Monday, May 31, 2010

Happy Memorial Day!

Happy Memorial Day! Hoping everyone is enjoying the three-day weekend.

-- the BEAT

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Do It. New York travel.

In a recent conversation with fellow blogger Ms. Chau Tu about traveling to New York, I remembered a few of my favorite places to stay, eat, drink, and visit. Spring and the upcoming summer are an ideal time to visit New York. It's beautiful, fun, and, if you do it right, reasonable. Here are a few places that made me fall in love with New York City.

Stay here.

The East Village Bed & Coffee is a very affordable hotel, that gives visitors the sense of living in a New York apartment building. This place has great location in New York's East Village, and is near tons of bars, restaurants, theaters, and jazz clubs. The building was transformed from an apartment building with three different flats, to a pretty excellent hotel. Each room has a different theme with an Afghan, Mexican, French, and Buddhist-themed rooms. Pictured here is the Black & White room. The owner is really nice, and each level has a full kitchen with a fridge, if you wanted/needed to do some cooking. Rooms are between $125-$155/night.

More recently, I was planning a trip to New York and found another adorable/affordable gem: The Sugar Hill Harlem Inn.

On the other side of the borough in Harlem, each room at this inn is themed after a different jazz musician. Pictured are Louie's and Mile's rooms, respectively. The hotel has also made a pledge to sustainability, and advertises itself as a "green hotel."

This place is said to be close to tons of classic New York jazz clubs, the Jazz Foundation, and the Met's Cloisters. For those who want to make the trip over to the Garden State, this place is a great location, both in Manhattan and close enough to jump over to Jersey -- if anyone would want to go to Jersey. Rates are about $125-$145/night.

Eat Out.

Back to the East Village, my favorite place for a New York bagel is The Bagel Cafe and Ray's Pizza. The bagels here are soft, and come with every kind of spread imaginable. The coffee is also wonderfully fresh, and the prices are astonishingly cheap. It's also near an integral part of New York's counterculture history, close to the former home of 1960s crazy person, Yippie! and creator of the Free Store Abbie Hoffman.

Another excellent New York restaurant is Max Brenner -- something you have to see to believe. Like a more classy version of Willy Wanka, Max Brenner is a man devoted to all things chocolate.

Brenner has crafted several different glasses to optimize the chocolate drinking experience. My favorite is the white chocolate hot cocoa, with hits of rose, that hails all the way from Trinidad served in one of The Bald Man's crafted hug mugs. There are also tons of candy and chocolate-flavored cocktails that are unfathomably delicious, and excellent food is served here as well.

One bar that pairs New York history and amazing drinks is the East Village's KGB Bar. Back when the Lower East Side was home to communist Ukrainians, the Reds would gather at this former-home-now-bar.

All the commi propaganda still hangs on the walls, including portraits of some well known party leaders. It's a bit hard to find (as any self-respective subversive hangout would be), and is upstairs in a walkup. You'd have to be looking to be able to find this place. I really loved the selection of local brews served here, and the mix of New Yorkers of all ages, not just cool under-40s gave this place some legitimacy as far as I'm concerned.

Check It.

For those going within the next three days of this post, Marina Abramovic's exhibit at MOMA is so controversial, you can't not go. With naked people filling the museum's exhibition space it at the very least is worth seeing for all the hype.

But for those going after May 31, if I was given my choice of any New York museum it would be the Met. It has to be the largest museum I have ever been to with amazing collections. The first time I was there, the Met had a photo collection honoring the (at the time) recently deceased Susan Sontag, giving the museum a permanent place in my heart. It's also pay-as-you-wish (!) but you might get some funny looks from museum employees for not paying the full amount.

-- Lauren Williams

Friday, May 28, 2010

Check It. Breathless at Laemmle's.

The Criterion Collection truly said it best: "There was before Breathless, and there was after Breathless." And if you haven't yet experienced your life after Breathless, it's about time to.

The 1960 film by Jean-Luc Godard marked a key moment in the French New Wave era of cinema, and it's a fun, remarkable film to say in the least. Godard (working with a treatment originally written by another French cinema master, Francois Truffaut) plays with notions of crime and beatnik attitudes while tipping a hat toward American film, and you won't ever quite get chemistry and sex appeal like the combination of Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg. And the final scene! You just can't beat it. (Movieline has more to say about why Breathless is still awesome even today.)

See for yourself as Rialto Pictures celebrates the film's 50th anniversary restoration by releasing the new print in theaters beginning today. L.A. is lucky to have three hosts: the Laemmle's in West L.A., Pasadena and Encino. So no excuses!

And for all you fashionistas out there, the awesome sisters behind the Rodarte brand are also taking part in the celebration by releasing two t-shirt designs inspired by the film, including one featuring the New York Herald Tribune logo just like what Seberg wore in the film. I'm on the hunt to get one! Rodarte will additionally be decorating the store windows of Barney's New York with Breathless designs.

Breathless will playing in the Laemmle's theaters for a limited engagement. Click here for details. For now, reminisce with this scene:

-- Chau Tu

Advance Notice. Get Him to the Greek.

If you liked Superbad and/or Forgetting Sarah Marshall, you're in for a treat next Friday, June 4 (or Thursday at midnight if you're that excited) when Get Him to the Greek comes out.

Jonah Hill an L.A. guy, from Santa Monica, so I always find it interesting to see his films and follow his success. The current (June 10) issue of Rolling Stone has Russell Brand on the cover, and calls him a "comic genius". With these two funnymen starring, the movie is sure to be full of great humor.

It's short--just 109 minutes--the best kind of comedy, short and packed with laughs, so you leave the theater still laughing and wanting to see it again.

Get Him to the Greek will be playing at the ArcLight, among many other theaters.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Do It. Kayak through Naples.

As summer approaches, so too does one of my favorite outdoors-in-a-big-city activities: Kayaking through Naples. Long Beach's small waterfront community makes for a perfect arena to get in some kayaking, and around this time of year the small, harmless, petable (petable!) moon jellies are out in Naples.

As your kayak coasts through the water, the little jellies come up to your boat and you can reach down and touch them (although I've been told picking them up is strongly discouraged, for the sake of the jellies).

Renting a kayak is extremely inexpensive at Long Beach's Kayaks on the Water, where they provide kayakers with maps of the area. Kayak rental costs $ 8/hour/person.

Kayaks on the Water is located at 5411 E. Ocean Blvd. in Long Beach.

-- Lauren Williams

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Eat Out. New happy hours at Milk and Tar Pit [Thirsty Thursdays!].

We've already told you how big of fans we are of Mid-City spots Milk and the Tar Pit, and luckily for you, the two spots are now featuring really cool happy hours worth checking out.

Milk is currently promoting an After School Special, where you can get their delectable milkshakes for a reduced price (opposed to their usual expensive $6-7 price tag) on Mon-Wed from 3-5pm. All the shakes are pretty great, but the Coffee Toffee and MILKIE Way Malt are personal favorites. And if you're hungry, stay for the pasta!

Or quickly head on over around the corner on La Brea to the Tar Pit, now helmed by a new bar manager and holding a special "Guilded Hour" full of deals. According to Grub Street, you can get four cocktails, including the Bees Knees (gin, honey and lemon) and the Brown Derby (bourbon, honey and grapefruit), for $6 each, and snacks like mini mac with gruyere for $5. Fries with spicy lemon salt, garlic and aioli is only $2.50! The deals take place daily, but it starts early and ends quickly--5-6:30pm.

Milk is located at 7290 Beverly Blvd. and the Tar Pit is located at 609 N. La Brea Ave., both in Mid-City.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Milk

Check It. Rolling Stone.

Reason #5,068 to subscribe to Rolling Stone magazine--to get Mick Jagger in your mailbox instead of having to get the issue with Keith Richards on the cover (unless of course you prefer the less cute rocker).

I was thrilled with the latest issue, and then while picking up some necessities in CVS the other night, I noticed that some people aren't so lucky, and have a much less attractive (in my opinion) cover photo.

Not that I'm saying to judge a magazine by the cover ...

Many magazines do this once in awhile--Harper's Bazaar did it for the Demi Moore cover a few months ago.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Do It. Win 75 Penguin books.

The same company that brought us so many favorites as "On Beauty," "The Tao of Pooh," "Angle of Repose," and "Tortilla Curtin," (or maybe those are just my favorites) along with "The Joy Luck Club," "Three Cups of Tea," and "Eat, Pray, Love" is giving away 12 sets of 75 books in celebration of their 75th anniversary.

Contestants are asked to write a 250 word essay (a little more than the length of this post) about why a Penguin book of their choosing is their favorite, and the winner will be chosen by July 12.

The deadline is June 25, but it feels like it would take that long to narrow down the choices of favorite books, and then summarize in one short paragraph why that book is your favorite.

75 free books?! Count me in.

-- Lauren Williams

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Eat In. Spicy ice cream.

ReadyMade Magazine, the mag devoted to all things homemade, recently had an intriguing item on their DIY blog: Spicy ice cream. Taken from the book "Spice Cream" by Sara Engram and Katie Luber, these new mixes sound quite tasty without being too creative and funky.

Featured flavors included such interesting concoctions as strawberry cinnamon frozen yogurt, brown sugar and spiced banana ice cream, and what I found most interesting pink grapefruit-tarragon sorbet.

Most concoctions didn't require anything that you probably don't have in your home already: eggs, vanilla, milk, cinnamon.

-- Lauren Williams

Do It. Watch Sex and the City 2 with cocktails.

Nothing like a good excuse to have martinis with a movie, right? The release of Sex and the City 2, if not for anything else, is just what you're looking for, ladies (besides some Aidan action, of course).

The Americana at Brand is hosting a "Girls Night Out" tomorrow from 6-10pm, where you can catch the movie at the Pacific Theatres and then get special cocktail deals at neighboring restaurants. And the entertainment is full-on 80s, with DJ Richard Blade and a cover band by the name Neurotic City playing live gigs.

Meanwhile, Rick Caruso's other entertainment entity, The Grove, is holding "The Ultimate Sex and the City Night Out," where $45 will get you private and reserved seats for a screening of the film, a cocktail party with food by The Farm of Beverly Hills and complimentary valet parking. Screenings take place in either the park or in the Pacific Theatres, and the promotion occurs all weekend.

But if you want to really go all out, just like Carrie and the girls would, head over to the Arclight Hollywood and take part in the SATC2 21+ Party Package happening all weekend, where for $70 you can get one ticket to a 21+ screening of the movie, where you can sip on (two drink coupons are included) specialty SKYY vodka cocktails with names like Glamour Gal and munch on free, unlimited appetizers from the in house chef.

Speaking of SKYY Vodka, the company's apparently produced special Sex and the City bottles, so you can always just party like the ladies at home! And appropriately, there are recipes to match.

Either way, don't forget your Manolos!

The Americana at Brand is located at 889 Americana Way in Glendale, the Grove is located at 189 Grove Dr. in Mid-City and the Arclight Hollywood is at 6360 W. Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood.

-- Chau Tu

Eat In. Grapefruit Sidecar.

Making drinks at home can be great if you do it right. Firstly, a stainless steel shaker is a good start. Mine is from the Pottery Barn and twists to give you drink recipes. Martha Stewart makes a similar style.

One of my favorite classic cocktails is a sidecar. This past weekend I wanted one at home, but didn't have any lemons or limes. A quick replacement was fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, and it ended up making quite a delicious drink! I think orange juice would work just the same. The grapefruit flavor really came through, and mixed well with the brandy and sweet triple sec.


2 parts Brandy

1 part Triple Sec (Cointreau or Patrón Citronge)

1 part Fresh-squeezed Grapefruit Juice

Fill the shaker 3/4 with ice, pour in ingredients one by one, cover, and mix well.

Pour and serve immediately.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: Pottery Barn

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Check It. Stone Temple Pilots.

The Stone Temple Pilots were big in the '90s, and today they're back. The Los Angeles by way of San Diego band won an MTV "Best New Artist" award in 1993, and a Grammy in 1994. With hits like "Plush" and "Vasoline" in the past, the new eight track self-titled reunion album is sure to have at least one song that will take its place within the hits of this decade.

Hopefully this is a sign that Scott Weiland is doing well with on-again off-again drug habit that has created a lot of trouble for the band over the years.

The Washington Post calls it "Genial and pop-centric". Leslie Bargar Suter of Los Angeles magazine (formerly of Filter) wrote up the album in their May issue's "Coming Attractions", and noted that the self-produced CD "feels a little clean".

Maybe clean is a good thing for these guys.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: Stone Temple Pilots

Check It. 'The Life of a Plastic Bag.'

Do you ever wonder what becomes of that plastic bag from the grocery store after it gets thrown away? Or even ... how it feels?

This video shows the life of a plastic bag after it's bitten the dust and moved into a landfill. Props to the person in the video who uses the bag nearly 87 times before tossing it, though. Most of my plastic bags only go through one or two uses before getting thrown away.

The personification of the bag (and spooky voice) in the video I find a bit unnerving, but it's definitely gotten me to think twice about leaving my reusable bags at home before heading out to the market.

-- Lauren Williams

Do It. Vote for the best burger in L.A.

With the rise in popularity of burger joints like Umami (a personal fave!) and Father's Office, L.A. definitely seems to be going through some kind of burger renaissance. But where can you get the best?

It's time to vote. dineLA (the lovely folks who bring the biannual L.A. Restaurant Weeks) is currently holding a contest on Los Angeles' facebook page for May, National Hamburger Month, to decide where Angelenos can get the best burger in the city. Not surprisingly, In-N-Out seems to be beating everyone else, but there are some fighters in the aformentioned Umami and Father's Office. Disagree? Cast your vote now!

And if you need an extra incentive, voting in the contest and entering your email on the facebook page let's you in on some exclusive deals for each of the burger places mentioned. Yesterday's deal featured $10 off a burger--50% off!--at the barely-month-old supper club in downtown First & Hope. So even if you've got a loyalty towards one burger, it doesn't mean you shouldn't try any other.

Happy grubbing, and get voting--the contest ends May 31st.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Umami, by the LA Times

Monday, May 24, 2010

Check It. Voxtrot [The Monday Download].

In music, everyone talks about the sophomore slump--when a band finds itself under immense pressure to create a second album just as good (but preferably better) as their first breakout hit. But what about a freshman slump? In the age of the internet when a band can get hyped from a few choice songs posted on their myspace, the pressure to put out an exceptional first album is something all too true, all too harsh, and often laden with musical casualties.

A sad example of this is Voxtrot. The Austin-based band debuted in the early 2000s in a rush of internet media hype for their first set of EPs, featuring jangly indie pop songs full of good hooks and even better lyrics. I was a huge fan; I loved the energy of the danceable songs, and I thought frontman Ramesh Srivastava always had the greatest lines about down and out but optimistic youth, a la "we are desperate, lonely and underpaid" and "we only ever wanted to feel real" (they're less emo in context, I swear). And I too, was excited for Voxtrot's full-length debut. But by the time the self-titled disc was released in 2007, the band was taking a much slower pace to their songs, and the music lost its witty bite. It was disappointing to many, and Voxtrot suffered from never having really been able to grab the spotlight. In April, Srivastava issued a statement on their website stating that they were breaking up.

But not before taking on a short U.S. tour ([bitterly?] named "Goodbye, Cruel World..."), playing those long-lost hits for one last time. They'll be hitting the Echoplex this Thursday, and they'll be sure to bring out all the stops on this last hurrah. Reminisce in Voxtrot's better days and bask in the wonderful youthful exuberance they used to exude. Here's a reminder below:

(NB: it must be stated that for the most part I am opposed to live video recording by fans during shows, but considering I don't believe Voxtrot ever put out a good official video for any songs on their EPs, this will just have to do.)

You'll be missed, Voxtrot, but better things are to come.

Voxtrot is performing May 27th at the Echoplex, located at 1154 Glendale Blvd. in Echo Park.

-- Chau Tu

Eat In. Open-Face tuna and guacamole sandwich.

Here's a great recipe idea for a snack or a quick and easy lunch or even light weeknight dinner. I would order it often at the deli counter when Malibu Kitchen was Mary's Kitchen, but now make it at home.


Sliced Sourdough Bread


Tuna Salad

Lightly toast your favorite sourdough bread, spread on a thin layer of guacamole, and top with a scoop of tuna salad (the Gelson's deli makes great tuna). Using a fork, make sure the tuna covers the whole surface of the toast, and then salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy the open-face sandwich!

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Check It. Body presented by Oxfam.

Folk rock musician Thao recently released her super cool "Body" video (directed by Glee's adorable Dianna Argon), on the site for international NGO Oxfam. The idea was that people would also check out the organization in addition to checking out her new video.

Oxfam provides aid around the world, and is currently working in Sudan and most recently Haiti, providing 240,000 people with essential clean water, according to Oxfam's website.

I absolutely love Thao's soft voice and I'm always a sucker for acoustic guitar. Add in the fact that the video is aimed at bringing awareness to an admirable NGO and this video goes up 10 notches in my book.

-- Lauren Williams

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Eat Out. Blue Plate [Sunday Brunch].

Santa Monica is full of great brunch options, and Blue Plate is just another one of those always-busy spots that, thankfully, lives up to the hype.

The negatives first: Blue Plate is crowded, for the simple fact that it is in a tiny space and on the lively street of Montana Ave. (be prepared to pay for parking, by the way). Tables are uncomfortably close together, so expect to get cozy with your neighbors (my date and I seemed to get snooty looks from ours--not our fault!). Also, although I appreciate that the coffee and tea is fair-trade, $3 (the same price for juices and other drinks) just seems like a bit much.

But once you get down to the food, all can be forgotten. I was already saddling up to get a big meal by ordering the breakfast combo of two eggs plus a half-stack of blueberry pancakes, but then was informed that I would also have two sides on top of that! For $9.95! Our small table, needless to say, ended up pretty loaded. (Sorry for the lack of photos, by the way--we were starving.)

And all that food turned out great. The pancakes could have been a bit fluffier, but with so many blueberries packed in there, it was still delectable. My date's challah French toast was dreamily soft and sweet--probably some of the best French toast I've ever had. The fruit side I had had really good pineapple and strawberries, which tasted fresh and light. Altogether a well-made, simple brunch, hitting all the right spots to start off your day.

Oh, but one more downside, that my date pointed out: our plates were not blue. What gives? But we didn't even notice until we scraped all our food right off.

Blue Plate is located at 1415 Montana Ave. in Santa Monica.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Blue Plate

Friday, May 21, 2010

Advance Notice. Imperial Bedrooms.

As this is a blog about all things L.A., you might imagine we're fans of Bret Easton Ellis' "Less Than Zero". His new book "Imperial Bedrooms", due for release on June 15, is a twenty-five years later look into the L.A. lives of Clay, Blair, and company.

In a great interview by Jesse Katz with Ellis in the June (Lunch Time!) issue of Los Angeles Magazine, Katz writes, "Text messages and internet videos have replaced pay phones and Betamaxes--Equinox instead of Nautilus, Koi in lieu of Chasen's, Reveal over the Roxy--but Clay is still navigating a terrifyingly soulless landscape of doctored flesh and leveraged couplings".

We can hardly wait. Based on Ellis' last book, "Lunar Park", I feel this could be one I won't be able to put down.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: maryliterary

Check It. Best Worst Movie at the Nuart [Guest Post].

There are many films that vie for the title of "Worst Movie of All Time:" Manos: The Hands of Fate, Gigli, The Room, and Paul Haggis' Crash (boo!), to name a few. Yet there are a certain number of these films that develop cult followings (I'm looking at you, Battlefield Earth) and raise their status from "leave it in the VCR that you're taking to Goodwill" to "get wasted and watch with friends on low-key Saturday nights." One such film is Troll 2, and the documentary Best Worst Movie is a hilarious and sometimes troubling look at the cult surrounding this unbelievably bad film.

Best Worst Movie is directed by the child star of Troll 2, Michael Stephenson, and documents the film's journey back into popular culture after its straight-to-video release in 1990. Starting with a screening at Upright Citizen Brigade's New York theater in 2004, Stephenson follows some of the stars of Troll 2 as they take the film on the road to sold out theater after sold out theater (including our very own Nuart!).

At the center of the film is one-time actor and full-time dentist George Hardy. The father in Troll 2, George now lives in a small southern town, splitting his time between his daughter and his protein shakes. George is a kind, ever-smiling guy who is impossible not to like, laughing his way through Q&As (where he recreates his awful performance on stage for his adoring fans) and proudly boasting to his patients and friends that he was in the "worst movie of all time."

But as the film progresses, you begin to see George fall under the spell of his "celebrity." He even hosts a hometown screening of the film, making the receptionists in his office cold-call patients to ask them to attend. The visits made to some of Troll 2's cast are often sad and always utterly bizarre, and when the Italian director (who still makes films in Italy) and his wife who wrote Troll 2 show up to join in the festivities, things get seriously awkward (and funny!).

But for the most part, the film is hilarious and thoughtful. Though it never fully comprehends why Troll 2 has become such a favorite in the so-bad-it's-good line of filmmaking, the clips that they show sure make it look like a helluva good time.

Judge for yourself at tonight's Nuart midnight screening of Troll 2. Hardy and Stephenson will be there, as well as at the Friday and Saturday screenings of Best Worst Movie. I'd recommend watching Troll 2 before Best Worst Movie, or just check out the excellent "Best of Troll 2" youtube collection below.

Best Worst Movie is showing at the Nuart Theatre, located at 11272 Santa Monica Blvd. in West Los Angeles, for one week starting tonight.

-- Daren Sprawls
Daren is currently unemployed, and available for birthdays and bar mitzvahs.

Eat Out. The Pantry.

If you want some amazing pancakes, wonderful, crispy bacon, or possibly the best cheese omelet ever (and who doesn't, really?), the place to find all these things in one small restaurant is The Pantry. And it's open 24 hours a day, every day and conveniently located downtown near the Nokia and Staples Center.

I've been vegetarian for a little more than six years, but remember the fantastic, crispy bacon that is served here. It's that good.

Going here is a family tradition for the Williamses. Early on an occasional Sunday we'll wait outside (because there's always a wait Sunday morning), and read the paper as we're waiting. Then, after a good 20 minutes of standing outside in the constant LA sunshine, we'll be admitted, already ready with what we want to order.

Unfortunately for vegetarians, after breakfast there aren't many options. Possibly mac 'n' cheese, but the chefs all clad in very sporting tuxedos, do not deviate very much from the menu, unlike so many LA restaurants. Open constantly since 1924, this place is a gem from old Los Angeles and owned by former mayor Richard Riordan.

It's absolutely a place worth visiting, and with most plates around $5, it's an affordable breakfast. Cash only, though.

The Original Pantry Cafe is located at 877 S. Figueroa St.

-- Lauren Williams

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Eat In. Lemonade and Jack Daniels [Thirsty Thursdays!].

Going with the lemonade theme of this week, I'm sharing an easy cocktail recipe that's great for the warm weather months. As a general rule, when you're using quality ingredients, it can never go too wrong, so with the two classics pictured above, no matter how you mix it, the drink is sure to be a hit.

Using a lowball glass, fill it with about four large ice cubes (or six smaller ones). This being a casual mixed drink, you can either free pour the Jack Daniel's to a level that looks about right (about 1/4 of the glass) or use a shot glass for measurement. Fill the rest with cold Newman's Own lemonade, stir lightly, and enjoy!

Depending on how much of the whiskey flavor you want in the drink, you might not want to fill the glass to where it looks like just lemonade, you'll want to see some of the whiskey color if you want the true marriage of the flavors.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: the BEAT

Do It. Soundsuits After Dark.

If you're not headed out to the music/arts fest Silver Lake Jubilee this weekend, head over to the other side of the town for another cheap (i.e. FREE) musical event: Soundsuits After Dark.

Part of the grand finale for the Fowler Museum's latest exhibition, "Nick Cave: Meet Me at the Center of the Earth," (no, unfortunately not that Nick Cave) the event will feature the exhibition's most prominent pieces: the soundsuits. Large, multi-layered and comprised of items like yarn, sequins, toys, etc., these soundsuits are intricate sculptures that create unusual sounds when worn. You'll get to see them in action firsthand as performers don the pieces for pop-up appearances, and if you're one of the first 750 people to show up, you'll even get a pair of American Apparel socks to adorn and make your own personal 'soundsuit.'

Also providing entertainment for the night will be KCRW DJs Jason Bentley and Garth Trinidad, and the usual assortment of food trucks will be on hand for grubbing. A creative and musically fun weekend for all!

Soundsuits After Dark will begin at 8pm on Saturday at the Fowler Museum at UCLA. It's free, and no tickets are needed.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: KCRW

Make It. A capelet.

For those who appreciate homemade, handcrafted clothes, here is the easy/short/adorable version of how to make a capelet courtesy of Etsy, a site where you can buy lovely vintage and homemade things.

This short explains where felt comes from (something that's been stumping me for years), and includes a very sweet sidenote about memories and buttons.

-- Lauren Williams

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Eat In. Grilled chicken with brie.

I'm not much of a red-meat person, so I end up eating a lot of chicken, which is fine. But chicken is one of those foods that needs jazzing up every once in a while--and brie is definitely the way to do it. Who knew, right? Combining good ole-fashioned chicken with sort of fancy but absolutely yummy brie cheese? It's delicious and, thankfully, easy too (thanks Food Network!).

2 chicken breast halves
Garlic and herb seasoning
about 4 slices Brie cheese
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
Fresh spinach leaves
A few slices bacon, cooked

Season the chicken with salt, pepper and the seasoning, and grill over medium heat. As that's cooking, fire up another pan over medium heat and saute the olive oil and shallots. Combine the vinegar, honey and salt and pepper in a small bowl, then add to the olive oil and stir together.

Arrange the spinach leaves as a salad on your plates and place the cooked chicken breasts on top. Put the brie slices on top of the chicken to melt, then pour the olive oil vinaigrette mixture on top. Crumble the bacon over the plate.

And enjoy! The kicker in this recipe is really the vinaigrette, which is sweet and goes perfectly with the brie.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Daren Sprawls

Check It. Cameraman.

There's something charming about grainy silent black-and-white films. Maybe it's the absence of spoken dialog and special effects, the often accompanying piano, or over-the-top makeup, but for some reason I absolutely love silent films.

And the iconic star of the silent era, Buster Keaton, will be appearing on the big screen at UCLA's gorgeous, historic Royce Hall. But not just one little piano will accompany Keaton's "The Cameraman" -- the entire LA Chamber Orchestra will provide the music for the show.

"The Cameraman" is the classic story of guy meets girl and wants to impress her, so he does everything possible to get her to notice him -- accompanied by the entire LA Chamber Orchestra. Exciting!

"The Cameraman" is playing at UCLA's Royce Hall May 23 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets range between $35-$75.

-- Lauren Williams

Check It. Gelson's.

In a big city like Los Angeles, we have so many choices of supermarkets, they should all constantly be on their toes, bringing their A-game if you will. That's not exactly the case, but Gelson's is one that consistently impresses. Yes, it's on the expensive side, but after debating for years if it's worth it, I decided yesterday it is.

The Gelson's on Hyperion and Griffith Park in Silver Lake is especially wonderful. Not only do they have the widest selection of cold drinks (from Blue Moon's Honey Moon Summer Ale to every flavor of Snapple to Honest Tea, to Diet Cherry Coke) of anywhere I've seen, the checkers and baggers are friendly, the manager is stellar, and they have ample convenient parking.

Olive bar? Check. Fresh organic fruit juice, check. Spicy tuna cut roll on soy paper? Ahh, that last one would throw most supermarkets for a loop--not Gelson's, $7.29, and it's super fresh, with fluffy rice that doesn't taste like refrigeration. What's great about Gelson's is, you can buy big brand products (who doesn't like Lay's?) as well as smaller, more gourmet brands, like La Brea Bakery breads, a variety of French brie cheeses, and Tate's Bake Shop cookies.

A fun side note--this Gelson's was the original Disney Studios, when Walt and his brother Roy lived just up the street.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Check It. The Rhino Records pop-up store.

If you didn't get your vinyl and limited-edition fix on Record Store Day, you've got another chance as the original Rhino Records resurrects itself as a pop-up store for two weeks in Westwood.

The music store originally closed in 2006, but former owner Richard Foos is moving to New York soon and doesn't want to lug his massive musical collection with him. So, lucky for you, he's opening up shop until May 31st to sell off his thousands of LPs, 45s, CDs, and DVDs, with all the proceeds benefiting Chrysalis Enterprises, an organization that helps jobless and homeless people find employment.

The pop-up store will also be holding in-store shows and events with bands like Mike Watt + The Missingmen and a screening of "No Autographs, No Encores," a documentary on Nirvana's first live performance outside of Seattle, which just happened to take place at the Rhino store. May 31 will host acts that are closely associated with the store's history and the Rhino label that it later spawned.

The merchandise is all first-come, first-served, obviously, and there are sure to be some great rarities and gems to be found, so go celebrate some music history and hopefully take some home too.

The Rhino Records pop-up store is located at 1740 Westwood Blvd. in Westwood.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Rhino Records

Check It. DVD releases.

The Criterion Collection DVD (and Blu-ray) of the 1971 British film Walkabout is available today. Set in Australia, Walkabout follows a high school girl and her younger brother through the wilderness of Sydney with an Aboroginie boy as a friend/guide, after their father abandons them. Director Nicolas Roeg was nominated for a Palme d'Or award for it.

A couple other DVDs out today that could be good for rentals--Valentine's Day, and Invictus. These are films I purposely skipped in the theater, but are worth checking out on DVD.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Check It. Ariana Delawari.

There's always that cliche about people leaving their homes across the U.S. and even the world to come to Los Angeles, cut a record or be an actor, and become a star.

But that's exactly the opposite of what Ariana Delawari did. She left LA for Kabul to get in touch Afgani roots and recorded her debut album in the war-torn middle eastern country.

NPR recently did a really touching interview with the very talented, soulful singer about her inspiration. One track on her new record "The Lion of Panjshir" is about immigration, a very personal topic for Delawari whose own grandfather stored away on ship to come to the U.S.

Delawari has a sound that reminds me a lot of Norah Jones, although it's characterized as "folk rock" and was signed by David Lynch, which has to be a good sign.

-- Lauren Williams

Photo credit: NPR.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Advance Notice. Swell Season, the Bird and the Bee, and She & Him.

All three of these very talented bands will be appearing together at the Hollywood Bowl July 18, and because of their popularity tickets are going to be snatched up pretty quickly.

Seats are to the show are pretty reasonable between the $10-$55 range.

Below is a video from talented She & Him, the Zooey Deschanel/M. Ward combination.

-- Lauren Williams

Check It. The Cure's 'Disintegration' rarities [The Monday Download].

The Cure is set to re-release its opus album, Disintegration, in a deluxe edition on June 8th. Included will be remastered versions of all the songs--including the classics "Lovesong" and "Pictures of You"--plus 20 previously unreleased rarities, a live recording of a full show from 1989, and a booklet full of art and commentary. Throw in the fact that the entire release has been produced and compiled by frontman Robert Smith himself, and it's undoubtedly a must-have for any Cure fan.

To commemorate the release, the band has put up a website at, which not only has lyrics to all your favorite songs and other fun internet extras, but now allows you to stream 20 MORE rare songs that they couldn't fit onto the album. Then on May 24th, you'll be able to stream another live show from 1989. Time to relive the '80s, in all its gloomy, gothy glory!

NB: Considering all this awesome streaming going on and the high-tech interactivity, the site seems to slow down any other computer activity a bit. Gotta make room for the Cure in your life.

-- Chau Tu

Eat Out. Lemonade.

Here in L.A., I drink lemonade year-round, but it definitely has the feel of being a summery beverage. This past warm weekend, I checked out the original Lemonade on Beverly Blvd. for some uniquely flavored lemonade, as well as a delicious caprese panini. It's a great casual lunch spot, with lots of options of gourmet side salads (Joan's on Third style), dutch oven stews, and even buttermilk chicken breasts.

I had the blueberry mint lemonade, and Hank had watermelon rosemary--both good, blueberry mint better. We were also curious to try the peach ginger, which the girl working there said was heavy on the ginger, so it seemed a bit risky to commit to. I bet the traditional is delicious.

The West Hollywood location is on a very nice stretch of Beverly Blvd., with little tables filling an outdoor space complete with yellow umbrellas. Other locations include Venice, Calif., Downtown L.A., and at MOCA.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Do It. Michel Gondry at the Sunset 5.

Michel Gondry's latest film, The Thorn in the Heart, is playing at the Sunset 5 tonight, and he'll be there! He's extremely charming, so if you can, I strongly suggest attending the screening.

It's a film about his own family, obviously a very personal project--something that would be great to hear him discuss afterwards at the Q & A.

Laemmle's Sunset 5 is located at 8000 Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood.
Screening tonight, Saturday May 15, at 7:40 p.m.
General admission tickets $11.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Friday, May 14, 2010

Do It. Akira Kurosawa at the Egyptian.

There's quite possibly no other Japanese auteur who can top Akira Kurosawa. The legendary filmmaker created some of cinema's most beautiful and inventive stories, from the unforgettable Stray Dog to the phenomenal The Seven Samurai. Kurosawa's films are a stable of the Criterion Collection, but now you can finally see his films on the big screen.

The American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theatre is presenting a two-part retrospective on Kurosawa and his films, the first part of which begins tonight with a screening of Run. Screenings of the aforementioned Stray Dog and The Seven Samurai follow, as well as High and Low, Rashomon and others. Get the full schedule here, and don't miss out.

For those who won't be able to make it out to the screenings, you can now buy the Criterion Collection's massive offering of AK 100: 25 Films by Akira Kurosawa for 25% off the $400 price tag, with $25 of that going to the American Cinematheque as a charitable donation. Helping out and indulging in cinema at the same time? Totally worth it.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit: Criterion Collection

Do It. Robin Hood.

There's not a whole lot out in the movie world this weekend, but if you feel like a theater outing, I say Robin Hood is the best bet.

Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett are both great actors, and the face of vigilante justice really never gets old.

It's playing in 3,400 theaters, I'll let you find where to see it.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: screencrave

Eat Out. Chego.

I still remember standing in line for my first Kogi taco. It was windy, cold, and although I was more than 10 minutes early, there were already people milling about the sidewalk outside of the Golden Gopher. In just two minutes, the line was snaking around the corner. Now, with four trucks on hand and too many knockoffs to count, Kogi's lines aren't so insanely hyped anymore, but that doesn't mean the demand isn't there.

Enter Chego. Kogi's chef de cuisine Roy Choi has decided to jump off the truck route for a bit to helm a brick-and-mortar institute and get back to his roots, Korean- and kitchen-wise, and the foodies have come running. A lot has been riding on Chego, based off Kogi's reputation alone, but it's also running off the steam from Choi's recent Food & Wine Best New Chef nomination.

And Choi isn't backing down from the pressure. This time he's taking over rice bowls, and it isn't your simple chicken and rice. Think rice of the stickier variety (sticky but not sweet), completely engulfed in large chunks of meat and an explosion of strong, fragrant spices, usually topped off by a fried egg. It's fun, ambitious food, challenging you to really engage in the meal rather than boringly set it aside. It's obvious that Choi is obsessed with flavors, flavor combinations and seeing how food works, and it's an fascinating ride.

Advance Notice. Patchwork.

For those who love crafty, homemade things, Patchwork is returning to Long Beach June 27.

I attended their pre-holiday sale and found some super cool handmade jewelry, journals, tees, and all sorts of super cool, handmade things.

At their last LB show I was very impressed with all the things people can do just with their two hands and a dash of creativity. It's definitely worth checking out.

Patchwork is scheduled for June 27 from 11-5 p.m. at the Marine Stadium in Long Beach.

-- Lauren Williams

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Eat In. Terremoto [Thirsty Thursdays!].

A refreshing cocktail, this typical Chilean drink involves pineapple ice cream, cheap white wine, is often served at carnivals and fairs in Chile for hot attendees.

Literally meaning "earthquake" this drink has its origins in a small Santiago bar, although which one remains up for debate.

Just take a cheap white wine and add a scoop pineapple ice cream. I'm not much of a pineapple fan myself, but with white wine, it's a perfect match. For a replica, or "aftershock," add a dash of fernet atop the ice cream/wine mixture.

-- Lauren Williams

Do It. Daniel Clowes at Skylight Books.

Daniel Clowes will be at Los Feliz's Skyight Books on Friday night to discuss and sign his new graphic novel, Wilson. This is the man behind Ghost World (for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay). Wilson is about a sarcastic middle-aged man who sets out to find his ex-wife. Publishers Weekly called it "another beautifully drawn slice of piercing social commentary."

7:30 p.m. Friday May 14.

Skylight Books is located at 1818 N Vermont Avenue in Los Feliz. The book is $21.95.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit: Fantagraphics Books

Advance Notice. Silver Lake Jubilee.

Silver Lake has already hosted a few high-profile street fest concerts in the past few years, like the Sunset Junction and FYFest, but it's about to add another.

The Silver Lake Jubilee is set to take place next weekend, May 22 and 23, on Myra Ave. between Santa Monica Blvd. and Fountain Ave. This first-time fest will be hosting a slew of live (and many of them locally based) entertainment, including Foreign Born, The Growlers, The Living Sisters and The Like. Beyond that, there'll be DJs, poetry, art, local vendors, plus more than 20 food trucks on hand to keep you well-fed. It sounds like a block party gone big, and the best part is, admission is only $5, which you purchase now. (College students get buy one get one tickets too!)

Take part in a homegrown community effort, and have some fun too!

-- Chau Tu

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Check It.

As big of a music fan as I am, I am embarrassingly awful at remembering song titles, even as it's being played and I can sing along every word. So try and ask me if a certain band played a certain song at a live show I attended—I sadly probably won't be able to tell you.

But alas, I have found a way to cheat., otherwise known as The Setlist Wiki, is the most comprehensive accumulation of setlists I have ever encountered. I came upon the site after I tried, with my expectations low, to search for a setlist from a Modest Mouse show I went to a couple years ago. I was amazed to find that not only did have the exact setlist I was looking for, but the records of setlists for Modest Mouse goes all the way to freaking 1995. 1995! How crazy is that?

And on top of that, you can also click a little play arrow button next to most any song title in a setlist, and down in the bottom right corner will pop up not only a Youtube video that corresponds to that song (whether it be an official music video or just the audio playing over images), but the lyrics too.

Music fans, you have found your ultimate resource. And now I can't ever have the excuse of forgetting a song again.

-- Chau Tu

Photo credit:; a Strokes setlist

Advance Notice. Cinespia.

This Saturday, May 15, marks the beginning of the Cinespia summer screening series at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The Wizard of Oz kicks off the 2010 season, a perfect film to bring a picnic to. May 22 brings The Thing, and North by Northwest is on the May 29, which may be worth waiting for.

I love that L.A. has this ongoing series, it really starts to feel like summer is here when the cemetery screenings start. But honestly I'd rather be at the ArcLight for a few dollars more. But if a combination of background chatter/drunken laughter, June bugs, and secondhand smoke is your thing ... just kidding (sort of)!

Gates open at 7:00 p.m. and the film starts rolling at 8:30. Arrive around 5:00 if you want a decent spot. I've been twice, and the second time played board games and ate my Whole Foods take-away in the sitting line outside and it made the wait bearable.

Location: 6000 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood. Entry fee - $10, cash, at the gate.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Etc. Wooden spoon.

Not to be confused with the overpriced "Brazilian" restaurant downtown, I'm talking about actual wooden spoons.

I've recently started using wooden utensils in the kitchen rather than plastic or metal and love it. I remember my mom using a wooden spoon with a handle that warped from the heat of cooking. It looked like it had been handed down from my Mennonite grandmother (it hadn't) and remember always thinking food tasted better when she made it with that spoon, especially oatmeal.

I recently purchased and started cooking with a wooden spatula/paddle and love it. It absorbs the flavor of the food you cook with and doesn't ruin your pots and pans by scratching the bottom the way metal cookware does -- and it's cheaper than metal utensils. An added bonus.

-- Lauren Williams

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Etc. Free Coffee Bean today.

-- the BEAT

Photo credit:

Advance Notice. L.A. Vendy Awards.

No doubt about it: L.A. is a street food town. But who's the best?

Time to judge for yourself, at the L.A. Vendy Awards. A spinoff of an annual competition that originated in New York, this street food cook-off will be making its way out to L.A. for the first time this weekend, and representing our fair city are the India Jones Chow Truck, Hot Dog Kings, Bigmista's Barbecue, Nina's Food, Grilled Cheese Truck and Tacos el Galuzo.

All six finalists were recently nominated in a public vote, so this is the people speaking here! Were they right? Buy your tickets now to sample all the goods for $50 (all proceeds go to charity!), and let us know!

The L.A. Vendy Awards are taking place on Sat. from 4pm-7pm at MacArthur Park, which is located at S. Park View Street between W. 7th and Wilshire Blvd.

-- Chau Tu

Check It. Daria on DVD.

If you watched MTV between 1997 and 2002, you've probably met Daria Morgendorffer. She the smart, sarcastic, not exactly popular predecessor to 2007's Juno (but Daria wasn't pregnant).

Daria has almost been forgotten by most in these days of Lost, Treme, Real Housewives, and my new favorite, 9 by Design. Until today. May 11 marks the DVD release of the complete animated series of Daria. The retail suggested price is $72.99, but you can get it on Amazon for $44.99, which is quite a bargain to catch up with Daria, Jane, Brittany, and Kevin.

-- Leslie Anne Wiggins

Photo credit:

Advance Notice. Crawfish boil.

If you have a soft spot for Southern food, the crawfish boil scheduled May 22 may be the place to be.

Crawfish are tiny, lobster-like critters said to be delicious when boiled and dipped in the right amount of butter. Two Saturday's from now, Harold and Belle's in LA will be serving up all things crustacean.

LA Weekly wrote that this is one of the few remaining Southern gems in LA, which says something since the paper is home to the first Pulitzer-Prize winning food critic Jonathan Gold.

Tickets to Harold and Belle's crawfish boil are $25. Harold and Belle's is located at 2920 Jefferson Blvd. and the event is set to take place May 22.

-- Lauren Williams

Photo credit:

Monday, May 10, 2010

Eat In. Carrot/beet salad.

Beets are unequivocally a super food. They are good for your eyes, blood, they help with digestion, are full of vitamins and fiber, and are low in calories. The only problem is that most people hate them.

But shredding beets and mixing with equal parts of shredded carrots masks some of the nasty flavor that people don't like. I first found this delicious salad as a prepackaged salad from Dole at my supermarket, but that's far more expensive than buying carrots and beets and shredding them, and that's not too much work.

I just pour some flavored olive oil over the beet/carrot mix and add salt to taste. An amazing side dish.

-- Lauren Williams