March 26, 2006

LA Via Public Transport

Sunday tourist Sunday:
  1. Atwater Village Farmer's Market - Needed some strawberries. And a nice-smelling candle.
  2. Metro Bus 92 from Atwater Village to Downtown LA - Boarded and purchased the $3 day pass, good for any bus and any train all day! Quiet crowd on this one, a few families.
  3. Walt Disney Music Hall - LA Philharmonic's Minimalist Jukebox - Recorded live for posterity. (And for iTunes. Available April 4.)
  4. Walk to Grand Central Market - Big surprise. Huge, covered market in the middle of downtown. Biggest in LA. Does no one talk about this? (In English, I mean.)
  5. Walk to Pershing Square station to catch Red Line subway - Greeted by mice-sized cockroaches, broken tiles, busted escalators. This was not a promising beginning for first-time LA subway riders. Luckily this was the worst of it.
  6. Red Line subway to Universal City
  7. Free shuttle from subway station to Universal City Walk, "65 cool things to do!" Did two: Had burritos, took pictures. Got back on free shuttle. (Last one leaves at 7:45pm. Like it's in Wichita.)
  8. Subway back to Hollywood & Vine - By the way, not a single. police. officer. The entire time spent on the subway today. Day off? Or relying on video surveillance?
  9. Metro bus 180 back to Atwater Village - Two drunken fools arguing with each other. Or auditioning for Jerry Springer. Not sure.
  10. Nightcap at Big Foot Lodge - $6.50 for Maker's Mark & Diet Coke; maybe 12 patrons in there, tops.
  11. Walkin' my baby back home.

March 25, 2006

First Visit to Little Tokyo

Film premiere and sushi (but of course!) last night in LA's Little Tokyo:

  • Screening at National Center for the Preservation of Democracy - Hard to find for us LA newbies, mostly because a) lack of obvious street signage and b) Google Maps doesn't think it exists. Put in the Center's address, 111 North Central Ave, and Google asks, "Did you mean 111 South Central Ave?" North, south, the difference is only a block, either side of 1st Street. But Central dead-ends at 1st and doesn't go to all the way to 111 North. That block is pedestrian only. So it's a leap of faith to park at Japanese Village Plaza and pray you find the right address. (Found it with thanks to Silverlake Film Festival dude at 1st & Central.)
  • Sushi bar at Z-something-or-other (Sorry, can't remember) - But it was half price! Not that I'd know what full price is. Actually, sake, sushi and dessert for two: $47. Seems like half price. Not the most crowded joint in JVP. Others were filled with younger, cooler Japanese. But great chef service. Quail egg in sake? Who knew?

March 24, 2006

Unarrested Development

Thanks to an astute reader of Curbed LA for shedding light on re-construction at the old Atwater Ranch Market (3111 Glendale Blvd.).



More drawings from the Atwater Chamber here, including a 13-page PDF presentation here.

So, a third bank along that stretch of Glendale? How many people really walk into banks any more? I know they're clean, good-paying tenants, but they're not exactly a draw. Are they?

And I also wonder how the indie Kaldi Coffee & Tea folks (about 400 feet away, same block) feel about this developer courting giants Starbucks and The Coffee Bean. (Though I'd lobby for a Peet's; the nearest is 6 miles away.)

P.S. - I just found this handwritten note on page 9 of the PDF to "maintain new mural." I wonder if the "new" mural is the colorful display on the building now or another one yet to come.

March 23, 2006

Off the Deep End

It's Southern California. One might think one could go for a swim - in a non-ocean environment - any time one wants. But the pool nearest my Atwater Village neighborhood (Griffith Park) is an empty ditch till later this spring.

So it's over to LA Park's aquatic site and its year-round list. The nearest facilities in distance from Atwater Village:

I Rocked It

It's been 20 years since my last driving test but - thanks to the online samples - I rocked my California written exam yesterday. Score: 30 of 36.

That doesn't mean I missed six. It means the touch-screen DMV computer stopped asking after the 30th question, since new applicants are allowed to miss up to six (an 83% grade!) and still pass.

Normally on these tests I expect questions about driving physics and legalities. But California seems more focused on touch-feely questions:

The correct answer is first: "You can frustrate the other drivers and make them angry." That is the reason you don't tailgate in California.

Not because you wouldn't have enough distance to brake safely. Not because tailgating is a major cause of accidents and deaths.

It's because you don't want other drivers feel bad. Because - of course - you would never want another driver to get "frustrated" or "angry." It might lead to road rage!

So if that's the case, then I'm confused by this directive in the California Driver Handbook:
Instead of using your horn, "try to get 'eye contact' with other drivers."

But ... but ... what about eye contact that leads to the dreaded road rage? From this article:
If another driver is acting angry toward you, don't make eye contact. Looking or staring at another driver can turn an impersonal encounter between two vehicles into a personal duel. And once things get personal, the situation can get out of hand fast.

I may have passed my driver's test, but I'm no less confused.

March 21, 2006

Notes To Self

Atwater Village neighborhood joints rating high on the list of Places to Visit:
  • India Sweets & Spices - Cafeteria-style Indian food & Bollywood flicks; photo & write-up here; another write-up here - 3126 Los Feliz Blvd.
  • The Bigfoot Lodge - Happy Hour 5pm-8pm - 3172 Los Feliz Blvd.
  • Tam O'Shanter Inn - LA's oldest restaurant operated by the same family in the same location - 2980 Los Feliz Blvd.
  • Club Tee Yee Gee - "Amy lives in Venice, so she thinks it's in Glendale" - And thanks for pointing out the funky sign does, in fact, say Gee! - 3210 Glendale Blvd.

Atwater Village Express

Or lack thereof. Is it awkward Metro LA scheduling, a lack of proper bus lanes, or a neighborhood turned against those who rely on public transport?

Either way it seems odd to me that the slow-boat-to-Hollywood 180/181 routes make multiple stops in Atwater Village, but their speedier cousin "Rapid" 780 does not. (Nearest stop: across the vertigo-inducing Los Feliz Blvd. bridge over I-5.)

P.S. - Public thanks to the 780 driver who, one rainy night, dropped us at a 180/181 stop closer to our Atwater Village home.

P.P.S. - Complaints about the eyeball-crossing navigation of Metro's web page purposefully minimized for this post. But come on. PDF maps? Hasn't anyone there seen Google Maps?

P.P.P.S. - Rant about train service through AV also forthcoming.

P.P.P.P.S. - I still like it here.


What's going on with the colorful building at the corner of Glendale Blvd. and Glenhurst Avenue, anyone? The bars are coming off the window and men are taking hammers to the outer walls adjacent to the newly-fenced-in parking lot. Might be a nice place for a Trader Joe's (hint, hint).

UPDATE: Thanks to Curbed LA for trying to get to the bottom of this! We'll stay tuned for the answer.

March 20, 2006

Over the River

And across a graffiti-slathered footbridge, I came across these defunct grand-scale marquees along Riverside. My guess at a street address is around 3200 Riverside Drive [map] just south of the Mulholland Fountain. What was the Californian? A hotel? Restaurant? Casino?

March 18, 2006


Dinner Thursday night at Figaro, an organic brasserie in a neighborhood labeled "Hollywood" on its business card, but labeled "Los Feliz" by most others (1802 N. Vermont Ave., 2.7 miles from my new home).

Pricey but tasty. Dark inside. No room to wriggle between tables. Cheese du jour was soft and good. Great, hot bread. Pommes frites a tad undercooked. Making them interesting to share between two people, plates seem to be served in odd numbers: five slices of ostrich, five little meringue bitelets.

Staff represented most French immigrant stereotypes: one snooty, one meek, one uber-professional. Best part: commitment to organic dining.

Celebrity Death Site Sighting

Who: Peter Tomarken, host of 1980s game show Press Your Luck

Where: Santa Monica State Beach, about 21 miles from my home

When: Last Monday, March 13

What Happened: Tomarken's Beechcraft plane crashed a few hundred feet offshore in Santa Monica Bay just after take-off from from Santa Monica Airport, killing him and his wife

What I Saw: Hours after the crash, the (empty) plane being dragged out of the ocean by bulldozers and divers

Possible Celebrity Sighting

Who: Jay London

WHO?: Overall-wearing, long-haired, self-deprecating comic from NBC's Last Comic Standing

Where: House of Pies, 1869 N. Vermont Ave. at Franklin Ave., Los Angeles (Los Feliz neighborhood), about 2.5 miles from my house

When: Last Saturday, end of lunch hour

Why Possible: Highly unlikely that Jay London is the only long-haired comic eating lunch at House of Pies

March 15, 2006

Funny Story

We pack up our home along Colfax Avenue in Denver, drive our stuff 1,200 miles for four days, unpack for a week, drive 30 minutes across LA today to the Getty Museum and - I am not making this up - see a black-and-white photography exhibit about Colfax Avenue.

Ten Minutes from My Home

For a change, it's actually true what the real estate agents say. Atwater Village is minutes away from lots of handy LA locations.

March 14, 2006

The New New West Hollywood?

According to the Web site for Atwater Playhouse & Method Acting School, my new neighborhood in Los Angeles is a "new hotbed."

I agree, but not the way "hotbed" may make it sound.

I don't see Atwater Village crawling with big sunglasses, distressed jeans and juice boxes. This is more of a neighborhood for those, even if they are in show business, who don't want to show off.

Now I just need to find these "pocket parks." More from the Playhouse:

Almost overnight, Atwater Village has become the new hotbed for professionals in the entertainment industry. Located next to Los Feliz and bohemian Silver Lake, adjacent to Griffith Park and a short distance away from downtown and Hollywood, it has become an increasingly desirable neighborhood over the past few years. With its quaint early 1900’s architecture, many small boutiques, galleries, "pocket parks," restaurants and caf├ęs, the area can often be seen in many feature films as well as LA-based television programs. More affordable than Los Feliz and Silver Lake, Atwater has recently been affected by the spill-over from these neighboring areas. As a result, Atwater is experiencing an influx of artists and young creative professionals – providing an ideal setting for the opening of the Atwater Playhouse and Method Acting School."