Sunday, December 31, 2006

It's Snowing in LA!

Well, sort of.

Holiday decorations have been put up at the Grove for awhile, including tons of twinkle lights, a two story Santa's Cottage, and a Christmas tree that's reportedly the largest public tree in Los Angeles (even bigger than the Rockefeller tree in NY). The area is both kid and pet friendly and the central fountain has water shows set to music.

And until New Year's Day, snow will fall twice a day at 7pm and 8pm. Snow!!

Regardless of the holiday decorations, the Grove is always a nice place to do some shopping, catch a movie, or grab a bite to eat over at the great Farmer's Market next door (I always get the hot pastrami sandwich when I'm there).

With that said, happy New Year's Eve!

-Sarah Koo, ExperienceLA Arts/Cultural Marketing Intern

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Hijinks and Shopping at Hollywood/Highland

Recently, I did some holiday shopping at Hollywood/Highland (very convenient to the Hollywood/Highland Metro Red Line Stop). I spent a few hours browsing through its many stores, grabbed a quick bite of cream puffs and coffee at Beard Papa's, and encountered all the great street performers that line up on Hollywood Blvd (as pictured to the right).

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Downtown Burbank: Come Out & Play

Downtown Burbank is a great place for quick bites, lengthy and talkative dinners with friends, holiday shopping at cozy stores and retail giants alike, and movie-watching. I recently experienced LA here with my friends Serena and Jonathan. We had dinner at Black Angus and watched The Holiday at the AMC-16 movie theatre (and we've frequented the area before for similar adventures).
The area's slogan is "Come Out & Play" and at this destination on the edge of the San Fernando Valley, home to 34-blocks of retail, office, residential and entertainment places that includes more than 200 shops and 80 restaurants, living out this slogan is a fairly easy goal.
Downtown Burbank is easily accessible from the Burbank Metrolink Station where trains run until 9:30 Monday-Saturday.

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Hungry Cat is Expanding

There is a big new sign plastered on the window of The Hungry Cat restaurant: "The Hungry Cat Raw Bar Spring 2007." I asked David Lentz owner/chef, as to whether he was finally expanding into the adjacent vacated Schwab's restaurant space. David, just before taking over the grill, indicated that the plans have now been finalized in which The Hungry Cat will expand resulting in more indoor and outdoor seating. But the best part will be a Raw Bar featuring oysters, caviar, and raw fish. Previously, back in August 2006, I wrote about eating at The Hungry Cat, and I will refrain from talking about another wonderful brunch after visiting the Sunday Hollywood Farmers Market.

David Lentz, having grown up in Maryland, has been influenced by the Chesapeake Bay seafood culture. In fact, Judson, a former employee told me about, the times that The Hungry Cat brought out a large shipment of Maryland Blue Crabs and set out the hammers. The first time they did not sell out, and I think it was all you could eat at one price. But when David Lentz did it a second time, word had gotten out, that this was a real Maryland crab feast, in which large quanities were being offered. And if you have ever eaten blue crab with a true Marylander, you will know how fast and how many crabs can be consumed. The crabs were gone in no time, leaving the later arrivals with no crabs. Judson said that they would probably limit the number of crabs the next time.

A great small wine list that pairs well with the seafood centric menu is another great feature at The Hungry Cat. I mentioned visiting a Heritage Turkey Farm in Sparks, Maryland not that far from where David Lentz grew up. I told him how the Springfield Farms Heritage Turkeys were so good, that Robert Parker who lived down the street would FedEx these birds on dry ice for holiday gifts. David then told me how he used to do wine tastings with Robert Parker. Now we know, David Lentz trained under one of the best in the business.

Experiencing LA in Another County

So while Charity was watching the Lakers in Downtown LA, I went to watch college basketball teams play at the John Wooden Classic at the Honda Center in Anaheim. Granted, it wasn't in LA, but I like to think of it as a bit of LA in Orange County (or the LA fans collectively migrating to one location and probably causing traffic on a Saturday morning).

The line up for the tournament was UCLA vs. Texas A&M and USC vs. George Washington. Pretending to be a Bruin for a day with my UCLA friends, it was as though I was making up for the kind of college experience I missed out on while holed up in a studio completing my thesis, yay. ^___^ UCLA won, of course... they're ranked number one for a reason. And like Charity, the hot dogs definitely capped the experience for me. Can't wait to do it again when they play against Washington on New Years Eve at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion.

So channel your inner college kid (because you know you want to display your "spirit fingers" during free throws) and go watch the UCLA basketball team at their home games in Westwood. And pick up some Diddy Riese while you're at it.

-Sarah Koo, ExperienceLA Arts/Cultural Marketing Intern

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Staples Center: LA Lakers vs. Atlanta Hawks

My friends Jason and Grace had an extra ticket for the LA Lakers game against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night. Though I've been in the Downtown area for nearly six years now, it was my first time at the Staples Center, home of LA Lakers basketball games and LA Kings Hockey games. It was definitely a fun experience - sports on television is all well and good, but nothing beats actually watching the game at the stadium. Not to mention, nothing beats the smell of bacon and onions on an open skillet as street vendors make delicious hot dogs too!

The Staples Center is a short walk from the 7th/Metro station and is near the Blue Line Pico Station.

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Pershing Square: Holidays

Sunday I headed out to Downtown LA's Historic Core to see LA Conservancy's holiday matinee screening of Miracle on 34th Street at the historic Palace Theatre. The event was reminiscent of the Conservancy's summer series, Last Remaining Seats where they also screened films in historic theatres. It was lovely to see a classic film in such a beautiful historic theatre and the event opened up with a terrific barbershop quartet.

After the film I headed off to meet friends for ice skating at Pershing Square (very convenient to the Pershing Square Red Line Stop!), just missing the Swingin' Sundays event (one of the many live concert events happening at Pershing Square during the holiday season). We had a great time out on the ice!

Don't miss all the great holiday happenings at Pershing Square during this holiday season including live bands, glide-in movies, and a winter festival! For more information visit the Pershing Square profile on ExperienceLA!

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Desserts on the Westside

Pinkberry is the latest craze in LA (or has steadily been on the rise since February 2005). It's actual frozen yogurt, either in the original or green tea flavor, with your personalized choice of toppings that range from fruit to nuts to even Korean rice cake aka "dduk". The yogurt is definitely not too sweet - it's actually more on the tangy side. My favorite so far is green tea topped with mango and blueberries. Dubbed by the LATimes as "the taste that launched 1000 parking tickets", it was founded by Hyekyung Hwang in LA and is currently branching out to several locations (now even in NYC's Ktown). There's even a copycat called Kiwiberry.

But if frozen yogurt isn't to your liking, and you'd rather go for something sweet, there's always Diddy Riese in Westwood, a few blocks away from the Westwood Pinkberry location. For $1.25, you can get your own personalized scoop of ice cream sandwiched by two yummy and incredibly soft cookies. It's still my favorite and preferred option between the two (though some friends like to argue otherwise); what can I say, I'm a loyal "foodie" and I like bargains. And if you don't mind shelling out a few more bucks, Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly Hills offers quality cupcakes for $3.25 each. My favorite is the Red Velvet, a perfect balance of being just sweet enough without inducing potential toothaches.

Pinkberry currently has locations in Westwood, Melrose/La Brea, Ktown (6th and Berendo St), and West Hollywood (868 Huntley Drive), among others.

-Sarah Koo, ExperienceLA Arts/Cultural Marketing Intern

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

LA Library Foundation Aloud Foodie Panel

The LA Library Foundation assembled an elite LA food panel of Los Angeles women chefs for their Aloud Series in the Library Mark Taper Auditorium. However, Nancy Silverton with her recent opening of Mozza Pizzeria restaurant could not break away from the kitchen. Even without Nancy Silverton, this was an opportunity to hear from Suzanne Goin (Lucques and AOC,) and the two hot tamales: Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger (Ciudad, Border Grill, and Sonora Cafe) about the defining moments of their careers and what it was like to be a woman in the kitchen early in their careers - which usually meant the pastry chef. We also had an opportunity to hear about some of their favorite restaurants, when they want to hide out and relax away from the kitchen. Moderator, Barbara Fairchild, Editor of Bon Appetit Magazine, engaged the three in a discussion of what they had each written in the book: How I Learned to Cook.: Culinary Educations from the World's Greatest Chefs (edited by Kimberly Witherspoon and Peter Meehan).

These women have each made a major contribution to the food scene in Los Angeles with their restaurants, and have established a national identity with their respective cookbooks. They are part of a food movement that has been recently chronicled by David Kamp in his excellent book, The United States of Argula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation. Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken are mentioned in several places, and Suzanne Goin is one of many who can claim to have worked at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. The Chez Panisse story is one of the great chapters in the book and it was also featured in Vanity Fair. When I was a graduate student at Berkeley in the mid- 1970's, Jermiah Tower was in the kitchen at Chez Panisse, and I could not afford to eat there. I did finally make it in the late 1980's and count myself as a big fan of Alice Waters (by proof of the number of her cookbooks that we own).

The Aloud foodie panel provided an opportunity for each of these trand-setting women to interact about learning to cook in their home and being a chef on the line. Each claimed that their mothers were great cooks in their homes growing up. Barbara Fairchild asked each of them what would be their fantasy restaurant which elicited the following responses: Suzanne Goin - to serve the home-style cooking of my Mexican chefs; Susan Feniger - Indian Vegetarian; and Mary Sue Milliken - an 8-seat Japanese sardine restaurant.

My wife and I have many fond memories of City Restaurant from Mary Sue and Susan, and the picture you see above is ours that they signed commemorating almost 25 years of use. The book is now out of print. Our current favorite book is Suzanne Goin's Sunday Supper at Lucques in which we have made about one-third of the recipes in the book.

A great place to buy all of these books, is the Cooks Library, and Rose, the owner of the book store, was among the many who filled the Taper Auditorium. Since we are talking about foodie books, and Nancy Silverton is the talk of the town with the opening of the first of her two new Mozza restaurants with Mario Batali, another book that is already on its way to being a classic is Bill Buford's Heat. Mario is the inspiration for Bill Buford's best selling book that chronicles his adventures in learning what it really means to be work and cook in a famous restaurant and to learn a speciality. The chapters in which Bill Buford interacts with Mario are fascinating, but the book really takes off when Bill Buford recounts learning how to make pasta in Italy, and returning to Italy to learn everyting about being a butcher.

Congrats to Suzanne Goin and David Lentz - they are expecting twins.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Downtown LA: Clifton's Brookdale

I recently had lunch with a friend at Clifton's Brookdale, one of the last remaining cafeteria eateries in Los Angeles. Situated in today's Historic Core on Historic Broadaway, the restaurant opened in 1935 and was designed with a mountain/forest-theme. Clifton founder Clifford Clinton spent his childhood summers in the Santa Cruz mountains and wanted to convey the feeling of that location in his restaurant.

The restaurant had an assorted array of foods to choose from and the restaurant's forest design is something rare to come by. The interior is unexpected given the restaurant's basic exterior. In many respects, it felt like stepping back into another place and time...which is always a great feeling when roaming through historic places.

A recent LA Times article End of the line for cafeterias discusses the history and closing of the cafeteria eateries.

For more information about Clifton's Brookdale, visit its Destination Profile on

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Saturday, November 25, 2006

LA Observed Video Blogger Covers Gold Line Tunnel Event

If you want to know what is really going on in LA, then is must reading on a daily basis. Kevin Roderick has broken new ground and brought on Jacob Sobaroff on his staff to get out and record LA with his new High Definition Video camera. Jacob made a splash recently with his excursion out to the new State Cornfield Park in which you see YouTube meets Huell Howser. In his official debut with LAobserved in the field, he interviews Mayor Villaraigosa at the Gold Line tunneling event. Even though I can link directly to the video on YouTube, please read and view it from LAobserved here. For those of you who have YouTube blocked at work, you are just going to have to watch the videos from home. My cameraphone picture shows the Gold Line construction above ground construction, as it crosses the 101 leaving Union Station.

When I first proposed to MTA to promote transit and cultural tourism in 1999 on the Internet, their response was that they only cared about work-related trips on transit. When MTA decided to fund the ExperienceLA project in 2001, they were beginning to realize that they needed to promote destinations on Metro, and thus, when ExperienceLA debuted with the opening of the Gold Line to Pasadena in July 2003, Metro was on a full marketing blitz with destinations. The Gold Line to Pasadena helped people to rediscover "main street" South Pasadena. Thus, when the Gold Line extension opens in 2010, it will bring cultural visitors to Boyle Heights who will have a chance to explore the community of today and to find reminders of JewishLA from long ago such as the Breed Street Shul.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Downtown LA: Ansel Adams at Manzanar at JANM

On Sunday I visited the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo. I took the Red Line to Civic Center stop and walked a few blocks east on 1st street.

In addition to their extensive permanent exhibition about Japanese-American internment, they are currently running an exhibition of photographs by Ansel Adams at Manzanar. These photographs were compiled and featured in a book by Ansel Adams entitled Born Free and Equal. I greatly enjoyed this exhibition, as I am most familiar with Adams' work in landscape (of which there were also quite a few photographs) and it was interesting for me to see him capture people and their spirit.

Quoted excerpts from the book are also stenciled on the walls of the exhibition. Of these quotes I noted one by Mrs. Yaeko Nakamura, "I am glad my faith in America is strong enough to stand the test of evacuation." The exhibition also had a space where it showed a documentary on Manzanar that brought voice and movement to the images of Adams and it greatly moved me in its vivid portrayal of the struggles of these people at this conflicting time in American history.

The exhibition recently opened on November 11, 2006 and will run until February 18, 2007.

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Friday, November 17, 2006

Tift Merritt and Watkins Family (Nickel Creek) at the Largo

I am a big fan of Tift Merritt, and she was a recent guest of Sean and Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek) at the Largo at 432 North Fairfax. One of my friends on Flickr from Birmingham, England tipped me off that Tift would be playing in my hometown. This person had recently posted some great photos of Tift Merritt from the Cambridge, England Music Festival. There is also some footage from the Cambridge Music Festival on Youtube. During the festival Tift met Sean and Sarah Watkins, who were also performing, and they invited her to visit them in Los Angeles and share the stage with them at their weekly show at the Largo. Tift told the audience that Sean and Sara had even taken her out surfing, and that she, could grow to like living in LA. It is definitely not North Carolina. Tift opened the show and finished her set with Sean and Sara. It was then the host turn to entertain the packed house (which can seat up to 300 according to the waitress) which included many regulars along with their parents. Tift played songs from her two CD's and other material. She expects to have her third CD out next summer, although there is a hard to find live music CD from a couple of years ago. Tift Merritt is categorized at Alt-Country, and thus, is not heard that much on Country music stations, although here in LA, KZLA is no more. You can catch her music videos on the GAC cable station, and there are several shows like Edge of Country that feature this other side of Country that does not get as much airplay on mainstream Country music stations. Please listen to Tift on her website, and buy her CD's, especially, if you've previously written-off country music.

The Largo is a dinner club that had a door charge of $15 per person, and then the requirement to spend another $15 on food plus a drink. For those not wanting to eat dinner at 9 pm, you could sit at the bar which was in the back of the room. The doors opened at 8 pm, and they immediately began taking orders. There was a very strict policy of all electronic equipment had to be off and no pictures were allowed, otherwise, I would have performance pictures posted on my Flickr site. Seeing one's favorite artist in a small venue, feels like you are at a private party. It is called the Watkins Family Hour, although the concert started around 9:30 pm, and finished shortly before midnight. The audience was treated to new material that Sean and Sara had recently written that played really well to the audience. They also reached into the way back machine to dust off an old Bob Dylan song that Judy Collins covered many years ago, and "Different Drum"a Linda Ronstadt song from her days with Stone Poneys. Sean told the audience that their new Best of CD just came out contained live tracks from many years ago which I will be buying soon.

Several times, Sara and Sean invited Tift back to the stage to perform with them and their steel guitarist, piano player, drummer, and bass player. They were all excellent muscians. Listening to Sarah play the fiddle reminds one of a young Allison Krause. In fact, Allison Krause discovered them, produced them, and introduced them to the Sugar Hill label. Several of the songs were instrumentals, that showed off Sarah skills along with her brother Sean on the guitar. The steel guitarist also had many opportunities that demonstrated his many years on the instrument.

While leaving the Largo, I asked Tift if I could take her picture, and she said sure, and thus you see the above photo taken by my wife. I can't wait to see Tift Merritt when she returns to LA for a full concert, and I also suspect that Sean and Sara will invite her back for the Watkins Family Hour which is now on my radar screen for great Thursday night acoustical entertainment. Thank you Sara and Sean for putting Tift on the Largo stage. You and your friends were wonderful together. It reminded me of the Crosssover shows on the other national Country cable station.

I will update this posting with additional links, and I did take Metro (Red Line and Rapid Bus) to ExperienceLA at the Largo.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

West LA: MOCA's Mark Rothko Exhibit at PDC

MOCA just opened their Mark Rothko exhibit at their Pacific Design Center (PDC) site on Sunday, the 5th. As fans of Mark Rothko, my friend and I decided to be cultural buddies for the day and venture out to the West LA location. Parking's available at the PDC for a flat rate of $6 on weekends, but there's plenty of metered street parking on San Vicente Blvd. and Melrose Ave. Actually, since it was a Sunday, I ended up not having to worry about parking costs at all (the free admission didn't hurt either). The exhibit presents MOCA's own monographic holdings of 8 paintings, and the museum setting is curated in a way that allows the viewer to experience the intensity and spirit in the canvases. There's a marked difference between experiencing a Rothko painting that's hung up among other contemporary works and experiencing several Rothko paintings collectively hung in one intimate room. After the exhibit, my friend and I decided to walk around the surrounding neighborhood. Walking further along Melrose, we passed by little boutiques and stores, a quirky used book store, another gallery, and cozy cafes with outdoor seating (Le Pain Quotidien and the well-known Urth Caffe) which all seemed fitting for a bizarrely warm November Sunday afternoon in Southern California. The exhibit will continue until January 21, 2007.

-Sarah Koo, ExperienceLA Arts/Cultural Marketing Intern

Monday, November 06, 2006

Downtown LA: Sunset & St. Marks Exhibit

Having just moved back to LA this past June from the Boston area, I wanted to check out the "Sunset & St. Marks"exhibit at the Standard Hotel in Downtown LA. The description of the show stated that this exhibit brings together some of the youngest and brightest talents from Los Angeles and New York (hence, the title of the show), in spite of whatever "false dichotomy" and rivalry that might exist between the two. Given that I now feel like an East Coast city girl with a Southern Californian mentality - if that even makes sense, I wanted to see what this was all about. Located in a small room on the second floor of the hotel, I found it interesting that when grouped together, I couldn't really tell which artist came from what coast. The works actually seemed to echo one another in various ways: political and urban undertones, definite usage of specific colors, themes and statements that were anything but merely pretty. Ironically, I found myself most drawn to the subtler works, maybe because they stood out in their ability to convey a statement without the sometimes overused "shock value". My other favorite was the huge collaboration work. In any case, if it's not the dichotomy that interests the public, it'll probably be the infamous statue of Britney Spears in labor, "Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston" by Daniel Edwards. The exhibit will close this Thursday, November 9th.

-Sarah Koo, ExperienceLA Arts/Cultural Marketing Intern

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Club Culinaire of French Cuisine Presents Check to M.E.G Foundation

The Club Culinaire of French Cuisine donated $8,000 to the Mary Ellen Gerber Foundation for a kitchen in one of their orphanges in India. Attending was the head of French consulate in Los Angeles and a number of noteworthy French chefs from the Los Angeles area. The Club Culinaire celebrates French cooking by showcasing the many French Restaurants in greater Los Angeles County. A wonderful French brunch in the garden at The Goddess Studio Boutique in Venice, was held to mark the occaision and to raise additional funds. The desserts from Sweet Temptations, a supplier to several hotel restaurants, were incredible. In my cameraphone YouTube video Mary Ellen Gerber talks about the railway and Tsunami orphans in India, while accepting the check.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Downtown LA: Monster Massive

This past Saturday I attended Monster Massive at the LA Sports Arena. My first rave, it definitely felt like I was stepping into another world of lights, sound, culture. A couple of my close friends are ravers, so they've been hounding me to attend something for awhile, and I'm glad I did. I had a great time. Here's some pictures from the flickr pool for that event:

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Friday, October 27, 2006

Downtown LA: California Democratic Rally at USC feat. Barack Obama and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Heading off on the DASH F, I took some time in the sunny Southern California afternoon to attend the California Democratic Rally in front of Doheny Memorial Library steps at USC. Whatever your political affiliation, it's hard to deny that the event was filled with energy and was a great way to learn about what the Democratic ticket had to say. Major highlights of the event included speeches from City of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Illionis Senator Barack Obama.

Below is a five-minute video clip of Barack Obama's speech from this afternoon:

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Coordinator

Monday, October 23, 2006

Downtown LA: "Nightingale" and "ALOUD at Central Library"

Last week I was able to enjoy two Downtown LA events - Lynne Redgrave's "Nightingale" on Sunday, October 15th and the ALOUD at Central Library series session featuring Janet Fitch (writer of White Oleander and recently, Paint It Black) in conversation with Rachel Resnick (writer of Go West Young F*cked-Up Chick : A Novel of Separation) on Wednesday, October 18th.

Redgrave's one-woman performance in "Nightingale" was spectacular. I haven't seen too many one-person shows, but this one really brought you into a character and her interactions with other people. The story follows Redgrave's fictionalized account of her grandmother's life story. The show continues at the Mark Taper Forum until November 19th.

Janet Fitch, in conversation with Rachel Resnick, was an enjoyable event that discussed Fitch's latest novel Paint It Black and Fitch's background/process as a writer. Resnick did a great job asking intriguing questions to which Fitch provided amusing answers. The audience all appeared to have as enjoyable a time as I did! The best part of literary events such as these is finding out the writer behind the book and his/her writing process. Check out the ALOUD at Central Library events to come! ALOUD's website also offers video and audio streams of its events.

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Friday, October 20, 2006

West LA: STAR ECO Station

My introduction to entomology was visiting STAR ECO Station special event "Creepy Crawlers." Arachnids, Mini Beasts and exotic insects sent chills up and down my spine as I promised myself to purchase an insectclopedia afterwards. Eco Station also provides animals from around the globe and who better to answer questions than co-founder Katya Bozzi.

Daood: STAR ECO Station has a variety of animals. With LA Zoo being only a bus ride and Sea World less than two-hour drive away from STAR ECO Station location, what makes this a great addition to those aforementioned?

Katya: The STAR ECO Station is much different! We get at risk animals that no one else wants. Since we are also an environmental science museum, we work with environmental heroes to address every aspect of the environment. Clean air, the three R's (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) Watershed, and Global Warming. We focus on preservation through education.

Daood: What are some of the exotic animals people can look forward to seeing at STAR ECO Station?

Katya: New animals are always being rescued at STAR ECO Station. So, at any given time you can see an array of tropical fish (tank-busting Pacu), fascinating felines (Jay the Bobcat), tropical, talkative birds (meet the famous Ozzie), flexible turtles, strong slithering snakes, and smiling gators to name a few!

Daood: Why was the name ECO Station coined as the title?

Katya: ECO is short for Ecology, we cover every aspect of the environment. It is based on how we interact with everything on our planet.

Daood: What other organizations work in conjunction with STAR ECO Station to secure the animals and provide such an educational experience?

Katya: We work in partnership with US Fish & Wildlife Services, NOAA, Surfrider, Santa Monica Baykeeper, Waterkeeper Alliance, Heal the Bay, OFI, Coalition for Clean Air.

Daood: According to the flyer that I picked up at the STAR ECO Station you are going to have a Halloween Occasion. Would you be so kind to elaborate on the details of the up coming event?

Katya: STAR ECO Station will transform into a safe and magical trick or treating experience! Embark on an adventure for the young at heart! At Enchanted Hallow's Eve you are invited to stroll through the Roaring Rainforest Forest! Drop by the Enchanted Witch's Lair! Explore the reptile kingdom with slithering snakes, spooky tarantulas, and scary alligators! Take a stroll through the Charmed Mansion! Hang out at the Poacher's Palace, swim through the Jaws Kelp Forest! Be prepared to steal pirate's booty on treasure island then we are off to see the excellent ECO Station Wizard and go through the scarecrow maze where you search for the heart, mind and courage!

Your second choice is at the Infamous Haunted Academy be prepared to jump in terror at every turn through the haunted halls! Come face to face with teenage monsters and teachers' ghosts of school-years past! Don't miss out on a truly wicked adventure! It's a Halloween haunt to die for...if you dare!!!

Enchanted Hallow's Eve is for all ages! Saturday & Sunday October 28th & 29th 2006 1:00pm-7:00pm Costume Contest at 1:30pm with Special Appearances at STAR ECO Station.

One child free admission per adult admission. Take both adventures for just $1 more! Regular Admission $6 for children, $7 for seniors, and $8 for adults.

For more great events at STAR ECO station, check out their profile at, where you can even sign up for a STAR ECO Station RSS feed!


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Downtown LA: Grand Avenue Festival Highlights

Grand Avenue Festival 2006 In case you missed the great Grand Avenue Festival on October 7th (or want to remember what a great time you had) check out the Flickr Picture Pool from the event organized by :

Here's a video of traditional Japanese dancers at the JANM booth:

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Hollywood: Avalon 9/29

On Friday, September 29th, my roommate and I headed out for a night at the Avalon in Hollywood (conveniently located by the Hollywood/Vine Metro Red Line Station) where we had gotten on a guest list to hear the spinning styles of DJ K6, DJ Heimeth and DJ Coke-E.

Formerly known as "The Palace", the Avalon is a venue that embodies the rich history of Hollywood in its classic elegance as well as providing a great atmosphere for a night club. It was first the "Hollywood Playhouse" when it opened on January 24, 1927 and the location still features the elaborate detail and etchings of a1920s playhouse.

DJ K6 and DJ Heimeth were the opening acts for headliner DJ Coke-E, a featured DJ on Power 106 (and can be heard on Power 106's Cali Caliente weekends). The music was a great mix of songs and the crowd was kept dancing throughout the evening. I particularly enjoyed the seamless blend of music in DJ Heimeth's set.

Following the Avalon, we didn't have to roam far for some late night eating where we grabbed some pizza slices at a nearby restaurant before heading out of Hollywood.

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hollywood: Fashion Show & Fundraising Gala!

Daood: Imani Corporation seems to be a great organization! Can you provide for us its genesis and the primary focus of its programs?

C.E.O. Nicole Roberts: Imani Corporation was founded with our original program for youth Imani Phi Christ at First AME Church (FAME) on September 19, 1993 in the wake of the Los Angeles riots. Our mission is simple - "helping African American teenage girls maximize their potential". Fulfilling the purpose calls for us to challenge the negative aspects of the inner city. A community plagued by inferior educational systems, few recreational outlets, lack of adequate post-secondary opportunities, struggling with the menace of all low-income communities - gangs, violence and teenage pregnancies and a lack of positive role models that could inspire young women to excel.

Imani Phi Christ is a faith-based program aimed at developing the whole individual via three components: Mentoring, training/development and community service. These activities include:

  • Mentoring (members are matched with a mentor/advisor who helps them learn positive life choices and run the programs of the organization)
  • Training/Development
  • Self Development (Workshops on topics such as etiquette, self esteem, job
    skills, time management, peer pressure etc...)
  • College Prep (Empowering our members to move from day to day thinkers into
    long term goal oriented achievers. We give our girls the skills they need to
    apply, be accepted and sustain themselves in college)
  • Financial Literacy (teaching our members the importance of managing money
    and investing)
  • Community Service (members learn the importance of giving of themselves to help others by performing community service)
  • Leadership Development (Members learn leadership skills by organizing meetings special events, fundraisers and other activities)
  • Other Activities include: Educational Outings (such as museum trips, cultural fairs, plays, horse back riding etc...) & Fun Outings (such as sleepovers, movie trips etc...)
These programs are geared toward at risk young women of color between the ages of 13-19 years old. Imani seeks to build life skills by continuously encouraging our members to develop their creativity and ingenuity. Imani is unique in that its young members not only participate, but also help to create the programs of the organization.

Additionally, due to the fact that in the African American community, the church has traditionally been the place where our families go to for help, and still is, Imani utilizes this concept and is a one-stop service at churches to help young women.

Our track record to date is that:
  • 98% of our members are grdauating from high school,
  • 85% are going on to college, and
  • 95% are graduating from colleges and univesirities throughout the country.

Daood: This is your third annual gala event. Congratulations! The public who will be attending this extravaganza for the first time, what can they expect?

C.E.O. Nicole Roberts: They can expect an afternoon of mixing and mingling, a silent auction full of fabulous items, a fashion show highlighting up and coming and well know African American fashion designers.

However, the most important part of the event is that we recognize women who are MAXIMIZING their potential and who are a light for other young women to follow. We like to call this our moment of paying homage to those legends that came before us who fought and pushed to pave the way so that we all can have the opportunity to live in our MAXIMUM potential. This is as Imani's objective is to stand in the gap to make sure the young women of today reach out and partake in the opportunity afforded to them due to the fight of our ancestors.

Daood: What are the future goals and objectives for Imani Corporation?

C.E.O. Nicole Roberts: The ultimate goal of Imani Corporation is to start chapters of our youth program, Imani Phi Christ, in churches throughout the country. We currently have 3 chapters - 2 in South Los Angeles and one in Orange County but I am also happy to share with you that due to monies we raised last year we are currently developing Imani Phi Christ, in an additional church here in Los Angeles as well as one in Texas and one in Milwaukee.

Daood: I would like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions!

C.E.O. Nicole Roberts: No thank you! The more people that hear about our program, the more doors that open for us to work with a greater number of women.

Imani's MAXIMIZE 2006 Fashion Show & Fundraising Gala will take place October 1st at LA's premiere special event venue, The Highlands Hollywood, with catering by Wolfgang Puck. The star-studded event will bring together prominent women and men from all across the country combining their efforts to raise money for this worthy cause. For more information on the event please visit the website at


Monday, September 25, 2006

Transit: Wilshire/Vermont Station Does Exist

Wilshire/Vermont Station This entry refers to the recent article on LAist, "The Red Line Station at Wilshire & Vermont: Legend or Legit?" where writer Lindsay William-Ross and her travel companions tried to take the Red Line from North Hollywood to Wilshire/Western and back. Unfortunately, they ran into some trouble on the way back. They were directed to take the subway at the Wilshire/Vermont station after being told that Wilshire/Western was closed for construction (and I assume this means Wilshire/Normandie was also closed). Unfortunately, they weren't able to find the Wilshire/Vermont station when they made their long walk eastbound on Wilshire Blvd.

While it's rare a station would be closed, here are some transit tips that might clarify the situation and be helpful to those traveling in the area, taken from my own personal knowledge of transit and the following ExperienceLA guides Getting Around Downtown LA and Koreatown Metro Adventure:

  • Wilshire/Vermont Station: It does exist! But unfortunately there is a lot of construction surrounding the exterior, ground-level of the station. The entrance is actually on Shatto Place/Wilshire Blvd. The entrance has been narrowed down and increasingly tucked away given the recent demolition of the building adjacent to the station, but it's still there. Completed construction inside the station shows stairs that seem to head up to Wilshire/Vermont, so I imagine once construction is finished that station will be more accessible and live up to its name. See map above if you need a visual.
  • Rapid 720 - Metro Rapid Wilshire: This Rapid bus runs east and west on Wilshire Blvd until sometime after midnight. Instead of walking down Wilshire Blvd, it might be best to take this Rapid instead. The bus will also take you into Downtown LA with easy access to the next available station 7th/Metro Station (on 7th/Figueroa Street).
-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Friday, September 22, 2006

West LA: Discovering A Hidden Gem: LivinStone!

Livin Stone - Photographer: Skye Moorhead
I'm here at LivinStone Gallery with the owners, husband and wife Mr. Olivier Morange and Anne Marteville. Mr. Olivier is available at this moment so I'll ask him a few questions.

Hello Mr. Olivier Morange, I'm Daood!

Hello Daood!

Daood: What is the genesis of the concept LivinStone?

Olivier: LivinStone! It's all in the name. Living in an environment made of the finest stones. When properly sourced and handcrafted: stone can be soft, warm and gentle to the feet, the eyes and to the fingers. It will last a lifetime providing you with a renewed sense of serenity as well as express your personal taste for the finest things in life.

Our showroom features complete earth-centered environments in which customers can experience the serenity of natural stone in its many utilitarian forms--from basic settings to exotic baths, vanities and bedroom sets. An integral part of our design vision focuses on creating spaces that enhance relaxation and pay homage to nature such as Zen Gardens complete with fountains for the living room and dining room tables with centerpieces made of live fishes and organic stones. Inspired from Roman Atriums and California architecture that brings the outdoors in, these comfortable spa-like settings are intended to welcome, draw nature into your environment, and promote social gathering.

Daood: How long have you been established?

Olivier: I found the space in June 2005, signed the lease immediately and started the renovations right away. LivinStone opened officially on October 27th, 2005

Daood: Why do you think LivinStone is so much more compelling than other galleries?

Olivier: There is no other gallery like it coast to coast. Truly unique and original; LivinStone is a trendsetter. The store already received acclaim and recognition in its first year from influential trade publications.

Daood: Are there any new products that people can look forward to viewing?

Olivier: We purchased a fine selection of vintage furniture, lighting and home accessories from Europe. The container should reach Long Beach Seaport at the end of September. We are very excited because there is beautiful designer's pieces from 1960 & 1970 that will complete our line and will go well with our environment and our concept

Daood: Before the end of the year is there any shows or special events that will take place?

Olivier:On October 12th, 2006 LivinStone will host the monthly ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) networking mixer. LivinStone is a proud new partner member of this association. We are looking for an enchanting and enlightening social gathering among industry professionals.

Daood: Thank you for taking the time out to answer my questions.

Olivier: Thank you Daood!

This has truly been an odyssey and unlike furniture that amalgamates with its surrounding ambience; entities of the gallery flirt with the possibility of being inconceivable to the imagination! No one can suggest that minimalism artwork, denies the viewer the proper experience of the esthetic mediums, once inside "LivingStone."

937 N. La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90069
Business hours: M-F 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Saturday: 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m.
Tel: 310 659-0600
Fax: 310 659-0945

Photographer: Skye Moorhead

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Downtown LA: Little Tokyo - "kip fulbeck: part asian, 100% hapa"

kip fulbeck: part asian, 100% hapa Recently I was able to attend the kip fulbeck: part asian, 100% hapa exhibition currently at the Japanese American National Museum. This exhibition features portraits taken by Kip Fulbeck, an artist who traveled the country photographing more than 1,000 Hapa. The photographs are compiled in a book of the same title.

For those who might not be familiar with the term "hapa", it was originally a derogatory term derived from the Hawaiian word meaning "half". In recent years, the word has been embraced as a term of pride by those of mixed-race heritage who have Asian ancestry.

Each subject in this exhibition was asked to hand-write the answer to the question: "What are you?" As interesting as it was to place a face to the varied responses to that question, it was the responses themselves that I found the most interesting, especially given that the subjects were of different ages and backgrounds. While many of the answers reflected personal narratives influenced by each subject's upbringing and sense of racial identity, I think some of my favorite responses were from the children including one from a young boy who said that his mother made him come to get his picture taken; another young boy who said that he didn't tell people he was part Danish, because then they'd think he was a pastry; and a little girl who drew a picture of herself saying "I'm a person."

Perhaps the power of the exhibition is equal parts the presentation of so many different stories all at once, as well as the story of the visitor seeing these portraits and reading their responses. The question moves from external to internal, provoking the visitor to apply that question - "What are you?" - to their own sense of identity, their own sense of self and history. For those visitors who truly feel the need to expand upon this potential reaction, the exhibition also has a section where people can take a polaroid picture and write their own answer (subject to the museum's scheduling).

The exhibit runs until October 29th, 2006.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the museum will also be screening Chasing Daybreak: A Film About Mixed Race in America on October 28th.

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Santa Monica: Club, Dancing & Dining!

24 hours from today at the time of 8:00 p.m. I'll be waiting in line among those who've discovered night life's internationally acclaimed sacred dwelling...The Temple Bar. A red and black decor ambience with a lounge for those who like to sit and chat upon a plush sofa; a pool table for those that enjoy a game of billiards; romantic candlelit tables for those who have a significant other and artwork tastefully displayed on several of its walls; creating a warmth and intimacy and in the words of the pop hit single by the group Shalamar "A Night To Remember."

This up and coming artists venue expands the genres of music from Sabar drums of Senegal Africa to Australia's Didgeridoo (pronounced Did-jer-Y-DOO) Music to arouse your soul, music asking of you to contemplate the beauty of life, and music that doesn't require a spaceship to take you into another galaxy.

Stevie Wonder, Ricky Lee Jones and new generation of recording artists such as Ben Harper have also taken the pleasure of performing there as well. Between live guests is a dance floor that is always at capacity as the DJ keeps spinning records until you can't take no more. And if your thirst and hunger has reached a crescendo, there's a bar to quench whatever desire that you may have and meals equal to those of an exquisite restaurant.

Well I've laid out my clothes, and shoes that will keep me toe tapping until wee hours into Saturday morning.

Hope to see you there!

The Temple Bar
1026 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, California
General Admission:
(Varies according to performing artist)
Hours: 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Nightly
(310) 393-6611

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Santa Monica Wednesday Farmers Market

Many years ago, while working as a summer intern for Governor Jerry Brown in the mid-1970's, I witnessed the development of legislation that gave birth to the Farmers Market movement in California, and helped to launch such movements in other states. I suspect what we see today in California, far exceeds the original goals of this direct marketing program to benefit small farmers. Along with a strong organic food movement in California, the Farmers Market can provide an opportunity to experience a wide range of fruits and vegetables that never make it to the grocery chains or even the upscale markets. In addition to providing local jobs, creating a community of chefs and purveyors, your local Farmers Markets functions as a public plaza, where one almost always crosses paths with friends. As one supports a local Farmers Market, you will develop a bond with your favorite sellers. With the advent of branding by these farmers, it is much easier to spread the gospel of a favorite seller, i.e. Weiser Farms, Maggie's Farm, West Coast Fish, Harry's Berries, etc.

I am afraid to admit, one market I had never been to was the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market, on Arizona at 2nd Street, just off the Third Street Promenade. I have been many times to the Saturday Santa Monica all organic market, but never the one on Wednesday. This is the one frequented by the "foodies" and chefs of Los Angeles and provides the backdrop for Laura Avery's weekly market report featured on Evan Kleinman's weekly KCRW Good Food radio program, available as a podcast from Itunes or on the KCRW website. The Wednesday Santa Monica market met and exceeded my expectations and at times I felt like I was in France with a number of residents and tourists speaking French. I also saw for the first time, baby purple artichokes with no choke; the same as in Provence. In fact the Wednesday market has many types of produce that aren't found in any of the other local farmers markets in Los Angeles, as the vendors know that there is a market for these items in Santa Monica.

So get yourself in the mood by listening to Laura Avery's weekly market report while commuting on public transit or in your car, and treat yourself to the surprises that can be found in Santa Monica, Hollywood, Pasadena, Long Beach, or any of the many Farmers Markets in LA. Much of the produce changes with the seasons, and you will soon have your favorite vendors.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

West LA: Original Farmer's Market/Grove

My friends Serena, Joni, and I headed off to the Original Farmers Market/Grove on August 26th for lunch, some shopping, and a movie.

One of the best parts for me about the Original Farmers Market are the many different wonderful smells coming from its variety of eateries. The mix of smells and eclectic shops make for a great atmosphere for strolling, fooding or shopping. We all settled on The French Crepe Company (which serves French crepes, waffles, salads, sandwiches, coffee & hot chocolate) and chatted for a bit while enjoying our food.

Then we headed off to the Grove next door to browse through a few of the major chain stores and caught a showing of the Illusionist (which was a great movie, btw).

To get a feeling for the Grove's sights and sounds, check out the Metro Video about the Original Farmers Market/Grove on ExperienceLA!

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Friday, August 25, 2006

Hollywood and Vine Metro Portal - The Hungry Cat as a Destination

The ExperienceLA Metro Adventures originally were car-based cultural tourism sightseeing tours developed with community groups by the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau for the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. In 2003, the adventures were updated and integrated with the respective Metro Red, Blue, and Green Lines portals along with the Wilshire Raoid Bus. During these six years, the area around the Hollywood and Vine Metro portal has become a destination onto itself. When my wife and I began going to the restored Cinerama Dome and Arc Light Theaters, the number of restaurant choices in the immediate area were limited. As the Sunset and Vine residential complex and shopping center was nearing completion, I heard about one of the restaurants that would be in the inner courtyard off of Vine. This was The Hungry Cat. The word on the street was that David Lentz, husband of Suzanne Goin, owner/chef at Lucques and AOC, was developing a small informal upscale seafood restaurant that would be open for dinner along with brunch on the weekends. Our first introduction to the restaurant was on Sundays during the early days of the restaurant, as we wandered over from the Sunday Hollywood Farmers Market. One of the specials that we loved was the soft-shell blue crab omelet. Also, whenever we go for brunch, the beignets are a must. Possibly the best, west of New Orleans. Earlier this year, Hungry Cat extended its hours to lunch during the week.

Since the early days of the restauant, I have been telling everyone about The Hungry Cat hidden inside the courtyard of the Sunset and Vine complex. Now with all of the awards and publicity, reservations for dinner and brunch are a must. For those without a reservation, the restaurnt serves the entire menu at the bar. Thus, on the spur of the moment, you can get there when the restaurant opens for dinner, eat at the bar, and make an early movie at the Arc Light or even a show at the Pantages. Many of the articles that have been written about David Lentz and The Hungry Cat have been about the mixed drink specials. Making use of fresh fruits from the local farmers markets, he has even created a drink using cantalope. There was also a lime cocktail with lavendar.

One of the great things about The Hungry Cat are the specials which reflect was is available from the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market, Sunday Hollywood Farmers Market, and their seafood purveyors. I am always on the lookout for the fried Ipswich clams, while the lobster roll is a menu staple. With David Lentz growing up in Maryland, he delivers a standout crab cake, and he has been known to Maryland crabs as a special. A meal can be ordered in stages, as the mood fits, and makes for much fun in sharing dishes with friends. For those who don't like (or can't eat) fish and shellfish, there is the outstanding Pug Burger. Maybe one of the best burgers in LA.

Finally, there is the wine list, and from a family who brought you AOC, you will definitely enjoy this small wine list that pairs well with seafood. And with always a choice of roses, including one of the best champagnes from France, I feel that I might be in one of the small seafood restaurants of Nice. Treat yourself to this restaurant, before or after going to the movies, theater, or clubs. And like me, you will keep on coming back. The Red Line for lunch at The Hungry Cat.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Downtown LA/West LA: Grand Performances & Diddy Reese

Speaker Theatre Arts Last Friday (August 18th) I met up with my friends to catch Grand Performances at California Plaza (only a block from the Metro Red Line - Pershing Square Stop).

Showing at Grand Performances that evening was Speak Theater Arts - N*W*C: The Race Show (MMM). I previously saw the show two years ago when they performed at USC's Bovard Auditorium and had been trying to go back to see the show since (and of course tell all my friends about it). And for those who may be Trojan haters, the artists reign from UCLA.

N*W*C* (Find the full title at the NWC site - I can't write the real title in because the entry has to be somewhat family friendly) stars performance artists Miles Gregley, Rafael Agustin, Allan Axibal in a must-see show about race in America - it touches on humorous personal narratives, stereotypes, historical references, etc. I can't really sum up what a great show it is - just that it's hilarious, moving, and a worthwhile experience to watch. Unfortunately for the Los Angeles area, N*W*C heads out on a national tour until December - but there is a stop at Chapman University in Orange, CA tomorrow (08/25). I'll try and give a head's up when they're out here again.

Of course there's a lot of awesome shows coming up at Grand Performances including Beijing LDTX Modern Dance (08/25-26), Masanga Marimba Ensemble (09/08), and Seña y Verbo - Noche del Tigre (Night of the Tiger) (09/15, 09/17).

After seeing the show, I headed off with my friends (Damon, Sara, Hollie, and Serena) for Diddy Reese (West LA - Bruin Territory). Unfortunately, the line for Diddy Reese was out the door and winding, so we ate at BJs across the street for a bit before heading back over when there was no line. The cookies were worth the wait though!

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Transit: LAX/Union Station Flyaway

One of the many questions that go through ExperienceLA is: "How do I get from LAX to Union Station?" Recently, the answer became easy: the LAX/Union Station Flyaway.

I took the Flyaway from LAX (See ExperienceLA Spotlight: Go Metro: Flyaway Bus Service Between Union Station and LAX) just this past weekend and was glad at the ease in using the service.

The LAX/Union Station Flyaway opened a few months ago (for those in the San Fernando Valley, there's also a Van Nuys/LAX Flyaway that's been in existence longer) and it's an affordable and easy way to travel to-and-from two of Los Angeles' main transit hubs. The fare is only $3 dollars one-way ($6 roundtrip). Metro currently estimates the route's driving cost at about $11.29 (based on AAA's formula at 56.2 cents/mile).

Once you're at Union Station, you can roam onto Metro's major transit lines to get to any number of great Southern California destinations.

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Friday, August 11, 2006


The idea for an ExperienceLA blog dates back about one year, and I am excited that it is now beginning to slowly evolve. My vision is to have a group of 6-10 diverse people from around Los Angeles contributing to this blog. The ExperienceLA blog is to provide an opportunity for those participating in the blog to personally relate their interaction with the wide ranging arts and entertainment culture of greater Los Angeles, including dining experiences.

In 1998, I created the idea to use the Internet to promote cultural tourism and public transit in Los Angeles. However, it took several years to successfully compete for public funding to launch the project, as the idea was considered quite novel at that time. was launched in July 2003 on the same weekend that the Gold Line began service to Pasadena. Two years later, ExperienceLA helped give birth to ExperienceLA WiFi Pershing Square, and more recently was invited to provide a similar service at the Marvin Braude Constituent Center, as ExperienceLA WiFi Van Nuys.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Downtown LA: "Curtains" at the Ahmanson Theatre

On Wednesday evening (July 26) , my friend Jessie and I had dinner at CPK at 7th/Fig (conveninently located across from the 7th/Metro station) before heading off to see Curtains at the Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center (two blocks from the Civic Center Station Red Line stop).

Starring David Hyde Pierce and Debra Monk, Curtains is a backstage murder mystery and musical comedy set in 1950s Boston. This Kander and Ebb show lives up to its promise of mystery, music, and humor. With memorable musical numbers, great comedic timing, and a murder mystery that keeps you on our toes, Curtains is a thoroughly enjoyable show that keeps you laughing throughout. David Hyde Pierce's portrayal of homicide detective and musical lover Frank Cioffi , Debra Monk's feisty Carmen Bernstein, and Edward Hibbert's role as snooty director Christopher Belling is just icing on the cake.

Curtains makes its world premiere here in Los Angeles and the show runs until September 10th.

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hollywood: Day and Night

Featuring: and

My most recent outings have been to Hollywood - primarily the Hollywood/Vine Metro Stop area (See Getting Around Hollywood at

On Saturday (July 15), I grabbed a quick lunch at Sharky's on North Cahuenga before heading out down Hollywood Blvd. While strolling down one of Los Angeles' most famous boulevards, I noticed that the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE) was opened with their current exhibitions:
"Draw a Line and Follow It" and "When Hangover Becomes Form" . It was an interesting contemporary exhibition with really neat figures and abstract shapes to contemplate about. Below are some pictures from my visit:

I then continued my stroll down Hollywood Blvd where I perused a few old bookstores and the great movie books and poster shops that are in the area. No stop in the area is complete without a trip to Amoeba Music on Sunset Blvd - one of the best places to get music and movies at great prices - and I finished the afternoon with some rest from all my walking at Borders on Sunset and Vine.

On Tuesday evening (July 18), I had a spectacular time in the same area at the opening night of Rent. The Pantages Theatre is very conveniently located across the street from the Hollywood/Vine Metro Stop. My friend Jay and I picked up our tickets at Will Call and decided on dinner at Sharky's since he had never been there. We had plenty of time to walk back and get seated for Rent which we both thought was great.

I had previously only seen the show when it had come out as movie a year ago. As per usual, the stage production version was definitely better than the film (though I did like the film). The show was full of energy and the actors were great, it was definitely a show worth seeing. The audience definitely contributed to the energy of the show - many were obviously huge fans. I hear tickets are hard to come by, but no questions asked, I'd recommend seeing this show.

We got out of the show after 10:30, but since the Red Line runs until midnight we had plenty of time to walk down Hollywood Blvd. for a bit before returning for a drink at the chill and cozy Frolic Room next to the Pantages to end the evening.

All-in-all I love the Hollywood area. There's always something to do no matter what time of day it is.

Next scheduled adventure: Curtains at the Ahmanson Theatre at the Music Center!

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Monday, July 03, 2006

Downtown LA Neighborhoods Adventure

The following was originally written in March 2006:

Today I meant to just go out for an hour or so to the Toy District area next to Little Tokyo to purchase some arts and crafts material, but I went on a ExperienceLA adventure instead. I didn't know the eastward Metro 16 traversed so many parts of Downtown LA (I had traveled on it westward toward La Brea for theatre, PetCo, Trader Joes, the Grove/Farmers Market, etc.).

Here's the breakdown of my Saturday afternoon:

1:00 - Metro 16 to Toy District/Little Tokyo

1:30 - Purchased craft material at a store on 3rd Street, then headed out to check out Little Tokyo - and realized it was the Saturday Little Tokyo/Arts District Farmers Market and perused through the market

2:00 - Bought some bottled Asahi Oolong tea and then headed into the Japanese Village Plaza to go to the Marukai Forum (Where East Meets West For Less) and get myself random stuff including a magazine rack (mine is currently overfilling) and a teapot (for 98 cents!)

2:30 - Remembered that I need to buy ink for my printer so I headed over to Office Depot.

3:00-ish - Passed by the Japanese American National Museum and wondered if there was a new exhibition there - and there was! I had a spectacular time at the Isamu Noguchi - Sculpture Design exhibition which was part sculpture and part theatrical installation by Robert Wilson. I also became a student member and got a Angry Little Girls bag I've been wanting at the giftshop

4:00 - Realized I needed cash, but I was told there was not an atm from my bank in the area, but I had enough money to head over to Fugetsu-do to buy some mochi/manju.

4:30 - Head over to Union Station to catch the Red Line home, but then I got distracted by tents at El Pueblo de Los Angeles and roamed Olvera Street - where I picked up some of my favorite candy. Then I felt hungry, but didn't have enough money for any of the Mexican food (I had 2 bucks on me)

5:00 - Headed to get a Vietnamese French Sandwich in Chinatown. When I headed into Chinatown, I saw a stairwell that specifically stated "No Sitting/No Sentarse" and of course the irony of the situation goes, there was a man sitting at the top of the stairs. He saw me looking back and forth at the wording and then at him and waved - and I waved back! In any case, I didn't find a decent sandwich place until I got to one of the plaza areas and got myself a Banh Mi Dac Biet (rough translation: special sandwich, essentially has all the deli meat fixings)

5:30 - Grabbed the Gold Line to Union Station then took the Red Line to Downtown and stopped at the atm there before heading back on the Red Line home.

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator