Friday, July 28, 2006


It's a changing world

Until things change, I can be found at the Promenade smoking a cigar.


Santa Monica Plans Smoking Ban on Promenade

By Martha Groves

LATimes Staff Writer

July 28, 2006

Santa Monica has opened a new front in the battle against secondhand smoke: the Third Street Promenade.

The City Council voted 5 to 1 this week to order the city attorney's office to write an ordinance that would ban smoking at the promenade — one of Southern California's most popular tourist attractions — as well as at outdoor cafes, automated teller machines, movie ticket lines and farmers markets throughout the city.

Because the ordinance would also prohibit smoking within 20 feet of the entrances to public buildings, it would also effectively mean that pedestrians could not light up on sidewalks in any of the city's business districts, including Montana Avenue and Main Street.

Santa Monica's planned action comes several months after Calabasas made national headlines by effectively banning smoking in most public areas.

But Santa Monica's proposed rules have the potential to affect far more people because of the city's popularity with tourists.

The effort is in keeping with the city's progressive image. Nonetheless, at least one local business leader expressed concern about how foreign visitors would react to an outdoor smoking ban.

"We have a very large number of international tourists," said Kathleen Rawson, executive director of Bayside District Corp., a public-private management company that oversees downtown Santa Monica. "The education of this is going to be a challenge."

She is not alone in wondering whether the measure might be too extreme.

"I'm totally for not smoking in bars and restaurants," said Justin Molitor, 25, a Santa Monica resident who held a Marlboro Light cigarette as he waited to cross Arizona Avenue. "But outside I'm not sure I agree."

Laurence Meurat, a visitor from Paris who was puffing a cigarette as she strolled the promenade, said a smoking ban would not matter much to her. She said she would simply find another place to light up.

Less sanguine was Alex Busto, 35, a resident of Logrono, Spain, who was relaxing with a cup of coffee and a cigarette outside the Borders bookstore on the promenade. Busto said she could understand the smoking ban in enclosed spaces such as restaurants. "But outside on the street, come on! It's like telling people what to do," she said. "Why don't they ban cars, which create so much pollution?"

In Spain, she said, a new rule lets restaurants choose whether to allow smoking. Many have continued to do so, she said, largely because "a lot of people smoke in Spain."

Rachel Schmidt, a nonsmoking tourist from Takoma Park, Md., said outdoor smoking posed less of a risk of secondhand smoke exposure than indoor smoking. Still, she said, the social pressure is growing on smokers to quit, and she suspects there will be "a natural winnowing" as people tire of having to go farther afield to light up.

Then there was Andrea Guardia, 28, a Santa Monica resident who competes in triathlons. Guardia said she would be "very happy" if the outdoor smoking ban passes, as expected. She recently spent an evening at a Hollywood club where patrons were smoking. "When I got home," she said, "my hair, my clothing all smelled of smoke."

The immediate catalyst for the proposed ban was a February report by the California Air Resources Board that classified secondhand smoke as a "toxic air contaminant." The report was the first to focus primarily on outdoor secondhand smoke in California. State environmental health regulators have found that secondhand smoke causes premature births, breast cancer and other deadly illnesses and respiratory diseases.

The board's report followed several federal government studies that established secondhand smoke not only as a carcinogen but also as a cause of heart disease and other serious health problems among nonsmokers, especially children.

Santa Monica city staff members studied dozens of ordinances, most of them from California communities.

"At least 25 cities have partial or complete bans on outdoor dining smoking," said Deputy City Atty. Adam Radinsky. "Ours would be among the most comprehensive."

Among cities that partly or completely prohibit smoking in outdoor dining areas are Berkeley, Long Beach, Palo Alto and Santa Barbara. In March, Calabasas adopted the nation's strongest outdoor smoking restrictions.

Radinsky said Santa Monica targeted the promenade specifically because it is a popular tourist destination that is known worldwide.

"There's a large and growing trend among places like Disneyland and zoos and theme parks to ban outdoor smoking," he said. "Tourists and families begin to expect they will be able to enjoy these places smoke-free." Sea World, Six Flags, Universal Studios, the Hollywood Bowl, the Los Angeles Zoo and Dodger Stadium are among venues that have prohibited smoking, although many of the attractions provide designated areas for smokers.

Radinsky said the city's research showed that smoking bans tend to help tourism. He said the California Restaurant Assn., a trade group, told the city that it would not oppose a ban on smoking at outdoor dining areas.

City Councilwoman Pam O'Connor, who cast the lone vote against the idea, called the proposed ban "a back-door attempt to prohibit smoking."

"The stated public policy of the state of California is to end smoking among Californians," she said. Rather than take a piecemeal approach, she said, "let's bring that debate into the public and do that."

The council could see a smoking-ban ordinance in September. If approved, the ordinance would go into effect about six weeks later, Radinsky said.

"I just don't know where you can smoke anymore," said Suzanne de Almeida, a longtime Santa Monica resident who was enjoying a cigarette on the promenade.

"I don't smoke in my apartment or my car because of my son. I don't do it on the patio because it bothers my neighbors. I guess I'm going to have to quit."

Podcast du Jour • Harry Riser Interview


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Sunny California

Got my mic and portable amp out today and worked the Promenade late afternoon into the evening. I left around 10:30PM and it was still hopping. Best day of work so far.


This little guy is one of the Buskers in Santa Monica.


I just love all the palm trees everywhere. I'm such a fucking tourist.


The air is hot and it's been a bit muggy as well. I hate to say it, but I might switch to a plastic coated playing card if this shit persists. Where's a deck of Arrco Playing Cards when you need them.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Video du Jour • David Copperfield


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Video du Jour • Click Here

The scene opens on a theatrical stage. The magician enters from the wings, and making a bow to the audience, removes his coat and hat, and they disappear mysteriously into the air. He then takes a white handkerchief from his pocket, holds it over his knees, and his long trousers disappear, and behold! he is clad in knickerbockers. He next makes a pass with a magic wand and a table suddenly appears before the audience, on which is a large pile of tissue paper. The magician takes up the paper and shakes it a few times and three live geese fly out upon the floor. This is a highly pleasing and mystifying subject." Edison Manufacturing Co. 1900

Pic du Jour - From the archives

buster slap

Buster and I having a little fun back in Cincinnati in 2002. We used to like to do this in public where I would pretend to slap him hard and he would clap his hands at the moment of impact. He always had very good timing and reactions to this gag.

An afternoon and evening with the freaks

Started the day off by failing my emissions test. Always nice to get that sort of thing out of the way before 9:30AM. Polished up a couple sets of cups to ship out, futzed around the house, had a nice lunch at home with my girl. Called Dan up and made plans to meet at his home in Bellflower.

I had been looking forward to seeing Danny's work space, the crazy place where he makes all that insane shit he uses. I was not disappointed. Nothing was what it seemed.


Here is a buddy of Dan's I was introduced to. . . and I thought Danny was weird!


I recognized some of Dan's early paintings from when we lived together all those many years ago.


Here's Dan the man morphing into Sylvester the Jester. I had to hit him in the head with an cast iron frying pan to stop the process.


More art, old and new


A drawing of the Amazing Johnathan Dan did. Dan said Johnathan didn't like this one cause cause it made his huge, tree trunk of a neck look too much like his own.


Dan's awards for winning the competition in Monaco


A closer look at one


More home made props.


A charcoal drawing dan did way back when he studied art in college.


More wacky art in his bedroom. The scary one is titled, "The devil inside of Elliot"


After the tour of the Sylvester Estate, we headed to pay Mike Williams a visit. Mike owns and runs Clowning Around an entertainment company. He used to book us back in the day and was happy to hear I was back in town. It would be nice to do business together again after all these years.


Next we went to SteveO's house where we hooked up with Tracy Buck (another roommate with Dan and me from 20 years ago. . . my how time flies), and I met SteveO's wife and son. Both SteveO and Tracy are talented artists as well. Here is one of SteveO's pieces.


Here is one of Tracy's many projects, an educational comic book that might be an animated show for kids on TV. Good work Tracy! They've already shot a couple pilot episodes.


Dan, Tracy, SteveO, his wife (her name escapes me), &their son Neil


After hanging out a bit we went and got some Mexican Food for dinner and caught a flick at the Bridge in West Chester. We saw a cool 3-D movie called Monster House.

Watch Movie Trailer • Click Here

Monday, July 24, 2006

Hurray for Hollywood na na na na na na na Hollywood


This is a beautiful city


Finding my voice

This weekend's street performing at the Third Street Promenade was a frustrating but inspiring experience. That's a nice way of saying that I felt pretty shitty about it. I thought that I was ready to go to work, but I had the rude awakening of finding out that I'm a beginner again.

In Seattle you weren't allowed to use a portable sound system. Here it is the standard and if you don't have one, you are easily drowned out. I'm not talking about cheap units, these musicians bring out a serious rig, some of them use two car batteries to power their amps. I've never worked in this sort of environment. And they rack'em up every 40 feet, another street performer. I wasn't really prepared for the quantity or quality of the acts. A LOT OF FUCKING TALANT. Beautiful music coming out of their sound systems. Crystal clear vocals and guitars, cello and one guy playing some of chapman stick.


High energy break dancers and acrobatic troops line the hot streets in Santa Monica not only at the promenade but at the pier as well. All of them good at what they do, all of them well amplified.


The heat was another issue that I was worried about. For the last 4 years, performing in Seattle where it rarely got hotter that 85 degrees, made it easy. The unseasonably hot, heat wave here, has even the tannest of surfers saying, "Dude, is it hot out out here of what?"

Needless to say it didn't make things any better. So here I am trying to get a show off the ground, and I'm too fucking hot to muster the energy to really do what I need to do. I'm hot, sweaty and my cards feel someone wiped their ass with them. This was a new deck a day ago. In some parts of the Valley it got up to 116 degrees, breaking the record! It was cooler by the ocean in Santa Monica, but still hot. From Friday to Saturday to Sunday it just got hotter and my mood got worse.


I did have some good shows, but I really felt like I was working way to hard for the return on my investment of time and energy. I'm in the big league now and need to make some changes to adapt to my new surroundings and maximize the opportunity.

The best part of this weekend was coming home each day to Polly. I love her and our house and must say that the air conditioning unit works great. Fully functional girlfriend with moveable parts. Last night I discovered that if I pushed her belly button, and yanked her hair, I could make a ponytail. . . cool. . . huh?

Today started out with the goal of finding the charger to my piece of shit sound system and testing it to see if it still works. I did find the charger while continuing to unpack boxes and organize things in the garage. Polly and I had a delightful lunch of last nights left-overs. She was experimenting with a new chicken and vegetable stir-fry dish with fresh crushed ginger and garlic. Everyday is a gift and a celebration of love. . . unless your out there trying to street perform in the baking heat.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Hollywood Hills

Bronson Avenue at Night, originally uploaded by balaclava9.

Downtown L.A.

downtown L.A., originally uploaded by Ale*.