Category Archives: The Valley

Celebrate Burbank’s Centennial TONIGHT!

The City of Burbank is celebrating its 100th Anniversary today! Tonight, from 5pm to 10pm, you can join in the Centennial Celebration at the city’s “Party of the Century.” The free event is happening in Beautiful Downtown Burbank and will include appearances by local dignitaries and celebrities, an air parade, a mascot parade, a variety of live stage shows and special deals at many local restaurants. The night will be capped off with fireworks.

Burbank will always be a special place for me since it is where I first lived when I moved to L.A. nearly seventeen years ago. Besides, I only moved a few blocks outside of it, so it’s still a big part of my life. You can read a brief history here of the area that started as a sheep farm and is now one of the world’s preeminent media capitals.

Burbank’s Party of the Century is TONIGHT from 5pm to 10pm and is FREE!

Menu Mining: Breakfast Burrito at Jack’s Classic Hamburgers stand

Jack's Classic Hamburgers standBreakfast burritos are a wonderful thing, bringing together two very great things – breakfast and burritos – into one conglomerate of awesomeness. But the unfortunate reality is that they cannot always be trusted. (I’m looking at you, Fred 62.)

Now, Jack’s Classic Hamburgers, just near the place where the 170, 134, and 101 freeways converge, may or may not do many other things well. Frankly, I wouldn’t know. I got turned on to the breakfast burritos here a few years back, and I’ve never seen reason to bother with ordering anything else. I’m not even sure if the breakfast burrito is on the menu (I think it’s not) because I haven’t bothered looking that closely at the menu. Continue reading Menu Mining: Breakfast Burrito at Jack’s Classic Hamburgers stand

From the top of Topanga

Drama in the Valley

Topanga signageThis is the view of the San Fernando Valley from the top of Topanga Canyon a few minutes ago. I’ve driven Topanga Cyn hundreds of times and not once have I ever stopped at the overlook so today I thought I’d just take the time and take in the valley. I had no idea there were benches and a parking lot up there. There’s also badgers and mountain lions and a couple that was scurrying off into the brush for a frolic. I didn’t stick around for that though. It’s a very cool spot and I’m glad I finally took the time to stop. Apparently it’s also a good place to go get stoned according to Google.

Valley Ready to Party Like it’s 1775

A wedding is happening. A big wedding. No, bigger than yours, and anyone else you’ve ever known. This wedding is ROYAL. This bride and groom is better than you.

Some kid named Will is going to say “I do” to some girl named Kate. Are you paying attention? Turn on the television. Any channel. There it is. Wall-to-wall-to-wall-to-wall-coverage. Journalists, bloggers, Mario Lopezes are falling all over themselves here and across the pond, gushing about pomp and circumstance. Or ceremony. Or whatever. What will they wear? Who will be there? How will she do her hair? Every single detail being examined as if by Birthers on a mission.

None of you are invited. But, luckily enough, you can pretend to live out this fairytale fantasy – right here in the San Fernando Valley. The Valley!

The affair is one of today’s top stories on the Los Angeles Daily News. They take a hard inside look at local celebrations of the far far away nuptials to come:

Golriz Moeini, co-owner of the White Harte Pub in Woodland Hills. “All of us are so stressed with natural disasters and wars. This is one happy thing that we have.”

What started out as a small get-together for Moeini’s friends has now turned into a royal wedding extravaganza complete with a live band, champagne and wedding cake. Guests are required to don wedding attire. That means jackets for the men and dresses for the ladies. And there might be a seating chart in one section.

I’m sure that some will argue with me about what a historic moment this is. A real-life prince making a commoner a real-life princess! It’s a storybook wedding!

Have fun with that. I’m sure the 217,000 men that died during the American Revolution won’t mind a bit.

Menu Mining: House Special Soup at Vinh Loi Tofu

Okay, sure, so the Menu Mining series has been over for a while. But this gem is among my favorite things about living in LA, and one of the (few) redeeming qualities of working in the San Fernando Valley.

Vinh Loi Tofu House Special Soup
A bowl full of awesome.

I was first introduced to Vinh Loi Tofu when I moved here from central Illinois in August 2006, and it has been a staple in my diet ever since. Owner Kevin Tran seems to be there around the clock, and he has both a friendly rapport with his regular customers and a willingness to guide new recruits to the right introductory dish for their tastes. (Noodles or soup? Spicy – not spicy?) Kevin serves up a great variety of Vietnamese-inspired vegan dishes of his own creation, featuring his own special tofu mock meats that this omnivore could happily subsist on for the rest of his days.

While I love the vegan Banh Mi subs Travis Koplow lovingly refers to as “(s)ham sandwiches,” the House Special Soup holds a very special place in my heart. Garnished (as pictured by me, gets bigger with clickage) with sprouts, peppers, and lemon, this rice noodle soup is loaded with chicken, fish, and shrimp in an amazing savory peanut broth that somehow surprises me each and every time with just how damned good it is. This menu item is one that I have a hard time veering away from, even if I do occasionally feel tempted to try out one of Kevin’s newer soups or noodle dishes, some of which he has resorted to simply naming by year – “Soup 2011,” for example. (He’s actually been getting ahead of himself – he’s already serving “Soup 2012.” Or maybe that’s supposed to indicate “end-of-the-world” soup?)

Of course the drawback for many Angelenos is that there seem to be few things worthy of venturing all the way into Reseda for. (As Mike Doughty would remind us, “We are all in some way or another going to Reseda someday to die.”) I tell you, gentle reader, the House Special soup – and Vinh Loi in general – is definitely one thing worth going to Reseda for.

Do Food Trucks Hide Eggs?

Zombie Jesus Day
He *un*died for your sins...

For those of us who aren’t necessarily sold on the idea that the King of the Jews rose from the dead in fulfillment of scripture one Sunday morning a couple thousand years ago, this upcoming weekend is little more than a nice time to celebrate Spring. When I was back in the Midwest this was really something meaningful, as the cold, snowy, wet season often seemed to last nearly half the year. Hell, most years it was probably something more like three and a half or maybe four months, but something about that kind of cold also seems to slow down time a little bit. Easter, then, was really a time for some rejoicing. With the bizarre weather patterns we’ve been experiencing this year in LA, unfortunately Easter may just be about little more than the resurrection of a crucified hippie.

But thankfully for us, we have something the son of God didn’t have: vehicles that periodically bring some of your favorite food selections to your neighborhood for easy access. (And no, all of my posts are not going to be about food trucks; I just happen to be excited about any opportunity to check them out in my ‘hood.) To that end, this Saturday there will be a small gathering of food trucks in North Hollywood, at The Other Door bar, complete with “kid-friendly games, coloring contests, a special DJ and prizes! Of course, lots of Easter libations that are big-kid friendly too!”

As specified on the Nom Nom Truck’s site, here are the details:

SATURDAY, APRIL 23rd
12:00PM – 3:00PM
10437 Burbank Blvd,
North Hollywood CA 91601

As an aside, while I’m really stoked to see that one of my very favorites the Frysmith truck will be there, I’m slightly irritated by the existence of the Phydough truck. This is probably only because I saw the word “dough” in the name and got my hopes up that it might be a dessert truck of some type. But no, it’s a food truck for dogs. (Yes, I can be a little slow on the uptake; “Phydough” ~ “Fido” – whatever, I knew that.) Seriously – more space for pet food means less space for people food, am I right? Does your dog even care that its snack came off a truck?? </rant>

Weather Or Not

A late-afternoon search yesterday seeking a post-surgery collar option for our dog that would be even slightly less medieval than those demoralizing plastic cones of doom the vet’s office default on (found one), brought me to the Burbank Petco on Victory Boulevard and Hollywood Way and right through the most amazing meteorological event I’ve experienced in all my years as a native angeleno.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGT1HZ20sSY[/youtube]

Apologies for such over-excitement, which in fact took me by surprise since I’m someone who normally shakes my head at all the STORMWATCH excitement manufactured by our local media anytime the weather drops below 70 and a cloud forms in the sky. But this was pretty jaw-droppingly unique and I was blown away by whatever it is you want to call whatever got dumped there: snow, sleet, icy rain, hail. A weatherman on CBS2 used a term I’d never heard before that sounded like “grapple.” I just call it stop-get-out-the-car-and-snap-pix amazing:

 

We’ve Got Valentine’s Day Licked: Touch of Romance

Touch of Romance window

Let me start with the disclaimer that I’m personally sort of sexual Luddite. Once I went to a sex toy (aka f***erware) party and the hostess began by explaining that there are 6000 nerve endings in the clitoris and it just made me wonder why we think we can improve upon that fine creation. So know that I approach the whole issue of sex shops as far more of a novice than a professional (or should I say “expert”).

That said, I think one of the best things about Touch of Romance is that anyone can find something sexy/fun there and pretty much anyone can feel comfortable shopping there (well, anyone who would be reading this post anyway). The atmosphere is enough like hot-topic-for-the-orgasmic-set to put the shyer shoppers at ease, and at the same time, there’s still a reasonable selection of ball gags for the rest of you. 

condoms, condoms, condoms!

We asked what the most popular Valentine’s Day gift was and our helpful hostess/shop girl told us that the We-Vibe, supercalifragalistic vibrator that it is, was this year’s top seller. We-Vibe markets itself as the couples’ vibrator so it’s kind of a perfect Valentine’s Day present, plus since it reaches the clitoris and the g-spot, it pretty much ensures that no matter how rotten a lover you are, your lady will have a good time in the sack. This, to me, seems like a wise investment.

note the pacifier-shaped beginner's ball gag

For those on more of a budget, Touch of Romance also has a fine selection of videos, toys, massage oil, and cute lingerie, including the modern day pasty, “nippies patch of freedom,” in a variety of shapes and colors. As you would expect, there is a Baskin Robbins-ish assortment of lube, including, I noticed, something labeled “rim job flavored” lube, “a tasty anal treat,” perhaps unsurprisingly featured on the clearance table.

A few other things worth mentioning because they amused me–the “bounce back Bob” inflatable penis punching bag, the DIY make your own sex toys book, and the “lube injector.” Who knew? I mean, good idea, but as my road dog noted, “Some people are thinking every minute.”

So happy shopping. Have fun and be safe kids.

The details:
Touch of Romance
19212 Ventura Blvd
Tarzana, CA 91356
818-774-9030
Mon – Thu: 11am – 10pm
Fri – Sat: 11am – 11pm
Sunday: 12pm – 7pm

You Can Take the Girl Out of Van Nuys…

Carl Raether's photo used through Creative Commons license

It’s been a long while since I have posted. Among other reasons (a bone-crushingly heavy work load, ennui and existential despair…) I have the lucky excuse of having been in Paris for a bit. Yes it was cold–a Jack Londony, Fargo-ish kind of cold–but heck, I’d rather freeze my ass off in Paris than be warm and toasty a lot of places.

And the food! Happily one of my foodie friends here, who lived in Paris for a couple of years, had sent me a meaty email with advice on where to get the best macarons (Ladurée) and falafel (Chez hanna) and steak-frites (Relais de L’entrecote). So, on C’s recommendation, we set out for steak at RE, a Paris institution. Steak-frites, understand, is all they serve. You can choose a dessert or a wine, but as far as a meal, they ask only “how do you like your steak?” and they are world-famous for that steak. The line, even in the cold, was long enough to extend into the middle of the street. We dutifully queued up and right behind us came an English-speaking couple, seemingly American. We got to talking and, yes, they confirmed that they were American. In fact, they were from Los Angeles. “Oh,” say I, “I’m from Sherman Oaks. Where in L.A. are you from?” The woman gets a look of consternation, hesistates, and says, “Er, we’re from just north of you.”

Which is to say, Van Nuys. Even as far away as Paris, apparently, a person will go to some trouble to avoid admitting as much.

Intros & Exits: A California DJ Project

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LugNzPK2VJg&feature=player_embedded

This Saturday marks the beginning of a travelling DJ project known as “Intros & Exits.”  The goal is to set up in random spots all over Los Angeles and surrounding areas.  Here’s a brief explanation:

“Ever wonder what it would be like to experience a club/lounge setting in a place that’s anything but loungey? That’s what our friend Jon Paul Joe asks with his Intros & Exits: An Outdoor DJ Project, which kicks off Saturday Dec. 18th. “Anyone in L.A. can sit in boulevard traffic and pay a wallet’s worth of cash to kick it in a Hollywood club. What we want to do is offer the same music in a decidedly unpretentious setting.” Far from the old-fashioned “rave” concept, Intros&Exits is non-profit and doesn’t require an audience. “The goal is to get out and play music in parts of the city and backcountry that would otherwise never hear a soundsystem. We have plans to play in the desert, and the redwoods when it gets warmer. We even have a set planned for the James Dean crash site in the middle of nowhere.” The first I&E event will be in a small parking lot in an industrial side of Glendale, near Burbank. The set will begin at sunset (4:30) and go until 9ish, with an afterparty nearby.

When: Sat Dec. 18th 4:30-9
Where: 1714 Standard Avenue, Glendale CA
Who: open minded chillsters looking for something different

more info at http://introsandexits.blogspot.com/

I have known about this for about 2 months now and am super excited for it.  I hope you can make it down.  The more positive energy we can muster the greater the experience.

Breaking My Bob’s Big Boy Cherry

I finally checked off an item that’s been at the top of my Los Angeles area to-do list by going to Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank/Toluca Lake.  And what better way to be introduced to this new pleasure than a meetup with my fellow blogging.la-ers?

I think I just sucked on a lemon

We got together last Saturday afternoon in summer-like weather.  Almost all of the b.la bloggers made it there, and we had a table of 10 or so.  Some of these folks were obviously Bob’s veterans, such as Will, who ordered an elaborate-looking double burger from memory, then scarfed it in record time (though, to be fair, he bikes everywhere & is entitled to replace those burned calories), and Jodi, who lives nearby and wrote a great post last August about how Bob’s is one of L.A.’s greatest landmarks.

Bob from the side, sporting his 80s Morrissey 'do

Although Bob’s seems to be most famous for burgers, fries, and shakes (I know, chili spaghetti too), some of which were represented at our table, I opted for pancakes.  Mine were very good, although the “fruit” on the side consisted of “Caine Mutiny“-style canned strawberries.  Quick, somebody call Captain Queeg.  We also learned some interesting Bob’s trivia.  For instance, there may or may not be a secret dessert there called “Ross’s Ass.”  Supposedly, a server named Eli can hook you up, but really, do you want him to?

Check out Bob checking out Tammara

When we finished, we took the obligatory photo with Bob.  It was a great get-together at a well-deserved L.A. area landmark.  And fear not, readers, Bob’s is still high up on our list of future Classic Eats candidates.

Toluca Lake Christmas Open House

That’s right kiddies.  It’s that time of year again.  Time for the annual Toluca Lake Open House.

Oh.  You don’t know what that is?  Allow me to explain.  Every year, for as long as I can remember (actual dates/amount of times are surprisingly hard to find) Toluca Lake has held an annual Open House the first Friday in December.  The open house features the businesses along Riverside Drive between Sancola and Pass Ave.  Most of these businesses are independently owned businesses.  They open their doors for the evening allowing residents and non-residents alike to walk around and explore what the community has to offer.  Many businesses even offer hot chocolate, coffee, treats, etc. for the passing guests.  And yes, it gets busy.  I always loved seeing the community come alive when I was younger.  The busiest spot every year is where the pictures with Santa take place.  Kids (and adults too) line up to get their pictures taken with the jolly fellow.

Do you have friends and/or family in town dying to see a “celebrity?”  Bring ’em.  There are always many well-known faces in the crowd as Toluca Lake is home to more of them than they’d like you to know.  But I will cover that in a later post about Toluca Lake.

I hope you all can make it out.  It’s a great time.  And be sure to keep your eye out for me.  I’m the albino looking dude who will be freezing my buns off.

Hard Wood Floors: Bad Ad Campaigns Part V

Snapped at Woodman and Ventura
When the history of bad ad campaigns is written, this billboard may have a chapter all to itself, or at least a subsection of a chapter. Seriously, it feels almost too easy to critique this as an example of an awful piece of advertising. I mean, really guys? Really?

This billboard sprang up just a few blocks from my house since I started this bad ad campaign mini-series of posts here at b.la and it almost feels like a plant. Every time I pass it I giggle to myself about hard wood floors. I am, I admit, lodged firmly in arrested adolescence. Retarded in the true sense of the word. Even so, it feels almost unsporting to pick on this billboard–like the jock beating up the fat kid on the playground: it’s just too easy. But of course, here I am.

Other posts in this series:
To A New World of Gods and Monsters
It’s a Thin Line Between “Awesome” and “Awful”
Graffitists, I Invite Thee
Some Things Shouldn’t Go Viral