Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Griffith Park Festival of Lights Goes "Green"

Thanks to the heads up from L.A. Observed today regarding the annual DWP sponsored Holiday Light Festival (cutesy designs + Xmas music and traffic jam) through the park is vehicle free December 4 - 17. Bikers are welcome this Thursday Dec. 3 from 5 p.m.- 10 p.m., which is great news. I rode my bike along with the cars one year and it was truly unpleasant. Check the website for parking info.

Photo is from December 2008: Snow on Mt. Wilson. Saw some this weekend dusting Mt. Baldy.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Silver Lake Library: An ultra-modern library for the 'hood

The original one-room Silver Lake Library:

Modernist lines and glass sliding doors at the entrance:

Solar panels:

The book sorting machine

The Friends of the Silver Lake Library hosted a well-attended Open House today. More than 30 people were waiting before the door opened at 10 a.m. I thought it was to see the new library; I think they were lined up for the generous spread of treats and free Starbucks coffee. Lots to check out. A small display of historic photos (hence my pic of the original library--the neighborhood has definitely changed!), a bright corner for reading, free Wi-Fi, all new books and computers, a comfortable area for kids, books and audio books for teens, a shelf devoted to local authors like Janet Fitch, automated check out and return (a little ridiculous I'd say) and everything nice and clean.

Many upcoming events including a new book club (first meeting Wed. Dec 2 at 6:30 p.m.), a talk by columnist and humorist Joel Stein (Sat. Dec 12 at 2 p.m.) and on January 22 a fundraiser at Silver Lake Wine.

Library hours may change due to budget issues.

Silver Lake Library
2411 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90039 - (323) 913-7451
Mon. 10-8, Tue. Noon-8, Wed. 10-8, Thu. Noon-8, Fri. 10-6, Sat. 10-6, Sun. Closed

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween special: Haunted Silver Lake

My neighborhood takes Halloween very seriously. Lots of artists and art directors make the 'hood feel really creepy. Beware!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Downtown L.A.: Nickel diner on Food Network

I'm a new but enthusiastic fan of the Nickel Diner in Downtown LA: I've been there three times this month, first to taste the house-made, maple syrup and bacon-topped donut (above) and now I'm a fan of the breakfast choices like the huevos rancheros and egg scrambles accompanied by baked polenta. Lots of prep and fresh ingredients goes into these dishes. The restaurant closed for a day a couple months back so Guy Fieri of the Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives could capture the secrets to the above donut and fried catfish with brussels sprout hash. Watch the show and you'll be on your way downtown in flash--just don't go on Mondays as the restaurant is closed. Bring change for the parking meters--street parking is now $3/hour.

Silver Lake: Canada Geese make an appearance.

Earlier this week, more than five dozen, plump honking Canada Geese* made a migratory pit-stop on the cement shores of the Silver Lake Reservoir. They prefer to graze on fields and lawns and have made themselves at home --this week anyway--on the northwest corner of non-bird ball-topped reservoir.
*Thanks to the reader who corrected the name. Seem to have flown off to warmer climes in any case.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Scenesters: Fun poster art

I interviewed the creative team behind this film who are part of The Vactioneers comedy troupe known for "The Googling" (Google it to find their youtube clips). Most of the independently made film was shot in and around Silver Lake/Los Feliz. More info @ Movie plays Sunday @ The Arc Light. Hope it comes to the Vista too!

Silver Lake: John Marshall High School's new football field

After 78 years John Marshall High School gets a regulation-sized football field today complete with electronic scoreboard, a Mission-style pergola entrance, newish stands (looks like they just moved and rehabbed the old ones) and poles for lights (but no lights). Surrounding the astro-turf field will be one those nice cushy running tracks; for the dedication and homecoming game tonight it's asphalt. Go Barristers! Tour with Councilmember Tom LaBonge @ 4p.m. Dedication at 5 p.m. Varsity football game (no lights!) is at 6 p.m.
*Updated: Football Hall of Famer Mike Haynes (center) was on hand along with council member Tom LaBonge and various LAUSD officials to dedicate the new field. Still to come: boys/girls bathrooms, a proper concession stand, a long jump and the synthetic running track. Marshall won both games on the new field! The kids were all super-excited and really energized.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Silver Lake: Library to open Nov. 16

Exterior Silver Lake Library

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

15th Annual Music Box Steps Day this Saturday 10/17/09

An event that melds movie history and Silver Lake's public most famous 133-step staircase is this weekend. From council member Eric Garcetti: The Silver Lake Improvement Association will present the 15th Annual Music Box Steps Day on Saturday, October 17. SLIA, which founded the annual event, will also be celebrating its 20th anniversary. The Silver Lake Neighborhood Council Arts and Culture Committee is an event co-sponsor. Come join the fun from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Laurel and Hardy Park (between 923 and 935 Vendome Street). There will be free food, Laurel and Hardy look-alikes, live entertainment, a raffle, and a screening of the 1932 Oscar-winning short, The Music Box.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The master of California light: Wayne Thiebaud at Pasadena Museum of California Art

Vibrant and still painting every day, Wayne Thiebaud is one of California's best painters. A 70-year career retrospective of his drawings and paintings just opened at the Pasadena Museum of California Art that includes early student work to recent beach and seascapes. A professor at U.C. Davis for more than 40 years, Thiebaud was patient when answering questions regarding his techniques and work habits. Some paintings take 10 years, others a day, he revealed. He and his wife divide their time between Davis and a studio on San Francisco's Portrero Hill. His colorful cityscapes are a mix of real and imagined San Francisco--several large canvases that capture the city's crazy angles are included in the exhibition. His more well known works elevate the ordinary--cupcakes, bakery cases, fruit--to almost monumental status. All without irony, contends exhibition organizer Dr. Steven Nash. The exhibition runs through January 31, 2010. Don't miss it!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Silver Lake: Fixies take over the streets.

Notice anything about the bike riders passing you lately? More than likely they are riding a fixie (see above) a snazzy fixed gear and usually no brake bike popularized by SF bike messengers, now the bike-du-jour. The teenage boys I know are fixated on them; if you saw Saturday night's Crank Mob fly by, you probably saw hundreds. My son's came via the Internet from Bikes Direct. We're already good customers of Safety Cycle since these bikes seem to require TLC.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fourth Frogtown Artwalk this Saturday 9/19

Fourth edition of the Frogtown ArtWalk is this Saturday. More than 30 artists participate with dozens of open studios. Great combo of local art (images above are from 2008) and tacos (let's hope the taco lady and table returns to RAC Design Build). The boundaries of Elysian Valley (Frogtown) are the 2 freeway to the north, the 110 freeway to the south, the Los Angeles River to the east, and the 5 freeway to the west. The studios will be open from 5-10 PM. There's free street parking but I've ridden my bike in past years as the L.A. River bike path is one of Frogtown's borders. Party and music are at NOMAD at 1839 Blake Ave.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Vintage view of Atwater: Postcard of Hyperion Bridge c. 1937

August was a busy month--with assignments (see links) and two trips out of town. First trip was Santa Barbara
where I tend to visit the same places: La Super Rica (who can resist those al pastor tacos) and several really great thrift stores.
Found this c. 1937 postcard of a vintage view of the Hyperion Bridge at State St.'s Antique Alley.
Check out the Red Car on its way to Glendale. Notice the absence of 5 freeway or Glendale office towers.
The river has a somewhat natural state--none of those gruesome cement embankments.
The Red Car bridge trestles are still there today.

Friday, July 31, 2009

A must see documentary: "The Cove"

Without a doubt one of the best films of the year is "The Cove." (Variety's review is here.) I interviewed the film's protagonist and famed dolphin activist Ric O'Barry recently. Growing up in Miami, I spent many hours at the Seaquarium where O'Barry worked training dolphins. In fact, he helped train the first orca in captivity. He's since had a major change of heart after holding the original "Flipper" dolphin (named Kathy BTW) as she died in his arms. "The Cove" follows O'Barry as he targets a terrible dolphin capture and slaughter in the small seaside village of Taiji, Japan. Without giving too much away, the documentary is structured like a thriller and covers O'Barry and a team of activists as they work to expose the dolphins' plight.
Don’t miss “The Cove!”

Monday, July 27, 2009

Echo Park: Fallen Fruit cooks up a public fruit jam on Alvarado.

Expect a sticky mess this Sunday August 2 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. when art collective Fallen Fruit and Machine Project put on the fourth annual public fruit jam. Pictures above are from last year's event which was very popular (300 jam makers). My suggestions: arrive early and mix up basic fruits. I was a little too creative last year: no takers yet for my fig, kumquat and mixed fruit melange---the more sedate plum and strawberry jam was a keeper.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Santa Monica: La Monica Ballroom redux

The 25th annual Thursday Twilight Dance series continues at the Santa Monica pier. This Thursday, organizers are re-creating (kind of) the famed La Monica Ballroom (rendering above) which would have been 85 years old had it not been demolished in the 1960s. A major call went out to local dance troupes and vintage types--expect them all on the 100' dance floor this Thurs. Swing music by the Squirrel Nut Zippers.
I covered the event and more for the LAT Summer Hot List.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Silver Lake: The new library exposed.

Curbed LA (top photo from Curbed) got an exclusive sneak peek at the Silver Lake Library. It's looking rather clean, bright and modern; an homage in part to nearby Neutra houses and the Neutra Office building on Glendale. Looking forward to opening day which should be sometime in September though there's no official date. I wrote about the design back in 2006 for the Los Feliz Ledger. Here's an excerpt:
Coming in 2008 (that didn't happen) to the corner of Silver Lake and Glendale Boulevards: a new branch library that will not only be a community and cultural hub but also an inventive “green” building at one of the most traveled gateways to the area.
After investigating several alternate sites in the neighborhood, the city’s library construction department selected the vacant corner, once a gas station and most recently, the seasonal home to a Delancey Street Christmas tree lot. Previously, both Burger King and Walgreens had also considered the tract. In addition to the empty parcel, the adjacent mustard-colored auto shop will be demolished (that happened, thankfully), contributing 7000 square feet to the library’s future home.
Similar in size to the Edendale branch library, Silver Lake’s 13,200 square foot state-of-the-art library will include a public meeting room, a glass box reading room, welcoming plaza, and will be “green” – utilizing sustainable building practices such as solar power. (Panels are installed). Parking will be underground with the garage entrance lined up with Brier Avenue and Gingergrass’ main entrance. There will be no public driveway off congested Silver Lake Boulevard.
Architectural firm M2A Architects worked closely with the community developing the Silver Lake branch, their fifth library project. The Arroyo Seco Regional Branch Library is one of their designs, as are the Allessandro Apartments in nearby Echo Park. “We tried to take architectural cues from modernist Silver Lake,” explains architect Barry Milofsky of the design. “There is a sense of light, air and space and an indoor/outdoor relationship.” Stone and glass will be the branch’s primary construction materials. A glass spine extends through the building that will provide natural light in the day and a dramatic glow to the plaza at night. Mature sycamore trees will frame the library’s entrance. Low planters, benches and landscape finishes to the curb are part of the plan from landscape architect Mia Lehrer.
Construction is expected take 18 months and is slated to start by the first quarter of 2007. (Start date was later; construction still ongoing). Budget for the building is $9.5 million, with funding from library bond funds. A non-profit Friends of the Silver Lake Library has been established to help further the library’s collection as well to support and generate enthusiasm for the long-awaited branch.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Downtown L.A.: (500) Days of Summer

Summer (Zoey Deschanel) is the girl, Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the boy in this boy-meets-girl, then the timeline is fractured, post-modern romantic comedy. Also, starring in the film: downtown L.A. (Picture is the interior of Summer's very 40s-style apartment ). I tried to figure out many of the locations: Broadway Bar, Bradbury Building, the fountains of the DWP building and Angel Knolls Park among them. The Redwood Bar & Grill has a featured role; my favorite booth looked mighty fine on the big screen. Music is great and so are the downtown backdrops. Film opens this Friday July 17.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Union Station: East LA Meets Napa benefit July 10th

Friday night July 10th check out East LA Meets Napa a benefit for AltaMed Health Services that promises a mix of great modern Mexican food and wine with a Latino heritage. Food GPS went last year. Union Station is one of L.A. great public spaces; ticket counters stand empty in the great hall these days and there's plenty of room on the patios outside. Should be a great summer night.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Downtown L.A.: Under the Cirque Berzerk bigtop

A byproduct of the Burning Man festival, Cirque Berzerk is a raucous, musical alternative circus now at the LA Historic Park (the former Cornfields site). Yes, there are clowns and acrobats but there are twists: vintage lingerie-clad aerialists, a sexy pas de deux features two sculpted men, a drunken stilt walker, a little person as comic relief (not so alternative) and a bar with Hornitos margaritas.  At sunset, downtown's skyscrapers catch the light and huge torches straight from the high desert playa ignite outside the bigtop. There are five weekend performances and the show runs through July 26. A New Orleans-style troupe performs during the intermission and after the show to keep the party going. If you're a Goldstar member, discount tickets are available.  Definitely a fun and different date night and most everyone was really friendly---guess it's the playa dust.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pacific Palisades: Happy 60th Birthday Eames House!

A favorite of visiting Europeans, The Eames House (Case Study House #8) is one of the Southern California's finest examples of domestic architecture. I took these pictures on a visit sponsored by the Hollyhock House docents in 2005. This year the house celebrates 60 years: Charles and Ray Eames moved into their home that overlooks an open meadow on Christmas Eve 1949. Made from industrial materials, its simplicity and harmony with is site is really inspiring.  The property is open for self-guided tours Monday - Saturdays.   $5/person is the suggested contribution.  Peek into the windows and open doors to see the house's interior almost exactly as Ray Eames left it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hollywood: Paying respect to Michael Jackson

A very "Day of the Locust" afternoon in Hollywood as streams of people gather to place flowers by Michael Jackson's star in front of the Mann Chinese. An outpouring of people and emotion that reminded me of the tributes and flowers to Princess Di outside Kensington Palace but with some only-in-L.A. craziness and media frenzy: 10 satellite news trucks, LAPD on horseback, helicopter buzzing overhead and all of Hollywood Blvd.'s best impersonators out in full force asking folks if they want a picture (Elvis, Marilyn, 2 Captain Jack Sparrows, 2 Obamas, Spider-Man, Batman & the Joker and Dorothy from the Wizard of OZ).   
I met Michael backstage at a Queen show at the LA Forum--Freddie Mercury was still in the band so it was decades ago.  I was there to interview the band for Videowest. I asked Michael if he wanted to be interviewed. No, he politely declined, but he told me he recognized me from TV.  Not sure what channel he was watching since I've never been on TV, but I was too awed to correct him (and he had two huge bodyguards in the days before anyone had bodyguards). He went to say hi to Freddie and watched the show from the side of the stage. Quiet and soft-spoken--he thanked me for getting him a soft drink--and a music fan--that's how I remember him. Take a final bow.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Silver Lake: LA Mill and Intelligentsia make the tabloids thanks to Chris Pine.

At Atwater's Salon Mix I caught up on the tabloids from the last couple of weeks. Thanks to "Star Trek's" success (I'm a fan!), Chris Pine appears in numerous People and US Weekly issues with his favorite local haunts in the background. The actor likes to spread his coffee love around: the paparazzi have tracked him outside both LA Mill and Intelligentsia.  

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Silver Lake: Bossy but nice graffiti artist tags reservoir path.

"Enjoy the view. Enjoy this minute. Tell them you love them." Lots of sweet platitudes from an anonymous Silver Lake graffiti artist who's added colorful and very legible instructions to the reservoir's walking path. Fingers crossed they used soy-based chalk, which will dissolve into biodegradable dust that will decompose the walking path's most annoying aspect--dog poop. And yes, the jasmine does smell nice. 

Friday, June 12, 2009

Echo Park: Brite Spot gets a cameo in "Food, Inc."

"Food, Inc." is the documentary du jour: an elegantly crafted investigation of U.S. government food policies and a hard look at agri-business giants. Most disturbing is footage shot in cattle slaughter houses, chicken farms  and the terrible killing floor for pigs.  Echo Park's Brite Spot has an early cameo: writer Eric Schlosser is interviewed at the counter and served up a very appetizing looking cheeseburger and fries.  Eat before the movie; that cheeseburger will lose its appeal but you'll learn the hard truth about America's food chain.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Silver Lake: Enormous Tiny Art Show tonight 6/5/09

Steve and Alyssa Melendrez at The Living Room are sponsoring this sure to be crowd pleasing art show and sale tonight: tiny art (can't wait to see that) offered at less than $500/piece.  Vodka, too! 8p.m.-11p.m. @ 3531 Sunset Blvd., L.A., 90026. 

Monday, June 1, 2009

Interview Project @ David

I've been following film director David Lynch's career since "Eraserhead" hit college campuses back in the day: check out the vintage poster (above).  Presented by Hampshire College's "Films in Discretion" the packed screening was...wait for it...$1.  "The-lady-in-the-radiator" promises that "in heaven everything is fine."  Today, David launches "Interview Project," an online road trip that profiles people found at the edge of the highway. Evocative sound and music and up-close-and-personal profiles; the first portrait, entitled "Jess" is remarkably profound.  Maybe Jess' long-lost family will find him because of it. Check it out.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sunset Blvd: Local muralist at work on Local's wall

Muralist and local Silver Lake artist Nicky Gagliarducci is recreating vintage L.A. just to the west of the restaurant Local on Sunset Blvd. The project meets with Local's ethos: Nicky is a locally sourced artist capturing an historic local scene. I watched him work recently; he's going to add a surrealistic touch to 25' long montage: Silver Lake's own walking doctor.  It's not the quietest place to paint but he was quite genial about the process.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Downtown L.A.: Chaya downtown art + happy hour

   A wonderful combo platter of art and well priced happy hour is on the menu at Chaya Downtown Los Angeles. Thanks to Mattatouille for this great shot of Stuart Haygarth's imaginative chandelier created from the plastic flotsam of daily life. Reviewed in today's L.A.T., S. Irene Virbila couldn't help but notice the piece, a standout in any setting. Haygarth is based in London; typically his work is from found pieces, this one is not.
   Find yourself on the patio for happy hour. I went with Eating LA last month; missing on the menu was a happy hour sake but the manager promised to add it. Chaya Venice's happy hour remains a personal fave: always lively. Downtown's version is a bit more button down but comes with a city view.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Century City: Spiffy new photo showcase at the Annenberg Space for Photography

The newly opened Annenberg Space for Photography joins the list of premiere places in town to view and experience fine art photography that includes the Getty Center (where Paul Outerbridge and Jo Ann Callis exhibitions are on view until August) and the G. Ray Hawkins Gallery, Paul Kopeikin Gallery and Peter Fetterman Gallery.  Hours are Wed-Sun 11 a.m. - 6 p.m., 2000 Avenue of the Stars, Century City. Parking on site is validated. At the press preview, I captured photographer Douglas Kirkland's on set photos (left) as well as Greg Gorman's elegant black and white portraits. 

Friday, May 8, 2009

What I learned in New Orleans

There’s a significant difference between high ground and low ground: one floods, the other doesn’t. Every house has a brand new refrigerator. 2009 has been the windiest ever in the city. Wildlife, except for pigeons, mega-roaches and winged, swarming termites, are rare.  (I did see one small heron and some turtles though.) Traditionally, storms have been a method of redevelopment; damaged buildings are not repaired, demolished instead to remove residents. If potholes are big enough, folks dump their trash in it, and sometimes-- old refrigerators.  Like the 40th annual Jazz & Heritage Fest, Bonnie Raitt and Neil Young have stood the test of time.  Per a Sunday morning music lesson with Dr. John, there are killer weird things that happen in New Orleans that happen nowhere else. That’s for sure. 

Gulf shrimp, oysters and crawfish taste better when they haven’t been transported thousands of miles. How to make eggs sardou by chef Lee Richardson of Ashley's at the Capital Hotel in Little Rock, Arkansas: béchamel sauce, artichokes and quick sautéed spinach.  The key to a good crawfish boil is the seasoning: extras can include whole cloves of garlic, potatoes, mushrooms, asparagus and corn.  How to eat a crawfish: twist off head, pinch off tail fins, squeeze tail, nip and twist the meat out of the shell. Abita makes several types of brews including a seasonal strawberry beer and the Turbo Dog—all go down mighty quick. Sazeracs have never gone out of style in New Orleans and can be counted on at cocktail hour. Even at high noon, cemeteries here, with their whitened above ground tombs, are eerie and trippy.   As my friend writer Patty Friedmann says, visit soon, because New Orleans doesn’t promise to be there.