really taste all that great together.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It was great to get some recognition from TechCrunch‘s ringleader that LA is a viable technology player by having him throw a 1500 person event with an open bar and Perry Farrell DJ’ing. As far as I’m concerned, that was totally welcome and downright awesome. Seriously, thank you for that.

But I have a modest request to send your way, Mr. Arrington. If you ever plan on throwing one of these gigantic tech mixers here again, please go ahead and leave the drama at home. Because I don’t know how the folks up your way do things — but your actions on Thursday don’t give me a very encouraging idea of how you handle your business and personal relations. One of the things I love about Los Angeles is the fact that the events that get thrown by the locals are — for the most part, anyway — pretty unpretentious and (to borrow a line from Andrew Warner) more about community than conflict.

A little over a year back, we had an issue with some BarCampLA attendees being problematic. And we’re talking far worse than just being annoying to the event organizers. Excessive and open alcohol and drug abuse, making female attendees feel uncomfortable and badgering speakers to the point where talks turned into one way shouting matches made some attendees leery of coming again. We had a few people who were ruining the community because they couldn’t behave like adults.

Instead of banning the people outright from our events and making a scene tho, we issued a code of conduct. If you couldn’t follow it, you were asked to leave and that was that. Yeah, it’s sort of a hippie thing to do — but it worked. The rules kept a tight enough rein on the people causing problems to the point where they either stopped coming or calmed down considerably. Sure, there were folks who didn’t want the people to have the opportunity to show up at all, but excluding people is not in the spirit of BarCamp.

Of course one could argue that the TechCrunch/PopSugar party was a ticketed, private event.  Still, you would think that a quick search over the Excel spreadsheet before it was printed and a few emails to let people know they’re not welcome could have spared everyone involved a bunch of unnecessary bullshit.

Anyhow, if you need any tips for throwing an event down here Mike, just let me know. Even if you don’t want to deal with the likes of me, I can put you in contact with people who can help you save a bit more face and perhaps make you come off better than you managed to the other night.

I’m not a total curmudgeon about the evening by the way. The pre-event dinner at Palms Thai (props to Mike Prasad for putting that together), the people I hung out with at the party and the two afterparties that organized themselves via Twitter were fun as hell.  What’s more, they boiled themselves down to the people that make this community great.  So while the main event left me a bit drunk, cranky and in need of a shower, the rest of the night left me wonderfully full of hope and optimism for what we’re cooking up here.  Our potential is limitless — and we’re just getting started.