Love Exposure

Love Exposure Poster
One of the great things about living in LA is the wonderful variety of high- to low-brow movie theaters and special screenings that take place constantly. Coming up beginning next week, Angelenos have an opportunity to catch what could possibly be the only US theater run ever for Love Exposure, a four-hour Japanese movie that Cinefamily describes in the following manner:

Ask yourself this question: when was the last time a movie really mattered to you, and shattered your world? Every so often, a film comes screaming out of the ether that magically reveals a larger truth about this thing we stumble through called life, and the latest cinematic salve is the unforgettable, uncategorizable, unmissable Love Exposure, the brand-new behemoth from Sion Sono (Suicide Club, Strange Circus) that gleefully tackles life’s biggest issues: love, death, sex, revenge, religion and up-skirt panty photography.

I had the privilege of joining some friends for recent Cinefamily screenings of Stake Land and Rammbock, and hearing Cinefamily head programmer Hadrian Belove promote it before each of those screenings has helped me overcome any apprehensions I might have had about sitting through a four-hour movie. The way he describes it, when the 237 minutes has elapsed the main feeling that will remain is a longing for even more.

There will only be seven screenings of this movie here in LA, once daily from next Friday the 13th to the following Thursday the 19th, so if you’re short on kung-fu up-skirt in your life you should get your tickets ASAP. (The youtube trailer is available by following that link.)

What’s a Veg*n to Do? Doomie’s!

 

Doomie's Veg*n Restaurant
Doomie's

In light of yesterday’s mention of a possible Pure Luck shutdown, and the fact that Madeleine Bistro is closing its doors, I thought it might be nice to offer something happier for vegetarian/vegan (veg*n <– yeah I just figured that one out) Angelenos. And like any good veg*n restaurant, this one’s a great find for omnivores, as well.

guard dog
Eats fingers != vegan

Doomie’s could easily go overlooked, situated as it is in the far corner of a strip mall on Fountain, just off Vine. The parking is a little weird, too, as the lot is valet only, and you have to use the Vine entrance if you want to park in the lot. With a little bit of good parking karma last night, we managed to snag a spot on Fountain and make our way past the vicious finger-eating cone-sporting puppy dog guarding the door to the place.

Doomie’s (FB | twitter) has a varied sort of a southern, comfort-food type menu, ranging from down home fried chicken or pot roast with mashed potatoes to pulled pork sandwiches, chili cheeseburgers, or nachos. Everything is vegetarian, and all of the cheese items on the menu can be substituted for vegan cheese. Last night they were out of pot roast and deep-fried avocado – but don’t rely on their rarely-updated 86 list on the wall for that kind of information, get the scoop from your server. (It seems maybe the list of 86ed items is too high on the wall to update regularly…?)

pulled "pork" w/ mac n cheese
pulled "pork" w/ mac n cheese

Being somewhat a creature of habit, I’ve had the pulled pork sandwich (served with mac and cheese) both times I’ve been to Doomies. My friend Colinski is a fan of the Clam Chowder in a breadbowl, which seems to be a special offering based on availability. Probably the most exciting meal at the table was the fried chicken, which pretty much everyone had to try. It was downright uncanny in its pure comfort deliciousness, and it even included a wooden “bone” for the sake of verisimilitude. We surmised that “the deep fryer is the great equalizer.” Another friend ordered the chili cheeseburger, and much like my own experience with the chili fries on my previous visit, he remarked that the chili is more like chili sauce than actual chili, being mostly liquid. Still, everyone seemed to be pretty happy with their meals, and a couple of us even saved room for dessert: deep fried oreos!!

So if you find yourself in Hollywood looking for something delicious, check out Doomie’s. It may not be able to perfectly fill the gap left by other good veg*n joints closing down, but it will certainly help you forget it for a few hours anyway.

DEEP FRIED OREOS!
DEEP FRIED OREOS!
left - chili cheeseburger, right - fried chicken
left - chili cheeseburger, right - fried chicken

Sign of the Times

large size cup
It's no trenta, but it's still big. (twss)

Every few weeks or so, a few of my coworkers and I take advantage of a slow Friday afternoon to head over to the local Souplantation up in lovely Porter Ranch to get our fill of [crying toddlers and] all-you-care-to-eat soup, salad, and breadstuffs. One of my coworkers lovingly likens it to eating from a trough, but I prefer think of it as a type of “Sizzler for the Soccer-mom set, or the more health-conscious gorger.” (I haven’t yet been to a Sizzler, so it’s more of a speculative comparison.)

For the first time in the years we’ve been going there together, today the cashier asked us “small or large?” when we ordered beverages. Continue reading “Sign of the Times”

LA Community College District Runoff

Mail-in Ballot
Not pictured here: a tree.

I usually try to maintain a fair level of awareness about what’s going on politically, but sometimes I miss a beat (or a slew of election mailers) and get caught unawares when my permanent vote-by-mail ballot shows up in the mailbox. I can be pretty handy with google when I need to be, though, so I don’t usually have a problem researching the issues, performing my civic duty, and getting my ballot out in the mail on time.

That happened to me again this week, as I received my ballot and had to scratch my head for a second, trying to figure out what needed voting on. I flipped through all of the paper (see pic by me), nearly messing the few lines that actually indicated what I should be voting on. As it turns out, there’s a runoff election for the community college district, as none of the candidates received a majority in the first go-round.

What initially struck me about this was simply the amount of wasted paper that went into the mailer ballot, and I started to feel a little guilty for opting for the permanent vote-by-mail status. But the more I thought about it, I began to think about the fact that there would be a lot of expense and wastefulness going into this runoff election regardless. So I went to The Google and started poking around, and came across this set of minutes from a 2009 special meeting of the CCD Board of Trustees, which basically says that they don’t want to waste money that can be spent on helping students holding unnecessary runoff elections in 2011. There was unanimity regarding seeking legislation to avoid the costly runoff for 2011, but apparently that legislation never came about. One of the expressed concerns about runoff elections, however, is that of low voter turnout, and so now I don’t feel as guilty about the vote-by-mail thing, as I’m probably more likely to vote than the average bear.

The one bit of good news I turned up in this brief exploration into the finer aspects of LACCD runoff elections is that those Angelenos living in the 36th Congressional District get to hold a single election to vote in the LACCD runoff and in the Congressional District special vacancy election. Lucky you!

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>

Got Fed!

JavaJunkee and a Grill Em All Weedeater
JavaJunkee and a GrillemAll Weedeater

Hey everybody – I’m a newbie blogger here at blogging.la, so I wanted to get things started on the right foot by letting you know two things: 1. I love to eat. 2. Nevermind, I guess I already covered that in point 1.

But seriously, I’ve been a longtime reader of blogging.la and have always appreciated what the fine authors here have offered in terms of both individual character and LA culture. I’ve tagged along to various events such as the Blog-around-the-clock marathon at Canter’s and the Donut Summit in Griffith Park. (I missed the Hot Dog Death March and have yet to attend an installment of Classic Eats, but it’s going to happen!) Now that blogging.la has given me an opportunity to contribute to what they’ve got going here, I’m certainly hoping that my offerings will be half as valuable to other readers as I’ve found blogging.la to be for me over these past (almost) five years I’ve had the privilege of calling myself an Angeleno.

Anyway, I wanted to take the opportunity in this post to let folks know about a semi-regular event that seems to be gaining steam over in my neck of the woods, North Hollywood. Last Saturday I ventured out with fellow blogging.la author Travis Koplow and a couple other friends to a lot behind The Federal Bar where ten food trucks had gathered for a third installment of “Get FED!” The truck lineup appears to vary from month to month, and the purpose of the event seems to be at least a little bit focused on trying to promote The Federal Bar. The first time through, back in mid-January, Frysmith tried to dissuade one of my companions from swapping out sweet po’ fries for the regulars on whatever special she happened to order, and then tweeted an apology after the fact. This time around, me and my companions tried out one of the Grill Em All Truck‘s specials, the “weedeater,” and left feeling quite satisfied. Probably the highlight of the event, though, was the two homeless men, or homeless-looking men – completely independent of one another – getting down to the music provided by live DJs. I haven’t seen anything that says with certainty that this will be a monthly event; the first took place on the 15th of January, the second on the 12th of March, and the third on the 9th of April. If you’re looking for a chance to catch multiple food trucks in a single location in the east Valley, I’d say keep your eyes peeled around the first or second Saturday of May for your next chance to catch this one.

While it’s definitely nice to have an event like this just down the street on occasion, I do have to temper my excitement with the sense of disappointment I experience when something really cool – like the food truck phenomenon in LA – reaches that point at which it starts to feel like it’s being exploited as another great marketing gimmick. I’m still not sure, though, which is more distasteful to me: businesses shamelessly trying to tap into the zeitgeist to make a quick dollar (which Get FED! may or may not be, but bank billboards definitely are when they say things like “we have ATMs all over for when you happen to cross paths with that gourmet food truck” – no I don’t have a pic for this but I swear I’ve seen it), or the fact that something cool and obscure about the city becomes ubiquitous and pedestrian. Is that hipster-ish of me to say? Oops.