We hardly noticed—it was a small, but insidious change. Something had invaded downtown Los Angeles. Like a deadly mushroom cap that sprouted after a rainstorm, a large striped tent went up in an abandoned field at the edge of town. Later, after the irreversible damage had been done, the townsfolk would remark that it seemed to happen overnight. Strange people, workers maybe, were seen coming and going across the grounds. Some carrying what looked like equipment, some carrying what looked like…dead bodies.
Late one night, a posse of Los Angeles’ hardest citizens got together in The Loft at the Santa Fe to discuss a plan of action. A few short hours later, after intense debate (and drinks at Pete’s) the crew set out to investigate…
And I was with them.
As we pulled into the parking lot a great flame rose in the sky, illuminating the apex of the big top against the dark clouds. Something wicked this way comes, I cried! My crew, men and women (and hairdressers) around me, trembled with fear. We crept toward the opening of the tent and slid inside, as a man’s voice cut through the darkness. Terrified, I tried to run for the exit, but I tripped and fell right into a chair.
It was Cirque Berzerk! And we were just in time for the show! Continue reading
So there I was today at 5th and Flower, the City National Bank building, covering the second annual PSOMAS Paper Yacht Challenge to benefit the Los Angeles Food Bank. It was 5pm, and the racing crowd was assembling while a live DJ played in front of the buildings’ entrance. First I checked out the competition; paper boats of all shapes and configurations on the tables set up behind the fountain. Then I bumped into Carmen Rodriguez, Assistant VP of City National bank, and we headed over to the silent auction table to have a gander. Looked like a good turn out with sponsors like Bark Ave, the Dodgers, Wolfgang Puck, the Grammy Museum, and Universal Studios.
I sat down to enjoy my wait and have something to snack on. Someone was blowing soap bubbles into the wind, and the crowd amused themselves watching the spheres as they wound around the red stair-like sculpture in the fountain. I almost crashed the paper yacht party when a stiff wind coming from the southwest threatened to launch my paper hot dog canoe into the fountain. Continue reading
Friday afternoon a friend handed me two VIP tickets to the Magic of Tony Curtis Jules Verne film festival, featuring Houdini and Some Like it Hot. I was so excited. The legend himself would be there. Plus they were recreating the water torture stunt that brought Houdini to his demise, there was the promise of a champagne and appetizer shin dig at the LAAC, and an after party at the Edison. Yes, thank you, I said—I’ll take ‘em! Continue reading
I noticed I’ve done quite a few stories on charitable events and organizations for Downtownster lately. When Stan hired me, some months ago, I said that I wanted to cover people. I’m like a portrait artist, in that I depend on the inspiration I get from the people I choose to write about, to fill my articles with life. My writing goes where the people go, and the people I’m meeting lately are coincidentally all involved in philanthropic pursuits. This is new territory for me, and I am very happy to be learning more about how downtown Los Angeles citizens give back.
It was at the Bottega Louie grand opening party that Stan introduced me to Carmen Rodriguez, the Assistant Vice President for City Bank. I floated around lost in the mingling crowds until Carmen took me under her wing and together we set about exploring the event together. Right away it was obvious that this was a woman who has many friends, is involved in many aspects of the community, and radiates life in all directions, like a bright sun.
When I got a forward from Stan asking me to write a piece on the upcoming American Cancer Society Relay for Life event downtown, I was delighted to see that my contact for the story would be Carmen. Continue reading
I just realized that the title of this blog sounds like I’m writing about a band. I think that’s kind of funny. I’m actually writing about a woman I met in November 2008 who organizes an event called Midnight Spirographs, a small fundraiser held bi-monthly at the Far Bar in Little Tokyo that raises money for the Midnight Mission.
I met Christine Meinders when she contacted me to ask if she could feature some of my pen and ink illustrations that were hanging in Groundwork coffee shop in her show.
It sounded very cool, so I said yes. Christine printed some flyers, picked up the pieces, and it was a done deal. I attended the very charming alleyway Far Bar that Sunday and had a blast. Continue reading
I am having a lot of firsts lately. For someone who’s done many things in one lifetime, this is amusing to say the least. For instance, I went to my first Dodgers game over Memorial Day Weekend. I also adopted my first pet from the pound, a Chihuahua, two days ago. How I managed to miss something as basic as the all American baseball game experience and dog ownership my whole life, I’ll never know.
Anyways, when my friend told me she had two tickets to see the Cuban Ballet at Vibianas tonight, I thought…it figures. This was my first ballet.
You’ll have to excuse my lack of expertise in covering a ballet, but I’ll try to make up for it with charm and sarcasm. As usual.
I’d also never been inside of St. Vibianas Cathedral. Like Charlie Bucket dreaming about that golden ticket, I figured some day I’d be cool enough to get invited to something going on there. Continue reading
The first time I noticed a little Burger Bar had opened on 6th and Spring was a few weeks ago. It was around 2am, and I was still out from a night on the town. How sad, my friends said, pointing to empty countertops, and empty booths. Reminiscent of Boulevard of Broken Dreams, a lone fry cook and cashier in 50’s diner style uniforms stared out at dark sidewalks from behind brightly backlit glass windows.
We spoke too soon. Three minutes later, we again stumbled past the D-Town Burger Bar and—the place was full.
Local bars were starting to let out, and packs of drunk-hungry pedestrians were scouring the streets for something greasy to take the edge off their buzz. Smoke rose up from the grill, as the cook got to work on burgers and fries. Three men walked in to place their orders, I could hear Chuck Berry playing as the door swung open and closed.
I wasn’t able to join them that evening, but I was intrigued. And I’ll never judge them so harshly again, I swear. So I made a point this afternoon to revisit our new kid on the block, D-Town Burger Bar and make a proper appraisal.
When I entered, my eyes were greeted by a floor full of black and white penny tiles, shiny red plastic seats, and a busty roller girl waitress figurine standing proudly at the door. Everything was spotless, shiny, and ‘new car’ clean. There was even a nostalgic (digital) jukebox, with an unfortunate “do not touch” sign on it.
There were four meal options on the illuminated menu sign on the wall. Continue reading
“Come on, I want to show you something,” Richard said, strolling up to the table where I was sitting waiting for him at in the Must. “There’s an interesting development going on.”
I hopped up, waved goodbye to the waiter, and followed the new head of the downtown Los Angeles ArtWalk, Richard Schave, out the door.
Richard pointed to the parking lot at the corner of 5th and Main as we headed toward the intersection, his voice full of mischievous intrigue. “They set this area up for the street artists, but didn’t tell anyone. And they’re charging them.”
I met Schave last weekend at the MusicUnion mixer, where we spoke about his plans for the future of ArtWalk. He told me they are forming a non-profit organization to manage the rapidly growing event, but that this also has its own set of problems. He hopes to be able to apply the same principles he learned from software development to the process of handling the development of ArtWalk amongst a board of directors.
Richard also shared his solution to the problem of the displaced ArtWalk street vendors—he’d like to bring them back. Continue reading
Last night I proudly attended the first ever MusicUnion Mixer for fans, musicians, writers, and industry members, held at my trusty downtown hangout spot the Must. I can honestly say I only have one real regret from the evening’s activities.
At some point that night I remarked, with much swagger, that I’d order the Colt 45 from the Must menu. When the bottle arrived at my table a few minutes later, wrapped in a branded Must brown paper bag, accompanied by two champagne glasses, I knew that someone had called my bluff.
The bluff caller was host of the Mixer and MusicUnion founder Barrett Morse. He grinned and waved as he passed my table. I had half a glass of the stuff before I gave in, and ordered a glass of water. Thankfully there were plenty of people around to help me finish the forty. In fact a constant stream of industry professionals had been sitting at my table all night. Continue reading
When I’m not holed up in my loft, battering the keyboard of my Macbook like a diligent young writer, you can usually find me at my local haunt. Sometimes with a glass of wine, sometimes with a fluffernutter sandwich.
My neighborhood bar downtown happens to be the Must. Which is a more successful resident of the space previously known as…whatever good intentioned restaurant venture failed before it. I can’t remember the name, sorry. I heard they served Americanized tacos?? I can’t imagine why they closed…
Anyway, the Must opened its doors and is here to stay. This is why I think so:
They have a secret art gallery corridor behind the main dining room that features local talent. The wide range of food, beer, and wine selections bear the marks of a selective palate. Humboldt Fog grilled cheese sandwiches, Continue reading