The Mighty Wurlitzer Lives On in El Segundo!

Dear people of Los Angeles:  I am in love with the Old Town Music Hall in El Segundo.  And you should be, too.  I went for the first time a few weeks ago, and it was a completely enchanting experience.

The Mighty, Glow in the Dark Wurlitzer at the Old Town Music Hall

The Old Town Music Hall is run by two guys with a Wurlitzer organ, who have been operating out of their present location since 1968.  The theatre is pretty tiny, and is painted red and decorated with figurines of Nipper, the RCA dog; velvet curtains; and sparkly chandeliers.  Every weekend they do film screenings – sometimes talkies, sometimes silent films with Bill Field, the resident organist, masterfully providing the soundtrack, but always great old movies that really deserve to be seen.  We went for a screening of Seventh Heaven, which was, admittedly, a pretty ridiculous movie, plot-wise  (seriously, but we SAW the male lead die.  In a war.  Of gunshot wounds. He was seriously killed to death.  And then suddenly he was alive, like the Terminator or something, and this was supposed to be a romantic drama, not a science fiction film), but it was absolutely worth seeing, as a piece of film history.  Each screening at the Music Hall opens with a few tunes on the organ from Mr. Field (and the audience is encouraged to sing along!  And who doesn’t love a singalong?) and a short film (we got to see a Laurel and Hardy short) before the main feature.  And it’s only $8 which seems somehow like the most incredible deal, for, like, 3 hours of entertainment that prominently features live music.

I love this place because I love tiny little businesses run by people who love what they do and are sticking it out even if what they do is kind of on the anachronistic side.  And I kind of want to give all of my money to the Old Town Music Hall because I love what they’re doing so very, very much, and, by the sounds of things, they can use all the financial support they can get.  But I do need to eat and pay rent, so instead of giving them all of my money and worldly goods, I am advising you, dear readers, to head over to El Segundo some weekend to see some old movies, and support a dying art.  If you’ve never seen a silent film with organ, it’s an absolute must if you’re at all interested in film history.  It’s an amazing thing to see and hear: the organist’s job is to anticipate and highlight the emotional content of the film, and when it’s skillfully done, it can give silent movies an amazing sense of presence and immediacy.

The Old Town Music Hall is at 140 Richmond Street, El Segundo, 90245.

Mr. Wurlitzer image courtesy of Mike Fischer on flickr.

 

Did you do something with your hair?

Why yes, we did. We’re launching so new crap, and it’s rolling out in stages. Things might be a little goofy for a few days as we get everything in place. One really cool thing we’ll have will be groups for neighborhood, one not so cool thing is that we (and you) have to set these up one by one by hand. So if you want your neighborhood getting in there sooner rather than later, you can add it yourself by clicking the “groups” tag there in the upper right. We’ll explain more of the new stuff once we know it’s not going to break. Wooo Shiny!

Term for Los Angeles makes it into the Oxford Dictionary

I’ve never cared much for the term “la-la-land” as it was ‘most always used in a derogatory manner.  How dare you disparage the city I love in that manner.  Well the Oxford Dictionary folks have taken it a step further and given the term credibility without noting in the definition its a “derogatory” noun.  Their exact definition:

la-la land n. can refer either to Los Angeles (in which case its etymology is influenced by the common initialism for that city), or to a state of being out of touch with reality—and sometimes to both simultaneously.

What say you on this addition to the dictionary?  More power to the haters or are you non plussed over the addition?

Pic by me of the L.A. iconic palms in Venice Beach, taken with my beloved “che-ez snap” that shoots in all of .3 megapixels.

GTD This Weekend: Wine Riot, Tomato Riot

This weekend: wine, tomatoes, doing good.  Like every weekend, right?

SATURDAY

  • The folks behind Wine Riot tell us they’re under 30, so a typical wine tasting room in Santa Barbara this is not: over 250 different wines will be available for your sipping, slurping, and optional spitting at this not-your-retired-grandfather’s wine festival.  The event also features a pretty spiffy Second Glass Mobile App, which you can use to log your favorite wines throughout the day.  Writing general notes on a napkin you’ll misplace later is so 1997.  $50.  Choose your time: 1 to 5pm or 7pm to 11pm at Santa Monica Place in Santa Monica,
  • I had my first real tomato when I was 18? 19?, a very, very sad fact, I know.  Don’t let this happen to your kids: head out to Tapia Brothers’ Farm Stand in Encino to pick up some tomato seedlings as part of the great big heirloom tomato seedling celebration known as Tomatomania!  There will be nearly 300 tomato varieties for your green thumb, the largest of the Tomatomania! sales in the area.  Save those supermarket tomatoes for throwing.  Saturday and Sunday at the Tapia Brothers’ Farm Stand, 5251 Hayvenhurst Ave. in Encino.
  • Some people don’t see the great benefits of 3D, others call those people Luddites and tell them to join us in the 21st century.  If you’re in the latter group and want to learn how to try to convert the former group, check out the Echo Park Film Center’s two-day workshop on how to shoot in 3D.  Bolex cameras with 3D lenses will be available for your experimentation.  There’s nothing in here about how to write a good story with great characters, but presumably, you’ve got that covered.  $100 non-members/$80 members.  1 to 5pm Saturday and Sunday at the Echo Park Film Center, 1200 N. Alvarado St. in Echo Park.
  • Some of the best movies are children’s movies, because, I think, we grow up, get into complicated messes, and forget that things really can be so simple.  The Redcat International Children’s Film Festival kicks off this weekend, with different themes from now until April 17.  $5 for each screening.  Check the website for exact movies and showtimes.

SUNDAY

  • “Crafty women of the world unite” sounds a bit like Lady MacBeth’s rallying cry, but, no, we’re talking about a different kind of crafty: it’s time for the The Third Annual Pink Parlour Festival, featuring crafts and other artwork by women.  About 150 vendors will be on hand to show and sell their works.  $5.  11am to 7pm at the Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia.
  • The “Do Good Bus” is exactly what it sounds like: a bus that transports you to do some good twice a month.  Except this time, it’s more like the “Do Good Bicycle” as the organizers invites bikers to bring their own two wheels and bike out to do some good.  The exact nature of the activity is not disclosed yet, but they will provide a meal.  That’s all you need to know, right?  $20 to cover costs; RSVP required.  Meet at 1pm at a Hollywood location disclosed to you when they confirm your reservation.
  • We all can’t be so lucky as to have Henry Louis Gates, Jr. trace our family lineage, so you might as well learn how to do it yourself.  The California African American Museum hosts a workshop led by a Daniel Bartosz, a professional genealogist, that will teach you how to construct your family tree, with a few tips from the professional.  Free.  2pm at the California African American Museum in Exposition Park.

“Mural” by East of West LA via the Blogging LA Flickr pool.

Bloggers Picnic in SGV set for Saturday

The motley crew of bloggers at the 2008 Picnic.

Come rain, quake or fallout the picnic will go forward Saturday at Farnsworth Park in Altadena.  This will be something like the 5th Bloggers Picnic since we started this in 2007.  Its open to all bloggers, blog readers, fans and stalkers who would like to attend.  We’ve even had bloggers from the LA area appear at prior events so it truly is open to everyone.

Timothy Rutt of the Altadena Blog took over organizing a few years ago.  I don’t have a complete list of everyone that will be there, but I can tell you that West Coast Grrlie Blather, Pasadena PIO and the Pasadena Daily Photo will be there to get things started.  The gawds of blogging overruled kid’s sports gawds this weekend so even I can make it for a while on Saturday morning (I’m bringing “Browned Butter Brownies” as my contribution).

This is true potluck style.  Bring your favorite dish to share.  Blog it to share with others if you can.

DEETS: Saturday March 19, 11AM-5PM, General Charles S Farnsworth Park, Altadena CA.  MAP HERE.

GTD This Weekend: LA Fetes Baja and Sammy Hagar

This weekend: Baja Night 2.0, post-St. Patrick’s Day beer-ing, and a little running.  Or not.

SATURDAY

  • The last time Ricky (of Ricky’s Fish Tacos) and Mexicali Taco Company teamed up at a parking lot downtown for Baja Night, everyone from families to foodies came together to nosh on giant lobster tacos (courtesy Ricky) and generous cachetadas (courtesy Mexicali).  The second edition of Baja Night (Baja Night 2.0) is on Saturday night, and Ricky promises more lobster tacos and a secret dish that he told me about here.  Eating Ensenada-style fish and meat tacos in a parking lot under the warm glow of the downtown skyline and the biggest, brightest moon since 1983.  If that’s not eating in LA, I don’t know what is.  $Pay as you go.  The night starts at 6pm at the parking lot on 1st and Beaudry.
  • My dog is not the only one celebrating a birthday on Saturday – The Egyptian Theater also is celebrating what would have been Sid Grauman’s 132nd birfday. Grauman found a few of the most iconic theaters in LA, including The Egyptian and the Chinese Theater.  There will be a lecture about his life and career, a birthday cake, and a screening of Forever Hollywood, a documentary about – guess! – Hollywood.  $9-11.  The party starts at 2pm at The Egyptian in Hollywood.
  • Beer is the new wine.  Finally.  Cases in point: not one, but three, events focused on the suds are scheduled for Saturday.  First, Angel City Brewery officially opens its doors downtown.  There will be beer, of course, and food trucks, of course.  Second, Bakelab and The Surly Goat will host a Beer & Pretzels Lab in which you will learn how to bake pretzels and how to pair said pretzels with beer.  And third, City Sip hosts a How to Home Brew class in which you will learn how to make an IPA.  Gives new meaning to BYOB.  Angel City Brewery’s party starts at noon at its new digs at 216 S. Alameda in the Arts District Downtown. $75 for Bakelab + Surly Goat’s class, which goes from noon to 3pm at Bakelab’s kitchen at 705 Vesta St., Inglewood. $50 for City Sip’s class, which starts at 1 at City Sip, 2150 Sunset Blvd. in Echo Park.
  • Descanso Gardens hosts the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.  There will be Japanese tea ceremonies, cherry trees on sale, and guided walks through the beautiful grounds.  Given everything that’s happened, this event will likely take a somewhat somber tone.  :(  $3 children, $6 seniors/students, $8 adults.  From 10am to 5pm both Saturday and Sunday at the Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive in La Cañada Flintridge.
  • Snow in LA?  No, I’m not talking about a few weeks ago.  Long Beach is having a Snow Day, hauling in 10 tons of fresh snow to a park for you and the kids.  Make snow art, go sledding, and pretend you won the lotto.  Free.  11am to 3pm at Whaley Park, 5620 Atherton Street in Long Beach.
  • MEN.  Make music.  Genderfucking.  $12.  8:30pm at the Echoplex in Echo Park.

SUNDAY

  • Runners will be taking their mark around 6am; the rest of us slackers will be sleeping and wake up to this interactive Google Mapped version to see what the runners have been doing all morning.  The LA Marathon runs (heh) from Dodger Stadium to Santa Monica; check out the road closures and plan to sleep in accordingly.  Running from one side of town to another?  I guess that’s one way to save gas.
  • Non-runners, forget your guilt about being not being able to run one mile, much less 26.2, and just head over to Domaine LA’s Anti-Marathon tasting.  The wine shop will have a tasting, and the Get Your Lardon truck will be on hand with the bacon.  I wouldn’t be surprised if a few unexpected guests with their own bibs happened to show up on their way to the ocean.  1pm to 4pm at Domaine LA, 6801 Melrose Ave.
  • As it is the first day of spring, Griffith Observatory will hold two “Spring Equinox” events, one at precisely 1:01pm and another at 7:05pm.  I’m not sure what exactly these events will entail, but does it really matter?  A day at the observatory for any reason is a great day.  Free at the Griffith Observatory.
  • Sammy Hagar, the Van Halen frontman who defined rock for the ages, wrote a memoir.  It’s only fitting, then, that Hagar shows up on the Sunset Strip at Book Soup to sign copies of his rock odyssey, Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock.  Note that this book is the only thing he’ll sign, so leave the pieces to your smashed axe at home.  5pm at Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood.
  • The Museum of Latin American Art celebrates the contributions of women in art with its annual Women’s Day Festival.  There will be workshops, food, music, poetry readings, and a spotlight on artisan female jewelry designers from Brazil and Mexico.  Best of all, the event is part of Target Free Sundays, meaning you get admission to the museum on Target’s dime.  Free.  1 to 4pm at the Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Avenue in Long Beach.

“Early Morning, Santa Monica” by Renee Rendler-Kaplan via the Blogging LA Flickr pool.

L.A. Marathon This Sunday: Get Over It?

2010 L.A. Marathon finish line

The 2011 Los Angeles Marathon takes place this Sunday, largely repeating 2010’s “Stadium to the Sea” route.  Last year’s route successfully highlighted various Los Angeles area landmarks, including Dodgers Stadium, Rodeo Drive, and the Santa Monica Pier near the finish line.  However, I was at the finish line last year, and the popularity of the Marathon made things very tough on spectators there.  For example, it was nearly impossible to walk across Ocean Avenue even at points well beyond the finish line.  Additionally, the sidewalk on the East Side of Ocean Ave. was so jammed that it looked hazardous to be there.  I wondered whether it would be feasible to construct a temporary pedestrian foot bridge over Ocean using the same scaffolding materials that were used for the finish line itself (see photo at top).

The good news is that the Marathon planners apparently have taken a stab at trying to ameliorate some of the crowd congestion and pedestrian street access problems that occurred last year.  Specifically, in addition to better access for runners getting to the starting line, the finish line has been moved several blocks North down Ocean Ave.  Hopefully, this will allow for a real pedestrian crossing zone on Ocean well past the finish line, which would not interfere with the recuperating runners who have just finished the race.

If that’s the case, then I’m looking forward to an even more successful Marathon finish line party this year.

The Man With F.E.E.E.T.-A Comedy 3-D Adventure

Head over to the Downtown Independent this Wednesday night for a unique comedy experience. The Man With F.E.E.E.T. is described as a “new comedy-adventure for View-Master viewers” by Eric Drysdale, an Emmy-winning comedian and writer (The Daily Show, The Colbert Report). The “view-along” staged reading will feature a live soundtrack as audience members follow the action in their own View-Master viewers, which are included in the ticket price. The show will be narrated by Ron Lynch and feature Matt Walsh, Adam Felber, Eddie Pepitone, Amber Nelson and Andree Vermeulen. Alex Burke will improvise a live musical score.

The Man With F.E.E.E.T. LA Launch Event  will be at the Downtown Independent Theater at 251 S. Main Street on Wednesday, March 16th at 8pm and 9:30pm. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased here. Read more information about the show here.

 

Tina Fey in Conversation with Steve Martin, April 19

People often ask me if Tina Fey is gay.  This is because, I think, and unfortunately for me, I’m the only gay person they know, and they assume that we all know who the others are, like Cylons or something.  The larger takeaway, though, is the implication behind the question: that very few women can have the strength of her talents, defy as many conventions, and not talk incessantly about how she should be defined as a mother first, unless she were a lesbian.  There’s a whole lot wrapped up in that implication, too much to deconstruct here, so I’ll just say: that is a terrible work of fiction that no one wants to read but for some reason keeps getting checked out.

For those of you (gay, straight, boy, girl, in between, on the fringe) looking for a little inspiration a la Fey, Live Talks LA is hosting the writer/producer/actress/comedian at the Nokia Theater on Tuesday, April 19.  Fey will discuss her upcoming memoir, Bossypants, with Steve Martin.  Tickets just went on sale on Friday; get them here.  My guess is that these will sell out, soon, so you better get on it, now.

For those curious about Fey’s essaying abilities (because being head writer at SNL, the creator/writer of 30 Rock, and the writer of Mean Girls isn’t quite enough), check out the last few issues of The New Yorker. An essay  first appears in the same issue as the fantastic article on Scientology, about “juggling” her career and her – blahblah – family (“What is the rudest question you can ask a woman? ‘How old are you?’ ‘What do you weigh?’ ‘When you and your twin sister are alone with Mr. Hefner, do you have to pretend to be lesbians?’  No, the worst question is: ‘How do you juggle it all?’”).

The second essay, in this week’s issue, is on the lessons she learned from Lorne Michaels (“Never tell a crazy person he’s crazy.” – I’m assuming she’s talking about Tracy Morgan here, but I may be projecting).  I hope Tina Fey and Rudy Giuliani do a book exchange, BossyPants for Leadership, just to compare and contrast styles.  If you have nothing going on – and, heck, even if you do – go to the newsstand, flip to page 22, and just read it.  It’s great.  It makes you want to buy the book or e-book.  And, yes, see her live from Los Angeles, on a Tuesday night.

An Evening with Tina Fey in Conversation with Steve Martin, Tuesday, April 19 at 8:00pm at the Nokia Theatre. Tickets are $29 (seat only)/$49 (premier seating plus Fey’s book)/$119 (prime seating plus Fey and Martin’s books). A signing will follow the talk.

First Look: Silver Lake’s David Cafe

If there hadn’t been an election this past Tuesday and if my polling place had been in its usual Sunset Boulevard location east of Silver Lake Boulevard next door to the Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign (instead of at the free clinic at Micheltorena), I wouldn’t’ve walked past the long-awaited David Cafe — in the works since October 2009 — and seen that it had indeed finally opened.

UPDATED (3/13): Added photo of window-posted menu at end.

As such my wife Susan and I enthusiastically ventured in for breakfast this morning, excited to finally have an eatery option available to us on our south side of Sunset that would complement Tropical Cafe, and bring things a little less out of balance with  the exceptional array of restaurants established in the vicinity’s north side, including Local, Aroma, Pho, Rambutan, Gobi and Cowboys & Turbans, and to a lesser degree Tom’s.

David is situated in what was the existentially surreal and  long-standing mystery that was LA Chinese Food (site of a Dangerous Dining experiment between myself and Losanjealous’ inimitable Ryan back in The Year Of Our Pepto, 2006), and is the offshoot product of David Sutton who runs a catering service of the same name.

Sutton earned my respect in harkening back to the space’s past by incorporating a new neon sign onto the faded LA Chinese Food shingle. Rather than painting over the old thing or doing away with it entirely, beneath the glow of the “David” he installed you can still make out the weathered lettering of its predecessor, and from that I anticpated the new eatery’s arrival. And anticipated. And anticipated.

Eighteen months later, David is here, and Susan and I sat down within the bright and engaging space (panorama’d above) to huevos rancheros crepes and a chicken and waffle sandwich, pictured at right (with two coffees and a large fresh-squeezed OJ the total came to $29).

I so want to report that the food blew us away, but the truth is it was just good.  Susan found her’s to be a little bland, and while I found the chicken flavorful (if a bit overfried), this waffle nut felt there was just too much waffle going on in large part because it was rather dry augmented only with a tasty homemade jam/syrup when it should’ve also been supplemented with some butter and good ol’ maple syrup. Roscoe’s will not be losing any customers over this option.

In both dishes it seemed to be a case of trying to simultaneously be a little too fancy and a little too safe, but I don’t chalk that up as a negative so much as to a new restaurant that’s still testing and seeing what works — and I’m more than willing to return again and again and  find out if they’re working things out.

David Cafe
2852 Sunset Boulevard, LA 90026 (nearest cross street: Parkman Avenue)

Open for breakfast, lunch
Cash only (temporarily)

Menu (readably biggable when clickified):


 

 

 

 

Help the Red Cross

While this doesn’t directly relate to Los Angeles, I don’t really care. Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last 24 hours, you know some serious shit went down in Japan. Stuff that could easily happen here in Los Angeles. YOU can help. Donate to the Red Cross. There’s a direct link HERE. You’re welcome to click on the Japan tab, but remember there’s bad things happening elsewhere. Why not make a general donation? The money will go where it’s needed most.

C’mon. Skip the Starbucks once and spend that money to help those in need. Who knows? It could be you seeking out the Red Cross after a huge quake here. Wouldn’t you want them to have enough supplies for you?

ICME: Big Donuts

I was stuck at the courthouse near LAX for jury duty most of yesterday, a good 20 miles from my apartment.  The only thing that made this trek worthwhile – besides, of course, performing my civic duty and whatever – was a stop at Randy’s Donuts on my way home.  The glazed, people, the glazed donut is a perfect little pillow with sugar on top.  On my way out, I stopped short at what had to be the owner’s car – pretty awesome, I thought.