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Old February 11th, 2012, 07:02 AM   #501
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Old April 19th, 2012, 07:35 AM   #502
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LA Silicon Beach Startups In Tech & Film Spread To The Eastside

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Los Angeles’s nascent tech startup scene has gained steam as a hub for fledgling companies trying to create the next Angry Birds or Instagram. A burgeoning group of accelerator and incubator programs focused in Santa Monica and Venice has fostered the growth of a tech community, known as Silicon Beach.

Now the L.A. tech boom is making its way to the Eastside. io/LA, which opened in early April in Hollywood, is one of the few incubator programs trying to tap directly into the network of entrepreneurs based further east.

"We're sort of positioning ourselves as an alternative to the Westside,” says co-founder Donovan Leitch. “There's bound to be some people who don't live in Santa Monica, Culver City and Venice who are commuting every day. We want to tap into that community.”

The founders of io/LA want to merge entertainment and tech businesses by bringing entrepreneurs from both sectors under the same roof. Film directors, producers and screenwriters can bounce ideas off video game designers and computer programmers – and vise versa – to collaborate to make new products. They call it a “physical social network.”

Part of io/LA’s strategy is to draw on the talent from the entrepreneurs from the big studios and companies, along with people honing their skills at nearby universities such as Cal Tech, USC and Harvey Mudd.

io/LA’s founders want their first three-month incubator program to turn four-to-five startups into viable companies that harness the city’s entertainment and tech industries. The startups get $25,000 for 8 percent of the company, along with access to mentorship from industry veterans. The goal is to get the businesses ready to pitch for second-seed funding by the program’s end. “We’re trying to give them everything they need to be laser-focused on starting a company,” says co-founder Aber Whitcomb.

The focus on tech and innovation comes as old media companies like movie studios are struggling to adapt to new media epitomized by YouTube. "There's a demand for technology in Los Angeles," Leitch says. "As you've got these old media companies in there last death knells, there's a new energy here."

Incubators and accelerators are crucial especially for entrepreneurs who want to network and collaborate, but might otherwise work from home in isolation, says Greg Cohn, an investor who was formerly the head of Yahoo! Games. He’s lived in L.A. for about a decade and has seen the emergence of an “ecosystem” of entrepreneurs and some angel investors. "Those $25,000, $30,000 and $100,000 checks make a big difference for someone who's trying to get a company off the ground," he says. That funding helps tech people keep the lights on while they develop business models.

But until recently, Eastside has not been as well served, Cohn says. He and his business partner Alex Benzer recently started SilverLakeHQ, a small office space in L.A.’s trendy Silver Lake neighborhood that operates like a co-op for startups.

While SilverLakeHQ does not fund startups, it offers workspace, networking events, collaboration and guidance for its group of member companies. One of their startups, Green Business Base Camp, offers educational services for green tech companies.

Benzer’s venture, SocialEngine, helps companies create their own social networking sites; with only 11 employees, it has 9,000 customers and did $1.4 million in revenue last year. He developed the company for four years in isolation before getting picked up by Tech Stars, an incubator program in Boulder, Co.

At Tech Stars, he received funding, improved his product and created another site called FanMix. He and Cohn, who met at Tech Stars, both loved Los Angeles’s Eastside and wanted to recreate the collaborative spirit there.
“Greg especially knew there was a high volume of creative people on the Eastside working for studios or larger tech companies that wanted to leave and work on startups," Benzer says.

While Santa Monica has more buzz, Benzer says, it’s hard to find the right people to work with because there is already so much competition among companies vying for the talent. “Greg and I see the Eastside as a kind of blue water,” he says.

Even with all the excitement, Los Angeles still can’t compete with the Bay Area. The L.A./Orange County region received nearly $2 billion in VC funding in 2011, but was dwarfed by Silicon Valley’s $11 billion.

"The investors here are a lot more risk averse,” says Nik Bauman of subscription coffee company Tonx. “They're less willing to float pure technology companies because they don't have the network to flip those companies and make a return."

As a result, the Eastside has a shortage of early-stage investors, with the exception of some like Pasadena Angels. While that has made it difficult for companies to raise money, Benzer argues startups in Los Angeles are more focused on revenue.

Bauman says Tonx tries to avoid the glitz of the startup culture. "There's a glamour around being a startup, which we don't really need to embrace," he says. "We want to be a part of the entrepreneurial community, but it's not our identity."

Bauman and co-founder Tony Konecny created an example of a web-based startup with a physical product: fresh specialty coffee. They’re trying to push coffee in the same direction of craft beer, which has enjoyed a surge in specialty products. "I've been pulling my hair out for years,” says Konecny. “The general quality of the coffee at the specialty level has gone way up, but the consumer experience is still, wait in line at a coffee bar and roll the dice."

To Greg Cohn and Alex Benzer, Tonx embodies the spirit of the Eastside startup scene. It’s a revenue-focused company with a simple business model, not to mention an eco-friendly hipster edge. What fits better with the Eastside’s do-it-yourself ethos than at-home specialty coffee from a locally based website? “They might be our first breakout success,” Cohn says. “We’re looking for people who are giving back to the community.”
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Old April 19th, 2012, 12:45 PM   #503
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DAMNIT, VZN! YOU LEAD THE WAY!!
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Old April 21st, 2012, 03:12 AM   #504
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Originally Posted by milquetoast View Post
DAMNIT, VZN! YOU LEAD THE WAY!!
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Old April 23rd, 2012, 12:17 AM   #505
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Co-founder Donovan Leitch? As in Sunshine Superman?
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Old April 29th, 2012, 02:13 PM   #506
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DREAM STREET U.S.A., SOUTH LOS ANGELES
.
LATIMES
.
"People say South L.A. is in the condition it's in because people don't take care of the neighborhood," Joanne Kim told supporters of the Community Coalition. One look at the residential streets just off burned-out commercial corridors puts the lie to that myth.

On April 21, Kim, the chief operating officer of the coalition, and other activists took supporters of the organization through many of the neighborhoods that were hardest-hit 20 years ago in the violence that followed the not-guilty verdicts in the police beating of Rodney King.

The coalition was organized in the months prior to the riots in order to address the epidemic of crack cocaine and violence that was destroying the neighborhoods. After the fires were put out, the activists mobilized and prevented the rebuilding of 150 liquor stores, many of which had become the headquarters of much of the drug abuse and violence in the 1980s and 1990s.

Residents still talk about how life has improved without the liquor stores. "They say they can finally walk out of their houses," Kim said.

"Home ownership is a really big deal here," coalition President and CEO Marqueece Dawson-Harris said. "Homes are kept up."
.
Still, despite the perfectly manicured lawns, the swept sidewalks, the near-instantaneous removal of grafitti, and the tidy tile-roofed houses painted in pistachio, butterscotch and strawberry, the big avenues and boulevards -- the ones in the hands of big commercial real-estate owners -- are depressing. Although many of the liquor stores are gone, Figueroa and Western are lined with motels with hourly rates, and young prostitutes battling addiction hover nearby.

"There is a lot of work still to be done," Harris-Dawson said.
.
ROBERT GREENE
LOSANGELESTIMES
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Old May 1st, 2012, 07:33 PM   #507
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Well it seems they've held up their end of the deal. Perhaps they should hire "gentrifiers" as actors once a week to come and walk their dogs, push their strollers and jog. Then city services will miraculously get better and the boulevards will begin to employ corporate namesakes as well as mom and pop cafes and beer gardens alike. Hell, they may even get a goddamed bike lane!
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Old May 2nd, 2012, 08:46 AM   #508
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It's been that way there in much of the area for years.
I was there in Watts before there was a South Central
and before there was a baby Klams and the streets were
cleaner than where I grew up.
Not that I grew up in Beverly Hills but everyone took
care of their own and had pride, and I see they still do!
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Old June 12th, 2012, 06:01 PM   #509
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Why Los Angeles Will Outpace Silicon Valley As The Tech Startup Capital

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When I moved to Los Angeles in 2008 from San Francisco, I wasn’t very excited about the move because I’m a technologist and moving away from the tech hub of the world to the land of Botox seemed like a really bad career move. I assumed that the people of Los Angeles were disingenuous, attention whores and didn’t know anything about technology.

My husband coerced me into moving to SoCal because he would rather get a tattoo of Tinkerbell than rent an over-priced faux-loft in San Francisco. He asserted that the Web 2.0 or tech startup people do the same thing day after day, go to the same bars, the same coffee shops and work on products that aren’t discernible from a pet rock, and are geared toward the same 100 bot followed Twitter celebrities that are stuck together with gorilla glue on a postage stamp.

I didn’t agree with him, of course, because I was having a great time riding my bike 1.2 miles every day to my favorite coffee shop and then to the music marketing tech startup where I worked. After a day of tweeting all of the awesome agile releases we did, I would head to my favorite bar in the Mission District and hangout with web celebrities hoping they would mention my name when they tweeted.

Once I moved my pod of stuff to the beach in Los Angeles, my world opened up like a fairytale pop-up book. My view on what was technically possible through the eyes of graffiti artists, photographers, entertainers, musicians, talented technologists and even surfers while having a 10 mile radius of personal space looked a lot more interesting. I began to realize that only hanging out with technologists allowed for a very narrow view on the world and that living within 46.9 square miles versus 100 times that was akin to living in an Amish community and trying to comment on the new Tesla Model X. Or a fish bowl, take your pick.

In 2010 I co-founded a tech startup and began to meet other people in the LA startup community and was pleasantly surprised to discover how many there were–and I was pleased to see how many are run by women. AngelList, a community of startups, lists 1400 startups and 1300 investors in LA and that’s just a subset of the total number.

Recently The Lean LA Startup Circle hosted a panel of LA Incubators led by the a well know Silicon Valley based Angel Investor, Dave McClure. Other than the fact the panel was all white men (something Dave pointed out and said that there is a real opportunity for women and people of color to start an incubator) it was very well moderated and full of useful nuggets for aspiring LA entrepreneurs.

Some of those accelerators and incubators are listed here: and here.

The panelists discussed how much they fund, the kinds of companies they fund, what the LA tech scene is like and the LA based startups they really like:

* ChowNow – meal ordering platform for restaurants
* look.io – real-time support plugin for mobile apps
* Tapshare – social photo sharing
* BetterWorks – employee recognition and rewards platform
* gonna be – stealth

A few others were mentioned but they didn’t come up on the first page of Google Search. Three letters: S – E – O

As you can see, these startups are very diverse and I don’t see a compelling reason for them to be built in the Silicon Valley when they are getting funding and support in LA.

Dave McClure pointed out that LA is prime for entertainment startups because it has celebrity, music and media, and distribution. Ignoring the pigeon hole statement, it’s true that LA can do a better job of taking advantage of its assets, but it also has a thriving outdoor community, ethnic diversity, geographic diversity, just to name a few.

So, what does LA need to really get on the map in the world of tech startups and not just the home of Botox connoisseurs? Dave said BS to needing more tech talent (+1 from me); instead LA needs tech talent that is interested in entrepreneurship. We also need prominent investors such as Mark Suster of GRP Partners to speak up about the opportunities in Los Angeles, and for the startup community to take the reins and educate, train and mentor technologists interested in entrepreneurship. And for those that need coffee shops to work out of, LA has quite a few that house world barista champions.

Fantastic weather, lots of space, entertainment and media experts, and lots of tech talent means that Los Angeles is fast becoming the city of choice to run a tech startup.

If you’re interested in the wide open spaces of Los Angeles, sometimes referred to as ‘Silicon Beach’ but we’ll just ignore that, and want to engage in its thriving tech community, there are plenty of ways to do it:

* Read the blog socaltech and their event listings - http://www.socaltech.com/
* Checkout meetups such as 106 Miles – SoCal Edition - http://www.meetup.com/106MilesSoCal/
* The Los Angeles Lean Startup Circle - http://www.meetup.com/Los-Angeles-Lean-Startup-Circle/
* Follow the StartupBus traveling right now from LA to SXSW - http://startupbus.com/americas/tribes/los-angeles
* silverlakehq hosts startup pitch events - http://slhq.org/
* Feel free to reach out to me too.
Click on the article to access the links within.
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Old June 12th, 2012, 06:06 PM   #510
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Represent.LA Maps the LA Tech Startup Community

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Back in March I wrote the bold post, ‘Why Los Angeles Will Outpace the Silicon Valley As The Startup Capital.’ The response to the article has been overwhelmingly positive. I have received countless emails from LA tech startup companies and entrepreneurs interested in setting up shop in LA.

Recently I spoke at Farmhouse Conference and my topic was Mapping the LA Tech Scene.‘ During the talk I created a low-fi map using foamcore board and post-it notes of some of the Tech Startups, VCs and Incubators in LA.

It seemed a shame to leave all the great information on a board in my house and decided that a digital map needed to be created. I approached Alex Benzer, founder of Social Engine and Silver Lake HQ, and asked if he wanted to help me out. He had been noodling about creating an LA tech map for quite some time so it was perfect timing to make it happen. Over the past month we’ve been working on the map in our spare time and now we are ready to release Represent.LA.

We’ve categorized the map by Startups, Accelerators, Incubators, Coworking Spaces and VCs & Angels. We collected the data from Crunchbase, SoCalTech, AngelList and Silcon Beach Fest but it’s far from complete (AngelList lists over 1400 startups and we only have 255 so far) and that’s where the LA Tech Startup Community comes in.



We have a submission form on the website where companies can easily add themselves to the map, as well as badges that anyone can add to their website and link back to Represent.LA.

This is truly a community effort and we hope that it helps to promote the fantastic and inspiring LA Tech Startup Community.
http://represent.la/

It seems many of the startups are located on the beach (no surprises there) with the rest scattered around DTLA, Hollywood and the South Bay...
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Old August 11th, 2012, 01:34 PM   #511
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You are most welcome, John Smiths.
Please to show us your credentials, comrade


All you have to do is study the current Curiousity mission,
how the orbiter caught the MSL parachute from above,
how the MSL landed just over a mile from its intended mark,
after traveling 150 million miles, how JPL basically threaded
the needle just to get it there without a scratch basically,
to know that people in our city take certain things seriously!

And we excel at these things above everyone else!
.
THIS IS WHAT WE DO.
.
NASA/JPL

Last edited by milquetoast; August 11th, 2012 at 01:58 PM.
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Old August 15th, 2012, 06:41 PM   #512
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Los Angeles losing the core of its TV production to other states

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The five broadcast television networks will be rolling out 23 new one-hour dramas for the upcoming season. That would normally be good business for Hollywood's hometown industry — with bookings for soundstages and plenty of work for the costumers, camera operators and caterers needed to put a show on the air.

But not this year. Just two of the 23 new fall and midseason shows will be shot in Los Angeles County, as cost-conscious producers seek tax-friendly production havens in New York, North Carolina, Georgia and other states.

The exodus has been going on for years, especially in feature film production. But television dramas such as"CSI,""Criminal Minds"and"Desperate Housewives"have long been anchors of Los Angeles' entertainment economy, helping to offset the decade-long slide in moviemaking. One 22-episode-a-year network series has a budget of $60 million and generates 840 direct and indirect jobs, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.

PHOTOS: Hollywood back lot moments

That economic bang is beginning to fizzle. Fewer than 10% of new network dramas this season are based in Los Angeles, down from 50% in 2010 and nearly 80% in 2005.

"The loss of hourlong dramas is very significant," said Kevin Klowden, director of the California Center at the Milken Institute, noting that a typical drama shoots for eight to nine months, compared with just six to eight weeks for a film. "This is the heart of television production. If this continues, you're going to see a direct impact on the employment base of Los Angeles."

Though L.A. still hosts the bulk of new half-hour comedies and reality shows, dramas are more prized because they use bigger crews and have bigger budgets. That translates to more spending in the local economy.

PHOTOS: Hollywood back lot moments

Repercussions from the downturn are being felt across the local film and TV industry, putting the squeeze on prop houses and other businesses that rely on production and creating growing hardship for the grips, location managers and other crew members who are finding it harder to get work in the entertainment capital of the world.

David Henke is one of them. For most of his career, the 52-year-old location manager rarely went more than a month without a job. The Sylmar resident earned more than $100,000 a year working on such TV shows as"Nip/Tuck"and "Deadliest Warrior."

But Henke hasn't worked in more than a year, squeaking by on unemployment checks and what's left of his retirement savings.

"Everything has gone out of town," he said.

Like many in Hollywood, Henke has family members who are also in the business, and they're hurting too.

His wife, Carol, who runs a film location business, was forced to close her office after receipts dropped from $300,000 in 2010 to $40,000 last year. And Henke's brother-in-law, Cliff Rogers, a longtime production supervisor and producer, has been jobless for a year.

Rogers, 60, who began his career working for the late TV producer Aaron Spelling, moved to Georgia last year to work on the drama"Necessary Roughness" but lost his job when new producers came in and hired a different crew. When he returned to Los Angeles, he found there was no work.

"The bank foreclosed on my house in April, I declared bankruptcy a year ago, [and] I'm living in my mother-in-law's house," said Rogers, who has been joined by his two grown sons, one of them an assistant director who is also out of work. "Every time I call one of my friends, they say: 'Not right now, Cliff. We'll keep you in mind.'"

Bill Myer lost his home too, and now shares an apartment in Van Nuys with six colleagues who are in similar straits. The 52-year-old makeup artist used to earn $150,000 a year working on movies like "Cast Away" and TV series including "Baywatch."

"I'm about ready to go hit the highway, stick out my thumb and move to Louisiana just so I can go back to work," he said. "It's like Hollywood has run away from home."

Myer and others have gotten help from the Actors Fund, a nonprofit group that provides assistance to distressed entertainment industry workers. Last year, the fund awarded $1 million in emergency aid for such things as buying groceries and paying rent — about triple the amount in 2007, said Keith McNutt, director of the Western region for the fund.

"We're seeing a lot of people who just aren't making it anymore," he said.

Although precise figures are not available, some of Hollywood's below-the-line unions say at least 30% of their members are unemployed.

"The impact has been drastic on our members," said Ed Brown, business agent for Local 44 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, which represents prop makers, set decorators and special-effects workers. "The loss of one-hour dramas has caused a major spike in unemployment because they crew so many people."

IATSE and other entertainment unions have been lobbying lawmakers in Sacramento to extend California's film tax credit program, which is set to expire next year. But the program has struggled to compete with more generous incentives in other states. New York offers four times as much in tax credits as California and recently tripled the credit for post-production work.

New York had a record year for TV production last year and is on track to repeat in 2012. More than half a dozen new fall and midseason network dramas are expected to shoot in New York this season, including the CW's"The Carrie Diaries,"CBS'"Elementary" andABC's"666 Park Avenue."

At least seven new broadcast dramas will be shooting in Canada, includingABC's"Zero Hour," in Montreal, and "Hannibal" and"Beauty and the Beast,"both in Toronto, which also hosts the new drama "The L.A. Complex," about a group of actors trying to make it in Hollywood. Other new dramas are being filmed in North Carolina, Georgia, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Tennessee.

To be sure, creative reasons also factor in the decision-making. It made sense to shoot"Dallas"in Texas because the story is based there. But tax credits offered by Texas were also important, said Michael Robin, an executive producer on the series, who is also a producer on the new cable crime drama "Longmire," which is set in Wyoming but filmed in New Mexico, partly to take advantage of tax credits.

"The cost of producing these shows goes up every year, but the bottom line doesn't," said Robin, who is also producing the new cable drama"Major Crimes"locally. "The tax credits help close the gap."

"The reality is, as long as Sacramento continues to balk at having real incentives, we're going to continue to lose the most lucrative forms of television and film production," said Paul Audley, president of FilmL.A. Inc., the nonprofit group that handles permits for the city and county. "We're losing tens of thousands of jobs to New York."

Even before the latest TV downturn, the local jobs climate was bleak, partly because of studio cutbacks caused by the recession but also because of the long-term effects of production flight. A report by the Milken Institute estimated that California lost more than 36,000 film industry jobs and $2.4 billion in wages between 1997 and 2008, which it attributed mainly to the effects of so-called runaway production.

Some local craftspeople are making contingency plans.

Elion Olson, an assistant director on"The Defenders"and "Criminal Minds," has worked sporadically since Christmas. When he and his wife ran out of money to buy groceries, they moved to Alabama temporarily to live with her parents.

The 41-year-old North Hollywood resident recently returned to L.A. to work part time on an ABC show. But he isn't banking on a long-term career in the business.

He recently began taking courses to become a scuba diving instructor.
WTF, we're back at this again?
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Old August 16th, 2012, 03:09 PM   #513
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DAMNIT, VZN! YOU'RE TOO AWESOME!!
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Old August 17th, 2012, 03:41 AM   #514
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VZN View Post
Why Los Angeles Will Outpace Silicon Valley As The Tech Startup Capital



Click on the article to access the links within.
Actually Los Angeles is 10 times larger than SF....not 100 as the writer says.
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Old August 17th, 2012, 06:45 AM   #515
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Actually Los Angeles is 10 times larger than SF....not 100 as the writer says.
maybe LA county vs. SF county. (87 times)
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Old August 17th, 2012, 10:27 PM   #516
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saiholmes View Post
maybe LA county vs. SF county. (87 times)
SF county is only the boundaries of the city while LA county holds 88 cities. Not a fair comparison. I believe he was referring to the city of sf and the metropolitan area of LA which is very common but a very stupid thing to do. As if San Jose and the Silicon Valley don't exist which is why this article was printed in the first place. To compare LA's "silicon beach" to the Bay area's silicon valley.
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Old August 19th, 2012, 12:29 AM   #517
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Hi guys ... ...

I must ask you a favor ... ...

I'm trying ... the places where they filmed the movie Indecent Proposal ...
http://www.google.it/imgres?q=propos...9,r:5,s:0,i:89


Specifically I would like to see via google maps and / or street view the house designed by David Murphy and blue wash of the opening scene ....

something ... you know?

I tried to "travel" with google but I'm lost ....

places ... should be those shown here:
http://www.imdb.it/title/tt0107211/locations

thank you thank you thank you ....
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Old August 20th, 2012, 12:57 PM   #518
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This isn't really on topic, but the house being
built by Woody Harrelson's character in the movie
"Indecent Proposal" seems to be mock-up on a bluff.

There is the Greystone Mansion, where Robert Redford
took Demi Moore to impress her about a home he was
thinking of buying or thinking of giving her (I can't re-
member, 1993) or the Huntington Library in San Marino
where Redford's character was supposed to live.
.
.
The pier that Woody Harrelson proposes to Demi Moore
on at the end is in Malibu, the Paradise Cove Pier.

Last edited by milquetoast; August 22nd, 2012 at 07:59 AM.
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Old August 20th, 2012, 01:08 PM   #519
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Quote:
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Coming in from Italy?
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Old August 20th, 2012, 04:37 PM   #520
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Central and South American community thrives in the Valley

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It was a tough game that almost came to fisticuffs when one player fouled another. But in the end, it was the red-shirted Salvadorans who beat the Mexicans, 4-2, during a recent adult league soccer game at Delano Recreation Center in Van Nuys.

Giovanni Molina, the top scorer with two goals, celebrated at a sidewalk grill where the Nunez family was frying handmade pupusas, a doughy, cheese-and-bean-filled tortilla sold on every corner back home in El Salvador.

Molina bought six — three for dinner and three more for tomorrow's lunch. Four years ago, the 23-year-old crossed two borders and settled here, in the heart of the San Fernando Valley.

"Back home, I had no future. Now I have work. I have my team," said Molina, who swings a hammer on a construction crew. "And I still have a little bit of home."

Indeed, the greater Van Nuys area, with its apartment-rich neighborhoods, has become a thriving hub not of Mexican immigrants as much as Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, Ecuadoreans and Peruvians. They are blending into towns next door — Panorama City, North Hollywood and Reseda — to form a sprawling colony of sorts.

Recent studies show how the stream of Mexican immigrants to California is slowing, and residents, educators and business owners in the central San Fernando Valley say they see that happening. But in their place, a bustling Central and South American community is taking root.

Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than along Delano Street, just west of the Van Nuys Civic Center, where vendors ply the sidewalks outside apartment houses selling pupusas, fried plantains and a vinegary slaw called curtido, all Salvadoran specialties.

Elvira Melgoza, who sells fresh fruit, vegetables, canned foods and candy from three large produce trucks on Delano Street, says Guatemalans have taken the place of Mexican neighbors who used to dominate the block.

On a recent day of triple-digit weather, a steady stream of women pushing strollers made their way to the back of Melgoza's truck to buy mangoes, papayas, peaches, water and Top Ramen noodles.

Her biggest-selling item? Calling cards, Melgoza said with a wide grin.

"Mucho for Guatemala!'' she said. "Mucho!"

In the local churches, community events often focus on heaping buffets, a Guatemalan tradition, and less on the grilled meats, energetic folklorico and brass music favored by Mexican families. And at Delano Recreation Center, Mexican teams that used to dominate the adult soccer league now account for only 35%, recreation director Ramon Cerrillos said.

In their place, Cerrillos said, are players from Central American countries, especially El Salvador. In fact, many of the Mexican players told him they were returning to their home country — something the immigration studies also indicated. Others, he said, just disappeared.

"With all the apartments nearby, this tends to be an area in transit," Cerrillos said, and these immigrants "are just the newest."

A broad change in immigration patterns is underway, according to researchers with the Pew Hispanic Research Center.

Central American immigrants still account for just a fraction of immigration from Latin American countries. An estimated 31 million Mexicans have made their home in the United States over the last 30 years, compared with 3.8 million from Central American countries.

But as more and more Mexican immigrants return home, get intercepted at the border or don't bother to come, poverty, violence and high unemployment in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras are still prompting tens of thousands to leave their home countries every year. They make the often perilous 2,000-mile journey by train, bus, van and, sometimes, foot.

The illegal Mexican population peaked in 2008 at just over 7 million and then dipped to 6.6 million in 2010, according to the most recent numbers from theU.S. Department of Homeland Security. At the same time, immigrants arriving from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras continued to climb, from a combined 1.3 million in 2008 to just under 1.5 million in 2010.

Demographers say a core reason is that Central American countries remain mired in high unemployment and widespread poverty except for Mexico, which has made somewhat of a comeback in recent years. Mexico suffered a recession from 2007 to 2009, but its gross domestic product has since grown faster than that of the U.S., 5.5% in 2010 and 3.9% in 2011, said Jeff Passell, senior demographer with the Pew Hispanic Research Center.

With fewer jobs in the U.S., tougher border enforcement, higher deportations and an increasingly hostile attitude once they get here, many Mexican immigrants have decided the risk is no longer worth the potential benefit, Passell said.


But many Central Americans still see the U.S. as an attractive option, even after adding in the $4,000-to-$7,000 cost of paying a coyote to smuggle them across the border, he said.

"The question is, are there more job opportunities here than at home? Will they be able to pay off the cost of getting to the U.S.?'' Passell asked. "That's the calculation they make in deciding whether to come."

For Gricelda Garcia, the answer was yes. But it hasn't been easy, said the single mother of Edgar, a bright-eyed 8-year-old who attends a local elementary school. She worked as a housekeeper and on an assembly line before moving from downtown Los Angeles to Van Nuys three years ago to provide a better life for her son.

Now in a clerical job, she takes buses everywhere, juggles after-school care for Edgar and sends $100 a month home to her mother in Guatemala City. It's hectic, but Edgar is doing well in school and loves his taekwondo lessons, Garcia said.

And sometimes she has a few dollars to buy him extras, like a new Xbox game, she said.

"I can say I have a really good life here," Garcia said at the end of a 12-hour day, sitting down to a meal with Edgar in Van Nuys, where she rents a room. "There was no future for my son in Guatemala."

Miguel Arajo came to Van Nuys from El Salvador when he was 34. Now 67, he's owned Mi Ranchito Salvadoreño, a restaurant featuring his native country's dishes, near the corner of Vanowen Street and Van Nuys Boulevard for 23 years.

He contends it was the first Salvadoran restaurant in the Valley. Now there's more than 140, he said with a laugh. He has noticed the shift in his customer base, with many more recent arrivals from Central America.

"No one comes here to go on vacation," Arajo said at the start of a busy dinner shift, his pink face sweaty with exertion. "They come to work."

The search for employment doesn't always go smoothly.

Miller Hernandez watched two cousins from Guatemala struggle to find work in 2007, after paying $5,000 each to get across the border. Dispirited, they were heading back home when another relative, living in San Francisco, told them to come north.

Now one works in a hotel and the other for a security firm. "Two years go, they were like, 'What are we doing here?''' said Hernandez, a naturalized citizen who came to Van Nuys 25 years ago.

Even those Mexicans who made the crossing years ago understand why the patterns are in flux.

For Laura Gomez, 35, a naturalized U.S. citizen who illegally crossed into California from Jalisco when she was 18, the motivation to immigrate is questionable. When she arrived in 1995, jobs were plentiful and she put herself through school to become a medical assistant.

Now married with two children, a good job and a house, Gomez advises friends and relatives still in Mexico to stay home despite her own success.

So much has changed — starting with a terrible economy, Gomez said.

"Even if they can get a fake ID, which is a risk in itself, there are no jobs,'' she said. "They will get their cars impounded and face harassment and possible deportation. They are really risking everything for sometimes nothing. Is it really worth it to leave families behind?"
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