The Big Parade: You can do it!

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It’s time!

The routes and timetables have been posted for this year’s Big Parade, almost certainly the best urban hike on the planet. At least in LA.

As I told the Daily News in an article about this year’s event:

“The Big Parade is a great example of an event that combines everything I love about walking in L.A. — community, history, nature, architecture — into one adventure,” said longtime participant Alissa Walker, urbanism editor at the blog Gizmodo and a member of the steering committee for Los Angeles Walks, a pedestrian advocacy organization.

“You end up meeting your neighbors and seeing parts of your neighborhood you’ve never seen before. But you also gain a greater understanding of how the city is knit together.”

I stand by that statement.

In addition to all the community, history, nature, and architecture, this year we have a really big, really awesome surprise in the form of a private concert at the home of my friend Joshua Wolf Shenk. He’s hosting the amazing Gabriel Kahane, who has written an entire album of songs about LA, which you may have heard on NPR. The party is Saturday night but you can only find out where it is if you’re walking with us on Saturday. What better reason is there to join?

I’ll also be walking the entire day Sunday, starting at the Music Box Stairs, just down the street from my house. There’s no better feeling than ending the weekend at Griffith Observatory at sunset. Okay, there’s maybe one better feeling: the first post-walk margarita.

Check out all the details over at The Big Parade website, and to get yourself pumped you can also read up on all my coverage over the years:

Walking for walking in Los Angeles (2009)
100 staircases, 35 miles, two days, and too many new friends to count (2010)
Six garages, six gardens & Taking the stairs (2011)
The very Big Parade (2012)
Five things to know about The Big Parade (2013)

I’ll see you there!

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Happy 75th, Union Station

Afterlight

It’s a place I visit several times a week as part of my car-free journeys. You’d think the drama of the spot would have worn off by now. Yet every time I round this corner with my rollie suitcase or my laptop tucked under my arm, I stop what I’m doing and absorb the beauty. Since 1939, Union Station has been turning the heads of commuters and visitors alike, and this year, our grandest and most gorgeous structure turned 75 years old.

There have been plenty of celebrations and commemorations for the station, but I wanted to point your attention to a book called Union Station: 75 Years In the Heart of LA, featuring essays about the station’s civic significance. I’m incredibly honored to say that I was asked to contribute an essay to the book, and my name is listed alongside my writing heroes like David Kipen, Marisela Norte, and D. J. Waldie.

photo 6My essay, “Union Station Today: Making Cultural Connections,” is now posted over at the Metro blog, where you’ll soon be able to read all the essays in the book. Here’s a small excerpt from mine, which explains my thesis that Union Station has become a vibrant part of LA’s swiftly urbanizing life:

When I breeze through Union Station, making my transfer to the Metro Gold Line or catching the FlyAway to LAX, I’m used to seeing a wedding party posing for photos among the rose bushes of the patio, or a film shoot bringing the long-empty Old Ticket Concourse back to life. The picturesque passageways and their well-preserved artistry will always be the go-to stand-in for 1940s L.A.

But in the last few years, with the staging of massive music performances like Invisible Cities, art-world spectacles (such as the recent Station to Station happening in September 2013), and critical civic moments, the role of Union Station has transformed from a period-perfect backdrop into an animated cultural concourse.

Now, in addition to being the connective tissue between the city’s nodes, for an increasingly transit-oriented Los Angeles, Union Station has become a crucial part of the destination.

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If you’re like me and enjoy some LA history mixed with some train nerdery, this book will hit the sweet spot. You can buy your copy here. A huge thanks to Heidi Zeller and Metro for asking me to contribute to this project.

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See you in the future

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Attention New Yorkers (and designy folks who will be in town for ICFF), I wanted to let you know about this very exciting event I’m helping to organize for NYCxDESIGN: the Gizmodo Home of the Future!

Yes, we are building an actual apartment inside of an old gymnasium and filling it with our favorite products, ideas and people from May 16-21. I’m going to be hanging out there all week (heck, maybe even sleeping there if the bed is comfortable) and hosting events on urbanism, food, transportation, telepresence, and more.

Come say hi and take a sneak peek on Friday, May 16 at the opening party from 7-9pm at 268 Mulberry Street, between Houston St. and Prince St.

Check out the schedule of daily events and parties, or just come hang out during the day—we will have a co-working lounge with comfy chairs and fast wifi, so if you need a place to work, you can come blog along with the Gizmodo team. See you sometime in the future!

Posted in building, designing, Gizmodo, partying, traveling | Leave a comment

Join me at CAMP

Last year around this time I headed off to a magical adventure in the woods, CAMP. This business conference that is so much more than a business conference was one of my highlights of 2013, and I even included it as an example of what to do right in this article I wrote about design conferences for Communication Arts:

That motto was on my mind this summer when I attended CAMP, a new creative business conference held at a YMCA summer camp in Big Bear, California. About 120 attendees stayed in same-sex cabins and signed up for workshops ranging from social media marketing to foraging and wildcrafting. There was even a camp dance. By the last night, I had learned new skills like indigo dyeing and professional product photography, but it all happened in a setting that was inspiring and invigorating—it made me feel as though I hadn’t sacrificed my work or life to be there. The best part of all: there was not a plastic name badge in sight.

Sounds good, right? This year’s CAMP promises to be even more magical. It takes place May 29 to June 1 in beautiful Big Bear Lake, which is only two hours from LA but feels worlds away. I’ll be giving one of the breakfast keynotes, but you’ll be wide awake because you’ll already have taken your morning polar bear plunge, of course.

Use the secret discount code CAMPlawalker and you’ll get 15% off. Register here, and read more about what I learned at CAMP last year.

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Peep fashion

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Proudly partying with my Peeps on.photo 3
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As I know you know, I love my Peeps, and usually right about now I am falling into deep depression because the Peep season has come to a close. But not this year! For two reasons: 1) Peeps are now going to be in stores year-round and 2) I have this beautiful dress I can wear whenever I need to feel the glory of Peeps around me.

And I will be wearing it all throughout the year.

This beautiful frock was made by Laura Howe, who also designed my wedding dress. She makes a lot of other beautiful dresses, too, not all of which feature sugar-coated confections. Check out her work at Matrushka, and if you’re in Silver Lake, stop by her adorable store and say hi.

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The quintessential LA street

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I snapped this shot the other day during CicLAvia as I was walking on 5th Street (which is a pretty darn magical street) near Irving in Windsor Circle. To me, this represents the quintessential (and perhaps stereotypical) LA street, fringed with tall palm trees on either side to infinity.

Quintessentially California.

It’s also incredibly similar to some other shots I’ve taken recently, like this one which is somewhere in Alhambra from LA’s annual birthday walk. This also says “LA” when you look at it.

Beverly Hills has the best palm trees.

I’ve found myself trying to find more of these typical/stereotypical scenes. This one, in Beverly Hills, for example, is good, but I think the addition of the larger, squatter Canary Island date palms makes for a different kind of look. I seem to gravitate towards streets planted exclusively with slender, swaying Mexican fan palms.

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So for example, I should probably find out where this was shot.

If you see any good shots of “quintessential LA streets” send them my way. I’m on the hunt for the most LA street in LA.

Updates…

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Here’s a great shot of Laveta Terrace in Echo Park by Atley Kasky, which just happens to be the same location that the Golden Road label was shot.

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Posted in creating, designing, growing, riding, walking | 7 Comments

Bosom Buddies invented Parking Day

One of my favorite things about living in Los Angeles is looking back at the shows and movies I grew up with and realizing how many of them were filmed in LA. Something I might have watched a million times now takes on a whole new meaning as it becomes a game of recognizing buildings and streets in my neighborhood that were supposed to be New York or Chicago.

Lately, I’ve been really enjoying “The Greatest Event in Television History,” where Adam Scott recreates the opening credits of ’70s sitcoms in these incredible shot-by-shot remakes. And while I was watching the Bosom Buddies remake, I had just noticed that this famous scene takes place on Wilshire Boulevard—on this weekend’s CicLAvia route—when I realized something else.

Bosom Buddies invented Parking Day:

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A few decades later, people in San Francisco began feeding the meters and turning parking spaces into parks for the day. But Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari did it first.

Here are some not-as-great-quality shots of the original:

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The parking space is still there, of course, right out in front of Lafayette Park, on Wilshire between Commonwealth and Hoover. If someone doesn’t turn this particular parking spot into a Bosom Buddies homage this Parking Day, I’ve lost my faith in humanity.

And because you’ve absolutely got to see the whole show now, enjoy:

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There’s something in the air

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It’s that time of year again, you guys! Easter is only a few weeks away, and it’s going to be even more special than ever before (trust me on this). Head on over to my seasonal Tumblr, PEEP THIS, for more Easter treats.

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A Walker in D.F.

Super tortas
Motorcycles at the market
Best doors and gates orange green and blue
Museum in a former estate
Yellow bus
Sun and moon of color
Pink courtyardColorful cord
The jacaranda really makes it
La Michoacana
Pink fence
Neon weavings
Path to the garage
Nike store tiles
Double stairs
Chandelier
Red bricks
Crazy loud vendors
Metro signage
Best Metro signage ever
A different type of a subway tile.
Red stripes
Best tile mosaic house
Joy Center
JOY
Centro
Gorgeous carvingCheck out the bike
Palace des Belles Artes
Pedestrian is King
Ecobici
La Botica
Best menuAnejo
CHOCOLATE
This is our friend Hector. He makes the best chocolate in the world in this little Mexico City storefront. You should keep an eye on him at @lacasatropical, I hear he might be bringing some to the U.S.
Lebna and chocolate
Glowing tower
Paints
Stripes
Love the "gutters"La Casa Azul
Blue bar
Camino Real
Pink fence
So many colorsLobby
Concrete patterned door
Dressing to match the floors.
Glorious

I was lucky enough to find myself in Mexico City earlier this month to speak at the pedestrian advocacy conference Ciudad Péaton. While there, I fell in love.

Mexico City is like nowhere else on earth in that it’s both European and American, Colonial and Contemporary, Formal and Casual—and it wears all the sides of its personality so well. And the colors. OH THE COLORS. Each block revealed a combination of shades and textures I couldn’t dream up. Although I stumbled upon many special interiors—like Frida Kahlo’s garden, a transcendent chocolate factory, and the Camino Réal hotel—I would say that most of the beauty of Mexico City is how much of the action happens right there in the street, from eating pastor tacos to sipping mezcal to watching musicians to simply seeing a colorfully dressed couple stroll the leafy sidewalks. The residents of D.F. really know how to live, and it shows on every corner.

Thanks to The Lab for inviting me to be part of such an incredible event (500 young people there to talk about walking!) and for showing me around my new favorite place on earth.

More photos here.

Posted in building, creating, designing, eating, speaking, traveling, walking | 5 Comments

Ed Begley Jr. wins the Oscars

Celebrities are always trying to show us how they care about the environment with their fancy Ford Prii, but eco-warrior Ed Begley Jr. (and my walking/biking/bus riding hero) just bested them all: He rode the subway to the Academy Awards tonight.

Begley—who was invited because he’s a governor for the Academy—took the Red Line from the Valley, where he lives in a modest house I’ve written about for Dwell (he’s currently building a new one as part of a new show about sustainable construction). He couldn’t get off at Hollywood and Highland (for out-of-towners: that’s the station right beneath the Dolby Theater, where the Oscars are held) because Metro closes it due to security risks, so Begley had to walk along Hollywood Boulevard from the Hollywood and Vine station—with his daughter in heels.

It’s not a far walk—about .8 miles, or 25 minutes—but since that’s also the route most people take to get to the show, they were spotted by several attendees who were—yes—sitting in traffic.

Posted in riding, walking | 2 Comments