Monday, January 28, 2013

Parklets Come to Los Angeles

Highland Park parklet rendering, courtesy of Office of José Huiza

What's a parklet? It's a mini public park in an urban area.  Essentially, it's a great idea.

Last Friday, the L.A. City Council approved the construction of four parklets in Downtown L.A., El Sereno and Highland Park.

This is great news for our city, as it signals a move toward prioritizing open space.

What is open space? Open space is any open piece of land that is undeveloped (has no buildings or other built structures) and is intended solely for public leisure. (That's my own definition - feel free to provide your own.)

Los Angeles has a severe lack of open space.  We need more. Much more.

So, yay for parklets!  If ever the city council approves more, where would you like to see one?

I would love for there to be a parklet on Melrose, somewhere east of Fairfax, west of La Brea. You know, where all the (affordable) shopping is.  Los Angeles lacks good, urban shopping districts. Melrose is a good one, but there's nowhere to grab a bench!  Think of good shopping districts in other cities: Union Square in San Francisco, Herald Square in NYC, SoHo NYC, L.E.S. NYC. All have lots of little parks with benches. You know, to sit on. To rest on.  To survey your city on.  What a novel idea. Except that it's an idea as old as civilization, and has been proven, over and over again: parks (or parklets) are essential to a city's quality of life.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The City Prolific: Weekend Events Jan 18 - 20

The weather is back to normal, and some people are rejoicing. Others, like me, are reluctant to turn their backs on winter. Having to re-adapt my wardrobe to 80 degree weather is a project.

I went for a walk today, along Santa Monica between Gower and Cahuenga. When I returned to my office, I was dripping sweat under my jeans, tall boots, and long sleeve blouse.  Someday I'll have to begin dressing like an angeleno, in flowy skirts and dresses, short shorts, and battered tshirts. When I do, I'll look to StreetGeist for inspiration. Although, lately, because our weather was cool, almost like a proper winter, their subjects were fairly bundled up.

It's weird, this whole nice weather all the time thing. Not that I'm complaining. But I wonder if it will ever be in my blood. A major part of me doesn't want it to - I like that my blood has seasons. That's how I understand life, transition, change, age. Seasons.

What is in my blood, though, is the city. This city, that city - doesn't matter, as long as there is stuff to do, culture to experience, food to taste, things to see.  That said, not a whole lot going on this weekend that's worth writing about.  Here are a few selects:


John C. Reilly and Friends at the Bootleg

I heard John C. Reilly on KPCC this morning, talking about his blue grass band. He is the sweetest, most salt-of-the-earth guy, I just want to hang out with him. I was smiling ear to ear listening to his teddy bear voice.  He ended the interview by saying, "I love KPCC! I'm a KPCC listener!"

John C. Reilly and Friends appear at the Bootleg tonight.


Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

Bootleg Bar
2220 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90057


Bootie LA

Go get wild with a bunch of twenty-somethings in Echo Park at this notorious and messy dance party.  Midnight Mashup Show and go-go eye candy from resident dance crew: R.A.I.D. (Random Acts of Irreverent Dance). Get your oh-so-slick facebook pic taken in the photo boot by

$6 before 10 PM, $12 after (21+ only)


1154 Glendale Blvd. (Back Entrance)
Echo Park, Los Angeles


Kiera Hated Improv (A Very Special Catsby)

Catsby is one of the most fun indie improv shows around, organized by one of my favorite people ever, screenwriter and funny guy Chad Damiani.  On January 21st, 2012, one of CAT BATH's original members and Chad's longtime girlfriend Kiera Goodman passed away after an 18-month battle with cancer.   In honor of her memory, all of the proceeds of Sunday's show will be donated to one of her favorite charities, Karma Rescue.

Follow @LAhappenings for daily event updates.

Monday, January 7, 2013

RIP Huell Howser, I'll Miss You

I had lived in California for two days when, unemployed, I turned on the tv at 2:00 in the afternoon and landed on an episode of California's Gold.

"Oh my gosh! Isn't that WONDERFUL?!" I heard Huell Howser exclaim over the fact that beneath Old Sacramento lies a system of underground tunnels. His enthusiasm was addicting, his folksy, full-mouthed accent giggle-inducing.  I felt that, in discovering Huell Howser, I'd personally discovered a cache of gold.

Huell passed away today, at the age of 67.  A deeply private man, we may never know what ailed him. I wrote the other day about a few personal goals for the new year.  Here's another.  Marvel at every day wonders with the passion and enthusiasm of Huell Howser.

Here are just a few moments of Huell Howser's glory:

"The big deal about In-n-Out was that it was a DRIVE THRU!"

"The wind is pushing the flies . . . I've never seen anything like this . . . these are all flies . . . look out there, OH!"

Addendum: Tonight, when reading my friend Joe Cedillo's memories of Huell Howser, I was reminded of how he helped me through one of the most trying times of my life. When I was in radiation for thyroid cancer, I lay on my couch, too exhausted to do anything but watch TV. Episodes of California's Gold and Road Trip with Huell Howser tapped right into my own cache of hope. My husband called to check on me one day (he was staying with a friend as our apartment was under radioactive quarantine), and I was laugh-crying about the Hot Dog on a Stick episode. He lifted my spirits, he increased my sense of appreciation, and he made me hopeful for the future.  He was really something.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The City Prolific: First Weekend of the Year Events Jan. 4 - 6

I'm not much one for making New Year's resolutions, although I am one for reflection, and goal-making.  I've also recently, say, in the last three years, become one for planning.  I've found that making a plan is far more effective for me than making goals, and certainly more so than making resolutions.

One could argue that this is just semantics, but there is a difference. A plan is comprised of actual, actionable steps, whereas a goal is, to me, just an image, a picture.  It's something you might want to realize, but how? The how is the plan. A resolution, on the other hand, is a mere abstraction. Meaningless.

That said, this year, I plan to soften the edges of my life by minimizing the number of activities to which I am committed.  This will entail saying 'no' more often (currently, the word 'yes' drops from my mouth far too often, weighing down my potential to succeed at any of the activities to which I've agreed). Whittling down will allow me to be generally more present and focused.

In addition, I plan (hope, rather) to maintain the feeling I experienced in this moment:

I was at the top of Alta Ski Resort, and transfixed by the sky.  Tiny flurries of snow glistened under the sun.  It was like being inside a snow globe.  I would like to maintain the sense of wonder and tranquility that I felt just then, as I stared up at the heavens.

I also plan to see more theatre. I saw almost no theatre last year, which is shameful. I'm an actor, for chrissakes.  So, my plans this weekend include:

"Their Eyes Saw Rain" at Company of Angels

I auditioned for this show, and gave what I can easily say is the worst audition of my life.  It was terrible.  Shit happens, especially to actors.  But, I loved the script, and am very glad the run was extended.  I know the sound designer. And I love that the company performs in the historic Alexandria Hotel. It's like stepping into Downtown LA circa 1931, in it's most gilded, glamorous age.

"Gravid Water" at UCB

Actors and improvisors perform together, the actors speaking their lines from established plays, and the improvisors improvising opposite them, with no prior knowledge of the scenes.  It's much fun.

Here are some more events for you to choose, for your first weekend of 2013:


Horrible Movie Night

Everybody loves a good bad movie. Especially with an audience.  Horrible Movie Night at NerdMelt Comics schedules stand-up comedy based on the film to spice things up, and they welcome your heckling (during the movie, not the standup sets), and the wittiest heckles win a prize. Make sure you get your tickets in advance (they're cheaper that way).  

$8 in advance ($10 at the door) 

8:00pm (Doors 7:30)

NerdMelt Theater
7522 Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood, Calif., 90046

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013 Wishful Predictions

Happy New Year, Everybody!

I had a long, and much needed holiday vacation.  A thing about me: when I go on vacation, I really go on vacation.  I disconnect completely and cease all productivity.  Hence, the long delay in my posting here.

But I'm back! And I'm rested! Re-energized! Onward.

Here are my wishful predictions for LA's upcoming year.  I'll jump for joy to see any of the following take place:
  • Plans to develop a cross-town trainline from Union Station along the entire distance of Sunset Boulevard.  Yes, I know the city is still working on the Subway to the Sea, and that's great, but it runs along Wilshire, which is not within walking distance of my home.

  • Malibu Wine Country laws to change to allow tasting rooms to operate at the actual wineries.

  • Good Hangs, Cheap Drinks: Let's please see a trend away from cocktail revival bars and their $12 drinks toward neighborhood dives and $6 drinks.

  • A revamp of the Macy's plaza downtown.  Macy's Plaza is bleak and depressing, but it sits on prime real estate in the heart of downtown.  With a revamp, it could be a great shopping and entertainment destination.  LA needs a better, more accessible shopping district that is in the actual city, rather than a pre-fab mall like The Grove or The Americana, or inaccessible, bougie Beverly Hills.  I mean, there's a subway station directly across the street!! Where better to develop LA's Rockefeller Plaza or the like?  Oooh! Turns out it's already in the works! Score!

  • Better stores at Hollywood and Highland.  There's a huge outdoor mall there on prime real estate, but the only decent stores are Zara, a tiny H&M, and a Sephora. BCBG and Bebe? Blech.  Let's see a J Crew, Banana Repbulic, Urban Outfitters! Please! And how about a book store? Barnes and Noble, if nothing else?  I mean, there's a subway station directly below! Where better for good shopping? C'mon.

Okay, get at it, LA!  Here's to a prosperous, adventurous, less car-dependent, more metropolitan 2013!