Thursday, September 29, 2011

Happy National Coffee Day (Photos)

Happy National Coffee Day, friends! Stay caffeinated and enjoy a look at the coffee experience from the perspective of our awesome ExperienceLA Flickr Pool!

Joan's on Third - Coffee Mug

Joan's on Third by JohnyRokkit

Monday, September 26, 2011

Vince Gill's All for the Hall Fundraising Efforts in LA for Nashville Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Country music star Vince Gill who was recently re- elected President of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville for the 10th consecutive year and brought his All for the Hall guitar pull fundraiser on September 13, 2011 to Club Nokia for the second year in a row. The purpose of this fundraising effort is to support ongoing programming at the Nashville cultural facility to help preserve the legacy of this vital form of American music so that future shows such as the Bakersfield Sound opening in March 2012 (narrated by Dwight Yoakim) are possible. For now enjoy  my Dwight Yoakim Grammy Museum picture set and I also saw Dwight in a dynamite performance at Stagecoach 2008; so seeing this exhibit will be reason enough to visit Nashville again. In addition, executives from the Country Music Hall of Fame had a chance to tell the audience of their $75 million capital campaign to significantly enlarge the museum and to add major performance space. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville is already reason enough for a visit; but this expansion of the museum and addition of a music venue will make it the premiere music museum in the USA if not the world.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Should Have Gone Metro: The Kodak Theatre

Hollywood & Highland

As a carless Angeleno, I don't often have this feeling - that twinge of regret that I should have taken the Metro bus or rail somewhere, but I had this feeling the other week and I'm surprised the drivers of Los Angeles don't have this feeling more often. 

I was headed to see Iris by Cirque du Soleil at the Kodak Theatre with a friend.  When I meet anyone for anything near Hollywood/Highland, I generally say "I'll meet you there."


The Metro Red Line stop at Hollywood/Highland practically drops me off there.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

ExperienceLA Special Offer: Get discounted tickets to "The Magic of Ivan Amodei"

Arthur C. Clarke (2001: A Space Odyssey) said that "Magic is science we don't understand yet." Perhaps that's the allure of magic. It captivates, makes us wonder, but most of all entertains audiences.

For a limited time, readers have the opportunity to see "The Magic of Ivan Amodei: Intimate Illusions" for only $29 when you use the promo code "experienceLA29" to purchase your tickets (original ticket price is $70). Accompanied by a concert cellist, audiences will experience magic happening mere feet from them in an Italian Renaissance setting.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Free Like Me to Play Chinatown Moon Festival on Saturday Night

If you missed the two Saturdays of Chinatown Summer Nights, or had so much fun, you want more, this Saturday night is the 73rd Annual Moon Festival featuring Eddie Lin from Deep End Dining as host on the chef cooking stage. And for the first time ever, a non-Asian band will play the Festival, and that is a story onto itself. Last Saturday, Free Like Me that features Lucy Gallant from Australia and Daniel Urbina from Venezuela came to Chinatown with their videographer to gather footage for their music video. What they didn't know was that they had come upon Chinatown Summer Nights, a festival that the Downtown News had given special recognition to earlier this year for transforming three Chinatown summer evenings back in 2011.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Restoration of the Great Wall of Los Angeles

Almost everyday this past summer, I've watched as multiple artists have gone down into the Tujunga Wash that runs by my neighborhood to patiently restore the mural known as the longest mural in the world: The Great Wall of Los Angeles.

The mural is painted along a half-mile stretch of the wash that is located on Coldwater Canyon Ave. between Burbank Blvd. and Oxnard St. It depicts historic US events and figures, including those specific to CA and Los Angeles. The project, started in 1976, is an initiative of SPARC, a community-based non-profit arts organization. 

Thursday, September 08, 2011

CicLAvia Invites L.A. to Play in the Streets

mom-daughter-cropFrom 10am to 3pm on Sunday, October 9th 2011, CicLAvia will create a free fun family festival on ten miles of Los Angeles streets. By removing cars, the streets are transformed into a temporary park - a wondrous, safe, family-friendly place. CicLAvia welcomes folks of all ages, interests, and every kind of non-automotive transit imaginable - from sneakers to skate to bikes to wheelchairs. Dogs, on leash, are also welcome. CicLAvia is magical. All kinds of Angelenos come together and they're all smiling!

Support L.A.'s biggest block party with its Kickstarter Campaign!  CicLAvia will be raising funds online until September 14th!

Monday, September 05, 2011

Alice Wallace to Play Hard Rock Hollywood on Thursday Night

Alice Wallace at The Mint who will soon be in the studio with a slew of country songs
I met Alice Wallace, a rising alt-country/rocker/blues talent, when she played right before the Greencards at The Mint several months ago (which was covered on the ExperienceLA blog), and felt I was seeing an emerging artist. What was interesting about that night was that here was The Greencards, a Grammy nominated nouveau bluegrass band promoting and producing themselves. since they had been dropped by their record label. The Greencards raised enough funds through their friends, fans, and family to produce their Bricks CD which is tracking very well on the Americana charts as they tour America. They are their own boss.

But back to Alice Wallace who is appearing at the Hollywood Hard Rock Cafe on Thursday night, September 8, 2011 from 10 pm to midnight, and there is no charge for the music. She refers to this as a semi-acoustical set, and will be joined by her band. You can discover Alice Wallace on your own at her brand new website, which she just launched to promote her debut full length CD that she is finishing off in the recording studio. What intrigued me was that she used Kickstarter which is actually owned by to finance her studio time. The way Kickstarter works is that you decide how much money you want to raise and the time period, and then appeal to your friends to donate for the cause. If you don't hit your goal, then the pledges are not collected.

There are aspects of Alice Wallace that remind me of early Tift Merritt, and then her yodeling song, is not just channelling Patsy Cline, but would remind one of the spirit of The Dead Ringer Band when Kasey Chambers was a teenager. Incidentally, Randy Lewis, the LA Times music critic just reviewed and praised Kasey's current CD release "Little Bird" and I would suggest that it be sampled, as it is tracking near the top of the Americana charts at number 4. Kasey Chambers in the Little Bird CD in some ways shows a mature Kasey Chambers returning to her Americana roots.

So if looking to stay out late on Thursday night, take the Red Line to Hollywood getting off at the Hollywood and Highland station, and be entertained by Alice Wallace and her band at the Hard Rock Cafe. Wouldn't it be something if her guitar made it on the wall one day. Here are my pictures as a slideshow of Alice playing at The Mint in very difficult lighting conditions ( and for those with an iPad, the link is here:

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Mobility 21 Regional Transportation Conference and QR Tags

Metro QR Tag Real Time Bus signage

On Tuesday, September 6, 2011, at the LA Live JW Marriott, the six County Region that comprises SCAG will meet under the auspices of the Mobility 21 partnership which was created to bring more federal transportation dollars into the region. A top priority for the region is America Fast Forward that began as Mayor Villaraigosa's 30-10 plan whose purpose was to pledge Prop R funds for accelerating the Metro approved 30 year Proposition R capital program into getting done in 10 years. In our current economic climate where one needs to create jobs, fast tracking these major capital projects and their related construction jobs is a great idea.

The ExperienceLA project will be covering the Mobility 21 conference on Twitter (follow us @experienceLA) and will be using the hashtag of #mobility21 along with whatever hashtag the organizers promote. The conference is sold out, so one way to get an understanding of the discussion is to follow on Twitter. Most likely Steve Hymon, who tweets and blogs for Metro on Metro's The Source will be there posting tweets along with other social media advocates. ExperienceLA was funded by Metro through a competitive process in 2001 for the novel idea at the time to use the Internet to promote public transit and cultural destinations in Los Angeles. ExperienceLA has worked with over 2,000 cultural organizations encouraging such organizations to make sure that transit instructions show up on their site, and on ExperienceLA, one can find such cultural destinations, and instantly retrieve from the Metro Trip Planning server, the required transit instructions.

The ExperienceLA project also was a very early adopter of the use of social media to promote cultural tourism and transit in Los Angeles, and Metro itself is making great use of such tools. One example that was recently launched by Metro is the use of Nextbus real time transit information coupled with the use of QR (Quick Response) tags as shown in the picture above. Metro currently has deployed 1,000 of these, and hopes to over time have them at most of the 15,000 Metro bus stops in Los Angeles County. The way it works is that using your smartphone and using an application that is now being preloaded on many phones, or you go to the Android or Apple application store, and download for free the required software. Then with the application open, you proceed like taking a photo, and up will come information on the next buses arriving at that stop. This is much easier than prior technologies tested by Metro. It works because there are GPS tracking devices on all of the Metro buses. It is quick, easy, and reliable.

Almost six years ago, I started writing, and had it published in the Main Street monthly journal a major article discussing WiFi, mobile devices, and locational services which was presented at the June 2006 Main Street conference in New Orleans. Based upon the chatter in various blogs, the article discussed the advent of "smartphones" with features very similar to what became the Apple iPhone that was announced by Steve Jobs on January 9, 2007 and launched in June 29, 2007. In the Main Street journal article, I thought about all of the different things that could be loaded onto an iPod and especially wireless and locational services. When I wrote the article, I had a Nokia Tablet which was a relative hot seller in Europe (and a novelty in America) that gave me WiFi Internet access, and it replaced my Dell Axim which also did the same. Right now I use my Motorola Android (bought on launch day November 6, 2009) and Google transit application to obtain the scheduled information, while thinking about what MetroRail or buses to catch, including Long Beach Transit.

I was invited back to present at the Main Street Chicago conference in March 2009 in which we brought a Los Angeles panel to discuss social media in downtown Los Angeles with a focus on the Downtown Art Walk. I had a chance to attend a session to hear about how several Main Street programs were having to think about different approaches in the implementation of Main Street programs in Spanish speaking areas of the United States. At one particular session, one of the speakers stated how important it was for stores to put their phone numbers on the store window, since low cost mobile phones were becoming so important to the Latino community. I then interjected in this session that what this means is that the Apple and Android smartphones are going to completely change how lower income individuals communicate, as they will have access to the Internet with them at all times, and this will many times be their only access to the Internet.

This is why the Metro investment in the QR tag signs is a smart move, as Lucy Hood from the USC Marshall School of Business, wrote in the August 29, 2011 Wall Street Journal about how smartphones are closing the digital divide. Thus, smartphones will be everywhere, and thus the QR tag technology deployed by Metro as it spreads across the County and the universal adoption of such phones with these most basic tools, will be of benefit to all income levels in Los Angeles. And we will begin to see businesses with a QR code sign on their window, so that someone can easily bring up the website for the business.

Friday, September 02, 2011

LA230: Celebrating Los Angeles' 230 birthday with over 200 events

Olvera Street Mural "Blessing of the Animals" On September 4, 1781, 11 families escorted by 4 soldiers and their families, traveled 9 miles from The San Gabriel Mission and founded a little pueblo on what is now known as Olvera Street. 230 years later, that little pueblo has grown into an enormous metropolis that millions today call home: Los Angeles.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

September Literary Picks

Culver Reads The Call

I was just talking to someone the other day about how great it is to disconnect from technology every once in awhile.  That kind of mindset always takes me back to books.  I wonder what I should buy on my Amazon Kindle app for my iPad - sigh - okay, how about some great events this month that feature literary stuff instead?