art

The New LAX

I posted Monday about the new Los Angeles International Airport’s design and expansion of the Tom Bradley International Terminal. This improvement will allow larger aircraft like the A380 and 787 to use the facility with ease, and more importantly improve on my personal ranking as “shittiest major airport in the west.”

This interests me since I’m a former resident of the region, and still fly to LAX often. Although I love planespotting outside the In-and-Out on Sepulveda, this airport itself is dark, chaotic, and disfunctional. While newer buildings like Denver and San Francisco feature grand halls and ample space, LAX truly is a third world experience. Of course there is only so much you can do given the surrounding land and space limitations, and its imperative to keep the airport running during any transition period, but other than the graceful tentacles of the theme building there is nothing iconic or inspiring about LAX – which is unfortunate as its a gateway for millions of diverse southern California residents and visitors from around the world.

So – here is is. Designed by Denver based Fentress Architects, (creator of the Denver “tent”,) it appears we’ll have two large new international concourses on the far west side of the airport. The horseshoe shaped roadway will be extended – appearing to run between the old TBIT building and a new building on the west side. Also a new south runway will be added, but given the land restrictions I have no clue where they’ll put it.

Here’s a description of the new terminal from the Contra Costa Times:

The proposed exterior design celebrates the airport’s proximity to the beach. Curved stainless steel panels give the appearance of waves lapping at the terminal’s rooftop. Large windows and skylights allow natural sunlight to pour into the passenger walkways.

Tall, white parabolic arches – similar to those of the iconic Theme Building – are incorporated into a two-level bridge connecting the Bradley terminal to the new midfield terminal. Travelers can opt to ride a train on the bridge’s lower level, or stroll along an automated pedestrian walkway on the upper level. Viewing lounges at each end of the bridge provide views of downtown, the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

Here’s my question though: There are two sets of parallel runways: One north and one south, on either side of the entire complex. Frequently aircraft will land on the north runways, (24 Left or 24 Right,) then taxi behind the international terminal and meander down to their gate on the south side. Will these aircraft be required to taxi around these two new concourses? Will they be going UNDER the bridge? (As it appears one is.) Or will this simply not be an issue?

It is a wonderful sounding design, but one negative is that only international travelers will see the bulk of these new elements. Of course time will tell if the full spectrum will come to fruition. Completion date is 2013 – and in “big project” years that’s cutting it might close.

L.A. Times article and photo. Pat Morrison’s opinion column has a more cynical view. The Daily News features this photo of the bridge connection the remodeled TBIT to the new gates.

 

art

I Miss Communism

I heard an interview on BBC’s Outlook with Ines Wurth, a Croatian now living in Los Angeles, and performing her one woman show “I Miss Communism” in London. Wurth reflects on her childhood and satirizes the social system in which she and her family was raised. Despite the provocative title Wurth loves her life in Los Angeles as an American citizen since 2002, but the opportunity to hear the juxtapositions of these two lives would be well worth seeing firsthand.

More about Ines Wurth from I Miss Communism.com

Ines Wurth, a Croatian actress and writer, lives and works in Los Angeles. She started her acting career in London when she left Croatia as a teenager. As a member of Compass Theater in London, she performed numerous roles including Nora from A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen and Varya from The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov. Wurth received her BFA from UCLA, School of Theatre, Film & Television and is a company member of the award-winning Zoo District (theater company), www.zoodistrict.org

In her One Woman Show, “I Miss Communism”. She transforms herself into 15 characters and introduces her life of growing up under the communist regime; the life full of opposites: war and peace, love and hate, innocence and violence. Bringing this show to the stage is very important to her in today’s times of the shortage of awareness, consciousness and tense humanity dynamic around the world.

“I Miss Communism” is a touching, personal story based on her life. The show is about freedom; political, psychological, spiritual, personal. It’s about a young woman coming of age, it’s about war, it’s about Oliver Twist.

“I Miss Communism” is playing in London at the Hackney Empire studio until September 23rd.

 

Uncategorized

Giant Twist Freedom Hybrid Bicycle

The “Twist Freedom” DX was lucky enough to find itself as the Forbes Blog “Find of the Day.”

Unlike some other power assisted bikes and small mopeds the Twist Freedom uses a quiet electric motor providing a less strenuous ride and the ability to maintain constant speeds.

These are becoming more and more popular for those wanting to commute by bike, but have long distances or steep hills to conquer along the way.

At $2,250 you’ll need a very good lock.  Most bike commuting experts recommend “investing” in a cheap beater bike for trips for bad weather, or when you need to park your bike in a no-so-friendly area for a long period of time.

Thanks Forbes for recognizing bike commuting as a viable transportation method!  Or maybe its because Forbe’s readers need options after finding their second and third cars repossessed.

Check out those sleek fenders and panniers!  More info at (and photo from) 

Journals

It’s Not Easy Being Green

I’m a day late getting in on “Blog Action Day,” and failed to write about anything green related yesterday as mandated by the blogosphere lords. But my regular day was in fact mostly green. I biked to work as usual, shopped local, watched a Netflix movie, (if that’s considered green,) and drank some green tea after dinner.

We hear lots of chatter about green products and companies. A LOT of chatter. In the past year the green theme has nascented into an avalanche which seemed to land mostly on the desks of marketing strategists. I don’t blame anyone for being burned out on the green scene: I see green labels at the supermarket, I can purchase carbon offsets when flying, and Mr. TV constantly tells me to “be green.” However every time I see a “green” promotion in retail or online my skepto-dar immediately cranks up and I wonder if in fact the money brought in from the green marketing collection plate is even making it to the green causes they promote.

Maybe I’m annoyed people treat the theme of environmentalism like a new scarf. Or those stupid oversize sunglasses that are so popular for some reason. It’s akin to your favorite band hitting it big, and you fervently reminding me “Hey I was with them when they were playing at…” You get the point. I’ve never mulched or torched a Hummer, but overall I think I’ve always BEEN pretty green.

With so many companies promoting “greenery” I fear eventually consumers will become tired of the theme, companies will shuffle on to the next trend, and the label “green” will once again be relegated to a pejorative for extreme environmentalists living in trees.

I’m FOR environmental awareness. I encourage people to maintain a reasonable environmental footprint. But that goes beyond retail and marketing. For those truly green it’s interwoven into your identity so tight that you don’t consciously THINK “green” with every purchase you make. Hal Taussig, founder of “Untours,” is a perfect example of this. He doesn’t need to concern himself with trendy green purchases because the entire philosophical umbrella of which he lives is life shows concern for personal and ecological sustainability. And I doubt he pontificates it daily.

I ask using Taussig’s example: Do you really need to juggle carbon offsets and weigh farmer over supermarkets if the MAJORITY of your life is already lived in the green? Personally I enjoy biking as a viable transportation method because it’s efficient and healthy. I shop local because it’s convenient and less time consuming, and our household has one car because it saves a ton of money. My motive in those choices isn’t to label myself green. It’s to maintain a simple, manageable, and enjoyable life. Fortunately these decisions end up being green. That however is a dangerous message for companies selling the “green” game, because part of being green is to eschew excess consumption and materialism. (Ok now I’ll disclose I own the Roomba and two iPods.)

Being “green” is more than just buying paper towels labeled green (in a plastic wrapper picturing the earth from space.) It’s about the sum of your individual choices. Your collective life is the denominator of what’s considered “green” or not. Should certain companies even market themselves as environmentally friendly when the products they design can never be considered green in the first place? How can a magazine even consider itself green, when as noted in the Cause Related Marketing blog the entire concept of a magazine – paper, printers, and trucks – is the complete antithesis of what being green is about?

I find it ridiculous for someone to search out green toilet paper when they have a three or four person family living in a 3,500 square foot house with five bathrooms to stock said TP in. It’s as nonsensical as slapping a lemon yellow “for the troops” stickers on a shiny black Escalade.

We live in a competitive and consumptive society. We’re told daily to purchase products we don’t need in order to solve problems we don’t have. The blog “marketing green” even examines and details strategies and methods of selling green. Green products follow the logic and money trail down another avenue of marketing. A company can’t say the REAL green message of “Don’t buy our junk – you don’t need it.” But those that are a different shade of green are astute at making smart consumer choices, limiting their consumption, and refraining from stockpiling their homes with unnecessary cheap plastic crap.

I’m a critic of our country’s suburban design, lack of accessible neighborhoods outside cities, the over reliance of cars for simple community transportation, and the quicksand pits of credit card debt that people gamble wade into. To me these larger concerns often override the efforts to be green on a small scale, and until the issue of larger than life consumption is addressed I’m not too concerned with “White Google versus Black Google.”

When thinking “green” forget about what’s on the store shelf. Examine your consumption, material drives, and balance your needs versus your wants. Scaling down in life, spending less, and making conscious consumer choices beyond whether it’s “green” or not will by proxy make you a greener person. That’s the ultimate green statement. But don’t tell the marketers. 

fun

Culture Fonolo Looks Awesome

I read the Consumerist regularly.   Its a great consumer advocacy site, and has interesting articles and finds mixed in with some gut wrenching horror stories.

When I read this post on Fonolo my interest peaked.  They’re offering a solution for a problem that everyone hates: IVRs, or Interactive Voice Response Systems.

The only thing more annoying and cumbersome than phone books is navigating automated phone systems.  When I call an airline, credit card, or major company it eats up so much time I usually end up spacing out and forgetting the prompts by the time I need to enter them.  I despise the turtle like pace when punching in info like zip codes and such, and then having it read back to me to confirm.  (I try and hit # to move on, but it ends up needing a 1 or something, sending me back to the original menu.)   Yes I’m quite impatient when it comes to this.   Gethuman.com is a good resource for reaching live CSRs, but Fonolo plans to rocket it into this century.

Fonolo is bringing a VISUAL approach to the archaic 1980s phone customer service technology we suffer with daily.  Fonolo will feature visible phone “trees” for a specific company.    For example if you’re calling United Airlines and need to  “Book International with Miles” you simply click through the tree, (instead of dealing with the many, many voice prompts leading you there.)  Then through their method of “deep dialing,” the site dials for you, immediately connecting you with that “branch.”

An added bonus:  Utilizing their site you can take personal notes and RECORD CALLS!  While various states laws apply regarding the admissibility of calls for court cases, it still gives YOU some concrete documentation for dealing with a company that might shift answers and policies with you.

The service will be free, offset by advertising.  I can’t wait for this to go live, and wish them the best.   It will definitely be in my bookmarks.

They’re at Fonolo.com.  If this sounds appealing you can watch a demo too.  Its pretty interesting watching him explain the concept and creation.

 

fun

Spring Storm

We had a large storm move through the eastern part of the Denver area last Monday.

I was at 13th and Grant watching the clouds billow up higher and higher. We only got a bit of rain compared to several miles east, but still the sky was a greenish black and looked quite violent.

My friend at work took this photo from Centennial Airport.

 

Travel

BANDERAS BAY . PUERTO VALLARTA

From the air… It’s hit or miss taking photos from airplane windows. This one turned out nice, and looks even better as desktop background. Especially during winter.

Nuevo Puerto Vallarta on the left, and the old town and Zona Romantica against the Sierra Madre mountains on the right.

AERIAL PHOTOMEXICOPUERTO VALLARTA
 

fun

Buenos Aires Roads

Streets, Roads, Subways of Buenos Aires, Argentina

These are high rez photos, hence the long loading time.

Eastbound Autopista 25 de Mayo, en route to city from Ezeiza Int’l Aiport (EZE)

West suburbs, including “Ciudad Evita”
“Severe Fines” (for speeding) Autopista 25 de Mayo
Autopista Toll Gates on 25 de Mayo
On the left “teletoll”
On the right “Exact Payment”
Avenida Corriente
Aeroparque Jorge Newberry (AEP)
“North Parking” and “Arrivals and Departures”
 

Travel

Denver Rail

*Update:  I started taking photos of the various stations under construction last summer.  The southeast light rail trains are now open and running smooth.   Since I work in the tech center and live near downtown I’ll utilize them frequently, and being a fan of rail and transit adds to the enjoyment of an otherwise normal workday.

 

 

 

*December 2006  – Snowstorm Photos

 

Here are more photos and my blog entry from the first weekday commute.

System Map

Photos of all stations from since summer 2006 and ongoing:

Englewood Station

Union Station – 11.06

Lincoln Station – visited 11.06

University Station . I.25 and University Blvd (opens 11.06)

Belleview Station . I.25 and I.225 interchange

Broadway Station

Lousiana . Pearl Street Station . I.25 (opens 11.06)

Mineral Station (Rail only)

more to come…

 

Summer ‘06 entry:  My start to a collection of light rail stations in Denver, as well as the (almost) completed expansion of I.25 from Broadway to Lone Tree in southeast Denver.

I travel this route daily and have watched it take shape over the past five years. Being an advocate of cycling and pedestrian friendly communities, I’m proud that our city has integrated both car and rail transit. When complete I believe it will make our downtown and the office parks of the southeast more accessible with each other, and initiate more development of livable communities on the southeast side of town, where many people work.

I love the modern, sleek look of the construction, and the smooth curves and flow of exits, ramps, acceleration lanes, and bridges crossing each other. The rail and stations complement the freeway and they flow perfectly with each other.

Maps and more info at http://www.trexproject.com/ (if you’re a map geek like me)

 

Below – 20th and Welton Station. The “slowest” part of Denver’s light rail, which runs adjacent to streets from Auraria Campus to 30th and Downing.

 

fun

Chelsea Pines Inn . New York

Over the summer I made plans to spend four fall days in New York City. True to my hopes the weather was absolutely perfect this October weekend. Booking a flight was the easy part. Finding a place to stay was not. I have a few friends in NYC, but like many New Yorkers their places are small and or shared. I didn’t want to impose and preferred to be independent without worry of disturbing people when returning from jaunts around town or coming in late at night.

Recommended budget hotels like the Pod were all booked. I checked out a few sites like New York 50- a site devoted to hotels and rentals for around $50 a night.  Needless to say the reviews were atrocious.  I found various lists of top rated budget hotels including this About.com collection, but they were booked too. I checked out a condo rental site with attractive rates, but balked when I learned they wanted a 50% deposit forked over via wire transfer. Yeah right. Take a credit card already – This isn’t 1950.  For a month I occasionally read reviews and prices. Holiday Inns, Hampton Inns and the other chains run north of $300 a night in Manhattan. The nicer hostels were booked. Tripadvisor’s reviews of budget hotels were actually amusing to read – if not frightening.  When finding a place for under $140 I would pull up the Tripadvisor review and read horrifying tales of bugs, mold, surly staff, and even beetles crawling over people as they slept. I wish I had bookmarked some of the reviews as they’re hilarious. I’m far from high maintenance, but I do require my room beetle free.

Someone on Lonely Planet mentioned the Chelsea Pines Inn to another poster looking for accommodations. It was the neighborhood I wanted to be in, for a very good price, and they had availability. Tired or searching and comparing I immediately booked it.

Chelsea Pines sits on 14th Street between 7th and 8th Avenue.  Typical to the area its a narrow building with five floors, with about four to five guest rooms per floor.  Giving the rooms a distinct style and character, each is dedicated to a former actor or actress from Hollywood’s golden years. There’s a sunroom and patio for socializing and meeting fellow visitors, and breakfast is served every morning until 11am.  Even though I always travel with earplugs just in case I wind up above a noisy street, the sounds below on 14th Street didn’t wake me at all.  It was fairly quiet at night, and central airconditioning helps too.   (Above photo of 14th Street taken from room.)

Something else makes this place special though: The variety and diversity in their rooms and rates. The deluxe, modern rooms on the lower floors are decked out in granite, have iPod docks, flat screen TVs and modern fixtures.  Standard rooms reside in the middle floors, and the fourth and fifth floor house smaller economy rooms with a partial shared bath – (not uncommon in NYC hotels.)  My room wasn’t as modern as the updated ones, but that was ok by me because the rate was below average for a place of it’s overall superb quality.  When I return I may opt for fancier accommodations, but this time my needs were simple.  There are plenty of economy rooms dotting the city, but being able to find an economy room that’s also in a well hosted and well kept building is rare.  I’m appreciative of proprietor Jay and the staff for offering their guests a variety of economic options, which results in a nice blend of guests too.

Although there were a few faces manning the front desk I didn’t meet, I chatted with the owner Jay a few times and met a small group visiting from Scotland.  Chelsea Pines is clean, comfortable, and more than spacious enough for myself traveling solo – and I’d recommend it as a “second home” to anyone staying in the city.

They’re at 317 West 14th Street in Chelsea, and about 30 steps from the subway too.  Check out Chelsea Pines Inn .com for rate details and their history.  And any other hotel should be so fortunate to have their Tripadvisor ranking.

If you find them booked when visiting NYC check out this article in New York Magazine listing other highly rated budget hotels.