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The sounds of the LA Marathon

There’s a few inconveniences that come with living near the start of the LA Marathon, including street closures, parking restrictions. But for the most part, it’s completely doable.

And then come the helicopters.

The news ‘copters arrive as early as 5:00 am to film the crowds in Dodgers Stadium, the start line for the LA Marathon. While we’re a little used to the police helicopters that fly overhead, the trouble is that these ones STAY there. For hours. The noise is insistent, and unforgiving. They hover just a short distance from our quiet, sleeping homes, in the wee hours of the morning, until finally departing some time after the start of the race to follow the runners to the finish line.

We knew it would happen – and even asked Dodgers Stadium to remind the news media there are actual neighborhoods surrounding the stadium, but still it happens every year. Call me Mr. Scrooge, but it’s impossible to sleep despite ear plugs and a pile of pillows.

Time for a nap!

Is Echo Park “anti-fun” when it comes to parties?

Now that Halloween is officially over, we’re reflecting on the crazy weekend full of parties, drink specials, and drunken hipsters shouting about the girl’s number they almost got at the Little Joy. We had a lot of fun at a couple of neighborhood parties, ultimately avoiding any questionable driving by staying in the ‘hood.Yet there was something that was just driving me completely nuts about the whole weekend – as The Eastsider LA put it, the “oontz, oontz, oontz” heard all over Echo Park for not just one, but TWO nights through 2:00 am. Not knowing where it was coming from, the incessant repetition of bass got a little on our nerves (yay for earplugs!).

The strongest theory was actually about the Halloween event at the Shrine Expo – sounds far fetched, but we’ve heard events such as the Electric Daisy rave back in 2009 from the Coliseum (no joke). Sadly, the Echo Elysian Neighborhood Council forum thread about the noise turned into a series of finger-pointing and complaining about Halloween parties in the neighborhood.

And the finger-pointing got really specific, listing actual addresses of people who had parties (one of which I know for a fact, spoke to their direct neighbors about the party that they ended at midnight). The “oontz, oontz” noise was blamed on local venues like The Echo and the little tiny art gallery Sancho – neither of which were to actually blame despite really strong call-to-actions against the venues on the forum (we walked around the neighborhood, it wasn’t these venues). It’s really unfair to blame these businesses, asking everyone to call the cops on them.

So all this finger-pointing isn’t unusual for the forum – the noise from the Electric Daisy rave back in 2009 spurred so much debate, one venue actually issued an apology letter (it wasn’t their noise). So is Echo Park really that anti-fun? I mean, does one night of partying for a Halloween holiday put you on neighborhood watch? Should the police be called on you even if you communicate with your direct neighbors? If you had loud parties every weekend until 2:00 am – sure! But some Echo Park residents had some parties, celebrating for one night, so what’s the problem?

The ironic thing after all of this? I was the one who actually started the thread on the forum! But I think next year instead of handing out candy for Halloween, we might deliver some Costco-size packages of earplugs to the neighborhood.

But seriously, read the forum thread and you’ll see what I mean. I just hope next year we’ll all be a little more neighborly.

A happy weather weekend for Echo Park

Some weird weather the past week, eh? There’s been a little bit of humidity in the air as of late (I’m not complaining, having just come back from Virginia a few days ago), causing some “monsoonal” rains in the dessert and bulbous (cumulus?) clouds over the mountains.

Nearby neighbor Will Cambell posted this photo of the Silver Lake sky the other day on his blog, and there was even a report of drops of rain Elysian Heights/Echo Park on Tuesday. This weekend promises some nice, sunny, and cooler weather with a high of 80 degrees. Sounds like a perfect weekend for some Elysian Park BBQs?

Mohawk Bend opened last night to rave reviews, but…

We had been at the pre-opening festivities for families and friends (oh yes, and press!) for Mohawk Bend, the newly renovated movie theater-turned 230 seat restaurant in Echo Park. But we still really, really wanted to check it out again as it functioned as a truly open restaurant, so we dropped in last night for the grand opening of Mohawk Bend!

It was definitely exciting – all the blogs and news blogs and websites that write about Los Angeles food, news, and pretty much everything covered this opening. We’ve definitely been keeping close tabs since the Spacecraft walls were up, shielding us all from the amazing renovations going on inside. So of course we’ll go and check it out on opening night!

But I’m realizing now that I might be a little too old to show up at a grand opening of a HUGE Los Angeles project at 9:00 pm, without any dinner in my tummy. Hence the reason for the “but” in my headline – this wasn’t a doom-and-gloom moment for me and my future obsession with Mohawk Bend’s beers and cuisine whatsoever. But after putting our names on the list, and waiting 10 minutes at the bar for a beer, and realizing I had probably another 10 minutes to go before placing my order, I realized I could just not compete will all the opening day traffic.

And that’s not a bad thing – it was a huge success and I can’t even imagine how crazy it was for the kitchen and the front of the house staff to work that many people, to make them happy and put on a good first impression. I just happened to be a little more hungry than I realized (okay, we went to Masa and had a delicious caesar salad, my fave, and got to talk with Manny, a favorite Masa employee) – but this will just be a lesson to me and any other hungry and hungrily impatient future Mohawk Bend-goers out there: Perhaps go a little bit early? Leave the 9:00 pm crowd to the younger ducklings… or at least scope out a seat!

So now it’s day two of Mohawk Bend and here’s the new news that you should take note of before going (apart from going early…):

Reservations made prior to this announcement are being honored, but because last night was so crazzzy they are no longer accepting new reservations. Instead, as the Mohawk Bend Facebook page announced earlier today:

Last night’s opening was so very encouraging! We so are glad to be in the neighborhood, and want to be able to accomodate walk-ins each and every night. As a result, we have decided to put a hold on reservations for the time being. This does not meet we are booked; just that much of our seating is reserved for walk-ins. Hope to see you soon, and thanks for your patience!

The new Mohawk Bend website no longer says “coming soon,” thanks to Echo Park graphic designer Heather Perlato who designed the site. Launched just today, the new website has the full menu for both booze and food, so check it out!

All that said, we’ll be the old people at the end of the bar, on a weekday, once we punch out from work…

Need to catch up? Read about Mohawk Bend throughout the months.

The Lake lacked fireworks, but the neighborhood didn’t

We have a bit of a July 4th tradition now after living in our Echo Park pad for a few years: A little barbecue party in the yard, and then a walk around the ‘hood for some crazy fireworks action. Our street used to be like a war zone – teenagers darting into the middle of the street between cars to set of some obnoxious spinner or rocket, and plumes of smoke constantly hanging in the air. This year, our street was pretty tame, but there’s a few around the bend that ALWAYS put on a good show.

First up, Dodger Stadium had fireworks following a loss against the Mets, so we walked up the hill to a little viewpoint where a few locals sat in their beach chairs with the kids and enjoyed the show. Next up, that street around the corner that never fails to wow us with their fireworks (where the heck do they get those?!). They had some chrysanthemum-shaped ones that thankfully didn’t set fire to any of the tall palm trees. This street was pandemonium, kids running around, teens lighting their own little firework bombs, and an all-around good time.

Speaking of pandemonium: The finale, the one thing I’d promised all our friends will never fail to amaze and awe, something you have to see it just once – Fourth of July at Echo Park Lake. And the best word to describe it is indeed just pandemonium, because every year at the Lake are crowds of people lighting roman candles, bottle rockets, spinners, even home-made bombs. You name it, the firework was there, big and small. Last year, dozens of parachute shells lingered in the air while we watched a roman candle launched straight into a palm tree on bird island, lighting it on fire. Every direction you looked was some spinner or sparkler going off, and there was definitely a lot of questionable parenting going on as young kids ran rampant and lit some pretty dangerous stuff. But that aside, it’s kind of fun!

This year sadly, the Lake lacked fireworks and any crowd at all. It was deathly quiet, and strange – a small group of residents who live just up the street told us cops had come by about an hour before announcing the closure of the lake, ordering everyone to leave.

A quiet Echo Park Lake

But that’s happened before – cops come and over loudspeakers tell you to leave. Everything goes on as usual until they show up in full force. But this year they must have done something different, perhaps? Echo Park Patch writes officers had a strong presence (we didn’t see any when we arrived), and “according to officers on duty, there were no incidents at all of people using fireworks in the park.”

It’s a strange contrast to previous years, and with the upcoming rehab project shutting down the lake for two years, we’re wondering if 2010 was the last time we watched the incredible illegal fireworks show at Echo Park Lake.

Sick daze in Echo Park

It’s literally quite gorgeous outside, but I’m stuck inside with my second cold in the past month. Since I can’t concentrate long enough to write a decent article, the website is on a bit of a hiatus for a couple of days.

But have no fear! Here’s all the great stuff I’m working on to keep an eye out for:

  • Red Hill: The owners of the new restaurant in the old Phoenix Bakery on Echo Park Avenue are going to update us on their plans for the space.
  • CRES14: LAUSD has been building this school on Alvarado and Sunset for quite some time, and with an opening of Fall 2011 coming soon, there’s a lot to be done. We’re gearing up for some meetings at the end of the month about the project.
  • Flashback Fridays: We’ve got some awesome new stories about Echo Park history to share.

Stay tuned! And feel free to share your best cold remedy in the meantime.

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