La Bomba

So there’s nothing to wake up a hazy headed freelancer in the early afternoon like looking out your home office window and seeing 3 large LAPD suv’s with the prominent words “BOMB SQUAD” emblazoned across the side creep down your street. The corner of Sunset and Lucile here in Silver Lake has been blocked off by several squad cars. South of Sunset on Lucile Ave., one can hear LAPD giving a suspect instructions to “come down slowly”; they’re currently combing the street and plan to investigate the reports of a suspicious package. A nearby officer mentions they take all reports of such nature seriously (better safe than sorry, cuz I don’t wanna see my neighbors or neighborhood businesses damaged!), thus the street will be blocked off for the next hour or so. The fact that I went to the bathroom just minutes before and the subsequent appearance of the bomb squad have no connection whatsoever…I think.

Looks like everything checked out okay. Despite the previous mention of an hour or so wait for things to “check out”, the street is open up to traffic again.

The Great Pumpkin

I discovered a delicious seasonal treat this weekend at Bennett’s Ice Cream, the Fairfax Farmer’s Market institution: pumpkin ice cream. I’m normally a chocolate freak, and I only ordered the ice cream because my better half is fond of the orange autumn gourd. But one lick (and several successive bites) later and I was convinced that Bennett’s had somehow concocted an addictive substance that should be added to the D.A.R.E. program list of illegal substances. Extremely creamy like a premium grade ice cream should be, the ice cream’s cinammon, allspice, ginger and nutmeg flavouring perfectly combines to evoke the memory of mom’s homemade pumpkin pie. Right up there with my favourites from Mashti and gleeful childhood memories of Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor (anyone remember “The Trough”?) now, this pumpkin ice cream is premium grade goodness on a cone.

A Tale of Two Cities

After holding out for a long while out of spite, I finally tried the nearby Cobras & Matadors in Los Feliz for a sampling of their Catalan menu of seafood, cured meats, cheeses and charcuterie. If this restaurant was a date for the evening, Cobras & Matadors would be a 32 year old in marketing, attractive, worldly in a KCRW sort of fashion, dressed casually flirtatious but refined enough you’d still respect her, and has a habit of becoming increasingly louder with each glass of wine she puts away. I had mixed reservations about dining here because it replaced a former favourite steak establishment, The Hillmont, where the meat was carnivore-satisfying yet affordable, and the side dishes were executed favourably well that they deserved merit and mention all on their own accord. Bros before ho’s, and this Spanish lady of the night had taken away my beefy, brawny buddy. Out was the long communal tables and open spaced interior of the previous establishment, replaced with the candlelight chic interior of intimately placed tables, but mysteriously paired with the most uncomfortable chairs I’ve had to endure since my bus tour of central China. I suspect prisoners sentenced to death by electrocution would recognize the ergonomics of these chairs, a strange furnishing choice in an otherwise lovely interior setting.
Continue reading “A Tale of Two Cities”

res and relaxation

So I’m finally going to make my way over to the 8th annual RESFEST (happening all this week) this coming Sunday, after countless invitations from friends and organizers about the much ballyhooed event for those visually minded. Being a freelancer in Los Angeles means living on a shoestring income alongside a nonexistent social schedule, but I’ve decided I’m going to attend the Jonathan Glazer Retrospective, and a live performance by Midnight Movies and DJ Jun as a weekend treat. At $9 a pop (advance), its a cheap way to get your rocks off if names like Shynola, Motion Theory, Imaginary Forces and Directors Bureau are recognizable. And even if they’re not, I’m pretty sure most folks will find a fun time to be had watching killer-keen motion graphics animations, music videos and short films at the Egyptian Theatre.

A Shellfish Eater

Now this seems like a good enough of a reason if I’ve ever heard one to make way down to the Port of Los Angeles: The 2004 Lobster Festival. There will be over 12 tons of whole steam Main Lobster for $13 a pop from Friday thru Sunday this weekend ($5 admission fee with coupon on the website), a real bargain for anyone who wants to satiate their east coast shellfish addiction. Also included in the $13 meal is cole slaw, a roll, and some butter for slathering onto your meal. Additional menu items not included in the $13 meal but available at the festival are baked potatoes, roasted corn, Esbach sausages, chicken salads, crab and fish cakes, fresh squeezed lemondade, and shrimp fajitas.

The affordable lobster meal not enough to entice you down to the waterfront? How about a promise of a musical journey back in time, thanks to BellaDonnna, a tribute to Stevie Nicks? And the wayback machine doesn’t stop there: Led Zepplica will be providing entertainment Friday night for your dining (dis)pleasure. Personally, I would prefer to attend Saturday night for the Red Elvises. And for an 80’s flashback, Richard Blade and General Public will be in attendance and performing on Sunday.

Triangle Park Shows

Anybody know any information pertaining to the seemingly guerilla music shows happening at Triangle Park, the small cornerspace of land with the fountain at Sunset , Edgecliffe and Grifftih Park Blvd? I caught a new metal band ripping out old school The Number of the Beast era guitar riffs tonite; just four songs for about 15-20 minutes tops, but it was pretty damn rad to just walk down your street to a free outdoor show with some new band trying out their live performance skills. Several weeks ago it was an emo-indie (at least my guess from the listening vantage from my bedroom window) band whose melodies echoed close by. Whoever is putting these shows, I salute you!

Tag, you’re “it”!

Many of us live in hoods where tagging is just part of the everyday city landscape. And even though personally I’m a fan of street art and graf, nobody likes to wake up to find placas up on their very own garage, storefront or home. There are parts of Los Angeles where tagging is just a mere nuisance of kids trying to get up, little toys who don’t have the skills to put up a decent piece yet and don’t really have any criminal connections. But east of the 101, a lot of the tagging is directly gang related, and it really is more notable when you realize your street corner has been marked as the property of the Mexican Mafia.

Just this past week our apartment wall got hit and I wasn’t all to pleased with the bright blue arabesque signature that was strewn across like a fluorescent coloured scarf over a wedding gown. But a day later it was gone, completely painted over! I initially thought this was due to the dilligence of our management. But after discussion with another friend who had a similar “here today, gone tomorrow” experience at his place in Chinatown, we realized there was an actual Los Angeles County Department of Public Works 24-hour hotline where one can request graffiti removal. So if you suddenly find yourself advertised as a new franchise location for some shady criminal activities, contact: Graffiti Hotline at (800) 675-4357. Best of all, its free (well, your tax dollars are footing the bill in reality, but who’s counting?)

Trees for a Green LA program

Although I am a renter, I do fancy trying to colour my thumb green by spending time in a small garden area allotted to our humble abode we’ve just moved into. Grand plans for a minor space, as I don’t subscribe to the philosophy that you don’t invest time, effort and money just because you’re renting. Quality of life is only lifted by the quality of effort. So I’ve been digging, weeding, trimming overhanging branches, sifting and picking out thousands of pine needles, and trying not to bother a resident skunk all in the hope of creating my own Hanging Gardens of Babylon in a space roughly the size of a large bathroom. Lo and behold, the city of Los Angeles will actually help me realize this dream of a backyard oasis with their Trees for a Green LA program. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power rewards participants of their program with an absolutely free tree(s), delivered right to your doorsteps after attending a workshop with “a trained neighborhood forester about proper tree selection, siting and planting techniques, and draft a site-specific plan based on your residence.” The start of an Ewok village awaits….

Fiber Intake

I’ve been living in the stone age the past few days since moving just north of our old residence here in Silver Lake to a smaller but charming flat. Without DSL until this morning, trying to work as a freelance graphic designer with dialup was akin to pumping gas thru a soda straw. The former resident of our new home, one Dr. Siegfried Rogy (just one letter off from Vegas fame), wasn’t likely ontop of internet connectivity from the looks of how this new place is wired. But its all good in the hood now that a phone wire splitter has been bypassed and the DSL connection is now working hunky dory, thanks to a friendly SBC technician.

This whole dialup constipated connectivity reminded me of something I read a few days ago online about Verizon rolling out Fiber to the Premises (FTTP) in California starting at $34.95 for a 5 Mbit downloads/2 Mbit uploads. The “Fios: service also offers customers 15 Mbits/s downloads and 2 Mbits/s upstream for just $49.95 a month, or $44.95 a month as part of an existing package. And if you’re packing heat in the wallet, there’s is a 30 Mbit that has yet to be priced. That’s mighty competitive consider I pay $27 for “up to 1.5 Mbps” for DSL, and would actually be worth the cost since I rely on online speed for my line of work. For now, Verizon plans to pass about 100,000 homes and businesses with FTTP technology in the Huntington Beach area and in other parts of Southern California. Why can’t I live in one of those “other parts of Southern California”?

Moving

Anyone looking for a one-bedroom/one bath apartment in Silver Lake? My girlfriend and I are leaving our apartment of 2 years, and are hoping to find someone who might take over our place quickly. I thought I’m posting this on blogging.la and my LiveJournal first before it hits Craigslist and Westside Rentals. Its a beautiful apartment, with lush landscaping, art deco architectural details, and an unusual step up kitchen area with vintage stove and large counter space. There’s also a small balcony, onsite laundry, and is in walking distance down to Sunset Junction and nearby Bellevue Park. An amazing view from the living room and bedoom of the Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory, downtown Hollywood and Century City. Even a citrus tree outside the bedroom window! Cats okay with possibility of garage space (on street parking is abundant). $1450/month.

Photos of the apartment here and more information from the management here (the photos here are of the downstair units which are not as scenic as our upstairs penthouse unit). I’m supposed to start showing the place ASAP, so hopefully one of you amongst the LJ community gets first dibs!

RES Event

Drats, each time there’s a local screening hosted by RES Magazine, I’ve got previous obligations preventing attendance. But hopefully some of you other LA kids can attend tomorrow’s event at the cinephile’s Egyptian Theatre at 8pm, which will include a Geoff McFetridge retrospective (a personal graphic design hero of mine), short films from Suk & Koch, Brett Simon, Cheryl Dunn, and new music videos from Placebo, Mr. Lif, Armand Van Helden, Supergrass and even those pasty middle-aged goth boys of the Cure. So while I’m sorting out finance matters that evening, I’d hope some of you could enjoy the show and say hi to resident dj Kiino Villand at the rooftop after-party hosted by HKM, Rock Fight and The Directors Bureau for me. And in relation to my previous post of unusual LA rides, be sure to check out the Soul Vibration Ice Cream Truck Mobile Sound System, an old ice cream truck that’s been converted into a DJ show on wheels.

Pimp This Ride

mousecar.jpg
Gotta love this RatFink rodentmobile sitting outside on La Brea across the Hollywood Target.

I’d like to set out to collect more photos of the myriad of unusually adorned vehicles throughout Los Angeles, like the car I see periodically covered in seashells, or the van with built-in bird cages, or the compact completely covered in computer keyboard keys. Maybe I need to convert my car into the Blogging.la webcam mobile. But with these gas prices, I think I’d rather walk.

The Good Doctor

Growing up, I was once told that the two topics you don’t bring up during tableside conversation amongst strangers (or even amongst some friends) are religion and politics. Lips tighten, brows crease, forks grasped more tightly, and its just not good for digestion to bring up such decisive subject matters for a festive supper. I’d argue there is a third topic of discussion potentially as inflammatory that has nothing to do with deities or party lines, but is just as touchy a topic for many: BBQ. Or bar-b-que. Or barbecue. Or simply ‘cue for those too preoccupied eating their share of the good meaty stuff to waste an extra couple of syllables inbetween bites. Mention barbecue and words like “original”, “proper”, “real”, “authentic” and “serious” are guaranteed to pepper the discussion. Direct or indirect cooking. Dry rubs or sauced. Southern or Northern or Texan style. Swine or beef. Only the kama sutra has as many listed techniques of meat handling as there are of regional varieties of barbecue preparation/technique.

Rare is the time that the words “barbecue” and “California” are uttered in the same sentence. Its like mentioning “sushi” and “Bakersfield” in the same breath for most. But for the dedicated carnivore, there are indeed some outposts of properly prepared smoked ribs, briskets, links, country sliced ham, and chicken within city limits to satiate your hunger. One of my favourites since childhood is Dr. Hogly Wogly’s Tyler Texas Bar-B-Que in Van Nuys. Yes, Van Nuys in the San Fernando Valley (in fact, there is another notable barbecue establishment just 3-4 miles north in Mission Hills, The Bear Pit). Named after former Texas native Johnny “Hogly Wogly” Green, the down home meat mecca has been serving up Texan sized portions since 1969 in a very humble Valley location (the ambiance is currently livened by a large Spearmint Rhino “Gentleman’s Club” billboard overlooking the restaurant). The interior completes the real deal feel, with wall to wall wood paneling, red vinyl booths, leathery skinned waitresses who might not even afford you a glance while ordering, and paintings adorning the wall you’ll probably recognize from your grandparents’ rumpus room art collection. If you’re looking for linens, proper lighting, and attentive service, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for brisket that has been slowly smoked over cherry and oak to perfection and beef spareribs that are slightly charred with smoky flavour, then do your time and get in line with the rest of the rainbow coalition of rib and meat lovers that wait 30-45 minutes outside with eager anticipation (locals knowingly come with playing cards to pass the time).
Continue reading “The Good Doctor”

Stop, Hammer Time!

Us LA folks all have an opinion which museum deserves the title of “finest in the city”. Some say the crown jewel is the Getty. Others point to the multiple modern-oriented sites of MOCA. Many are partial to older, more traditional institutions like LACMA or the Norton Simon, while still others are particularly fond of the serene grounds of the Huntington Library. Me? I like the UCLA Hammer Museum. I love the diversity of what they exhibit, always feeling fresh but not trendy; a little bit of new, and a little bit of old make for an always educational yet enjoyable mix. And jumpin’ jehosophat, if they don’t have the best darn museum bookstore. I could live there, especially since my favourite cookie shop Diddy Riese (Diddy makes Mrs. Fields her bitch in price and taste) and the meat-eater-friendly vegan restaurant Native Foods are both just a hop, skip and a pop-lock away from the museum. The Hammer also hosts great free shows like the one tonite with ousted former KCRW radio performer, Joe Frank (7pm).

Running companion

Probably the best place to take either a leisurely stroll or a more serious run in Silver Lake is around the reservoir. For awhile I was running regularly from my flat near Sunset Junction to the reservoir, with an additional lap and then back home at vampiric hours of 1-3am when nothing but the moon is out and you can enjoy your breathing and footsteps instead of honking cars and fumes. But once every few trips out I would be joined by a wild canine companion: a coyote. The coyote seems to be one of several that live in the reservoir compound and sometimes would run parallel, as if racing (I’ve also seen a couple of coyotes stroll down are street in the very early morning hours, likely scavanging trash). Pretty damn rad running companion if you ask me.

Yesterday I was running at more reasonable hour of around 6pm, coming around the curve where Silver Lake Blvd. hits Armstrong Ave. And lo and behold, a single coyote was standing nearby the gate just watching the hubbub of traffic. Slim and a bit rough around the edges, but with the recognizable stare similar to your neighborhood bow wow. I stopped and just stood there behind the gate, maybe just 10 ft between us, happy to know some wild life survives in the city. But also a little sad these coyotes are separated from their canine family in the greater sized Griffith Park just a few miles away. After about a minute, it ducked into the nearby bushes and disappeared to do whatever coyotes do in the early evening.