A little more information

The two main activities in my life: Helping the hungry in the late hours of the night and helping guitar players sound better one amp at a time.

I always try to remember that in order to do good one has to take action and actually do something.

I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I have watched the city and Southern California change for well over half a century.

I can be found on facebook at www.facebook.com/mylesr or on twitter at www.twitter.com/myles111us

As of late 2019 the music related links and prints noted on this page which had their links to by GAB (Guitar Amplifier Blueprinting) website are no longer accessible. I grew weary of updating my GAB website and let it go away. You can contact me on Facebook. Saunders Stewart Models continues full operation but we are not accepting new clients without a referral.

Los Angeles Architectural History

Los Angeles Architectural History
1935 Art Deco at some of its finest: No. 168 - Griffith Observatory- (click on the photo for information)

Monday, March 29, 2010

King Taco ???? - American Idle ????

Today I was somewhat all over the map.  I went to http://www.65amps.com/ in the morning, went back to my place and took the gas piston out of my autoloader shotgun and tossed it into a jar of Slip 2000 choke tube and piston cleaner to let soak while I was gone for the day, jumped on the Metro red line and headed downtown.  I was not sure of my plan for a destination other than I wanted to have lunch in a new place.  When amp work is slower I tend to leverage my postion in this current economy as one of the millions in that new reality show on life ....  American Idle.

Once I arrived at Untion Station I was faced with two options.  North to Pasadena or South to East Los Angeles.  Mexican food seemed to jump into my mind so South I went.

I ended up here ....

These photos will be by waltarrrrr on Flickr as they are better than the photos I took via my cell phone

So ... yes, I ended up at King Taco and folks on facebook were already aware of this as I uploaded info and data in real time.
King Taco.  A chain.  Before you freak out and figure how can a chain be cool think of this for a moment.  These folks started out .... well .... let me grab this from their website
King Taco History:

Founded in 1974, King Taco began its operation from a converted ice cream truck. The Mexican fast food favorite has since expanded to 20 popular locations throughout Los Angeles County. We service a wide variety of authentic Mexican foods, King Taco has been recognized by prominent food critics and has also placed within the top 100 of Hispanic Business Magazine’s “Top 500 Hispanic Businesses.”

Mexican food lovers attribute King Taco’s success to its use of fresh ingredients and consistent quality.

Bottom line....  if these folks can raise enough cash over the long haul to build and expand their chain then they must be doing something right somewhere.

You can see their menu here - http://www.kingtaco.com/menu.html

I was at the 3rd street location in Los Angeles but their other spots can be found here:

A few more shots from today, the below photos are my photos.

That's all for now.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Number of People Living on New York Streets Soars

I have copied this story to post it here.  You can see the original story by clicking on the title of this blog entry which will redirect you to the original story as long as it remains posted.

The percentage of homeless to overall city population in Los Angeles is the highest in the nation.  Perhaps this is due to the more mild weather.  The population figures are mentioned in this article.

Above photo:  A woman sleeping on the street last Christmas Eve in Midtown.   Damon Winter/The New York Times

The Bloomberg administration said Friday that the number of people living on New York’s streets and subways soared 34 percent in a year, signaling a setback in one of the city’s most intractable problems.

Appearing both startled and dismayed by the sharp increase, a year after a significant drop, administration officials attributed it to the recession, noting that city shelters for families and single adults had been inundated.

Robert V. Hess, the commissioner of homeless services, said in a subdued news conference that the city began feeling the increase in its vast shelter system more than two years ago. “And now we’re seeing the devastating effect of this unprecedented poor economy on our streets as well,” Mr. Hess said.

The city’s annual tally indicated an additional 783 homeless people on the streets and in the subway system, for a total of 3,111, up from 2,328 last year. That is in addition to almost 38,000 people living in shelters, which is near the city’s high.

The count came from an annual census of homeless people that is typically conducted on a cold January night, when more than 2,500 volunteers walk the streets and subway system between midnight and 4 a.m. to search for and identify the homeless. It took place this year on Jan. 25.

There were more homeless people found on the streets in every borough. The largest increase was in Brooklyn, where an additional 228 people were counted, more than double the total in January 2009. Manhattan had a 47 percent increase, or 368 more homeless people. In Staten Island, there was an increase of 45 percent, or 54 people; in Queens, a 14 percent increase, or 14 people; and in the Bronx, 6 percent, or 10 people.

Volunteers found 109 additional people — an increase of 11 percent — on subway trains and in stations.

Some of the homeless were found in out-of-the way corners in Queens and Staten Island.

A higher-than-usual concentration of homeless people have been recently seen in Pennsylvania Station. And a pocket of homeless men in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, appears to be new immigrants from Poland, trying to find work as day laborers.

The homeless population on the streets this year was down 29 percent from 2005, the first year of the count. The numbers had been steadily declining each year until the latest tally.

New York officials said the city still had a relatively small population of homeless people on the streets when compared with other large American cities.

There is one homeless person for every 2,688 people in the general New York population, compared with 1 in 154 for Los Angeles, 1 in 1,810 for Chicago and 1 in 1,844 for Washington. Among other cities conducting homeless counts this year, only Seattle, which showed a slight decrease, has so far announced results.

Mr. Hess promised that there would be new measures to encourage more of the homeless to get off the streets and into shelters. In the next month, the city will open two new housing facilities with 105 beds. And street-outreach workers will survey people to help understand why they are homeless.

Mr. Hess said he wanted to allow more people to go directly from the street to a shelter bed without an intake process and to cut out some of the bureaucracy that deterred them from entering shelters.

Tim Marx, the executive director of Common Ground, a nonprofit organization that provides homeless street outreach services in Brooklyn, Queens and parts of Manhattan, said he was not surprised by the increase.

“It just says that we have to keep up our efforts and intensify them,” Mr. Marx said. “The more people we have on the streets, the more they are making demands of our emergency shelter system, emergency rooms, detox centers and jails.”

Bill de Blasio, the public advocate, said he saw the count’s results as a sign that the administration needed to revamp its policies.

“Based on the increase reported today, I hope we can agree that we need to change our approach,” Mr. de Blasio said in a statement. “I continue to believe that we can do more to take on the growing problem of homelessness, including expanding prevention programs, re-examining our housing policies and maintaining support for critical services — such as drop-in centers and faith-based shelter beds — that often are all that stands between single homeless adults and the streets.”

The count has attracted its share of skepticism since it was first conducted in 2005. Advocates for the homeless have questioned the city’s methodology and have frequently accused the administration of underestimating the number.

The city says it follows a national standard and includes decoys as a way to measure the accuracy. The decoys, who are volunteers, station themselves around the city and note whether the official counters come by. In January, 90 percent of the decoys were counted, so the city assumed that 10 percent of the homeless were missed and adjusted its tabulation accordingly.

Last year, city officials said that the count revealed a 30 percent drop in the street homeless population since 2008, an announcement that was made at an elaborate news conference attended by volunteers, formerly homeless people and Linda I. Gibbs, the deputy mayor for health and human services, who spoke briefly.

This year’s event was quiet and spare by comparison. Ms. Gibbs’s commissioner, Mr. Hess, made the announcement in a conference room, seated at a long table.

A version of this article appeared in print on March 20, 2010, on page A1 of the New York edition.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Activity statistics: February 2010 - Union Rescue Mission

The figures are in for February of 2010 and just as expected there was more going on in 2010 than went on in 2009 for the same month.

http://www.urmblog.org/2010/03/17/statistics-update-february-2010/ is the link directly to the Union Rescue Mission report but a few high points are ....

URM= Union Rescue Mission
WSP= Winter Shelters – Downtown, Glendale, Culver City, and West LA
HG= Hope Gardens Family Center

Total Dental Clinic Visits = 515
Total Legal Clinic Visits = 108
Total Mental Health/Counseling Sessions = 131
Total Medical Visits = 637

Meals served:
URM: 80,424 avg/day: 2872 12% increase
WSP: 44,094 avg/day: 1575 (2009 Data only includes 1 winter shelter)
HG: 12,600 avg/day: 450 (same)
Total: 137,118 avg/day: 4897

Nights of Shelter:
URM: 23,851 avg: 852 19% increase
WSP: 20,913 avg: 747 (2009 Data only included Downtown WS)
HG: 3,312 avg: 118
Total: 48,076 avg: 1717

The above link will direct you to the full report with a lot more information and data.  You may also click on the title of this blog entry to be redirected to the official URM website and the complete data.

The crime during a 24 hour period on Skid Row

As the population grows and the heat of the day rises the crime activity seems to increase as well. 

Yesterday the temperature hit almost 90 degrees in downtown Los Angeles.  A week or two ago the area had cold weather and rain.  The folks from Union Rescue Mission were out in force passing out cold water bottles to the people on the street.  As the temperature rises the level of discomfort and well being increases as well.  URM is out there on the street helping as many people as they are able to help using their own limited resources.  As a point of interest, the population of homeless in Los Angeles is larger than the population of Santa Barbara.  This is not a small problem.

Photos above from Andy Bales / Union Rescue Mission

As more people loose their jobs and their homes the population on the streets show an increase.  There is a group of people on the street now that is on the rise, the group of recently employed people and families who had a home only weeks ago.  As a new group of people come onto the scene the crime rises to take advantage of some of the new people that have little but still have more than the base population. 

To give people an idea of the crime around the area of Skid Row within about one mile of Union Rescue Mission (http://www.urm.org/) I will list the crimes that were responded to by the police in Central Division yesterday.  Make a mental note; this was just the crime from a single day over a 24 hour period in a small area of Skid Row.

These are the crimes, the location, date / time and case ID numbers.

Burglary 2XX S Broadway 03-15-2010 08:00:00 PM #100107801
Personal / Other Theft 5XX W 5th St 03-15-2010 04:20:00 PM #100107762
Personal / Other Theft 5th St and Broadway 03-15-2010 05:45:00 PM #100107763
Personal / Other Theft 7th and Hope 03-16-2010 04:30:00 PM #100107804
Personal / Other Theft 11th and San Pedro 03-16-2010 10:40:00 AM #101308848
Aggravated Assault 5XX San Pedro St 03-16-2010 09:30:00 AM #100107777
Aggravated Assault 7th and San Julian 03-15-2010 06:50:00 PM #100107758
Aggravated Assault 6th St and Stanford 03-16-2010 07:30:00 AM #100107770
Grand Theft Auto 7th and Towne 03-15-2010 06:00:00 PM #101308813

This was a somewhat quiet 24 hour period.   As the economy forces more people out on the street and the population of the homeless increases the problems on many fronts increase.  At this time of budget cuts any help from the city is being reduced if not eliminated altogether.  Organizations such as Union Rescue Mission, The Los Angeles Mission, The Midnight Mission and other missions need your help now more than ever.  I typically steer people who either need help or people who are in a position to give help in the form of donations or time to Union Rescue Mission as I admire their staff, the way they operate and how far they can stretch a dollar.  If you are in a position to help financially go to their website at http://urm.org/get-involved/ or if you wish to donate items such as clothes this can be done at their San Pedro address directly to their loading dock.

The problem is not getting any smaller with the increase in the numbers of homeless.  If you can become involved in almost any manner it will help those less fortunate.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A bit of life on the street today from Andy Bales of Union Rescue Mission

A little bit from Andy Bales or http://www.urm.org/ that was posted on facebook along with some commentary by some folks in regard to what Andy said.

Above photo by Andy Bales.  His commentary:  Here is a drug deal happening across the street from my office. Chaos, drug deals, wads of money, fights all day.

Some commentary from other folks in response to Andy: 

Jack Roman Almost a little like having free HBO?

Rebecca Happy I suppose you see this all day long.

Jack Roman I used to live right in the midst of it. Spent a year homeless. I don't know --- I mean, there is something good in the bonds formed on the streets --- but then again, there's an element of bad in all of it as well. You just don't know unless you've really been there, and I've been there. I'd never give it back for the world.

Andy Bales Yes, unfortunately. My friend and I broke up a tussle over money between two large men earlier in the day. Oh yes, Jack. I always call the police when I see crime in front of our building or near my house. I hate to see people with wads of money made by preying on desperate people. That is how I have been pretty successful in cleaning up my neighborhood and Skid Row. They call me Captain underpants in my neighborhood for running out in my undies and rescuing folks while calling the cops for back up.

A little later there was another post from Andy.  He wrote:  :  LAPD is having a difficult time responding 2 drug sales across street because man's on Huntington Hotel on Main taking pot shots with gun!

Jack Roman You really called the cops on them?

Andy Bales Yes, and I took pictures and made a video of the drug deal and the wads of money being exchanged.

Andy Bales Jack. I always call the police when I see crime in front of our building or near my house. I hate to see people with wads of money made by preying on desperate people. That is how I have been pretty successful in cleaning up my neighborhood and Skid Row. They call me Captain underpants in my neighborhood for running out in my undies and rescuing folks while calling the cops for back up.

Margaret White Great job Andy. " Captain underpants" LOL

Paul Japar Rigor Be safe Andy!

Aura Guzman Andy i Appreciate what you do at the mission...me and my family are very gratefull. You are our hero and when i get my APt..i want the whole wide world to know that it was all from you...thanks:)


The above is just a small taste of what goes on each and every day in the area of skid row. 

In the past I have posted a few photos of the police presence.  You rarely see one or two cars when there is any sort of problem.  You generally see many more cars.  Some of the local police from Central Division say that San Julian Street is the most dangerous street in the USA.  The "backside" of URM sits right on San Julian Street.

Above:  Notice this news van is parked in the red.  What is not easily noticed is that this red no parking area is on 6th Street in front of the police station main entrance.  The police allow the news van to stay there as there is continual activity in the area.

San Julian Street and the back side of Union Rescue Mission

Just a small situation.  How can you tell?  Only three police cars.

Five cars at this point.  Things became a little more serious and three cars could not cover the situation.

The end for the moment.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Is to have lived and lost is better or worse than to have never lived at all?

Today I am sitting for a while after spending the first part of the day with my two boys. We went out to lunch and just hung out a little. I came back home to get a bit of healing time under my belt as I have an injury or two that are on the mend.

Lunch today was downtown at Phillipe’s and on the way back to the boys house we drove through a bit of Skid Row as it is very close to where we had our lunch.

The more I interact with the homeless the more complex my thoughts on the subject become. Which group has things more difficult? What do I mean by group? I put people into my own groups of traits. There are the long term residents of the street. The people with mental problems. The new residents of the street. Those that never had anything. Those who were abused or tossed away. Those who had a life and lost everything. You can create a lot of groups in your mind. There is overlap in traits at times and sometimes no overlap of traits at all.

Today I thought of the group I call the "new" homeless. These folks all share a few traits such as they now have no stability in their life. In many cases it is a matter of economics of the day. They had a home and lost it. With no money for storage, many have lost most everything that brought them comfort and security. No house means no place to store all those memories such as their child’s first art projects, things they built themselves and countless memories that were taken for granted but gave them comfort. No more music while sitting in a comfortable old chair as they listen to their children play or even argue. No paintings on their walls … they no longer have walls.

Life is now more animalistic. Day to day survival is the order of the day … and night as well. All that was procured during a life is either gone or has no place to be stored or has been sold. Basic food and shelter are the first orders of business. This is not a set of insurmountable problems. There is food at the missions and shelters and when one is tired enough you can collapse and sleep anywhere. Old timers on the streets understand these things. New street residents will learn these things fast enough themselves.

Many long term residents do not have the sense of loss that most new time residents have. Some long term folks have lost the thoughts of the past. Some never had anything to loose. Some have mental issues and this may or may not be thoughts in their head. Some have turned to drugs and alcohol to forget.

New time residents have the daily survival issues and perhaps even more on their mind. New time street people were recently productive, recently had a home and stable life. In their own mind many now consider themselves a disappointment to themselves even though their circumstances are not their fault. They are under the pressure looking into the eyes of their family. You can think of one example after another. I wonder; to have lived and lost is better or worse than to have never lived at all? A twist of words on an old saying.

Higher education on the street has less value as there are too many competent and educated people competing for too few jobs. Formal education cannot help one survive on the streets. Formal education cannot bring peace, serenity, comfort or security as these things come from having a home … a stable environment, a place where you have some of the things that your family, friends and others you have been involved with in your life have placed around you or you have placed in your home. Having most if not all the things that made a home for you taken away is more stressful than many can possibly imagine. The situation is more akin to being an animal trying to survive day to day than it is to being a human being with friends, family and home in their life.

The more time I spend on the streets the more I feel I have been able to empathize with those I meet on a regular basis. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. Sometimes I feel I am making a difference. Sometimes I feel as if I am helping. At other times I feel that I am doing little more than feeding the residents of some sort of cosmic zoo where the animals are in cages and I am able to fool myself into not looking too closely at my own cage. Some have the small cage of an alley, some have a shelter or bed for the night as their cage but some of us are in the same zoo and look the other way when they close the main entrance of the zoo for the evening … with some of us locked on the inside which we try to block out from our vision. The zoo and these cages are things we build in our own mind even though in many cases other people have put us there. These other people seem to have no conscience. They seem not to be able to reflect on their own actions. They have developed the ability to rationalize things in a way to allow them to sleep at night.




In case you were wondering where I may have come up with the zoo reference see the photos above.

As we move into March the winter shelters are closing. One more layer of problems for many of the homeless, new and old hands on the street. 12.5% unemployment rate reported yesterday in California. Talk to ten organizations and you get ten different figures. The report yesterday said they “found” 300,000 people out of work who were previously uncounted. Some say the rate of unemployment is dropping. If you believe that nonsense hit the streets for a few days each month and observe reality.

In closing my thoughts for now I would like to thank Union Rescue Mission once again. They are trying to address the closing issues of the winter shelters and from where I sit it looks like they have an uphill battle. Still, they are effective folks and might be able to pull off a hat trick. If you want to try to help you can go to their website at http://www.urm.org/ as they have some places on their website to write to the proper people to voice your thoughts on the winter shelter problem as well as other issues.

Please excuse all my typing errors, spelling errors, grammar and phrasing errors. It has been a long and hard week. I post a lot of my daytime activities on facebook with fun videos, photos and dialogue but at night I have a more serious side to my life, helping folks out there one granola bar at a time.

I will end this bit of writing by repeating what I wrote above earlier. Is to have lived and lost is better or worse than to have never lived at all?