Sunday, July 29, 2012

Save Bob Baker's Marionette Theater

The Bob Baker Marionette Theater | Photo: Ariel Carpenter.

"For more than five decades, The Bob Baker Marionette Theater has served up laughter from a non-descript building tucked under a bridge adjacent to downtown L.A.
Today it hangs on by a string, pinning its future on a gala fundraiser, hosted by comedian Charles Phoenix, planned for July 29, 2012 where its supporters hope to raise a $1 million to save the theater, as well as build a school and museum of puppetry."
Read the article on KCET's Artbound here, and donate by clicking here.

Bob Baker: The Man Behind the Puppets

Friday, July 27, 2012

The City Prolific: Weekend Events July 27 - 29

I don't mind crowds. In fact, I enjoy being in the thick of festive revelry. But there is a point in which a crowd can become too crowded, and New York City has reached that point everywhere. Los Angeles crowds still contain space, the kind of space that makes you feel like you're really discovering something. Last week's third annual Bloomfest was a good example of this. It is an art and music festival that takes place in the Arts District. It is very well attended, by exceptionally diverse demographics, but there is still space - to stand, to watch, to sit with your beer, to dance to the dj, to whistle at the band. Uniquely Angeleno street art peers out over the industrial landscape - a city of angels, truly.

This weekend's events include pool parties, the requisite outdoor screenings, and dancing in the street.


Renegade Craft Fair

The Renegade Craft Fair (RCF) is a large scale marketplace event, showcasing the work of contemporary indie-craft artists. Featuring hundreds of artists at a time, vendors travel from all over to sell their handmade goods and original artwork. RCF is held in urban epicenters of creative indie-entrepreneurship throughout the US and abroad – including Brooklyn, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, and London (UK). Enjoy hundreds of today’s best indie crafters, hands-on workshops, music, food trucks, booze + oh so much more. Get crafty with all kinds of awesome workshops from the likes of the Urban Craft Center, L.A. Zine Fest, and SideStreet Projects (details on workshops to come!).

Saturday & Sunday, 11am-7pm

Renegade Craft Fair
Los Angeles State Historic Park
1245 N Spring St
Los Angeles 90012

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Grand Park (One Step Closer to a City for Wandering)

Walking in Los Angeles. Some say it's an oxymoron. Others say it's an impossible daydream. Some have never even heard the phrase.

We, myself and my husband, walk an awful lot. We're lucky. We live in Central Hollywood. We bar-hop around Hollywood and Vine, all along the Walk of Fame, as far as Sunset and Highland. We walk into Los Feliz, to see movies, to go out to dinner, to shop.  We take the Red Line downtown to hit up pool parties and festivals and dine in Little Tokyo or the multiple of restaurants in the Old Bank District.

Our walking is different here than in other cities, though. It's more of a destination-driven mobility.  We know exactly where we're going, and we walk to that specific place. When we've decided to leave that place, we determine what our next stop will be.  In other cities, New York, Paris, Madrid, even San Francisco, there is no need for a destination before our legs begin to carry us, our feet treading great ground.  When we are ready to leave Max Fish, we may say, "where do you want to go next?" and our answer very well may be, indeed, usually is, "I don't know." We wander. Up Avenue A. Passing East 5th, we may say, let's see what's going on at Ace Bar.  Or not. We keep going. Grabbing an Italian Soda on East 7th, we sit in Tompkins for a bit. Maybe head over to Cooper Square, maybe sit in Washington Square for a bit, maybe down to SoHo, there is no end in sight.  "What are you guys doing tonight?" "Nothing. Wandering." It's a way of life.

A major aspect of this life, perhaps the very most significant one, is the abundance of parks. City parks. Big or small, size doesn't matter. It's about landscaping, with places to sit.  Los Angeles is terribly lacking in parks (no shortage of empty lots and parking lots, though).  Our open space exists in the form of foothills and mountains, which, though great for hiking, don't offer the urban respite of city parks. Wandering, strolling, experiencing a city on foot, forming a visceral connection to a city in both body and soul, requires the existence of parks - open, landscaped space to sit and rest and reflect upon the city around you.

This weekend, the city opened the initial phase of Downtown LA's first major central park.  Grand Park sits on twelve blocks that connect the Music Center and City Hall.  Previously, those twelve blocks contained the old County Mall, a concrete plaza, and a parking lot.  Now, they contain a new wade-able membrane pool, a small intimate performance lawn, a community terrace planted with drought tolerant specimen plants, a grand event lawn, the re-designed fountain of the old mall, now made interactive for adults and children to play in, and ample avenues for strolling, via a series of stairs, accessible ramps and sloped walks.

The first phase of Grand Park's opening took place just today, and already the twitterverse as well as local blog comments sections are a-heat with criticism about whether this is the 'right' spot for a central park, about the price tag ($56 million), and whether or not such funds could have been put to better use by building multiple smaller parks in poorer areas.

I wonder, though, what could possibly be wrong with building a park Downtown. Downtown is not a rich nor a poor area. Every type of person from every social strata finds themselves in this area of Downtown, near the Courthouse (jury duty), the Music Center (opera and theatre), and Grand Central Market (cheap groceries).  We need a park there. And now there is one - a grand one.

Yes, we need more parks, in more areas, but at least we now have one more than we had before. Let's celebrate by grabbing a horchata from Grand Central Market, meandering on over to Grand Park, and taking a seat on one of its magenta lawn chairs. Maybe one day we'll be able to say it is possible to be a flaneur in LA.

Read more about Grand Park here:,0,6792713.story

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Pool of Nostalgia

Sometimes I have trouble sleeping.  I blame it alternately on anxiety and muscle pain. A few nights a week, I lie in bed, a tired person trapped in an awake body.  On nights like these, I often don’t fall asleep until four or five o’clock in the morning.  Then, because I don’t want to sleep the next day away, I awaken at a typical morning hour, and spend the day in a near-zombie state.  Such was the case last Sunday.  Moving, but barely alive.

I’ve been running. I started as an excuse to workout outside rather than at the gym.  I trained for a 5K, and then a half marathon. Now I’m training for a marathon.  The conditions have to be just right for me to go running. It can’t be too hot out, but it has to be sunny. It also can’t be morning, because I am asleep in the morning.  Therefore, I mostly run in the evening, after 6:00pm, when temperatures have cooled and the sun has softened.

Last Sunday, I was milling about my apartment in that sleepless zombie state, trying to muster up the energy to go for a run.  By the time I'd finally talked myself into it, it was past noon, and just too hot out.  There were other options. The gym. Hiking up to the Griffith Observatory. Yoga. But I was so tired, I just wanted to float. Outside, resting my muscles under the summer sun, while still moving them in a manner that could be considered good for them.

It dawned on me that I could go swimming. There is a public pool in Hollywood, on Cahuenga. I've only been once, under a very similar circumstance - I was prepping for a round of cancer-treating radiation. Exhausted, but knowing I needed to move, and wanting to do so outside. It was, after all summertime.

I am meant to be outside. The very molecules that make up my physical being are made of fresh air, fresh water. I'm kin of snowmen but from a different climate.  A life spent inside is for me, no life at all. I'd melt.

So, I put on a swimsuit, packed up a beach bag, and drove myself to the pool. I remembered all of my days spent walking to the pool when I was a kid. In grade school, my sister and I would walk a full two miles to the pool in Riverton, Utah, through the small suburban town, into the rural outskirts, past the farms and empty fields, where there was a beautifully landscaped public pool overlooking the Jordan River valley.  Later, I lived in an even more suburban area called Sandy.  No farms, just houses.  There were two pools in the area - the grander one was two miles away, at the end of Highland drive, a major thoroughfare that climbed steeply from my culdesac.  It wasn't a pleasant walk.  The smaller community pool was just under two miles away, along Creek Road. A simple, pretty walk.  In junior high school, I spent my summers in Montana, on a small town swimteam. My friend and I would often walk home from the pool, two miles along a country dirt road through the rolling golden hills of Chinook's expansive farms and ranches. We'd spend the entire day in our swimsuits, running around on the farm, never minding the dirt accumulating on our knees and elbows or the hay in our hair, because we'd just shower it off at the locker room before evening swim practice.

My time spent walking to the pool was time spent really feeling the sensation of being alive, of the sun on my skin, the coolness of the water, the invigoration and fatigue of my muscles, my pruned fingertips, my hunger, my crusted hair, my cracked heels from walking long distances in worn-down flip flops. Last Sunday, as I dipped myself slowly into the cool almost cold water, all of these sensations came flooding back. My heart jumped with gratitude for these memories, and for my psyche having gotten my tired self to the pool, allowing this nostalgia to take hold.

I also remembered how nice the pools are in the Salt Lake area. Maybe it's because the Salt Lake City economy isn't suffering like the Los Angeles economy. Maybe it's because the Salt Lake area is zoned into many small counties, whereas Los Angeles County is sprawling and unmanageable. In any case, Utah pools are landscaped with lawn and hills and trees. Los Angeles public pools are not landscaped. They are simply holes dug into the ground, surrounded by flat concrete surfaces, and enclosed by chain link fences.  They are only open from mid-June to mid-August (whereas Salt Lake pools are open through Labor Day).  You'd think, given the stereotype that Los Angeles is a blossoming summerland all-year-round, that its pools would be lavish and fancy and open most of the year.  That may be true for the private pools of the rich and famous, but the public pools are quite bland and under-staffed. That being said, the Hollywood pool is clean and well-kept, if not terribly pretty.

After my afternoon swim, I put my wet, chlorine-encrusted self back into my car and drove home with the windows open. "Next time, I'll walk," I thought.

Hollywood Recreation Center Pool

Alta Canyon Sports Center Pool, Utah

Friday, July 20, 2012

The City Prolific: Weekend Events July 20 - 22

Last weekend, we saw Sonny and the Sunsets and The Allah Lahs at Levitt Pavilion in MacArthur Park. MacArthur Park is a star of city parks, on par (landscapingly speaking) with any you can think of - Dolores, Alamo Square, Union Square, Bryant Park, maybe even the Luxembourg Gardens.  Unfortunately, it has spent the past few decades being synonymous with crime, and, with our city totally lacking in budget, uncleanliness.  It's on the mend, though, and the Levitt Pavilion events are helping to put it back on our mental map.

We put out a blanket, ordered pupusas from the Mama's Hot Tamales tent, poured ourselves a couple of inconspicuous cocktails, and watched two great bands perform against the sunset.

LA loves movies, and during the summer we show it. Most of this weekend's events are, once again, outdoor screenings.


Unique Movie Night: Fasttimes at Ridgemont High

Everybody loves the 80's, and we all miss those angsty 80's teen comedies. Tonight, Unique LA screens Fasttimes - oozing with 80's kitsch, it is also, may I say, a rather depressing flick.

The hosts will hold a Jeff "Surfs Up" Spicoli impression contest, so, as they say, "start working on your stoner-surfer talk"!

$10 online/$12 at the door

Ticket cost includes free drinks (both non-alcoholic and alcoholic). There will be a curated selection of local food vendors who will have dinner items and sweet treats available for sale.

Doors open at 7pm / Movies start at 7:30pm sharp

Mosaic ArtSpace in the Arts District
826 E 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA

Oscars Outdoors: Pillow Talk

Summer screening series at the Academy's new open-air theater, located on the Academy Hollywood campus. This beautifully landscaped plot of land behind the former super-dumpy Big Lots is a gorgeous addition to the neighborhood.  What makes this screening series stand apart from others is that each film is preceded by an introduction by and little discussion with with an industry professional who worked on the film being screened.
Food Trucks provided by
Roaming Hunger. Trucks will vary each night and will be tailored to the movie showing whenever possible.  Lawn seating – blanket or low chair. 

Tickets are sold online at For sold out films, a standby line will form on the day of the event, and standby numbers will be distributed at 6pm; available tickets will be sold at approximately 7:45pm.

Gates open at 6:30pm, screenings begin at sunset.
Free parking for advance ticket holders.

Academy Hollywood
1341 Vine Street, Hollywood
Enter from Homewood Avenue (turn west off Vine Street).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Vintage Photo: Hollywood Truck

Photograph of Vine St and Homewood Avenue in Hollywood, 1952.

Oh, I mean, 2012.  As in, yesterday, on my daily lunch time stroll through the neighborhood.

My dad knows cars. He can tell a car's make, model, and year with just a quick glance. I'm not sure how to describe his knowledge of cars. None of the words I can think of accurately describe him and his relationship to cars. Enthusiast, aficionado, connoisseur, none of them seem right. He just KNOWS:

Friday, July 13, 2012

The City Prolific: Weekend Events July 13 - 15

Last night, the husband and I went to an LA Philharmonic concert at the Hollywood Bowl. (Important summer secret: Bowl tickets for the classical or more obscure events are as inexpensive as $1 if purchased well in advance.) We brought a nice picnic, a bottle of wine, and got wet, very wet, in the heavy rain.  It was a lovely evening.

Too many events to choose from this weekend, and most of them open-air. LA is so great.


Venice Beach Biennial

The Venice Beach Biennial (VBB), a weekend event that makes tongue-in-cheek reference to the “real” Venice Biennale in Italy, will treat the famed Venice Beach boardwalk, Ocean Front Walk, as an outdoor exhibition venue. Over the course of the weekend over 50 fine artists will set up vending stands alongside veteran boardwalk artists, exhibiting new bodies of work, collaborating with the veterans on new projects, displaying site-specific sculptures or installations, and presenting live performances. Directed by Hammer curator Ali Subotnick.

VBB takes artists accustomed to showing in galleries and museums out of their comfort zone, and encourages them to consider their work in a new context. The veteran boardwalk artists will play an active role in this weekend event, and all artists will be working under the same conditions and regulations. Artists may also collaborate with shop owners and restaurateurs to present site-specific projects, interventions, murals, and wall projects. This exhibition will instigate new connections and dialogue between disparate artistic communities and audiences that could potentially sustain itself and deepen over time. Projects will be presented on the boardwalk proper as well as in the Recreation and Parks area near Windward Plaza (adjacent to Muscle Beach and the Graffiti Wall).


Friday, July 13

Saturday, July 14

Sunday, July 15

Ocean Front Walk
Venice, CA

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hollywood by Helicopter 1958

The folks over at LAist unearthed this one. Hollywood Gold, I say.  Kitty, a movie star-hopeful goes on a helicopter tour of 1958 Hollywood, accompanied by a cheeky narrator.  They float over all the studios, the Capitol Records building, the Griffith Observatory, and the corner of Hollywood and Vine (where I paused the video to try to spot the apartment building where my grandma lived when she gave birth to my mom in 1941).

Monday, July 9, 2012

Closing the Distance with an LA Summer

My parents live in Salt Lake City, Utah. When I lived in New York City, I often lost sleep over how much I missed them. The distance was too great, and it burrowed a hole in my heart that let the wind in at night. Since moving to California, the hole has shrunk. I don't know if it will ever close completely, unless I find myself living in the same city as them one day.  It's size has greatly reduced though, to where I almost don't notice it in between visits, as long as the time between visits grows no longer than three or four months.

Recently, we let six months pass between visits, and I once again felt the wind whistling through the hole in my heart at night. It started keeping me awake, so I called parents and told them I was having trouble sleeping.  They hopped in their Subaru and drove the six hundred and eight eight miles to see me in Los Angeles, and spent six days with me leading up to the Fourth of July. I'd been fortunate enough to receive an unexpected three days off work, which, tacked onto the weekend, gave me five full days with them.

It is during visits from out-of-towners that one unearths a real appreciation for Los Angeles and all it has to offer. Every day, we did something quintessentially iconic of this desert dreamland.

Happy Hour at Stout Burger
One of the best burgers in LA. Usually $10 - just $5 during happy hour.

Happy Hour at St. Felix in the EaCa Alley
Hollywood's First Pedestrian Alley, with sidewalk cafes for the restaurants on the eastside of Cahuenga.

Martinis at Musso & Frank
One of the oldest restaurants in Los Angeles, and firmly rooted in its founding time, Musso & Frank is famous for their martini's, but they make a great Manhattan, too.

Wine Tasting and Picnic at Malibu Family Winery
Gorgeous picnic grounds in the Malibu hills.  The wine may not be spectacular, but the experience is.

Happy Hour at Duke's Malibu
There is no better place to relax over a Mai Tai after a day in the sun and sand.

Levitating Mass at LACMA
A striking site, to see a giant boulder behind Miracle Mile. Brings Canyon Lands to Los Angeles, making a statement about open space and architecture. (There is SO much space in LA!)

Happy Hour at Mohawk Bend
They have a billion craft beers on tap. Seriously, a billion. Plus, a nice patio in which to enjoy them.

Dinner at Masa
The best deep dish this side of Chicago.

Photo by QuarryGirl

Karaoke at Sardo's in Burbank
This neighborhood karaoke bar is one of my favorite places on earth. It is low-key, it is unassuming, its clientele is wholly comprised of neighborhood locals. Step into Sardo's and you're no longer in Los Angeles, you're in Anywheretown, USA.

My dad and my husband performed "Surfer Bird" and got the only standing ovation of the evening. That's my dad for you. Watch the video here:

Strolling the Laguna Beach Strand

You can't get closer to Paradise anywhere. Hawaii? Bah. We have Laguna.

Lunch at Nick's in Laguna
What is better than a deviled egg? A FRIED deviled egg, that's what.

Happy Hour on my Hollywood Porch
Who needs to spend any money on happy hour, when one happens to be quite a skilled bartender, and has a lovely porch in the heart in the Hollywood?

War Horse at the Ahmanson
The book came first, then the play, followed by the movie. The play features incredible hand-crafted,  puppeteered horses.  What the play lacks in dynamic storytelling, it makes up for in artistry.

Manhattan Beach for the Fourth of July
Absolutely my favorite place to celebrate the Fourth of July. It becomes quite a drunken ruckus in the evening, but during the day, the beach itself remains fairly calm.  It's nice to stake out a large spot on the sand, and then, on the way to the bathroom, glimpse the parade of drinking-to-get-drunk post-college kids that peacock up and down the strand.

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Friday, July 6, 2012

The City Prolific:Weekend Events July 6 - 8

The days are long. The weather is perfect. LA does have a summer distinct from other seasons, and it is wonderful.  We Angelenos take advantage by throwing a myriad of events. Here are a few.


“Serendipity” Screening 

A John Cusack rom-com classic about a couple who experiences love at first sight and only destiny can bring them back together.

Featuring multiple screenings, the Old Pasadena Film Festival is the largest free outdoor film festival in Southern California. This unique district-wide festival showcases a variety of genres that reflect the urban environment of Old Pasadena’s famous and historic downtown.

One Colorado Courtyard
41 Hugus Alley, Pasadena 

“French Film Fridays” at LACMA

Tonight marks the beginning of Film Independent's “French Film Fridays” throughout July at LACMA. The series kicks off with two classics: Godard’s Contempt and Truffaut’s Mississippi Mermaid. 


7:30 pm

Bing Theatre
5905 Wilshire Boulevard 
 Los Angeles, CA 90036

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day

I am a distinctly summer girl. This season is, without a doubt, my favorite, and I look cynically upon those who deny it's superiority over the other three.

I also maintain a very sunny disposition toward the Fourth of July.  There are cryptic memes on facebook and sardonic comments hanging in the air at hipster parties that decry the childishness or naivite of our national celebrations: drinking, getting drunk, eating junk and setting explosives afire, as if these activities somehow overshadow or minimize the true purpose of the holiday: to honor our independence as a nation.

Personally, I find the drunken debauchery of Independence Day truly delightful, signaling the official start of summer.  A nation whose citizens can really let loose and get collectively, rapturously wild in celebrations, the origins of which are easily cast aside in favor of partying, is a nation that is truly free.