Friday, December 13, 2013

Mom's Apartment

1618 Vista Del Mar reads a hand-written note tacked to the bulletin board above my desk. I only write notes by hand. I had a roommate once who would type notes – reminders, to-do lists, quotes – and then color childlike borders on them with markers before she’d tack them above her desk. A typed, designed note is no longer a note, just as a painting, scanned, printed and rolled into a tube mailer is no longer a painting. The nature has been steamrolled out of it, and now it’s just a poster.

I learned two years ago that when my grandmother gave birth to her first child, my mother, she lived in a building at 1618 Vista Del Mar, right down the street from where I live now. The fact that my mother’s first home on earth was in Hollywood, just a few minute’s walk from the apartment where her daughter would live over a half century later is amazing to me. We’re from Utah. We know mountains and rivers and snow.

Hollywood, City of Dreams, with its constant din of noise and light, its coyote-filled hills, its imported cars and palm trees, A-list Lounges, and sordid motels, is not our territory. It’s been so printed and re-printed, it’s like a poster that you can walk around in. Yet, as it turns out, we’ve got roots here. My grandmother, going into to labor with my mom, took the bus by herself from her apartment to the hospital on Mid-Wilshire – that’s putting down roots.

1618 Vista Del Mar
Below the scrawled 1618 Vista Del Mar note is a blue leather desk organizer, from which stretches a stack of medical bills. I relegated them to the back of the organizer as I’d hoped to do in my mind, but I stood them upright so that I wouldn’t forget the thing one must remember about bills – to pay them. Every time I look at them, I tell myself that I ought to organize them, pay those remaining to be paid, and file them away for good. But there they stand. I may be residing in a city of dreams, but life doesn’t know it.

After all, I’ve got roots here: in front of the medical bills grows a cluster of journal entries that I wrote during my treatment for thyroid cancer. I’ve been tearing the entries out of the journal, because its pages are graphed, and I can’t stand writing on such regimented lines. I’ve been saving them in the organizer, where they obscure the bills. Their edges are torn and frayed, having had a difficult time releasing from the bookbinding. I’ve always had a soft spot for torn paper with its sharp edges turned cloudy. My notes, in addition to being hand-written, are usually scrawled upon torn scraps, their imperfect form reminding me of nature - of mountains, rivers, and snowflakes tacked to the bulletin board above my desk in Hollywood.

After living here for two years, I’d grown to like the neighborhood for its contradictions and justifications, but learning of the nearness of my mother's infant years caused me to love it with a fierce protectiveness. Finding the actual building in which she had lived, still tucked behind that sprawling parking lot south of the sidewalk that is tiled with celebrity names, under the unremitting lights of Hollywood and Vine, was a real full-circle moment. My adoptive city was no longer adoptive – it was a part of me, and while navigating its roads from hardship to health, I had become a part of it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I drive to Pacoima, in the San Fernando Valley. From Hollywood, it’s only 15 minutes in good traffic. I teach theatre at a charter school there twice a week. The air is hot and dusty in Pacoima, the streets are wide, and the trees are few.

On Monday and Wednesday mornings, I work out of the LA Weekly offices in Culver City, on the West Side. I have meetings at Culver Studios on these days as well – near enough to be close, but not near enough to make the travel time between them disappear. The air is soft and moist in Culver City, the streets are illustrated with colorful storefronts, and the trees are green and many.

Monday and Wednesday and Thursday evenings I spend at the University of Southern California, in Central L.A., in class or in meetings. The air is dirtier than dust, the streets are crowded, impatient, and the trees are exclusive to campus.

Tuesdays have me at Culver Studios in the morning, and from there I drive to Pacoima in the afternoon, on the 405. The freeway isn’t terrible, in the middle of the day. The drive is quick, and I enjoy the passing view of The Getty, and Laurel Canyon. Is that Laurel Canyon? I’m not sure, but I like it.  Its golden, rolling hills and hiding, curving roads makes me think of filmmakers and actresses.

Thursdays have me driving from Pacoima, after my class, to USC. I check my phone first, to see if the 101 Freeway will be faster than the 5. Silly to drive all the way around if I don’t need to, but often I do. When I don't, I inch past the Hollywood skyline – Capitol Records, Hotel Hollywood, the W, and wish it would all go faster. But just today. After today, don’t move, don’t change. Grow only in spirit, not in size.

I get off at Exposition Boulevard, and am filled with promise at the sight of heavy brick academic structures: The California Science Museum, The Natural History Museum, the lower end of the University, its grandest entrance off the metro line. I turn on Figueroa and park near the Felix the Cat auto dealership. I still don’t know what kind of dealership it is, or why Felix is its mascot. I don’t care, as long as it always remains.

Mondays and Wednesdays, I drive to USC from Culver City. I take Adams usually, sometimes Jefferson. Driving Adams is like navigating a box of crayons. Painted yellow carnicerias and blue mechanic shops, pink party supply shops, magenta-marquied dance halls and vibrant, multi-colored murals in green, overgrown empty lots greet me along the way, like celebratory bystanders of a marathon. Jefferson feels a lot like industrial North Brooklyn, but with faster traffic, and no time to see any of it. Muted red brick, cloudy white commercial glass, and rusted train tracks criss-crossed with nasturtium remind me of the distance I’ve journeyed.

Fridays. Fridays I am asleep.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The City Prolific: Weekend Events October 5 - 6

As minor signs of fall tease us Angelenos with the notion of seasons, my posting of The City Prolific will become less frequent. Festival season has wound down, the outdoor screenings are over, and after Halloween, there just won't be as much going on. This weekend, though, you've got to get out this weekend.


Eagle Rock Music Festival

I've gone to the event every year since I've lived here. The first year I attended, in 2008, I fell in love with its community feel. I was new to LA, and was amazed at how diverse it is, and the festival reflected this diversity - children and adults of all demographics took to Colorado blvd to dance, rock out, revel at the art and performances, and eat of the food trucks and festival food. Over the years, the festival has become much more crowded, the acts booked bigger and in more demand, and some of the original community spirit has gotten a little stifled. It's also no longer free - it's now $10. Despite these changes, it is still a great time, and the entry fee goes toward the Eagle Rock Center for the Arts, so it's money well spent.


4:00pm - 10:00pm

Colorado Blvd. between Argus Dr. and Eagle Rock Blvd.
Free parking and shuttle service is available at
Eagle Rock Plaza
2700 Colorado Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90041

Aventine Hollywood presents a Kick-Off to Art Loves Fashion Alley Event

Aventine Hollywood, you know that club that used to be the Spot, and the restaurant next door that has the really pretty back patio and a great happy hour? Well, they host cool events, sometimes.  Tonight they present a hosted bar and free head shots (curious to see if this is liquor or an actor's marketing tool) from 5-6 PM, a fashion show starting at 6 PM, an art installation throughout Aventine and the alley behind, live DJs, two outside bars, food, gift bags and more.

5:00pm – 10:00pm

Aventine Hollywood Alley
1607 N. Cahuenga Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028

RSVP here:

Zombie Fashion Show and Creature Art Exhibit

Fans of gorey makeup fx rejoice. The Zombie Fashion Show and Creature Art Exhibit hits Lot 613 tonight. Dead models will strut their decaying stuff down the runway. Featuring fifty makeup artists will display their creepy talents, while up to 150 monster mash-ups will be on display as part of the evening's art show.  Live music and a performance from contortionist  Dangerous D will take the stage. Costumes encouraged. Fake blood required.



Lot 613
613 Imperial St.



CicLAvia heads back to where it all started, taking over the streets of Downtown. Grab your bike, your skateboard, your longboard, or your sneaks, and experience the city without cars. It's an incredible time.

9:00am - 4:00pm

Start out at one of five hubs:
MacArthur Park
Mariachi Plaza
Grand Park
African American Firefighter Museum
Check out the map for details.


Los Angeles Haunted Hayride

I usually post events $10 and under, but this one deserves a mention despite it's $30 ticket price.  The fifth annual Los Angeles Haunted Hayride opened last night.  Held at the Old Zoo in Griffith Park (yes, there's an old zoo - eerie ruins of concrete animal enclosures and abandoned cages), this year's hayride will see the return of its infamous 'The "In-Between" Dark Maze' and "Purgatory" sideshow attractions, as well as the new "Carving Shack" (guests can pick out a pumpkin and wield some carving tools) and "Death Row" (an interactive room focused on historical death devices), in addition to its historical 'scary-go-round,' freak and magic shows, demonic stilt walkers, and more.

$30 - $55

Griffith Park
4730 Crystal Springs Road

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The City Prolific: Weekend Events September 21 - 22


Made in LA  Ride III: LA River Edition

Pickles, surfboards and all things bikes! Enjoy a ride along the LA River and learn about places that manufacture and create goodies in LA.  This expedition, open to all cyclists, will pedal through and around Cypress Park and expose riders to businesses that make products right here in Los Angeles. You'll visit Grain Surfboards, Kruegermann Pickle Factory and swrve (stylish urban bicycling apparel designers).


Meet at 10:30a.m., the ride will leave promptly at 11:00 a.m.

LA River Center and Gardens
570 W. Avenue 26
Los Angeles, CA 90065

Venice Beach Music Fest

The Venice Beach Music Fest offers a lineup of free music, art, and dance at LA's quintessential freak show beach. Dance and drink and revel beachside, shop along Abbot Kinney, and wander the canals at sunset.

11:00am - 7:00pm

Windward Plaza Park
1 Windward Avenue
Venice, CA 90291

DUBLAB 14th Anniversary Celebration

DUBLAB celebrates 14 years of sonic adventures, or 14 years of being the guys who throw great parties.

Featuring musical performances, DJ sets, film projections, live screen-printing, food trucks, beer & wine bar, and art activations, this event also serves as the public unveiling of Maker City LA, a new creative hub housed within the downtown design hub, LA Mart.

FREE Before 10pm
$10 donation at the door after / 21+ to attend

8:00pm - 2:00am

Maker City LA
1933 S. Broadway
11th Floor of LA Mart
Los Angeles, CA

75th Annual Mid-Autumn Moon Festival

The annual Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (also known as the Zhongqiu Festival or Mooncake Festival) is a tradition that dates back more than 3,000 years. Farmers marking the end of the harvest season in China would gather to gaze at the moon and eat mooncakes, yummy round pastries filled with sweet red bean or lotus seed paste. Tonight, the moon cakes are offered up by local bakeries. Bamboo Lane's Night Market will provide traditional and contemporary edibles, the outdoor baccarat lounge will test your knowledge of the old-timey game, and the craft beer garden will wet your whistle. Telescopes provided by the Griffith Observatory will give everyone a chance to view the harvest moon. Art gallery openings, live cooking demonstrations, craft workshops and a band lineup, curated by Kevin Bronson of are the other highlights of the evening.


5pm - 11am

Central and West Plaza
943-951 N. Broadway, Chinatown


LA County Fair

There's still a few weekends left to go pet a pig and eat a deep fried chocolate covered pickle!

$12 - $19

Saturdays 10 a.m.-midnight
Sundays 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Through September 29

The Fairplex
1101 W. McKinley Ave.

Pomona, CA 91768

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The City Prolific: Weekend Events September 14 - 15


Grand Park Presents: E.T. Extra Terrestrial

I'm sure I don't need to tell you how well this movie holds up. It's funny, touching, weird, and heartbreaking. And it cemented, early on, my love of Reese's Pieces. Go downtown and watch those bicycles soar over the skyline of Los Angeles. Bring a picnic, but leave the booze at home.


Doors open 5:30pm
Movie begins 8:30pm

Grand Park
210 N Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012


Beat Swap Meet

Head to Chinatown to dig through the crates of vinyl curated by over 50 record collectors and dealers. DJ's will spin rare selections, and there will be live music performances, as well as local clothing, art and jewelry vendors.

Free w/ a Canned Good

12:00pm - 6:00pm

Chinatown Central Plaza
N Broadway and W College St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

La Brea Music Festival: Summer Garage Jam

A free summer concert on the upper deck of La Brea's Parking Garage, with DJ's, live indie band sets, food trucks, art, and shopping.  (I love when LA parking lots are put to good use. When we have a transit-oriented city, we'll have all these empty parking lots that will need to be repurposed.)

Free with RSVP

1:00pm - 6:00pm

181 South La Brea Avenue
(top deck of the Shepard Fairey parking garage)

2nd Street & La Brea


L.A. County Fair

Growing up in Salt Lake City, the county fair was one of the most fun thing to do all year. Then, when I spent my summers in Montana as a teenager, the county fair was the biggest, most exciting thing to do all summer. Oh, the memories. I've heard incredible things about the food at the LA County Fair - deep fried chocolate covered pickles? Yum.

$12 - $19

Saturdays 10 a.m.-midnight
Sundays 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Through September 29

The Fairplex
1101 W. McKinley Ave.
Pomona, CA 91768

Follow @LAhappenings for daily event updates.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Piece of Information

The heat wave has broken, and we've all gotten back to work. Fewer beach trips, vacations over, barbecues past.

Just last week I was on a mad hunt for an air conditioner, and when I learned that there were none left to buy in the city of Los Angeles, I began searching for a window fan. The outcome was the same. Luckily, temperatures dipped, and a cool breeze made its way into my home office. The softer light and gentler air reminds me of Autumn (that's all Autumn is in Los Angeles - a memory), and I find myself missing New York.

But then, out of curiosity, I look at the weather, and it's 91 degrees in Manhattan today. I remember that on September 11th, 2001, it was also hot. Not in the 90's, but in the 80's, I'd guess. I remember because I was wearing black rayon slacks and black leather oxfords, and, at 10:00 in the morning, I was hot.

I've written about that morning before. But there is something I left out of the story: as I ran down Broadway, trying to hail a cab to get back home, I heard a ripping sound. My rayon pants had split along the rear seam. I navigated the rest of the way home, through dust and debris and panic, with my underwear exposed to the world. A piece of absurdity on a tragic day, that I've never told anyone about.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Heat Wave (Summer isn't Over)

Though the summer season may be rolling to a close, our summer weather has no intention of cooling itself down. In time for FYF and the Los Angeles County Fair, our temperatures have skyrocketed. I, for one, appreciate any reason to get outside of my non-air conditioned office.

Keep these sites bookmarked, for more outdoor opportunities:


Eat | See | Hear

Santa Monica Pier Twilight Concerts