Ask Me Anything: Los Angeles Bound

13/04/2011 § 1 Comment

If there’s anything I might be able to help you with, drop me a line, post haste!  Reach me here:
Image via LIFE.
Dear Mariah,
I’ll be in LA after going to Coachella, in case you have any bar/restaurant/shopping suggestions…they’d be appreciated!

Ah, cherie, you’ve asked one of my very favorite questions!  Namely, what should you do with yourself on a Los Angeles vacation.  Being a native, I readily acknowledge that Los Angeles can be a tricky place to holiday, d’accord! It isn’t like any other metropolitan city in the world and that can be off-putting for those used to a more generically urban setting.  There’s no efficient mass transit, the layout of the city doesn’t even attempt to make sense and the snarl of freeways confound even those living in Los Angeles.

Those approaching Los Angeles for the first time should endeavor to not to be intimidated by the nearly 500 square miles of the city, and try to recognize that you won’t be able to “do it all.”  Come to the City of Angels with an idea of the type of holiday you’d like to have clear in your mind, and the itinerary will fall right in line.  Since I didn’t get this kind of direction from you, I’ll provide you with a few of my favorite places, cherie.

Eating, drinking, sleeping:

Old Hollywood
Say you’d like to holiday in a manner that would impress Clark Gable?

Stay: Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, Maison 140 Beverly Hills, Chateau Marmont
Eat: Musso and Frank’s (an institution, open since 1919!), Formosa Cafe, The Polo Lounge (for power breakfasts), The Dresden, Dan Tana’s, Mel’s Drive-In (for late nights)
Drink: Polo Lounge (upscale), The Frolic Room (divey), Tropicana pool/bar at the Roosevelt, Bar Marmont, Pig’n Whistle

Willing to explore the newly-blossoming Downtown scene?

Stay: The Standard, Ritz Carlton Los Angeles, Millenium Biltmore Hotel, Figueroa Hotel
Eat: Chaya Downtown, Sugarfish, Mas Malo, Water Grill, El Cholo
Drink: The Falls Lounge, Edison, The Crocker Club, Spring Street Bar, Brass Monkey if you’re in the mood for karaoke

Warm sun, mild ocean breezes

Stay: Hotel Erwin, Viceroy Santa Monica, Shutters on the Beach, Oceana
Eat: Capo, Tito’s Tacos (amazing tacos served in a cardboard box), Father’s Office, Ford’s Filling Station, Primitivo
Drink: The Other Room, lobby of the Viceroy Santa Monica, Casa del Mar for something a bit more stately

A few random places of note:
El Carmen
(tequila bar), Jar (steakhouse with a mid-century modern feel), AOC (lovely winebar), The Bazaar by Jose Andres in the SLS Hotel (bar/restaurant),  The Little Door (French bistro in a lovely hidden garden), Pace (tiny Italian cafe in Laurel Canyon), Toast (popular for brunch), Clementine (tiny, delicious), Tuk Tuk or Saladang Song (Thai), Red O (Mexican), Roscoe’s House of Chicken n’ Waffles.

On shopping:
Los Angeles is home to a very strong mall culture, so there are plenty of such places to go to, if that’s your thing.  The Beverly Center, of course, is the grand dame of LA malls.  Taking up an entire city block and completely indoors, the Beverly Center will cover most bases, but there are also open-air shopping malls: The Grove, 3rd Street Promenade, and Westfield Century City.

What I think is much more interesting (and I definitely recommend you do this instead of zombie-walking around a huge mall) is poking around the shops to be found along streets like Robertson Boulevard, Colorado Boulevard, South Beverly Drive, Rodeo Drive, Melrose Avenue, Beverly Boulevard/West Third Street, and Abbot Kinney.  If you give me a bit more info on your shopping list, I’d be able to recommend specific stores, but these are good places to start, with multiple options.  Also of note is the haggler’s heaven Santee Alley.

Flea markets more your thing?  Visit the Rose Bowl Flea Market on the second Sunday of each month, or the Pasadena City College Flea Market on the first Sunday of each month.

Last but not least:
Go to Sprinkles and have a cupcake for me.
On second thought, don’t tell me about it…

Have I missed anything, Angelenos?

Enjoy your trip!

Hollywood Hacienda

02/02/2011 § Leave a comment

J’adore Old Hollywood glamour!

Images via Redfin

If you are feeling generous, this darling 1928 Los Feliz home is currently for sale.  I wouldn’t mind making this my west coast perch!

Fotos: City of Angels

31/12/2010 § 3 Comments

Letter from Los Angeles

23/12/2010 § Leave a comment

Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine experiences Los Angeles while on tour in this dreamy film short shot by Tabitha Denholm for

Quelle apropos – since I am in Los Angeles for the holidays!  Now, if only it would stop raining…

Ibn Jasper, Los Angeles Tourguide

06/08/2010 § Leave a comment

Kanye West’s barber/image man/stylist, Ibn Jasper, talks about how he started cutting hair and then grabs his bike and takes us on a tour of some of his favorite shops along Fairfax.

Have to admit, this made me homesick!  The palm trees!  The traffic!

Well, maybe not the traffic.

Via: illRoots

Bunker Hill: Yesterday and Today

03/08/2010 § Leave a comment

For many people, Bunker Hill is just the section of Downtown Los Angeles where all of the tall buildings are concentrated.

Bunker Hill today

In fact, Bunker Hill began as a residential subdivision in 1867.  It was an affluent neighborhood full of expensive homes, and remained that way until after World War II.  As the wealthy departed the Downtown area for the Westside or Pasadena, single family dwellings were divided and rented out.  Thus, Bunker Hill became home to lower income renters and pensioners.

Bunker Hill, 1900

By the mid-fifties, LA city planners decided to completely clear out Bunker Hill to make way for a massive redevelopment.  The homes  and shops were razed to make way for a new, modern urban center.  The residents, many of them older, were to be displaced in the name of progress.  USC student Kent MacKenzie shot a student film capturing this transition from the point of view of the disenfranchised pensioners.  This amazing film offers a rare glimpse into the everyday life of this Los Angeles community in 1956.

Via: LAO

Update 8/3: Unfortunately, the video was taken down this afternoon and my expert sleuthing of the interwebs has not turned it up — really unfortunate.  In the meantime, a few more pictures of what Downtown looked like before all of the high rises.

Photos via: Life/SkyscraperCity/Imageshack

Hollywood Walk of Fame Turns 50

23/07/2010 § Leave a comment

This weekend Hollywood will be celebrating the 50th birthday of the iconic Walk of Fame.  Occupying 18 blocks along Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, the Walk commemorates the entertainment industry and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Los Angeles.  The Walk has been an important place where fans throughout the ages could physically connect with their idols.  Candles and flowers are such a common sight — left to celebrate a birthday or achievement or to offer condolences upon a passing — that the Walk seems almost like a living shrine.

Growing up in Los Angeles, the Walk was not something my family visited, but whenever I happened to stumble upon it, it served as a reminder of classic Hollywood — like an old friend I was always happy to see.  Since I now live in New York, I can’t help getting a little nostalgic…

Conceived and maintained by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, the Walk consists of over 2400 brass 5-point stars honoring achievements in television, motion pictures, radio, audio recordings and theatre.  For a great guided multimedia tour, head over to the LA Times here.

More information on this weekend’s festivities can be found on the Chamber’s website here.

Breaking ground in 1960.

Early planning session.  Check out Cary Grant’s portrait.

Shortly before his passing, Dennis Hopper received his star in March ’10.

Classic Los Angeles: The Theme Building Reopens

05/07/2010 § Leave a comment

There are a few things I must always do and see when I make a trip home to Los Angeles.  The Theme Building has always been on this shortlist (if not for the lucky coincidence that it happens to reside at LAX).  Completed in 1961, it originally was meant to serve as the central hub for LAX’s terminals and parking, but building plans were scaled down.  Instead, the Theme Building became a futuristic icon for the airport and for the city of Los Angeles itself.

The Jetsons-like structure is not the location of LAX air traffic control — a common misconception — but rather is home to a restaurant and observation deck.  The structure has recently undergone an expensive and lengthy renovation, its first in 47 years.  The observation deck was closed after 9/11, but it will reopen on July 10, 2010, giving a new generation the opportunity to see what Los Angeles looks like from the top of a flying saucer.

Via: Los Angeles Times

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