Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Giant lizards, The Seven Wonders of Hollywood Bicycle Tour and Michael Keaton sighting -- was that his bike?

Leaping Lizards!
Giant lizards have nothing to do with bicycling except that when I awoke from a bicycle induced nap this afternoon the first thing I laid eyes on was a giant lizard slithering across my bedroom carpet. My first thought was there can't be a lizard in here I live in the middle of Hollywood in an Apt., I'm not in the Mojave... huh?
Waking further I remembered that I had seen a giant lizard a week ago out back near some tool boxes and that I had brought those same tool boxes into my apt. shortly after that sighting. So what has he/she been doing in my apt. all week...there's no roaches here ( scout's honor).... must be hungry. By pure luck I was able to capture him and safely escort him out to my neighbors garden.

Click on the photo this guy is 13 inches long against the canvas which except for SF films is huge by Hollywood garden standards and he had an attitude too.

Styling Bicyclists around town
( Thanks people for kindly letting me take your photos)

Being a beach person I've been missing seeing the girls on beach cruiser type bikes this summer and this young lady on her way to the public library on Melrose fit the bill perfectly.

Justin blew past me at an intersection on Beverly Blvd. on his metallic green machine and I chased him down and got his story. He's an actor who rides all over town for auditions and although he has multiple gears he likes to tough it out using a single gear at all times. His bike is a 70's Schwinn and his girlfriend has the female version of the exact same bike.

I spotted Robbie cruising down Vermont Ave. on his way to the grocery store. He just about stole this bike --buying it for $ 15 at a yard sale.
It has the classic weathered look that only years of dedicated outdoor use can bring. No doubt we'll see pre-weathered over priced bikes like ripped jeans being sold in the near future. Nice hat too!

Michael Keaton sighting.... was that his bike too?
I was riding down a sidewalk with outdoor restaurant seating and I heard Michael Keaton's voice and then saw what appeared to be someone who looked exactly like Michael Keaton. He looked at me and then my awesome bike ( was there any envy there) as I rode silently by. I turned the corner and there were 50 honey wagons parked along the street with a major movie production going on. I saw this cool folding bike parked in the middle of the set and took a pic. Was this Michael Keaton's bike? I doubt it was his bike but I'm pretty sure that was him chowing down.

Seven Wonders of Hollywood Bicycle Tour
In my two wheeled travels I am discovering Hollywood all over again and have decided to amass a collection of these new, strange and sometimes interesting discoveries choosing the best ones and call them the Seven Wonders of.... If you come across any likely candidates observed from the seat of your bicycle please let me know. and I'll ride over and check them out

Candidate # 1
Greek Temple / Apt. building
(located on Van Ness between Melrose and Santa Monica Blvds.

(Click on the picture to get the details)

Golden spirals over purple walls - I love this building! Been driving past this for several years and it keeps getting more outrageous. The Alexander signage was the topper-- way over topper for me. Been meaning to stop and ask Q's for years but always in a car today fortunately I was on a bike...
There was a sign with number to call which I did and talked with Danny who turned out to be the artiste of this masterpiece of Kitsch.
The building is owned by a former actor a Greek named George Panandreas. George must love being Greek -- well more power too him!. While Danny did the painting and stone work George added the signage and sculptures. Across from a film studio the building was formerly owned by Paramount Pictures and Hollywood stars stayed there including Cary Grant and Rudolph Valentino.
I would love to see more buildings like this - at least color and spiral wise.

Candidate # 2
Hollywood Church with multiple spires

(located at Fountain and Western Aves.
This is an amazing work of art and for sure a new Hollywood landmark that will eventually make the postcard rack on Hollywood Blvd. and stay there for years to come.
They ( never seen persons) have been building this for years one spire at at time. There are no signs, and I have no clue what church this is. There are never any people around and the place appears to be closed. Only once did I see a few workers the rest of the time the spires seem to appear out of nowhere. Someday I hope I will see one of the spires being installed and actually talk to someone there.
With the recent Russian spy stuff going in the news and the ridiculous spy swap that took place it got me thinking that this would make a great backdrop for a spy story. What exactly are Boris and Natasha trying to accomplish? I think they have been having a good time in the US sending their spy bosses "secret" information they got by simply Googling so they can keep their cushy spy jobs.

Wait a second I've got an idea for a story here....
Please excuse this little artistic detour

Russkies in Hollywood

Boris a fat Borat lookalike complete with a thick Dr. Zhivago mustache is in the kitchen on the computer following an EBay bid while Natasha a tall slender beauty with luminous skin and long straight black hair is curled up on the couch in the living room petting an expensive looking toy dog and watching daytime TV. Several overflowing bags of Whole Foods groceries sit on the kitchen table next to an unopened box containing a brand new Jack La Lane juicer. Pasted all over the refrigerator are snapshots of the two of them and all the fun things they have been doing since coming to Los Angeles. A phone rings and Boris hits the speaker phone button. Behind him through the kitchen window we see a Russian style multiple spired church.

( in thick Russian accent)
Agent X
( in a phony texas accent)
Howdy Boris this is Agent X in Texas--but don't call me X call me Tex! Get it Agent X -Tex?
(Gravely evil laughter ending in coughing)
(with a bored look on his face but faking interest)
Yes comrade Tex, I hear you clearly, vee kan speek freely.
Agent X
Do you have any recent data on US Naval operations in the Pacific?
Yes boss, vee just got some top secret photos for you and vas veery dangerous mission too!

Boris goes to Google on his computer and hurriedly types out US Navy/Pacific Ocean. He quickly scans down the page then clicks on USS George H. W. Bush visits San Diego. An aerial photo of the aircraft carrier comes on screen and he clicks on it saving the photo.

I am seending you aerial photo of new American aircraft carrier ve took along vith bill from the helikopter pilot for $ 5.000.00. It vas veery dangrous mission several yets were scrambled from thee carrier but ve got away... stupid Americans I think they not vreally Top Guns like in movies.... Boris and Natasha I think is smarter - ya?
Agent X
Ya! Excellent work our superiors in Mother Russia will be very pleased! Your check is in the mail! Anything else I can do for you pardner?
Yes , American food very bad, taste not so good and much GMO vee will need extra $ to purchase veery healthy imported Russian food here in Hollywood.
( out of view screaming )
Idiots! Door number two! Door number two!
Expensive Toy Dog
Agent X
(worried and sounding more Russian now)
Vhats happening is it a vraid ...F Bee I?
No nothing like dhat. Natasha ez praticing her engleesh vatching American TV.
Agent X
( back to phony Texas accent)
Oh, Ok, I'm with you on that one pardner, Dallas reruns is how I learned myself. I understand about the chow got the same thing here in Texas too much steak and not enough borscht. No problemo son will an extra $ 600 a month do?
( looks over in Natasha's direction and she with her eyes still glued to the TV gives him a big thumbs up. )
Boris: Yes that vill do. Over and out!
Agent X
Audios amigos!

Boris goes back to his computer and brings up EBay . A picture of an signed Michael Jackson 80's era poster for $600.00 is on the screen. A smile of satisfaction crosses his face as he begins typing. The multi- spired church in the background comes into view and we to hear that dramatic sounding Russian -type choral music from the movie Hunt for Red October

Regardless what the story is I am impressed with the result and glad they're doing it

Candidate # 3
Babylon had it's gardens and now Hollywood has too --Hollywood Babylon?
Fountain Community Gardens
(at Fountain and St. Andrews Place
LA's newest community garden some plots are still available for $ 10 a month

Hollywood Freeway beginning to thicken with afternoon work commuters. Soon this traffic artery will clog up with the increasing automobile sludge raising blood pressure, tempers and causing various heart attack like symptoms across the city. I don't know about you but I hate driving in Freeway traffic.

Bike and Hike to Griffith Park

I love to walk more than I love to bike and since I got this here bike I have really neglected my walking. In fact I have been hardly doing any walking at all and I'm beginning to feel more like a wheeled creature than a human being with legs and feet. PG ( post gym) and PB ( pre-bike) I used to drive to Griffith Park and then walk up to the observatory which is good exercise and very relaxing. Since I have been riding everywhere on a bike now I have stopped walking and hiking as I have been getting plenty of exersise. The other day I took a walk somewhere instead of biking there and noticed how much I enjoyed it and also how strange it felt like I was relearning something I'd forgotten - I kid you not!
So I decided to get myself walking and hiking again and to combine biking and hiking.
Since there is no bikes allowed on the hiking trails I would need to have a safe place to lock up my bike when I'm hiking and I have solved that problem.

Griffith Park is a huge and there are miles and miles of hiking trails and roads to bike on.
I like the trails off of Fern Dell Drive directly across from the Trails Cafe.
Fern Dell is off of Los Feliz Blvd. in Hollywood where Western Ave. and Los Feliz Blvd connect.
Note: Los Feliz Blvd in that area is dangerous for biking stay on the sidewalk if at all possible.

Fern Dell Dr. at Los Feliz Blvd.

Trails Cafe.
(a short but somewhat steep ride up the hill from Los Feliz Blvd on Fern Dell Dr.)
Healthy vegan food, drinks, coffee all prepared on site. Great atmosphere, music, friendly laid back people work there, it's the best kept secret in Hollywood and the place where I park my bike when I go for a hike.
When you come back from your hike you've arrived at the perfect spot to relax and get something to drink and eat. They sell doggie biscuits and have free water for dogs and humans.

Open every day except Monday.

A popular resting place is the Tree Trunk Bench at the Trails Cafe. The owner hired me to build it--have a sit on me.

My bike locked to the railing next to the Trails Cafe. Out in the open plenty of people around - not your usual bike theft location and so I feel it is safe.

Before we enter the Magic Forrest here is (a rather ugly looking) reminder there is no biking on the off road dirt trails.

Welcome to the Shire!
Your journey is about to begin- do you have the ring?

The trees at the beginning of the trail are
magnificent! I recommend you spend some time
getting to know them.
Take the trail to the right on your way up.

This is a storybook like environment with little arched wooden bridges, river rock walls, caves and more. There's even a group of actors that come twice a month dressed as trolls and fairies to entertain children. You won't find anyone on the trail searching for a magic ring but plenty are looking very diligently for a small bald headed gold man named Oscar no doubt.

About 3/4 of the way up the trail is this tree off to the left. It slopes away from the trail and is easy to climb (you can practically walk up it like stairs) so occasionally I will hang out there for a spell - give it a go if you dare.

Dogs are allowed on these trails. You'll see all kinds of dogs on the trails from huge beasts to tiny little toy dogs making the climb. I admit I do get a kick out of seeing the pocket sized ones going for it.

Right before you get to the top of the loop is a short cut which I call the goat trail that looks more difficult than it is. For a non-rock climber it may be intimidating but I find it is easier and less work to walk up then to take the longer route up the trail. The rocks make for interesting and easy to follow steps and before you know it you are at the top - try it and see for yourself.

Just past the short cut/goat trail you'll be at the top of the loop. You can turn around and go back the way you came or continue around the loop and then down returning to where you started or continue up the trail to your right which will take you all the way to the observatory and the great views of the city.
Since I was a bit out of hiking shape and pressed for time this was as far as I went today.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Safety Cycle a Hollywood Bicycle Epicenter

Note: Definition of epicenter: The point at which an earthquake reaches the earth's surface

I call this place an epicenter because alot of activity ( at least a 8.0 on the bicycle Richter Scale) that benefits the local bicycle community emanates from this place beginning with the fact that I bought my bike here which was followed by much riding and then this blog.

Safety Cycle

Sales. Parts and Repair Center
1014 N. Western Ave ( 1 block south of Santa Monica Blvd.)Hollywood/LA . Ca 90029
(323) 464-5765

Open seven days a week
M-Fri 9:30 - 7pm
Sat: 9:30- 6pm
Sun: 10am - 5pm

This is an old school bike shop that has been at this same location since the 1940's. It has been owned by the same family for the past 22 years and is managed by two brothers (Brent and Eric.)

Friendly customer service is their motto:
"We try to help customers as much as possible, answer any questions they may have about their bike or cycling. People are always welcome to just come in and talk about their cycling needs."

Bicycle Sales
There are a wide variety of bikes for sale in the shop and also the online store. Some of my pictures came out too dark so I have only a few samples to show you below but all types of bikes are for sale including but not limited to:
road bikes, fixies. hybrids, youth bikes. bmx freestyle, mountain bikes, beach cruisers, folding bikes etc.
If you purchase a bike from them see free tune up policy below.

Parts Dept.
The shop carries a wide selection of replacement parts including a large selection of rims, tires and tubes.

Repair Dept.
Bicycle repairs here are fast and excellent!
There is always 2- 3 repairman available for repairs 7 days a week.
I've brought my bike in three times for a free quick tunes up since I owned it and there was no problem getting it adjusted in a short period of time plus the cost was zero as the tune ups were covered by my purchase ( see below)

"We can pretty much handle anyone who comes through the door with a bike problem to solve though repairs are on a first come first serve basis " says mechanic Diego. Diego also said " alot of bike repair shops won't work on cheap bikes but we'll work on anything" While I was there waiting on my bike a blond woman with an attractive English accent commented that they always bring their bikes there for repairs as the work is excellent. On a previous trip I observed a woman's surprise after she asked how much she owed them when she was told there was no charge for her adjustment as she had originally purchased her bike there.

Safety Cycle free basic
tune -up with purchase Policy:
(does not include any parts)
Purchase a new bike from them and you'll get free "basic tune-ups" for as long as you own the bike at a $ 45.00 - that's right $ 45.00 value
Tune up includes:
*Brake adjustment, front/rear
*Gear adjustment. front/rear
*Check and re tighten all major parts
*Minor true wheel
*Check air pressure
*Oil chain
*Minor cleaning:
Stem. handle bars. crank. seat
I Have had my brakes and wheels tuned up three times since I bought my bike here and this deal is unbeatable!

Bicycle mechanic Diego works on straightening out my rim by observing how the wheel spins and then tightening or loosening the spokes. The first time I brought my bike in complaining about the wheel alignment he explained that potholes or jumping curbs can cause the rim to become crooked. He fixed it and since then I make every effort to to avoid potholes and stopped jumping curbs as well.

Some cool looking "Fixies" belonging to locals parked out back of the shop.

Cool form of bike art!
Saw this bike parked out back of the shop and got to get the skinny on these spoke cards I have been noticing on some bikes.
These spoke cards are sold for a dollar as souvenirs of the group rides that take place all over town. They're road worthy as the are laminated and therefor waterproof. They're collected like baseball cards used to be back in the day. Some of the rides have several hundred riders or more and so the organizers can cover their expences and have a few bucks left over - sweet!

New handlebars and shoulder bag = satisfied customer!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday morning ride to Hollywood Farmer's Market

Sunset Blvd.
A quaint little country road leading to a Farmer's market
For a moment forget about this as a world famous thoroughfare and the parade of celebrities that have driven back and forth in their lavish convertibles in years past and the hordes of tourists currently seeking some hint of their long gone presence instead try and imagine a quiet and peaceful country lane. You on your bicycle pedaling to the local Farmer's buy some locally grown produce....

Sunday morning on Sunset Blvd
This is a great time (8am) to be riding down Sunset Blvd! Traffic is light and the drivers seem very bike friendly. There is plenty of room to the right and very few parked cars so it's like you have your own bike lane.
I pretty much ride the street the whole way. I have my large basket up front and usually take a couriers bag to accommodate all my purchases.

Hollywood Farmers Mkt. Facts:

Been there for 19 years so if you haven't discovered it by now...

Located on Ivar Ave. between Sunset and Hollywood Blvds.

Open every Sunday 8am - 1pm

150 booths; fruits, veggies, (Spray, no spray and organic), flowers,

arts, crafts, clothes, street musicians, prepared food, drinks.

and of course a balloon guy.

All items are grown or made by the seller.


Early Sunday morning bike traffic on Sunset Blvd.

Bike parking free - car $ 5.00
Pre -bike I used to drive around sometimes for fifteen minutes looking for a parking spot to avoid paying for parking. Note: It's only five minutes by car and only ten minutes to ride my bike to the Farmer's Mkt. Sometimes I would luck out and find free parking, sometimes I would just drive back home not wanting to pay for parking. I also had a gym membership across the street so pre-bike I would drive to the gym ( $ parking only $2.00) do my workout ( inc. stationary bike) then go across the street to the mkt. to save three bucks.

Walkers Paradise
Wearing the "hat" of writer/blogger now I got an entirely different view of being there with a bike. Walking my bike (no riding please) I observed that a Farmers Mkt. is primarily a walkers paradise. This is a safe haven free from the nasty automobile, where one can slow down and casually stroll about delicious step by step.
I sense a feeling of satisfaction amongst people of the fact that they are walking not driving.
Here the foot is king and a car with wheels would be considered more of an evil Godzilla like enemy to be quickly attacked with organic matter and subdued.
Some things being pulled along on wheels are acceptable though: carts are observed and noted by one and all as to practicality of function along with content while strollers laden with beautiful little people bring smiles, sighs and waves of admiration. This magical atmosphere of growing things and recently planted and growd' little people inspires some I'm sure, perhaps women pulling their carts full of veggies make a wish that someday they'll do some of their own growing and have more then just vegetables in their cart all the while keeping an eye out for suitable mates and growing partners. Bikes are welcome and if they are good looking you'll get some smiles and sighs to be sure but they are not nearly as welcomed I think as their smaller cousins as they look to be more related to the larger Godzillaesque car.
I enjoy wheeling my bike around and even if there was valet bike parking such as at the Santa Monica Farmer's Mkt. I think I'd still prefer my near Godzilla like stature.
Note: I checked at the volunteer booth and there are no plans for valet bike parking here,

Can't go wrong with fresh sunflower seed sprouts added to your salads!!

South Central Farms Cooperative


Above: The quality of the leafy green vegetables is excellent! This large basket is only $ 3.50. There are both organic and "conventional" fruits and veggies and lots of "no spray" ( not certified organic but no pesticides.) Why would anyone buy pesticide laden veggies when the healthier ones are nearly equal in price? I actually think some people are against the concept of organic costing more and stuck in that idea and so ignore the equally priced organic produce when they come across it as a matter of habit.

Plenty of free samples are happily given out from the various sellers

There were a few bikes dotting the landscape early this morning.

Spotted this gentleman getting off the bus with his bike on my way home. His name is Pedro and he likes to bus and bike to work. Says he is getting old and likes to get exersize by working up a sweat riding to work then change into his uniform there.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bikes I'd love to see on our neighborhood streets

This blog has to do with the future what it should look like on our streets - with Cargo bikes. They are very much in use in Europe and are starting to gain popularity here in the US and are now being manufactured here.
The Europeans don't fool around with these they use then for child transport and small businesses.
I would think having the children upfront would be far safer than the usual small trailer behind the bike setup for small children here in the US. It looks like they are having alot more fun riding up front too!
Would be nice to see some of these on the streets of Hollywood in the near future.