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.