Matt Mason worked at CNN before "cable news" was an oxymoron. He then became a communications industry lawyer-lobbyist in Washington, DC, helping big bad cable companies become bigger and badder. After getting fed up with being a Beltway bandit, he traded his tassled loafers for skateboard shoes, set out on Route 10 West, and never stopped. He now writes, edits, and marketing communicates for fun and profit.
Don’t even argue with me: Sergio Leone‘s Once Upon a Time in the West is the best film ever made. Leone got together with fellow Italian filmmakers Bernardo Bertolucci and Dario Argento, studied some of the greatest Westerns (High Noon, The Searchers, etc.), including their locations and iconic shots, and came up with a film that is simultaneously a parody of and loving homage to the Western genre. You’ll see things that are subconsciously familiar, like dusters and Monument Valley, and things that are deliciously unfamiliar, like Henry Fonda as one of the meanest villains ever to grace the screen.
And hopefully you’ll see it all this Saturday, August 4 at 7:30 p.m. at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica, as part of the American Cinematheque film series. Of course, that part about Once Upon a Time being the greatest film ever made is subjective, but don’t seriously call yourself a movie lover or film buff until you’ve seen this classic.
If you see black shuttle vans in the Los Angeles area, watch out for their frequent stops. V.I.P. Tours makes lots and lots of them in the same day. For example, their “Beaches and Shopping” tour, which I encounter regularly, stops and lets its passengers out at Fisherman’s Village in Marina del Rey, Venice Beach, the Santa Monica Pier, the 3rd Street Promenade, and then heads over to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, followed by the Beverly Center, for what can only be termed “Shop After You’ve Dropped.” Continue reading L.A. for Tourists: V.I.P. or R.I.P.?→
Ever since I saw this plumbing truck with its slogan “The Smell Good Plumber!” driving in the Culver City area, I’ve wanted to snap a photo of it. Finally, I had my chance the other day as I ended up behind the truck while we were stopped at a red a light. I guess that’s the plumbing equivalent of camping out for a new iPhone, and thus I call it good marketing!
I bought this 6 oz. container of grated parmesan cheese at my local Ralphs today, & then noticed the little label on the container. It reads: “20% MORE CHEESE Than 5 oz. Packages”. What exactly are they bragging about? Note that it’s not 20% more for free, it’s simply, “our container is bigger than a smaller container.” Wow.
Last summer’s blockbuster “Carmageddon“ was such a smash hit, we’re bringing you the sequel. That’s right, fasten your seat belts for the ride of your lives. On June 22, “Carmageddon II: The Rampocalypse“ comes to a 405 near you. In a world where L.A. area road construction causes widespread panic, “Carmageddon II” will blow your doors off!
We’ll destroy and then rebuild all the Wilshire Blvd. ramps connecting to the 405! We’ll take a year to do it! We’ll have Ramp Jam 2012, and it’s all in 3-D!
One of my pleasures of living in the relatively dry SoCal climate is our thriving classic car culture. Part of that culture will be on display this Saturday, as downtown Culver City hosts its “Crusing Back to the 50s“ car show right out on Culver and Washington Blvds. from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. I was there four years ago, and it was loads of fun.
In addition to a selection of over 400 classic cars, expect to see some of the world’s most famous tv show custom cars and their creator, George Barris (Batmobile, Munster Koach, etc.). There will be food, music, and car-related merchandise on hand as well. Oh, and did I mention that admission to the show is free?
Superheroes, nasty villains, and zombies will visit us as the Hero Complex Film Festival returns to Los Angeles on May 18-21, at the Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live. Cinema classics will be screened with stars and creators of the movies, such as RoboCop with an appearance by Peter Weller, Shaun of the Dead featuring director Edgar Wright, and A Clockwork Orange with Malcolm McDowell. On Monday, pioneer comic book creator Stan Lee (Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, etc.) will be there for a not yet announced screening. Although the $105 festival pass is listed as sold out, individual screening passes can be had for $20, which isn’t much more than a movie ticket on a weekend night nowadays.
Forget your troubles, come on get dizzy. That’s what I did last weekend on a hike from Topanga Canyon area through Red Rock Canyon to the top of Calabasas Peak. The hike was about 4.5 miles, pretty short as the crow flies, but there was a lot of climbing (up to 2,000+ feet) and zig-zagging, plus we took some rock scrambling side trips, so it was challenging. One highlight of the hike was the rocky terrain, consisting of numerous sandstone outcroppings. At times I thought I was in Zion National Park, not the Santa Monica Mountains just minutes from L.A. Many of these rocks are tilted at Titanic angles, and it’s mind-boggling to think that they were once under sea, and how it has taken them millions of years to get to this point. There were even seashell fossils in some of the rocks, as the picture after the jump indicates.
We don’t need a guidebook to tell us that some parts of the Los Angeles area are teeming with toys. One such object sits in the Marina del Rey boat harbor, and is now a major feature on the local skyline, even though it floats. It’s the Asahi, a sailboat 184 feet in length, with masts the size of giant redwoods. And it can be yours for a chartered excursion. All you need is a cool $290,000 per week.
It’s possible to enjoy dark and edgy L.A., yet still be a geek for corny Americana such as county fairs, July 4 parades, and the 38th Annual Festival of the Kite on Redondo Beach. I’m a testament to this fact, and was there yesterday at the to enjoy the aerial festivities.
It was a beautiful day, it was winter, we were on the beach, surrounded by hundreds of colorful kites. And the L.A. skyline was comfortably close by.
As I and a cohort wandered through a posh new townhouse block near the beach the other night, my gaze was drawn to a semicircular pink and white object sitting in the dirt amidst the well-manicured plantings. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a set of dentures (I’m guessing the term is “uppers”). Being a movie geek and having a vivid imagination, I immediately thought of the ear found on the ground at the beginning of “Blue Velvet“, and wondered what sordid events may have led to this deposit. I doubt that it is a deliberate form of fertilizer. Anyone care to speculate with me? Do you think it had something to do with Heineken?
After my recent Hollyhock House tour, I met a friend from out of town at the FigueroaHotel for a drink. At the bar by the pool, we met a woman named Rachel who said she was holding a meetup for the local Atlas Obscura chapter. My friend got all excited at the mention. I thought, what the hell is Atlas Obscura? Turns out, it’s a bit like blogging.la.
Smack dab in East Hollywood sits one of Frank Lloyd Wright‘s gems, the Hollyhock House. I was part of a private tour of the house recently, and was truly, er, floored.
Hollyhock House was built for oil heiress and single mom Aline Barnsdall just after World War I. The setting was a stunning hilltop olive grove surrounded by 36 acres, with 360-degree views of a then very picturesque, perhaps even quaint, Los Angeles. Barnsdall designed her homestead as a multi-structure arts complex, complete with theaters for both live performances and films. Today, that spirit remains, as the property is now the Barnsdall Art Park, housing the Los Angeles Municipal Art gallery, theater, and art center where numerous art and music classes are held.
I’m a big fan of Five Guys burgers and fries, but rarely make the trip down to Carson. So it was a nice surprise at about 9:30 the other night, after a day of negotiations down in the South Bay, to be driving up Sepulveda Blvd. just short of LAX and to see the red and white Five Guys sign on the east side of the road. A quick maneuver into the parking lot, and more luck as Five Guys was open until 10 p.m. I saw, I scarfed. It’s in an office park-nice little shopping plaza with a courtyard and outdoor tables.
Five Guys also has other locations, and planned locations, in and around the Los Angeles area. Of these, the El Segundo outlet may be the most dangerous for me. The In-N-Out Burger just on the other side of LAX may have better views, but I’m partial to Five Guys’ food.