Saturday, January 30, 2010

Eat Out. A good egg is hard to find in Silver Lake [Sunday Brunch].

Instead of featuring just one restaurant this week, I'm going to take you on a tour--a breakfast odyssey, if you will--of the best egg dishes in my old 'hood, Silver Lake. The fact of the matter is there are a lot of restaurants on the east side of LA that serve worse-than-greasy-diner-food (because it's not even greasy, just bad) at extraordinarily high prices. And what's worse is that they all look so trendy and delicious. I mean, they have names like, Home, Good, and Millie's that just scream hip comfort food, and yet none deliver. So, very simply, here is where you should be eating and what you should be ordering.

The Kitchen-- Herb Baked Eggs ($10). Tiny restaurant, rustic dish, delicious.

Dusty's-- Eggs Moliere ($13). Just listen to the description: poached eggs, vegetable ratatouille & olive tappenade inside tomatoes, topped with asparagus. I absolutely crave this dish.

Cliff's Edge-- Cliff's Eggs Benedict with Rosemary Potato Wedges ($15). I love a good Benedict, so I needed to feature at least one. And really, this is worth the price, both for the dish and the setting in which you eat it.

Astro's-- The Breakfast Sandwich. When you're hungover, or just need some greasy spoon eggs, don't mess around, grab an egg sandwich from Astro's. Simple. They also serve canned corned beef hash-- you know, the kind that sort of looks like dog food, but is one of my absolute favorite breakfast foods.

The Coffee Table-- Eggs From Hell. I can't stand behind anybody's Huevos Rancheros in this neighborhood, but when I want things super spicy and served with a side of beans and tortillas, this is it.

-- Heather Robertson

Photo credit: Yelp!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Eat Out. Haiti Benefit Dinner.

This Sunday night, January 31, Breadbar Century City is holding a Haiti Benefit Dinner. They'll donate 50% of all sales between 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. to the American Red Cross. This is a substantial commitment they're making, making it an appealing event to take part in if you're looking to help Haiti (or if you're just looking to get a gourmet grilled cheese for 1/2 off).

Breadbar's standard menu will be available, which includes items such as cauliflower soup with curried croutons, croque monsieur, and steak frites. Plenty of options for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike.

Breadbar is located at 10250 Santa Monica Blvd. in Century City. For more info., (310) 277-3770.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: Breadbar

Do It. Follow The Soft Pack's 10-show marathon.

Always dreamed of doing the Penny Lane thing: following around your favorite band, doing non-groupie things and having hungover sing-alongs? We can't make any promises about those non-groupie things, but how about a one-day tour sure to present just as many hijinks (okay, maybe not an almost-plane crash)?

Local band The Soft Pack is set to release their self-titled debut album this Tuesday and in celebration, they're doing a ten-show marathon all over Southern California tomorrow. Current announced shows include Frankie's on the Sunset Junction, Fingerprints in Long Beach and a house party at 'Kevin from Crystal Antlers' dad's house' (with Crystal Antlers performing as well), but there looks to be some surprise stops TBA'd on Twitter too.

But forget being tied down to your lame electronic device all day--just hit the road with the Soft Pack and enjoy their tunes all day! Sure to be an adventure, and maybe one day you can make an Oscar-winning film of it too.

(But if can't make any of those ten shows, you can stream The Soft Pack's new album on myspace now.)

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: The Soft Pack

Check It. LA Gang Tours.

So the migration of "white flight" is heading south this winter--right into South Los Angeles. After tourists finish up with their double-decker buses and snapping pics of where Paris Hilton lives, they can check out LA Gang Tours, a $65 drive through those infamous places out-of-towners had only heard about on The Chronic.

OG stops include the LA County Jail and the corner of Florence Avenue that birthed the LA Riots. As ridiculous as that sounds, the creator of this tour, Alfred Lomas, is framing it as a way to give back to the community. The mission statement:

"The objective is to create jobs for the residents of South Central, Los Angeles; to give profits from the tours back to these areas for economic growth and development, provide job/entrepreneur training, micro-financing opportunities and to specialize in educating people from around the world about the Los Angeles inner city lifestyle, gang involvement and solutions. This project will create opportunities to contribute to the economic health of South Central and the tools needed to access the American market."

OK. But I still feel uneasy about it. How will exploitation ever lead to empowerment? I think this is, at its heart, still a business. A business that kind of sounds like taking middle-class jerks on safari. However, the dialogue it's creating in our local media is phenomenal. Race, class, history--all the issues that should be a part of the discussion are right there. And, yeah, that's something tourists and locals alike should experience if they really want to learn about this town.

And while I see LA Weekly's point, I have to agree with the Times that the messages are too mixed. There is value in learning about all of LA's real, breathing, working parts. Like everything in this city, our relationship with gangs is complicated and totally anomalous. Exploring it first-hand with an educated guide... well, maybe that's not such a bad idea. Taking people to "the unofficial jail to over 120,000 gang members!" for $65? That's Hollywood sensationalism aimed exclusively at wide-eyed tourists and the total opposite of what this endeavor should and could be about.

Oh, and here's a thought: if you live here and have never been to that part of LA, take your own tour--for free. Drive surface streets and go eat at my favorite BBQ place over in Inglewood. The intersection where the riots started is just a few blocks away. Seeing it is really moving.

-- Heather Robertson

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Etc. Buy jeans, dummy.

For the last couple of weeks, I've been bombarded by Diesel's new ad campaign pasted up all around Hollywood. The tagline? "Be Stupid." They pretty it up with sayings like, "Smart listens to the head. Stupid listens to the heart," and have their whole philosophy outlined in this video:

They are also trying really hard to get people to engage with their campaign by making videos showcasing their own great acts of stupidity.

Ironically, I bet Diesel execs are patting themselves on the back for their sheer brilliance with this one. But really? I don't think it's ever a wise decision to tell your would-be customers that aligning themselves with your brand is stupid.

-- Heather Robertson

J.D. Salinger (1919-2010)

"If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she's late? Nobody."
-- J.D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye

All thirteen of his New Yorker stories are now available to read online.

Do It. Patti Smith book talks/signings.

This week, Patti Smith is making her rounds to present and sign her new book, Just Kids, at Los Angeles' finest bookstores, Book Soup and Skylight Books. She'll be on the Sunset Strip at Book Soup tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m., and at Skylight Books on Vermont on Saturday at 5:00 p.m.

The book is about her youth in New York (hence the title "Just Kids") and relationship with the late, great photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Based on the excerpt I read in Rolling Stone, it's engrossing. It's inspiration for young people struggling to pursue creative endeavors.

I'm really excited to meet the "Godmother of Punk" and see what she's like in person. The Rock-and-Roll Hall of Famer is definitely one of those people who has stayed cool as she ages. As someone who knew Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Allen Ginsberg, Smith must have a ton of great memories, many of which are recorded in the book.

If you can't make it to the signings, order the book on Amazon!

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Etc. Catch up with Lost.

Cue the eerie slow motion title screen: LOST IS BACK IN LESS THAN ONE WEEK. How have we gone so long without it? Without finding out what that white flash meant? Or who the hell Richard is? Whatever happened to the smoke monster? And goshdarnit, where is Vincent?

But soon, soon we will all finally know (hopefully). How best to prepare for the big return? Here's a recap:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Do It. 'True Blood' music at the Echoplex.

OK, "True Blood" fans. For those of you who love all things vampire, the Grammy-nominated band responsible for the "True Blood" soundtrack will be playing at the Echoplex this Friday.

This show has become it's own industry, with "True Blood" drinks and cocktails, but even those who aren't fans of the show can appreciate the twangy swamp music.

Doors open at 8:00 p.m. Advance tickets are $10, $12 at the door.

The Echoplex is located at 1154 Glendale Blvd.

-- Lauren Williams

Do It. l.a. Eyeworks sale.

Looking for a new pair of shades for spring? This is your lucky weekend. Iconic Los Angeles optical shop l.a. Eyeworks is having their famed annual sale January 28 - 31. I'm really looking for some new reading glasses, but will check out the sunglass department if the prices are right. Their frames are l.a. Eyeworks-designed and hand made ... and they are quite expensive ($300 range), but the sale can be up to 70% off! This is the real deal: Los Angeles Magazine's Style Editor Laurie Pike vouches for the bargains on the magazine's Chic Leak blog.

I haven't ever been to Eyeworks, but based on their online frame catalog they have some really nice glasses that I look forward to rifling through this weekend!

l.a. Eyeworks is located at 7386 Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Check It. I'm From Barcelona's 27 Songs.

What do you do when you're a Swedish musician/songwriter and have 26 (or 28?) musically-talented friends? Start a undeniably lovable band called I'm From Barcelona, make awesome sing-along songs like this, and release 27 songs on the internet for free.

I'm From Barcelona's back story is about as simple and sweet as the music they make: the group was created in 2005 after Emanuel Lundgren rounded up 28 friends to record the pop songs he had written, and together they released two full-length albums and toured the world. Now, they're taking inspiration from Kiss' simultaneously released solo albums from 1974 and releasing a song from each of the now-27 members for free online (and on triple vinyl! But not for free) beginning today.

The first song up is guitarist/banjoist Daniel Lindlöf's "Lower My Head," and it's a dreamy pop concoction that's already stuck in my head. 27 Swedish pop songs?! You just can't go wrong.

-- Chau Tu
Thanks to Brown Bear for the tip!

Photo credit: I'm From Barcelona

Eat In. Bacon-wrapped dates.

A popular item on menus these days and one of the easiest appetizers I can think of, bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese mix textures (crunchy, chewy, creamy) and tastes (sweet, salty, tangy) with each delightful little bite. You can thank me for the recipe after you impress all your friends at your next party.

  • 12 Medjool dates (usually a package will contain enough for two batches)
  • 2 oz blue cheese
  • 6 slices of bacon cut in half
  • Preheat the oven to 375.
  • Using a sharp knife, slice the dates lengthwise along one side and remove the pit.
  • Fill the pocket you've created with about a tsp. of cheese.
  • Tightly wrap the date with a piece of bacon, making sure the ends are tucked securely on the bottom.
  • Arrange the dates on a cookie sheet (I usually cover it with tin foil, because it catches the majority of the grease and makes for easy clean up) and bake until the bacon crisps up and cheese is gooey.
  • Place the dates on your favorite grease-absorbing material to dry them off a bit before serving.
Pro-tip: Since the three items in this recipe are pricey, you can save a bunch by getting the blue cheese from your grocery store's salad bar. Ralph's charges $5.99 for 5 oz of packaged blue cheese, but with their $6.99 per lb salad bar, you can grab enough blue cheese for this recipe for under $1. This trick also works with vegetables. They're already sliced and you'll never again have to worry about what you're going to do with the rest of that celery wilting in your fridge (I mean, really, what single girl ever needs more than a single stalk?)

-- Heather Robertson

Photo credit: Beyond Wonderful (I know, should be my own, but I forgot to snap picks last time I made them and I swear that is exactly what they look like)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Check It. Hijabulous.

Who ever said being stylish and abiding by Muslim laws were incompatible? Should there be a shred of doubt that women can both be beautiful and observe their religion, the interesting, LA-based Hijabulous has totally blown such thoughts out of the water.

Her mission? To be "a Hijabi's guide to staying fabulous in Southern California." Among her posts are about interesting fashion trends popping up throughout SoCal, like ruffled cropped cardigans (which she loves) or the questionable fur hijab. She even includes shopping tips for the bargain shopper.

Some of the content even begins to boarder on politics, with Shepard Fairey prints of women in burkas carry guns with flowers and one Palestinian woman peeking through a wall.

Anyway you look at it, the anonymous poster has created a forum for discussing images of Muslim women in a new context, and has made a happy home for those women who want to look good while staying true to their faith.

-- Lauren Williams

Photo credit: Hijabulous of Shepard Fairey.

Check It. IRM.

The impeccably cool Charlotte Gainsbourg's Beck-produced album, IRM, is out today.

As the child of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, it would be pretty difficult not to be awesome, but it's nevertheless impressive just how right the 38-year-old singer/actress gets it. She's been singing since she was a kid, IRM is her third studio album. While I'm not familiar with Charlotte for Ever or even 5:55, I know Gainsbourg has a way with music from her performance of Bob Dylan's Just Like a Woman on the I'm Not There soundtrack. She played Claire in I'm Not There, opposite Heath Ledger's Robbie. Their chapters are my favorite parts of the film.

In the fall of 2007, Gainsbourg had to undergo emergency surgery at a Paris hospital of a cerebral hemorrhage. IRM is the French acronym for our MRI - Magnetic Resonance Imaging - the machines of which she apparently spent a lot of time in. She fully recovered, and made Antichrist the following summer. And now has an album out that's sure to be fantastic.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Eat Out. Luna Park.

Between the flashy (i.e. Hollywood) and the hip (i.e. Eastside), sometimes it's hard to imagine a restaurant in L.A. that's just great but also not overhyped--a low-key neighborhood restaurant, if you will. For me, one of the first names to come to mind is Luna Park.

Maybe I just missed the hype moment for this restaurant, but for being in such a key location (La Brea and Wilshire) and for being consistently packed by 7 p.m. every night of the week, Luna Park seems to be strangely thriving under-the-radar. I only decided to check out the place because I conveniently worked nearby, and because the name and look of the place reminded me of Bret Easton Ellis' (whom I had become obsessed with at the time) Lunar Park.

And just like Ellis' novels, Luna Park is decidely dark noir L.A., with a touch of youthful coolness. The ambience is dark (literally and figuratively), but in a warm, welcoming way that makes it a perfect place for groups of people or romantic dates (some of the booths have drapes that make them more private-feeling). And though the dishes are often just simple comfort foods, they come better and fancier than whatever you'd whip up in your kitchen. The oven-baked mac 'n' cheese, for example, is creamy beyond belief, and the goat cheese fondue is great (in small doses..just make sure to share). Their Tasty Burger was good too, although nothing spectacular.

The prices are about mid-range ($12-$18 for entrees, $10 average for drinks), but they've always got deals going on, like their Blue Plate Specials Sunday through Thursday (which usually includes their amazing sangria!). AND they also happen to be taking part in this season's dineLA. Time to get in on the know.

Luna Park is located at 672 S. La Brea (near Wilshire) in the Miracle Mile district.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Luna Park

Monday, January 25, 2010

Do It. DineLA.

With so many wonderful dining options here in L.A., what's a foodie-on-a-budget to do? Wait for dineLA to come around again--which thankfully, is right now.

is L.A.'s restaurant week (actually, more like two weeks), when more than a hundred restaurants all over the city offer some of their best dishes at low fixed rates. The participating restaurants vary from the super fancy to the local neighborhood joint, but either way you're sure to get a good deal: two-course lunches for $16-$28 and three-course dinners for $26-$44.

On paper, it might still sound a little pricey (especially for us striving folk), but it's actually quite a lot of food (I doubt most people are throwing down for three full courses on a regular basis) and it's just a great chance to check out a place/dish that you normally wouldn't/couldn't. And even within the prix fixe menus, you'll get choices, so you can't complain about being restricted from the usual fare.

With so many eateries participating, it'll be hard for you to go wrong. Some of my personal suggestions?: Asia de Cuba (mojitos are delicious--although, N.B., dineLA prices don't include alcohol/drinks), Campanile, Katana, Luna Park (stay tuned tomorrow for a review!), and The Bazaar. Let me know where else is worth visiting in the comments, and happy eating!

dineLA is taking place now until Friday, Jan. 29, and from Jan. 31-Feb. 5.

-- Chau Tu

Eat Out. Babycakes.

This week, for our Sunday 'Beat' meeting, we went to the new Los Angeles location of Babycakes NYC Vegan Bakery. It was much-anticipated, opened January 3, and has been getting a lot of press, so we thought we'd give it a try. It's teeny-tiny (just to the left of Cole's) and smells of pure deliciousness from the moment you enter the vegan paradise. The three of us (sans Lauren, who's started her Chilean adventure) all chose different items, and we were all relatively pleased.

I intended to get a red velvet cupcake, but ended up with vanilla with pink frosting (the one in the Chinese take-out container, pictured) ... Chau had a baked donut and a slice of the banana chocolate chip loaf (in the pink donut box), and Heather had a chocolate chip cookie and a chocolate chip with vanilla frosting cupcake (on the dainty plate). My cupcake was made with spelt, which I now know is an ancient "healthy grain" often used to feed livestock. It was introduced in the United States in the 1890s and is becoming a popular wheat alternative. I found it to be quite coarse for cupcake use--it was almost like a cornbread muffin. That may sound bad, but it wasn't ... just, different. One of those things you may later have a random craving for.

Heather really liked the chocolate chip cookie, but was unimpressed with her cupcake, and Chau liked her pretty baked donut but I didn't hear much about the loaf. The overall consensus was: we wouldn't not go back.

We found it funny--as you might too from the photo evidence above--that they gave us all different forms of containers for our respective desserts. The girls working at Babycakes were sweet (pun intended, ha) and had cute uniforms, which were all uniquely well-accessorized.

T-Shirts and diner-style mugs with their appealing cursive logo are sold in the shop. It's all very retro, girly, and fun. Whether it's the new-to-L.A. hype, or cravings for more (return customers?), the small spot was consistently busy for the hour or so we were holding court at the one outside table.

Babycakes is located at 130 East 6th Street in downtown Los Angeles. Closed Mondays.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Eat Out. Fern's [Sunday Brunch].

Spending your Sunday afternoons in a dumpy dive bar in Long Beach may seem kind of trashy, but Fern's is a bit different.

By no stretch of the imagination could one call this place classy, with a mural of a topless horned woman with a bifurcated tongue on one wall and the floor that looks more like the foundation, but Sundays here are $1 Busch day, happy hour all night, and at times, barbeque, grilled cheeses and PB&J nights, this place on Sunday is the place to be.

It's definitely more of a punk-style bar, but has probably one of the best jukeboxes I've ever seen (have you ever been able to find Elvis, Tom Waits, the Stones, the Clash, Siouxsie, Bauhaus, Dylan, Johnny Cash, Iggy Pop, and the Damned on one jukebox?)
And the beer selection is great, with at least three different kinds of Angel City brew, but you may have to wait a while. The sassy bartenders may give you the snub.

Note: This place is definitely not for the faint of heart. This place defines the phrase "dive bar".

-- Lauren Williams

Friday, January 22, 2010

Make It. Without health insurance.

Through a series of unfortunate events--even though I've paid my $2 for my DMO the last few months--I can't go to a dentist until February. Problem is, I have a dental issue NOW. I'm going to fight with Aetna until it gets resolved (I have, after all, paid them $6), but while I sit hear with a tea bag packed in my mouth, I am reminded of that time not too long ago when I didn't have health insurance at all (because Tribune is a GREAT employer and this country is AWESOME). It's rough and you feel helpless. It makes you want to karate chop Scott Brown in the face. But there are ways to get by if you're done with googling "home remedies for..."

Planned Parenthood. Thank God for this place. They offer services for all reproductive health needs for both women AND men. They charge on a sliding scale and will have no problem loading you up with free birth control. I have had nothing but pleasant experiences here. However, they are in demand. Even with an appointment you often have to wait an hour or more to be seen.

While you're in your Planned Parenthood, you may hear people talking about their "teal card." They are actually talking about "Health Access Cards" which are issued by Family PACT (usually out of PPs). If you're uninsured and low income, you qualify for one and with it, the state of California will pay for a bunch of your health needs. The website refers specifically to "family planning," but when I had the card, I was able to get antibiotics for free, so I think the definition is loose. I'm pretty sure California covers other things as well, but just like all government websites, their site is atrocious. If you are able to navigate or extract any clear information from it though, I’d love to hear about it.

And finally, Urgent Care. Yes, they are scary and will still run you $40, but at least they will take care of you. And they will do it right now. I am lucky enough to have one right in my building and if you live near the Echo Park area, I would totally reccommend Sunmoon Urgent Care. The Yelp reviews are pretty accurate. It won't be the doctor's office of your dreams, but it will be efficient and painless. I was seen immediately on a Saturday morning, had my prescription filled in-house, and was back in bed within thirty minutes. Be warned that these places are usually CASH ONLY.

Since 46 million of us don't have health insurance, I'm interested to know: how do you receive medical care?

-- Heather Robertson

Photo credit: Kaiser Foundation

Eat Out. Pitfire Pizza Company.

Pitfire Pizza has become a reliably delicious lunch spot in downtown L.A. Affectionately known to us as "Pitfire", we're especially fond of their soups, salads, and more recently, a new addition to the menu--the House Mac & Cheese (crispy baked pasta, five cheeses, buttery bread crumbs).

A long line is the norm during the lunching hours, but calling in an order is an option and that saves some time. They also deliver (a $15 minimum order and $3 delivery fee) which can be nice if you're feeling lazy, or don't want to get drenched (this week). Honestly, even if Pitfire wasn't excellent, I'd probably patronize it occasionally anyway (note the Los Angeles Times building in the background of the photo) because it's convenient, but the quality of the food makes it a real treat. Their Grilled Steak Salad can really turn a day around. With its fresh lettuce (romaine and arugula), cherry tomatoes, Maytag blue cheese, grilled red onion, and candied walnuts it's a delightful salad experience. Vegetarian option--a Lauren Williams special--replace the grilled steak with avocado.

It's been a while since I've had a pizza from Pitfire, but they are just as good as everything else on the menu. Next time I go, if I can talk myself out of the Grilled Steak Salad, I'm going to try the Burrata Pie (Burrata cheese, tomato sauce, wild arugula, caramelized onions, hazelnut, pesto drizzle). The brick oven cooking lets the edges of the crust get a little burnt, in the best possible way. The Pitfire Sausage Pizza with sweet fennel sausage is memorable.

Speaking of sweet, they stock Auntie Em's Cupcakes. The Red Velvet is always tempting.

Pitfire currently has three locations (Downtown, North Hollywood, and West L.A.), and a new one opening ... tomorrow! Check out the Culver City Pitfire Pizza Co. news on laist.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Check It. I'm Here.

Spike Jonze as a filmmaker, artist, Jackass, man, whathaveyou is often a subject of contention; is this guy for real? Is he a genius or a lucky break? Funny or trying too hard? This trailer and subsequent short film seems like it can only further push you in either direction. (I, for one, have been swooning over Jonze for years.)

Bear with me here. What I'm about to show you is pretty weird. The only words I could utter after seeing this the first time (I actually watched it immediately twice in a row) was, 'I'm speechless.' But then I paused, took a deep breath, and smiled. This--whatever it is--is awesome. Don't forget your sense of humor (and try your best to ignore that Absolut Vodka thing).

Yeah, I know. And yes, it's real.

I'm Here premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this week, and will be released in March.

-- Chau Tu

*props to the sprawlster for the tip. Feel free to send your own tips/links/love letters to or in the comments section.

Photo credit: I'm Here

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Do It. Radiohead for Haiti.

So it'll only be Thom Yorke out the Radiohead crew who'll be heading to Coachella this year, but guess what, BEATs? RADIOHEAD IS COMING TO L.A. THIS SUNDAY. And playing the (decently small) Music Box @ the Fonda.

The catch? The tickets are only up for auction, and they're pretty high. The reason to bid anyway? All proceeds go to the Oxfam Haiti relief fund.

Place your bids now!

-- Chau Tu

Eat Out. Village Idiot [Thirsty Thursdays!].

So although the picture above shows a empty bar, this place is actually never bare. The Village Idiot is an amazing English restaurant/upscale pub, with really excellent food.

The noises of a crowded bar, with dishes clanging and people chatting, actually gives this place a charming atmosphere, and it feels really warm with the rich dark wood.

My favorite thing about this place is the blended beers. Quite often, their blends are a mix of dark, creamy, frothy beers from England, which are actually much better than the run-of-the-mill Guiness-and-something-else. Their half-and-half is phenomonal and I love the 1903 craftsman lager.

In my pre-vegetarian days, I would eat their ale-steamed mussels, but now I am restricted entirely to the "no face" portion of the menu, but their "two legs" and "four legs" options are quite tempting.

The steak and potato pie looks scrumptious.

The Village Idiot is located at 7383 Melrose Avenue.

-- Lauren Williams

Do It. Lissie at the Fonda.

I work at a music school where the majority of the students are long-haired teenage boys who like to shred in their black metal bands. But not all of them. Take for example Lissie. This lovely young mid-western lady graduated from our Independent Artist program. And now? She's signed to Fat Possum, hangin' out with Band of Horses, singing on NPR, and generally cranking out down-home tunes that make all the fashion hippies weep with joy. Maybe some dreams in Hollywood actually do come true.

Anyway, after trapising around the country, Lissie is back in town on Saturday, opening for City and Colour at the Fonda. Show starts at 8pm. To tide you over until then:

-- Heather Robertson

Photo credit:

Etc. Rock stars be tired [Guest Post].

We here at the BEAT realize that great writers must always appreciate other great writers. Today we feature a guest post by my boyfriend and new blogger, Adam Hobbs. You can check out more of Adam's posts about music, life, and owls at

By the time this post goes up, the news about Lady Gaga canceling a recent string of dates will be old news. She will most likely have taken a nap and hopped back on her luxury Prevost to finish out her exhausting U.S. tour and head over to the UK for more back-breaking work.

Even though the unemployment rate soared to 10% in December, most of us still have to go to work every day. And it's probably safe to say that if Lady Gaga were working anyplace else in the U.S., she would have maxed out on sick days and now would be dipping into her vacation balance to stay home and recover.

After doing a little research however, I'm finding out that being a touring musician is in fact, incredibly exhausting. News doesn't lie and here's a list of canceled dates that I was able to pull off the web after Googling "cancel exhaustion":

Jan 1, 2010 - the xx

Sep 1, 2005 - Queens of the Stone Age

June 9, 2004 - The Vines

August 17, 2005 - Transplants

April 2, 1977 - Elvis Presley

August 17, 2006 - Keane

Aug 18, 2005 - Eminem

Oct 25, 1975 - The Carpenters

Sep 18, 1996 - The Cranberries

Oct 16, 2009 - Sugababes

Nov 3, 1976 - Dolly Parton

Jun 26, 1991 - Black Crowes

Jun 5, 1995 - Travis Tritt

Jul 9, 2007 - Amy Winehouse

Sep 2, 2005 - The Rakes

...the list goes on and on.

So when the Byrds sang, "if you wanna be a rock'n'roll star," they should have added things like, 'drink coffee' and 'get eight hours of sleep a night' to that list of to-dos.

-- Adam Hobbs

Photo: Me & Gaga: You can't see her eyes, but she's sleeping right now. I hope.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Eat Out. Lee's Sandwiches.

Confession: although (and in my defense, because) I've lived off delicious Vietnamese food all my life, I'm really, really bad at describing what any of it is and at recommending any good places to eat it other than my mother's kitchen. Sorry, friends.

Thankfully, I've come up with a good stand-by that's always done a good job of impressing the uninitiated. Lee's Sandwiches is a fairly new franchise and totally commercializes Vietnamese cuisine, but what a livesaver it is, and delectable at that. The shops specialize in banh mi--the go-to baguette sandwiches traditionally filled with pork, pate, pickled carrots, cilantro and chili peppers (although Lee's features many varieties)--but also sell some of the best coffee around, boba, baked goods and other desserts.

The best part? The foot-long sandwiches run about $3 each, making it a perfect, cheap lunch (or dinner or breakfast or snack). The worst part? Most Lee's in Southern California are based in the O.C. (here's a list of store locations). Pick and choose your battles..but their coffee is pretty awesome (and addicting).

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Lee's

Make It. Saving [A budget].

Although this post is going up today, Wednesday, Jan. 20, today I am headed down to South America to travel, live, and work.

Working a part-time job, though, can make saving for such a trip a bit rough.

The thing that made this trip doable was tiny, incremental saving. One tip I was taught was to set aside a small amount of money each week, and at the end of the year, you will have enough money for a nice trip.

Last year, near the beginning of the year, I began setting aside $20 each week. I was paid in cash, and it felt good putting the physical money away in a coffee can in the kitchen, but you can do this with automatic deposit, too.

If you were to start doing this today at the end of the year there would be $1,000 sitting in your coffee jar/piggy bank/empty planter/savings account or wherever.

Really, it doesn't take too many shortcuts to be able to scrape $20 out of a weekly budget, which makes this savings plan pretty tangible. The hard part, however, is not breaking into your savings before the year is over. Once I had saved enough for a plane ticket, I stopped saving -- bad idea. But hey, it got me this far.

-- Lauren Williams

Do It. Sharks and stars!

This weekend is your opportunity to learn stuff--for free--all over this city. It'll be like Shark Week or Nova, but your real life!

The next installment of Shark Lagoon Nights at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach happens this Friday from 6:00pm to 9:00 pm. The program is running through May, but this is your last opportunity in January to hang with sandtigers and touch bamboo sharks. There is also the vague mention of music, but I would just as soon go (possibly sooner go) if there wasn't. Either way, there will definitely be booze available and just how many times have you been able to say that you pre-gamed with sharks? Heck yeah, Friday night!

Griffith Observatory's monthly Star Party is also happening this weekend. From 2:00pm to 9:45pm, you can scope out (haha) visible planets and stars from the Observatory's gorgeous terraces and outside areas. Use of telescopes is also free to the public, but I would expect long lines and lots of grubby little fingers earlier in the afternoon. If you need a break, you can always catch a show in the planetarium.

-- Heather Robertson

Photo credit: Aquarium of the Pacific

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Arrivederci, Lauren!

We'd like to wish Lauren a fabulous journey to (and stay in) Santiago, Chile!

In honor of her move, here's a lead to where to find a delicious Pisco Sour in L.A.--according to LA Times Magazine, at Bar Centro at The Bazaar.

We'll miss Lauren terribly in Los Angeles, but are looking forward to continuing to feel her presence on the BEAT even from South America. We're excited for the experiences that are to come with the venture, for this very exciting phase in our blogger's life. Bon Voyage, lady!

The Bazaar (SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills) is located at 465 South La Cienega Blvd. in Los Angeles.

-- Leslie, Chau, and Heather

Photo credit:

Check It. Spoon and Joshua Ferris.

Is it just me, or does being consistently great work against your favor sometimes? I feel that might be the case for Spoon. The Texan indie-rock band has been around for more than a decade now, always reliable for putting out another great record full of clever lyrics and frontman Britt Daniel's undeniable coolness. They're always critically-acclaimed and will make those best-of lists 10 years from now, but they still somehow feel underappreciated. So allow me to rev up this hype machine again, with the arrival of Transference today, and remind you that yes, Spoon warrants those repeated listens (they're growers, if anything), and don't you evah forget it.

Also out this week is the new novel The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris. Ferris made a name for himself about two years ago with his debut And Then We Came to an End, a low-key satire on office life. It was hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time, and one of those things that you just get if you've found yourself wasting away in a cubicle. This time, he takes on the home life, focusing on how a strange, unexplainable illness involving a man's insatiable need to walk nearly destroys him and his family. Yes, walking. You can read the first chapter now on Amazon.

-- Chau Tu

Etc. Happy "Monday".

My favorite YouTube videos include babies eating lemons, dogs running through snow, and really bad fan videos. Also up there is kids with accents. It's a few days old now, but if you haven't seen it, here's MTV's The Jersey Shore being re-enacted by grade school kids.

By the way, did you know that Snooki pulls up to 10k for every club appearance she makes? That'll buy you one helluva tanning package.

Bonus: My all-time favorite kid with an accent. Out of the mouths of babes!

-- Heather Robertson

Check It. The Invention of Lying and Just Kids.

If you didn't catch this cute comedy in the theater, it's out on DVD today. Continuing with the Ricky Gervais theme, The Invention of Lying is a simple yet thought-provoking film (starring Gervais) about the man who invented the lie. The lovely Jennifer Garner co-stars, and Rob Lowe plays the very handsome guy who's his competition.

If you liked Ghost Town, you'll probably like The Invention of Lying. I did see it in the theater, but will probably rent it too. Louis C.K., Jonah Hill, and Tina Fey also make appearances--and of course, add more humor to the already cleverly funny film.

Also out today: Patti Smith's latest book, Just Kids. More to come on this later!

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Eat Out. The Coffee Table.

Since moving from West Hollywood to Los Feliz, I've had to find some new breakfast places. On the weekends, brunch is one of my favorite activities, so finding just the right place is highly important. After several months of going to The Coffee Table in Silver Lake here and there, I've found that perfect nearby-and-has-so-many-attractive-options-you-have-a-tough-time-choosing-what-to-have, plus the coffee (and chai!) is hot and fresh.

On Sunday, I tried the South of the Border omelette for the first time, and it was impressive. As a big fan of Mexican food, I really enjoyed the green chili, cilantro, pico de gallo salsa on the side, and sour cream decorating the top (and of course favorite omelette ingredients avocado and cheese). The avocado was unblemished and creamy, just right! Rather than coffee, I had a large chai tea latte, which was not too spicy (like Starbucks'), but rich and flavorful nonetheless. It did get chunky (with lumped powder)by the last few sips, but I was about done by then anyway.

My all-time Coffee Table favorite is the Egg Sandwich--two fried eggs, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and HERB MAYO on your choice of bread (sourdough). Like most breakfast items, it's served with fruit and potatoes. The sourdough is remarkably fresh and the herb mayo is what sends this dish into the 'favorites' category. Yum.

Other dishes I'd recommend--oatmeal (served with apple, cranberries and walnuts) and the breakfast burrito, which is simply eggs and cheddar wrapped in a sassy red tortilla, both choices simply delicious.

It's an order at the counter, then sit down place, which makes take-away orders easy. The back patio is the best place to sit if you're eating in. They serve breakfast till 3:00 p.m. daily, and are open till 10:00 p.m. For late afternoon through evening, something like a turkey burger or homemade soup might hit the spot. They also have a pretty fine selection of desserts (think red velvet, coconut cake, almond roca cake ... )

The Coffee Table is located at 2930 Rowena Ave. in Silver Lake.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Advance Notice. Coachella.

Winter blues got you down? Can't wait until you can burst into that hot, dry desert air of Indio, California and party with this year's batch of hip and must-see bands?

You're in luck (sort of)! The highly anticipated line-up for Coachella 2010 will be announced tomorrow morning at 7:15am on local radio station 106.7 FM KROQ. Will we get another legend a la last year's Sir Paul McCartney or Leonard Cohen? Which buzz bands will show up to make you forget your sunburn?

Tickets for the annual three-day fest are actually already on sale for those who are planning on camping it--and with layaway! Time to start saving that pocket change, and don't forget the sunblock.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Coachella

Check It. Korduroy TV.

In a quirky blend of crafting and surfing, Korduroy.TV created a very unique website with DIY episodes on how to fix up your old board, make a fin T-Shirt, and comes complete with interesting interviews and surf-humor comics.

At times it seems the crafting and surfing communities don't really blend, but the founders of this blog got it down pat, and have made a visually appealing, interesting dynamic blog that is pretty cool for surfers and land lovers alike.

Although I only spent a small two-month period surfing (or, probably more accurate, falling), I can still appreciate watching people harness the power of an emense natural force and make a sport of it.

Below is a video with "surfer/shaper" Cordell Miller.

Episodes, blog entries, and interviews are rated with a series of Hang-Ten style hands, too. Pretty rad.

All Yew- Cordell Miller from on Vimeo.

-- Lauren Williams

Photo/video credit: Courtesy of Korduroy.TV

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Do it. Pierrot le fou at LACMA.

Tonight at 7:30 p.m., LACMA is screening Godard's 1965 stylish crime/drama/romance Pierrot le fou. Last night, the actor Jean-Paul Belmondo (perhaps best known as Michel from Breathless), introduced Truffaut's Mississippi Mermaid (in which he stars with Catherine Denuve). It has not been announced if he'll make a second appearance on the miracle mile tonight, but I wouldn't be surprised, as he's also the co-star of Pierrot le fou and they are showing it as part of a two-night "Spotlight on Jean-Paul Belmondo" series.

LACMA is located at 5905 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles. Tickets are $10.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: Janus Films

Eat Out. Ocean Diner [Sunday Brunch].

For our first meeting of the year, we decided to start it out on the right foot at the Ocean Diner in Hermosa Beach.

For those of you who live in the South Bay, the Ocean Diner may be no secret (the lines on Sunday are horrendous), but for good reason.

This small diner has a an amazing menu, with just about every imaginable combination of breakfast food items you can think of: pancakes of all kinds, stuffed French toast, and scrambles, skillets, and omelets galore. The coffee here is also very flavorful.

Leslie ordered the granola banana pancakes, Chau had Suzy's Crunchy French Toast which was rolled in granola and cinnamon, and I ordered their specialty Oatmeal Creme Brulee. It seemed any kind of starchy, sweet breakfast dish came topped with whipped cream and banana slices.

The oatmeal came with caramelized brown sugar on top, and had to be cracked (like creme brulee).

Each of us seemed to think that our food was a bit sweet, or too much of the same flavor for an entire meal. I've come before and loved their many egg concoctions.

The diner is quite small, but has a cozy feeling with warm yellow walls, vintage editions of the LA Times and other Los Angeles papers, and old timey toasters lining the top of one wall. They even have a hot coffee carafe for those waiting outside, and at the end of the meal, a stick of gum stamped with their logo arrives with the check.

-- Lauren Williams

Friday, January 15, 2010

Etc. Happy Friday!

Just because something's (kind of) old, doesn't mean it's not completely excellent. Here's a happy Friday/getting-ready-for-Valentine's-Day post, courtesy of Facebook Friend Steve.

-- Lauren Williams

Do It. Help Haiti.

As a high school English tutor in Boston, I worked almost exclusively with Haitian immigrants. They were truly tremendous and, echoing the feelings of teachers everywhere, they taught me more than I ever taught them about verb tenses. I remember their pride when an assignment required them to present their favorite things about Haiti. They talked about places like the Presidential Palace—a treasure that has now been totally erased. My heart aches for the students at Hyde Park High School, so I just wanted to make quick post about what is being done locally and what you can still do to help.

George of TiGeorge’s Chicken(the most delicious Haitian food and coffee around), hosted a dinner in Echo Park last night to raise funds for the island nation and is holding another benefit on Saturday.

NBC Los Angeles is hosting drive-through fundraising events throughout greater Los Angeles over the weekend.

And finally, the newest, easiest, and most completely brilliant way to donate—and to do it RIGHT NOW—is by texting.
  • To donate $10 to the Red Cross, text “HAITI” to 90999
  • To donate $5 to Wyclef Jean’s Yele Haiti, "Yele” to 501501

Charges will reflect on your phone bill.

-- Heather Robertson

Photo credit: Google/GeoEye

Advance Notice. Ricky Gervais.

Ricky Gervais is seriously hilarious. I don't know how many times I've watched him on BBC's The Office and rewinded the DVDs to catch snippets of his genius humor again (and again). His films and HBO comedy special have been great post-Office treats, and now he's hosting the 2010 Golden Globes on Sunday night, and will be at L.A. Live for two nights in May--the 15th and 16th.

Tickets go on sale on next Friday (January 22) at 10:00 a.m. for Gervais' Los Angeles shows.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Do It. Donnie Darko at the Devil's Night Drive-In.

It's been a long and winding road going in completely separate directions for Jake Gyllenhaal ('sigh') and Richard Kelly since they made Donnie Darko, but man, was that an awesome film, or what? Angsty teenagers in the '80s stuck against the perils of time travel--with Tears for Fears as your soundtrack? It probably shouldn't have worked--and maybe some can argue that it doesn't (come on, it's part of the fun!)--but either way, it's worth the repeat viewing. Especially at a drive-in. In the middle of downtown Los Angeles.

The Devil's Night Drive-In is taking place this Saturday at 7:30pm (doors at 6pm) at the parking lot at 4th and Broadway for $10. Presale tickets for cars are sold out, but you can still have a picnic and walk-in if you get there early. So bring a blanket (there's Astroturf to sit on) and BYOB, save room for food from the Angel City Derby Girls, and get ready for some time travelling, a la a really creepy bunny.

-- Chau Tu

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Eat Out. Seven Grand [Thirsty Thursdays!].

Downtown just keeps getting better and better. A very cool whiskey bar, Seven Grand is located centrally in the downtown Los Angeles area.

Very swanky with deep blue and green Burberry print floors, dark leather couches, classy brass fixtures on the walls, and rich wood furniture, this place is perfect to unwind after work with a stiff drink, or is certainly enough reason to justify coming into the downtown area.

The entrance is inconspicuous, and visitors have to climb a flight of stairs to get to the bar. There's also a nice outdoors patio area, where visitors can enjoy their drink with a cool breeze outside.

With nearly 300 different types of whiskey, there's no shortage of choice, and the beer selection here, while far more limited, is still spot on.

On any night in Los Angeles, this place is a great destination, but be warned: There is a strictly enforced dress code, so don't show up in shorts and flip flops, even if it is LA.

Seven Grand is located at the intersection of Seventh Street and Grand Avenue.

-- Lauren Williams

Etc. Important Internet Activities for your work day.

In the middle of writing an important, time-sensitive e-mail at 8:00AM this morning, I spilled coffee on my keyboard. The day has only gotten more fmylife-like since.

In order to commemorate my e-mail that was missing every 'o' and 'i' at the end (t llked lke ths) and to cheer you up in the case your day is sucking like mine, here are
E-mails from Crazy People and E-mails from an Asshole. Enjoy.

P.S. I found the above image by googling "sad business." You have to cherish the little things.

-- Heather Robertson

Photo credit:

Make It. Online banking [A budget].

Lauren Williams: I'm not going to lie. I have some really strong feelings about online banking, leaning toward the I-hate-it attitude. I had one bad experience, but really that's all it takes for me. I had a brief stint as an online banker, but got locked out of my account and forgot my passwords (why do we have to have so many passwords in life, anyway?). I have never used it again.

Heather, I know you are a sworn online banker. Why do you like it so much?

Heather Robertson: I guess I'm just a product of the modern age. Every aspect of my life has some internet integration--socially, professionally, academically, and it just seems natural that it would extend to my finances. I totally don't even think about it. What seems more ridiculous to me is balancing a checkbook. Just like with everything else, if I weren't able to instantly connect to my bank account, I would feel out of the loop with what was happening with my money. No matter how well I keep track of it mentally or on paper, the proof of what is actually in there is a few secure clicks away.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Etc. The best of Conan O'Brien.

Unless you were living under a rock, you might have heard that Conan O'Brien is leaving the Tonight Show with his head (hair?) held high. My absolute adoration for this man and his comedy goes beyond words, so here's a compilation of best of moments from Conan's Late Night days that doesn't do him any justice (I was going to compile a bunch of videos myself, but alas, NBC has strict video-posting rules):

The People of Earth love you, Conan.

What's a favorite Conan moment of yours?

-- Chau Tu

Etc. Godiva candles.

Two of my favorite things in one--chocolate and candles make a beautiful partnership with Godiva Candles. The home fragrance collection launched in Summer '09 from the 80-year-old chocolatier was created with the help of Laura Slatkin of Slatkin & Co. (you may have seen their candles and oils at Bath & Body Works).

The collection of five includes; Milk Chocolate Truffle, Black Almond Truffle, White Chocolate Magnolia, and Raspberry Ganache. The White Chocolate Magnolia is in my kitchen and smells beyond delicious. It would also be a decadent bath-side treat!

They're a steal at $22.50 each--a very reasonable price in the luxury candle market.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Eat In. Mac and Cheese.

OK, believe it or not, homemade macaroni is one of the easiest things I've ever made. And the pay-off is ridiculous. The recipe below makes 6ish servings (it makes as much in the picture above), but you could probably half the ingredients or play around with it until it feeds as many as you'd like. Also, be aware that there is--in my rough estimation--7000 calories packed in here. But hey, that's comfort food for you.

  • 1 lb. elbow macaroni
  • 3 tblsp. butter (plus a little extra to grease the baking pan)
  • 3 tblsp. flour
  • 2 cups cream
  • 6 cups of cheese (we used cheddar and monterey jack)
  • 6 slices of bacon*
  • Salt, pepper, and whatever spices you like (we used a mix of cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, and a bit of nutmeg)
  • breadcrumbs for topping
  • Prepare the macaroni according to the package (or, you know, boil it in water with a little bit of salt and oil, duh).
  • Cook the bacon in a skillet, crumble or slice it, and make sure to reserve the delicious, greasy fat.
  • Melt the butter in a sauce pan.
  • Once the butter is done foaming, add the flour and whisk until all the lumps are gone.
  • Let the roux (aka the butter and flour) darken to a sandy blonde.
  • Whisk in salt, pepper, and spices
  • Add the cream slowly, whisking the whole time until it's smooth.
  • Dump in the cheese and whisk until everything is melted and tasty.
  • Mix the cheese sauce, bacon bites, and drained pasta in the pasta pot.
  • Pour the yummy mixture into a greased glass baking pan ( 13x9, maybe?).
  • Spoon a few tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat into the breadcrumbs and mix until crumbly.
  • Top your casserole with extra cheese and breadcrumbs.
  • Bake at 375ish for 20ish minutes-- basically until the breadcrumbs are toasty and the cheese is bubbly.
*This is totally optional. I'd imagine you could also use a veggie, like peas. However, if you do opt out of the bacon, have some melted butter on hand to toss the breadcrumbs in.

-- Heather Robertson

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Check It. Catchy tunes & literary seduction.

Today marks the release of Vampire Weekend's second album, Contra. It includes the single Cousins, as well as the very catchy Horchata.

Also available today is a peek inside the life of the legendary Warren Beatty (Bonnie and Clyde, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Shampoo, Dick Tracy, Bugsy, Bulworth) -- Peter Biskind's new book, Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America has caused a stir even before its release with Biskind's calculation that the handsome (now married & father of four) ladies' man slept with 12,775 women before settling down with Annette Bening. I say it's worth a read for some juicy old Hollywood stories involving the likes of Jane Fonda and Joan Collins (and I'm guessing Beatty pal Jack Nicholson.)

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: Vampire Weekend

Make It. Clothespin doormat.

It's time to get out the power tools and portable vice again. This project, making a doormat from doll's head clothespins and a small-gauge wire, is probably at the intermediate level of crafting, but definitely worth the trouble.

A nice doormat really sets the tone for your house. It can be welcoming, keep your floors slightly cleaner, and be a nice accessory. This doormat says "whoever lives here cared enough to get out the power drill just to make the floor nicer for you, visitor" -- at least, that's what I imagine it saying to my guests.

Eat In. French toast.

Breakfast? Best meal of the day. Don't even fight me on this. I will eat breakfast foods (there are so many options!) for days on end and will be completely happy. Actually, I almost do that anyway. I lead a simple life.

One of my favorite breakfast items? French toast. Sadly, this is a dish that takes planning from the night before and fancy ingredients like buttermilk (yes, buttermilk is considered fancy, and seriously, why would anyone have a gallon of it around?). Or is it?

Ah ha! There is, in fact, a quick and easy way around to getting a couple slices of French toast on your plate in just a few minutes, and it's actually quite delicious.