In My Orbit: Walking along the L.A. River

24 10 2013

Kayaking is becoming the latest L.A. River craze; but some environmentalist are none too pleased. The first rehab of the River created a nice habitat for Canadian Geese, Herons, Egrets, Ravens, Crows,Hawks and Ducks.  During the Fall and Winter, I hear the ducks every morning, as they fly overhead, doing their thing. The River has become quite the sanctuary, as the birds build nests and call it home.

Certain environmentalist feel the kayaking will disrupt and disturb the birds, as well as kill off any plant life that has developed. One such person who I ran into on my walk said that the over abundance of kayakers and other people would disturb this urban ecosystem and bring more debris and disruption.

I’m not sure how slow kayakers are disruptive, but all the traffic and dust from the constant construction that goes on in this area isn’t; so it doesn’t make much sense to me.

The new program managed by Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority opened a 2.5-mile sandy-bottomed stretch of the L.A. River along Glendale Narrows in Elysian Valley. The Pilot Recreation Zone opened over Memorial Day and ran through Labor Day, when the River conditions were calmest.  The initial reports tabulated by the EastsiderLA show that the pilot program went pretty well; read: we will see more of this next Summer as it is bringing some nice revenue to Los Angeles.

The small stretch the project encompassed is only in my little neighborhood of Elysian Valley/Atwater Village. The entire L.A. River stretches 52 miles and crosses over a dozen cities, flowing from the Santa Monica Mountains, through downtown Los Angeles, to the ocean in Long Beach. The Army Corps of Engineers paved the River in a sea of concrete in the 1930s for the purposes of flood control, but over the past few years, the city has sought to reclaim the area for recreation and habitat purposes. The federal government is now on board, offering four alternatives for rehabilitating the River to remove the concrete and restore the viability of the River as a water source and urban green haven.

L.A.’s newly-minted Mayor Garcetti is fully on board with one of them–Alternative 20. This, of course, is the most costly, but it is also the most encompassing taking into account the entire 52-mile stretch of River, rather than a few sections that are in the most prime neighborhoods.

From the Alternative 20 FAQs:

• This option would most fully accomplish the Study’s stated ecosystem and habitat restoration goals by achieving more direct connections to the river, bringing more natural seasonal riparian flow regimes to river-adjacent areas and providing a more robust connection to nearby habitat resources like Elysian Park and the Santa Monica and Verdugo Mountains.’

• This is the path to realizing the full potential of the river’s restoration.

• Without this full restoration, connections will not be made to all possible parks, trails, and greenways—many of which are recent additions that reflect investments by the City, the State, and many community organizations.

• The comprehensive restoration laid out in Alternative 20 best matches the City of LA’s LA River Revitalization Master Plan, by creating ‘a seamless network of natural habitat areas, parks, bike paths and pedestrian trails.’

• In the Army Corps’ own analysis, Alternative 20 results in four times more economic development than Alternative 13.

• Alternative 20 includes the most direct connections to: (1) the river (2) other public lands and trails (3) seasonal influences and water flows (4) other habitat resources, notably the Elysian Hills and Verdugo Mountains.

Being a fairly recent Atwater Village/Elysian Valley resident, I have enjoyed this little stretch of the River, and am happy to see the economic viability of making it a recreational zone for kayakers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Others are less thrilled, pointing out that this is more corporate think tank postulating and planning, and a real estate developer’s wet dream, rather than something that incorporates the current residents’ desires and vision for their neighborhoods.

The Free Association Design blog does a pictorial overview and opinion piece on this very subject, showing images of the futuristic urban plans.

I find this whole conversation extremely interesting. My husband and I hope to stay in this area, so it will be curious to see how all this develops and what the L.A. River will look like in say, another five years.

Time will tell…

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In My Orbit: Dances with Films gives Independent Film a Fresh Take

2 06 2013

Dances with Films Logo

The Girl spent Saturday at the Dances with Films festival doing some press coverage for the world premiere of an innovative documentary, With No Regrets: A Dancin’ Man’s Journey.

Dances with Films was formed in 1998 by a group of filmmakers who envisioned a festival where the quality of the work was the point of entry, and not “who you knew”. Now in its 16th year, the Fest is often a launch pad for filmmakers and those who represent film. Some have gone on to write, direct, and produce for studio projects, as well as found agency representation.

With No Regrets: A Dancin’ Man’s Journey chronicles the life of Tony Stevens, a dancer/choreographer whose career spanned 45-plus years.  Tony danced, choreographed, and worked alongside such luminaries as Chita Rivera, Bob Fosse, Liza Minnelli, Michael Bennett, Mary Tyler Moore and Dolly Parton; yet many outside of the dance world (and some within) don’t really know who he was.  This film seeks to remedy this.

Tonv Stevens Collage

George Fairfield directed this labor of love, and his wife, Crystal Chapman wrote the script. Here’s the preview of George’s work. Read my review of the film at my Examiner.com page.

Crystal Chapman was also Tony’s friend and protégé. She wrote a moving article about him giving more detail on the depth of his influence: Thinking Out Loud: I Remember Tony.

The Director and his film are working their way through the film festival circuit and other outlets. Follow George Fairfield’s YouTube channel and LinkedIn page to find out whether it will be viewing at a festival near you.

The Dances with Film festival runs from May 30-June 9, and tickets are still available for many of the films and shorts. They also have a noontime panel starting Monday, June 3rd, featuring entertainment industry heavyweights from across the spectrum.

I’ll get the opportunity over the next eight days to view more of the films , and do some more coverage of the Fest–it’s always refreshing to see new vision and talent come to life on the screen!





In My Orbit: my Red Carpet Moment and the 2013 Oscars’ recap

25 02 2013

Farshad Farahat with Jennifer Oliver O'Connell (Formatted)So the Girl got the closest she’s ever been to a Red Carpet a few weeks ago at the 2013 MovieGuide Awards. You can get the skinny from the write-up I did for my Examiner.com column “On the Red Carpet at the 21st Annual MovieGuide® Awards“. Please give it a read, and feel free to comment!

The only thing I’ll rehash from that experience is my photo op with actor Farshad Farahat, whose star turn in Argo was critically acclaimed. Argo won the Best Picture Oscar last night, so I’m sure Mr. Farahat’s currency has risen exponentially. Well deserved, and I wish him all the best. Thanks for the opportunity to say that I met you when!

I enjoyed watching the show with industry friends who gave me the insider take on some of the Oscar guests and other gossip–gives some added color to an already colorful night! Here’s my summation of the evening:

Host Seth MacFarlane. Sue me, but I like Family Guy and American Dad, and I liked Seth MacFarlane as Host. Unlike several of the past Oscar hosts (since Billy Crystal’s first departure), MacFarlane did not desperately try to resurrect Crystal’s mojo (as if anyone could). He simply brought himself, his style, and his humor; and for the most part, it worked. If you have watched an episode of any one of his shows, or saw Ted, then you full well knew what expect. So what exactly is everyone so shocked and disappointed about?

I’m getting quite a chuckle reading the articles (many by women) about how sexist and misogynistic MacFarlane was, ad infinitum. Riddle me this: since when did Buzzfeed, the bastion of testosterone-laden muscle flexing, care about sexism?

And tell me, feminists, how do you rate the women MacFarlane lampooned in the “We Saw Your Boobs” sketch? Where is the commentary on a Hollywood that gives high kudos and awards to the female roles where pretty women ugly themselves (The Hours, Monster), or bare their comely parts (Monster’s BallThe Reader) in order to have their acting prowess recognized and score a big win? MacFarlane did swift work of  the sheer ridiculousness of this machine with just that one number, and I appreciated it. We will see if he is invited back next year; frankly, I hope so. As a musical/variety fan, it was nice to see singing, dancing, and movement incorporated back into the show in a fresh way.

Quentin Tarantino. As I wrote on my Twitter feed, Tarantino is a joke and a fraud who has parlayed video-game style revenge fantasies masquerading as high art to new levels. The same people who screamed about The Help being racist and a detriment to Black people are lauding and applauding a white man’s take on slavery in Django Unchained. More twisted logic and hypocrisy on display in that one. I refuse to see the movie, as being assaulted with the N-Word for two and a half hours is not my idea of a fun time. Suffice to say the fact that Tarantino eked out even two awards from this farcical product is egregious.

Jennifer Lawrence. Not really a fan of her work, although Silver Linings Playbook was watchable, and the roles were well acted. I have no idea whether Jennifer’s particular choice of attire was foisted upon her or if she actively chose it, but it clearly was not well thought out by someone. When Jennifer came up as a presenter before her category was announced, a Facebook friend joked about how many people were under her dress–it truly was a giant moving mass of fabric, and one has to learn to walk in such a contraption. I don’t think anyone gave Jen lessons, poor thing.  So when she took an almost face plant as she walked up the steps to receive her Best Actress award, I wasn’t surprised. I was among some Jennifer Lawrence haters, so they considered it schadenfreude. Interesting….

I rather admire Diane Keaton, who mostly eschews the pretty Barbie doll attire for a more polished, practical, and personal look. Should the day ever arrive when I get such an invite, I would probably trend in that direction.

In Memoriam: They gave the technical and behind-the-scenes folks some real honor, but they left out the likes of Andy Griffith, Ben Gazzara, Alex Karras, Gore Vidal, Richard Dawson, and Sylvia Kristel. These individuals were also television, literary, stage, and sports figures, so they received commemoration from those respective fields. But what hit home to me is that all the great ones are dying off, and fairly quickly. A fact of life, but still sad to see.

Daniel Day-Lewis. I have great admiration for this man’s talent. I think that appreciation also stems from the fact that he does not overly saturate himself. It’s obvious that he loves and delves deeply into his craft, yet he hasn’t appeared in a ton of movies. But each time he does appear, it screams for Oscar gold. This is a record third Best Actor Oscar: something that has never been accomplished in the 85-year history of the Academy Awards! So hats off to you, Mr. Daniel Day-Lewis, for bringing our 16th President to magnificent life, and being a credit and fine example of your profession.

Singing and Dancing. I love both, especially when they are done well. And all the numbers, from Charlize Theron and Channing Tatum (who knew she could dance?), to Seth himself doing an old soft shoe, and belting out a few tunes, was all great fun.

Unlike my criticism of Bouncey‘s lip-synching the Inauguration National Anthem, I cannot be critical of a 10-years-older Catherine Zeta-Jones doing the same while performing her “All that Jazz” dance number from the movie Chicago. One Facebook friend pointed out that actresses/dancers sing and dance on Broadway six days a week, but Catherine hasn’t been on Broadway (or much of anything for that matter) in quite some time. The fact that she can still dance and look fabulous while doing it, is enough for me.

I can be critical of Barbara Streisand, though. Babs still sings and tours (despite several “Farewell” performances… go figure), so this rendition of “The Way We Were”, though heartfelt, was not very good. Contrast that with the powerhouse performance of Shirley Bassey singing “Goldfinger”, and Streisand’s performance pales even further. Shirley is not a regular performer, but she’s still got her chops–and she looked awesome in that gold dress.

Jennifer Hudson represented as always, delivering an abridged version of “And I’m Telling You” with iron lungs. I recently watched Dreamgirls again, and I will say publicly that Jennifer had a fuller, lusher sound when she had a bit more… substance. My vocal coach agreed with me, though he said he’d never go on the record–but he admires my freedom to do so. Hey, I’m just a lowly writer who also sings–he actually has to work with these people. Enough said.

She’s still Jennifer Hudson, and still fabulous–so do yo’ thang, girl, do yo’ thang.

Adele. What more can I say about Adele? I’m a fangirl, not only because she is an awesome songwriter with pure vocal supremacy, but she’s a big girl and is neither apologetic, nor ashamed about it.  Adele performed with class and polish, despite the technical mess they made of it–who puts their orchestra in another building several blocks down?! Her Best Song win for Skyfall is just another jewel in a tremendously weighty crown.

Steven Spielberg/Lincoln. Well, one thing was glaringly obvious: Spielberg is no longer the favorite son.  Tommy Lee Jones was robbed by Christoph Waltz, who basically reprised his role in Inglorious Basterds with a different accent and costume. Then Tony Kushner, who is a brilliant writer, was trumped by Argo-writer Chris Terrio. So save for the Best Actor prize, folks in the Academy are no longer in paroxyms over Spielberg’s accomplishments: and Lincoln really was a stellar accomplishment all around.  Shame it wasn’t more recognized.

Argo. I must say I was impressed by Argo, and by Ben Affleck as director. I still say Lincoln deserved Best Picture, but I can’t be mad about it. It was predictable that a movie where Hollywood was the hero would receive the biggest film nod of the night, and sometimes the Academy is nothing less than predictable. Over the years, the Academy has picked some stinkers for Best Picture, but thankfully this was not one. Argo was a nicely conceived, historical vignette, weaved  with layers of humor, suspense, and intrigue in presenting its story. It worked for me, and for most audiences.

Michelle Obama’s Bangs. With poorly trimmed bangs and another ugly dress, Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance via satellite, to lecture us about the meaning of films and present the Best Picture Oscar. For me, part of the point of entertainment is to escape the routine and vagaries of life–and that includes politics. So for the Obamas to once again inject themselves some place where they clearly do not belong was jumping the shark. This is not just my conservative bent talking: Read the comments on the Yahoo! and The Hollywood Reporter articles. These publications aren’t exactly right-leaning, so the fact that these viewers were equally mystified or appalled speaks volumes.

Despite the inauspicious ending to the evening, all-in-all, it was one of the better Oscar telecasts. Here’s to more Red Carpets and Oscar brushes In My Orbit!

 





In My Orbit…

6 06 2012

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The political junkie in me is totally strung out today–too much news to discuss, so I’m hitting the larger themes.

Winners and Losers

I am not hiding the fact that I am thrilled, thrilled! at the victory of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker over the Union-backed recall effort to oust him from office. I would feel this way for any leader of principle who merely sought to deliver what he had promised to his constituents upon winning the election, then suffered a temper-tantrum from the Union strongholds, who were merely being asked to sacrifice like the rest of the state, but chose to instead mount a campaign to oust him. Well, the Unions lost spectacularly, and spent a lot of money doing so.

Both sides of the aisle are spinning it for their advantage, and the Left in particular is crying foul, “democracy died“, and blaming outside money and the 7-1 overspending of the Republican and Tea Party machines. I thought the Tea Party was dead?–psyched your mind!

It is interesting that those same liberals and leftists are not decrying the SuperPACs campaigning and collecting money for the Obama 2012 re-election or the deep pockets that President Obama is courting to contribute to his re-election coffers… but I digress.

For this transplanted Midwesterner from the freakishly blue state of Illinois to an even scarier blue state of California (both union strangleholds), this is just a huge coup. Signs of sanity are even evidencing themselves in Cali’s local elections: in a landslide vote, both San Jose and San Diego citizens approved ballot measures to cut pensions for city workers–so you know the dam is breaking. Now if it will only burst forth and wash Los Angeles in its reformist wake. I continue to hold out hope.

But back to Walker: that a leader says what he means, means what he says, and actually follows through with action is a rare thing to behold. But the greater fact that other people of principle rewarded Walker’s consistency, courage and stick-to-itedness by keeping him in office says volumes. And he won by a larger margin than he did in 2010! That’s something you aren’t hearing from the mainstream media outlets. Jonathan S. Tobin said it best: Courage Rewarded. Give it a read.

The Weekly Standard echoes this as well, but places the victory squarely where it belongs:

“Walker turned a $3.6 billion deficit into a $154 million surplus. Unemployment is down. So are property taxes. Businesses, even with uncertainty about the U.S. economy, are optimistic about the direction of the state. Even with the political divisions, it’s hard to imagine a more successful 16 months as governor.

“Results matter. And that, more than anything else, explains why Scott Walker won.”

No matter what pundits have to say, it will have a resounding effect on the November elections and the political process at large. My sweet home Chicago Tribune attests to this in an editorial today:

“On Tuesday, a majority of the voters who for a year and a half have spent the most time weighing those sorts of numbers reaffirmed that they think their Wisconsin governments had grown too elephantine, too expensive.

“There’s another elephant in the room: Act 10 ended the compulsory collection of union dues by government employers. It turns out that when workers have a free choice of whether to keep paying, many decide that it isn’t worth the money. We were surprised last week by a Wall Street Journal report that Wisconsin membership in the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees plummeted from 62,818 in March 2011 to 28,745 in February 2012. At the American Federation of Teachers, 6,000 of 17,000 Wisconsin members have walked away.

“Drop-offs that stark have implications not only for the unions, but also for politicians who rely on union donations to fund their campaigns.” (emphasis mine)

Unions will be less of a piggy bank for political causes, because the very workers who fund their efforts will now have more of a voice on how their dues are used; and in some cases, will be able to choose to not retain union membership. That’s a big deal.

He’s Baaack!

Because certain Angeleans continue to be useful idiots, the city will once again be subjected to a near traffic shutdown with yet another fundraising visit from our President. I continue to be thankful that I no longer work anywhere near the West side. Let the NIMBYs in Bev Hills and Brentwood have what they deserve!

I just love these Hitler videos. Speaks to both of my musings quite nicely.

 





In My Orbit: Happy 2012!

2 01 2012

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Happy New Year! The Girl found December sweeping her off her feet, with some wonderful Holiday parties, a lot of singing, and a lot of Yoga. Before I knew it, it was January 2, 2012, and time for the 123rd Tournament of Roses Parade.

This is something to which I pay little attention. The floats are lovely and all, and I can appreciate the work and dedication each one takes. But parades and pageantry have never been my thing. I’m also very thankful I don’t live in Pasadena’s immediate vicinity–those poor residents have to deal with blocked streets and the hoopla that surrounds such an undertaking for weeks (sometimes months) before the event actually happens. If I did live there, I’d probably go on vacation for the entire month of December; but, I digress….

The 2012 Tournament of Roses Parade caught my attention this year because our old friends of #OWS will be presenting a float at the end of the festivities. From Friday’s Los Angeles Times:

“Occupy protesters are busy finishing their float that will run at the end of the Rose Parade: a 70-by-40-foot octopus made of recycled plastic bags.”

Can you say, “Media whores”? Seriously, a parade that spends and takes in millions, if not billions of dollars, is more a reflection of corporate greed than a hedge fund–no matter how noble, altruistic,  and community-oriented its veneer. Yet, the flailing Occupy “activists” are jumping on the train, even choosing to play nice for the cameras:

“The group says the protest will be ‘G-rated’ and will stick to nonviolence in expressing Occupy’s messages against income inequality and corporate power.”

Whatever. I’m sure it will go over like a lead balloon, right in sync with the whole movement. The Pasadena-Star News decided to do a profile on the Occupy Rose Parade leader’s questionable past.  This past includes petty theft, having his law license suspended, andconnections to the 9/11 Truther movement.

So much for gaining more credibility with the general public. I sincerely hope that the year 2012 will see Occupy Wall Street and its offshoots fade to black.





In My Orbit…

6 09 2011

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Girl has been turning faster than usual lately in the thick of planning two Career events.

The first is a Social Media and Your Career panel on Wednesday, September 21. We are a featured part of Social Media Week Los Angeles this year! The Panel includes yours truly, Douglas E. Welch, Susan M. Baker, and Marla Dennis. We will be moderated by Colton Stenke and Denise “The Oracle” Cook.

Registration opens today (Yay!) and I have linked this Event in the sidebar, or you can click here.

I can’t believe that CareerCamp #5 is about to happen on Saturday, September 24. This brainchild of Douglas E. Welch, founder and Chairman Emeritus, continues to grow, and the Girl enjoys being an active part of it!

CareerCampSFV (San Fernando Valley) is back where it all started, in beautiful Northridge, at the Congregational Church of Northridge. For those not familiar, CareerCamp is an unconference dedicated to “helping you build the career you deserve”. The day will include speakers, ad hoc presentations and breakout sessions on all aspects of building your career.

It doesn’t matter whether you are employed or not–the day is for anyone who wants to build and/or improve their career. However, if you are in between successes, CareerCampSFV is right up your alley!

Registration is in the sidebar, or click here.

This testimonial video was created by Sizzle in the Middle‘s Tracy Pattin. It highlights the unique benefits of CareerCamp from the mouths of the attendees.

And here a link to the video from my CareerCampLA discussion, “Building an enduring Career Reputation” back in March. It’s a taste of what you can expect from The Girl at both the Social Media and Your Career panel, and at CareerCampSFV.

These Events are FREE–so if you’re in Los Angeles, clear your schedule and make your way out to Social Media and Your Career on September 21, and CareerCampSFV on September 24!





Your 15 Minutes

2 03 2011

Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Whether actively or peripherally, we’ve all been part of the Charlie Sheen show. Not Two and a Half Men, but the media blitz he’s been on since they canceled the aforementioned show for the remainder of the season, after Charlie went on a cocaine binge, ended up in the hospital, then absconded to the Bahamas. Adding insult to injury, he decided to nuke CBS, Warner Bros., and show creator Chuck Lorre on more than one radio show.

Charlie claims to be “Adonis” and have “tiger blood”. That he is invincible and immune to all the cocaine he ingests and can superintend his own rehabilitation–not that he really needs it.  The rest of us mere mortals just don’t understand his greatness.

He has even joined Twitter and is trending toward 500,000 followers; reducing rants to 140 characters is no small feat.

I don’t see anything “great” about debasing yourself and traumatizing your family and children; and apparently the LA Department of Children and Family Services has now gotten involved, and the children have been removed from his custody. But Charlie simply rages on, looking more wasted and scary with each interview, reflecting the last gasp of a dying career.

So why is the Media lapping up every word and giving us 24/7 coverage as though he is the President discussing national and world matters?

James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times aptly calls them enablers: News outlets prove able enablers of Sheen’s meltdown.

“Rather than give one airing about Sheen’s dysfunction and the early termination of the taping of his hit show, “Two and a Half Men,” the leaders behind ABC’s “Good Morning America” and NBC’s “Today” rolled out their segments, piece by piece, like so much rancid candy. A sort of nauseating culmination had been scheduled to air Tuesday night — an “extraordinary” “20/20” special from ABC called ‘Charlie Sheen in His Own Words.'”

The problem is, we’ve seen this too many times before: John Belushi, River PhoenixChris Farley, Heath Ledger, and a host of other luminaries who thought they were larger than life–and larger than their addictions. They continue to be cautionary tales that very few in Hollywood seem to heed.

Will someone tell Charlie Sheen that his 15 minutes are up? If not, I fear that last gasp may become literal.








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