Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dowtown at Sunset

At the end of the day, downtown comes alive. At least in my neck of the woods. South Park pulses with the sounds of cars, sirens, parking lot attendants annoyingly trying to get every car's attention with whistles, shouts and flag waving (which makes a "chop chop" sound when done briskly), helicopters, name it. It's comforting sometimes. There's always something happening just outside my door. Tonight, it's the Clippers. Tomorrow, a concert (Lady Gaga celebrated her 25th birthday at Nokia Tuesday...Thanks, Lady!), Friday, the Lakers. Soon, the new LA football team. While I secretly dread this stadium coming to little tiny downtown, and the throngs of people (read: obnoxious fans), I'm also a bit excited for my property value to increase and the new storefronts, retailers, and possibly more restaurants within walking distance. An LA Times article in the Business section describes the rush of merchants looking at South Park as the next big thing. You can read it here:,0,1445479,full.story.

Sprouts Market and Fresh & Easy?? Urban Outfitters and H&M??? Target????? Yes, please!

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a retail-chain whore. But having simple amenities nearby would greatly boost my downtown experience, let alone the folks that just visit here. I'm excited. It will be amazing to watch the transformation.

In the meantime, I still get beautiful sunsets and sunrises. And as long as the Glass Tower doesn't get funding to build the 25 story monstrosity across the street from me, I'm still in good shape with the views.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Network After Work

Looking to make connections to improve your business? Need employment and desire to connect with companies or recruiters looking to hire? Want to sell others on your unique idea? I highly recommend the Network After Work event, being held April 5th, 6pm-9pm at J Lounge in downtown LA:

This event brings out all types - new business owners looking for partners or advertisers, sales reps selling their products to anyone who will listen, contractors hoping to expand their client base and knowledge, recruiters looking for new talent, and highly motivated unemployed (or employed) pavement-pounders looking for their next career move. It's an excellent networking event, coupled with free booze and tasty snacks. Bring a stack of business cards and a desire to smile and connect. Nothing is off-limits and everyone is willing to listen and share.

And as a bonus, the free booze turns a Tuesday night into something a little more flirty and fun. So that next business card exchange could be your next Friday night dinner date. Yeow!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Downtown is sexy

Look familiar?

And this one...filmed right across the street from my house, headed north on Grand Ave. They certainly spruced up the street. Those boxed planters don't exist, but I wish they did sometimes. Thanks, Honda.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Art, hip hop, and Chinatown

I was invited today to see an art show of a talented artist named Zoe Crocher. She has an archive of a call girl, Michelle Du Bois, who photographed herself and her aliases over a few decades, and once framed, these incredible photographs of this woman tell a story almost as surreal as the woman herself. Zoe also has a series of images taken from different hotel rooms near LAX. In each photo, a plane is flying by. They are snapshots of life; images we see and might not remember or recognize, yet once printed and on display, are forever captured in our mind's eye, giving them much more weight and significance than previously thought. Her work can be seen here -

As I wandered out of the Mandarin Plaza in Chinatown (a newly discovered little artist colony of studios, small storefronts and deserted offices), I weaved in and out of the crowds. Between Broadway and Hill Streets are small plazas that open up and invite you in.

There is nothing more amazing than the red lanterns. I love wandering through Chinatown, off the main streets, for this reason. The colors and sounds and the smells draw you in. There are a hundred stores selling trinkets and junk, shoes, lanterns, incense, dim sum, pastry, buddhas, bracelets, and robes. I even saw samurai swords. All cultures are celebrated.

Gentlemen playing a fierce game of chess....

with some of the locals cheering them on....

And at the center of all this was a hip hop festival, with record bins, live bands, incense and tacos. The gyrating beats seemed out of place with the swaying, fragile lanterns, but somehow it all works in Chinatown.

Beauty comes in all forms...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The rebirth of cool

I went to Wurstkuche the other night. I have been here no less than 5-6 times and it never disappoints. Even when it appears impossible you will ever find a place to sit or get your food in time, miraculously, you do. Wurstkuche ("sausage kitchen" for you non-German speakers) is tucked way out in the Arts District of LA. Somewhere on the border of the Warehouse District, Little Tokyo, and Skid Row. The first time I went it took me 10 minutes longer than necessary to find it. But when you do, come with an appetite for exotic sausages and truly the best Belgian french fries in LA. (That's right, I said it). When you have have a choice of more than 8 dipping sauces to dunk your fries in, life can be pretty good. This night we tried the chipotle ketchup, curry ketchup, Thai peanut, chipotle aoili, and blue cheese walnut. The last one was too chunky and a bit flavorless, but the others were lip smacking delish.

And you have a delightful and difficult zoo of choices when it comes to the sausages....buffalo, alligator, pork, duck, rattlesnake, rabbit...and some traditional options such as kielbasa, spicy Italian, bratwurst, chicken apple, and others. There's even vegetarian options for you non-zoo folks (I've never understood this, but I'm cool with your decision to protect furry creatures). I'm partial to the buffalo chipotle sausage...smoky and salty. I order mine with grilled onions and drown it in yellow mustard for that extra heartburn effect. No worries, as you have about 65 European brews to cool the belly. I studied briefly in Scotland, so I always go for the cider.

We went on the night of Art Walk. I suppose I'll have to dedicate an entire blog to this amazing art scene. When you go, you need to be prepared to GO. It's an event, and damn crowded, so go with an open mind, some patience, and maybe a friend or two, because navigating a large group through the crowds can make even your mellow boyfriend downright grumpy. I don't recommend it. We, being 5-6 of us, decided it was too late and we were too stuffed to even think about the crowds, so we wandered over to Little Tokyo. On the way we passed a small vintage shop throwing itself an opening party, and we were all invited in for free beer, vintage clothes (think 80s, not 30s) and models vamping it up for the photographer.

We stayed for a beer and wandered further to one of my favorite little spots - the Far Bar. Not that far from anything, really, except the street. You find it as you walk along 1st Street. Look for a crack in the wall. I'm's a tiny alley between two buildings that opens up into a small courtyard and bar. They have twinkly lights above, a screen projector at one end, and pretty decent DJs. Great place during warm weather to catch a drink. Be patient with the service. They try hard and are quite nice but take their time getting back to you.

As I drove home that night, I accidentally made a left turn down the main drag of Art Walk. I wasn't thinking and cursed myself since the traffic was bad. But then something hit me: there were hundreds, maybe a thousand people out on the street that night. People were smiling, wandering in and out of the galleries and shops, stopping at the many food trucks for a bite to eat, laughing and chatting with the locals. And I was struck by something - downtown is COOL. It's no longer a forgotten armpit or where you go for work. It's where you GO. As I drove slowly down the street, I was amazed at the vibrancy. The pulse. The cool factor. Downtown is a destination again. And I saw all types - Westsiders, Eastsiders, downtowners, artists, spectators, vendors and bums. Everyone was mingling, taking it all in, enjoying the scenery and vibe that has grown from the dark streets again and is clearly flourishing. Downtown's historic core can offer what no other suburb of LA can - the gritty history. Scrape some of the dust and dirt off that building and you reveal a gem. Wander in the open doors on the ground floor and watch it unfold into a gleaming, art deco lobby, fit with marbled floors, golden accents, mirrors, and the new wave of hip hangers on.

My skin tingled. My heart smiled. LA is cool again.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Then and Now

If you've lived in LA long enough, you've likely driven on the 110 Freeway towards Pasadena. I have always loved the tunnels - we used to hold our breath through all four, and people still honk their horns when they pass through. YouTube recently posted a video CalTrans made on the 70th anniversary of the freeway. Enjoy!

410 Boyd is a happy hour of your time

I'd probably never go, let alone find, 410 Boyd unless I'd been invited by a friend. It's a decent little joint tucked into a corner of Little Tokyo off of San Pedro. I met some friends here for a happy hour drink and a bite to eat. They have a better-than-average happy hour, but sadly do themselves an injustice by posting the hours incorrectly. Most happy hours end at 7pm - 410 Boyd ends at 7:30pm, making it easier for my slow ass to get back downtown from the LBC, where I work. I could actually MAKE a happy hour in this lifetime with those hours. And the prices on their menu are all about $4-$5 which is great for the dollar observer.

On a Thursday night, it was mellow. Even our group was mellow. But that was ok. The bar is long and open, with plenty of room.
I hear Friday and Saturday nights get rowdy with a dj, and it appears this place could handle it. It showcases art from local talent. Is it good? That's up for debate. But I appreciate a place that hangs it on the wall and gives artists a vehicle to show their skills.

The menu is a basic sampling of...well, the basics. Healthy salads, nachos, I think I saw a burger, and a few desserts. Nothing stood out too much, so I ordered some fries. They were borderline too well done, but I like that. I seek out the crispies. Some might not, though.

The staff was friendly and helpful. By the time we left around 9pm, the place had filled up. There's an outside patio where most had gathered and a dj was playing music. The best part, I think, was the video screen they put up. The entire crowd was playing Rock Band, which was pretty cool, and some guy (a manager?) informed me they were going to move the event outdoors into the (free) parking lot and blast it on the side of the building in about a week. Bonus!

Would I go back? That's up for debate. I didn't leave with warm fuzzy feelings, but I give the place points for being customer-friendly, after-work friendly, and clearly party-friendly.

Finally, a dentist I like

Like most of us, I am not one for the dentist. I once waited 4 years to go. I'm not afraid....I'm just not crazy about tiny instruments scraping my teeth and occasionally hitting nerves. And blood. And the taste of metal, mint and paste in my mouth. You get the idea. So for a long time, I've avoided going. When I moved downtown, I made it my mission to find a decent dentist. And I found one....I just never went.

Until today. Dr. Clerk is, thankfully, lovely. He's got a great sense of humor, is very engaging, explains everything, and is a generally nice guy. He's still a dentist, but he's good. And his staff is laid back and helpful, friendly, etc. The office is clean and uses modern equipment (this has been as issue in the past for me), and has convenient parking. He can't make it any easier for me to see him every 6 months, which he reminded me to do no less than 3 times.

My only issue, and it's minor, is that he has TVs in the waiting room and in each exam room. I can't stand the constant noise, though I suppose it probably helps people to be distracted. He gets bonus points, though, for showing TMZ in the waiting room.

Dr. Patrick Clerk, DDS
1200 Wilshire Blvd. #205
Los Angeles, CA 90017