All posts by Janna Smith

Janna was born on a chilly October night in Minnesota... long story short, she ended up in L.A. for college (graduating from USC with degrees in Creative Writing, Broadcast Journalism, and Football Fandom), moved to Eagle Rock, and still doesn't have a car. She spends her free time watching cartoons and ESPN, exercising her internet addiction, and defeating her cat, Pete, in Scrabble. You can cyber-stalk her on Twitter AND Facebook. E-mails welcome at [email protected].

Who Wants Free Tickets To See The Temper Trap??!?

Update: Contest is now closed! Congrats to our winners (who were selected at random – check your email)!!

My favorite Australian import The Temper Trap is back in town! They’re of my favorite bands from anywhere actually, and fantastic live. Like, I bought an actual physical CD at their show at the Roxy last year. That’s a big deal.

You’ve most likely heard The Temper Trap already, even if you haven’t heard of them. Their songs have appeared in just about every TV show and commercial (and one particular downtown LA-centric movie!) made in the past year and a half. Or at least it sure seems that way…


Their show downtown may be sold out already, but has scored a bunch of FREE tickets to see The Temper Trap Friday night at the Fox Theater in Pomona (details here) in the beautiful San Gabriel Valley. You can take the 210 on the way back so you can hit the Sonic in Duarte!

We have four pairs of tickets to give away, so to enter the contest, just comment below and let us know what’s been your favorite TV appearance by The Temper Trap? Or at least, what’s your favorite track off their debut album, Conditions?

I’ll get you started with my fave:


L.A.’s Greatest Landmarks: Rodeo Drive

Rodeo Drive is one of those immediately recognizable L.A. locations that is used in every other film or television establishing shot once our fair hero arrives in SoCal, and is on every tourist’s agenda. It’s where Julia Roberts got a makeover in Pretty Woman, and was one of the backdrops for the drama of the kids of “Beverly Hills, 90210” (is it weird I can’t think of another legitimate reference not from the 90’s?). It’s the face of the entire city of Beverly Hills, especially considering you’re probably not cool enough to get into so much of the rest of the town’s more scenic areas, hidden behind private gates.


But of course it’s more than just a street, or a particular strip of high-end stores. It’s a neighborhood filled with palm trees, small art galleries and contemporary architecture; a meeting place for locals on their lunch break. During a weekend afternoon the sidewalks overflow with those who just want to say they’ve been there and barely enter a single store. On a weekday night it nearly empties out entirely, with many stores closing at 5 or 6, creating a modern ghost town, with only a lit-up semi-bustling restaurant every block or two to remind you that yes, people do live around here, too.

Rodeo Drive's pedestrian walkway - from Picasa user Aurélien Boffy

I’ll admit, I’m decidedly low-brow in my consumption of local hot spots, and have never bought anything there besides cupcakes (lots and lots of cupcakes). It’s one of the few  tourist venues I know of that has surprisingly ample free parking, but I always take the 720 bus anyhow. There isn’t much history to be found here (aside from a couple of the old hotels now under new names and a few shops, much of the Rodeo Drive shopping center as we know it came to be in the 70’s). But it’s a highly walkable neighborhood to bring visiting friends to on bright, sunny afternoons – those afternoons where the streets are flooded with people, gawking and shopping, from all walks of life and all parts of the world, making up a little microcosm of multicultural Los Angeles itself.

Check out the rest of the L.A.’s Greatest Landmarks series here.

L.A.’s Greatest Landmarks: Angels Flight

This past March, hot on the heels of Downtown’s years of resurgence and months of teasing, we welcomed back the “World’s Shortest Railway” – Angels Flight. What sat for nine years as a sadly locked-off, abandoned wonder that I yearned to experience (or at least climb onto like a kid whose city is her entire playground) on the north side of Angels Knoll park was finally real.

Angels Flight, archived image

Now I can really feel it – I feel the wooden seats that remind me of historic streetcars other cities have been spoiled to have. I poke at the hanging light bulbs I probably shouldn’t be touching. I feel the car rattling up the steep incline, and the California sun beating on my shoulders through the open windows. I drop a quarter into the old-fashioned fare box, save a souvenir ticket for my collage, and run my fingers along the woodwork outside the little building housing the operator, overlooking California Plaza.

I make sure to ride on each car – both Olivet and Sinai, whom I’ve come to know as individuals via their ridiculous Twitter Account.

The railway may have moved a bit from its original location 100 years ago, but it acts like a little time machine. Moreso than the new downtown skyscraper on the site of what once was, or a snazzy, remodeled loft inside an historic piece of architecture, the simple ride makes me feel as if I’m inside those black-and-white photos of Angels Flight I downloaded from library archives, and transports me to the Bunker Hill of yesteryear – when one might take the funicular to get back to work up the steep hill after a lunch date. I think of how I need to get around to taking this ride at sunset, who I need to bring along with me next time, and out-of-towners I should take here on their next visit. It connects us to the rich history of Downtown L.A., the kind you don’t get anywhere much further away from the river on which this city was founded.

And just like that, after a few brief moments, the ride is over. But it’s only a quarter, so why not take it back down the hill again?

Check out the rest of the L.A.’s Greatest Landmarks series here.

“Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”

Every now and then we Trojans have to join up with those annoying Bruins on some things (and not just hating on Cal). This weekend, we join together on a sad note – mourning the loss of former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.

John Wooden and Bill Walton, 1970

John Wooden and Bill Walton, 1970. Photo courtesy Vedia on Flickr.

I’ve been making some plans lately for the upcoming World Cup. I don’t follow soccer (football?) but I wanted to take part in the magnificent exercise in sports fandom that will be USA vs. England. Whatever their sport, fans tend to unite over great communal experiences like the World Cup, the Olympics, the Super Bowl or the Lakers in the finals.

We, as lovers of sport, also unite in recognizing legends, regardless of rivalry or affiliation. We all recognize the greatness that was John Wooden.

And all of us, Bruins, Trojans, whatever, felt our hearts sink a bit at the news that Wooden was “gravely ill”, and then when he eventually passed away last night. He may have been 99 years old and hadn’t coached in decades, but the loss of Wooden still leaves a big gaping hole in the sports world. Coaches with his level of success and, more importantly, his level of influence are one-in-a-million.

Well before I moved to California and learned about Trojans vs. Bruins (and on which side I stood), I learned about Wooden. I remember my 7th grade basketball coach preaching his wisdom to us in the locker room. His name is all over buildings in Westwood. My favorite monument to him is the bust carved out of wood that sits in the lobby at ESPN Zone in Anaheim (the “wooden Wooden”). He’s practically required reading for teachers and coaches of all levels.

Wooden represented the best of UCLA, of basketball, of Los Angeles, hell, all of sports in general. While normally I would be reveling in seeing the Bruins cope with a loss (like, say, in a football game), this time, I, and fans everywhere, will be right there with them.

I Guess It’s Last Call…

I somehow failed to find this earlier when I was searching for it, but believe it or not, Canter’s does have a Twitter account! Hey, @CantersDeli, I just Tweeted at you!

Well, the drunks and people dressed up for goin’ out are starting to trickle in (our server seems entertained by them) and Queequeeg has arrived, so I must bid you adieu for the evening. But don’t forget, we are still here until noon, so if you happen to stop by for some breakfast or brunch, be sure to drop some cash or foodstuffs in our donation box while you’re here!

Metblogs goes to Prom??

So I forgot to take a picture of my food until it was halfway eaten, but you get the general idea:

My chocolate milk came in the fanciest little glass. I’m actually going to get one of those Jell-O cups Julia blogged about earlier next.

The crowd has quieted down a little bit since I got here; it’s not much emptier, there’s just fewer rowdy tables. And maybe it’s just cause I am still waiting for my “second wind” to kick in and I’m projecting my sleepiness onto everyone else. But you wouldn’t guess it by how excited I (and Lucinda) were to take a picture with the prom kids!!!

The best is the girl sporting the classic “Date’s Tuxedo Jacket Over Prom Dress” look.

13 hours down, 11 to go…

… so let’s see how much more cash-money and food we can get in our donation box before it’s all over (mission: Food Bank plug – achieved!)!!

The service here is really fast! I actually had my Mac & Cheese in front of me before I finished writing that last post. They’ve got tons of employees working right now – which I guess should be expected, this place is a late-night eating mainstay, after all. The Mac & Cheese is pretty good, and so is the chocolate milk, even though it came from syrup.

All the staff is also extra-helpful now that over a dozen prom-goers just wandered in for a bite!! And so did Lucinda and Travis, who of course couldn’t resist sneaking up on the teenagers for a photo op (seen below with spoons on their noses). Some kids were also slow dancing to the live music coming from the other room.

Oh, and P.S. these Mi-Fi thingies are about 1/4 the size of what I expected them to be. They are almost credit card-sized. I now see why Lucinda called them “cute” earlier.

Late Night with Metblogs (& Canter’s)

So, I’m sitting alone at the counter at Canter’s at 12:40 a.m. with a computer in front of me, fixing my makeup. I’ve had weirder nights.

It’s been a looong while since I’ve visited this joint, and I was too distracted by the ridiculous traffic on Hollywood Blvd. a half hour ago to give one thought to what I wanted to order. This menu is so huge it’s quite intimidating. It took me nearly 20 minutes just to pick something out.

After being tempted by the smell of the meat being cut just a few feet away from my seat, I decided to do something different (OK, not that different for me) and order the Macaroni & Cheese. With a chocolate milk (hey! at least I didn’t order the Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich – which is a kinda ridiculous $4.25 on the big kid’s menu).

I must really be harking back to childhood diner food experiences, since it’s taking a lot not to devour everything in those delightful miniature cereal boxes sitting right in front of me, teasing me. And my eye was also drawn to one of the kid’s coloring book drawings posted on the wall behind the counter, of “Canter the Dog”.

The ArcLight Expands East!

And then there were three. Joining the locations in Hollywood and Sherman Oaks, the Pacific Theaters at the Paseo Colorado in Pasadena has now been officially transformed into the ArcLight Cinemas Pasadena (also owned by Pacific Theaters)! Despite some sneaky “soft open” screenings that went on over the past week, Thursday night’s Iron Man 2 premiere was billed as the theater’s “Grand Opening”, though there didn’t seem to be all that much hoopla involved. Coupled with the Gold Class Cinemas down the street, Colorado Blvd. is shaping up to be the go-to place for “luxury” movie-going (luckily that pesky super-cheap Academy 6 is safely away from view on the opposite side of Lake Ave., so it won’t infringe on Old Town’s and the Paseo’s reputations).

The newly remodeled and redecorated theater was quite nice, of course. It looks basically like a smaller version of the original Hollywood ArcLight, so much so that I decided to dub it “ArcLight Lite” (Disclaimer: I’ve never been inside the ArcLight in Sherman Oaks, which I’ve been told is just like this place). Even the big clock in the lobby was duplicated (seen here in a photo by my friend Michael, whose iPhone photography skills far outweigh my own, even though I was armed with an actual standalone digital camera).

Sadly, the bar isn’t open yet! I mean, there were cool tables to sit around at, but the bar looked so sad being all dressed up but totally empty and sans booze. The popcorn was delightful as usual, a nice combination of classic movie theater taste and the real butter that provides that illusion of it not being that horrible for you. The decor was nice, including a wall of movie posters that ranged from classic to random and confounding (Twilight? really?) to totally freakin’ awesome (Revenge the Jedi, as seen after the jump). And I did like the bathrooms at this location better than the original’s, possibly because there were so many mirrors.

Continue reading The ArcLight Expands East!

LA Plays Itself in the Movies: Who Framed Roger Rabbit

In addition to being a just plain fun movie and tribute to so many classic hand-drawn cartoon characters (Disney characters! Warner Bros. characters! and Fleischer characters! All together!), Who Framed Roger Rabbit is also a tribute to the Hollywood of yesteryear – when Hollywood the industry actually existed in Hollywood the place, and the Hollywood sign was still a big advertisement for the “Hollywoodland” real estate development (Fun fact: a Hollywoodland poster makes a cameo in the film, but when you see the sign and Cahuenga Peak in the background outside Eddie Valiant’s office, it only says “Hollywood” – it wasn’t actually changed until two years after the film takes place. Yes I am a nerd.). I love that it’s all about the real Los Angeles, where it was founded – what’s inland a bit, surrounding the river (the Glendale-Hyperion bridge does make an appearance!), not just palm trees and beaches like those shown in far too many films.


Oh, and apparently back then people said things like, “Who needs a car in LA? We’ve got the best public transportation system in the world!” Yea, that’s about when I started laughing/crying/exclaiming about how now they’re just picking on me, a car-free transit geek. It had been a few years since I’ve seen Who Framed Roger Rabbit, so I got caught off guard and a little emotional. But at first it was wonderful, when just a few minutes in one of those Big Red Cars with “Sunset Blvd” splayed across the top pulled into frame, and I was transported into some magical version of Los Angeles where the public transportation vehicles and the automobiles co-existed in happiness along our city’s major thoroughfares (I get so sad every time I remember that the big median down Eagle Rock Blvd. is just covering up where the Red Car tracks used to be!).

Continue reading LA Plays Itself in the Movies: Who Framed Roger Rabbit

LA Plays Itself In The Movies: (500) Days of Summer

Most have probably heard already how last year’s (500) Days of Summer was some sort of love letter to Downtown Los Angeles (and IKEA), and, of course, it is. It’s full of glamor shots of old downtown building exteriors and landmarks like the Bradbury building, a lesson in LA’s skyline history from our protagonist, a downtown park in a supporting role, and even a random, awesome musical number featuring the UCLA Marching Band.


But this film does more than just take place in Los Angeles – it tells the story of many who have come here to live. Not because, as so many think, it’s designed for and starring a bunch of hipsters (I don’t actually think it is. Not everybody who listens to the Smiths is a hipster. And, sure, Zooey Deschanel is Queen of the Hipsters – literally, she’s married to the singer from Death Cab for Cutie. But, if all the hipster boys dressed like Joseph Gordon-Levitt does in this movie, well… I’d date a lot more hipster boys). It’s all about the high hopes one has when they get here, and what happens once they come crashing down.

Continue reading LA Plays Itself In The Movies: (500) Days of Summer

My Neighborhood, The Film Set

Living in the center of the film and television industry, there are some fun games we get to play, like the “That Guy” game, where you run into a random actor out and about who you can’t quite place, and whichever of your friends figures it out first without resorting to IMDB wins. Another great game is “Name That Location”, wherein you can recognize the exact location a show is using for those remote scenes, not only showing off your photographic memory, but also destroying the fictional world the show has created and disrupting its narrative. It’s fun!

Now, it’s one thing to recognize local landmarks being used in a film, but I find it especially fun seeing my own neighborhood represented on the big screen (or TV. or laptop screen.). Eagle Rock is used all the time for exteriors, as many blocks are easily disguised as Small Town, Anywhere, USA. But interiors are harder to spot on TV – I knew it was Cindy’s Diner (which quite possibly gets more business as a shooting location than a restaurant) in those AT&T ads with Luke Wilson, but only because I saw Wilson standing outside in the parking lot while the commercial was being shot.

But this weekend while catching up on The Office, I spotted another local business (Can you guess it? Identity revealed after the jump):

Screen shot 2010-02-07 at 11.59.32 PM

Continue reading My Neighborhood, The Film Set

Nothing Personal, I Don’t Hate the 323 Area Code. I Just Like 213 A LOT Better.

Photo courtesy <a href=Yesterday, while taking down a co-workers phone number, I found myself freaking out (with joy) over his 213 phone number. See, we’re a dying breed, us hangers-on to the 213 area code. It’s too often I’ve seen people knocking phone numbers associated with central LA and (God forbid!) Downtown. I’ve spent lots of time selling cell phones, and when setting up new accounts, found myself time and time again defending the 213 customers were randomly assigned, after facing their disappointment over not getting 323. I had a friend change his number to a 323, after holding his 213 cell phone number for several years, in good part because he said 323 just looks better when handing it out to those in the music and/or entertainment industry. But my  phone number ties me to my city, helped me take root in Los Angeles and not give in to becoming one of its many more transient or temporary residents.

I got my first cell phone from the Radio Shack by USC when I first moved out to California for college. And, of course, I was given a local 213 number (this was back when I thought it would be important for locals to be able to call me without incurring long-distance charges). I grew attached pretty quickly. Continue reading Nothing Personal, I Don’t Hate the 323 Area Code. I Just Like 213 A LOT Better.

“Coco” Fans Brave the Rain in Universal City

My friend Jimmy and I headed out early to Universal City today (we are the last two people in America who haven’t seen Avatar, and we wanted to hit up the IMAX at City Walk), but it wasn’t just to beat the rain-induced traffic headaches. I also wanted to check out the scene where supporters of embattled late-night TV host Conan O’Brien are rallying against NBC (organized through the “I’m With Coco” Facebook group).

Despite the rain, and despite widespread reports that even after all the negative fan and media reaction to NBC’s late-night time slot shuffle O’Brien’s show will still be ending this week, people still showed up, many clad in orange ponchos to show their support for their ginger-haired hero. As of about 1:30, I estimated there were about 150 people on the curb at the studio entrance across the street from the Red Line station, hollering, waving signs and encouraging drivers to honk. Quite a bit shy of the 1,500 signed up on the Facebook event, but still a pretty good turnout considering the harsh weather. And of course there was a media presence – roving TV cameras interviewing those in the crowd, as well as a sight I cannot wait to see played out on The Tonight Show: a car towing Tonight Show band member La Bamba out to the crowd, inside a giant glass box (to protect him from the rain? Jimmy said it looked like a Popemobile).

If A Coach Resigns In the Forest and Nobody Really Cares, Does He Make a Sound?

Word on the street is our beloved USC football head coach Pete Carroll is leaving for a job coaching the NFL’s Seattle Seahwaks (as of this writing I haven’t heard anything official from Carroll or USC). Now, I’m completely unqualified to report on whether or not that’s true, but as a person with internet access, I am totally qualified to give you my opinion on the situation and its impact on the USC football program.

Image from Wikimedia Commons
Image from Wikimedia Commons
First off, I’m supportive of Carroll’s decision, no matter what he does. I may only be a fan, not a player, but he’s still my coach, and a man whose perspective and philosophy on life I highly respect. I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same thing in his position. The Trojans men’s basketball team recently suffered self-imposed punishment (following recruiting violations a couple years ago) that includes a ban on post-season play this year, and the football team is under investigation for multiple incidents where players, including Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush, allegedly received illegal gifts from sports marketers and agents. All the while, instead of taking the fall or any responsibility at all for the infractions that have gone on under his watch, Athletic Director Mike Garrett has either blamed coaches (basketball coach Tim Floyd was fired last year) or simply remained mute, leaving those like Carroll to fend for themselves.

So I completely understand where Carroll is coming from, wanting to jump from the sinking ship that is the USC Athletic Department before it takes him down with it. He’s clearly got his priorities straight and is putting his own well-being, reputation and sanity ahead of his job, and not putting up with a boss so willing to throw him under the bus in a time of crisis.

Continue reading If A Coach Resigns In the Forest and Nobody Really Cares, Does He Make a Sound?