Monday, January 30, 2012

How to be an urban observer and not look like a pedofile

I am taking a physical planning class and most of the projects are about really "getting to know" a neighborhood. We were supposed to pick a place in LA of which we had no prior knowledge, so I chose a little area in Venice that is supposed to be an arts district. Unfortunately, I got screwed because I split the area with another chick in the class (who later dropped) and got stuck with part of the 'hood that has maybe one art gallery, only two restaurants and is dominated by an elementary school.

The next assignment is to truly understand the land uses and interactions of people with the built environment, which includes documenting the comings and goings and demographics of the neighborhood, morning, afternoon and night. Well guess what? Kids will be going to school in the morning and you know what else? Kids will be leaving school in the afternoon. So my assignment is to profile the coming and going of kids ages 5-10.  Maybe I should just borrow my dad's glasses from the 70s and grow a mustache then call Chris Hanson from NBC and dare him to catch me. Maybe I should just dress like a Catholic priest? I'm talking about sitting for hours and staring at people who all are still in the single-digit age group here!

I decided to do some research to see what constitutes female pedofiles, and use that as "what not to do" examples. Turns out, most ladies who want to rob the cradle are targeting boys in high school. The instances of disturbed women looking at elementary schools for victims is a rarity. So when a concerned parent (or cop) comes up to me after creeping on their children, I can confidently say that I do not fit the female pedofile profile, but would they need a babysitter ever? I'm a student and short on cash.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

U-Spunk: Koreatown

spelunking |spiˈlə ng ki ng |
noun. the exploration of caves, esp. as a hobby.

urban |ˈərbən|
adjective. in, relating to, or characteristic of a city or town : the urban population.

Urban Spelunking aka U-Spunk
noun. UCLA's foremost student-run organization concerned with exploring the urban jungle.

Last night was the second official U-Spunk adventure. Being urban planners, my fellow colleagues and I are interested in exploring the built environment in which we are currently residing. This includes taking public transit and immersing ourselves in the history and culture of different neighborhoods (booze is a BIG part of most cultures, fyi). The chosen neighborhood of exploration last night was Koreatown.

Our fearless leader, officially titled, Mythological Leader, guided a group of 30+ and growing from the safe haven of Westwood Village onto the 720 bus and into K-Town at Wilshire and Western.  I was coming down with a cold and only made it to the first of 14 stops that evening, but this included an overview of the area demographics; a hike up to the top of a parking garage where we learned about soju and subsequently drank soju; a walk by a "Hostess Bar" and the officially titled, Hardcore Street Bitch, giving us sobering insight into the world of human sex trafficing; a stop at local bar, Frank and Hanks; authentic Korean food and more soju and rice wine at the very, very Korean (we were the only group of people that weren't Korean, save our Korean exchange student) establishments of Toe Bang and Dang Sung Sa.

On our way to get some Seoul food!
Learning about our urban environment
Unfortunately, I missed out on some fun stops. One being the Korean tradition of passing around a bottle of whiskey (note: not actually a Korean tradition). Can't wait till the next urban adventure!

Sunday, January 15, 2012


I suck at blogging.  But I'm back from Winter Break, and I vow to at least post once a week. I hope...
Speaking of Winter Break, it was awesome. It ended with a kick-ass party with all the MURPs (Master of Urban and Regional Planning kids). I got to see family, lots of friends, went to San Francisco, Mexico City, Costa Rica and Chicago. For a quick recap of the Indian wedding I attended in Costa Rica, see this blog post.

El Zócalo in Mexico City

View from the Go Go House in Domincal, Costa Rica

For Urban Planning Grad School Quarter Number Two, I am taking four classes. This quarter is going to be rough. More later.