Times unveils top 25 L.A.-centric films from past 25 years. What did they miss?

LA Times picks "L.A. Confidential" ad the greatest Los Angeles film of the past 25 years.
LA Times picks "L.A. Confidential" as the greatest Los Angeles film of the past 25 years.

Besides the glaring absence of “Grand Canyon,” and a few others based an apparent rule disallowing more than one film per director, the LA Times has put together a solid selection of films highlighting Los Angeles.

I can’t argue much with a list that is topped by “L.A. Confidential,” a personal favorite, and also includes “Fletch,” “Training Day,” and “Swingers.” But I do have some minor quibbles:

Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown” is on the list, but “Pulp Fiction” isn’t. Robert Altman’s “The Player” was chosen over “Short Cuts.” Both are arguable decisions, but why choose Michael Mann’s “Collateral” over the far superior, city sprawling “Heat”?

…Unrelated sidenote: I just noticed that the original poster for L.A. Confidential prominently features Kim Basinger and Kevin Spacey, with Guy Pearce, and way in the background, Russell Crowe…

Our friends in New Orleans

I just wanted to make a brief post sending our best wishes to the folks at our sister site New Orleans Metblogs (as well as everyone in that area) who have just been the subject of mandatory evacuations thanks to Hurricane Gustav which is headed their way. Of course, like with Hurricane Katrina a few years ago many people aren’t leaving. There’s very detailed and insightful posts on the site already and I expect more on the days to come. We’re thinking of you all, stay safe!

Latin Sounds @ LACMA

Dancing at LACMAs Latin Sounds music series
Dancing at LACMAs Latin Sounds music series

Today’s the last day of the Latin Sounds series at LACMA.  Tonight’s featured artist is Angel Lebron y Su Sabor Latino:

Bring your dancing shoes for this hot finale to LACMA’s 2008 Latin Sounds concert series. Angel Lebron y Su Sabor Latino have been heating up clubs across Southern California, performing Latin music that originated in New York City and placed salsa on the map. With their Palladium-style look you’ll feel like you’re back in the sixties and surrounded by the sound of classic street salsa.

If you haven’t attended this music series, I highly suggest that you do so tonight.  Last week, we went to our 4th one and while the music was a little too “Adult Contemporary Jazz” for our tastes, that didn’t stop the crowd from dancing and the kids from running wild.  Added bonus, after the concert was over a couple of the musicians came over to a family near ours and jammed for a couple of hours afterward.  There were even extra instruments so that we could all participate in the fun.

The concerts are held in the amphitheatre behind LACMA east and begin at 5pm.  Pack a picnic, bring some blankets and get your dancing shoes on.  There is street parking (iffy), parking across Wilshire Blvd. and musuem parking ($7) available.  Wine and beer are sold on the patio if you forget to bring your own.

My family and I will most likely be there, and I’ll bring along my laptop (LACMA has wifi!) and will try to post some videos either via Seesmic or my blip.tv account.  Hope to see you there!

Melrose and Orange: The Art of Chase

Belgian artist/designer Chase’s “Awareness Geezers” at Melrose and Orange is starting to look a little tattered these days.

The Belgium-to-Culver City transplant’s distinct style looks out on LA area environs from walls, vehicles and his fashion line, 614. For me, what sets Chase’s work apart from other recognizable street art is the pointedly positive messages it sends, devoid of any irony.

LA County Fair starts Sept. 5th

I often believe I’m the only person in LA who gets all a-tingle when County Fair time rolls around.  The crushing crowds prove me wrong though. That’s right, the LA County Fair kicks off its 86th year on Sept. 5th. Some people go to the fair for the 17 days of live horse racing.  Others go to see all the animals that will someday grace our plates.  Most people go for the food.  The deep-fried, greasy, fatty overpriced food.

Last year, I thought fried foods hit it’s zenith.  In addition to the now mandatory deep-fried Twinkies, Snickers, ice-cream (not really deep-fried, I know), deep-fried Coke was finally added to the list.  My husband had it and I’m still amazed he’s kept all his teeth considering that it was basically a 48 oz. cup of sugar.

Then there are the concerts.  No longer are has-beens relegated to playing the County Fair circuit.  In addition to your favorite oldies (WAR, The Doobie Brothers and Smokey Robinson to name a few), current artists are also playing the fair.  You can buy your tickets online via Ticketmaster or at the box office on-site.

As usual, the fair offers plenty of discounts for your family.  You can get fair passes or coupons at your local Ralphs, McDonald’s or AT&T store.  Fair admission is $1 on Opening Day before 5pm and there are lots of ways to get discounts on rides and attractions.

You can find out more about the Fair’s hours, parking and admission prices by visiting the General Information page.

LA County Fair
Pomona Fairplex
1101 W. McKinley Ave.,
Pomona, CA 91768

California Legislature Bans Burger Eating While Driving; In-N-Out Forced to Change Name to In-N-In

No, you did not accidentally stumble onto The Onion‘s website.  This is some of what was discussed recently in the California Senate, which took up the issue of text messaging while driving. That’s because California’s new hands-free cell phone law did NOT make texting while driving illegal.  According to the L.A. Times, the Senate approved a measure that would close this loophole and outlaw texting behind the wheel.

The Times article indicates that many Senate Republicans were not keen to pass the anti-texting measure.  They reportedly felt that existing laws already prohibit driving while “distracted,” which, they said, would cover texting.  One Senator, the appropriately named George Runner from Lancaster, was quoted as saying,  “We don’t need a law for everything a driver does. The next one is going to be you can’t drive while you are eating a hamburger.”

I can see George’s point.  I’m confident that, if studies were done, they would show that non-cell phoning activities while driving, such as eating, fiddling with the radio, applying makeup, reading the newspaper, and babe watching (guilty, Your Honor) are also potentially distracting and dangerous, yet I don’t think they are specifically outlawed, and, depending on the activity, it seems unreasonable or even nanny state absurd to try and outlaw them.  On the other hand, how hard must it be to enforce “distracted driving” as compared to specific activities which can be observed?  The driver would have to be weaving or drifting like a drunk driver. Plenty of drivers could be significantly “distracted” without demonstrating it that blatantly.

If anyone wonders why this matters, just take a look at Will.I.Am’s post about the alert driver who skillfully avoided hitting a girl on a bicycle.  What if that driver was texting at the time?  That’s something to think about while hitting the roads this Labor Day Weekend.  Have fun, and stay safe!

Last summer Art Walk in Monrovia Saturday 8/30 6:30 – 9:30PM

Nearly 50 artists focused on the fine arts and photography will be showing their work on Myrtle Avenue in Monrovia.  The Art walks are a joint venture with the Monrovia Association of Fine Arts and Monrovia Old Town Merchants Association.    The artists will be on Myrtle Avenue in the heart of Old Town between Colorado and Lemon Avenues.

The Art Gallery’s and Schools in Monrovia will also be holding special events in conjunction with the Art Walk. Each of the schools and galleries have different specialties and exhibits.  Make sure you visit each.

  • Paint n Play Art Studio and Gallery, 415 S Myrtle Ave, Monrovia 91016
  • Segil Fine Art, 110 W Lime Avenue,Monrovia 91016
  • California Wine and Cheese, 115 West Foothill Blvd, Monrovia 91016
  • The Aztec Art Studio and Gallery, 311 West Foothill Blvd, Monrovia 91016
  • Monrovia Coffee Company, 425 S. Myrtle Ave, Monrovia 91016

Even the city is getting into the act and partnering with the Old Town Merchants to add to the fun.  They are doing an open air viewing of the Princess Bride at 8:30 on Colorado Avenue just east of Myrtle.  Pack up the kidlets, bring your chairs, munchies and soft drinks and enjoy that while you are in town.

As always many of the local merchants will have fun stuff going on.  Many of the restaurants have outdoor dining available which should be nice as it looks like it may be a cool evening.

Get yourself onto the 210 Freeway. Exit Myrtle Avenue and head north into Old Town Monrovia.  There is ample parking. Continue reading Last summer Art Walk in Monrovia Saturday 8/30 6:30 – 9:30PM

Corn!

I’m sitting outside right now listening to the horn of my local corn vendor who sounds to be a few streets over.  He comes down our street everyday between 3 and 5 pm with his cooler full of steaming, hot corn. His cart has all the fixins for a mid-afternoon snack; lemon juice, mayonnaise, butter, cayenne pepper and cotija cheese.  Whether you get it on the cob or in a bowl it’s $1.25 and absolutely tasty.

I lived in Venice and Santa Monica briefly before moving to Hollywood and in that decade, the one thing I missed the most was the corn man.  See, I grew up in West Covina and went to school in La Puente.  Everyday after school, the corn man was parked alongside the ice cream truck. We had the option of getting a relatively healthy snack or junk food.  Beautiful!  Living on the westside during that time, pretty much killed any chance of finding a guy walking down the street selling corn.  Once Pan Pacific Park re-opened, we’d occasionally find the random vendor, but it could be 3 months before we were there the same time he was.

I’m always amazed at the number of Angelenos who have never had corn from the corn man, let alone those who’d never even seen or heard of corn vendor.  I highly suggest that if you are in that number, you seek out a corn vendor.  I get a bowl with everything, easy on the mayo.  What’s your favorite combo?

Consume LA

Wine: Bear’s Lair Viognier 2007 and Merlot 2006. Both $3.99 at Trader Joe’s. Two of the best wines at this price anywhere. They have trouble keeping the mineral-y, crisp Viognier on the shelves at TJ’s as word spreads. Look for the same thing to start happening with the velvety Merlot.

Sneakers: For Converse Chuck Taylors selection alone, nobody beats Hyperion Shoe Repair, 2806 Hyperion Ave. (90027) From basic colors ($40) to flashy patterns to John Varvatos’ re-interpretations ($80,) this small shoe repair shop that’s been in business for over 80 years serves as a shoe museum for CTs that are hard to find anywhere else.

Gas: $3.81 (cash price only) at Valero, Melrose and Normandie. $3.79 (cash) at Arco, Riverside and Fletcher; also Mobile at Olympic and Western. $3.75 (cash) at Arco, Glendale Blvd. and Berkeley Ave.

T-Shirts: Best Obama T, Print Liberation ($22) Philly-based company but printed on LA’s own American Apparel and worthy of being seen in while traipsing around La La Land. Cool new T-shirt, Helvetica T ($20) from American Apparel. Black on white only, like it should be.

Best LA cultural listing site: Kristin’s List. Nobody sifts through Los Angeles’ offerings and comes up with a better, smarter mix of events. It’s not an overwhelming deluge of options; it’s a pointedly curated list, maybe one or two things per day to do that are enriching, enlightening, fun and get you away from your computer, off your ass and into a state of, as Kristin says, “being in motion in LA.” Subscribe to her weekly email.

Best vegan burrito: Flore, 3818 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake. Shockingly, satisfyingly delicious. ($10.95)

Re-listen: Gaucho, Steely Dan. Nothing exudes, exults, romanticizes and pillories Los Angeles quite like this 1980 album that, until their regrouping in 1999, was considered the last Steely Dan studio recording ever. Perfect driving music for cruising through an LA of the mind.

where is frazgo?

Granite reflecting pool at the mystery spot
Granite "reflecting pool" at the mystery spot
  • It isn’t a reflecting pool, rather polished granite simulating one.  (Appropriate for our climate, right?)
  • It reflects the sky and the surroundings like the pools found in antiquity
  • It is surrounded by myths and mythology
  • It was first seen by the public 1/28/2006

It is the end of summer.  My kids and I fill the last week before school starts with just goofing off and seeing things.  This is one of my favorite spots to visit in all of LA.  My youngest shares my passion for the place.  My middle enjoys some of it.  My daughter just now gets the significance of what she sees there.  Any guesses?

Friday is our annual back to school pilgrimage.  Venice Beach.  One rude, crude socially unacceptable T-shirt each.  Water play if weather permits.  Lunch at the World Book Store on Ocean Walk then the grind of the school year starts.  Oh yeah, I get my life back 9/2 which is alright.

Pic by me with the trusty che-ez snap in all its .3 megapixel glory.

In Which This Cyclist Gives Thanks And Praise To A Motorist

In the hands of a driver more preoccupied and less aware I could have had a front row seat tonight to a show no one wants to see: the serious injury — or worse — of a child on a bike.

It happened — or rather didn’t — in the midst of the residential cut-through I take that bridges me from Venice Boulevard to Crescent Heights. Actually I don’t really know how it didn’t happen. I really don’t know how the life of the 2600 block of South Garth Avenue was allowed to go quietly on into just another lazy late summer evening, instead of being so radically altered and forced to host the bright flashing lights of L.A. City Fire Department emergency response vehicles.

As is the case of late I had my cam mounted to my handlebars, doing yet another of the timelapse-fetish captures (such as this one) I’ve been making of my commutes to and from work. You can click to maximate the assembled strip of stills, but the images don’t really do the close-call miracle justice:

And it was a miracle. From my vantage point it’s beyond me how the driver prevented the collision between his vehicle’s front bumper and the girl’s body and bike — helmetless girl, at that. Hell, I didn’t see her until she was smack in front of the car — and the guy had already been slowing down when she darted out from a driveway apron into the oncoming sedan’s path, herself not knowing the vehicle was there. I guess I’ll just have to chalk it up to the greatest uncanny combination of intuition, anticipation, and lightning fastest reaction time. Ever.

Split-second unsung heroes, my friends. They are everywhere.