How close are we to losing independent bookstores? We’ve seen the last of Dutton’s and much beloved Acres of Books in Long Beach closed last year; more recently, A Different Light flipped the switch. Finally, tragically, to the outcry of chefs across the city, Cook’s Library will close on April 30. When I dropped by a week ago, all books currently were discounted 40%, but this may increase as the shutter date draws near.
For the uninitiated, Cook’s Library sells (sold) cookbooks. Nothing but cookbooks. Cookbooks of every cuisine, ingredient, old and new. The first time I visited, I was just floored with the amount and diversity of books; who knew that some of these books were still in print! Old Julia Child books, older editions of Joy of Cooking, a few rare MFK Fishers. I was a poor grad student then and couldn’t afford to pay the full retail price for any of the books I discovered, so I gleefully read what I could and checked out what I couldn’t at the library. Therein lies the problem.
“Pico & Sepulveda,” as performed in 1947 by “Felix Figueroa and his Orchestra” (stage name for Freddy Martin and his band) is perhaps best known for being a mainstay of the Dr. Demento radio shows I grew up listening to when radio fucking ruled on KMET way back when 94.7FM was a rock ‘n roll station with DJs and stuff, and not whatever wispy background thing it has been so successfully since.
What makes the song even more notable is that it was co-created (with Eddie Maxwell, a longtime comedy writer and lyricist) by Jule Styne, a prolific songwriter whose name might not ring a bell but some of his more than 1,500 creations you’ll undoubtedly recognize, such as: the Oscar-winning “Three Coins in a Fountain,” “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend,” “Make Someone Happy,” “Everything’s Coming up Roses,” “Let Me Entertain You,” and “People.”
What’s to say about a 62-year-old novelty song? It’s got a good ‘n catchy beat, but other than that, not much — except I like how it seems to wax wonderful about the westside until punking listeners with the tar-pitted kicker line: “Where nobody’s dreams come true…” (complete lyrics after the jump).
Here it is below as a number in Richard Elfman’s surreal 1982 film “The Forbidden Zone,” about a family that moves into a Venice house with a mysterious door that opens to a freakfest. Featured are Richard’s brother Danny as Satan, various other Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, and “The Love Boat’s” “Fantasy Island’s” Herve Villechaize as King Fausto of the Sixth Dimension (but neither Danny nor Herve are in this clip, dangit):
The votes came pouring in last night and Old Hollywood Cocktails is the winner! The vote came down to 27 to 24 with Roscoe’s in second.
Here is the plan for this Saturday May 2:
5:00pm meet at Musso and Frank in the bar for a cocktail(s).
6:30pm depart (carpool?, taxi?) to Formosa for additional cocktails and to eat appetizers or dinner, whichever anyone likes. I’ll call to see if I can make a reservation at Formosa and will update you all on Friday.
While their hit single “Le Disko” (last.fm) was a sexy, nuanced call to arms (and to the dancefloor) from the heart of an underage robot, their new(ish) single “Ricochet” (last.fm) has all the roaring velocity of a straight-up rock stadium classic on overdrive. There’s a palpable change.
Amidst bandmember switcharoos and the almost-inevitable loss-of-cabin-pressure the occurs when a small, green band gets signed & shot into the stratosphere, they’ve kept writing & hung tight. The result is a new album, “Season of Poison,” that is technically stronger than–if lacking the home-run kismet–of “We Are Pilots,” their first album.
We have more than tickets to give away–one grand prize winner will get a pair of tickets, access to the exclusive VIP lounge (21+) with meet & greet, a copy of their latest CD “Season of Poison” and an autographed Shiny Toy Guns-Goldenvoice poster. Saweeeet. Check behind the jump for how to win.
Certainly one of the darkest visions of Los Angeles to ever appear on the big screen, The Informers, adapted from a series of short stories by Bret Easton Ellis first published in 1994, is a brutal look at a group of mostly rich, spoiled twenty-somethings and their families in 1983 as they party, snort a lot of cocaine, have group sex in all variations, contract a mysterious disease and betray their friends, their parents, their friends’ parents and each other.
If you’re the type of person who needs to see fluffy images of sweetness and sensitivity projected in large rooms in 90-minute chunks for entertainment, then this movie of entwined, slimy and squirming characters will probably make your brain swell and explode. Not a single scene relents from the anguish of its characters. It kicks off with a senseless death at a swank party peopled by blonde beauties and descends from there. A pounding ’80s soundtrack, full-frontal nudity and pumping sex scenes make it seem like the new Satyricon, but it isn’t Rome that’s burning– this time, it’s Los Angeles. (R-rated trailer after click.) Continue reading Is The Informers the new Satyricon?→
A new ad for Microsoft Office claims a computer that doesn’t use their software, “is like Los Angeles without Santa Monica Pier.” Besides being a really poor metaphor – you’d think Microsoft could think of a more essential asset than the pier to compare their product to, such as the freeway – the ad also seemed to bring up an constant debate among Metblogs readers and writers: should any area outside of the City of Los Angeles be referred to as L.A.?
When I think Los Angeles, my mind is on anything within county limits. The Los Angeles of popular fiction and of the national mindset never bothers to take into account the borders of the 88 different cities of Los Angeles County, including Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, and Santa Monica.
Street sign colors may change, certain parking restrictions may be different, real estate taxes may fluctuate, but there’s little practical reason to distinguish between what is the City of Los Angeles and what happens to be another city, or incorporated part of, Los Angeles. As in County.
Except for the City of Long Beach, which really should be annexed into Orange County. Really, please, take it. But I digress…
What say you, Angelenos (county folk, city folk, all!) – is there any value in having city pride instead of boldly claiming stake as a member of the great metropolis called Los Angeles?
Regarding the Nexus of Sweaty People + Sweaty Cheese at a Railroad Yard Turned Cornfield Turned Park
Sandwiches flew, cheese slung and fromage fiends chomped away. The wreckage of another Grilled Cheese Invitational has melted upon us all, leaving behind only crusts and memories of whimsical cheeses snuggled cozily between two sheets of bread… Continue reading Cheese. Meet face.→
Like the sand castles being built in the competition on the beach a few yards away, Santa Monica‘s new Annenberg Community Beach House, which held its grand opening last Saturday, is spectacular-looking and largely useless. To take the analogy further, the grand opening also featured free flavored ice cooler snacks that tasted sweet but had little nutritional value, and Cirque du Soleil performers walking on stilts and wearing wispy costumes.
The Beach House facility cost almost $35 million, of which $27.5 million came from the Annenberg Foundation. The remaining money, according to the Foundation, is from an “innovative public/private partnership between the Annenberg Foundation, California State Parks and the City of Santa Monica, with additional funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Preserve America Program.” The “Preserve America” portion apparently pertains to the former Marion Davies house that is part of the facility, and which was open for tours on Saturday. The Beach House is made with first-rate materials, such as wood, steel, glass, and concrete. It’s clean, modern-looking, and beautiful. I just can’t figure out what it does.
This Saturday, May 2 is Classic Eats #5 and today is your last day to vote on where we will be going! As I write this, Classic Hollywood Cocktails is tied (19 votes each) with Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. El Cholo is trailing with 11 votes. Get your votes in to make it a decisive victory for one of them.
UPDATE AS OF 12:30PM: Still tied at 20 votes each!
Click here for the ballot if you haven’t voted yet.
Click through past the jump for details on all candidates on the ballot.
It was somewhere between 1983 and 1984 that I discovered R.E.M. I was about 13 years old and in my bedroom near Houston. Surrounded by walls plastered with posters of Duran Duran and The Police, I discovered a college radio station in nearby Pasadena. I don’t remember exactly what song I heard first, but I loved this sound, which was different from other music I listened to at the time. I soon got to meet the college going niece of a family friend. She was so cool and trendy and I was in awe. She had several albums with her for her visit and helped me copy her R.E.M. albums onto cassette tapes. Awesome! I carried R.E.M. with me through high school and onto college, where I got my roommate into them. I have many memories tied to the band and consider them one of my very favorites to this day.
By the time R.E.M.’s tenth studio album, New Adventures in Hi-Fi, was released in 1996, I’d been living in L.A. for a couple of years. At the time, I thought the album was just okay. I was still pretty stuck on their first four albums and didn’t love the newer songs as much. As is often the case, the work has grown on me and I like many of the tracks a lot, especially “Electrolite,” which is to my ears, sort of a love song.
Live from The Clamshell [apparently a converted garage in a mystery location here in LA!], Sunday, April 26, Noon to 5p
A live webcast of some of SoCal’s strongest poets, performing in an intimate (secret) venue. Hosted by G. Murray Thomas and Eric Morago, this will be an entertaining and enlightening session of spoken word. The featured performers will include:
R.D. “Raindog” Armstrong, founder and publisher of Lummox Press. His latest book is Fire and Rain. James Bolt SoCal performance poet extraordinaire. Mona Jean Cedar combines poetry, dance and ASL until a unique performance style. Commoners & Kings (Jason O’Neal, Anthony Sims, and Dragonfly Jon): “We’re all common men striving to be kings, but when we get to be kings don’t forget to be common men.”
Scott Huestis, from Gizmo and Building 7,will be accompanying some of the poets on guitar.
It’s become something of an annual tradition these last few years for me one afternoon each spring to detour on my bike commute home to the Exposition Park Rose Garden and wander in the waning light of day along and among the multitudes and varieties of blooms — at least until the security patrol cruises by and gets on his PA to tell me to get out because for some grade-A WTF? the rose garden is only open until 5:30 p.m. Why the hell that place isn’t open and accessible until sunset I have no idea.
As usual before getting the boot I pixelized some of the flora, the snaps of which are available for viewing here at my Flickr photoset, but the bonus that I found on the garden’s promenade is what I’m more interested in sharing with you (slightly biggifiable if clicked or view the set here on Flickr):
It’s a free exhibition that debuted on Earth Day this past week called Cool Globes, and it features some 32 spheres measuring five feet in diameter remarkably transformed with a variety of materials by a range of artists as well as school kids to create awareness about global warming. “Cool Globes” will be in place at Exposition Park through July 23.
Afterwards I biked to a much more somber occasion, the ghost bike memorial for Jesus Castillo, killed while bicycling on Glendale Boulevard April 19. Jesus Castillo, a 44-year-old resident of Echo Park was killed dy a driver who struck him and then fled the scene. Thanks to witnesses who recorded the vehicle’s license number, the driver was later arrested and determined not only to be operating a vehicle with a suspended license, but police say he was driving under the influence at the time of the accident. Pix from the gathering of several hundred cyclists at the memorial created by my friends Dan Berlant and Stephen Roullier are viewable here.
And if you’re in the mood for some timelapsed video of the the whole bike commute you can watch that unfold from the perspective of my handlebarcam over here on YouTube.
If you haven’t been paying attention to the news today you might want to google swine flu. Take a few minutes and read that. OK, back now? Good. Now you might be interested in this google map which is showing confirmed and suspected cases in Mexico and SoCal. There aren’t any in Los Angeles yet, but there weren’t any in San Diego jut the other day and now there are several. It seems to be moving pretty quickly so a LA case is bound to pop up shortly. For more info you can also follow CDC Emergeny on twitter and check out this Mashable post with more pointers. More news when I get it.
I spent two weeks at the Hotel Figueroa recently for work purposes. It’s located in Downtown Los Angeles just across the street from L.A. Live. I’d been walking by it quite a bit and was fascinated by the structure. Getting to spend a week inside the historic building was a fantastic adventure.
The building was originally erected in 1924 as a YWCA. It seems to have been part of a small block cultivated by women. Across the street is a venerable piece of architecture known as the Variety Arts Center built the same year by a social and political club for women. After the Depression, the YWCA was turned into a hotel, which is what it has remained to this day. Five or six years ago, the Hotel Figueroa was given the Casablanca meets Arabia theme it now languishes in. It’s absolutely beautiful and haunting at the same time. It is as if the building has managed to capture every year that has gone by and kept a piece of it like a soul gathered. Every time I stepped into the lobby, I felt as if I was walking through a mist or veil into a unique convergence of moments – some rooted in the present and some decades old.