Overexposed In Chinatown

ctown5 ctown20It’s not what it sounds like, although what it sounds like sounds fun…

Nope, I was downtown the other day with a camera set to too high an exposure, on a mission to acquire a parasol.

Almost every store in Chinatown around the rectangle created by Broadway and Hill / Cottage Home and Cesar Chavez sells parasols. But there’s only one I’ve ever encountered with a wide selection of diverse and lovely paper–not polyester, same-painting-on-every-pink-and-blue-version, parasols. After three years away, I wasn’t sure the parasol store would still be in the square at the intersection on Gin Ling and Mei Lin Way (yep, all those little pedestrian streets have names…check out the map here…helps when you’re looking for a specific gallery).

ctown08To my relief, Andy’s Gift Shop was still there, across from the lucky coin-toss fountain (a miniature landscape with different mountain-hermit homes sculpted into the waterfall rock, a different pagoda or edifice you can toss a coin into for prosperity and good luck in any area of life). After meandering past the weirdly cordoned-off statue of Bruce Lee and the skatepunk dudes trying to nail the (presently turned-off) waterfall’s house of Good Luck in Love with pennies, I made it into the gift shop and accessioned what was needed. Thanks Chinatown! It’s nice to know a few things haven’t changed.

I have a really crappy phone with an even crappier camera in it. The settings on the phone randomly re-set them depending on the phone’s own perverse mood swings. That day, it had set the exposure to what us photography-illiterate folks call “way too damn bright.” Oddly, the photos came out pretty, with a washed-out sort of lighting that perfectly showcased the lurid colors of the neighborhood.

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cave of forgotten dreams: herzog premiere & museum-wide party

Image from the DubLab

So what are you doing after the upcoming Grilled Cheese Invitational? Why you’re heading downtown to party at the Natural History Museum, duh!

This Saturday, Cinefamily and Cinespia are hosting a FREE ADMISSION museum-wide party at the Natural History Museum, presented as the closing event to the “Art In The Streets” film retrospective. First, they’re showing Cave of Forgotten Dreams directed by Werner Herzog at 5:30pm. (the film-rsvp list is already closed, but there will be some seats held for the standby line) Also, the Herzog Q&A will be projected live in the Museum’s Whale Room at approximately 7PM, for those who are unable to get into the screening. Once the movie is over, then the party starts!

At 8PM, the doors open and guests are invited to wander the Museum’s exhibit halls for FREE! There will be live bands, DJs spinning, food trucks, cash bar & an art installation by Mastodon Mesa.

Live Music Schedule

On the Fin Whale Passage stage:
Live performances by Nite Jewel, Islands, White Magic and Matt Baldwin starting at 8:30pm.

In the African Mammal Hall:
DJs Dntel (aka Jimmy Tamborello of The Postal Service), David Holmes and Carlos Nino will spin records starting at 5pm.

In the Gems & Mineral Hall:
DJ collective Dublab will also host a second set of live performances starting at 5pm.

This whole event is generously sponsored by: First Fridays at The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, in association with History Films, Sundance Selects, Goethe-Institut Los Angeles, Dublab

cave of forgotten dreams: herzog premiere & museum-wide party
Saturday, April 23rd
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
900 Exposition Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA, 90007
5:00-11:00pm
Admission: FREE

Win Tickets To Something Corporate, August 28th

Orange County’s own, Something Corporate are bringing their “Reunion Tour 2010” to Club Nokia at L.A. Live on Saturday, August 28th, and blogging.LA has your tickets.

Would you like to see the final show on Something Corporate’s Reunion Tour? Leave a note in the comments section below telling me why you want to see this show, or your favorite Something Corporate song.

Winners (we’ve got more than one pair of tickets) will be notified via email by midnight Wednesday. Keep an eye on your email, as you need to respond by noon on Thursday. If all winners have not responded by noon, those tickets will be passed to the next lucky winner(s.)

Thanks to our friends at Goldenvoice. Don’t want to take a chance on winning tickets? You can purchase tickets for Saturday’s show 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.

New Twist On Classic Dish

After a long soft open, presumably to iron out any kinks, Mac & Cheeza is finally having their Grand Opening tonight at 5:30pm. Get downtown and get your mac on!

For the last couple of months owners Larkin Mackey (of the eponymous Larkin’s in Eagle Rock) & Joshua McBride have been getting great pre-opening press for their newest venture, Mac & Cheeza. I was drawn in, and twice made special trips downtown for the creamy cheesy goodness. I was not disappointed. With news of the Grand Opening comes regular hours, and I can now go back for more anytime I like.

The concept is simple: first, choose your size (Baby Mac all the way up to Mac Daddy.) Next, do you want regular or rice noodles? Penultimately, regular or house-made soy cheese? Now it gets complicated; now you complement your base with a choice of veggies, meats and toppers. How will you ever choose? It’s like Pinkberry for mac & cheese. This is a problem for me, because I want them all!

As if this weren’t enough, there are also homemade desserts straight from Larkin’s mom’s kitchen. Have the banana pudding; it’s fantastic. On top of it all, Larkin and his crew are always friendly, helpful, and all-around good guys.

If for some reason you can’t make the Grand Opening today, check them out soon. Mac & Cheeza is located at 223 W. 8th Street (near 8th & Broadway.) They’re open Sunday-Thursday 11am-11pm and Friday-Saturday 11am-2am.

Weekend Fun For Grown-ups: Win Dan Band Tix!

Many of you are already familiar with The Dan Band, and have been looking forward to their next show. Even if the name doesn’t sound familiar, you’ve probably seen the Dan Band.

In addition to fairly regular concert appearances around southern California and frequent work on Jay Leno’s show(s,) The Dan Band has appeared in movies such as Old School, Starsky & Hutch, and The Hangover.

They’re mostly known for performing covers of songs originally recorded by female artists, in their own unique style with a liberal application of NSFWoYC (Not Safe For Work or Young Children) language.

While good, the video clips linked above don’t really do justice to the live spectacle that is The Dan Band. Luckily, Dan and the boys will be returning to Club Nokia at LA Live this Friday, April 2 and thanks to our friends at Goldenvoice, I’ve got several pairs of tickets for you, dear readers.

Follow me past the jump to find out how to win your tickets, and see a live video clip of The Dan Band from a recent show at Club Nokia… Continue reading “Weekend Fun For Grown-ups: Win Dan Band Tix!”

Valentine’s Day Love Spectacular

Whether you vehemently detest Valentine’s Day or you are looking for something unique to impress your baby cakes this weekend, Captured Aural Phantasy Theater has just what you need to quench that burning desire way down in your special place.

This weekend, the Vaudeville-style throwback troupe will be performing a very special Valentine’s Day Love Spectacular for you love birds and singles alike. Experience an incredibly intimate and sensual feast of esoterically erotic vintage comic book stories that explore love and all of its many splendored things.

Special guest performance by The Blankenship Ballet Company of Venice.

Captured Aural Phantasy Theater is a live, radio hour like show where the performers act out dramatic readings from vintage comic books. Set underneath the stained glass ceiling of the infamous Palm Court Ballroom in the historical Alexandria Hotel, the show often features live music numbers, audience interaction, period costumes and snark galore. Continue reading “Valentine’s Day Love Spectacular”

It’s A Wonderful Life in L.A.

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Photo courtesy Paramount Pictures

Do you like history and tradition? Are you a sucker for a classic Christmas film? Then dress up in your Sunday best, grab a shoe shine, and head Downtown this weekend.

The Los Angeles Conservancy is presenting Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed, at the newly restored Million Dollar Theatre (1918), Sunday, December 6, 2009 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children twelve and under. A limited number of tickets are available at The Conservancy’s website.

Make it your new family tradition. Your kids will be able to tell their kids what Broadway was like before the return of the streetcar!

The Million Dollar Theatre is located at 307 South Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles, walking distance from the Metro Red Line Pershing Square Station and Civic Center Station.

Archiving Angeles (AA): The Lindley

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Downtown Los Angeles was no stranger to adaptive reuse. Dr. Walter Lindley built California Hospital at 315 W. Sixth Street in 1887. Years later, you could yourself buy a hat for $2.00, or rent a room for 50 cents at “The Lindley.”

The year was 1912.

Photo from the USC Digital Library

1947project.com Becomes “In SRO Land”

My love for Kim Cooper‘s projects & collaborations is no secret, but this latest endeavor thrills me even more. Chronicling the glittering and ghastly history of LA’s Historic Core, centered around the footprint of the Downtown Artwalk/Gallery Row, the blog “In SRO Land” is only a week old but already is a treasure trove of info that’s left me utterly absorbed.

srolandEvery year Kim’s original blog, 1947project, undergoes a re-casting and covers a different year in Los Angeles history. But this year it becomes “In SRO Land,” named alternatively after the Single Room Occupancy hotels that are so prevalent in the area, and “Standing Room Only”–the common refrain of Broadway, whose golden era was a cavalcade of dancers and entertainers, criminals and movie stars, freaks and fans.

I am so stoked to have this new blog up and running, and I’ll be sure to check it every day. Welcome to the party, In SRO Land.

Also, a great big Congrats to Kim Cooper’s husband & Esotouric curator Richard Schave, the newly-minted Director of the Downtown LA Art Walk.

Photo by In SRO Land contributor Rob Clampett.

Grand Performance Indeed-Battlestar Galactica Live in Downtown L.A.

California Plaza
BSG @ California Plaza

Last weekend, Bear McCreary opened the  2009 Grand Performances series with The Music of Battlestar Galactica. I’ve seen the talented composer conduct his unforgettable score live on a couple of other occasions. Every concert has been fantastic, but this most recent one really blew me away. From the gorgeous outdoor setting, complete with water features, in downtown L.A. to Katee Sackhoff joining McCreary on the piano for the opening bit to his version of  “All Along The Watchtower,” it was a pretty magical evening. A good friend of mine got permission to videotape the entire show and is in the process of posting the footage, which you can see here. Check out the “…Watchtower” clip below.

I hope to go back for more of this summer’s Grand Performances. I found California Plaza to be a beautiful, unique venue under the stars that I’d love to revisit. The weekly event runs through the end of August with one show in each September and October. The concert days and times vary each week, so check the calendar for specific details. Another important thing to note is that all of the performances are free!

The address for parking is 351 S. Olive in downtown Los Angeles. I found it quite convenient to take the Metro Red Line to Pershing Square and walk the one block to the plaza.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RqYwOTJK-4[/youtube]

Sleep in Ignacio’s Bed, Walk to Riots

Meet Ignacio, Downtown Los Angeles loft dweller.

Ignacio is likely feeling the pinch of recession. Here we find him pitching his crib as a vacation destination. It’s very nice.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gh65viF2Snw[/youtube]

While Iggy has given us a great tour of the place, and while he seems like a swell guy, there are three things that stick out here.

Consider it the Top 3 Vacation Rental Video No-No’s:

1. Take out the Bluetooth before filming. No call is important enough to ruin a good take.

2. Don’t flush the toilet. It conjures up memories of getaway weekends sabotauged by the likes of Jack Daniels.

3. Avoid bouncing on your bed. We’ll have trouble letting go of that image, and wonder what else has bounced there.

Good luck on your summer rentals, Ignacio. The Bonaventure has nothing on you.

Urban archaeology dream destinations…

Brand-new "vault lights," as those sidewalk grids of mini glass panes are called. Click the photo for more info.

So I was having dessert with a friend the other night and we got onto this great riff talking about the hidden parts of LA we’d love to explore, all the places we’re intrigued by.

For example, I want to explore the swap meet that’s across Broadway from the Orpheum. It clearly used to be some big old theater, but now all you see is a little glimpse of baroque architecture hidden behind the dropped ceilings of the subdivided knockoff-t-shirts booths.

Or the grids of thick glass squares on the sidewalk in downtown: when I was a little girl my family was taking a touristy tour through downtown Seattle and those glass grids were actually the skylights in the old town’s “underground.”

So those are the things I want to explore, but I bet each & every one of you knows a place that’s always intrigued you. Now’s your turn to tell me your dream urban archaeology trip! Have you ever wanted to explore the dark cobwebbed skeletons of L.A.’s past? You know, original things are disappearing all over our city every day. Maybe we should think about exploring these traces before they become permanent history.

Cheap Eats Alert: Casa

Casa, a brand-new upscale Mexican restaurant, opened on the 6th. A little birdie told me that this Saturday is the opening party, including such items as “cheap or free drinks, some fancy Mexican hors d’ouevres…and my charming personality.” So if you’d like to mooch some cheap/free eats a la myopenbar.com and enjoy my friend’s charming personality, this may be a destination to add in on your nightly cruise in search of Two-Buck-Chuck and Gelson’s cheese plates. The restaurant looks pretty cool too. Tip: friend arrives after 8pm. I’m just sayin’.