Dr. Marc Abrams Memorial Walk Recap

Walking Kid
Little Walking Man - Photo Courtesy of Fleur Philips

I’m still on somewhat of a high from Sunday’s Memorial Walk for Dr. Marc Abrams. Near the end of the walk, I met a reporter for BBC America who said, “I’ve been searching for a sense of community ever since I moved to L.A. and this is the first time I think I’ve found it.” To me, that summed up the entire experience perfectly.

Looking out at the crowd of people gathered to walk for a man most of them didn’t know – families with kids and dogs in tow, everyone smiling and in good spirits – it restored my outlook on our neighborhood and once again made me realize how privileged I am to live in a community where people will join together for something as simple as remembering a man who walked our neighborhood almost every day for 30 years.

I’d like to extend a special thanks to:

  • Brandon Fuller for creating the Facebook event page and silverlakewalkingman.com
  • Howie via NeighborGoods.net for letting us borrow the megaphone for the event
  • Christopher Daniels for helping with coordination, creating the flyer and for communicating with Dr. Abrams’ friends and family for us
  • Kevin West for being there, despite his grief over the loss of his friend, and for sharing the note from Dr. Abrams’ wife, Cindy
  • Nick Potter for stimulating the initial idea for the walk
  • My lovely fiance’ Harold for holding the megaphone during all of the speeches
  • L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti and Councilman Tom LaBonge for their presence and support

Below are some comments from the community that I’d like to share and also a round up of some press coverage of the walk. Continue reading Dr. Marc Abrams Memorial Walk Recap

Classic Eats #12: Save The Date!

Golly, recovering from the Very Special Classic East Blog-a-Thon at Canters, followed not long after by Donut Summit took a bit longer than I thought it would!

My waistline and cholesterol levels notwithstanding, it’s time to get back to Classic Eats!

Mark your calendars for Classic Eats #12: Saturday August 21. As usual we’ll start early in the evening (5 or 6). Look for the voting to commence in the next few days.

Phototasting or: How to Make Food Look Good

My picture fails at giving justice to the delicious simpleness that is Gloria Cafe's pupusas. As soon as I learn a trick or two from Phototesting, I'm going to take the test again.

My existential dilemma over the last few weeks has been over what camera to buy.  So much so that I have been pretty much paralyzed at the checkout counter, my Amazon shopping cart holding the Canon G11 one day, the Lumix LX-3 the next.  Over the weekend, I FINALLY bit the bullet: just closed my eyes and picked one (LX-3 FTW!).  Now, however, I have an entirely different problem: I’m, ah, not entirely sure how to use what I just bought.  And, as I am one of those annoying kids at the table who forces everyone to wait just a second while I take a picture, I, and my dining companions, really would like to know how to I could best photograph our dishes.

Big sigh of relief, then, because Daily Gluttony over at Rants and Craves is hosting another Phototasting workshop on Saturday for those who eat and click.  The first session at Checkers downtown went superbly – the event sold out with eager food photographers learning how to best photograph food even in the dimmest of restaurant lighting.  Saturday’s event will shift venues from Checkers to Cube Marketplace and Cafe on La Brea.  The setting, then, is perfect: who wouldn’t want to capture on digital celluloid the fresh, mostly organic California-inspired Italian dishes that Cube offers?  Fifty dollars is your tuition fee; in the three hour class, you will learn all sorts of things about ISO speeds and white balances and other fancy phrases that people seem to toss around as if they know what they’re talking about.  And, since we are what we eat, you’ll have the welcome opportunity to eat what you photographed.  This is a pass/fail class, kids; if your pictures trigger a Pavlov’s-dog reaction, you’ve passed with flying colors.

The Phototasting workshop is this Saturday, July 31st from 2pm to 5pm.  $50 is the fee; this includes the delicious salumis and cheeses and whatnot that Cube will supply for you to photograph and eatLike Psych 101, this class probably will fill up very quickly. The chances of you getting off the waitlist is virtually zilch, so I’d suggest you sign up before it’s too late.

Where to Eat On the Trek Up the 5

Believe me, the drive on the 5 is a food desert.  I know, because I love Burning Man, San Francisco and have numerous friends and family in the Northern part of CA, so end up driving north a couple of times a year.  It’s a wasteland in the food department.  Especially if you are partial to fresh eats, have a penchant for veggies and hate fast food.

However, on our last trip, I found a couple of  places that deserve a stop.  The first one is about an 3 hours north of LA, Harris Ranch.  I know it’s known for it’s beef…about 3/4 of the menu is steak, meatloaf, burgers, etc and they looked great, but we are into strictly organic beef if we have it, so the steak was a no-go.  My honey Dan and I shared a magnificent salad, a flatbread eggplant pizza and some fresh gazpacho and were really impressed. All their vegetables are from their very large ranch, so  were pretty good.  They also have fresh juice (orange, grapefruit and tomato) so that was a treat. There is a bakery too, but we got there too late to try anything.   The restaurant is open from 6am to 10pm, and you can get snacks in the bar til 11, so it’s a pretty good get-out-of-the-car stop half-way between LA and SF.  They have an amazing pool too.  Just sayin’!!!  C’mon, it was 90 degrees at 10PM!!!!!  And I’d been cooped up in the car for hours!

The other place we found is 90 minutes north of LA at the Buttonwillow exit.  It’s a family owned Indian restaurant.  It’s kind of pricey… their entrees are $12-15 bucks for veggies and the chicken dishes were $15-20, but their appetizers were good, all in the $5 range.  The mango lassi really hits the spot when it’s blazing outside.  I’ve heard the Mexican Restaurant, “Tita’s” at this exit is pretty excellent, with homemade pupusas, but my sweetheart doesn’t like Mexican food, so he always vetoes it.

Anyway, these two get my votes if you want to avoid fast food on the 5, when driving north of LA.  Any other suggestions out there?

Win Tickets For Scorpions Farewell

Scorpions

After 45 years (yes, 45!) the Scorpions have decided to lay down their guitars. Before they retire, however, they’ll be on a three-year farewell tour. The Get Your Sting And Blackout tour comes to southern California this week, and blogging.la has your tickets. Read on…

As I suspect is true of most hard rock fans my age (or perhaps a little younger,) the Scorpions first hit my radar with their Love At First Sting album in 1984. That was the album that featured the anthem “Rock You Like A Hurricane.” It was followed closely by 1985’s World Wide Live. Even now it’s hard to believe those records (yes, they were “records” back then) were released 25 years ago. Harder still to believe that Rudolf Shenker started this band in 1965.

Scorpions (with guests, Cinderella) are coming to the new(ish) Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario on Thursday, July 29, and we’ve got your tickets. Want to win a pair of tickets to the show courtesy of Goldenvoice and blogging.la? Just leave me a note in the comments below telling me your Scorpions story. Favorite song, why you desperately want to see them on this farewell tour, how you missed seeing them in high school because your mom wouldn’t let you camp out overnight at Music+Plus to get tickets. You get the idea.

Contest ends Wednesday at 9:00am, with winners notified via email. Keep a close eye on your inbox Wednesday morning, because I need you to reply to a question in that winning email by noon Wednesday. If I don’t hear from you, I have to pass the tickets on to the next winner. (Pro tip: Watch your inbox after noon too, just in case you’re the runner up. I’ll still need a quick response.)

Don’t want to take a chance on winning your way into the show? You can still purchase tickets here. I wouldn’t wait too long, though. The Scorpions show on Saturday night at the Nokia Theater at L.A. Live appears to already be sold out.

As has become my habit, I’ll start you off with my Scorpions story. Well, not mine actually…
In 1990, a friend who was working for Mercury Records was taking advantage of the “free meal on your birthday” deal at the Denny’s on Sunset Blvd. While “dining” (seriously, it’s Denny’s; the quotes around that word are deserved,) in walk the Scorpions, who were in Hollywood recording “Crazy World.” They recognized my friend, as they had just met her at the Mercury offices, and discovering it was her birthday, they all gathered round her table to sing “Happy Birthday.” The Scorpions. Singing “Happy Birthday.” At Denny’s. A happy birthday indeed.

Okay, now you.

LAPD still hates bikes

What does someone have to do to get handcuffed and detained by the LAPD? Regardless of how you might have answered those questions, the real answers seem to be that the LAPD feels spending a half an hour detaining and handcuffing a cyclist for riding a bike without a headlight (or with a headlight that was turned off by the officers in question, depending on who you believe) and then giving them a $10 fix it ticket is all it takes. Or handcuffing and detaining someone who simply approached the first scene and asked what was happening. That’s exactly what is happening.

Is handcuffing someone who isn’t resisting, isn’t a threat, and who is only getting a $10 ticket really the best use of the LAPDs time? Have we gotten rid of all the other crime in the city that this is what they have to worry about now?

A Visit To The Theme Building Observation Deck at LAX

Will and Sean are into cycling. Alexandra is into donuts. I’m into airplanes.

As mentioned earlier this month, the Observation Deck on the Theme Building at LAX is once again open to the public. On Saturdays and Sundays from 8-5 you can watch planes take off and land on all four runways at once to your heart’s content. I did just that on Sunday and had to tear myself away after almost two glorious hours breathing in the alternating jet exhaust and restaurant grill smells.

The Theme Building is all sparkly and new after it’s stucco fixing retrofit. The place is so fab retro, that even if you aren’t a plane junky, the building itself is a hoot. Behold the elevator to the O Deck.

Going Up!

And some some left over artifacts tickle the memory spots.

I love airports and airplanes and all things flight related, in fact, the first time I met fellow blogger Will Campbell was in March of 2007 when he posted about the A-380 making it’s inaugural flight to LAX. I joined him and many others on the grassy knoll near the In-N-Out to watch that behemoth land on 24R. Now Qantas flies that baby regularly to LAX. I didn’t see it land on Sunday, but it was parked down the way.

Size Does Matter

On the observation deck, you can walk all the way around and get great views of all parts of the airport. I have to admit I was taking so many pictures of airplanes, I only took two photos of the deck itself! It wasn’t crowded but there was a fairly steady stream of people coming and going, most with kids.

There are four free (OMG FREE!) scopes you can use to get an up close and personal view of the planes landing and taking off.

But the guy sitting on the bench over there came with his own binocs. I’m 99.9% sure he’s one of the many plane spotters out there who love an awesome location like the Observation Deck to do what they love most. He was fully prepared: Binoculars, notebooks, lunch, hat. Though he could have used a bit of sunscreen as that place reflects a TON of light off the various angles and facets of the Theme Building.

Looking North
Looking West

But let’s get to why we are here! Huge jets are fun to watch. 747s have always been my favorite and I got treated to plenty of arrivals and take offs of those big beauties.

Come on big boy!
Oh yeah!

Watching them take off always makes the laws of physics seem impossible.

"Climb, baby, climb!"

(By the way, if you know where the quote from the above image comes from, you’ll win my undying admiration. Tell me in the comments!)

The Air Force made an appearance as well.

C-130

The Observation Deck is a blast. I would bring a picnic next time and stay for even longer. The Deck itself is free, but parking is not. I recommend sunscreen if you are staying longer than a few minutes as it is BRIGHT up there. Bring binoculars, bring a camera, bring your love of flying!

See you up there…

Updated Route for Sunday’s Memorial Walk

(Photo courtesy of Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times / May 6, 2010)
(Photo courtesy of Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times / May 6, 2010)

For those of you wishing to join us this Sunday in remembrance of a local icon, below is the proposed route for Sunday’s Memorial Walk in honor of Dr. Marc Abrams, who passed away this week.

Bring water and sunscreen! We will assemble for the walk on Sunday, July 25 at noon. Meet in the grassy field next to the Silver Lake Recreation Center at 1850 W. Silver Lake Drive. Parking may be a challenge in this area, so I suggest riding a bike, walking or taking the Metro to the starting point. The # 201 bus stops at W. Silver Lake Drive and Moreno, which is walking distance to the Silver Lake Recreation Center.

Please stay on sidewalks and observe all traffic rules. No jaywalking or impeding traffic.

12:30 PM – Begin at Silver Lake Recreation Center at 1850 W. Silver Lake Drive, continue north on W. Silver Lake Drive for 1.3 miles

1:00 PM – Turn left on Rowena, continue for 0.2 miles

1:05 PM – Turn left on Hyperion, continue south towards Monon for 0.2 miles

1:10 PM – Turn left on Griffith Park Blvd, stay on Griffith Park for 1.3 miles, until it dead ends at Sunset Blvd. (in front of Mornings Nights Coffee Shop)

1:45 PM – Stop at the triangle park across from Mornings Nights Coffee Shop at 1523 Griffith Park Blvd for a break, get water, etc.

2:00 PM – Turn left on Sunset Blvd. towards downtown

2:10 PM – Stop at the mural at 2943 W. Sunset Blvd, next to Local restaurant

2:20 PM – Turn left on Silver Lake Blvd, continue for 0.8 miles

2:30 PM – Arrive back at the Silver Lake Recreation Center

Those wishing to do an extended walk at this point should continue around the Reservoir on Silver Lake Blvd for 0.8 miles, turn left on Armstrong for 0.3 miles, then left on Tesla Avenue, then left on W. Silver Lake Drive for 1 mile.

GTD This Weekend

The hot, hot sun chose an excellent time to hide behind the clouds and cool off this weekend.  Between the Street Food Festival at the Rose Bowl, the Renegade Craft  Fair in the cornfield, the Silver Lake flea market, and the Outdoor Cinema Food Fest, there’s much too much to do outdoors to have a heat wave put a damper on all the fun.

If you fancy yourself a fancy meal, head out to The Water Grill tonight where Executive Chef David LeFevre and sous chef Amanda Baumgarten – and current Top Chef-stant – created, Iron Chef-style, a special menu based on the ingredients used in that week’s episode.  On the menu tonight: Queen Charlotte Salmon sauteed with sauce soubise and a compote of leeks and dates.  If you miss the special dinner tonight, hope Padma doesn’t ask Amanda to pack up her knives and go next week – these special menus will keep coming out of the kitchen for dinner Wednesdays through Fridays so long as Amanda stays in the competition.

Also tonight, check out and support some talented youths celebrating a year of Equal Action’s OUTspoken‘s open mic sessions specifically for queer youth and their allies.  In addition, there will be a screening of the fifth episode of That’s What She Said, a webseries about hot Asian lezzies in Los Angeles.  Whatever dram-a they get into, I’m pretty sure it will not include a subplot [spoiler alert for those of you who haven’t seen The Kids Are All Right, Personal Best, Chasing Amy…] involving a lesbian sleeping with a man, because you know, that doesn’t happen nearly as often as people hope it does.

To my fellow Street Food Fest-goers on Saturday at the Rose Bowl from 5:30pm to 11pm: brace yourself.  Eat something light in the morning and gather your strength to fight me over Starry Kitchen’s crispy tofu balls once we’re on the field.  Tickets were pre-sale only and sold out earlier this week, but no fear: there are plenty of other events this weekend with plenty of food trucks.  Seriously, this food truck thing is both awesome and a little out of control at the same time.

Not-Street Food Fest street food alternative 1:  If you’re looking for (post-Kogi) street food, and are jonesing to watch the greatness that is Pulp Fiction, the Outdoor Cinema Food Fest presents a gigantanormous outdoor screen at Exposition Park onto which John Travolta and his horrible hair that somehow works only in this movie will be projected.  $8 will get you in the grounds; a blanket is recommended so you can sit on it.  Leave your picnic basket at home; there will be food trucks.

Not-Street Food Fest street food alternative 2:  The Renegade Craft Fair will take over the cornfield (aka the LA Historic State Park) near Chinatown from 11am to 7pm Saturday and Sunday, with over 200 vendors offering their creations for your browsing and buying pleasure.  There also will be craft-oriented workshops led by The Urban Craft Center and Etsy; and – best part – my favorite t-shirt shop ever, Threadless, will be on hand with a mobile art studio.  Food trucks will feed the crafty and hungry.

Not-Street Food Fest street food alternative 3: Speaking of arts and crafts, the tried-and-true Silver Lake Art* Craft & Vintage flea market is set for Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm at the Micheltorena Street Elementary School.  You’re on school grounds here, so listen to the recess lady carefully.  The flea market recurs the last weekend of every month.  You guessed it: food trucks will provide an excellent alternative to cafeteria food.

If you want to be less hipster homemaker and more cultured maven who doesn’t need food trucks at your festivals, the Obon festival takes place both days this weekend in Little Tokyo.  Think of this as a Memorial Day for Buddhists, a time in which we remember our ancestors and ponder the lives we were given.  The holiday is steeped in custom, particularly in Japan (read all about it here).   At 6pm on Saturday and Sunday, the skies will be lit with “ten thousand lanterns” in tradition of the Manto-e, followed by Bon Odori dancing.  On Sunday, there will be sumo wrestlers.

On Sunday at noon, remember the life of Marc Abrams, aka the Silver Lake Walking Man, who passed earlier this week, by joining Verdell and others on a memorial walk at noon on Sunday.  There probably will be no food trucks, unless one happens to be parked somewhere along the route.  This probably is exactly how the Walking Man would have preferred it.

Sweet Summer Nights at the Santa Monica Pier

Yup.  Every Thursday this summer (and lots of summers past!) the Twilight Dance Series is rockin’ at the Santa Monica Pier.  Grab your honey, your friends or both, bring a blanket and some deliciousness to imbibe and it’s a guaranteed good time on the sand.

I’ve made it a point to hit it at least a couple of times every summer and it has never disappointed!  You can dance, you can just lay back and listen, you can ride the Ferris wheel under the stars, you can lay out on the sand with hundreds of other revelers…. it’s all good.  Starts at seven every Thursday.  Tonight features Jovanotti, an Italian Superstar crooner.  August 5th, Ricki Lee Jones is playing!  More info here.

There’s also bike valet parking for free if you want to wheel down without gas.  Thank you Santa Monica!

Memorial Walk to Honor Silver Lake’s Walking Man

Silver Lake's Walking Man
Photo courtesy of Will Campbell

As many of you have heard by now, Marc Abrams (known to most as Silver Lake’s Walking Man) passed away last night. To honor the man who became such a fixture in our community, a few of us have decided to organize a memorial walk in his honor, beginning this Sunday at noon. We will meet at West Silver Lake Drive and Moreno, We will meet in the grassy field next to the Silver Lake Recreation Center, near where he began his daily walks, then follow his usual route.

In 2004, Abrams outlined his route in an interview:

“I usually loop around the lake, and then go down West Silverlake to Rowena, and then Hyperion, and then Griffith Park Blvd. down Sunset, back down Silverlake to the reservoir, and then back and loop around the lake again. So it’s about 15 miles altogether.”

All are welcome to join. Details below:

What: Memorial Walk to Honor Marc Abrams

When: Sunday, July 25 at noon

Where: LOCATION CHANGE! The response has been so overwhelming that we need to accommodate a larger number of attendees. For safety purposes, we have moved the starting location a few blocks away to the grassy field next to the Silver Lake Recreation Center, right at the edge of the Silver Lake Dog Park – a much better place to congregate as numbers arrive. The Silver Lake Recreation Center is located at 1850 W. Silver Lake Dr. 90026. CLICK HERE FOR AN OUTLINE OF THE ENTIRE ROUTE.

Pour on the sunblock, don your short shorts, bring along a folded New York Times and just walk – that’s what he would have done.

Rest In Peace: Silver Lake Walking Man

I’m entirely dumbstruck to learn that one of Silver Lake’s most recognizable and mobile icons, Dr. Marc Abrams — aka The Walking Man, The Walking Dude, Doc Walker — has died.  His age is being reported as 58 and he was apparently found dead Wednesday in the backyard hottub of his Silver Lake home.

In my seven years in Silver Lake, I’ve of course seen Abrams in his element countless times (and photographed him on any of several occasions). By chance one day a few years back while I myself was walking the hills west of the reservoir I found him coming out of his house to begin one of his marathon treks and felt like I’d graduated; not only did I know of The Walking Man, but now I knew of where he lived!

It’s a funny thing. Though he was in essence a stranger, there was nevertheless something very reassuring in seeing him out there on the sidewalks in his shorts, reading something or talking on his cell phone. Whether I was having a crap day or the world was in some way greased and going to hell, a fleeting encounter with him was a reminder that everything wasn’t entirely out of whack.

But now it is. And I know that sometime in the next few months I’m going to be biking or walking or driving somewhere in Silver Lake and wonder why it is I haven’t seen him in so long. Then I’ll remember, and it won’t surprise me if I get choked up like I am right now.

It is at least some consolation that so revered by the community as he was I can find him in at least three neighborhood murals I know of, including  Nicky Gagliarducci’s 2009 mural next to Local Restaurant (pictured above; click to enlarge). He has — sigh, had — a habit of popping up our of nowhere so maybe he’ll surprise me by showing up in other street art I don’t know about.

In the meantime I’ll fondly recall the last time I saw him in person, which was prior to the start of one of my Bike Every Saturday In May group bike rides. As he strode past where we’d gathered in the Silversun parking lot at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Parkman Avenue, one of us asked him if he had any advice. He stopped, turned and thought about it for a second. With a smile he fittingly gave us Satchel Paige’s “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you.”

Then he walked away.

Rest in peace, Walking Man. Rest in peace, Dr. Abrams.

Is it a donut or is it art? (or: Oh, the things I eat for this blog)

I spent a month on Donut Detox after the Donut Summit, during which not a single donut was allowed within my line of sight.  However, the call of the cruller is seductive, and this weekend I gamely ventured forth to DK’s donuts to break my donut fast.

DK’s was a sleeper favorite at the Donut Summit – I’m still kind of bitter that their blueberry apple fritter didn’t take home the Best Fritter award – but I’d never actually been in person, and I am pleased to report that it is a land of magic and wonders.  They have a few varieties of fresh whipped cream filled donuts which are to die for – there’s one with chocolate frosting, inexplicably called the Canadian Cream; and one with a glaze, with the even more inexplicable and grammatically creative name “French d’Cream.”  They’ve got a maple bacon bar, chocolate whipped cream filled, and guava filled, and, well,  just look at this ridiculous list of donuts you can get there.    But the most mysterious and enticing donut of all was something labelled “Cream Pup.”

Asking what was in a Cream Pup would have been cheating, so we just bought one and took it home for proper scientific classification.  It does not look like any donut I have ever known, and god knows what the “pup” in cream pup refers to, because as far as I can tell, the only connection it has to pups or puppies of any kind is that it sort of resembles a giant chocolate dog turd, only deliciouser:

But once you cut it open, behold the magic that lies beneath that chocolately glaze!

So, in case you can’t tell, what we have going on here is an old fashioned donut, with a heaping mound of buttercream frosting on top, dipped in chocolate.  Which is such a ridiculous idea.  Who thought of this?  I would like to meet that particular mad genius and pat them on the back, because, damn it was delicious.  The donut was fresh and nutmeggy and somehow managed to hold its own against that towering onslaught of frosting and chocolate.  So, congratulations, DK’s:  you have single-handedly managed to transform the humble donut into a work of weird, surrealistic pop art, and for that I salute you (although I’m fairly certain my arteries do not).

DK’s is located at 1614 Santa Monica Blvd, if you want a cream pup of your very own.

Summer Fund Drive At KCRW Needs Volunteers

KCRW logoKCRW is having their summer pledge drive from August 9 through August 17 and they need volunteers. They specifically need to fill the following days/shifts:

Monday, August 9 from 2:30pm – 5:40pm
Monday, August 16 from 5:50am – 8:10am AND 7:45am – 9:20am

They could also use a few more people on:

Thursday, August 12 from 2pm – 3:30pm
Monday, August 16 2:30pm – 5:40pm

If you have the time, I really hope you’ll sign up as it is such a fun way to volunteer and support a terrific radio station. The station is at Santa Monica college and there is free parking, lots of delicious snacks and drinks and a lot of fun people to work with, all while helping the station meet its financial goals. I’m again practicing what I preach and have signed up for four shifts. I’m a morning person so I’ll be answering phone from 6:00 am to 8:00 am, 8/9, 8/11, 8/13 and 8/17. Join me!

Go to KCRW’s Drive Volunteer page and read more, then sign up.

If you can’t volunteer this time, consider becoming a member (if you aren’t already) or make sure to renew your membership. There are always amazing give-aways and special deals for your donation.

Thank you!

Paddle Tennis Anyone?

(If you already know and love Paddle Tennis, bear with me for a moment.)

It’s not Ping-Pong. It’s not Platform Tennis. It’s not Paddleball or Beach Paddle or even something called Padel. Paddle Tennis is its own game and has been around since 1898, invented in Michigan by a man named Frank Peer Beal. (Read a full history here.)

Paddle Tennis is a blast and in these hot sunny summer days, if you love tennis, you might find yourself stymied by full courts and long wait times to play. However, if you shift your game a tiny bit, you can find wide open (and best of all: FREE) Paddle Tennis courts all over LA. And all those half dead tennis balls you have lying around? They are required for Paddle Tennis. Look at you — recycling while you play. (Your dogs may be upset while they wait for their shot at the deflated balls, however.)

If you are already playing tennis at public courts, you may have seen the smaller Paddle Tennis courts alongside the regular courts. If not, here is a map for just some of the public courts available. The map does not include my current favorite court in Culver City: Culver West Park, just south of Washington on Wade or Moore streets. (The park itself is a little gem with a big jungle gym for the kids, a huge lawn (used to be a baseball diamond) a dog walk track, 1 tennis court, 2 paddle tennis courts, and 2 handball courts, plus restrooms and an indoor community room.)

Venice is a hot spot for Paddle Tennis and the home of Power Paddle, the last all wood paddles on the market (seen above). Brian Lee is the owner of the company and former five time paddle tennis champion, taking over from his father who started making the paddles to improve his own game. (Full disclosure, my husband I use Power Paddles, though I didn’t realize they were locally made by Mr. Lee when I started writing this article!)

Paddle Tennis is great sports for kids to learn with the smaller courts and paddles. And since you only need a paddle, a few balls and a willing partner, it doesn’t have to be expensive to start. Give it a try! If you need a partner, I’m an amateur, but I can give good rally.

For full rules, info and player rankings, visit the US Paddle Tennis Association.

(Oh and if you think the smaller court and deflated balls make this some kind of rinky-dink retired granny sport, watch this video.)

Go out and play!