Greetings, Bike Folks!

 I know it has been awhile since I’ve tended to The Glosh Guide blog. My life dialed up to eleven. I have been busy moving our business into a work space, as well as working with an awesome group of folks on the formation of the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition (WeHoBC).

So, while a few of my beloved projects have taken the hit on time, including this labor of love, I am grateful for the opportunity to meet great folks doing awesome advocacy work and super psyched that Blue Leaf Financial Services, our business, has a work space (Blue Leaf is a small, indie tax & bookkeeping practice with my husband, Dave—CPAs by bike)!

Okay, so, the West Hollywood Bicycle Coalition, you ask? We are proud to be a chapter of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, our mothership, and part of a growing number of regional partners, including Santa Monica Spoke and Culver City Bicycle Coalition. In just less than 6 months, our little WeHoBC has attended several bike advocacy trainings, lobbied for bike infrastructure at West Hollywood City Council meetings (yay! The San Vicente bike lanes are coming), as well as organized our first benefit show!

I feel really fortunate to report one very cool opportunity brought into my life from bicycle advocacy:  my recent acceptance as a League of American Bicyclists Certified League Cycling Instructor Scholarship Candidate through Women on Bikes SoCal!  I am very much looking forward to getting involved with Women on Bikes SoCal and the LCI program through my journey with the scholarship candidacy.

Thanks for staying with The Glosh Guide during my little break. Get ready for some very fun bikey stuff in and around LA in the coming months, starting with:

CicLAvia – THIS SUNDAY April 15th –

Earth Day at LACMA – April 22nd (the WeHoBC is organizing a ride – get on our Facebook page at

Mid Century Modern Architectural Bike Tour – Saturday April 28th from 10:30 am to 12:30 pmthe creative team of Jennifer Volland and Cara Mulio authors of “Long Beach Architecture: The Unexpected Metropolis” will host an informative and fun bike tour of some of Long Beach’s outstanding mid century architecture.

LACBC LA Rive Ride! – June 10th

Ride safe!!


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Bike Life Interview: Food and Bikes with Portland Activist Elly Blue

Elly Blue at Santa Monica Spoke Dinner + Bikes event

My friend Grubby, an ex-messenger, urban cyclist, and writer, once expressed heartbreak over the rise in popularity of urban cycling. Although psyched to see more cyclists, he feels that, like punk rock, the DiY underground aesthetic of the urban cycling movement is being harvested by “a bunch of posers,” as 04 Jason, another bike friend of mine, once put it. I think Grubby would agree with that description.

While as distasteful as any social change movement laundered by corporate branding, the commercialization of urban cycling as a fashionable lifestyle locates an important moment: cycling is hitting the mainstream in the US. The issue is that hipster capitalism, rather than democracy, could overshadow the message of bicycling as a mass social movement. It is understandable that politicized urban cyclists are skeptical of branding that capitalizes on the movement, while offering little resources as a supporter. As a feminist, I am particularly watchful of the branding around women and cycling, especially the appropriation of seemingly feminist ideas in face-level marketing strategies.

Thankfully, many in the radicalized urban cycling movement are pedaling past their own reflections in the mirror and continue to work creatively to bring newly-minted urban cyclists to the advocacy table. Portland-based writer Elly Blue is one such activist. Along with filmmaker Joe Biel and vegan chef Joshua Ploeg, Blue is on the road with what the trio call the Dinner + Bikes Tour.

While devouring a heaping plate of Ploeg’s vegan kitchen mastery, attendees are treated to Biel’s well-crafted documentaries on bicycle culture and activism, as well as interactive discussions on what Blue outlines as a bike economy—a topic she has researched and written about not only for Grist, but her own zine, Taking the Lane.

Kent Strumpell (from LA-BAC), Cynthia Rose, & Bryan Beretta

I caught interview time with Blue before the Dinner + Bikes stop hosted by Santa Monica Spoke, a chapter of the LACBC. SMS members Cynthia Rose and Bryan Beretta set the ideal table for Blue and her cohorts. SMS could’ve raised funds with a door charge, but chose to keep it free. The patio-lined location and welcoming vibe of Rose, Beretta, and volunteer Alice Strong (West San Gabriel Valley Bike Coalition) encouraged attendees—riders and not—to interact over topics like sustainable streets, just the conversations Elly Blue hopes to ignite.

Rose & Alice Strong

Tell me about your bicycling journey:

I started biking for transportation at age 20. I had been traveling for a couple years, and, when I moved back to New Haven, I went into my parents’ garage and found the three-speed cruiser I’d gotten for my tenth birthday. It was too big for me to ride then, but as an adult it was just right. It was incredibly freeing. I was used to walking long distances and waiting forever for buses. The downside is that because of having the bike, I lost the habit of waiting patiently and never re-learned it. 

Most of us that commute have a stable of bikes—what is in your stable?

An old purple Kona mountain bike with an xtracycle conversion is my main ride. I have a rotating cast of two or three other bikes that are usually on loan to someone. Joe and I bought a 6 by 4 foot bamboo trailer. When that’s hitched behind the xtracycle, it’s a bit of a spectacle, but I can carry anything–or anyone. Once, I carried two ukulele players as part of a live band karaoke bike ride!

Chef Joshua

What impact has the bike as transportation had on your life?

It’s been transformative. I think one of the reasons for the bike renaissance right now is that we’re all hungry for real actions we can take to be happier and less frustrated every day, but also to address the big picture crises that seem so out of our control, from climate to the erosion of civil society.

We’re told to deal with this by going out and buying new light bulbs, buying bamboo silverware, whatever. Bicycling is a different way of interacting with the world that can address all those things meaningfully and build new things. And, biking offers ways to meet and genuinely connect with people. It’s kind of sad, but that seems like almost the most revolutionary thing. Unfortunately, it’s the same reason the Tea Party movement is so successful—we migrate towards things where there’s a sense of purpose and a real community.

Were you involved in other contexts of activism first, or did it start with bicycling?

The political connection came about a lot more slowly. It must have been percolating for a while, but the first time I remember it being clear was in November 2004. There was a party to watch the election results, and it was pretty clear Bush was winning. People were saying, “I’m just going to move to Canada,” and I said, “Not me, I’m going to stay here and be a bike activist.” I have no idea where that resolution came from. I was pretty drunk. But that’s exactly what I did.

Lumo (City of Santa Monica) picking up lit and stickers on LACBC

I wasn’t an activist before at all. Other social justice areas have theoretical appeal for me, but there’s always something I can’t quite get behind, whether it’s a dogma or internal politics or just not particularly clicking with the people. In bicycling, the movement is emerging so quickly and it’s so widespread that it really can be what anyone makes of it, with whatever politics and style and ideas they bring. You can just get on your bike and ride it, that’s the beauty of it.

Tell me about Taking the Lane zine: when and how did it start? Why the zine form as a mouthpiece?

TTL started because I needed to keep writing but didn’t know how to find work doing it that wasn’t a capital “J” job. This was one of the things I tried, and it stuck. Zines are cool because anyone can write one.  Creating connections with people who read my zine and write me a letter or email has been one of the most rewarding parts. When you can respond to someone’s personal story on a personal level, you’re equals. We need more opportunities for that.

Joe Biel

You wrote a series called Bikenomics for Grist. How did your thinking around a bicycling economy evolve?

When I first started writing about the bike economy, I could hardly believe what I was finding. Portland’s entire world-class bikeway network that was developed over 20 years cost the same amount as one measly mile of freeway? That’s not even as unbelievable as the hidden costs of car ownership. I mean, parking is expensive, especially if you get tickets, but we collectively pay over $4,000 per vehicle in the city just for on-street parking.

You relate similar issues to your focus on problemitizing gender in relation to the bicycle—what you view as a gender gap in cycling. When did the relationship between feminist discourse and cycling as a movement come together for you?

Previously, I had a more post-feminist attitude—it’s easy to ignore or excuse a lot of shit, especially if you have a social bubble where things are truly more equal. The more I looked into the numbers, the more I was convinced that access to transportation is a civil rights issue.

Women aren’t the only demographic that have expensive, unhealthy transportation constraints imposed on us, but we’re the largest. Women who are caregivers for kids or elderly relatives are penalized by lack of options, particularly when we live in suburban or rural areas or urban areas without central business districts.

Folks browsing zines at indie publisher Microcosm's merch table

So, part of it is when you have no choice but to drive—and to pay those costs—that sucks. But, also, riding a bike is an opportunity for empathy. Anyone who rides a bike, no matter how privileged in every other part of their life, will probably experience harassment, marginalization, assault, unfair treatment by the law and the press. That’s the first step towards understanding what other people might go through in other circumstances.

It could be argued that your writings on the topic emphasize that the focus on safe infrastructure to attract women cyclists is somewhat paternalistic—that it simplifies the issue regarding the lack of women cyclists compared to that of men. You emphasize the economic issues raised by feminist discourse as the key. So, what advice can you offer a new bicycle advocacy group setting goals to get women on bikes that goes beyond infrastructure?

We need safe infrastructure. Women need it, men need it. But, if we want equal access, then we must to pay attention to what else people need.

The stereotype is that women are more risk averse. But saying we’re afraid is self-defeating, because it assumes that barriers to bicycling are internal and inherent to different kinds of people, rather than external and societal. I wonder sometimes, if men had equal childcare and unpaid household duties and the transportation needs that go with those—more and farther trips, carrying stuff and people—would the bar be higher for what’s considered a safe or reasonable road to bike on?

Also, if we are thinking about how to convince people to get on a bike, there’s something wrong. As many as 60% of people in the U.S. say they want to bike more, but there are all these constraints. When we address the constraints, a lot more people will be free to make that choice, and I don’t think many people will need convincing.

Blue at the Microcosm table

Tell us a bit about cycling in PDX. Here in LA, bike advocates are working for the day we have at least a taste of what has been happening in Portland (and Vancouver, etc). So, give us something to dream about.

Biking has transformed Portland culturally and economically. It’s funny because even though our city is one of the best in the world for bicycling, outside of Northern Europe, we still have a long way to go. We still spend too much on building unbikeable, unwalkable, unlivable roads. Any other city could have what Portland has within just a few years. Look at how far New York has come, or Minneapolis.

The challenge is to make streets bike friendly without singling out already privileged groups to lavish with bike infrastructure. It has to be for everyone. That’s an area where Portland is struggling.

 Finally, any new publishing, events, anything you want to share with links?

Thanks for asking! Meghan Sinnott and I are launching a new business, PDX by Bike . We give people tools and information for discovering Portland by bicycle. Our website isn’t quite up yet, but our zine is out there in the world getting nice reviews.

Check on the Dinner + Bikes Tour stops & dates

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Bike Life on Podcast: An Interview with Kelly Marie Martin and Jen Hofer

Jen Hofer

Kelly Marie Martin and Jen Hofer don’t refer to themselves as bicycle advocates. However, Martin, an LA-based multi-genre artist, is a longtime “Cook” (and first ever paid employee) of the Bicycle Kitchen, a nonprofit educational organization centered on helping folks learn to build and maintain their bicycles. Hofer, herself a prolific writer, translator, social justice interpreter, teacher, knitter, book-maker, and public letter-writer, co-founded The City of Angels Ladies’ Bicycling Association (aka The Whirly Girls)—a riding group that emerged from the Bicycle Bitchen (the women and transgendered only wrenching night at the Bicycle Kitchen).

Kelly Marie Martin

Rather than an advocate, Hofer describes herself as an “avid and loud-mouthed bicycle proselytizer,” a fitting statement that reveals a contagious sense of humor and unassuming warmth—traits both she and Martin share. Hofer’s view also illustrates a philosophy with which both women seem to approach life, art, and their efforts as bicycle proselytizers: “If it’s possible to be a bicycle advocate in the way I live my life and move through my city, then I am that.”

Foremost, Hofer and Martin build communities—of artists, cyclists, bandmates, activists, beer brewers, you-name-it. As longtime friends, they share a network of pretty amazing folks, many of which are heavily involved with art-, cycling-, and education-related community organizing. In that sense, they are advocates of living beyond boundaries and doing by being.

As a sometime co-host of the Chicks on Bikes radio show, I invited Martin and Hofer to tape an interview. We sat down with April Lemly, the show’s host and creator, on a recent Tuesday night. And, as Dave Glosh—our awesome recording engineer—ran the board, the four of us dug into art, activism, resisting heterosexist gender binaries and, of course, the bicycle.

Listen to the interview here:

Martin’s showing of photography, Bike It: Portraits of my Bicipandilla, is currently on view at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena.




Hofer’s installation Uncovering: A Quilted Poem Made from Donated and Foraged Materials from Wendover, Utah will be on view at the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Utah in early fall.

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Bike Life: The Game Changer

copyright Tess. Lotta, 2011

It’s been awhile since my last written post. The summer sun has brought new clients for my biz (sweet!), new bicycle advocacy projects, a creative wave harnessed mostly for design and screenprinting for Bici Chica, and a couple awesome people I now call new friends. Currently well into August, I assess my summer thusly: damn busy, but dang fun! When life dials up to eleven, as Nigel Tufnel would say, I am especially grateful for my bicycle.

Most nights when I was growing up, my father would rattle through the door from his aerospace job in a nasty mood, hungry for comfort food, and eager to prove it when one of us kids broke territory around his recliner. The game changer for him was a ritual martini—a tub of Gordons, a slight nod of vermouth, lemon rind, and two cocktail onions crammed into a vat of a lowball with a mountain of ice. The combo of gin, chair, and full belly never really seemed to make him feel better, though. It just put him to sleep. Although I understand the motive for his methodology, I wish he would have found his kids as a possible way out of his work-a-day stress—a game of cards or shooting a few hoops in the driveway. His game changer just made his game harder, I think.

Early on, I set out on a campaign that would put me as far from my father’s life as possible, the launching pad being my first listen to Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables at 18 at Punk Rock John’s house. Dudes, when I say it was over, I mean over! I eventually found myself in Seattle, playing and touring in bands, and, unknowingly, helping to assemble larger cultural movements built on a DiY punk rock ethic—zines, social justice activism, feminist organizing, throwing benefit shows, starting labels, freelancing as an independent journalist, working my art. My first major game changer was a bass guitar named Esmerelda.

the rig of doom!

While I appreciate a good dirty martini (yeah, love you Pop Lotta, but roll over in that grave..the olive juice is not to be denied), I’ve realized lately that my second major game changing strategy is my bicycle. I’ve been at it as an urban commuter ridah for over 4 years, and, like the olive juice, my bicycle is not to be denied. My bike is an absolute necessary ritual that loosens the nerves and limbs and brings my head back within the horizon line of my soul. Life can hurt as much as heal, and we all need ritual game changers. For some, it is another set of hands to help with the dig out of poverty and homelessness. For others, a mid-life wake up call to ditch the desk jockey gig for that of a roving troubadour. For even more others, it is the heroic practice of staying well above the rim of the gin bottle.

For me, it all drills down to my bicycle—the perfect Zen master for a lifelong novitiate cutting teeth on the rules and regs of being the driver’s seat as much as the fuel of my own life. And, with every passing sight and sound that blows through my soul on any given ride, I cannot help but be humbled. Today, I dedicate my ride to my pops—thanks for your hard work, and I bet Saint Jude makes a mean martini.

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Bike Life

copyright Fred McCullough, 2011



















Riding downtown Los Angeles – photo by LA Fred

Submit a shot from (or of) your bike to The Glosh Guide flicker group
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Bike Life

copyright 2011, Jane Cross

Photo by Jane Cross. This is her morning commute – Potomac River at Fish Market looking toward Hains Point (check out her <<GO>> post below!!)

Submit a shot from (or of) your bike to The Glosh Guide flicker group
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>> GO! >> Southeast DC!

Jane on her fly bici!

My Name: Jane

Occupation: Librarian

Find Me (website):

What City I’m Riding In: Arlington, VA and Washington, DC

The Destination: Southeast DC

Neighborhoods I Travel Through On My Route: Pentagon City, Crystal City, Gravelly Point, Tidal Basin, Hains Point, Fish Market, SW Waterfront, Ft. McNair, Nationals Baseball Park, Washington Navy Yard

Why I Like This Destination:  It’s not the destination (work; meh), but the journey: it’s the most scenic urban commuter route ever. I love watching the sun rise over the Potomac as I cross the bridge, Georgetown crew slicing through the molten gold water below me.

The Route: 18th St to Crystal City connector trail, Mt. Vernon Trail, 14th St. Bridge, Waterfront Drive, P St., M St.

Rousing Song Lyric, Exclamation, or Quote:  “Pedal on, pedal on, pedal on, pedal on for miles.”  – Luka Bloom

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Saddle A’plenty: All Hail the Fat Ass Can Stand

Riding with my homegirls Jamie (on right) & LA Fred (snapping the pic)

Yeah, I am one of those bee-aht-ches that refuses to apologize for not being a size two. I’m of Italian-Irish stock (and temperament)—do the math. So, when my skinny girls complain about their weight, I cannot help but roll my eyes. Dudes, eat mostly good stuff (a treat never, ever, ever hurts), move your ass every single day and stop binging on spin class and diet Cokes. The beauty ideal bullshit is such a freaking yawn. Oy, seriously? The socio-cultural harsh on the female body, really, still? Gawd, are we that dense? Newsflash, not everyone is a natural rail. Duh.

It’s all about the curves, baby, and we of the fabulous booty definitely appreciate a solid perch. Unfortunately, it has been a tough job to locate an accommodating bike saddle. Time after time, I’ve lingered in saddle aisles of bike shops that are packed with choices for overworked-out skeletors in desperate need of some body fat. A saddle up the ass on a long ride is, well, totally lame. “My kingdom,” I’ve often pleaded to an audience of skinny saddles, “for just one fat ass can stand.”

Apparently, someone heard me. Recently, I was at the shop to pick up a new cassette for Francis La Funship, my road bike, but, as usual, I could not resist the accessories (freaking lights are a drug). I rounded the glove aisle to the saddles, and, alas, there it was, all shiny with its pretty black vinyl. “Could it be,” I gasped, my heart pounding wildly as I reached out to touch the display model. “Ahhhh,” I exclaimed as I slid my hand over the smooth surface (to the great entertainment of a guy standing near me). If one were to soundtrack this moment, one could choose any of the tracks off Jucifer’s Lambs EP—the moment was that epic. I had discovered the Softail Women’s Saddle by Forte (yeah, yeah, it’s the Performance house brand, but shut the pie hole, haters, I mostly shop the local indies).

Sweet lawd, this is a super, duper can stand. The Softtail is outstanding for ample loads not only because of its “soft padding and double density base,” which, true to the claim on the tag “absorb[s] vibration,” but also for its almost hipbone-like shape. Good for the puny as well, it sports a generous rear base that slims into the front end cut-out area. The ride (oh the ride) is masterful! The sit bones are supported, rather than your whole dang carcass hitting off the rear of saddle, which causes pain in the hips and back.

The DiY fix of outfitting a road bike with a clunky cruiser saddle is now a scourge of the past, and I’d like to buy the person who designed this slice of Softail heaven a Dales Pale Ale in an extra frosty pint glass. One cannot apply that kind of love to bike saddle design and not be guided to it by the jams of a cherubic band. Suffer no more, my people. This can stand is a must.

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CicLAvia Benefit: A Route to Community and Change

photo by Tess. Lotta

A beautiful sunny day, a bike adventure with April L., one of my fabulous BFF ridah girls, and a fête for la bike—what’s this utopia I am describing? It was the CicLAvia fundraiser at Atwater Crossing this past Saturday (3/5/11). And, to boot, I was able to chat with Joe Linton, a CicLAvia co-organizer, to get his thoughts on the benefit and CicLAvia’s focus on community.

With the generous help of GOOD LA, New Belgium, LACBC, various sponsors, and a good chunk of eager volunteers, the Atwater Crossing benefit set the tone for the three 2011 CicLAvia events (including the first on April 10). As Linton says, “I thought the fundraiser had a vibe that resembled CicLAvia—open, relatively inclusive (for a $25 entry), down-to-earth, and multi-centered.”

The awesome Very Be Careful - photo by Tess. Lotta

That vibe was clear throughout the day as attendees grooved to music by Dublab DJs and live bands, including the stellar Telematique and Very Be Careful, as well as enjoyed a video installation chronicling the first CicLAvia. A photography set enticed participants to pose on a road bike or cruiser in front of a giant map (yeah, we did it).  Kids and adults took advantage of a large patch of cement canvass, carving chalk murals out of the smooth pavement. Flanked by a row of food trucks, the dodgeball courts (sponsored by Eagle Rock Yacht Club) saw a ton of friendly fire; in one game, a tipsy hipster took one in the face at the hands of a scrappy bike punk. All walked away unscathed and high fiving. Across the compound, my buddy April scored us both Bike to Work Day 2008 spoke cards while helping a gaggle of little girls scoop up their fair share of toys and bike-themed goodies from a busted piñata shaped like a car. 

Action on the dodgeball court! - photo by Tess. Lotta

Linton credits the success of the event not only to the generous folks that purchased tickets and donated, but also to volunteers and sponsors. “GOOD magazine did a great job putting on a fun event with very positive energy,” he says, adding big props to “New Belgium, Razor’s Edge Wines, all the musicians, and others who made it so successful!”

But more than just a day to celebrate cycling, the benefit never lost sight of its larger task. “The big thing it did for CicLAvia was to raise over $6000,” reports Linton, “which helps us to put on free CicLAvia events for everyone! Secondarily, it was a fun time bringing people together.” That marriage of fun and working for change is the backbone of CicLAvia’s mission.

LACBC bike valet - photo by Tess. Lotta

For those unfamiliar, CicLAvia is the LA version of Ciclovía, an event originated in Bogotá, Colombia as a way for folks to respond positively to the pollution and congestion choking the city. In the spirit of the original, CicLAvia shows that Los Angeles not only has room for walkers, skaters, wheelers, runners, and cyclists to move safely about, but also that one of the key solutions to breaking the addiction to fossil fuel (and suffering in its unhealthy wake) is community-wide support of multi-modal transportation policy, including the recently approved 2010 Los Angeles Bicycle Plan. In that way, CicLAvia is a demonstration for more shared public space and streets dieted by mobility plans that relieve congestion and accidents—bikeways, pedestrian access connections (such as median walking paths), and, we can dream, bicycle boulevards like those enhancing Portland and Vancouver.

“CicLAvia, the non-profit,” explains Linton, “has been around for just over two years planning and pushing and succeeding in making the first CicLAvia happen. It took a lot of work, but I think we (with a lot of partners) pulled off something great. But, in many ways, we’re just getting started—we’re still growing, still reaching out, still figuring at how to get the word out, to include everyone.”

CicLAvia 2010 - photo by Tess. Lotta

Mission accomplished for the first CicLAvia, which shut down seven and half miles of LA streets to car traffic on October 10, 2010. Part street party, part peaceful action,  part impromptu public park, an estimated 100,000 people took to their bicycles, rollerblades, strollers, feet, skateboards, and wheelchairs from 10 am to 3 pm, traversing streets lined with first aid stations, hydration tents, information booths, street performers, music, and, importantly, businesses welcoming the influx of pedestrian traffic.

For Linton and his co-organizers, community is a key component of CicLAvia. But, many people assume that it is a bike event, which is understandable. As Linton explains, “Bicyclists are quick to ‘get’ CicLAvia and support it, and I think it’s GREAT on bike.” As Linton infers, cyclists understand firsthand the need for city planning that accommodates and encourages alternatives to the automobile. However, when asked why CicLAvia is important as much more than a bicycle event, Linton responds thoughtfully. “CicLAvia is also walking, skating, wheelchair, running, dog-walking, scootering, dodgeball, music, transit, etc. Folks can even just pull up a chair and sit and check it out. Bikes are integral,” he points out, “but it goes way beyond to civic pride, local business, history, neighborhood, egalitarianism, environment, creativity; something really magic that happens when you bring people together.”

That magic is discovering and interacting with neighborhoods, rather than driving through them. CicLAvia routes participants to neighborhoods such as Boyle Heights, Downtown, MacArthur Park, and East Hollywood, enabling folks to take in the architecture, history, communities, and cultural bouquet that makes LA so great.

“The CicLAvia events are really for everyone,” Linton asserts, “and  we want more families, more folks of all ages, more folks that live in the neighborhoods along the route – Korean, Latino, Japanese, everyone!”

Thanks, Joe and your co-organizers! See you on the streets for CicLAvia April 10, 2011!

CicLAvia 2010 video

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Ride to the Rock #13: The Radio Department at The El Rey Theater

Often compared to My Bloody Valentine, Radio Department’s direct influence, I argue, is the Jesus and Mary Chain , whether the Swedish trio has cited J&MC as such or not. Sporting an impressive catalogue of drum machine samples, the Radio Department easily found a groove with live bass, guitar, and synth, gliding effortlessly into a too-short set of their dreamlike alt-electronica. One standout moment of many was their flawless delivery of the darkly atmospheric lullaby “Heaven’s on Fire.” But, as a musician, I can argue their chops and influences all night. The testimony of the success of their recent live show is best delivered by the crowd at the sold out El Rey.

When the trio transitioned into “The New Improved Hypocrisy,” the lanky guy in front me—sporting a dishwater blonde chin-length bowl cut and what might very well have been Toughskins and Kmart plaid—hurled his white ass self into such an infections frenzy that his similarly clad Asian compatriot decided he was being shown up and proceeded with a dramatic air drum solo that, impressively, matched the beats streaming from the laptop on stage.

The two battled it out in a friendly but fiercely competitive larping-like bout that any competent sports commentator would have dubbed “Radio Department Deathmatch 2011” or, alternatively yet respectfully, “The Awesomest Nerd in the Room.” The best part was the feverish high five exchanged by the pair when punctuating the final crescendo of thickly layered guitar loops. Dazzled by the performance, I clapped for them.

Besides delivering a well-rehearsed set, the job of musicians for which Radio Department gets very high marks is to create music that concerns fans more with getting swept away than with staying aloof in fear of looking like an idiot.

Let the freak flag fly, mo fos.

Now, on to R2TR #14….any suggestions?

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