Friday, May 30, 2008

Weekend Festivals FTW!

Yay for the coming summer months and spending time outdoors (not that we already don't do that in the awesome year-round weather of Southern California... but it's nice to still have something to be excited about)! With that in mind, there are a lot of festivals coming up during the weekend that are worth checking out. A little something for everyone...

May 31st: BioBlitz Festival
Grab your backpack and join the National Geographic Society and the National Park Service for this 24-hour event. Teams of scientists, naturalists, community leaders, students and the public join forces to discover and inventory the biodiversity in the nation’s largest urban national park.

May 31st: 3rd Annual T.O.M. Film Festival
Film goers will not only enjoy free admission for the festival, but they’ll have the opportunity to find out more about local and global initiatives to fight and end modern day slavery.

May 30th-June 1st: Los Angeles Accordion Festival
The first annual festival kicks off TODAY, featuring 15 accordion players and their bands showcasing diverse styles from Cajun to Irish to Rockabilly, and even an accordion workshop for those of you who want to learn more about the instrument.

And don't forget that the LA Film Fest tickets go on sale on June 2nd!

Happy Friday everyone!
-ExperienceLA Staff

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thinking Blue... Almost

I'll be honest. I am not an avid baseball fan, and to the horror of my die hard baseball loving friends, I freely admit my allegiance to both the Dodgers and the Angels (and I'll maybe even throw in a little Red Sox love depending on the game). To my defense, living outside of the West coast meant taking whatever allegiance I could with the West, be it one or several teams. My theory was that as long as any California team made it to the finals, I'd be happy. Oh, and the Red Sox love is just my personal mix of Boston nostalgia and underdog favoritism.

Uh, moving along now (before I keep digging myself into a bigger hole)...

Anyway, on the contrary, if there's a chance to go to a live game, I'd be a fool to pass up on it. Why? Because it's not "just a game". It's so much more than that. Superdogs with a side of garlic fries, joining in on the multiple attempts at a successful stadium wave, collectively booing Heidi and Spencer from The Hills as their presence at the game was highlighted on the Jumbotron... such unadulterated bliss indeed.

And avid fan or not, tough luck to the fool who tries to distract me while I'm focused on the game... you might as well befriend your cracker jack. The Dodgers game last Monday lasted until 10:30pm, but with a tied score and bases loaded at the bottom of the ninth, and the rookie Blake DeWitt's single that helped win the game, was that a great game or what?

My only complaint is that it's seemingly impossible to get to the Dodgers Stadium via public transportation. In fact, it's easier to hop on the Metrolink and get dropped right off at the Angels Stadium down in Orange County. Sigh. If only thinking blue would lead to thinking green...

-Sarah Koo, ExperienceLA Marketing Assistant

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Los Angeles National Streetcar Workshop - May 22nd

Last summer I blogged about Paris going green with their bike deployment program and their new T3 streetcar line. Recently I had the opportunity to ride the modern streetcars in Portland and Seattle and to see how it is changing neighborhoods. To better understand this technology and what it can do for a city, Reconnecting America is bringing their National Streetcar Workshop to Los Angeles on May 22, 2008 at the Orpheum Theatre on Broadway.

The morning sessions are an opportunity to learn about the success stories in Portland and Seattle, a little bit on the history of the old Yellow and Red Car lines of Los Angeles, and work completed thus far on how downtown LA stakeholders could engineer the return of a Downtown Streetcar. The afternoon session will delve deeper into the more difficult questions of funding, installation and operation, and provide an opportunity to share some local case studies on other Southern California initiatives to invest in Streetcar technology, including plans by the Port of Los Angeles to expand their currently operating San Pedro historic Red Car line.

A modern streetcar can be very different than what we already see in Los Angeles with the Metro Blue and Gold light rail systems and the San Pedro historic trolley. Metro uses regional light rail systems to move people long distances, while streetcars travelling much slower make frequent stops creating a sense of place. Modern streetcars with their large windows and low floor boards, allow passengers to visually connect with the outdoor scene. The convenience of a frequent streetcar will act like a walk extender, encouraging people to explore more of their immediate neighborhood while shopping and dining or just getting around. As a centerpiece of the Bringing Back Broadway initiative, this would be a very interesting dynamic with quiet streetcars helping to reduce some of the noisy bus traffic.

For those living, working, and playing in downtown LA, the Los Angeles Streetcar Workshop offers an opportunity to hear from those who have witnessed first hand in the creation of a sense of place with the streetcars in Portland and how quickly Seattle is looking to expand their brand new system. For those who work or live in the City of Los Angeles, the registration fee is $25, and the registration fee for those outside of the City of Los Angeles is $75.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

As They Are: Alicia Keys feat. Ne-Yo and Jordin Sparks

Monday, May 5th wasn't exactly a typical Cinco de Mayo celebration, but there was dancing and singing...and drinks weren't absent from the scene either. My roommate and I headed out to the Staples Center (7th/Metro Red Line Station is just a few blocks north) to see the Alicia Keys' "As I Am" concert.

The tour has been in the press lately because of one vocal incident or another - first Jordin Sparks had to rest and then Alicia Keys. But somehow, we managed to get the anticipated line-up by the time it reached the LA area. Each artist, while cozy in the home of mainstream-friendly pop/r&b music, had a different performance - expressing in their own way the title of Miss Keys' latest album 'As I Am'...

Jordin Sparks' set had the air of the newcomer - the semi-familiar music accompanied by a garage band kind of set-up. A mix of a small venue concert and American Idol, Sparks was pleasant to listen to and it was nice to be assured a good live performance (American Idol would churn that out best). I had hoped that with the prescence of Ne-Yo, we'd get to hear a different performance for "No Air" (her duet with Chris Brown), but it was a pared down version - which may have worked out better for me if I didn't like the duet so much. Sparks' first hit single - "Tattoo" - was the obvious crowd favorite and the one everyone could sing along too (which they did!).

Ne-Yo - whose new album Year of the Gentleman drops June 24th - presented his set based heavily on the stylistic idea of the classic gentleman, complete with his signature hats, a band in straight angled suits and fedoras, and women dancers in their elegant best (40% of the time anyway). Like the classic gentleman of film noir, the show is smooth, charming, and definitely exuding sex appeal. The women-centered music provided a showcase for the talented female dancers that bring his words to life (emphasis on the sex appeal). Undoubtedly, Ne-Yo's set begins and ends with the audience understanding perfectly that Ne-Yo is not only a singer and a performer, but also one with style.

I wasn't sure what to expect with Alicia Keys. I've liked her music and particularly love her latest album As I Am. But when the signature persona is a woman and her piano (and a great persona at that) - what else would/could be added? Lights, modern-day doo-wop girls, dancers, Jermaine Paul, a band, and *two* pianos. Her show featured a storyline of a young Alicia Keys discovering the starmaker. This journey leads the audience through a great selection of her songs through all her albums, with key moments framed around her most recognizable hits. Not suprisingly, the starmaker? It's Alicia Keys herself - and as all her themes go, its everybody in the audience who has their dreams that they want to achieve. And this theme carries itself through her show, as the backup vocalists and dancers get their time in the sun, as the audience sings along, as the importance of the woman gets presented, as Alicia Keys' charity against the fight for AIDS ('Keep A Child Alive') has its time, as the children of this charity and the featured Youtube videos of "No One" get focused on the big screen.

One leaves the "As I Am" tour contemplating the differences between three sets of music and in awe of the talents each provide their own unique time and literal song-and-dance number. But perhaps most importantly in this Youtube generation, people leave inspired to figure out what it means to be your own starmaker.

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Friday, May 02, 2008


Santa Monica is definitely a favorite neighborhood of mine. It's got a great casual hangout vibe, whether that means strolling down 3rd street to live music with crepes in hand, checking out the hip hop scene at Zanzibar on Saturday nights, or having meaningful midnight conversations with friends at the pier. And oh, the burgers and sweet potato fries at Father's Office. To die for.

It's almost incognito in a way... Enough variety to choose from, and admittedly a tourist attraction of its own, but far enough away from the glitz of fancier, iconic neighborhoods LA is too often stereotyped for. Los Feliz is my other favorite neighborhood that definitely carries the incognito vibe through and through.

A gem cozily situated in the heart of Santa Monica is definitely the Bergamot Station, a historic train station transformed into a dynamic and lively arts complex. The Santa Monica Museum of Art is part of this complex and tomorrow night (May 3rd), they're hosting their fourth annual INCOGNITO, a unique exhibition and art sale of works created by hundreds of acclaimed artists from LA and across the globe. Even Raymond Pettibon! Need I say more??

Check out SMMoA when you get a chance. I love the location, the vibe of the museum, and the art that they choose to exhibit. From my experience, it avoids the pitfalls of overly commercialized exhibits that favor trendy topics or artists. In other words, it's my kind of museum.

May 3rd: Incognito
May 6th: Pioneering Visions/Important Exhibitions

-Sarah Koo, ExperienceLA Marketing Assistant

Newsletter - The Real LA

LA is more than just palm trees and Rodeo Drive. Discover LA in all its oddities, vastness, and adventures waiting-to-happen with this week's picks: interactive dance, rollerskating parties, historic Route 66, racing around greater LA, and outdoor adventures!

Check out the highlights from this week's newsletter!

-The Reality Series: Louise Reichlin & Dancers
-Charles Phoenix presents the Moonlight Rollerway Jubilee!
-Themed Picks: LA Adventures (Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles: Route 66, Race/LA, Outdoor Adventures: Harbor & Surf Kayaking)

For more information, visit this week's issue: Issue 215: May 1, 2008 (The Real LA).

If you're not yet a subscriber, why wait? Sign up, it's free!

-ExperienceLA Staff

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Bus Seats: A Seattle and LA Comparison

It seems like no matter where I go, ExperienceLA haunts me helps me see the world through a special lens. This past weekend I roamed the area of Seattle, Washington which included experiencing King County public transit. So I could talk about the different things you get to see and the differing, but individually complex/rich histories of places outside of LA's spiffy, sunkissed bubble, but the purpose of this entry is to discuss something that turned my head around while on transit - the seats.

First off - aesthetics! At least on the King County buses I was privvy, the upholestry is this great map design of the area - and I couldn't help but think, that would be interesting to see in LA format. Can you imagine? The huddle of just the distinct cultural areas of Downtown alone, where Chinatown meets El Pueblo and is only steps away from Little Tokyo? Not that there's anything wrong with the artsy, historic seat designs now (inspired by the 1930s and 40s ticket designs) - just that I wonder if I'd feel more on the move if I had that sense of LA space.

Secondly, comfort! While I'm glad for the current chairs - it says a lot about a chair when you can sit comfortably for a 2-hour bus ride from Disneyland to Downtown LA (I've done the route twice - this carless girl had to make it to the an SC football game one time!) - I did like the comfy, cushy ones of Seattle. They reminded me of the kind you can have on the commuter bus.

So I guess the above is merely to say, that the seating was just...different and that's what makes traveling so much fun. Because it's the little nuances that make a place distinct - even seats on a traveling bus.

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator