Cyclists Rejoice: VNC Approves Main Street Diet

Share the road sign, New York City.

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By Ashley Beasley

After careful deliberation, Tuesday night, the Venice Neighborhood Council voted to carry out the “Main Street Diet” plan put forth by the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

Presented by Paul Backstrom, Transportation Deputy for Councilman Bill Rosendahl, the plan proposes to reduce the four traffic lanes on Main St., between Windward Circle and Rose Avenue, to two lanes, while adding a bike lane on either side and a two-way turning lane in the middle.

This would effectively improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians, while reducing traffic and parking issues in the area, said Bill Strumple, appointed representative for CD11 from the Bicycle Advisory Committee.

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Filed under Government, Living, Politics, Venice Local

Abbot Kinney Fest 2011 Music Guide

By Ashley Beasley

Props to whomever booked the music for this year’s fast-approaching Abbot Kinney Fest, happening on Sunday, September 25.

There are a lot of acts playing and a mile long street on which on which to see them.  Here’s a quick review of some of the must-sees, so you can plan accordingly:

Thundercat is the alias for Steve Bruner, the ex-basist for Suicidal Tendencies.  While this fact alone may peak your curiosity to hear him live, his music will leave you no less curious. Call it experimental future jazz with astral breakbeats.  FYI, his most recent album was produced by Los Angeles dub and cut-hop maven, Flying Lotus.

Mia Doi Todd, a L.A. based prolific singer-songwriter, has been releasing albums since 1997.  Her honey like voice can remind you of a warm summer breeze and bring you to tears all in the same album.  Todd’s new album, Cosmic Ocean Ship, has a light and lovely bossa feel.

Dumbfoundead is a L.A. based freestyle battle rapper.  His sound is well produced, the beats are tight and his flow, overtly clever.  Make sure to check this one out: Continue reading

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Filed under Music, Venice Local

Mayor Villaraigosa Gets Personal at West Side Town Hall Meeting

By Ashley Beasley

Westside Regional Alliance of Councils
conducted a successful Town HallMeeting Monday night with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the Felicia Mahood Senior Citizen Center in West Los Angeles.  The spirit of the event was palpable as community leaders and interested constituents snacked on refreshments and mingled, awaiting Villaraigosa’s arrival.

“You can only change government by being a part of the process,” retired former federal government employee, Allen Bridges said, whose issue was apron parking in his neighborhood on Beverly Glen.

Other audience members consisted not only of concerned residents, but many strong community members, business owners and city officials.

Warming up the crowd with an enthusiastic round of audience introductions was Councilmember Bill Rosendahl of City District 11. Rosendahl’s introduction for Mayor Villaraigosa began with a hat tip to his transportation efforts and successes, namely Measure R, responsible for the rapid Metro Rail developments.

Without further hesitation, the questions commenced and showed no signs of mercy for Villaraigosa. Continue reading

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Feist’s Secret Show @ the Del Monte Speakeasy

By Ashley Beasley

Four-time Grammy award nominee and eight-time Juno award-winning folk-rock artist, Feist, played the Del Monte Speakeasy in Venice Friday night, preempting her forthcoming new album, Metals (available October 4, 2011).

News spreads fast in L.A. Tweets leaked the news beginning early afternoon on Friday and even Feist, herself did not tweet the show’s existence until around 6pm.

Even so, by 9pm, accounts of 250 or more were lined up outside of The Townhouse, the bar that owns the speakeasy, below, waiting to be let in.  Townhouse patrons simply looking for a quick drink were unable to get into the bar, due to crowds waiting to enter the Del Monte Speakeasy.

Aside from the many standing outside, there were still more fans inside who were unable to get downstairs, where the show was taking place.

“I didn’t actually get to see her because she was downstairs. but it was really packed and I heard it was so packed and hot that people kept leaving just to get some air,” Jordan Mena said of the stuffy conditions at the bar.

The show kicked off around 10:30pm with a set list starting with Commotion, a song off her new album.

Even though people were hot, the air was stuffy and at times the Townhouse’s music interfered with Feist’s set, Feist’s spirited live performance and command of the room overshadowed all else, according to

Not to mention, the secret show only cost $5, which is the regular price of admission to the Del Monte.  This show, may in fact be a sign of hotter things to come from the Del Monte.


Filed under Living, Music, Venice Local

Yogi Profile: Garth Hewitt

By Ashley Beasley

If you’d told Garth Hewitt 10 years ago he’d be teaching yoga in Los Angeles and launching a campaign to make the world a better place, he would have said, “You’re crazy.”

Now, eight years after he began his yoga journey, Hewitt likens his experience to the scene in the movie, “Midnight Cowboy,” when busy city folk unconsciously step over the body of a homeless man on the street.  Then, as if waking from some deep unconscious sleep, the hero, John Voigt, realizes he’s the only one in a sea of people who thinks he should help.

Yoga is a life-long practice that can offer lifetimes of wisdom and personal growth, and at 33, Hewitt is one L.A. based teacher that is raising the standards for young instructors everywhere.

Hewitt walks into the studio, sits down on his shins at the front of the class and introduces himself to new students, making sure to make eye contact with each one.  He begins with an introduction to the day’s class and the reasons for a particular focus.

“On Monday we worked on core exercises, and really went straight into the fire of our bellies.  Today we’re going to use all that hard work we did on Monday to help us start to open up and release the tension, not only physically but beyond the physical, in our hips and low back, a place where we store a lot of emotional and physical baggage.  Let’s begin by tuning into our bodies and observing.”

Sounds relatively easy, right?  That confidence soon dissipates as breath turns into flow, turns into standing posture, turns into long-series-of-standing-postures-on-one-leg, turns into, “Holy jeez, this is a level 2 class?!”

And Hewitt isn’t one to let his students get away with sloppy form.  Every pose in his class has a specific purpose for a specific end result, as he reminds everyone to breathe and remember his/her initial intention.

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Filed under Living, Sweat, Venice Local, Yoga Beat