Friday, August 29, 2008

FYI: Metro's New Transit Map

I wonder if it's a strategic thing to launch new items before a holiday weekend.

Straight from LAist, Metro's launched a new transit map. Check it out!

-Charity Tran, Web Coordinator

FYI: Metrolink on Google Transit?

Experience LA in a new way.

Metrolink is now on Google Transit. Go here for the LA County Area.

Have you tested it out? Thoughts on Google Transit? We'd love to know.

I hope Metro/MTA jumps on board soon. My iPhone will come even more particularly handy in saving my life...and my bad sense of direction.

(Updated: 2:58P.M. - LAist confirms Metro is still in discussion with Google on implementation).

-Charity Tran, Web Coordinator

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Op-Ed: You Call That Art?!

Francisca Blogger Tiina Vuorenmaa reacts to art reacting to her...

"You call that Art?!"

"Why would anyone pay thousands of dollars for that?!"

"My kid could paint that!"

I had heard these comments before, and suddenly - as I'm looking at the art in the James Gray Gallery of Bergamot Station - they came up again, but this time in my own head.

That was a shocker. I may be a math nerd, but I have an appreciation for the arts, even when they can be confusing or controversial. I've studied basic composition and color classes, and I've watched both my father and my sister take fabulous photos. Clearly, these paintings are not done by a child and the comments are just a rash reaction to a piece of art that isn’t my taste. Well, just because I don't like a painting doesn’t mean I can't understand it. No matter how bizarre, abstract, complicated or simple art can be, there is still a method to the madness.

So, I take a closer look.

I forget about beauty being in the eye of the beholder and view this piece objectively. I can see that the bright, saturated blue is set in such a solid way amongst all the various strokes of oranges, browns and cyan that it must be on purpose. Even the dark spots inside it have a different texture than the rest of the piece. This must have been a conscious, artistic decision.

Now, the rest of the strokes may seem to go everywhere, but when I follow my eyes, I can see them direct me down, around to the left, up and back to the center allowing me to view the whole painting. The skinny orange strokes, at the top, are especially important for leading the eyes, but the blue shape itself can lead the eyes in the opposite direction to the section of white.

This leads me to the most bizarre part of the piece - that little stroke of brown inside the white. While, at first glance, it may look like a mistake, I consider it to be intentional for two reasons. One, it breaks up a big patch of white to keep the balance. Two, it leads the eyes down and again we follow the rest of the strokes, this time, counter-clockwise, back to the blue. There is method, purpose, intention and thought in this whole piece, and all I needed were my eyes to tell me why.
No, a child, unless he or she is an artistic genius, could not have painted that. Francisca Valenzuela did. Just take a closer look.

-Tiina Vuorenmaa, Staff

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

FYI: in MetroMix

The most recent issue of Metromix is "The Transportation Issue" and they were kind enough to drop us a note in "Don't Diss the Sys".

Thanks Metromix! Staff

Thursday, August 21, 2008

First Outings: Jamie Cullum at the Hollywood Bowl

I have a confession. Up until last night, I had never been to the Hollywood Bowl.

(Pausing for the gasps of horror, stifling laughter before "Wha-?" - whatever floats your boat and follows with me going "I know, right?").

But I think it was fate that led me there...

It actually started weeks ago. I had noticed that Jamie Cullum was going to be at the Hollywood Bowl (while looking at my trusty RSS feed of events) and I immediately wanted to go because I own both Twentysomething and Catching Tales. While I like to note myself as the independent-type, I didn't know anyone who had ever uttered his name and the Bowl didn't seem quite so fun by myself, so it faded from my mind...until yesterday. My friend Darryl randomly contacted me, asking if I was free to go to the Bowl. He had an extra Jamie Cullum with the Count Basie Orchestra!

A few hours later - there I was at the Hollywood Bowl: transported by that Hollywood Bowl shuttle always talks about, and with plenty of food in hand - french dipped sandwiches (not exactly Phillipes, but delicious ones from The Dip at Hollywood/Highland), cream puffs from Beard Papa's, and not to mention, the handsome guy by my side (that one's for you, Darryl!).

The show opened with a set by the lovely Elizabeth Shepherd (vocals, piano) with Scott Kemp (bass) and Colin Kingsmore (drums). A Christian McBride Situation followed with their organically created improv sound. This was a great lead-into a few numbers by the everso awesome Count Basie Orchestra. This all definitely got the crowd more than ready for Jamie Cullum to bring out his musical talents to add to the evening's sound.

And did he ever.

With a mix of his own songs, his covers of famous songs (see the video below with his medley of Singin' in the Rain with Rhianna's Umbrella), and the wild presence and fun he has on stage, what's not to love?

And here's another dose of fate for you: It was Jamie Cullum's birthday...on the same day as the "birth date" of my time at the Hollywood Bowl (and Count Basie's birthday is today actually!). While my "birth date" present was an evening of great music, food, and friendship, his birthday present was playing with "the greatest big band in the world at the greatest venue in the world". The "life math" works out comparatively speaking...

Okay, so perhaps I'm trying to pidgeonhole my fabulous time at the Bowl to this idea of fate, but if there is such thing as fate, then I'll just take a line from Shakespeare: "If music be the food of love, play on..."

-Charity Tran, Web Coordinator

For more great Hollywood Bowl events, visit

The Puppet Shows: Part II

Peering into the peephole of the polygonal structure, I see a two-story, Japanese-inspired house slowly turning. A woman walks by and goes behind the house. I quickly get over the awkward excitement of being a voyeur when a man walks by, stops to look around (Did he see me?), and continues behind the house.Here comes the woman again, and as the house turns to the front, she enters the bottom floor as the man passes by just missing her. While I am eager to find out if the two shall ever meet, I sense sadness in their blank expressions and their slow, heavy, rhythmical movements. One after the other, they pass by the peep hole only giving me a glimpse of their whole journey.

I become fascinated with the house: dried brush, rice paper and yes, rulers. A video of another man walking is projected onto the second floor of the house. The disjointed, but steady rhythm of all four, the house included, is calming, but I'm stilling waiting for them to- Oh! He saw me! I jump back from the peephole, my nerves slightly shaken, and I laugh at myself for actually thinking a puppet could actually see.

This unique structure was just one part of "The Reptile Under the Flowers", a multimedia puppet show, which, along with the unique "Le Petit Macabre" and the humorous "Matchbox Shows", was a part of "The Puppet Shows: Part II" accompanying "The Puppet Show" exhibit at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. The exhibit is as eclectic as the shows, with rooms full of traditional puppets from around the world, mechanical dancing puppets à la Team America, and videos of various puppet shows, stop-motion animations and hand puppets. I enjoyed the children's furniture all dressed up, but the puppets watching the videos of puppets? Let's just say I didn't wait to see if one of them was going turn his head around. After satisfying my appetite for puppetry, I headed over to the other many galleries of Bergamot Station, but that's another story.

-Tiina Vuorenmaa, ExperienceLA Staff

For other great events at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, visit!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

"Life in Technicolor"

In light of the Perseid meteor shower, my friends and I decided to orchestrate some late night stargazing. Only, we attempted this a day too late, and by the time we got to Point Dume out in Malibu, it was beyond cloudy. After driving around for some time reading each street sign in search for legit parking (like the nerdy ethical kids we are), we finally mustered up the courage to just risk it and park along the beach.

Plopped like sardines on a blanket, with the music emanating from my iFlop monkey speakers layered with the soothing crash of the tides close by, it no longer mattered whether or not we could see the stars that night.

All would've been perfect had the police not driven by... shining his bright lights our way and breaking us out of our dreamworld. After a futile attempt to lay flat, avoid eye contact, and hope to God he wouldn't notice the obviously human figures on the beach (no logic in that, I know), we headed off in search for yet another beach, and yet another adventure. Just your typical spontaneous late night LA experience...

For a better view of the stars, if not outside then maybe in the planetarium, check out the Griffith Observatory, another favorite place of mine.

-Sarah Koo, ExperienceLA Marketing Assistant

Friday, August 08, 2008

"Think Blue, Act Green"

The City of LA has restored public transit from Union Station to Dodger Stadium. The free round trip service started July 25th and is provided on Game Days, starting 90 minutes before game time and ending 60 minutes after the game ends.

And so it goes... the quietest launch ever.

-ExperienceLA Staff

*Editor's Note: Turns out that several ExperienceLA staffmembers were out experiencing other states for a change when LA decided to pull this one on us. So maybe it wasn't the quietest launch, but a welcome one indeed. Here's to a more public and family friendly environment.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Philippe's: Delicious Food, Transit-Friendly

Lunch at Philippe'sMy friend Thea had never been. My friend Jay's gonna move away. Those were two very good reasons why I had lunch at Philippe's today. Though, looking at the photo accompanying this post, does anyone really need a REASON to go to Philippe's?

Tucked near the neighborhoods of Chinatown and El Pueblo/Olvera Street and virtually a block or so away from Union Station (the Alameda side, not the Vignes), is one of LA's oldest restaurants - Philippe's.

The first thing to greet you at Philippe's is probably the sawdust on the floor. Then the rest of the classic eatery kind of falls in line with the time warp: the iconic cluster of photos and posters, the row of telephone booths, the walk-up counter ordering and pickup, the tables and benches to dine on...

The story goes that Philippe Manthieu (who established the original Philippe's in 1908) created the French Dipped sandwich. It might have been by accident. It might have been by random request. It might have been all business. Who knows? Regardless of the rhyme, reason, and origin for the existence of the French Dipped sandwich, you can't go wrong with one here - try complementing it with Philippe's brand of spicy mustard.

And since you're already there, how about a slice of pie? We had pecan and dutch apple. And drinks are a steal when you go the lemonade, iced tea, and water route.

Anytime's a good time to go to Philippe's (except in the hours when it's closed). Today was my first time at Philippe's around lunch time. It's busy, but that nice kind of busy where you feel like you're with the hustle and bustle of the world.

Speaking of hustle and bustle, Philippe's proximity to LA's Union Station makes it easily accessible by LA Transit. Walkable from Union Station (remember Alameda side, not Vignes - I'm trying to make up for walking out the wrong way today), hop on the Red Line or the Gold Line toward Union Station and get yourself a sandwich!

For more information on Philippe's visit

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Tribute to Pavarotti

The first classical music concert to hit the Million Dollar Theater in two decades, the Pavarotti Tribute features an evening of Pavarotti songs and stories by Tenor Michael Kleitman. Check it out this Saturday, August 9th!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Take the ExperienceLA Survey - Win Prizes!

It's that time of year again - The ExperienceLA Annual Survey! We want (and value) your feedback!

By taking our survey, you'll also be eligible to win a Los Angeles experience from one of the following sponsors:
- Universal Studios Hollywood
- The Greek Theatre
- The Ford Amphitheatre
- Esotouric
- The Natural History Museum
- It's the Housewives at the Whitefire
- The Autry Museum
- The Los Angeles Conservancy

For more details, visit the Survey Giveaway Details.
Take our survey today!
-ExperienceLA Staff