May 30, 2006

Atwater Chatter

Here's what's up, in and around our little 90039 haven:

Inappropriate Celebrity Fawning

Names like Britney, Jennifer and Angelina indicate a pinnacle of celebrity sightings. Their names move magazines.

In my humble circle, there's another name sure to elicit glee and envy for anyone who spots her out and about.


That's right, Lorelai's daughter. Known in real life as Alexis Bledel, from our #2 TiVo season pass. (Behind "24.") Known by my guy friends as Becky from "Sin City."

After moving to LA less than three months ago, this sighting came suddenly. It was unannounced by fervor from passersby, in one of those Hollywood-adjacent places where everyone plays it cool: they want you to suspect they might be famous, but they don't want you to think you are. No one approaches. No one wants to be A Fan. (Or they're just being respectful.)

I was hunting cream cheese Monday evening at Trader Joe's on Hyperion Ave. Of the three TJ's near Atwater Village, it's our least favorite, but it's on the way back from the beach, so what can you do.

Standing in a cashier line, unlike some celebrities who are exempt from paying retail, there was Ms. Bledel, freckles and all. She wore a cute young man all over her cute purple sundress, with flip-flops. (Sorry, I don't watch enough WB to ID the cute young man.) Might've been beach day for them, too.

Drew Carey, now Alexis Bledel. We're done. Now we can move back.

May 28, 2006

When My Newbie Status Wears Off

It takes about a year, according to this LA Times run-on sentence about the May Gray:

Veteran Angelenos (that is, anyone here at least a year) know the disappointment of waking to skies as gray as freshly poured concrete, of noons that appear filtered through the dome of a dirty milk glass and of afternoons that play out in miserable dullness until, like a cruel gift, sunset roars through a slit on the western horizon in colors of magenta and gold.

May 27, 2006

My First LA Pizza

Some places are known for their pizza. New York's thin crust. Chicago's deep dish. California's ... um ... pizza kitchen.

Last night Mrs. Newbie and I hankered for "dinner in the round" and I tackled the Internets to find out what non-newbies think is LA's best pizza.

Of course the lists were pepperoni'd with addresses in Santa Monica and Venice and West Hollywood - too far for starving (and self-respecting) eastsiders like us.

But two eastside joints kept popping up: Masa of Echo Park and Casa Bianca Pizza Pie in Eagle Rock. A mental coin-flip took us to Masa, 1800 W. Sunset, about four miles from Atwater Village.

(Those among you who believe tropical fruit may not peacefully co-exist with other pizza ingredients should read no further.)

When we found out Masa's signature deep-dish pie takes - for all the right reasons - an hour to cook, we went with the thin-crust prosciutto, jalapeno and pineapple.

Pizza: good. Service: better than good. Location: easy enough.

Will we go back? Probably. But life is too short - and this city too big - to visit the same restaurant twice in a row. Next, likely, is Casa Bianca. Or someplace else. The search continues...

May 25, 2006

Atwater Chatter

What's up these days in and around +34° 6' 59.00", -118° 15' 20.02" ...

I Blank Atwater Village Too

[From Marc Brown via the LAist bee scare.]

May 24, 2006

Meaningless LA Award

My first nominee for most-photographed spot in Atwater Village is ... Bigfoot Lodge. Flickr sets:

Where I come from, a log-cabin structure signals a ghost town, a mountain spa or a neo-Luddite suburban retreat. In Los Angeles, it's a theme bar.

[Image from stutefish.]

Intersecting Journalism

Evan George reports that LA City Beat and the Pasadena Weekly ran the same cover story (LACB, PW) - with the same headline and photos of the same dude - a few weeks apart.

(I'm interested because 1) I'm a former stringer for a newspaper 60 miles away in a different city, and 2) I live along the LA-Glendale "border" between these two papers.)

So what's their excuse: Evan George's observation of financial and editorial laziness by a common owner, or PW editor Kevin Urich's need to distribute his own "outstanding" piece to the biggest possible audience?

It's silly to argue that the papers "intersect slightly only in border areas like southern Glendale and downtown LA." National Guard efforts aside, newspaper readers don't stay on their side of the line.

How many Angelenos slum in Old Town, absently picking up PW? How many Pasadenans (is that a word?) desire home furnishings beyond Z Gallerie, and must venture into The City, accidentally browsing LACB?

Worse, how many media junkies pick up both - or, like me, see both online? Surely the eighth largest city in Los Angeles County has enough stories to cover its own.

Ironically, this twice-baked article covers the struggle of alternative newspapers to remain relevant. Might help if they ran new news on the cover.

[See the original coverage and the ensuing back-handed ass-kissing here.]

Oasis in a Parking Lot

From an "agricultural oasis growing strawberries and fruit and nut trees in the most fertile soil near the Los Angeles River" to this Sundays-only market in a bank parking lot, Atwater Village hangs on to its urban farming history. From this morning's Los Angeles Times:
Pompea Smith, whose Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles runs the Atwater Village market (among others), which is coming up on its first birthday, says, "The community is very supportive of the concept, a way of bringing the community together. We have activities, storytelling almost every Sunday, local musicians for the children. We encourage local people, like a local man who makes mozzarella. One lady started a little business selling herbs from her backyard." [more]

No word on if Joan Baez would be willing to sit in a tree for those backyard "herbs." See the rest of LA's "certified" farmer's markets here. (Buy berries from the guy on Brunswick Ave. at your own risk.)

[Image from Eric Garcetti]

May 23, 2006

Atwater Chatter

In and around the Village today:
  • Never mind that Atwater Village is north of downtown. Downtown LA's not exactly in the middle, is it. Must be why this map puts AV firmly on the east side
  • Call it a grande office-ccino: Slaving away in Starbucks from Atwater Village to Canoga Park
  • Free cortadito at Porto's Bakery in Glendale (winner, best Cuban bakery/deli) when you show a copy of Tu Ciudad's best of Latino LA issue - a magazine already published in the national language
  • Number of Chris Gore's Top 10 LA movie landmarks that are actually in LA: 10
  • Does anyone know what they were shooting in Atwater Village on Sunday afternoon?
  • Does anyone know who they were shooting in Atwater Village on Sunday night?

'Lost' Near Atwater Village

Funny, I didn't notice any polar bears on San Fernando Road this weekend.

Solar Studios, just over the tracks from Atwater Village, hosted the second annual Destination LA fundraiser May 20.

The event was part of a weekend geek-fest for fans of ABC's "Lost." An auction benefited the Children's Defense Fund, a favorite charity of show creator JJ Abrams. In the past the auction boasted TV Guide covers vandalized with Sharpie hearts, though this year's Drive Shaft faux tour poster must've been a big hit.

Also at this year's party, "Lost" executive producer Bryan Burk (photo from an expansive DLA2 gallery; note Oceanic Airlines logo on laminant) auctioned a charitable non-committal comment about tomorrow's season finale to SciFi Wire:

"The entire episode has a lot more going on than the season finale of last year, so I believe that, while you're going to be getting a lot more answers to a lot of questions, you're also going to have a lot more to discuss over the summer."

May 22, 2006

Atwater Chatter

From in and around the Village:

Los Angeles, That Pedestrian Nirvana #2

Atwater originally uploaded by 7-how-7.
This is why people are walking down the middle of the street - for now - in certain parts of Atwater Village.

May 19, 2006

Short Shameless Assessment

Know why public trains don't attract more Angelenos? Because their web sites suck so bad.

Here's an Internet challenge: Find a round-trip train route (with schedules and fares, of course) from anywhere in LA to anywhere not in LA. On a weekend. Good luck.

(And to this they want to add a separate monorail? That's exactly what Los Angeles needs: one more autonomous public transportation system.)

P.S. - I still like it here.

May 18, 2006

May 17, 2006

Who Lays Claim?

What is this neighborhood called? It's a sliver two blocks wide, about 30 blocks long, sandwiched between I-5 and the LA River.

Glendale Freeway (Hwy. 2) runs across the north end; Pasadena Freeway (110) pinches off the south. The mostly residential 'hood is accessible only via Riverside Drive as it snakes under I-5's east side.

I haven't seen neighboring areas lay claim. Atwater Village stops at Fletcher Drive, supposedly. This map seems to split the land between Silver Lake and Elysian Park, but it doesn't seem like part of either.

May 16, 2006

Atwater Chatter

Thoughts and tidbits from in and around the Village:

[Image from Friends of LA River]

Los Angeles, That Pedestrian Nirvana

The sidewalks are missing.

For three weeks (so far) men in orange and trucks in yellow have been removing, chunk by chunk, the sidewalks on my block, here in the "Beverly Hills" of Atwater Village.

The goal is to trim tree roots that have been pushing up the 80-year-old walks. Then, re-pave, minus those jagged slopes that heretofore made it impossible to push a stroller.

Today, the chainsaws are out. I'm glad I'm not a tree.

Soon I'll Have a Whole New Head

As a newbie here in the world's cultural capital, I like to see Los Angeles through new eyes (thanks Nerd!) and now, thanks to Prehensile Thumb, I can listen to LA through new ears. The Thumb re-posted a quintessential LA mixtape. It starts with the perfect kickoff song, Luna's "California (All the Way)," and goes on for an hour of inspired LA pop, rock & hip-hop. Who knew there so many songs about Silverlame Silverlake? Or that Death Cab for Cutie loves singing about things they hate? Track list from the original post:

1. Luna - California (All The Way)
2. Beulah - Gene Autry
3. Van Dyke Parks - Laurel Canyon Blvd.
4. Eleni Mandell - Silverlake Babies
5. The Decemberists - Los Angeles, I'm Yours
6. Guns N Roses - Welcome To The Jungle
7. The Game - Westside Story (feat. 50 Cent)
8. X - Los Angeles
9. Morrissey - First of the Gang to Die
10. Deathcab For Cutie - Why You'd Want To Live Here
11. Van Dyke Parks - Palm Desert
12. Van Dyke Parks - Laura Canyon Blvd
13. Death Cab For Cutie - 405
14. MC Honky - The Devil Went Down To Silverlake
15. Beulah - Sunday Under Glass
16. Van Dyke Parks - All Golden
17. Elliott Smith - L.A.
18. Tupac - California Love

If there's anything I'd add, it's People Under the Stairs' "Eat Street" - the ultimate LA hip-hop foodie tour.

[Eyewear image from]

May 15, 2006

Eat Local

One Angeleno is attempting to eat locally - fruit, veggies, eggs, dairy and wine originating within 100 miles of LA. Here's how our Atwater Village Farmer's Market (Sundays 10:00am-2:00pm) hooks her up with deliciousness:
The best discovery so far, though, has been Cardone’s Mozzarella. Richard Cardone makes fresh ricotta, mozzarella and boccocini right here in my neighborhood and sells it at both the Silver Lake and Atwater Village Farmers' markets every weekend. It’s fabulous stuff, especially the ricotta. In fact, we like it so much it found its way into many a dish this past week - sprinkled on our ratattoulle, mixed in our potato-asparagus hash, and stuffed inside our mint and pea ravioli. The boccocini, on the other hand, don’t mix with anything other than a plate of olive oil, salt and pepper and then head into our mouths.

Must Be the Other Green Building

It turns out J. Ferrari Gallery is not moving into the green Atwater Village building I suspected on May 6. Until I figure out what building it really is, here's info from the gallery's site:

  • J. Ferrari Gallery at The Complex
  • 3015 Glendale Blvd.
  • Preview: Friday June 9, 6:00pm
  • Opening: Saturday June 10, 6:00pm

Isn't Porn in the Valley?

But then I see this Craigslist ad from Pasadena. Isn't Pasadena in the other valley?

May 14, 2006

Then and Now

From a historic site, above is a northeast aerial view looking from Silver Lake toward Atwater Village (at the top). This is February 1929, the month of the first Academy Awards. Look how densely developed AV already was, compared to the sparseness of Silver Lake. Many of those AV homes still stand.

That's Hyperion and Griffith Park Avenues along the left, crossing each other toward the top (just like a few other "parallel" Los Angeles streets). The LA River runs left to right, just below Atwater Village.

Below, a similar, yet less elegant, aerial vision from Google Earth today. Look at Silver Lake's development in the last 77 years. Atwater Village, if it weren't so fuzzy in this image, would look about the same.

May 13, 2006

This Looks Like Something

After a random Saturday afternoon's drive around Palos Verdes Peninsula, Mrs. Newbie exclaimed, "This looks like something." We veered into the parking lot and discovered she was right. It was something. But on Wikipedia it wasn't. So I added this to the page for San Pedro:

One of the more "raucous" places in all Los Angeles - especially on Saturday afternoons - is San Pedro Fishmarkets (Berth 78, 1190 Nagoya Way, San Pedro). The mashup of sit-down restaurants, pick-and-cook seafood counters and outdoor cerveza-garden harbor-side picnic-table dining offers poplular "fajitas" trays ($15-40) piled inches high with spicy shell-on shrimp, peppers, chiles, onions, and garlic bread.

Like Grand Central Market in downtown LA, it's a real find for a Newbie like me, and one of those attractions I rarely hear white Angelenos (and their media outlets) mention.

May 11, 2006

Atwater Chatter

In and around the Village today:

Atwater's Killer Bs

A writer for Downtown LA is shocked - shocked! - over "well-established hotel restaurants" (downtown's Marriott and Bonaventure's L.A. Prime) and Dodger Stadium, "of all places," earning less-than-appetizing Bs from LA's Department of Public Health.

Not exactly high Bs, either. All three scored 83% or less - with cockroaches (!) in April 2006 at Bonaventure, after three straight A ratings.

So how scores Atwater Village? Mostly As, a handful of Bs:
  • THE ROOST - 3100 LOS FELIZ BLVD - 86
Eh,who wants to eat at a gas station anyway. Only one at C or below:
Being new to this whole rating system, I have friends here who advise never go below A. But do Bs keep others away? Are they points of no return? Or are they, like school grades at least, better than average?

[Image - not in Atwater Village, but in downtown LA - from Flickr]

May 10, 2006

Atwater Under Water

Thanks to La City Nerd I checked out Los Angeles city's flood hazard map. Good news for Atwater Villagers: If you don't live down in the LA River, you should be OK when the 100-year flood hits. (Of course all graffiti artists should stay out of there, ya know, just in case.)

May 9, 2006

Atwater Chatter

New on the AV forum(s):
  • Not crazy about the ol' Ranch Market mural on Glendale Blvd. where the new Starbucks will allegedly locate? Neither is RealityGirl (2nd to last item)
  • AV residents get 10% off acting workshops - assuming everyone agrees on neighborhood borders
  • A shooting? In broad daylight? On Easter Sunday? Farmkat reports (last item)
  • "Gorgeous white kitty" needs gets loving home

LA's Video Geography

The 245 pieces on TurnHere (motto "short films, cool places," via Springwise) veer toward PBS-ness, but with more thought put into narration, editing and music, they're better than the rejected yearbook moments on YouTube. Some from 'round the AV:

More from in and around Los Angeles:

May 8, 2006

The Last of the $8 Movie Tickets

We Atwater Villagers are lucky. Our nearest movie theater also happens to be one of the best deals in town for first-run film.

Where other cinemas charge $11.00 and up, the renovated Vista at 4473 Sunset Blvd. manages to keep evening admission to a mere $8.00.

I guess the mysterious investors behind the non-chain Vista have solved what perplexes many old-time theater owners across the country. How do you compete against stadium-style mega-plexes with an 80-year-old one-screen cinema? How about turning it into a neighborhood destination by:

  • Upgrading projection & sound
  • Keeping prices low
  • Removing every other row of seats for lots of leg room
  • Showing films from Scientologists
My first time at the Vista I saw "Thank You For Smoking" (starring Kate Holmes). Then I waited four weeks while "Smoking" was held over. Last night I returned for "Mission Impossible III" (starring Kate Holmes' babydaddy). Next week the Vista opens "Poseidon" (Scientology connection as yet unknown).

More about the Vista in photos, an article, more photos and this Cinema Treasures profile. But good luck finding an official site.

May 7, 2006

Putting the E in Atwater Village

Thanks for indulging me these discoveries of Atwater Village's music and movie ties. It's exciting to be in a neighborhood that spawns such creativity without making itself a spectacle.

Here's a slice of indie rock history with Mark Everett, better known as Eels frontman "E." He must've moved to LA when, 1989? Was this also when he became a friend and neighbor of Elliot Smith? From the official biography:

At the age of 24, feeling stifled by the lack of inspiration and creative community in his Virginia neighborhood, E packed up everything he owned into a car and drove 3,000 miles across the country to Los Angeles, where he knew not one person.

He eventually moved into a tiny apartment above a garage in Atwater Village, on the East side of Los Angeles, and resumed his antisocial routine of waking up, writing and recording 4 track cassettes, going to one of many shitty jobs that he hated, coming home, writing and recording more, and going to sleep.

[More here...]

Trashin' the Village

No, not in a Washington Post kind of way. It's more of a La Gran Limpieza kind of way. Video and article from CBS2:

Saturday was a day for spring-cleaning along the Los Angeles River.

Friends of the Los Angeles River organized 4,000 volunteers from Long Beach to the San Fernando Valley as part of the 2006 Great Los Angeles River Cleanup, or La Gran Limpieza

Cleanup locations included the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena, Atwater Village, Griffith Park and the Tujunga Wash.

P.S. - The LA River cleanup volunteer featured on CBS2 seems like she could be the same author and LA-based specialist, Dr. Valerie Ulene, daughter of medical guru Art Ulene, who also files health reports for LA Times and KTLA. Nice crossover!

May 6, 2006


Anyone know where to find this "dilapidated," "drab," "skeezy" spot? It's the "creative command post" for Will.I.Am Adams from the Black Eyed Peas. So sayeth the Washington Post:
"The dilapidated brown building sits on a grungy corner in Los Feliz [Ahem, Atwater Village], wedged between the Los Angeles River and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, a few car lengths east of the interstate.

"It's a drab, two-story stucco structure that looks as though its tenants ought to include a bail bondsman, a disbarred attorney and a private investigator.

"Apparently, the building's exterior is skeezy and unremarkable by design, so as to avoid advertising the building's As-Seen-on-MTV occupants.

"Think Ciara would be coming to this grungy corner near I-5? No. Way."
All this from a Washington Post reporter named "J. Freedom du Lac," who apparently doesn't get out much back east. Unless Washington DC has been suddenly purged of all skeez.

Ferrari in Atwater Village

No, it's not a new dealership along the Brand Blvd. of Cars. It's a new gallery from artist Jazmin Ferrari coming to the little green building on Glendale Blvd. - near Creative Grounds coffee shop and Dave's Accordion School! - just this side of the Hyperion Bridge.

See the forum post from the artist. Grand opening June 10.

Open Letter to the Getty

Dearest People of the Getty,

I love that your world-class museum is a mere 20 miles from Atwater Village.

I love that you open your doors to all, for free.

But if you're screening a film famous for consisting of one, uncut 90-minute take, doesn't it sort of ruin the point to project from a 35mm print with missing frames?

It's like exhibiting the Mona Lisa with her eyes poked out.

I know the film's distributor has recently faded away, but I imagine a visual arts organization with your clout ought to be able to secure a pristine print.

Or at least screen it digitally! (That's how it was shot, no?)

Your Humblest Fan,
Atwater Villlage Newbie

Which Way 101

Inspired by a comment on a recent post, I set out to find which direction highway the 101 really travels.

I'd always heard that odd-numbered US highways travel primarily north-south. The start of Highway 101, some 1,500 miles away in Olympia, WA, certainly appears to be almost due north of the end in Los Angeles.

But there's always The Valley.

In the San Fernando Valley through Southern California, the 101 cuts directly east-west. In the Valley, when you cross the 101, you are traveling north-south. There is no east of the 101. There is no west of the 101.

Then the 101 cuts an angle - northwest-southeast - across the Hollywood Hills through Hollywood and downtown LA.

Hollywood's major surface streets cross the 101 from east to west. So if I come from Atwater Village in east LA, and I get on Hollywood Blvd., Sunset Blvd., or Santa Monica Blvd., I'm traveling west across the 101.

But why would I want to do that?

(Kidding. I know the ocean is west.)

May 4, 2006

From the Shadow of Costco

Coming to LA's Clair Obscur gallery May 6: "When photographer Octavio Arizala was playing with the Chilean thrash-metal band Warpath, he never thought he would become Atwater Village's resident pinup photographer." [More here]

Update from the Four-Five

California's 45th Assembly District is "one of the most prominent perches in local politics ... located primarily in Northeast and central Los Angeles ... El Sereno to Hollywood, Atwater Village to Chinatown. Arguably the most liberal district in the state and ethnically one of the most diverse..."

[More at Los Angeles City Beat]

A Modest Proposal

If you write a "Best of" Los Angeles, try to list things that are actually in Los Angeles.

West Hollywood, Burbank, Pasadena, Beverly Hills, Malibu and Santa Monica are all different cities. Some of them even have their own mayors. But you'd never know from these lists:

Even better - for us Atwater Villagers - what about something even more specific? What about Top Tens in East LA? Who really wants to cross the 101 for burger, even at 3am?

May 3, 2006

Behind the Numbers

Apparently 97.75% of voters at Star 98.7FM want to hear the return of Jamie, Jack & Stench. (When, after Jamie's maternity stunt leave?)

LAist suspects ballot stuffing. I suspect only 2.25% have actually listened to Jamie, Jack & Stench.

I had to listen to Jamie White go on - and on and on and on - when she was in Denver. Back then it was Jamie, Frosty & Frank. (Yes, that's F&F of LA's Frosty, Heidi & Frank show - poor Frank, always holding up the rear - now on 97.1 FREE FM, slogan: "Free! And worth every penny!")

Then off went Frosty & Frank, but somehow Jamie remained, this time with Danny Bonaduce in a show broadcast to Denver and LA. Jamie pretended hard to make the show generic enough that no one would think it was all about LA. (As if Denverites wouldn't know what a freeway was.)

And now it looks like 97.75% of voters (or at least radio station staffers immune to loggorhea and en route to carpal tunnel syndrome) want to continue to cram Jamie White into my ears.

Is it any wonder that 100% of my music time is split between KCRW and an iPod?

May 2, 2006

1,000,000th Drew Carey Sighting

I am the proud witness of the 1,000,000th Drew Carey sighting in LA, Tuesday night at the Arclight, leaving the upstairs concessions en route to "Thank You For Smoking" at 7:40 in house 8. (Too much detail?) No glasses, a little tanner, a little thinner, but still unable to find the part of the shirt that tucks.

'Calm Self-Evacuation'

More on the haz-mat incident Friday in this sliver of No-Man's Land between Atwater Village and Glendale. From Los Angeles Fire Department:
Six companies of Los Angeles firefighters arrived quickly at industrial firm Huntsman Advanced Materials [5121 San Fernando Rd.] to a calm self-evacuation of personnel after a trio of 55-gallon drums in a covered exterior breezeway between buildings suddenly discharged their lids, producing voluminous acrid vapors without fire.

LAFD Haz-Mat experts utilized thermal imaging cameras to determine that portions of the drums exceeded 200 degrees Fahrenheit and had become increasingly unstable while producing sizable and intermittent vapor clouds.

There were no civilian or firefighter injuries ... and a precautionary evacuation of a commercial area to the east in the City of Glendale was handled entirely by Glendale authorities.

[Image from Windows Live Local Beta]