All posts by Vaughn Blake

French Quarter Fest – Part II

We had dinner at Café Amelie on Royal, a quaint courtyard establishment that served a perfect duck and had a bottle of wine that I’d only previously drank at Magnolia on Sunset, an Evolution from Oregon that is just splendid.  We drank coffee and took in the sounds of the night, the entire day slowly beginning to catch up with us.

After catching a few acts on Bourbon, boomers dancing and swinging each other about[1], we hoofed it back to Frenchman just in time to catch The Hip Shakers repeat performance at The Apple Barrel. It was a little quieter on the street and a trio sang old country songs on the corner.  We swayed along for a little while, but the walking and the drinking and the dinner finally began its inevitable tucker, and we decided to turn in for the night.

The next morning we awoke bright and early, the sun shining and warm through our balcony doors.  We headed to the Gumbo House for breakfast, where their ‘Lost Bread’ is a huge favorite of mine.  New Orleans style French toast, it’s kind of like having a slightly healthier version of fried dough for the most important meal of the day. Continue reading French Quarter Fest – Part II

French Quarter Fest, New Orleans, LA Part 1

While most of my friends and half of the entertainment industry headed out to the desert to get sunburn, ingest substances, and see the last remaining Beatle (Ringo doesn’t count) at Coachella this weekend, I decided to take the chance to get away from Southern California, get away from triple digit temperatures and secret after-parties, get away from card trading, ecstacy and paparazzi, get away and head to New Orleans for their annual French Quarter Festival.

According to the forecasts, Nola was going to be in the grips of a thunderstorm for the whole weekend. Preferring lightning and rain to the furnaces of hell, AKA Indio, CA in April, I packed my raincoat and headed to the Airport on Friday morning. Continue reading French Quarter Fest, New Orleans, LA Part 1

And Who the F**k is Ralph?

Foreword by Stan Lerner: first let me say that I did not assign this story to Vaughn. But as a rule downtownster does not pull back its’ writers—I leave that to the New York Times. And the LA Times for that matter. I remember what a great day it was for the community when Ralphs opened up, but I have to agree with much of Vaughn’s attitude below. Ralphs has, since the day it opened, been lowering the bar. Gone are the samples and the great service. Here now, are the lines and no service. Vaughn does not mention this in his blog, but he should add ridiculously staffed checkout lines at night. I agree that it’s time for a downtownster to open a market downtown—then maybe Ralphs will get serious again.

Good day downtownsters, this was a slow week for me, I had a lot of outside work to do, and didn’t end up getting out of the loft very much.  I did however, make my weekly trip to Ralphs on Flower, and perhaps because of the stress of the week, or maybe because I hope to begin a dialogue on our fair site that puts the wheels in motion to give all of downtown residents an alternative market at which to shop, this post will be about how much I hate Ralphs. Specifically, the Ralphs Downtown.  I’m not a huge fan of nationwide supermarket chains to begin with, but I feel the our Ralphs, Downtown’s own is a particularly odious example of development gone awry, of convenience becoming contentment.  For brevity and efficiency’s sake, two ideas apparently foreign to our local supermarket, I’ll make a list.

 1.  The Parking Entrance on Flower Continue reading And Who the F**k is Ralph?

Downtown’s Queen of Green

I noticed Minh-Son Dang  within the first few days of moving into my building on 4th and Main.  I’d see her riding her bike to and from the building, standing on a corner in conversation with a fellow downtownster, always mid-laugh or mid-smile, and always wearing green glasses.  What I noticed most was that everyone seemed to like her, and everyone seemed to know her. 

After sitting down and having a chat with her at the Old Bank’s Banquette Café I now know why. Continue reading Downtown’s Queen of Green

VARNISH: Getting Lucky on Sixth Street

If I wasn’t such a big fan of Eric Aleperin and Sasha Petraske’s Milk and Honey and from the years I spent in New York, I would’ve written off Varnish as just another Johnny-come-lately watering hole attempting to capitalize on the speakeasy craze. Lump it in with The Edison, Seven Grand, and that place in Little Tokyo down the alley off of first (second?). Hell, it’s right next to The Association. Continue reading VARNISH: Getting Lucky on Sixth Street

St. Patrick’s Day Downtown LA Style


Much like every St. Patty’s for the last half-decade or so, I began my morning with a nice tall pint of Guinness and proceeded to whip up a traditional Irish breakfast of Irish Baccon, Eggs, and English Muffin toast (I couldn’t find any soda bread in the neighborhood). Main Street is quiet right now, not even a few enthusiastic souls indulging in an early pint at Pete’s. There will soon, however be a parade, and I will hit the pavement to cover it for you, our fair readers. Continue reading St. Patrick’s Day Downtown LA Style

Old Bank DVD

Mark Schumacher and Erik Loyson kicked open the doors to Old Bank DVD on  Christmas Eve of 2005.  Both veterans of the LA’s film industry (Mark’s a Director of Photography, Eric’s a grip) they saw an opportunity in downtown’s growing Old Bank District, found a space in the same building as the downtown staple, ‘Pete’s’ and haven’t looked back.  The store is serves as both a neighborhood hangout as well as the only DVD rental place around, and every night you’ll see a small gathering both inside the store as well as out, with locals sitting on the front patio enjoying a beverage or a few cigarettes. Continue reading Old Bank DVD