Blogging (in) LA: Experience LA

It’s been just over five years since I first arrived here in Los Angeles, and even still there’s a part of me that wants to tense up a little bit when friends or family threaten to visit. “Where will I take them? What can we do?” This dilemma was one of the first things that really attracted me about Blogging.LA: Hearing firsthand accounts about the good, the bad, and the “meh” that our city has to offer from real live people. The Experience LA Blog (official blog for the bookmark-worthy is another fine source of that type of experience.

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It Caught My Eye: Egrets With Regrets

Biking home from downtown this morning I detoured around the drained Echo Park Lake, which is a couple months into a $65-million rehabilitation project that will leave it closed to the public for the next two years.

Peering over the screened chainlink fence that surrounds the entire park I found several egrets and a great blue heron gathered around the little bit of lake left looking into the brackish water for a meal:

Traffic Alert: President Obama in Town on Monday

Obama in Hollywood
Courtesy nailmaker via the Blogging LA Flickr pool

Per CBS, President Obama will make fundraising pit stops in West Hollywood on Monday evening, first at the House of Blues, then off to dinner at Fig & Olive.  As with his usual habit to arrive just around rush hour, he’s scheduled to arrive at the House of Blues at 5pm.  Unless you can afford to go – it’s anywhere from $250 general admission to the House of Blues to a year’s salary for a couple to attend the Fig & Olive dinner- you probably just need to know this information so you know to pretty much avoid West Hollywood completely on Monday.  If you live in WeHo, best of luck getting home.

The other stuff at the LA County Fair

Don’t get me wrong the other stuff one expects at the LA County Fair is a lot of fun, but there’s other stuff too one doesn’t really expect to find that turns out to be quite entertaining.  People watching during the week is interesting and different than weekends.  Yesterday it was hordes of school children being shepherded by harried teachers and chaperones along with quite a large contingent of Seniors.

One of the big finds that I found to be a lot of fun was over in the Home and Garden center.  There’s a wine, beer and olive oil tasting room!  Of the hundreds of wines submitted for judging in the LA County Fair 436 are available for tasting.  Tasting fee for a flight?  A very reasonable $11 for 5 tastings.  They have a list sorted by suggested tasting order and number your glass to match what you select which also happens to be the order you taste.  Loved it.

Continue reading The other stuff at the LA County Fair

Win Tickets to See Cane Toads: The Conquest in 3-D!


You have a  chance to win 2 tickets to a rare screening tomorrow, September 18th, of Cane Toads: The Conquest, a 3-D documentary by Mark Lewis. The director, whose previous works include Cane Toads: An Unnatural History and The Natural History of the Chicken, is known for his irreverence and humor. Not only is this film highly entertaining, but it is also Australia’s first digital 3D feature film.

Leave a comment by midnight tonight if you would to win tickets. Winner will be notified by email early Sunday morning. Click here for more information about the screening.

LA3DClub presents Cane Toads: The Conquest
Sunday, September 18th, 2011 at 2pm
Downtown Independent Theater
251 S. Main St., Los Angeles, CA 90012


Weird Weather

Cathy Cole's photo used through Creative Commons license

One of the things I love about LA is the way bad weather is regarded as such a bizarre, unforeseen anomaly. (Insert lyrics to “Camelot.”) It’s chilly by LA standards in Chatsworth today (66) and grey. I walked outside to second-hand smoke with my boss this morning, and she looked up at the dreary sky and said “What weird weather,” this being a fairly common response to 66 and overcast here in the Valley. When I first moved to LA years ago, after an extended stint in the upper midwest, it used to crack me up when people would say that. Cloudy sky? “What weird weather.” Drizzle? “What weird weather.” June gloom in September? You got it: “What weird weather.” I used to think of these exclamations as symptomatic of Angelinos’ hot house flower-ish inability to withstand anything but a narrow, precipitation-free  temperature band. This dismayed surprise, like the hats and scarves that get put out on the shelves when the temperature drops below 70, made me smile the vague smile of superiority that anyone who has lived ten Midwestern winters can’t help but feel when an Angelino complains that it’s cold.

Well, it took about two and half years for my blood to thin sufficiently that I am now compelled to bust out my wool beanie and flannel sheets when it’s in the 50s. And not only has my standard for what constitutes “cold” changed radically, but I now understand that weather-induced bewilderment totally differently. I no longer see it as a sign of weakness, but more like a synecdoche for a pervasive culture of optimism–like “How strange that it should not be a nice day!” And what’s so wrong with believing it’s going to be beautiful? Raised on the east coast, I was brought up to be suspect of too much optimism. I come from a family of sardonic, leftist Jews who regarded unadulterated  cheer as some sort of borderline retardation. But LA has changed me. I’ve lived here long enough that I find myself surprised on a day like today when the sun doesn’t come out. Weird.

Shelby Car Show at Santa Monica Pier this Saturday

Shelby on the Pier, 2008

Car nuts will have a treat this Saturday, as the Seventh Annual Los Angeles Shelby American Automobile Club Car Show arrives at the Santa Monica Pier.

The history of Carroll Shelby is too lengthy to recite here, but suffice it to say he’s the man behind the development and/or perfection of some of the most famous cars in performance and racing car history, including the AC Cobra, the Shelby Mustang GT 350, and the Ford GT40, as well as the Sunbeam Tiger. Moreover, Shelby worked much of his magic within a short tire-screeching drive of the Pier. Plenty of examples of these cars, as well as newer models given the Shelby treatment, will be on hand Saturday, along with their owners. It’s one of the largest collections of Shelbys you’ll see anywhere, and it’s free!

The Shelby show runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with numerous awards to be given, including Best of Show, starting at 2. I’ll be the one holding a camera and drooling.

Blogging (in)LA…Did ya know history lessons this month at Militant Angeleno

Did ya know that  near Union Station was the village of Yangna back in the days of the Tongva Nation?  That name means “Place of the Poison Oak” and fortunately the settlers of the area saw fit to rename us to Los Angeles.  Need more history this month?  You just need to simply meander over to the Militant Angeleno blog where he is celebrating 230 years of Los Angeles city-hood with a giant history lesson on the native peoples who first inhabited the area.

He has several posts, the one I found most fascinating was the map of Tongva Villages overlaid onto a map of the L.A. area.  Militant Angeleno went as far as to take that map and list the villages by name and the modern city built over them.  I just wish I lived in one of those cities that had a Tongva name, I’d go as far as using it as my official city of residence instead of the current name…mail would still get to me using the zip code but how fun would that be to pay homage the natives that were here first and confusing stalkers at the same time.

Zomg! Zounds Playing the Echo Sunday September 18

One of the reasons why blogging is so great is that you find out stuff you wouldn’t have otherwise known about. (Another reason is that you can end sentences with prepositions with impunity.) So while I was grabbing the URL for No Age’s site for the post below about the Eagle Rock Music Fest, I noticed that they are DJing for a Zounds gig at the Echo this Sunday.


I am so freaking excited. I didn’t even know Zounds was touring the US. I refer you back to my parenthetical disclaimer below that my favorite music came out between 1977 & 1983. Zounds is a sort of punk inspired anarcho-pop band. Here’s one of my favorite Zounds songs (admittedly one of their least political):


You can give a listen to a lot more of their music here. They are one of the best relatively forgotten bands of the late-70s early 80s, and they’re playing LA in three days! If you like Wire or The Fall or Gang of Four and you don’t know Zounds give them a listen. I’ll bet you’ll love them. A big shout out to the Echo for hosting the show.

It Caught My Eye: Between The Pit Of Man’s Fears & The Summit Of His Knowledge

(click for maximum panoramification)

I, for on, think the above epically detailed and amazing celebration of Rod Serling and his “The Twilight Zone,” which I found today next to the vacant lot on the corner of Beverly Boulevard at Commonwealth (pinpoint map) in Historic Filipinotown is The Most Awesome Mural Ever — and not just because as a diehard “zoner” geek it’s my favorite television series of all time. Along with a portrait of Serling, you’ve got iconic characters such as Talking Tina from “Living Doll”, one of the aliens from “The Invaders,” the doc from “Eye of the Beholder” and the jet and wing-dancing gremlin from “Nightmare at 20,000 feet.”

The 2011 work is signed by “DOCBAMCKRH” but Google gave me nothing when searching for that as the keyword. Anyone know who did this?

Somebody Paid their City Fees: Eagle Rock Music Fest Coming Up

Many of us abandoned Sunset Junction long before they were forced to cancel this year because of a dispute over city fees. Don’t get me wrong: I’ve had a good time there in the past and they do get hella good bands to play. But there are so many freaking people there that–for me–the event is on the ever-increasing list of places I personally consider a victim of their own success. I’m just too much of a misanthrope to enjoy downtown art walk, Dia de los Muertos in Hollywood Forever, Electric Daisy Carnival, and Sunset Junction as much as I might were I not forced to share space with a teaming mass of humanity. I don’t want to have to brush up against a bunch of sweaty arms even if they are all sporting amazing sleeves. I don’t know if Sunset Junction is “the largest celebration of diversity in Los Angeles and in California” as they bill themselves on their website (in fact, I find that hard to believe), but I do know there are too many damn people there for my tastes.

Enter the Eagle Rock Music Festival. I went two years ago because I wanted to see No Age and Peanut Butter Wolf. It was free then–now they’re asking for a $5 donation–and it was just crowded enough but not too crowded. I admit I don’t know most of the bands listed this year (not that that’s any indicator–most of my favorite albums were released between 1977 and 1983), but in 2009 two of my favorites were bands I’d never heard before: Nico Stai and The Mormons. The latter cycled up, handed out pamphlets, and did a renegade performance on instruments they had ported on their bikes including a strap-on drum set and an amp with a shoulder strap–tres punk rock. Kudos, Mormons. This year, I’m sure there will be other musical surprises. It’s easy enough to stroll Colorado Boulevard from one end of the festival to the other and stop when you hear something interesting. Really, how can you go wrong in a festival where the line-up at the family stage concludes with The Ukulele Orchestra of the Western Hemisphere followed by a Neil Diamond Tribute Band? Anyway, I’m super sad I’ll be out of town and will miss it this year, but you readers should go and let me know how it is.

[An aside: Please someone over at the Sunset Junction website learn the difference between “it’s” and “its.” Thank you.]

She Wants Revenge Free Show Saturday at Northridge Mall

San Fernando Valley
Chris Yarzab's photo used through Creative Commons license

What do you do to promote an album called Valleyheart? You play a free show in the Juniors department of Macy’s at Northridge Mall, that’s what. According to Racked (to whom my metaphorical cliched hat is tipped), She Wants Revenge is playing the Northridge Macy’s this Saturday at 2:00 and Skylar Gray will be opening. To the parents brave enough to take their tweens, I salute you. You are good people. The first 300 people to buy at least $35 of select merchandise will get a free autographed picture. The rest will just get the memories.