Thursday, September 21, 2006

Well, blow me down (the road) or Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

In my last post - about our Flexcar jaunt to Palm Springs - I mentioned
something about having Willie Nelson along for the ride. Well, as bad
as yesterday's errand-running adventure was for me, I think Willie had it worse this week. All for having Mary Jane along for the ride in his tour bus.

I mean, come on Louisiana! I know Bush and the Republicans screwed you and now with noone coming to New Orleans y'all are a little desperate for revenue but busting Willie for pot is just UnAmerican. And well, just plain MEAN. Pulling over Willie's tour bus to look for marijuana is like pulling over Popeye's boat to look for spinach: OF COURSE he has some on board. Where do you think Willie gets the strength at his age to play music for the masses three hours a night and god knows how many nights in a row? (Hmm. Given this weeks e-coli scare, maybe Popeye would be happy to switch places with Willie. I bet Bluto's been kicking his ass non-stop.)

No doubt Wille and the Family were (pardon the pun) ROLLING thru the state trying to spread a little good cheer in these hard-luck times and backwater bayous and this is how you thank them down there?

Oh and if you think a pound and a half of marijuana in this case means "Intent to Sell" not only do you not know jack, you sure as shit don't know Willie. That was ALL for the boys and girls in the band. Or in the Family. Hell, it was probably just enough pot to get 'em thru to the next whistle-stop. Maybe the DA should change the charge to "Intent To Share." Regardless, once again, I'm rooting for the Outlaw.

Monday, September 18, 2006

learning from the kiddos

our culver digs provide a long sidewalk in front of our house and down the side yard. on weekend mornings, wee ones scoot by on their own four-wheeled chariots. they get especially excited when they come to the end of the sidewalk and the sloping ramp that gives them some acceleration. always elicits brrreerrrrurrr sounds followed by giggles and hoots.

how much more fun would our city streets be if we were each using our own internal horsepower to propell our scooter along and, at the same time, making our own engine noises?

vroom, vroom

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

right place, wrong stuff

advertising and messaging on the bus makes sense. you've got a captive audience who actually can take their eyes off the road and focus on what you have to say.

inside the LA metro bus system you'll find printed display panels and small, LCD screens. the printed display panels are, for the most part, really well done and provide a tasty mix of art and useful tidbits (Poetry in Motion and the schedule changes for corresponding routes, for example). there are a few cheesy ads from ambulance chasers and debt consolidators, but these seem almost demure in their quiet printedness.

the screens show content managed by TransitTV. folks, this is some of the all time poorest use of full motion video and place-based media we've ever seen. the content is obviously repurposed from use on traditional networks. we say obviously because the logos, show titles, web sites etc. all get lost when shown on the little screens. the few slides that are printed in large enough type to read from a bus seat typically contain multiple typos and are random headlines culled from front pages. and, most of the content is in English; this might shock you, but English is not the primary language on the metro bus routes.

we might mind the lame ads for the “work from home” scams less if the content on the screens was even a smidge better and more relevant. why use this valuable time to showcase snow boarders at a competition in Utah? why not publicize LA-based events? theater shows, art openings, new restaurants, local sports scores, and cultural celebrations, to name a few. (to be fair, there is often a print ad for the Hollywood Bowl, but it doesn’t include the schedule (which could be easily updated via a digital, visual program)).

or, here’s a thought: communicate the location and availability of programs that are useful to the onboard audience such as business development workshops, ESL classes, car sharing programs, bicycle repair tips, job postings and more.

yeah, yeah ... we know that TransitTV probably thinks it's saving money by just using the same programming on all screens across the states. and that going after national advertisers is the best way to make bank. well, it might be but only if the advertisers are chumps and don't care about actual ROI because we've never seen moving images get so little attention as the screens on the LA metro.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

cultural immersion

we hadn't ventured onto olvera street before. so with tickets to Culture Clash's new show at the Mark Taper in our pocket, we felt today was the day.

we strolled in the sunshine. listened to music. watched kids play and families gossip. grabbed lunch at El Paseo, along with a tasty margarita (as you can see from the blurry pic, our table neighbors may have had more than one).

Water & Power is really good, filled with great characters and terrific performances. the three founders of Culture Clash, also leads in the play, work amazingly well together. their closeness is palpable and necessary for the storyline.

there is a timeline titled "how'd we get here?" in the program. it begins at 8,000BC and chronicles Los Angeles-area milestones. here's an entry for 1954:
"the police swarm through Mexican American neighborhoods searching for illegal immigrants in 'Operation Wetback.' agents locate over 1 million illegal immigrants. some American-born children are deported along with non-citizen parents. agents begin stopping 'Mexican-looking' citizens on the street and asking for identification."

clearly not one of our best moments.

the route home was detoured due to filming which involved a huge, smoldering hole in a downtown city street, complete with a taxi on its side. a crowd had gathered for the free entertainment ... a very lovely, diverse Angeleno crowd, brought together in the afternoon heat by our natural inclination toward human interaction and the uniqe surrealness of this city that we share ... just the way it should be!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Hybrid to Hell?

Driving on Labor Day has always seemed like work to us, so we’ve avoided it. Of course, living just off the beach in Santa Monica for 10 years made that easier. It seemed those car-obsessed masses fuming and reeling from the congestion of the 10 Freeway and the 405 were all headed to our neighborhood anyway, so most of our efforts on the long weekend went toward avoiding them.

This year, we decided to join the rest of the lemmings and hit the highway, but driving in the opposite direction. We may be just as crazy, but we’re a smarter kind of crazy. Or are we? Palm Springs this weekend was easily into the triple digits and apparently still “off-season” so when our old beach buddies from Santa Monica invited us out to their new digs in the desert, we fired up the Flexcar in the cool belly of its Batcave and took off toward the desert heat.

And liked it. Of course, it’s all in the timing and having Willie and Waylon and Dwight Yoakam along for the ride helped.

Yet, the best driving (for me, anyway) came on the Westin’s Mission Hills Gary Player golf course – where the rates are still cheap because the Golf Rat regulars have yet to come out from under their rocks. There the fairways are fair and square and more forgiving than most and the deserted course was devoid of party-pushing pinheads and sputtering putterers as well. Kevin and I quickly breezed through 18 holes before the cicada-drone heat and the humility got to us. Back at the Rancho ranchero, the pool was cool, the golf widow wives were too and the margaritas frozen.

And when it was time to leave, the cumulus clouds provided cover for our trek back with the American masses. No blinding setting sun in our windshield sights but a quick flash of lightning (!) was a sure sign from the Gas Guzzling Gods to hit the Drive-Thru Starbucks for a jolt of caffeine. Safety first/thirst. And save for two fender-bender slowdowns (not involving us), we made good time and shockingly HAD a good time Flex-ing our Freeway muscles. Equally amazing, Flexcar’s new Hybrid Honda Civic still feels like the first easy-to-drive Honda I drove back in 1980 . For just over a hundred bucks (gas included! insurance included!) we got our communal little Hybrid for more than 48 hours which meant a lot of cylinder-bang for our bucks. And for little work. Of any kind.