All posts by Travis Koplow

Travis used to surf the web for a living. Once upon a time she edited a book about virtual libraries, back when people were designing websites with stone chisels. Now she is "Director of Communications" for a nonprofit, which is like cat herding only slightly less respected a profession. She's a leftist, a PhD, a minister, an atheist, and an ominivore among other things. Fans are encouraged to send encomiums to travis818 at gmail dot com.

Jewmas Movie Pick: Battle Royale

As I’ve mentioned here in the past, it’s a fine tradition of my people to celebrate the 25th of December with Chinese food and a movie. This year, I’ll be in Tucson, but were I in LA, I’d be at Cinefamily washing down the General Tsao’s chicken with a big heaping glass of Japanese teenager bloodlust. Yes, that’s right, Battle Royale is screening at the Cinefamily December 24 through January 2, in what is, apparently, its first ever North American theatrical run.



One Stop Last Minute Shopping: Co-op 28

Marci of Co-op 28 and her counter of books

Me, I’d rather stick pins in my eyes than go to a mall the week before Christmas. I prefer to do most of my holiday shopping at places like Unique LA or Handmade, so how happy was I to hear about Co-op 28 in Los Feliz.

Behind a fairly unassuming store front, Co-op 28 houses a gallery and what a more pretentious blogger might call a “curated” gift shop/boutique. The shop hasn’t been open long, but it has the feel of a place that should become a neighborhood staple. You’ll recognize some of the artists/designers from Unique LA if you go there, but of course, Co-op 28 is open every day and doesn’t cost $10 at the door. Not that it’s cheap–I easily spent far more than I intended–but most things are priced as you’d expect for handmade, one-of-a-kind items. The owner Marci Siegel has put together a great collection–a rack of clothes, a table of bath items including eucalyptus bombs that steam up your shower, fun and fancy jewelry, guitar straps, clocks made from old pulp fiction novels and Dr. Seuss books, purses . . . even a selection of classic candies. Because who doesn’t want a handful of bit-o-honeys to go with that lomography print?

To make the whole thing irresistible, the shop is on Vermont right off of Prospect, which is to say, next door to Paradis, the amazing Danish ice cream shop that earns my wholehearted love for periodically featuring licorice ice cream. So go, finish your shopping, have an ice cream, chat with Marci, and avoid the mall. Merry whatever-it-is-you-celebrate.

What to Get the One Percent

It’s become our custom at to share some ideas about how to help those in need during the holidays. We’ve been posting about places or organizations where you can volunteer your time or donate your money and truly participate in the spirit of giving this holiday season. But I know what some of you are thinking: All this helping-the-less-fortunate is well and good but what about the 1%? What to get them this holiday season? Thanks to a Thrillist email a few days ago, I have the answer for you. Continue reading What to Get the One Percent

Best Estate Sale Ever

House of Davids
House of Davids pic via's la_koga

Via Curbed Los Angeles comes the news that the House of Davids is having an estate sale. Not only are the Davids themselves all for sale, but their holidays outfits, the hanging dining room table, and many other treasures of Youngwood Court will be sold off this month–including much of Norwood Young’s own wardrobe which apparently is so extensive it’s accessed via those same electric racks they use at your dry cleaner. If you looked at the pictures in Curbed’s previous post about the house you have some idea of the wonders in store for us at the estate sale.

The sale will be two weekends: October 15 & 16, and October 22 & 23. Saturdays from 9 am to 3 pm and Sundays from noon to 4 pm. Thank you Curbed for keeping us all posted about such delights.

Weird Weather

Cathy Cole's photo used through Creative Commons license

One of the things I love about LA is the way bad weather is regarded as such a bizarre, unforeseen anomaly. (Insert lyrics to “Camelot.”) It’s chilly by LA standards in Chatsworth today (66) and grey. I walked outside to second-hand smoke with my boss this morning, and she looked up at the dreary sky and said “What weird weather,” this being a fairly common response to 66 and overcast here in the Valley. When I first moved to LA years ago, after an extended stint in the upper midwest, it used to crack me up when people would say that. Cloudy sky? “What weird weather.” Drizzle? “What weird weather.” June gloom in September? You got it: “What weird weather.” I used to think of these exclamations as symptomatic of Angelinos’ hot house flower-ish inability to withstand anything but a narrow, precipitation-free  temperature band. This dismayed surprise, like the hats and scarves that get put out on the shelves when the temperature drops below 70, made me smile the vague smile of superiority that anyone who has lived ten Midwestern winters can’t help but feel when an Angelino complains that it’s cold.

Well, it took about two and half years for my blood to thin sufficiently that I am now compelled to bust out my wool beanie and flannel sheets when it’s in the 50s. And not only has my standard for what constitutes “cold” changed radically, but I now understand that weather-induced bewilderment totally differently. I no longer see it as a sign of weakness, but more like a synecdoche for a pervasive culture of optimism–like “How strange that it should not be a nice day!” And what’s so wrong with believing it’s going to be beautiful? Raised on the east coast, I was brought up to be suspect of too much optimism. I come from a family of sardonic, leftist Jews who regarded unadulterated  cheer as some sort of borderline retardation. But LA has changed me. I’ve lived here long enough that I find myself surprised on a day like today when the sun doesn’t come out. Weird.

Zomg! Zounds Playing the Echo Sunday September 18

One of the reasons why blogging is so great is that you find out stuff you wouldn’t have otherwise known about. (Another reason is that you can end sentences with prepositions with impunity.) So while I was grabbing the URL for No Age’s site for the post below about the Eagle Rock Music Fest, I noticed that they are DJing for a Zounds gig at the Echo this Sunday.


I am so freaking excited. I didn’t even know Zounds was touring the US. I refer you back to my parenthetical disclaimer below that my favorite music came out between 1977 & 1983. Zounds is a sort of punk inspired anarcho-pop band. Here’s one of my favorite Zounds songs (admittedly one of their least political):


You can give a listen to a lot more of their music here. They are one of the best relatively forgotten bands of the late-70s early 80s, and they’re playing LA in three days! If you like Wire or The Fall or Gang of Four and you don’t know Zounds give them a listen. I’ll bet you’ll love them. A big shout out to the Echo for hosting the show.

Somebody Paid their City Fees: Eagle Rock Music Fest Coming Up

Many of us abandoned Sunset Junction long before they were forced to cancel this year because of a dispute over city fees. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve had a good time there in the past and they do get hella good bands to play. But there are so many freaking people there that–for me–the event is on the ever-increasing list of places I personally consider a victim of their own success. I’m just too much of a misanthrope to enjoy downtown art walk, Dia de los Muertos in Hollywood Forever, Electric Daisy Carnival, and Sunset Junction as much as I might were I not forced to share space with a teaming mass of humanity. I don’t want to have to brush up against a bunch of sweaty arms even if they are all sporting amazing sleeves. I don’t know if Sunset Junction is “the largest celebration of diversity in Los Angeles and in California” as they bill themselves on their website (in fact, I find that hard to believe), but I do know there are too many damn people there for my tastes.

Enter the Eagle Rock Music Festival. I went two years ago because I wanted to see No Age and Peanut Butter Wolf. It was free then–now they’re asking for a $5 donation–and it was just crowded enough but not too crowded. I admit I don’t know most of the bands listed this year (not that that’s any indicator–most of my favorite albums were released between 1977 and 1983), but in 2009 two of my favorites were bands I’d never heard before: Nico Stai and The Mormons. The latter cycled up, handed out pamphlets, and did a renegade performance on instruments they had ported on their bikes including a strap-on drum set and an amp with a shoulder strap–tres punk rock. Kudos, Mormons. This year, I’m sure there will be other musical surprises. It’s easy enough to stroll Colorado Boulevard from one end of the festival to the other and stop when you hear something interesting. Really, how can you go wrong in a festival where the line-up at the family stage concludes with The Ukulele Orchestra of the Western Hemisphere followed by a Neil Diamond Tribute Band? Anyway, I’m super sad I’ll be out of town and will miss it this year, but you readers should go and let me know how it is.

[An aside: Please someone over at the Sunset Junction website learn the difference between “it’s” and “its.” Thank you.]

She Wants Revenge Free Show Saturday at Northridge Mall

San Fernando Valley
Chris Yarzab's photo used through Creative Commons license

What do you do to promote an album called Valleyheart? You play a free show in the Juniors department of Macy’s at Northridge Mall, that’s what. According to Racked (to whom my metaphorical cliched hat is tipped), She Wants Revenge is playing the Northridge Macy’s this Saturday at 2:00 and Skylar Gray will be opening. To the parents brave enough to take their tweens, I salute you. You are good people. The first 300 people to buy at least $35 of select merchandise will get a free autographed picture. The rest will just get the memories.

Anthony Kiedis and Edward Ruscha Cruise around Town

In anticipation of their upcoming exhibit Under the Big Black Sun: California Art 1974-1981, MOCA has this gem posted on their blog:


Ruscha’s Back of Hollywood will be part of the exhibit, which opens 1 October at MoCA’s Geffen Contemporary, along with 500-some other pieces “including documentary, staged, and conceptual photographs; abstract and representational paintings; freestanding sculptures, installations, and environments; performances and public demonstrations; narrative and documentary films and videos; zines and posters; ceramics and models; works on paper; decorative crafts and design objects; and ephemera.” Well okay then! I guess the last sensory overload at the Geffen, the street art exhibit, was so successful why not overstimulate us again, right?

If October 1 seems too long to wait, you can whet your appetite with the Ruscha exhibit at the Hammer. I haven’t been yet, but it’s on my short list. It a small show with just six large Ruscha canvases that all use text from Kerouac’s On the Road in front of snow capped mountains.

“This town is magic to me and it hasn’t grown old, and I love the colors and the layout and the mountains and the ocean and desert,” says Anthony Kiedis to Edward Ruscha as they drive down Sunset Boulevard.

Amen to that, say I.

Win Tickets to Peter Hook and the Light 9/14 or 9/16

Rafael Tovar's photo used through Creative Commons license

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than 30 years since Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures (1979) and Closer (1980) were released. For those of us whose formative years were the 80s, Joy Division was emblematic of a dark, introspective aesthetic that was, at the time, almost self-parodic. Even now, the quality of the music itself can be eclipsed by the specter of hipster couples with matching skinny jeans and “Love Will Tear Us Apart” tattoos in script on their forearms. Nonetheless, if you can look past the silliest of the fans, and give them a fair listen, it’s hard to argue with the fact that Joy Division’s music is just damn good. Closer and Unknown Pleasures are among the very best post-punk albums ever.

And guess what, kids? You have the chance to hear Peter Hook, who once upon a time was Joy Division’s bassist and backing vocalist, and the Light perform either Closer at the Music Box on Wednesday the 14th or Unknown Pleasures at the El Rey on Friday the 16th. And, to make it even more special, Moby will be singing a couple of Joy Division songs at both shows. I have a free pair of tickets to the show of your choice to one lucky reader. All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me which show you’d prefer to see. A winner will be chosen randomly by the end of the day Monday. Please be sure to leave a current email address when you comment and watch your email Monday night/Tuesday morning. Enjoy (or something).

Miranda July Live Stream

As I’ve mentioned here before, I love Miranda July. I’ve loved her since I saw Me And You And Everyone We Know.

I’ve read her book, No one belongs here more than you. I’m looking forward to seeing her Eleven Heavy Things installation at PDC. I read her blog, and I can hardly wait for her new movie, The Future, to screen in LA. And so, when I saw that she was appearing at Cinefamily to kick off their new show-and-tell series, I bought a ticket right away.  According to Cinefamily, their show-and-tell series

invites artists, filmmakers, musicians and other cultural heroes to divulge their deepest, darkest media obsessions by opening their closets, digging through their attic and plundering their garages to curate an evening of…whatever they want to share! From thrift store finds to late-night Tivo, from foreign film bootlegs to home movies, from the popular to the perverse –- all media will be presented live by the honored guests, as they take us on a personal tour of the material that has inspired them, delighted them, or just plain freaked them out.

If you know Miranda July’s work at all, you know that this is a slow pitch right to her. Continue reading Miranda July Live Stream

We’re Number Two According to GQ

LA fashion
Malingering's photo used through Creative Commons license

LA was edged out of the number one seat for GQ‘s coveted “worst-dressed city” title by Boston of all places! I find it hard to believe–nearly impossible, in fact–that preppy old Boston can beat LA’s hootchie skirts, hipster glasses, bad knuckle tattoos, and omnipresent flip-flops [Oxford comma represent!]. GQ says:

Angelenos wage a fierce, daily battle against time and taste so effective it would be admirable if the results weren’t so obnoxious. Ground zero of this war against time is strongest in the thrumming hub of mind-blowing sartorial choices of the few neighborhoods nestled on the axis of Sunset Blvd. You know you’re getting close when you start seeing a profusion of regrettable headwear. . .

Note that Washington, D.C., most sartorially boring place on earth, did not even make the list of 40 cities, throwingthe accuracy of GQ’s snark and the list as a whole into question, in my opinion. Truly, I don’t know how a person could spend a couple hours at HiHo on any given weekend and not automatically grant us the gold. Silver–bah!

LA’s Rich are Getting Richer and Our Poor are Getting Poorer

anarchosyn's photo used through Creative Commons license

LA Observed pointed out yesterday the sad contrast between two recent reports, one which identifies a substantial increase in the number of “high net worth individuals” in LA–people so important they have their own acronym (HNWI)–and the other that gives an overview of the growing demand on LA county food pantries. A number of reports about the economic recovery have claimed that job regrowth has mostly been in low paid and unskilled jobs, and perhaps LA is seeing the effects of that trend.

The number of people accessing food pantries has increased 73% since 2008 while the amount of funds and food supplies are not keeping pace, and in some cases are decreasing (take the LA food bank, which is receiving 800,000 pounds less a month from the USDA than it was at the start of 2011.

At the same time, the number of people whose “investable assets” exceeded one million dollars increased 8.8% over last year. Only Houston saw a higher increase. So if you’re one of the many who feel like the middle is getting squeezed right now and there are more and more people living in one extreme or the other, you may well be right. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…. And people wonder why I persist in calling myself a leftist.

Blogging (in) LA: Street Gourmet LA

Pablo Aya and El Gladiador

Loyal reader Evan commented to suggest we feature Street Gourmet LA as one of our Blogging (in) LA sites, and Evan’s clearly not the only fan. Street Gourmet won LA Weekly‘s Best Food Blog award a few weeks ago. Big ups for that. Stiff competition in this town, where food blogs seem to outnumber political blogs by some substantial factor. Street Gourmet specializes in Latin-American food, covering not just LA but Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and elsewhere. Bill explains the blog’s focus this way:

Why street food? Because it’s profoundly delicious when you arrive at the right place, and it’s the most common dining experience we share among humans. Street food is the first restaurant experience of organized societies.

But really, I’m just a zealous messenger. I’m happy to share the delights and pleasures of a rapturous afternoon at Ensenada’s La Guerrerense, a random Argentine parrilla that will blow your mind, one of the best night’s of my life at a Brazilian temple of north-eastern cuisine right next to a favela,or coming across perhaps one of the best tacos LA has ever tasted.

It’s not just the focus that distinguishes Bill’s blog, however; it’s the writing. He’s an entertaining writer with a voice of his own. Take his most recent post from which this picture is pinched. How can you not want to read a post that begins with this sentence: “I have no idea how we ended up at a torteria made famous by a giant sandwich developed by a luchador (wrestler) after two weeks of relentless, gluttony, but there we were”? And the rest of the post lives up to its opening hook. Bill’s posts are thorough, informative, and fun. Thanks Evan, for the recommendation, and thanks Bill for the great blog.