Amoeblog

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Burbank, A City Built by People, Pride, and Progress

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 22, 2010 08:20pm | Post a Comment

This blog entry is about the Los Angeles County community of Burbank. To vote for other communities, click here. To vote for Los Angeles neighborhoods, click here. To vote for Orange County communities, click here.


Burbank from the Verdugos

For this episode, I was accompanied in the CARDIS by frequent traveling companion, Shimbles. We were originally to be accompanied by Matt Masocco, but he was called into Amoeba to work at the last minute. It was a hot, muggy day in Los Angeles.


Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of the San Fernando Valley


GEOGRAPHY

Anyway, Burbank is located in the San Fernando Valley and can be divided into two distinct areas, one nestled on the slopes and foothills of the Verdugo Mountains, and one in the western portion in the southeastern end of the San Fernando Valley. Burbank is surrounded by Tujunga and Sunland to the northeast, Shadow Hills to the north, Sun Valley to the northwest, North Hollywood to the west, Toluca Lake and Universal City to the southwest, Griffith Park to the south, and Glendale to the east.

Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Burbank

Being its own city, Burbank is made up of several of its own neighborhoods, including happening Downtown (with the Mall District, The Civic Center and Burbank Village), noisy Burbank Junction, hilly Burbank North Estates, chill Chandler Park, Hillside, edgy Magnolia Park, the bustling Burbank Media Center, McNeil, the Northwest District, and the horse-friendly Rancho Adjacent and the Rancho Equestrian Districts


EARLY HISTORY

The Tongva had lived along the Valley's waterways for some 8,000 years. After the Spaniards invaded, the area making up Burbank became part of Rancho San Rafael in 1784. It was in the area that would become Burbank that the Spaniard governor was unseated and replaced by Pio Pico in Mexico's War of Independence. After that, another portion of what would become Burbank was made part of Rancho Providencia in 1821.


AMERICAN ERA

As we all know, the US conquered Mexican California a couple of generations later. The Yanks put a new man in charge, a dentist from Maine, Dr. David Burbank, who purchased about 10,000 acres of the area in 1867 and built a ranch on which he grew wheat and raised sheep. In less than 10 years, the San Fernando Valley was LA County's king of wheat production. The Southern Pacific Railroad arrived, connecting LA and SF in 1876 and settlement of the area increased, centered around Olive Avenue, formerly a Tongva trail to the Cahuenga Pass. In 1887, Providencia Land, Water, and Development Company began developing the land, calling it Burbank. With the money Dr. Burbank had amassed both from his career and sales of his land, he opened the Burbank Theatre in 1893, in downtown Los Angeles.


BURBANK TRANSIT

In 1907, farmer Joseph Fawkes and E.C. Fawkes secured the first American patent for a monorail. They formed the Aerial Trolley Car Company and christened their first monorail "Aerial Shadow." In 1907, it embarked on its first trek... only to fall apart after traveling approximately a foot. It was rebranded "Fawkes' Folley." In 1911, Joseph Fawkes re-settled on West Olive in Burbank where he grew apricots. The same year, Burbank was incorporated as a city and, two months later, a more reliable method of transportation, the Red Car, arrived. After that, the previously primarily agricultural town would rapidly industrialize and grow. In 1916 Burbank had 1,500 residents. That year, Original Stage Lines began running buses between Downtown Los Angeles and Burbank.

Today Burbank is also accessible by Metrolink's commuter rail Antelope Valley Line and Ventura County Line, Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner and Coast Starlight, Glendale's Beeline, and the Los Angeles Metro. The Metro's 92 Line follows the route of the old Pacific Electric Glendale-Burbank Red Car Line that was discontinued in 1955. The main transit organization is Burbank Bus, which began in 2005 as the successor to Burbank Local Transit and operates four lines. To read an in depth history of Burbank public transit, click here.


Burbank 1922


BURBANK IN THE 1930s


By 1930, the time First National Studios, Andrew Jergens Company, The Lockheed Company, McNeill and Libby Canning Company, the Moreland Company, and Northrop Aircraft Corporation were located there, the population jumped to 16,662.

BURBANK UNITED AIRPORT


In 1930, Burbank's United Airport was the largest commercial airport in the Los Angeles area, helping cement the town's association with the flight industry.

BURBANK DURING WORLD WAR II

The Lockheed Vega plant before and after camouflage

During World War II, Lockheed's Vega factory was camouflaged to foil possible Japanese invaders with a fake suburb replete with automobiles, homes and trees.

BURBANK EMPIRE CENTER

The Burbank Empire Center

In late 2001, the Burbank Empire Center opened on the former site of Lockheed's Skunk Works and other properties with aviation as the theme. The buildings in the shopping center look something like airplane hangars and the signs have airplanes above them. With the air industry and service jobs for the industry's many workers, Burbank's population reached 78,577 in 1950.

BURBANK CITY HALL


Burbank City Hall

Burbank's Art Deco City Hall was designed by William Allen and W. George Lutzi and completed in 1943. Inside is a large mural painted by Hugo Ballin depicting Burbank's ties to agriculture, aerospace and film.


BURBANK IN THE 1950s

 

The decade that symbolizes for many "The Good Ol' Days" was marred, in 1953, by one of Burbank's most infamous crimes. In March of that year, the 64-year-old widow Mabel Monahan answered the door of her West Parkside Avenue home when Barbara Graham (aka Barbara Wood) knocked. Bloody Babs, as the press later nicknamed her, and Jack Santo, John True, Baxter Shorter and Emmet Perkins bust in in search of her rumored fortune. After she refused to give them anything, Bloody Babs beat her skull in with a gun and suffocated her with a pillow. They stuffed her body in a closet which, ironically, had about $15,000 of jewels and other valuable that Babs and her accomplices failed to find. True sang in exchange for immunity. Shorter disappeared (and was assumed dead) and the other three went to the gas chamber. Susan Hayward later won an Academy Award for playing Graham in the highly fictionalized movie I Want to Live! (1958). It was remade in 1983 with Lindsay Wagner.


BURBANK IN THE 1970s

THE BURBANK SKYLINE

Burbank's skyline was very low until 1974, when the 10-story Pacific Manor was completed. The second skyscraper was only one by the original definition -- the 6-story 333. N. Glenoaks.

The 1980s saw the greatest period of highrise construction in Burbank. The 21-story Holiday Inn Burbank Media Center was completed in 1981 and, when I worked at the Penny Lane there, I sometimes used to ride its elevators on my lunch break for lack of anything better to do. In 1983, the 6-story Burbank Executive Plaza and the 10-story 303 North Glenoaks opened. The 10-story Burbank Center was completed in 1984. In 1985 the 14-story Central Park at Toluca Lake and the 21-story 3800 West Alameda were completed. Finishing out the 1980s, the 13-story Studio Plaza and 36-story The Tower were completed.

Currently, The Tower, in the Media District, is the 26th tallest building in the Southland and the second tallest building in the San Fernando Valley, after Universal City's 154 meter tall Universal City Plaza. It was designed by Nadel Architects Inc and was originally known as Tower Burbank. The 36 story, 140 meter tall skyscraper is the tallest concrete structure ever built in a severe US earthquake zone.
The 2000s saw the completion of the 10-story ABC Building in 2001 and the 14-story The Pointe in 2009. 

LAWRENCE BITTAKER AND ROY NORRIS



Lawrence Bittaker, Roy Norris and their rape van, Murder Mack

Another horrible crime rocked Burbank in 1979, when a psychopathic Burbank machinist, Lawrence Bittaker, and his prison buddy, convicted rapist Roy Norris, bought a bought a 1977 GMC cargo van, which they came to call "Murder Mac" and hatched a plan to rape and kill local girls, eventually attacking at least six, killing them with coat hangers and ice picks after repeatedly raping them.


BURBANK TODAY

Luckily, the Good Ol' Days are gone and done and nowadays the violent crime rate is incredibly low. Today, home as it is to the HQ of Warner Bros, NBC Universal, The Walt Disney Company, Cartoon Network, Viacom and PBS, Burbank has been given (or perhaps gave itself) the nickname "The Media Capital of the World." It's population is 59% white (largely Armenian and Persian), 25% Latino (mostly Mexican), and 9% Asian.


ATTRACTIONS IN BURBANK

There's actually a fair amount of stuff to do in Burbank, which is perhaps why musician Brett Shady described it to me as "The Jewel of the 818." For higher-minded types (like myself, of course), there's the Colony Theatre, Artpeace Gallery, Grove Theatre Center, The Victory Theatre, Theatre Banshee and Hyaena Gallery. Until recently, Burbank was home to now defunct Lodestone Theatre Ensemble, one of too few Asian-American theater venues. I'm providing a link in the hope that they come back in some way, shape or form.


Inside the Blue Room

BURBANK BARS

For lowbrow types (like myself) who just fancy getting drunk, there are some nice joints, like the The Blue Room and Corner Bar, which I can both recommend from experience. For those that prefer staring at athletes whilst they drink, rather than chatting up cuties, there's Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar, Joe's Great American Bar, Burbank Bar & Grille (formerly *cough* Burbank X-Treme Bar & Grille), Tin Horn Flats Bar & Grill, Michael's Bar & Grill, Park Bar & Grill, Office Bar & Grill and Champs. There's also Whiskey Bend, Sardo's karaoke club, the nightclub Mr. B Entertainment, and the pubs Snug, Tony's Darts Away and Buchanan Arms.


A trail in Wildwood Canyon

There's plenty to do as well that doesn't (necessarily -- but can) revolve around the consumption of alcohol too. There's the Stough Canyon Nature Center, the Chandler Bikeway, Brand Park, Wildwood Canyon Park, and many smaller ones. At the Los Angeles Equestrian Center, there's the Equidome, which is used for rodeos, concerts and is the site of Equestfest and the the annual Fiesta of the Spanish Horse. Oh yeah, there's also Pickwick Garden.




BURBANK EATS

As always, I was on the look out for places to eat. Numerous recommendations came in from Burbankans for Chili John's so the CARDIS transported us to the area.... only to find that it's closed for the entire month. In a rare display of decisiveness, Shimbles declared his desire to feast upon a grinder so instead we went to Santoro's Subs, which was also recommended by Burbank native Ferndangolo. The sandwiches were nothing fancy but quite good and absolutely overloaded with ingredients. Make sure to grab at least six napkins. Another restaurant of note in Burbank is the Bob's Big Boy. Built in 1949, it's the oldest remaining Bob's Big Boy, a nice example of Googie architecture and a popular spot for car clubs to congregate.

Other joints include Alfredo's Granada, Ameci, Apollo, Arbat, Arde's Bistro, Arnie Morton's, Backstage Cafe, Bahia Caporales, Barney's Beanery, Bella Vista, Ben's Catering and Deli, Big Mama's & Papa's Pizzeria, Big Screen Cuisine, Bistro Provence, Burning Bonzai, Cafe Colombia, Cafe Elegante, Cafe O Hookah Lounge & Restaurant, Cafe Valentino, California Pizza House, Candelejas, Castaway, Century Dragon, Chadaka Thai, Choza Mama, Coral Cafe, Corner Cottage,

Costa Azul, Cupcakes & Co, De Bell's Clubhouse, Dimples, Dino's Pizza, Don Cuco, Don Diego Mexican, Donut Hut, El Mexicano Inn, El Tapatio, El Torito, Elephant Bar, Exotic Thai, Flavor of India, Frank's Steak House, Frontier Wok Too, Garlic Jim's Famous Gourmet Pizza, Garni Kebab, Gary Bric's Ramp, George's Patio Cafe, Gindi Thai, Gitana, Gourmet 88 Burbank, Granville Cafe, Green Garden Cafe, Guido's, Harry's Family, Healthy Bites, Hill Street Cafe, Honeydew, Islands,

Jeff & Tony's, Knight, Kotayk Kabob Deli, L'Angolo, La Bamba, Larry's Chili Dog, Lily's Cafe, Lotus Chinese Gourmet, Magnolia, Martino's Bakery, McCormick & Schmick's Seafood, Menchie's Frozen Yogurt, Mo's, Momotaro, New Town Buffet, Norm's, North End Pizzeria, Octopus, Ohana Hawaiian BBQ, Papoo's, Parazzi, Philly's Best, Picanha Brazilian, Pinball Pizza, Pinocchio Restaurant, Pizza Factory, Pizza Man, Poquito Mas, Porto's, Pupuseria del Valle, Ribs USA, Rico's Pizza,

Riverside Cafe
, Robert's Cuisine, Saraya Thai, Sawan Cafe, Season Thai Cuisine, Seoul Korean BBQ, Simply Coffee & Boutique, SmokehouseSol y Mar, South Street Burbank, Sun Moon Garden, Sushi Dake, Tallyrand, Taste Chicago, Tequila's Restaurant-Bar & Grill, Thai Kitchen, Theresa's Family, Third & Olive, Tokyo Yakidori, Tomo Sushi, Tony's Italian Deli, Urban Eats, Venice Deli, Victorios, Viva Fresh Mexican, Western Bagel Burbank, Wokcano Cafe, Wok to Go, Yogurtiers, Yum Yum Donuts, Yummy Cupcakes, Z Pizza, Zankou Chicken
and Zono Sushi.


The Starlight Bowl in 1950

MUSIC OF BURBANK

Burbankans and others can enjoy the music of The Burbank Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1950, the Starlight Bowl opened in Slough Park, which plays host to a summer concert series. Musicians born in Burbank include Bonnie Raitt, Krista Detor, Jay Ferguson, Bruce Gary, David Leonard Johnson, Zella Lehr, Angel, Paul Barrére, Dave Markey, Amanda McBroom, Jeff Steele and Cliffie Stone. The bands Bleeding Kansas and Lovehatehero represent the Burbank sound, as does the annual concert Burbstock.


   Magnolia Park's Atomic Records

Burbank Village's Backside Records

Burbank is home to a couple of Mom and Pop record stores as well -- Atomic and Backside. We went to Atomic and Shimbles almost bought a Clash 7" before deciding otherwise, afterward letting it be known that it was the first time he'd ever entered a record store and not purchased anything. Later, we went to Backside where he... bought a Clash 7".


BURBANK IN FILM

As home to several major "Hollywood" studios, over 12,000 films and TV episodes have been filmed in Burbank, all of which I will now list. Only joking! But yes, movies arrived in Burbank in the '20s. In 1926, First National Pictures opened on Olive Avenue. Disney moved to Burbank from Franklin Hills in 1939. Disney originally wanted to build "Mickey Mouse Park," as Disney first called Disneyland, next to the Burbank studio but that idea was rejected. In March 1945, an estimated 10,500 CSU workers went on strike and began picketing all the studios, resulting in delays of several films. Unfortunately for CSU, the studios had some 130 films which they'd been sitting on so they initially planned on just waiting out the strike. Finally, on October 5, 1945 a riot broke out, the so-called The Battle of Burbank. The disorder in Hollywood helped prompt the passage of the Taft-Hartley bill, which tarred the CSU's leader, Herb Sorrell, as a commie, resulting in CSU's descent into obscurity. In 1952, NBC moved to Burbank. On Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, they'd always announce that they were being brought to audiences from "beautiful downtown Burbank." In fact, they were filmed in Burbank's Media Center (pictured above) and not downtown Burbank.


New York Street being built in Burbank

Most of the movies shot in Burbank were filmed on various studio back lots, including films like Casablanca, Mary Poppins (1964) and The Princess Diaries (2001), to name three seemingly random examples. The Columbia Ranch is one of the most famous lots. It opened in 1934 and countless serials, films and TV shows had scenes filmed there. In 1970, a catastrophic fire destroyed a quarter of the lot. Half of the western set and the colonial/European set burned down. By mid 1971, Columbia and Warner Bros studios decided to combine their forces. In 1990, Columbia Pictures separated from Warner Bros and left Burbank, leaving the Ranch completely. Warner Bros. gained ownership of the lot and renamed it Warner Ranch.

Burbank is also where a TV series, Chuck, is set. The Burbank Town Center has been featured in the Bad News Bears remake, Cold Case, Gilmore Girls, ER and Desperate Housewives.



There are a couple of noteworthy filming locations in Burbank outside of the studios. First, there's the Safari Inn Motel, which was featured in True Romance, Apollo 13 and Coach Carter.


The Arnolds' House


The Coopers' House

University Ave was central to the TV series The Wonder Years. At 516 University Avenue is the Arnold household (pictured above left), built in 1949. Kevin's hapa love interest, Winnie Cooper, lived just down the block (pictured above right).

Cubby, Clint and Wally - three of Burbank's suspiciously large number of child actors

Gallery 42 sells original film posters. Book Castle's Movie World sells all kinds of movie memorabilia. Burbank also hosts the Burbank International Film Festival. Actors Jon Ritter, Doug Savant, Jill Schoelen, Wil Wheaton, Mara Wilson, Cubby O'Brien, George O'Hanlon Jr, Eve Plumb, Wally Albright, Steve Kanaly, Laura Johnson, Mark Harmon, Clint Howard, Erin Moran, Andrew Gold, Cady McClain, Debbe Dunning, Jennifer Grant, Ami Dolenz, Eddie Cibrian, Garette Ratliff Henson,  John Kidwell, Lalaine, Marina Malota and directors Tim Burton and David Markey were all born in Burbank.


*****


Follow Eric's Blog and check out more episodes of California Fool's Gold

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Glendale, the City of Perpetual Harvest

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 20, 2010 10:14am | Post a Comment


This entry is about the Los Angeles County community of Glendale. To vote for other Los Angeles County communities to be covered here on the blog, click here. To vote for Los Angeles neighborhoods, click here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

A few days ago, accompanied by frequent traveling companion "Steve Shimbles..." the CARDIS transported us to The City of Perpetual Harvest.

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Little Armenia

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 7, 2008 01:13pm | Post a Comment

Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Little Armenia

In the Los Angeles Neighborhood poll, right behind Morningside Circle is Little Armenia. To vote in the Los Angeles County Community poll, go here.



Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Hollywood

When I first moved to Silver Lakefrom Chino I got a job in nearby Burbank. I drove through Glendale and noticed that the population of both cities was largely Armenian. The signs were written in that unique Armenian alphabet that kind of looks like broken bits of elbow macaroni glued to croquet hoops. I think that, at the time, I had only the vaguest notion of where Armenia was. (For the record, at Amoeba we file it in the Middle East, to the consternation of many since it's a Christian nation in South Eastern Europe).


A typical block of Little Armenia

Anyway, Armenia is where Noah crash landed his Ark full of all the world's species at the end of the Earth's brief oceanic period. Armenia is one of the world's oldest civilizations. It was founded by Noah's great-great grandson Hayk. Armenia, situated between Turkey, Iran and Russia finds itself ideally situated for invasion from some of history's biggest imperialists so it's pretty amazing that they still exist as a people. Perhaps that's partly due to the fact that Armenians seem to be willing to live anywhere. Like Australians, Lebanese and Israelis, Armenians are one of the the nationalities you're most likely to encounter in any country as tourists or part of the diaspora.

 
          A Statue of Hayk (In Yerevan)                                 Me in my Little Armenia-purchased Sean John

Back to Burbank then. Many of my customers were Armenian and I noticed that a lot of them really liked Tupac and film Scarface (I think that may still be true). A lot of the guys wore Sean Jean tracksuits, which I thought looked pretty damned comfortable (especially the velour ones). Both the guys and (less often) the girls had a high incidence of synophrys, which I also thought was cool because I have one myself (like many Anglos e.g. Hugh Grant, Damon Albarn, Kraftwerk and the Brothers Gallagher).  Whereas in England they have been linked to criminality, some Eurasian peoples consider them beautiful. I let mine grow in, for the first time in years. But then a friend from college visited me who'd only experienced the groomed version of my eyebrows. Right away when he saw me he said, "Jesus Whoah God" and I returned it to its cage.

Unibrowed beauties

When I noticed the signs in the East Hollywood neighborhood for Little Armenia I was surprised, given the more undeniable  and overwhelmingly Armenian character of Glendale and Burbank. But what I wasn't realizing was that Glendale and Burbank are their own cities and Little Armenia is the main Armenian neighborhood of Los Angeles. When you're new to the city and you drive around on the freeway you see many little clusters of downtown skyscrapers and it's hard to tell which is Los Angeles, which is Century City, which Downtown, &c since they're all roughly the same size and just pop up like termite mounds around the sprawlscape. 


St. Garabed

Little Armenia doesn't really have a downtown. It's roughly quadrisected by Normandie and Sunset; bordered by Hollwood Blvd to the north, Santa Monica Blvd to the south, Vermont to the East and the 101 Freeway to the west. It is neighbored by Los Feliz, Sunset Junction, Virgil Village, Melrose Gateway, Melrose Hill, Hollywood proper, Franklin Village and Thai Town.

It's very diverse. On my bike rides through the neighborhood to and from work I always see Mexicans, Scientologists, Salvadorans, the disabled, Guatemaltecas, Russians, Schizoprenics, Thai and Pilipinos on any day of the week. And all of my co-workers that I know of that live in the neighborhood are Caucasian (in that they're white, not that their people are from the Caucausus Mountains, as Armenians are).  But Little Armenia got its titular character in the early 1970s when significant populations of Armenians started moving to the area and opening businesses.



Aside from the storefronts, which often have signs written in Armenian, Little Armenia has few physical aspects that reflect its Armenian character. Physically, like most of the Hollywood lowlands, it's actually a fairly ugly neighborhood, dominated by bland apartment buildings, small homes with concrete lawns and strip malls. There is, however, a mural depicting Armenian history on the south face of the building at 1203 E Vermont Ave (update: it's been painted over) and several art deco buildings and a couple of attractive churches, including St. Garabed Church (an Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church).



If you've ever looked at the crosses on Orthodox churches, you may wonder why they look like old fashioned TV antennas more than the cross most non-Orthodox Christians are used to. The explanation I've heard for the diagonal bar is that Jesus' legs were unequal lengths. Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as the state religion so they probably know what they're talking about.

   

The Hollywood and Western Building  is a nice Art Deco building that was built for Louis B. Mayer in 1928. It was featured in the film, Hollywood Shuffle and used as a rehearsal space by bands including Guns N Roses and White Zombie. The Holy Transfiguration Russian Orthodox Church on Fernwood is rather striking. I once e-mailed them asking if they were holding services whilst the church was being restored. Disappointed by my experiences with Vatican 2, I hoped to get some old-fashioned ritual. They didn't write back.



There used to be the famous Hollywood Star Lanes. I loved that place, despite my indifference to bowling. Built in 1962, it was famously featured in the Big Lebowski. Sadly, it was demolished to make way for a school.



In the neighborhood's only significant green space, Barnsdall Art Park, there is the Hollyhock House and other buildings atop Olive Hill, which were designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1910s during his Mayan Revival phase. This probably makes me sound like a philistine, but I've always thought of the architect as "Frank Lloyd $h*+3" because his designs, from his various phases, always seem like such pale reflections of his influences. The Mayans and the Japanese were architectural gods. Frank Lloyd Wright is like the Disney version in my mind. I do enjoy his appreciation for mulled wine and the fact that he built his furniture to the scale of his buildings' inhabitants ...but I just can't share appreciation for his architecture.

Back in 2005, on Labor Day weekend, the park was the sight of Arthurfest where I saw Sleater-Kinney, The Black Keys, Lavender Diamond, Wolfmother and a whole slew of others that I've can't remember. 



There's also the Scientology Church, located in a former hospital. There are actually a lot of Scientology buildings in the neighborhood. On any given night you might see a bus unloading the unfortunately-attired enemies of Xenu who then parade morosely into a non-descript building for a night of niacin tripping and psychiatry-bashing.

I ended up buying a tracksuit at Little Paris, which isn't a neighborhood, but a store that serves most of the neighborhoods tracksuit needs. I heard the words "baby blue" amidst the Armenian several times. I often observe older Armenian men's uniform consisting more often of waistcoats, jackets, dress shirts and driving caps. They often walk with their hands clasped behind their backs and hang out in their yards with friends drinking libations and playing board games.



Every April 24, Little Armenia is flooded with luxury cars adorned with Armenian Flags, both real and sometimes painted. The streets are choked with Armenians marking Genocide Remembrance Day. This is probably the main thing non-Armenian Americans know about Armenia. The other big celebration in the neighborhood seems to be June 1, which marks Armenian Independence Day.



I've never read any Bukowski because he seems like a writer for bros, but I guess a lot of his stuff took place in Little Armenia. Also, I hear that a lot of The Shield is filmed there. I tried watching The Shield, mistakenly confusing it with the massively-hyped The Wire (which both sound like they're for bros) and got nauseous from the camera work to the point that I couldn't follow what was going on but it seemed to mainly concern the misadventures of a a bald, henpecked Bruce Willis-type bickering with his wife and was very unpleasant physically and spiritually.


As a glutton, I've got to mention Armenian cuisine. Most non-Armenians probably don't even know when they're eating Armenian because so many places take the incognito strategy of calling themselves "Middle Eastern" or "Mediterranean" joints--as do a lot of Lebanese and Persian restaurants. I guess naming yourself "Beirut Palace," "Star of Iran" or "Baghdad No. 1" might not make good business sense in the Near & Middle East-hating USA. Anyway, to be fair, Armenian cuisine is kind of a mix of Assyrian, Balkan, Mediterranean, Caucasian (the region), Eastern European and Middle Eastern influences. If you live in Los Angeles County, you've probably eaten at a Zankou Chicken. After being started by a Lipananahay in Beirut, Zankou opened its second store in the Little Armenia location on Sunset before spreading out. Other oft-spoken of restaurants of Little Armenia include Marouch, Arax, Carousel and Panos and there are a lot of highly-praised bakeries in the area too.


*****


Follow Eric's Blog and check out more episodes of California Fool's Gold

Spirit of Armenia

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 2, 2007 06:22pm | Post a Comment
I checked out the "Spirit of Armenia!" Sunday night up at the Hollywood Bowl with my beloved Ngoc em. I've lived in Los Angeles. for more than a few years now and, shamefully, it was my first time up there. I'd definitely like to go back soon.

Anyway, I didn't know what to expect at all. My exposure to Armenian music is mostly limited to KSCI where I've seen seen more than enough Tupac-indebted gangsta rap. Still, I would possibly prefer that to my even stronger dislike of five thousand-year-old tunes played on a fretless bass.

The Bowl was pretty full. Even though we were outside and there was no smoking except outside, the air hung heavy with cigarette/cigar smoke and perfume. We brought 2 Buck Chuck and cheese with sesame pita chips. We found our seats. Saw a couple of friends near us but sat where we were assigned.

I don't think I've ever been to one of those concerts with the big screens projecting what's going on the stage before. No lie, I think the biggest concert I'd ever been to (before last night) was Big Audio Dynamite in a park in 1992.

I found myself alternating between squinting at the stage and craning at the big screens. I wished I'd brought binoculars or opera glasses or something. It's like being at a sports bar. Even if you want to focus on something, the televisions all around hypnotize with their pretty colors! It's even more difficult to look away when you're periodically blinded by the gleam of gargantuan images of Adiss Harmandian cracking smirks and busting out in his Tom Jones-like gestures.

Although the Armenian diaspora is pretty wide spread, I'm guessing that 95% of the world have no more than a rather vague notion of the country it is. I don't put the blame entirely on us, though. It seems like Armenians, whilst assuredly proud of their history, frequently downplay their ancestral origins -- at least in the case of celebrities. 






Consider this list of famous Armenians:

Continue reading...