Ladies & Gentlemen: Waltarrrr Has Left The Blogging

Pictured above leading a charge westward toward downtown across the 4th Street Viaduct during CycLAvia last October is Highland Park-based blogger Waltarrrr. I find this image I captured of him on that glorious day rather iconic in that for the past 4.5 years he’s been trumpeting to greater Los Angeles all about the present and past of the multifaceted communities of Northeast Los Angeles. And I present it to you today so that you can join me in saying goodbye not to him, but rather to his indispensable 90042 blog, whose hibernation he announced yesterday:

What I can say is this blog is going to sleep for a while. The weekly posts just won’t be there anymore. Instead, I plan to focus on my first love, Art. I’m a painter by trade. As a byproduct of putting my efforts into writing and researching this blog, I haven’t actually made a painting in some time. In my studio sits a pile of blank canvases awaiting my attention. This year I resolved to start painting rather than writing, to start sketching rather than tweeting. I’m a craftsperson, a maker. At this juncture I need to create tangible objects more than web posts.

It has been a fun trip, but the time has come to put the blog to rest. Thanks for sharing the ride.

I’ve had the pleasure of his company on numerous bike rides and various long walks. The favorite story I like to tell about him happened in October 2008 when I’d planned to walk the entire length of Western Avenue from Griffith Park to the land’s end. Waltarrrr was very much looking forward to it, but as the day approached a conflict arose that prevented him from joining us. So he did the entire thing himself a week earlier than us, adding untold distance by venturing off on explorations down countless side streets until he was forced to stop around Torrance. Set on completing the journey, he returned the next day to where he’d turned back by the 405 Freeway and walked the rest of the way to the sea. His Flickr photoset of the two-day trek is here.

While I’m going to miss 90042 immensely, I’m also going to hope there’s ultimately a parallel to draw between his amazing journey and his blogging: he knew when to quit but came back to where he left off and kept going.

GTD This Weekend: Culture

Art, music, food, and fashion, all this weekend.  Who said LA lacks culture?

SATURDAY

  • Oh em gee!  The cast of Glee is going American Idol on themselves, except they’re skipping the contest part and going straight to solo album.   Puck was the first out of the recording studio; now Mr. Schuester, Matthew Morrison, is ready for his close-up.  He’s launching his solo career at The Grove on Saturday, with performances and, likely, dancing.  Two words of caution, Mr. Morrison: Joey Lawrence.  Free.  12pm to 3pm at The Grove.
  • The Louvre says that anyone can enter its doors regardless of ability to pay; from firsthand experience, I can tell you that this policy is sort of a lie.  In contrast, museums across this city really will let you in gratis on Saturday and Sunday during the sixth annual Museum Free for All.  The California Science Center, MOCA, and the Skirball Center all participating.  Free, really free.  Saturday and Sunday; check participating museums for exact hours of operation.
  • After the Museum Free for All, check out even more art at Art Los Angeles Contemporary, LA’s “international contemporary art fair.”  High end galleries as far flung as Dublin and as close as Culver City will be on hand, and there will be everything from installations from artist-magician A.Bandit to conversations about the role of this city in producing and supporting women in the business of art.  $18 single day admission/$28 for a 3-day pass.  11am to 7pm on Saturday; 11am to 6pm on Sunday at the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica.
  • You, like me, probably harbor a very secret hope to be one of those people on Antiques Roadshow who walk in with their grandmother’s tea kettle and walk out with The Tea Kettle Used By Abraham Lincoln The Morning Before He Was Assassinated.  Here’s our chance to satisfy our curiosities: antiques dealer and auctioneer I.M. Chait is hosting an appraisal clinic.  You bring in up to six items; an expert appraiser will evaluate the object of your dreams and tell you, without any obligation, whether you’re sitting on a gem or family souvenir (read: it’s not worth anything but the memories).  Free.  From noon to 5pm at I.M. Chait Gallery, 9330 Civic Center Dr. in Beverly Hills.

SUNDAY

  • Tickets may be sold out by the time you read this, but hopefully not: a few more tickets were released for Peter, Bjorn & John’s exclusive show at the Center for the Arts in Eagle Rock.  This will be an almost impossible chance to see a very good band in a very tiny venue for a very small price: $12 plus a nominal ticket fee.  And no, I would not have told you about this unless I already secured my tickets.  $12.  7:30pm at the Center for the Arts in Eagle Rock.  Really, get on this NOW.
  • Oh, this sounds very cool: female-owned food trucks like Mandoline Grill and Dosa Truck will gather around the parking lot table in the first ever Femme Festival Food Truck event.  Yeah, women know how to drive. 1pm to 5pm at The Other Door, 10437 Burbank Blvd, North Hollywood.
  • Yes, Amoeba is right across the street from Space15 Twenty, but if you can have an outdoor record fair at the end of January, why not?  Amoeba teams up with a few record labels, pop-ups, Origami Vinyl, B-Music, Dublab others in a big Record Fair.  Pick up a few vinyls for the ol’ record player, maybe a CD for the ol’ CD player, and Judas Priest rock tee for ol’ times sake.  Free.  10am to 2pm at Space15 Twenty’s courtyard in Hollywood.
  • If you thought clothes when I said vinyl up there, you’re probably better off going to the Vintage Clothing and Textile Show in Burbank.  Some sixty-five vendors will be on hand to show off and sell a variety of materials, as well necessities like cute buttons, linens, and perfume bottles.  There’s enough there to inspire you to open up your own Etsy shop.  $7 GA/$20 early admission.  9am to 3pm at The Pickwick Gardens, 1001 Riverside Dr. in Burbank.

Photo of an exhibit at the California Science Center by calvinfleming via the Blogging LA Flickr pool. Yeup, science and museums are pretty cool.

Yikes where did all the traffic come from?

It used to be, and it wasn’t that long ago one could zip into Downtown LA from where I am pretty quickly off peak times.  In the last couple of months I’ve had reason to be downtown after 4 and the drive in was as big a grind from Dodger Stadium as the mornings were back in the day when I had to commute in peak morning drive.  Whaaaaaa happened to change this so its always tough getting in to downtown LA?

How to Feed 1,250 Emotional People at an Awards Show

What happens when you ask Suzanne Goin to look "fierce."

A producer friend of a friend once described his pre-Oscar ritual as something akin to a runner prepping for a marathon: “Eat.  Because you’re not going to until hours and hours later.”  That he has to go hungry during the 3+ hours of The Emmys or The Oscars is the worst thing about the gala for him (for people who actually are in it to win it, the worst thing probably is not being nominated or losing what may be your only chance to claim the “O” in “EGOT“).  Anyway, the reason why, say, The Golden Globes and The Screen Actors’ Guild Awards are better in his book is in part because you get to eat.  Eating is, after all, the panacea for all the ups and downs during any awards ceremony, whether it be The SAG Awards at The Shrine or your kid’s end-of-the-year award ceremony at The Overcrowded Multipurpose Room.  Anxious?  Snack, nervously.  Weren’t nominated?  Chomp, vengefully.  Didn’t win?  Nosh, sadly.  Did win?  Feast, gluttonously.  Bored?  Eat, mindfully.

Now, say you’re the chef who has to cater said eating awards event.  What do you do?  Suzanne Goin, chef and owner of Lucques, AOC, and Tavern, is doing the cooking for the Screen Actors’ Guild Awards this Sunday.  She and her entourage at Lucques Catering will serve some 1,250 people who are hungry/nervous/overconfident/not confident enough given the caliber of their work/there for the swag.  To ease the emotional roller-coaster, she will plate a lovely quartet of palate-pleasers that reflect local, seasonal cooking.

Clockwise from the top left: beluga lentils with carrots, pine nuts, and feta; slow-roasted salmon with ginger-mint chutney; slow-roasted lamb with chickpeas and feta salsa verde; a beautiful salad with blood oranges, dates, arugula, and parmesan; and a baked herbed crostini with parmesan and chopped thyme and parsley to bring it all together.  When each part is consumed, and why – well, to each his or her own.

And, because if you’re anything like me and sometimes like seeing how they made, say, Toy Story 3, almost as much as you like seeing the finished product, a couple of photos of the kitchen at Lucques:

For those of you not part of the SAG action on Sunday night, Lucques and AOC are both participating in DineLA.  Lucques is offering a three-course lunch menu for $28, and a three-course dinner menu for $44.  AOC is offering a three-course dinner menu for $44.  Given the caliber of the food at both restaurants – really, unlike other high-end restaurants, I can’t recall ever having a meal at either Lucques or AOC that I regretted – the prix fixe menus are a great deal.  Go on, snack, chomp, nosh, feast, eat.  Your emotions will thank you later.

Changes in Latitude

This officey-looking building in Marina del Rey was once known as Pier Pointe.  It was an office building that was converted to condos several years ago.  According to the sales literature I received from them at the height of the recession,  the condos were quite pricey, starting at about $900,000, as I recall.  This unfortunate timing led not to a fully occupied building, but to a reported bankruptcy in 2009.

Now the building is back as Latitude 33.  The condos are being marketed once again.  However, take a look at their logo in the pics here and on their website.   Do you see anything unusual about the logo, given the name of the property?

I do wish these folks the best of luck.

This Old House Comes To Los Angeles

Honest to goodness celebrities: Kevin O'Connor and Norm Abram

When you hear Reality Show you might first think of Survivor or American Idol, Top Chef or Project Runway. If you are a fan of PBS you probably think of the first and finest reality show of them all: This Old House. And after nearly 30 years on the air, TOH has come to Los Angeles for its first ever LA remodel. (Watch the video sneak peak here.)

You might find it hard to believe that there is actually anything “old” in LA to renovate, right? Since we are famous for our facelifts and all. This sweet Spanish Revival house in Silver Lake is getting more of a “gentle spa treatment” than an “ass-fat injection to the cheekbones” operation. The original two bedroom, one bath floorplan was fine for the married couple when they moved in 12 years ago, but now with two small kids, it was time for more space and more bathrooms.

This Old House is about education and part of every house redo series includes stories of the local craftspeople who work on various details of the house. Look for visits to the tile company that recreates 30’s style tile for the bathrooms and kitchen, the iron workers making new wrought iron and the roofers who reuse the old roof tiles and tell you the history of how these 70 year old tiles were originally made. TOH will also visit Frank Lloyd Wright houses and Richard Neutra sites so we can all see that LA actually has some awesome architectural street cred.

The homeowners Kurt and Mary were not looking for the limelight (far from it), but were very pleased to have their general contractor approach them to be part of the show. What better record of your home remodel than a full documentation on This Old House? Plus you get to meet master carpenter Norm Abram!! (Seriously that guy rocks the woodwork.)

This Old House: The Los Angeles Project begins airing on KOCE this Thursday (1/27) at 7:00pm. (Check your local listings as different cable/dish providers may have a different schedule.)

Kevin, Norm, Mary and Kurt (Homeowners), Steve Pallrand (General Contractor)

(All Photos by Image Group LA and used with permission by This Old House.)

(Full disclosure: I am friends with the homeowners, but sadly I have not met Norm.)

Win Tix to Cirque Berserk This Saturday!

cirqueLA cirque-gone-feral performance troupe Cirque Berserk have arrived at the Nokia Theatre for a month-long engagement, and we’ve got a FREE pair of tix just for you!

You’ll enjoy your evening of lovely fire dancers, disturbing clowns, stunning aerialists, music and burlesque, chez bLA and Goldenvoice (thanks guys!).

To win: Tell me, in the comments, which sideshow attraction you would be if you had to be in a traveling circus. Would you be the bearded lady? The giant? The knife thrower? The fortune-teller? Let a girl know! We’ll randomly pick one lucky winner to go.

You can buy tickets here.

Photo by Brion Topolski.

Changes coming for the Los Feliz post office

I love the Los Feliz post office. It’s walking distance from my apartment, it’s got one of those package machines in the front lobby so you don’t have to stand in line, and the employees are so sweet that I often wonder whether they’re some sort of unholy human-dessert hybrid born of mad culinary science, a theory bolstered by the building’s proximity to the House of Pies, which is another great reason to go there.

But changes are brewing. First, as Jodi blogged a while back, the parking lot — which used to be free to use after the post office was closed — is now an income-generator for the US Postal Service. And the building itself might be seeing some changes, as a postal representative recently told the Los Feliz Ledger. Change #1: It might be sold.

Don’t worry too much, though — the postal rep, Richard Maher, told the Ledger there’d be some stipulations, mainly that the retail postal service still be in operation no matter what happens on the site. So we’d still be able to buy stamps and maintain PO boxes.

If I can still use the package machine and buy stamps, I’m not too concerned about the loss of the post office as a sorting station (or whatever other behind-the-scenes function it may serve). And if half the structure turns into some kind of restaurant or store, so much the better. And there’s always the super-sketchy postal station on Western just south of Sunset, which is far as I know is in no danger of going anywhere.

So what do you think? What would you like to see there?

GTD This Weekend: The Brother and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantless

Plenty of opportunity for beer, followed by an opportunity to go pant-less.  In other words, start the new year off right.

SATURDAY
  • This one basically writes itself: at the Pancakes and Booze Art Show, over 50 “underground” artists will show off their art.  In addition, there will be live nude painting, music, and an all you can eat pancake bar.  A little beer to wash it all down, and you have the breakfast of champions.  $5.  From 8pm to 2am on Saturday and Sunday at 2441 Hunter St., Downtown.
  • If you want to cut straight to the beer, head out to Eagle Rock Brewery, which is celebrating its very first birfday.  Ten bucks gets you a commemorative pint glass with four drink tickets.  $10 at 3056 Roswell Street in Glassell Park, which really is right next to Eagle Rock.
  • 826LA hosts the 3rd Annual “I Work in Reality TV” benefit, with proceeds going to 826LA.  Thankfully, you’re not going to be the next Snooki at the benefit (and I mean, “Thankfully” on behalf of the civilized and uncivilized world); rather, the benefit features photos taken by all the people behind the camera who create the reality that you think is television.  Suggested donation of $10.  Reality bites at 8pm at Lot 613, 613 Imperial Street, Downtown.
SUNDAY
  • ZOMG you’re either going to want to ride the subway today, or avoid it like the plague: GuerilLA Improv leads the charge in the No Pants Subway Ride of 2011.   It’s the LA edition of Improv Everwhere’s No Pants Subway Ride, now in its 10th year.  That’s a decade of riding the subway pantless, people.  See the event stripped down and explained in detail here.  Heh heh.  The brother- and sisterhoods of the traveling pantless plan on boarding the 2:34pm train from Union Station.  Pay your own train fare ($1.50/one way) and fines levied for indecent exposure, if any.
  • Resolve to really lose weight this year?  Start it off right with Richard Simmons.  Yes, you read that right: he of the shiny workout wear is offering Slimmons, a free motivatonal seminar and exercise classfor those who need to lose 50 pounds or more.  Why?   “Because you deserve it!”  Yes, you do.  Registration is at 12:30 at 9306 Civic Center Dr in Beverly Hills.
  • The Echoplex celebrates Elvis’ birthday a day late with a giant bash to benefit the Union Rescue Mission.  Lisa Finnie, the Dusk Devils, and the South Bay Surfers will be covering some classic Elvis hits, including, I hope, “Suspicious Minds.”  The King would have been 76 this year.  In the words of Perry White, Great shades of Elvis.  $20.  7:30 at the Echoplex, 1154 Glendale Blvd. in Echo Park.

Photo courtesy ~db~ via the Blogging LA Flickr pool.

Menu Mining: Ghetto Malasadas at Chego

Americans have the doughnut (as we here at Blogging LA know all too well); Hawaiians have malasadas, little fried gems bigger than a doughnut hole but smaller than a doughnut, brought to the island from Portuguese immigrants in the late 19th century.  You can get them in Hawaii proper, as Joz did a few months ago, or you can go up to Natas Pastries in Sherman Oaks.  But for those times you’re not in Hawaii or the SFV, you also can try ‘em out a little closer to home at Chego.  Yeup, the same place where you can get inauthentically authentic Korean rice bowls is the same place you can get utterly inauthentic Portuguese malasadas.  What, surprised?

Now, there are a lot of great things at Chego, many of which deserve their own Menu Mining mention.  In fact, if His Majesty Jonathan Gold were to write a guest Menu Mining post, he might very well pick the Buttered Kimchi Chow.  Me, though, I’m just going to take you straight to the malasadas.  These are on the specials board and may not be on the menu forever, so best if someone points you directly to it while they’re here.

Two dollars plus tax gets you two malasadas plus sugar.  Fried to order, you get them piping hot and crunchy, not warm and crispy. Unlike the malasadas you’ll find in Hawaii, these have no fillings, so you’ll have to be content with just the dough.   On some days, the inside is almost custardy.  It reminds me of a beignet I had in Biloxi, Mississippi, sans powdered sugar.  It also reminds me a little bit of a freshly made churro at Salina’s Churro Truck.  Really, the take home message is: you cannot go wrong with fried dough rolled in sugar.

As I said, the Ghetto Malasadas currently are on this week’s specials menu, so they may or may not be there if you next week.  Womp womp.  Bonus mining tip for the womp’ed:  When/if the malasadas officially retire, try my favorite dessert at Chego, the Rock Yer Road.  You can’t go wrong with fried dough; neither can you with a little chocolate ice cream and marshmallow fluff.

Parking Is About To Get Worse

Living within walking distance of Los Feliz Village means never having to park there (which is fortunate, considering you can’t park there for free anymore). And what’s more, I can easily walk to just about anywhere I want to go — grocery stores, Thai take-out, even the movies. So take that, seminal new wave band Missing Persons: Some people do walk in LA.

But occasionally I like to put on a pair of pants that don’t close with a drawstring and go out for a night on the town. Usually, this means shelling out a few bucks to park. And I always counted myself lucky that I didn’t live in one of those insanely expensive east coast cities that charges as much as $20 for a single evening of parking. But it looks like our luck is about to run out.

Mayor Villaraigosa has proposed a plan to lease several city-owned parking structures to private investors, and in turn allow the owners of other structures — in a move I don’t totally understand — to triple their rates over the next five years. That means the cost of parking for dinner and a movie at the Arclight Hollywood could go to ten bucks.

In a way, I’m relieved. More expensive parking means I’ll make more of an effort to find street parking somewhere in the vicinity and just walk to my destination. I don’t mind strolling a few blocks if I can leave my car in a decent neighborhood, and it prevents me from waiting for ten minutes behind some jackass who doesn’t care that he’s backing up traffic six cars deep because he absolutely has to have a spot that’s currently being vacated by some poor bastard who has to do a 13-point turn because the selfsame jackass is hovering four feet from his bumper.

The real down side is that I’m much less likely to be able to take part in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse wherein mysterious trench-coated men chase me through a parking garage.

I dunno. What do you think? How do you handle pain-in-the-butt parking situations? Street parking, like me? Take the bus? Or just pay the stupid fee?

Found on Road Alive: 1975 Thunderbird

LA is the land that rust forgot.  Back in the day the air was bad enough to rot the rubber and vinyl off a car, but the rust never got to it and this 1975 ‘Bird illustrates it well.

I spotted this running example of the biggest T-bird ever built over this last weekend.  Powered by a huge 460 (7.5L) V8 and weighed in at over 5,000 lbs, gulping unleaded at a rate that was single digits at best and still sold wellish until the cost of gas started spiking to near a buck a gallon.  It was Fords biggest and best luxury offering in its time.  Subsequent generations of the T-bird shrunk in size with the last generation being the closest to the original 2 seater when the line was launched in 1955.

Pics by me with the ever present cell phone.

Chai-Yok: Yes, You Can Get Your Vagina Steamed

"Blue-Green" by Georgia O'Keeffe. I couldn't find any Judy Chicago prints in the public domain.

Disclaimer: I do not have a vagina.

But even so, I did perk up at the article in the LA Times headlined “Vaginal Steam Bath Finds a Place Among Southern California Spa Options.”

Seriously. It’s a new spa treatment, called “chai-yok” and imported from Korea, wherein you sit on a special stool over a hot vat of herbed water that steams out your flaps. Western medicine apparently doesn’t approve, but I ask you, what has western medicine ever done for us? Huh? Cured cancer yet, there, Doctor Mensa? No? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Go prescribe some Lipitor and get out of my face.

Anyway, it can — allegedly — clear up or prevent a whole host of ills, such as menstrual cramps, bladder infections, and even infertility. Naturally, as a male of the dudely gender, I didn’t really think I’d have much use for this.

But then I noticed this wonderful sentence: “The identical treatment is available for men, to steam the perineal area.” And after a hasty Google search of the term “perineal area,” I decided that this is something that I really, really want to do.

So: Should I try it? Has anyone out there done this? Ladies? Gentlemen? Leave your experiences and thoughts in the comments.