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Celebrate the Arts in Monrovia’s Library Park 9/26-27

September 24, 2015 in Art, Books, Entertainment, Events, Food & Drink, News, Photography, San Gabriel Valley

Show to embiggen.

Show poster…click to embiggen.

This is a biggy for me.  Something that I, as a board member, have been all but consumed with the last several weeks.  Celebrate the Arts is in its 52nd year and its going to have quite a few firsts on top of the already terrific fine artists populating the park with their art.

Celebrate the Arts is held in Monrovia’s Library Park from 10AM – 6PM both Saturday and Sunday this weekend.  There will be a lot of firsts at this show that we are really excited about on top of our usual host of Food Trucks, live music, extremely talented artists.  Among our firsts this event:

  • ChalkFest – a competitive street art event with Lori Escalera as our celebrity judge.
  • Children’s Chalk Experience -designed for the 12 and under set to experiment with chalk
  • Featured Artist Elizabeth Butterfield…her collage work is simply stunning
  • The first appearance by students from Mt. Sierra College (11 fine artists and 2 chalk artists)
  • The first appearance by 18 artists new to MAFA
  • Glass Blowing demonstrations
  • TIKI Bobbleheads from artist Rick Kess
  • Authors exhibition with live book signing
  • Photographer Author Stephen McCarthy will be selling his images, autographing his books including his newest “The Extra Virgin Spy Club”

To read more about this years Celebrate the Arts you need to make the jump.   Read the rest of this entry →

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626 Night Market this weekend for the close of summer

September 3, 2015 in Art, Entertainment, Events, Food & Drink, LA, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Shopping

For the final edition of 626 Night Market there as a few new tricks to keep it fun and fresh.  First up is Saturday Nights open Mike with the kids from ABC’s “Fresh Off the Boat” and then there is the dancing competiton.  Full details HERE  Even if the new stuff doesn’t entice, the old standbys…incredible food, street vendors and music should keep you entertained and satiated.

Having been a few times, its easy access just a few blocks south of the 210 in Arcadia.  You can enter from the gates on Baldwin, but traffic is bad there with the mall.  The other and better option is to exit Santa Anita, head south to Hungtington Dr and turn right (west) on to Huntington and enter in the massive gates there.

Deets Friday 9/4, Saturday 9/5 and Sunday 9/6 4PM to 1AM.  Santa Anita Park, 285 W Huntington Drive, Arcadia CA  MAP HERE

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626 Night Market this weekend August 7,8,9

August 6, 2015 in Entertainment, Filmmaking/Filmmakers, Food & Drink, Music, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Shopping

Last year was awesome fun.  This year promises more of the same at the 626 Night Market held at the Santa Anita Park in Arcadia.  Its one of the biggest events of the year in the SGV…second to maybe the Rose Parade thingy, but that has no food, bands or stuff.  This, the 626  Night Market has tons, TONS of food, live bands and all sorts of stuff you didn’t know you needed for sale.  Cheap.

Friday August 7,4PM-1AM, Saturday August 8, 4PM-1AM, Sunday August 9, 4PM-11PM

Santa Anita Park, 285 W Huntington Drive, Arcadia.  MAP HERE.

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Lotus Festival at Echo Park

July 12, 2015 in Art, Downtown, Entertainment, Events, Food & Drink, Seasonal, Shopping

Echo Park Lake and the lotus in bloom looking at DTLA, Click to embiggen

Echo Park Lake and the lotus in bloom looking at DTLA, Click to embiggen

Well today I ventured to Echo Park for this years Lotus Festival.  Yes, they were in bloom and they were knock me over gorgeous.  The rest of the festival, meh.  My last time there was 2007 when I was a rower with the team metblogs Dragon Boat, but I digress.

This years show had very few artisans.  There was some nifty stuff.  Lots of Day of the Dead skulls painted on stuff you wouldn’t expect.  Great food trucks…gotta give the food vendors the nod as they make this festival.  The rest, sadly was swap meet crap.  Its a common theme in outdoor events too many times of late, they let vendors in reselling cheap import crap forcing out the artisans with quality work who can’t compete at a price point.  grrrr.

The music was fun and lively.  and varied.  Something for everyone and that alone makes its worth the drip to Echo Park and fight for parking.

Today is the last day.  More details on the show in the Lotus Festival FB page.

Pic by Me, more on my Flickr album

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A night of creating ART and a little libation to loosen you up…

May 21, 2015 in Art, Entertainment, Events, Food & Drink, Media, People, San Gabriel Valley

Adult Art nite 5.20 This is going to be a fun event. Terrific even.  Its about creating art, some adult refreshements (booze) and hors d’oeuvres to nourish your body and loosen up the creative spirit you bottle up daily while chained to your cube.  Its about learning to express yourself in a media other than words.

The teacher this round is Elizabeth Jewell Butterfield, the featured artist at Monrovia Association of Fine Art’s annual Celebrate the Arts held in September.  Elizabeth is an amazing mixed media artist.  She takes bits of material, paper, what have you, tears in itty bitty bits and applies it to a canvas where it suddenly becomes a beautiful painting.  She will teach you do the same in the First class held on May 30

The last time this was done at the Paint n Play Art Studio and Gallery in Monrovia it sold out fast.  The teacher made the class exceptionally fun and everyone walked away with a piece of art to hang in their cube to remind themselves they can do it.  I can’t stress enough…sign up early and don’t miss this fun event.

Deets” May 30, June 20,  and July 18.  Paint n Play Art Studio and Gallery, 418 S Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia CA 91016 626/256-4848 to reserve a spot.

Love and burgers

February 15, 2015 in Food & Drink

Perhaps, like many people, you observe Valentines Day. I do not. In my household, on February 14, we observe CHEESEBURGERTINES DAY, a far superior holiday with a singular purpose: it is a day on which you get someone who likes you to buy you a cheeseburger. Yes, it is a fake holiday that I made up. No, that does not make it any less of a holiday.

While the inaugural Cheeseburgertines Day took place at The Apple Pan (NATURALLY), we celebrate Cheeseburgertines Day at a different burger joint every year, in honor of the amazing plethora of great burger places in Los Angeles. We have been to fancy burger places (Cheeseburgertines Day 2014: The Tripel), and less fancy but no less delicious burger places (Cheeseburgertines Day 2013: Corner Burger).

This year, we hit up Shaka Shack Burgers in Santa Monica. Shaka Shack is Hawaiian-tiki-surfboard-themed, which appeals greatly to my appetite for kitsch; and the burgers were fantastic, A+ cheeseburgers, which appealed greatly to my appetite for burgers. They were seriously good burgers that I would pick over In-n-Out any day.shaka

Special mention, though, goes to Shaka Shack’s fries, which were possibly the best fries that I’ve had in Los Angeles. You know how the best fries are the really crispy ones at the bottom of the basket? Well, every fry in our order was one of those. And you can get them with truffle salt. Not the healthiest choice, maybe, but that is why Cheeseburgertines Day comes but once a year.

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The begging gets better…enough to entice me at a fast food joint

January 25, 2015 in Food & Drink, ICME, San Gabriel Valley, Shopping, Social issues

Click to embiggen and get the full picture

Click to embiggen and get the full picture

Yes, the ubiquitous tipping jar got bumped a bit with some humor injected by some bored soul at the Philly’s Best in Monrovia.


The Kids Are Alright…But Life Is Hard. Cobalt Cafe to Close After 23 Years

December 16, 2014 in Books, coffee, Entertainment, Events, History, LA, Music, The Valley

The beloved all-ages venue in the far west Valley that has given thousands of local kids their start in music, tens of thousands of poets a chance to read their work, and probably millions of young people to tag/sticker bathrooms (and hallways…and sidewalks…and rear exterior walls…and everything else), and just generally get the F outta the house without having to go to the mall–will be closing at the end of the month. I regret to pass this news on so late but I only just found out myself.

Vanna, 2009, Creative Commons by photog Carly Hoskins.

Vanna, 2009, Creative Commons by photog Carly Hoskins.


Extremely patient and awesome owner Dave Politi founded the Cobalt Cafe coffeehouse in 1991. Grunge was a rising tide, emo was in its early stages, weird ska/funk/pop-punk hybrids particular to the Valley and south LA in general were bubbling up from high schoolers’ garages, and Starbucks wasn’t here.
I was a high school goth chick, shy as hell and loathe to speak to anyone. My friends’ bands played the shows. Seeing them, their openers, and those for whom they opened, up close and personal on a stage about a foot off the ground and approximately three feet from my face so their sweat flew in my eyes, lit off a fuse within myself that altered my DNA, transformed my passions and creative dreams forever. I got up the guts to read my mediocre emo high-school-girl poetry at the weekly poetry readings.

Credit Cobalt Cafe. Artist & photo unknown, obtained from Wikimedia Commons via Creative CommonsI got to know people. I became a regular. I met my first long-term boyfriend there, played chess there, bought punk records from unknown bands there from small private presses before records were collectors’ items, met some of the folks I’d run into long, long down the line ten years later in Silver Lake at Spaceland (and in other rooms), watched the comfy overstuffed furniture go the way of the dodo (too many episodes of puking, sweating and cigarettes leads them to an early grave), giving way to a more Spartan interior.  People liked my poetry enough that I got a featured reading at a coffeehouse on Sunset Blvd, and I kept writing long into my late 20s. I sometimes wonder if all that writing didn’t lay the groundwork for my public blogging and journalism career, which itself has led to experiences and interactions that could never have been imagined by the mind of a repressed, shy 17-year-old black-lipstick-wearing girl in 1996.

Augustus, 2005, photog Stacey Jischke via Creative Commons

Augustus, 2005, photog Stacey Jischke via Creative Commons

Photo credit Cobalt Cafe.

R.I.P. overstuffed chars and couches.

Bitter End in 2011, photog Robert Bejil via Creative Commons.

Bitter End in 2011, photog Robert Bejil via Creative Commons.

Every time I have returned to the Valley to see a line of self-conscious green-and-black-haired high schoolers goofing off with each other in front of the venue, or bros in short pants and Deftones t-shirts unloading a 350 Ford, I have smiled to myself, grateful that sometimes, good things don’t change, and that there’s a place for us weirdos to go–still. Yeah, sometimes the music sucked. Well, usually it does when people are that green. But it was music, and we–now, they–were and are making it. Some of them got really, really good. Some of the poets went on to long careers as luminaries in the poetry arts scene throughout the US. Records were make, books published. Creative dreams came true.

The cool blue light and scrawled-upon bouncer's desk in front of the venue.

The place reeked of sweat, coffee and cigarettes; the bathrooms are an archaeological dig though layers of paint, Sharpie, and stickers; sometimes the baristas were overwhelmed or had a ‘tude (as is proper, whiners!), but that all just made it better. I have been everywhere, man, and seen a lotta shows, but the Cobalt was the most genuine, unprepossessing, free-spirited creative fermentation machine I had ever seen. You did not have to be hip to walk in. You did not have to wear the right clothes. In fact, it’s still pretty hipster-repellent.

Sadly, Dave’s got his own Life S**t going on these days, and there’s less and less money coming in the doors with promoters and bookers being less supportive than they used to be; and let’s face it, non-Starbucks-priced coffee will never keep an indie business afloat, especially when your clientele is allowed to just hang out and buy nothing the entire time they’re there.

Dave Politi should be lauded for giving so much of his life and energy to a cause–“the kids” and “the music” and “the words”. The longtime host of Tuesday Night Poetry–he’s been doing it almost as long as the Cobalt was open–Rick Lupert–should be thanked, and I encourage you to see him read his funny and thoughtful work at other venues around town. All the hosts of Monday night open mics, all the baristas who endured patiently for many years, every doorman who had to bust kids doing the things that kids do–thank you, one and all. Here’s to the Cobalt Cafe. From such a humble little corner of the West San Fernando Valley, her influence has already spread around the world. Dave and the Cobalt are studies in how simply making space for others to be themselves, can ripple outwards in a quietly irresistible wave of transformation.

Hover over photos for Creative Commons/other photo credits.


See’s Candies Holiday Pop-Up Shops

December 10, 2014 in Food & Drink, History, Holidays, LA, Seasonal

See'sPopUpIt’s the most wonderful time of the year, especially if you love Los Angeles native, See’s Candies! They are putting up pop-up holiday shops around town so you don’t have to brave the mall when you get invited somewhere last minute and don’t want to arrive with your hands hanging. They are selling only boxed chocolates, no candy counter full of individual yummies to mix and match. But when Aunt Gertrude is stopping by and you’ve accidentally left her off your list, you can race in for that two pound box of dark chocolate nuts and chews she loves so much.

Check locations here.

And there are two more days to enter into the See’s Candies For Life contest!

My personal favorite – Scotchmallows.

Patchwork Craft Show No Go

November 30, 2014 in Crafts, culver city, Events, Food & Drink, LA, Seasonal, Shopping, Uncategorized

I had every intention of going to the Patchwork Show in Santa Ana today but a series of events kept me from it.  First church (hi hippie Unitarians!) which got canceled due to the kid oversleeping her morning nap, then I spent too much time researching ways to use my remaining root vegetables from the Culver City Farmers Market to make leftover turkey chili, Skyped with the in laws, and then I happened to look at a map and discovered Santa Ana is hella far down in the OC. By that time, this wet stuff had started falling from the sky.  Too bad…  lots of great vendors were at the Long Beach show and I was looking forward to shoving some cash at them.  Next up…  Unique LA!

Nautical heaven at the Chowder Barge

November 28, 2014 in Food & Drink

Some of the most memorable meals of my life have been on boats.

One memorable boat meal was a few summers ago. I was in the Netherlands on vacation, and after a long day of trudging around Rotterdam in the rain, we ended up on De Pannenkoekenboot: the pancake boat. The pancake boat sails around the Rotterdam harbor for an hour, during which time you fill your face with as much as you can from an all-you-can-eat pancake buffet that includes toppings that range from the kind of thing you’d expect (ie: syrup) to the kind of thing that makes you question the definition of “topping” (ie: large wedges of brie). Also, there is beer. The pancakes were delicious, but that’s completely incidental. Stick me on a boat, feed me any food, and I will happily regale people with tales of my nautical adventure culinary for years to come, as though I am an actual pirate and not just a fairly boring person who occasionally eats on a boat.

But one need not travel abroad for a boat-bound dining experience! We live near an ocean, or so I’ve heard, so there restaurant options close to home that will move you to regale your dining companions with a theme-appropriate fake pirate accent. You could go to the fanciest boat restaurant of them all, the Queen Mary. OR, for something more down to earth, you could head down the road to the Leeward Bay Marina at the LA Harbor. That’s where you’ll find the Chowder Barge: a floating restaurant with a 40-year history of chowder-slinging.

I visited The Chowder Barge for the first time last weekend, and was glad to discover that it is basically a perfect place. It’s nestled among sailboats, and the doorway is at the the end of a swaying dock. Inside, the walls and ceiling are covered in nautical tchokes, a giant fireplace hangs from the ceiling, and it looks like the kind of place frequented by the Big Kahuna from Gidget.

You can order beer in normal-sized glasses at the Chowder Barge, but why even bother when you can just get the CAPTAIN’S MUG, which is larger than a human head. It also weighs about as much as a two-year-old. Why mess around? You get your beer and your upper arm workout, too. Here, look how pleased I am about this Captain’s Mug:

You, too, could know the joy of the Captain's Mug.

You, too, could know the joy of the Captain’s Mug.


You, too, could know this joy!

The food was good. The clam chowder was so bacony might as well have just been cream of bacon soup with clams, which is not exactly a problem. If you order the Double Clam Chowder, you get a bowl of chowder filled with deep fried clams! And if you order the Chowder Burger, you get a bowl of chowder with a cheeseburger in it! Because god bless America. None of my party were bold enough to brave the Chowder Burger, but I’ve already decided that I will be returning for my birthday, where I will have a Chowder Burger with birthday candle in it.

What are you favorite floating or nautical-themed restaurants? Comment away, me hearties!

The Apple Pan on Thanksgiving Eve – Free Theater While You Wait!

November 26, 2014 in Food & Drink, Holidays, LA, West Side

ApplePan2When you enter the Apple Pan, you have to understand you are entering a totalitarian state. This joint has been around, almost untouched, since 1947 and nothing you say or do will change how they do business. This is true on any day. This is doubly true on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eves when they make tons of extra pies and all of us die-hards line up to get them. (My husband loves the chocolate cream.) You’ll wait and if you are like me, you’ll enjoy the wait because the wait is great theater.

ApplePan1With all the extra people coming to buy pies on the same days every year, you would think they might put on a special person simply to sell pies and keep the crowds moving. No, no they won’t. Why? Because we are the Apple Pan and because f**k you. You don’t like it? Go buy pies at that tramp Marie Callendar’s place. The guy who takes your pie order is the same guy servicing his side of the counter (which of course is full of lunch eating peeps) and he’ll get to you when he gets to you.

During my 35 minute wait, I was lucky to stand next to a nice woman who had the same attitude as I did, in fact she was going to be late for a doctors appointment, but damned if she was going to miss picking up the apple pie for her boyfriend’s family!  We chatted a bit between shows.

Read the rest of this entry →

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Does Antelope Valley Count?

November 21, 2014 in Art, Crafts, Events, Food & Drink, Holidays, Seasonal

Because if so, there are a few very groovy things on the horizon!

Crafters and Chili Cooks Sought for Holiday Event
at the Antelope Valley Indian Museum

The Antelope Valley Indian Museum State Historic Park is currently planning the fourth annual “Holidays on the Homestead,” a holiday-themed fundraiser for the museum to be held on Saturday December 6th from 5 pm – 8 pm. Participants are now sought for the “cowboy” chili cook-off and the handmade craft boutique.

Rose Edwards, the wife of the museum’s builder, was known for her chili and cornbread holiday feasts at their 1930’s homestead holiday celebrations. This delicious tradition is being revived in her honor! All chili styles will be considered; there is no registration fee for the cook-off.

Representing the talents of artist and museum founder Howard Arden Edwards, crafters are being sought for a craft boutique of handmade country and holiday-themed items. Booths are $30, supporting the non-profit Friends of the Antelope Valley Indian Museum.

For chili cook-off or craft booth information and applications, contact Jean Rhyne at (661) 946-6900 or [email protected] See below for more information about this fun event!

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There’s Noplace like home

November 20, 2014 in Classic Eats, Entertainment, Food & Drink

Is it Thursday? Already? Again?

Then I must be at Musso and Frank ~

Why hello Canoga Park, I’ve missed you as well.

November 20, 2014 in Food & Drink, LA

Went to our fave 24-hour taco shop, Casa de Tacos, hidden in a small strip mall  at the corner of Topanga Canyon and Wyandotte in Canoga Park. It is SO GOOD to enjoy real Latino-style tacos after three years of Georgia tacos. Got me some lengua and some tripas, for the ultimate in all I had missed.

Then I saw the sticker affixed to the side of the napkin dispenser, and I knew…the taco gods want me home.tacos