Google maps screenshot

It might only be March 31, but tomorrow is April Fool’s Day and Google has transformed its interactive maps into an 8-bit video gamer’s dream. Along with the retro maps, there’s a video about how they’ll be releasing a NES on those old-school cartridges. If only! Apparently there’s even monsters and Easter eggs, but Echo Park (shown in 8-bit above) seems to be in the clear. However, landmarks like Dodger Stadium, The Echoplex, The Park, and others are still indicated on the map.

8-bit street view of Echo Park Lake (before construction, of course)

All you have to to is click “Quest” in the upper right hand corner (by the Earth and Satellite options) to view the 8-bit format. To explore more, check out the street view! The above screenshot of Echo Park Lake reminds me of the old Sierra computer games from the ol’ days.

h/t Mike Fisher


This morning’s drive to work wouldn’t be complete without driving by our local bakery, La Espiga, on Scott Avenue and Glendale Boulevard. The wall along the Scott side usually gets pretty tagged up (they are always quick to remove it), but we noticed today it’s gotten a little bit of a different look. We like it – it’s a nice, warm color, and the artwork is all hand painted, down to the Facebook logo!

Make sure you Like them on Facebook, because everyone needs to be liked!

Before (ignore the graffiti, this was from a while back)

Flickr photo via MidtownLunch

It was just last August that we learned the former “Far East” Japanese restaurant was being taken over by Filipino BBQ spot The Park’s Finest. But the catering company turned restaurant needed some cash first – and it looks like they’ve raised the $20K (via a Kickstarter campaign) they needed to open its doors.

Midtown Lunch has a rave review about the new restaurant’s offerings – including pulled pork, tri tip, pork ribs, salmon, short ribs, hot links, and cornbread. Menu is ala carte for now, so you’ll want to share with a couple of people. And at $8-12 a plate, plus some extra for tasty side dishes, it looks affordable for BBQ lovers. Based on the review, it sounds like the Coconut Beef is the way to go.

The owners also gave that space a much-needed facelift – on the outside and one the inside, including fresh paint, new tables and chairs, a little floor rehab, and they got rid of that ugly ceiling. The outdoor rehab gives that strip next to the old Knights Inn and the now-defunct Dinner House M some much needed love.

The Park’s Finest is located at 1267 West Temple Street

Open Thursday through Sunday, lunch to dinner. Hours are:

Thursday : 11:00 am – 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Friday: 6:00 pm  – 10:00 pm and 11:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Saturday: 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Yesterday The Eastsider LA published a story about the Greater Echo Park Elysian Neighborhood Council’s plans to celebrate its ten year anniversary with a party – with a cost of $1,000.

This not only raised concern from community members who attended the Tuesday night meeting – but also members of the governing board itself, according to the article:

One board member suggested cutting $1,000 approved for another project to pay for the party. Another spoke about reducing the scope of the event into a smaller and cheaper affair.

Spending $1,000 would “be  inappropriate and in bad taste, especially now in these times,” said one board member. “I could not attend such a thing.”

Despite opposition, seven members voted in favor, two opposed, and two abstained.

Then the flurry of comments (which are always entertaining, depending on how civil it remains) range from “Who cares?” to more overall condemnation of the neighborhood council’s behaviors at meetings (not a new thing). One commenter suggested the neighborhood council president Jose Sigala, who is hoping to replace Eric Garcetti’s seat in Council District 13, is taking advantage of the opportunity to campaign.

Today, Lisa Baca-Sigala (CIO of GEPENC and wife of Jose Sigala) sent out a mass email to stakeholders on the issue:

Read more

How much do you love Echo Park? Bring a tee along and get it silk-screened on for everyone to see!

Echo Park resident Josh Post (also running for office in CD13, and is an EPIA committee member) is teaming up with The Warehouse LA and CD1 for a cleanup of Sunset Boulevard this Saturday, March 31, along the east end the community.

I’ll be there as well – helping make sure you supplies, breakfast, and a t-shirt before heading out to clean up the neighborhood! We’ll be covering Sunset Boulevard from Elysian Park Avenue to Beaudry Avenue – a much-neglected portion of Echo Park that could use a little trash cleanup, sidewalk improvement, and graffiti removal (provided by the CCAC). Meet up at The Warehouse for some morning goodies provided by local Echo Park businesses, bring your favorite light-colored tee to get our now infamous “I Heart Echo Park” logo printed on it.

Office of Ed Reyes, Council District 1, is provided trash bags and supplies, but we recommend dusting off those work gloves and bringing them along! Bring the kids, your neighbors, and friends.

Our last cleanup of Glendale Boulevard in November was a huge success, bringing out over 50 people from all over the community (including schools and churches). Come out and have some fun!

Sunset Boulevard cleanup
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Meet at The Warehouse LA at 9:00 am, located at 1197 W Sunset Boulevard
Bring a tshirt for silk-screening!

For the week of Monday, March 26 through Sunday, April 1, 2012

Origami Vinyl Presents: No Monday Night Residency with Raw Geronimo, Black Flamingo, Young Hunting @ Echo
FYF Presents: Nicolas Jaar with Nicola Cruz and guests @ Echoplex
Gregory Alan Isakov, Patrick Park @ Bootleg Theater
The Janks, Olin And The Moon, The Lonely Wild @ Bootleg Bar
Monday Spring Break presented by Sean Carnage @ Pehrspace
Motown Mondays @ The Short Stop

The Moth Grandslam: X @ Echoplex
Telepathe, Tearist, Duologue @ Echo
Pharaohs, Young Adults @ Los Globos
Abby, Harriet, High Rise, Husky @ Bootleg Bar

Cuckoo Chaos, Gangi, Gothic Tropic, Dream Panther @ Echo
Dub Club presents: Ken Parker, Fully Fullwood Band, Tony Screw (aka Downbeat The Ruler) @ Echoplex
Gold Fields, Touche, The Neighborhood @ Bootleg Bar
Bob Woodruff and His Royal Giants, Rod Melancon @ Taix Lounge
Live Jazz every Wednesday night at 7:00 pm @ Downbeat Café

Dinosaur Feathers, U.S. Royalty, Strange Markings, The Art @ Echo
A Silent Film, Mr. Gnome, Gabrielle Wortman @ Bootleg Bar
Twin Steps, Brainstorm @ Origami Vinyl
The Authentic Sounds of Silverlake, AK & Her Kalashnikovs @ Taix Lounge

Races, Living Things, Incan Abraham @ Echo
Trannyshack! LA @ Echoplex
Big Sir, Lisa Papineau, Juan Alderete (Mars Volta), Different Fountains, Greenhorse @ Bootleg Bar
Electric Flower Group @ Origami Vinyl
Evan Aproberts, Seth Peterson, The Underflow @ Taix Lounge
Gothic Tropic, Twin Steps, Basement Babies, Brainstorm @ Pehrspace

Blundertown + L.A. Record present: Metallagher, White Shit, Mikki and The Mauses, Death Hymn Number 9 @ Echoplex
Funky Sole @ Echo
Dunes, Abe Vigoda, Stephanie, Infinite Body @ Bootleg Bar
Lovely Bad Things @ Origami Vinyl
Thy Odd Birds @ Taix Lounge

Part Time Punks Presents: Joy Division (tribute by Boy Division), Suicide (tribute by Deathday) @ Echo
Charlotte Martin, Mariah Mcmanus @ Bootleg Theater
Super Soul Sunday @ The Short Stop

Visit the venue websites for more information on the cost and times of shows. Feel free to add more events in the comment section. All events listed are subject to change at any time, and new events announced for the week after this posting may not be included.

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about how awesome Blue Collar on Echo Park Avenue is. We don’t frequent the store because, well, we are cat people (sorry), but besides being a great, locally owned business, they are a fabulous component for a big dog community. So here are a couple of things that you may have not known about Blue Collar, and why you should check it out:

Reason #1: Custom ID tags

Deborah of La Guera Tamalera raves about all the shop in general, but really loves that they offer inexpensive custom dog ID tags. For only $3 they will hammer out the ID tag and attach it to your pet’s collar, securing your dog’s return to you if they ever get loose!

Reason #2: Chip scan!

If you find some lost little animal that has no collar and needs to return home, just take it to Blue Collar for a free chip scan. We’ve done this before with found pets, but have gone all the way to the animal shelter on Lacy Street. This is a great local way to check for that chip!

Reason #3: They want to help!

Blue Collar wants to help! They’ve had programs in the past where they collect donations of dog food and supplies for families facing hard times in this economy, and even providing homeless pet owners with help. In addition to their regular obedience classes at a reasonable (and competitive) rate, they are also willing to help if you or someone you know has a dog with serious behavior problems but can’t afford the courses. For either of these programs, just go in and ask!

When we first moved to Echo Park, the only restaurant that would deliver to our sketchy apartment complex was La Pizza Loca. We were a little loca to eat the barely digestible pizza, but was at one point the cheapest meal in town.

This weekend the Glendale Boulevard pizzeria at Berkeley Avenue closed its doors for good – the sign is gone, and some window graphics remain, but a call to the old number and you’ll be redirected to another location.

It’s not the first place to close down in the strip mall – there was once a Cash Express storefront, a flower/bike/tobacco kiosk, and a Dog Grooming business. It might be a sign that the storefronts are being squeezed out as the strip mall prepares for a 7-11 to open up, which was approved last October by the neighborhood council and is undergoing review by the city for a beer and wine license.

The 7-11 plans include making improvements to the whole strip mall (cleaning up the parking lot, removing the old, ugly wall, improving signage), and thus the strip mall owner may be able to ask for higher rent. We’ll see if the Tacos Mexico and the other remaining tenants can stick it out, or if we’re looking at a high-end makeover on Glendale Boulevard and Berkeley.

This adorrrrrrable puppy was found this weekend without a collar on Avalon Street and Preston Avenue. She’s got a temporary home and is out of the rain, but please do contact us if you know where she belongs!

UPDATE: The owner was found!

The streets of Echo Park on Baxter are infamous for being some of the steepest outside of San Francisco, but nobody told this limo driver.

Today the limo awaits a tow truck after being stuck at the apex of Baxter Street, which isn’t uncommon for this corner – a school bus attempted the climb a couple of years ago, and we’re sure there are more undocumented attempts.

Captain Bill Murphy sent out a crime update for the Northeast Division, reporting that Echo Park has been “Very clear – looks great.” Although the LA Times crime map displays some property crimes from March 14-20 (vehicle thefts, burglaries, etc.), there were no violent crimes.

Year-to-date crime numbers covering January 1 through March 17 this year show some improvement for the Northeast area overall. Read more details from Captain Murphy after the jump.

In partnership with PEN, Poets & Writers, and the Ayrshire Foundation, 826LA has published Literary Los Angeles: A Road Guide – a visual guide to the literary hotspots in Los Angeles.

They’ll celebrate tonight at 826LA / The Time Travel Mart in Echo Park, and along with libations will feature readings from contributors Wanda Coleman, Nina Revoyr, Luis J. Rodriguez, and David Ulin, and moderated by Tom Lutz.

Tonight’s event is just $12, includes a map, and benefits 826LA. Click here for ticket, or buy them at the door for $15.

You can also order the 24″ x 18″ posters or fold-out online (or purchase at The Time Travel Mart in person) for $10.

Doors open at 7:00 pm, the event starts at 7:30 pm.

The Time Travel Mart is located at 1714 West Sunset Boulevard

A Chango mural concept

One of the iconic symbols of Echo Park, and one that residents take a lot of pride in, are the colorful murals that decorate our streets. The Sunset Boulevard and Echo Park Avenue mural is one of the most iconic, but look around a little more and you’ll start to notice a myriad of new and old designs that give this neighborhood a colorful background.

Cock-fight mural. Flickr photo via Michael Taft

You may have noticed some changes happening at Chango, which is undergoing minor renovations under new ownership (Jenna Turner, who owns a Susina Bakery on Beverly Boulevard, and Fix Coffee owner Marc Gallucci). But the new owners weren’t prepared for the community’s reaction when they white-washed the property’s cock-fight themed mural. We’re glad they arrived at last night’s Echo Park Improvement Association’s Neighborhood Issues Committee meeting to address any concerns, and assure everyone that they didn’t mean to offend anyone by painting over the mural.

That corner has been through a couple of murals the past decade or so – first there was the more infamous painting of chickens by artist Aaron Donovan, a piece painted because of the corner’s “Chicken Corner” nickname. The original mural was removed when Chango put in windows at that wall. Then a few years ago, the cock-fighting themed mural took its place.

Jenna assured committee members last night that they did, indeed, get permission from the original muralist Richard Meinhardt via the new artist, by the name of Axis,  to remove the piece. Pictured above is a new concept (not the final, final one yet) the new owners designed for the new mural, but at the EPIA meeting said that they were open to including a chicken in there somewhere.

One mural that was saved, probably due to public outcry from coverage on news websites like The Eastsider LA, was the Logan Street mural decorating the former Pescado Mejodo restaurant. Senior Fish has been renovating the corner restaurant for quite some time now, but surprised residents when workers started sandblasting the mural.

Jesse Pimentel represented Senior Fish at the EPIA meeting, saying “We certainly didn’t intend to offend anyone.” Today they will have a retoucher, who has worked on the mural, bring back the mural to its state before the sandblasting began.

The lesson here is that Echo Park loves its murals, and there are many community resources like the EPIA if there are questions about the neighborhood murals. We have to give kudos to the recently opened Red Hill, which kept a colorful mural on the Montana side of its building even after a complete renovation.

As for Senior Fish opening, they are expecting a (hopefully successful) visit from the health department next week, and may open as early as one month from now. Chango is re-opening on Saturday, and will keep the same staff along with the menu.

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!

This cute furball named “Tootsie” has been missing from its Scott Avenue home, between Parmer and Sargent (north of Echo Park Avenue). Her owners miss her very much!

Please contact us if you’ve seen Tootsie.