Wednesday, January 31, 2007

KCRW winter pledge drive

I knew that the inevitable was coming...local public radio station KCRW 89.9 FM was about to run their 10 day long pledge drive. Where the usual cool music programs are interrupted 24/7 to ask for your support, aka $$$. I am an annual subscriber but still find it hard to listen to DJ after DJ asking for more and more money. It is public radio after all and I understand the financial demands of the station, but sometimes ya just want to hear a song dammit.

This year I decided that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. So when KCRW put out a request for phone volunteers, I happily signed up. After all, this is the station that hosts Morning Becomes Eclectic - a daily 3 hour program of hand-picked, commercial free music. It's also the program where I first heard artists such as Keane, Norah Jones, Coldplay, Damien Rice, Zero 7/Sia, Gomez and many more, way before these artists had any commercial success. I've also been lucky enough to win tickets to concerts of some of the mentioned artists. So spending 3 hours on a weekday taking people's money on behalf of KCRW while chatting about music seemed like an ok way to spend a morning. I arrived at the station, which is housed in the basement of an unmarked building on the campus of Santa Monica City College, a JC about 2 miles from the beach. I signed up, slapped on a name badge and manned my station. My first call of the morning turned out to be an "Angel". That's KCRW-speak for a subscriber who pledges $1 a day, or $365 at once. Nice way to kick off the day!

Many "premiums" are given away when you pledge, for example dinner for two at a cool restaurant for a pledge of $100, or a spa day or concert tickets. Some of the restaurants were on-site cooking for the volunteer staff. This was not stale bagels and bad coffee my friend...more like some of the better restaurants in L.A. providing platter after platter of great foods and even fresh stirfry by local chefs for lunch.

I highly recommend giving Nic a listen from 9-12 PST on weekdays. You'll discover some great new music and who knows - maybe even call in and become a member one day :) If you can't listen in live, check out the Archives on the website. TONS of cool shows from artists recorded live in their studios, some available in video form too. They have also produced their own line of CDs, also from live shows and have several artist's recordings available on iTunes, just search "kcrw".

Host Nic Harcourt at work

Saturday, January 20, 2007

2007 UCI Track World Cup

Last night myself and two of my cycling buddies headed south to the velodrome at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA for the World Cup track races. This is a beautiful indoor 250m velodrome with a wooden track that reportedly cost $15-20 mil. to construct. The banked turns are 40 degrees and would be impossible to walk up or down without sliding.

Racers from all over the world were in town to compete in different disciplines of track racing. Our program began at 7:00pm and included Sprints, Time Trials, Keirin, Pursuit and a 20km women's points race. That's 80 laps! We moved around to various vantage points throughout the racing and there's really not a bad seat in the house. I ran into a few people I've only been acquainted with on a cycling forum, so it was nice to put a face to a screen name. The racing was always exciting and the sprint finishes with a rider winning by a nose had everyone out of their seats. Its refreshing to see a turnout like this for cycling in a city known for its (in)famous ball-sports heroes.

Racers come out of the turn and head for the finish line.

American racer Sarah Hammer sweeps the women's endurance races, taking 1st in three contests.

More racing action

all photos courtesy of

Also spotted at the races was this guy

Also known as Floyd Landis, controversial winner of the 2006 Tour de France.

After the races were over my friends I went looking for a late dinner. It was about 10pm and we had no idea what was nearby. We ended up finding a Chili's just a few minutes from the Velodrome. We sat and ate and joked about "Floyd walking in to Chili's". After about 3 gags, we looked up to see Floyd and posse waiting for a table. They sat down and we called our waiter over and requested that he bring a beer to someone. The waiter got into it and asked "which one is she?". He didn't quite get it when I replied "It's for a guy." I quickly explained who Floyd was and now his interest was back. So we sent him over a 20 oz. glass of Red Trolley Ale, the waiter pointed to our table and we toasted him across the restaurant. It was either a cool moment or something only a bike geek would be caught dead doing. After Floyd's group finished they all stopped by our table to say thanks for the beer and to chat for a couple minutes about the races. Doper or not, he was a pretty cool guy who still has more cycling experience in his little finger than the three of us combined.