Monday, December 28, 2009

2009: What a year in L.A.

It's hard to believe 2010 is just around the corner. One of the things I look forward to at the end of each year is reading the many "best of lists" that get generated. It's interesting to see what/who made the lists, but also what/who got the snub. In either case, it makes for good conversation and is always fun to reflect on the year that was. Here at ExperienceLA, we decided to compile our own review of 2009. Our topic - what else - top art and cultural events of 2009 in Los Angeles.

So, in no particular order:

#10 - Grand opening of the NoHo gateway. The North Hollywood arts district turned 30 years old in 2009, and the opening of the gateway welcomed a new energy to the neighborhood. Council Member Tom LaBonge, along with the CRA/LA (Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles), artist Peter Shire and members of the community celebrated the gateway's completion, the first of three public art installations for NoHo, back in July. As a resident of the area, I must say the revitalization of NoHo is exciting. The NoHo Commons offers a great place to meet up and hang out with friends before or after a show at one of the many nearby theatres (not to mention the HOW'S grocery store is one of the better grocery shopping experiences in LA). And I can see great live music with the monthly "Hear NoHo" music festival. I heart the valley.

#9 - Cirque du Soleil's Los Angeles show. Ok, it's been in the works for some time (2 years since it was first announced), but it looks like the Kodak Theatre will have a new, permanent resident come 2011. Things are finally moving forward in the development of a dedicated and original Cirque du Soleil show for Hollywood, which is expected to create new jobs and draw in more tourists. The program will be performed year-round, with an estimated 368 shows per year over 10 years. The inaugural season is expected to start sometime after the 2011 Academy Awards. Perhaps we'll see some Cirque du Soleil street performers along Hollywood Blvd. with the other characters.

#8 - Opening of the GRAMMY Museum. Well, technically this opened at the end of 2008, but we got to fully appreciate it in 2009. Situated in Downtown LA on the LA Live complex, the GRAMMY Museum celebrates all forms of music, the recording process and the history of the GRAMMY Awards. It contains four floors of interactive exhibits and experiences as well as a 200-seat theater for special, intimate performances. The museum also provides educational programs that look to inspire children through music. Earlier in the year, the GRAMMY Museum participated in a simulcast of the Michael Jackson memorial, which took place next door at the Staples Center.

#7 - Michael Jackson, The King of Pop. Speaking of Michael Jackson, we couldn't talk about major cultural events in Los Angeles and not mention this. The world paid tribute to the life of an amazingly talented man and his contributions to music this summer. Here in LA, we celebrated through impromptu street dances, gatherings at his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a Michael Jackson exhibit at the GRAMMY Museum, a mass performance of Thriller in Downtown on Halloween, and the premiere of "This Is It" at the grand opening of the Regal Cinema movie theaters at LA Live and across the city. You can read about XLA blogger, Charity's reflection on the Michael Jackson memorial or her experience of the movie premiere.

#6 - Los Angeles Lakers: NBA Champs. Sticking with the LA Live theme, how 'bout them Lakers? Their '09-'10 season is off to a great start, and we're optimistic they'll keep the trophy here in LA.

#5 - Holiday Celebration turned 50. 2009 marked the 50th year of the Los Angeles County Arts Commission's annual Holiday Celebration. That's quite a milestone for an event of this nature. Six full hours of live music and dance performances from around the world, this year's event was accessible all across the world! Those who weren't able to attend the live show at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion (which is free to attend every year), could watch it on KCET, hear it on 90.7 FM, or stream it on

#4 - 75 Years of Original Farmers Market. The Original Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax celebrated its 75th year in 2009 with an eventful season. One event was the Taste of Farmers Market. Market goers were treated to yummy samples all throughout. It was such a success, they're considering turning it into an annual event. w00t w00t!

#3 - Metro Gold Line Extension. In November, the MTA opened its Gold Line Extension into East LA, making the city a little bit more connected, and allowing people to expose themselves to a great community. A day-long celebration was held, with free rides for all to explore along the route. Stops include Union Station, Little Tokyo, Pico Aliso Station, Mariachi Plaza, Soto Station, Indiana Station, Maraville Station, East LA Civic Center and Atlantic Station. The line opened to mixed reviews with expressed appreciation for a much-needed service and concerns for public safety. For me, it was a positive experience as it introduced me to a part of Los Angeles I wouldn't have considered exploring, but now believe is a gem of a neighborhood in LA County.

#2 - Rise of the Food Trucks. We've had the taco trucks for years, but this year felt like everyone and their parents were getting into the Food Truck craze in LA. From Kogi to LA Fuxion to Nom Nom Truck and more, this piece of LA culture gets Angelenos lined up for some tasty mobile food. Smells like a reality show. Hmm...

And last but not least...

#1 - Gustavo Dudamel arrives. Seemed like you couldn't escape this guy's face and name all summer. The Venezuelan-born Gustavo arrived in LA  this fall and brought with him an electric energy that drew out the masses. A free, sold-out concert at the Hollywood Bowl (read more from XLA blogger, Charity) attracted celebrities, LA Phil concert regulars and first-timers alike. His first performance at the Music Center was simulcast to an audience of about 1,500 on the Music Center Plaza - this was in addition to those who watched the performance from inside the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Maybe it's his youth, or that hair, or that infectious smile that attracts his fans and gets all types of people excited to see an orchestra perform. For me, I can't be more thrilled to see what he's done so far, and what he will continue to do for the world of classical music.

With any "best of" list, there's bound to be something that was missed. So, I welcome your input. What other hot cultural events happened in 2009 in LA?

Happy New Year!


No comments: