ICME: Thunderheads over The Valley

click to embiggen

Today was the official celebration of the end of summer vacation at my house and time for our annual trek to just screw around at Venice Beach.  Glorious day for it I tell you, barely 70’s and a nice stiff breeze off the ocean made for a break from the heat.

If the heat today seems worse than yesterday it should.  Those thunderheads over The Valley came about with the arrival of monsoonal moisture over the basin.   I just makes the heat a little more unbearable for those stuck inland.

Pic by me with the trusty cell cam.

L.A.’s Greatest Landmarks: Bob’s Big Boy

I took this photo of Big Boy in 2006

From the towering neon sign to the statue of the rotund boy in his distinctive red and white checked overalls to the 1950’s coffee shop architecture, Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank is undoubtedly one of L.A.’s most well-known and beloved landmarks. In 1993, this oldest remaining restaurant in the national chain was restored to its 1949 glory and designated a “California Point of Historical Interest.” At that time, the sign was repaired, the dining room was remodeled, and an outdoor patio was added. Car-hop service was also re-established on Saturday and Sunday nights. Every Friday night, a classic car show is held in the ample parking lot, which fills with shiny hot rods and cruisers from the 1950s and 60s.

I discovered Bob’s Big Boy shortly after moving to L.A. in 1994. We could walk to it from our apartment and more importantly, discovered we could do so 24 hours a day! While we can still walk to Bob’s from our current home, it does take quite a bit longer. Much more frequently, we take advantage of the hours and catch a bite to eat after a concert or movie. It’s become our go-to place after Halloween festivities because the place is packed with other costumed people and the party seems to continue.

If you’re looking for a gourmet meal, Bob’s will not be your first choice, but they do serve up decent, affordable diner fare. You can get breakfast and homemade milk shakes around the clock. The staff is friendly and we recognize other regular customers, as well as the occasional celebrity, when we eat there. I’ll admit that we do go to Bob’s about once a week, often on a particular night to see some friends who have a regular meet up at the restaurant.

Bob’s Big Boy is located at 4211 W Riverside Dr. in Burbank/Toluca Lake. You only have a couple of hours to catch the classic cars, but you have all night to grab a burger or some chili spaghetti.

A full list of the posts in our L.A.’s Great Landmarks series can be found here.

Canoga Park Pride


My friend Cher passed along this great Canoga Park tourism video to me, and I can’t resist sharing it with you. Drjedly, who is responsible for this piece of civic pride, tells me there will be a part two soon.

Signs the Recession is Still Going Strong

I am drafting this blog post from my desk at an office building/warehouse in Chatsworth where the water has been turned off all morning. “Why has the water been turned off?” you ask (or more likely you’re not asking because you really don’t care, but I’m going to tell you anyway). The water has been turned off because last night the plumbing itself was stolen. That’s right, someone stole a length of copper piping from the line that runs in front of the building where I work–and probably other buildings as well. Apparently (who knew?) you can get about $200 reselling a section of piping like that, so people go cruising neighborhoods looking for accessible copper piping to dismantle and sell. I lived through the “no radio” days in the urban east coast, and I must say, this tops that. So now, we here at my office are all crossing our legs and holding it while we wait for the repair to be finished; my boss is ordering a cage for the pipes in front of the building; and somewhere a couple of guys are happily smoking crack. The economy? I’m thinking it’s not improving.

Sunday Sweet Street Scooter Rally

Delivering food on bikes is so Peter Parker.  No, in this city, we like our food delivered in style – say, Vespa style, courtesy The Scootabaker.  Upon your order, Scootabaker Heather Wong bakes up cookies, tarts, and cupcakes and delivers them to you via Vespa.  This Sunday, she’s leading a Sweet Street Scooter Rally from one side of town to the other.  At 11am, Vespa owners will take the streets Critical Mass-style from the Vespa of Sherman Oaks and scoot across the city, finishing around 2pm at the Silver Lake record label company that brought us Silversun Pickups, Dangerbird Records.  For those of us (me) without Vespas, we’ll be waiting at the finish line for our rewards: Scootabaker, along with The Sweets Truck, will have all sorts of goodies for your consumption.  The ride and ensuing bake sale are all part of a fundraiser for the Pablove Foundation, an organization dedicated to funding pediatric cancer research.  This is an issue near and dear to Dangerbird’s heart – the organization was founded in honor of Pablo Castelez, the 6-year old son of Dangerbird Records founder Jeff Castelez who passed last year on June 27th.

It’s a rally, it’s a bake sale, it’s a fundraiser, it’s a great Sunday.  See you there.  I’ll be stuffing my face whilst innocuously trying to ride your Vespa.

Full details of the Sweet Street Scooter Rally can be found on the event’s Facebook page here.  Oh, Facebook, are you the Evite killer we all are waiting for?

UPDATE: If you can’t make it out the Sunday event, vote for them to receive a Chase Community Grant here.

Rad vespa photo courtesy Fire Monkey Fish via the Metblogs Flickr pool.

Free screening of “Get him to the Greek” Thursday 6/10 RSVP Now.

Come see a FREE screening of ‘Get Him to the Greek’ at Burbank 16 with Imax Theater Thursday June 10, 2010 at 7.30pm. Seating is limited so get there early. It is first come, first seated. Concessions will not be included.

For those of you not paying attention to the whole social media marketing thingy Ford has been a player for a while with their soon to be released Fiesta and “Fiesta Agents” hyping the car and their escapades with it. One of the last missions of the Fiesta Movement teams is to create a short film involving the Ford Fiesta. Team LA has come up with the film ‘Fully Loaded’ and will be premiering it that night prior to ‘Get Him to the Greek’.   Screen shots from the film can be found on Flickr.  The various agents across the country are competing for points with their events so you can help them out by, and this is very important, text LAFILM to 44144 to help them accrue points.

When: Thursday June 10, 2010 7:30-10:30pm PST
Where: Burbank 16 with IMAX, 125 E. Palm Ave., Burbank, CA 91502

The Illusion of Input

One of my coworkers received this nice invitation yesterday through his e-policing subscription:  

Councilmember Paul Koretz
Councilmember Paul Krekorian
& The Bureau of Street Services

Invite you to learn how you can work
With the City to improve the quality of life
In your neighborhood

Identify, report and resolve problems

Reduce illegal signs, potholes, graffiti & other code violations

Discuss City issues and priorities

Saturday, May 22, 2010
10:00 am – 11:30 am
Sportsmen’s Lodge
12825 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City

The problem of course, is that tomorrow was June 1 and the invite is for May 22.

How did that go ” learn how you can work with the City to improve the quality of life in your neighborhood”?

Oh the irony.

Watercress Cafe: My new favorite lunch spot

Watercress Cafe

Mine is a simple life with small pleasures. A good lunch spot counts for a lot in my world. I live around the corner from Watercress Cafe on Woodman and so I’ve passed it a bazillion times, but somehow I’d never eaten there until recently. They close at 7 weeknights (4 and 3 Saturday and Sunday respectively) and I’m usually not in the neighborhood lunch hours, but now that I’m in on the secret, I’ll be having lunch there when I can.

We’re talking about the ultimate turkey sandwich, people. It has apple slices and herbed goat cheese and greens and it is on raisin bread. It is a perfect mixture of sweet and savory, smooth and crunchy. Watercress‘s turkey sandwich is, as the cute counter guy describes: a party in your mouth. Since the turkey sandwich experience, I’ve been back for a salad that had chicken and pine nuts and greens so good you don’t want to dress them.

the turkey sandwich in question

(I like my greens naked, like I like my… ahem…) I had breakfast there last weekend and it was good but not as great (in my opinion) as the lunches (but then it’s hard to keep pace with Hugo’s as far as Sherman Oaks breakfasts go).

There’s parking in the back and a coffee roaster next door. What could be wrong with that?

Hours: Monday-Friday 7 am – 7 pm, Saturday 7 am – 4 pm, Sunday 8 am – 3 pm
13565 Ventura Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

Help A Mother Out, LA – A Few Tickets Left!

There are only 8 tickets left for the Help A Mother Out  Wine and Cheese Date Night.

May 1 is the night. Help A Mother Out is the excellent cause helping families who are poor or homeless get diapers for their kids. Diapers and wipes are not covered under WIC or food stamp programs, so poor and especially homeless families often have to make tough choices between food or rent and diapers, forcing them to reuse old diapers or to keep their kids in dirty diapers longer than is healthy or sanitary. Help A Mother Out is trying to get diapers to those in need. And you can help!

Register here for your ticket to the party.

Cost of admission? A package of diapers (or 2 if you like). Yours truly will be one of the many lovely hostesses. And not only will you get to nosh on yummy snacks and wine donated by Tillamook Cheese and Fresh & Easy stores, but there will be cool music by DJBK and The Game Truck parked out side for all your Wii fun needs.

If you can’t make the party, find other ways to help and lots more info at the HAMO website. They make even make it super simple to donate diapers online.

Click here to read a story about how your donations are making a big difference in one Los Angeles family’s life.

See you on May 1st!

L.A. Plays Itself In The Movies: Valley Girl (1983)

She’s cool.
He’s hot.
She’s from the Valley.
He’s not.

Julie (Deborah Foreman) and Randy (a very young Nicolas Cage) are geography-crossed teenagers in love in 1983 Los Angeles. Not long after dumping her popular boyfriend, Tommy, Julie falls for Randy, who is from Hollywood. Her friends do not approve because, like oh my gawd, he’s “different.” He wears red and black instead of pastels, he slums it in a loud, dirty bar, and has friends who look like Sid Vicious. Grody to the max. I’m so sure.

In spite of how much Julie likes Randy, her bitchy “friends” convince her to “do the right thing,” which is break up with Randy and get back together with Tommy. They threaten her with the prospect of losing all of them and her social status. While truly conflicted, the desire to be popular prevails. What a total bummer. Randy is crushed and tries really hard to win Julie back, but she won’t give in.

In one last ditch effort to get the girl, Randy and his best friend crash the Valley High prom and make quite a scene disrupting the coronation of Prom King and Queen, Tommy and Julie. Fists fly and Randy and Julie steal away in the limo that brought her to the dance. Off they go, up the 405, to spend what can only have been an amazing night at the Valley Sheraton.

The premise of this movie, a modern day Romeo and Juliet, depends on Los Angeles playing a strong supporting role. You could even look at the L.A. portrayed in Valley Girl as multiple characters: The Valley, Hollywood, and The Beach. Now that I live in L.A., I definitely suffer from the problem of noticing, and often pointing out, the liberties that are taken in presenting the city. It’s something I didn’t think about before moving here in 1994. I find it fascinating to see how parts of Los Angeles are stitched together to create a version of the city that suits the needs of the storyteller.

L.A. is actually the first character you see and hear about as Valley Girl starts. A radio announcer says, “…they’ll be playing at the Hollywood Bowl…” as we hover above the Lake Hollywood reservoir looking toward Hollywood. We then head over the hills that house the famous sign for a reveal of The Valley. Well, it’s Burbank, but close enough. What I do find amusing is that instead of panning west into The Valley proper, we pan east into Glendale. Anyway, what-EVER! The first place where we encounter the Valley girls is The Mall. Duh. The location used for the opening sequence is the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, not the Sherman Oaks Galleria which is often misstated on various websites. In addition to official location lists, there is a clear shot of a door handle at the mall that says Del Amo on it.

Click through to read more and see the trailer

LA Plays Itself in the Movies: Earth Girls Are Easy

Picture it, 1988. The Valley. An alien space ship crash lands in a suburban swimming pool and their savior mentor for life on earth is a “val” named appropriately Val.   Its high camp, cult classic life turned into lampooning caricature of LA circa late 1980’s.

From cruising “the boulevard” to other slice of life bits the film pretty well covers the LA Scene of the era, albeit as cartoony as Roger Rabbit.   Even the Griffith Park Observatory plays a cameo as the “Deca Disco”. Best line in the movie: “You’re so lucky you crashed in The Valley, its the baddest place on earth”. Indeed.

All the cast info you could want is over on the IMDB. In the mean time enjoy a clip from the movie. (Including one extra after the jump).

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rNfZxgkH7k[/youtube] Continue reading “LA Plays Itself in the Movies: Earth Girls Are Easy”

L.A. Plays Itself in the Movies: Magnolia

When I saw Magnolia the first time, the sum total of what I knew about the movie, going in to the theater, could fit on an index card: This was a movie by the guys who did Boogie Nights but it was about the 90s not the 70s. That’s it; that was what I knew. I rarely go into a film totally blind, but I’d loved Boogie Nights so Paul Thomas Anderson was enough of a recommendation for me.

To be honest, Magnolia emotionally knee-capped me. I cried, and not just in that oops got something in my eye; damn that guy with too much cologne kind of way. We’re talking full blown weeping complete with nose blowing. And so I am loathe to talk too much about the specifics of the movie in case there are some of you who have not seen it.

What I’ll say is this: the “magnolia” in the title is Magnolia Boulevard that runs most of the length of the east valley. The film follows the intersecting stories of a number of different Valley characters, all of whom are damaged and fundamentally isolated.

Twice in the movie, we hear the line, “And the book says, ‘We may be through with the past, but the past is not through with us.’” And so it seems for our characters who are all, in their way, wounded by their history. Much of the drama in the movie comes from the effort to outrun or deny the past, the personal equivalent of L.A.’s propensity to raze and rebuild, raze and rebuild. After all, California is where people go to reinvent themselves, no? Continue reading “L.A. Plays Itself in the Movies: Magnolia”