Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Gift Store Hopping in Downtown LA

I made up my own walking tour of sorts of Downtown LA gift shops after attending the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) event the other week in search of a present.

I first roamed through JANM's award-winning gift shop (featured as part of the Best of LA in 2006 and previous years, also available online) conveniently accessible to the public by being right near the museum's entrance. In addition to the items of current and past museum exhibitions, the store features an eclectic mix of fine jewelry, great logo shirts, fun cultural items like chopstick kits and sushi playsets, and a large selection of books and music. There's something for just about anyone and any age. And, a personal favorite aspect of mine, it is also a great place to get Angry Little Girls tote bags and books!

After JANM, I headed west to walk back to the Civic Center subway station to head home, but then remembered that I was only a few blocks from the LA Philharmonic's great gift shop at the Walt Disney Concert Hall (which also has an online home). In addition to the store's fine collection of music, the store features artistic crafts, gifts, jewelry, books, and stationary. I had particular fun in the kid's section that features fun instruments to teach kids about music and help them become more engaged. I even got myself an African thumb piano.

I headed south from the LA Philharmonic's gift shop and found myself by the Los Angeles Central Library which also has a lovely gift shop of eclectic items including jewelry, books, artwork, and children's toys.

My impromptu walking tour felt like I was finding gems all over Downtown LA's landscape!

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

JANM: Memories of the Children's Village at Manzanar

On Sunday, January 14th, I attended "Because they might be a threat...": Memories of the Children's Village at Manzanar at the Japanese American National Museum (JANM).

Despite working for ExperienceLA and being a JANM member, I honestly wasn't aware of this event until I saw it in the featured section of the recent ExperienceLA newsletter (See Issue 148: Traditional to Contemporary). I was enticed to attend because of two things: the topic (children at the Shonien, the Japanese Children's Home, Mary Knoll Home and Salvation Army Home were relocated to the Children's Village in Manzanar) and the panelists (including Lillian Matsumoto who took care of these orphans and Lillian Yoshiko Bonner who was an infant at the time of internment).

It was a worthwhile event as it was a part of Japanese-American internment during WWII that I wasn't aware of at all. I had never given thought to what happened to Japanese-American children who didn't have parents at the time of relocation...and now I know. It was nice to know that despite the situation, overall, these children were well taken care of and all were placed into some type of housing situation at the end of the war. The event was also quite moving as it was also a reunion (and the first time Lillian Bonner met Lillian Matsumoto since that time period). One woman stated that her childhood and her time at Children's Village was one of the best times in her life.

Perhaps the most touching story relayed took place when the children were bused to Manzanar. The younger children were told that they were going on a picnic and they sang songs and played games on the journey to the camp. At one point a four-year-old girl wanted to sing and she sang what she knew of "God Bless America" which caused one of the soldiers watching over them to shed a tear.

See all the other events coming up at JANM, including Impounded: Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment and Lost & Found: Reclaiming the Japanese American Incarceration by Karen L. Ishizuka , on JANM's ExperienceLA profile page.

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Monday, January 15, 2007

David Beckham as LA Culture

When we created ExperienceLA to promote LA culture and public transit on the Internet, it included sports as culture, so as to promote public transit to and from Staples Center, while attending basketball, ice hockey, arena football, and other indoor sports that find their way into downtown Los Angeles. ExperienceLA has also brought attention to sporting events at the Home Depot Center in Carson such as MLS soccer, the U.S. men's and women's national team visits, the X Games, and even lacrosse. The recent signing of David Beckham to the Galaxy will have a major impact on the sports culture in LA, both in the short term and the long term. And I predict that David Beckham will most likely be appearing in a Galaxy uniform before the promised August 2007 date, as he is not even sitting on the bench at Real Madrid, as he is watching from the stands. The man wants to play soccer, and not be a spectator at Real Madrid.

Yes, David Beckham and his Spice Girl wife, Victoria Beckham, will be the hot Hollywood couple, but the attention of the soccer world on LA is going to take the sport to an even higher spectator and participation level, but more profoundly, on another generation of youth players. Starting at the lowest levels of recreational youth soccer, you will see a major surge in sign-ups this Fall, similar to what happened with the surge in young girls signing up for soccer with the rise of Mia Hamm and the US women's soccer team. But the difference is going to be is that there is already a huge number of youth playing recreational and club level soccer, along with all of the activity within the various ethnic leagues. Local governments throughout Southern California are already dealing with not enough active recreational space, and the enormous demand for soccer fields. Thus, one long-term outcome of the David Beckham signing will be to help increase the amount of recreational park space dedicated to soccer. The demand from youth and adults is already great, and it is just going to increase. Demand will increase supply, as State and local recreational grant funds are leveraged to produce more and better soccer fields over the next decade.

As a result of David Beckham, all Galaxy games will be sold out, including the grassy knoll. Thus, parking is going to be an issue, and I am sure we will see various measures put in place that were used for the Women's World Cup and other high profile events at the Home Depot Center. Cal State University Dominquez Hills can't accomodate all of the parking required for a sold-out event. Thus, we have seen shuttles used from the Carson Mall. However, wouldn't it be fun to have party buses departing from a central location such as Union Station after arriving on public transit using Metro? I remember the old London double-decker buses being rented when Manchester United came to the Coliseum several years ago, to bring fans in from Pasadena to the Coliseum. At the news conference, the Galaxy mentioned that Chelsea would be coming to HDC sometime in the future. That will be the really hot ticket for the soccer community. David Beckham versus some of his former English team national mates such as Frank Lampard along with Chelsea's international cast of elite players. I am a big soccer fan, and I thank AEG for making all of this possible. And the picture above is me and my daughter on opening day of the Galaxy at HDC in June 2003. Getting a ticket to the first Galaxy game with David Beckham will be a cherished memory for the lucky 27,000 who will be there.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

ExperienceLA: Traditional to Contemporary

Check out our latest Newsletter -
ExperienceLA #148: Traditional to Contemporary

-Native Voices at the Autry 2007 Festival of Young Plays
-Enchanted Lunchtime Theatre
-Spotlight: Take our Public Transit Survey and Win!
-Themed Picks: Traditional to Contemporary

Don't forget to take our public transit survey for a chance to win tickets to see Southwest Chamber Music perform the world premiere of James Newton's Credo at the Colburn School of Performing Arts on January 29th.

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Going Metro

About two weeks ago, I was in a major four car accident. If you happened to be stuck in major traffic on the 5 North freeway on the morning of Dec 27th, then that was probably because of us, hooray. A typical LA commute, no? =) I am now left carless for the next month or so and ordered not to drive due to injuries. Basically, I now depend heavily on the Metro and Metrolink to carry on with my normal life.

Car accidents in LA seem to be the worst, because there's this notion that without a car, you can't survive in Southern California. But taking the Metro/Metrolink is definitely giving me a different perspective. The five lines on Metro can take you from Long Beach all the way to Pasadena. Switching to Metrolink gives you access to San Diego. I currently have a 22 minute commute from Orange County to downtown LA.

But it's not the surprising convenience of the Metro/Metrolink that makes the experience so valuable. It's more that as a public transit rider, I have now been initiated into a part of LA I wouldn't have seen otherwise. It's really something to sit back on the subways and observe the ebb and flow of different faces as people enter and exit the trains. And sitting in a train allows the time to observe the landscape changing from one stop to the next. At one point on the green line, you find yourself traveling in the middle of a freeway, something I've never experienced on the subways of Boston and NY.

There's also something special about emerging from the calm, rhythmic train into the noisy, busy station. And for a moment, while waiting to transfer onto the next train, it's as though there's this unspoken acknowledgment that we're all the same - people with destinations. When reaching the final stop, the crowds collectively spill out of the trains to face another 9 to 6 hour day... just like me. And suddenly, the city feels more tangible... and suddenly, I feel a little more connected to the heart and soul of LA.

-Sarah Koo, ExperienceLA Arts/Cultural Marketing Intern

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Star Wars and the Rose Parade

They go together... how? has a great article that documents what happens when the two mix. Actually, the combination isn't so random - the Marshal was none other than USC alum George Lucas.

Speaking of Star Wars... this coming May, Los Angeles will be hosting Star Wars Celebration IV at the LA Convention Center! It's a weekend designed by fans for fans commemorating the 30th anniversary of the first Star Wars film.

You can register for your badge (aka your entry ticket) online until March 30, 2007.

-Sarah Koo, ExperienceLA Arts/Cultural Marketing Intern

Monday, January 01, 2007

Tournament of Roses: Go Metro!

The Rose Parade is currently playing on my television set as the City of Cerritos float passes by and I'm currently set to head out to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl game (USC v. Michigan - I'll be openly bias: Go Trojans! :-)). Getting to Pasadena for all the great Tournament of Roses events is no problem if you "Go Metro!".

From the parade to the post-parade float watching to the football game, Go Metro with the Metro Gold Line! See the current spotlight for more information!

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator