September 30, 2006

Keeping the A in Asia

The half-year-old Asia Los Feliz (3179 Los Feliz Blvd., Atwater Village) has endured three inspections by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The latest slips slightly off its high:

  • 08/25/2006 92% (A)
  • 06/29/2006 96% (A)
  • 06/20/2006 83% (B)
Having recently lunched at my first B-grade establishment (Palms Thai, Hollywood) I understand these persnickety inspections aren't always proportional to enjoyable dining. Missing grout between floor tiles? As long as I don't find it in my curry! Still, in a land of never-ending restaurants, I eat all the data I can.

Here's how some other Atwater Village joints fared in new inspections this summer:

  • L.A. BREAD, 3119 LOS FELIZ BLVD, 92%
  • DEL TACO, 3020 LOS FELIZ BLVD, 92%
Previously: Atwater's Killer Bs

LA to Denver: Better Luck Next Time

When I lived in Denver, this was the Messiah project. The Denver Art Museum expansion was going to save the city. It had celebrity architect Daniel Libeskind, $100 million and unabashed community support. That'll show them bicoastal art snobs!

With grand opening set for Oct. 7, the folks back in Denver are still just as impressed. But a bicoastal art snob newspaper reporter from Los Angeles? Not so much.

Rocky Mountain NewsLos Angeles Times
A work of art, for art's sakeTilted funhouse isn't so fun inside
"A brilliant container for art and a stunning work itself""The least congenial galleries for art that I've seen in 20 years"
"Galleries ... seem to cradle each work while providing room to breathe""Rooms end in narrow wedges of claustrophobic space"
"The atrium staircase ... is an unforgettably powerful, yet peaceful, space, with the contrast of dark gray granite pavers set against stark white wall""A jagged stair ... merges the traditional grand staircase in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art with the icy Fortress of Solitude in 'Superman'"
"Big step toward a new regional design maturity""The 'wow!' factor morphs into the 'huh?' factor"
"An outstanding achievement""An architectural gamble"

September 29, 2006

A.V. Phone Home

Free tonight: E.T., 8:00pm, Red Car River Park.

September 28, 2006

He Scores, He Shoots

This week's tidbit from LAPD Community Academy...

LA Lakers center Andrew Bynum - all seven feet of him - is in the Los Angeles Police Department Reserve Corps.

Bynum is one of about 900 community members who volunteer at least 16 hours a month to fulfill roles handled by full-time officers. They get badges. They get guns. They just don't get paid.

Word is there's a recruiting video in the works: Bynum goes for the hoop in his basketball uniform, lands in his LAPD Reserve garb.

No word on where you find a police uniform for someone seven feet tall.

Things That Make a Blogger Proud

Atwater Village Newbie is the #1 result in a Google search of trendy red wine. And the post isn't even about wine.

Eatz Be Gone?

Here on this week's all-restaurant, all-the-time Atwater Village Newbie, a concerned reader wants to know:

Driving past Eatz [3207 Los Feliz Blvd.] I saw white plastic tarps hanging over the windows, and the restaurant name has disappeared off the building. Couple this with the fact that they've been closed several Sundays lately, I can't help but worry they're shutting down. Any news?

Tuesday I saw a handwritten window sign saying Eatz is undergoing renovation, thanks for your patience, we'll re-open shortly. It was no ruse; workers were moving things around. The cafe, known for some of the cheapest breakfasts on the northest side, might be getting this badly-needed makeover from a new owner, based on this tidbit from Curbed LA:

Eatz Cafe, golf course adjacent on Los Feliz, and the Roosevelt Cafe at the Roosevelt golf course near the Greek Theatre, (both with beer licenses and both operated by the same people), have been sold to Byoung Woo Lee.

Hmm, is that Byung-woo Lee the composer? Maybe he'll rename it Beatz.

September 27, 2006

Newspaper Only 15 Days Behind Blogs

The blog-LA-sphere* already gave props to Canele, the new Atwater Village bistro in the former Osteria Nonni space on Glendale Blvd. Then Chowhound dissected its opening-weekend menu and service. Now the Los Angeles Times donates a column-inch or two:

The new spot's headed up by Corina Weibel, formerly sous-chef at Lucques, and Jane Choi, who helped open Manhattan's Balthazar and Pastis. On the menu are herb-roasted chicken with ratatouille and tapenade potatoes and pan-seared snapper with haricot verts, heirloom tomatoes and cracked olives. They've also kept Nonni's aglio olio pasta.

September 25, 2006

Cobras y Matadors, George y Izzie

My favorite kind of celebrity sighting: Well-known faces from a huge TV show, ignored by everyone but staff.

The place: Cobras y Matadors, tasty tapas, an easy Monday night score.

The faces: TR Knight (George O'Malley) and Katherine Heigl (Isobel "Izzie"Stevens) from Grey's Anatomy.

We had the cheese plate and lamb chops, with sangria and sherry. They had smokes outside after dinner, within view of their own billboard.

I still like it here.

September 24, 2006

No More California Pizza Kitchens!

What do you want to see at the old Kmart site at Fletcher Square?

Community groups in Atwater Village and Glassell Park are concerned. Los Angeles City College is building a new campus at the old Van de Kamp bakery, adjacent to Fletcher Square, poised to reunite and re-center the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, special interests are calling for "mixed-use development on the Kmart site providing amenities that we sorely need," such as "restaurants like California Pizza Kitchen."

But seven California Pizza Kitchens within seven miles is too many! And the Glendale store is only 2.2 miles from Fletcher Square!

Mom-and-pop pizzerias - the backbone of northeast LA's economy - will be driven out of business with so many California Pizza Kitchens saturating the area.

Who will take blame when the doors close on our local Sbarro?

Come out and voice your support for retail development that is more compatible with building a college campus, employs lots of part-time and full-time workers, offers plenty of free parking and refuses to serve Thai chicken!

Maybe Walmart! Or The Home Depot!

    Community Meeting on the
    Future of Fletcher Square
    Wednesday, Sept. 27, 6:00pm
    Glassell Park Community & Senior Center
    3750 N. Verdugo Road

September 23, 2006

Try Not to Nail Things Into Trees

You know those brown pole things with green leafy bits at the top? Those things are actually alive. Please find another way to advertise your yard sale. Like stapling a sign to your dog.

Things Rarely Explained on LA News

Nearly every time I watch TV news in Los Angeles, I hear one of these. But without the Internets, a Newbie like me would have to guess what they were all about.

Scratch that. Not even the Internets can explain Jillian Barberie.

P.S. - She's not Jillian in the photo. She's an actual KCAL reporter (inspired by Dirty Laundry?) unlisted on her station's bio page.

September 21, 2006

I Heart Curbed LA

Thanks for sending some readers my way, even if my total for the day equals yours for about 10 minutes.

Atwater Haps

Come to Atwater Village and environs. Save a buck or two.

Countdown: 2,557 Days Till Everyone is Over H&M

LOS ANGELES - September 21, 2013 - When Krispy Kreme first opened its doors in Southern California, circa 1999, friends licked their lips, piled in cars, drove out to La Habra and waited in line for 4-7 grams of transfat.

Seven years later, after opening dozens of locations all over Los Angeles, that groundbreaking donut store closed its doors, citing carb-conscious customers who no longer crave donuts.

When H&M first opened in Southern California, circa 2006, bloggers wet their pants, piled in cars, drove out to Pasadena and waited in line for $29 jeans.

Seven years later, after opening dozens of locations all over Los Angeles, that groundbreaking fashion store closed its doors, citing global warming-conscious consumers who no longer wear pants.

September 20, 2006

Home Plus Is Us (And One Fewer of Us)

I snapped this hazy cell-phone photo Saturday night. It's a billboard for Home Plus - Utah's Favorite Family Superstore - along San Fernando Rd. in neighboring Glassell Park.

It took me a minute to realize what it was. My first thought, "Why would a Utah store advertise in northeast Los Angeles?" was U-turned by, "Oh! That's brilliant!" when I realized Home Plus is from HBO's polygamy drama, Big Love.

The billboard's Home Plus Is Us slogan is embellished (by the fictional store owner's three wives?) with three hand-sprayed +us tags. Get it?

Citizenrobot caught the board another time, after the first us had been whited out. Glassell Park gangstas? Or HBO? For those of us who follow Big Love, does this mean one of the wives will be whited out on the next season?

(Note the irony of Home Plus billboard on a road already under attack for having too many Home Depots.)

September 19, 2006

Save Your Eggs

Gentrification is in the eye of the beholder. From Curbed LA:

A question about a neighborhood on the edge. "A check cashing place just opened near my home in Atwater Village. Is this a sign we're degentrifying?? ...and how many times do i have to egg it to make it leave?"

Check-cashing joints get a bad rap. What exactly is their crime? Would we prefer a "legit" bank like US Bank, one that ties all sorts of strings to "free" checking, holds deposits up to 30 days and charges $45 for overdrafting?

When long-term banking fees exceed instant check-cashing fees, it's no wonder 20 percent of Americans decide to remain unbanked. I, for one, support them.

Don't worry, gentrifiers. There's still hope for The Home Depot.

September 17, 2006

In LA You Can Get Anything, Anywhere, Anytime

Unless you want a car wash at night.

The Mystery Artists of Fletcher Drive

First I noticed Television Hill. Old TVs, painted with political and personal mottos like BUY MY LIE and TRUE FRIENDS ARE FEW, dot a hillside near Fletcher Drive and Riverside Drive. Over time, some TVs are added, some taken away. By whom? Hard to say. Maybe more than one person. Maybe it's an unplanned, organic conspiracy rather than any single artist's doing.

Now I see Median Cairn. A column of carefully-stacked rocks appears in the middle of Fletcher Drive at the Glendale Freeway ramps. Like other stone monuments, might this one mark a gateway to a neighborhood, like our own Atwater Village? Or might it signify something more sinister - a burial? (Yikes.)

Less than half a mile apart, perhaps both these displays have been inspired by other Fletcher Drive experiences. A smooth tuneup at Luis Lopez Automotive. A smooth soft-serve at Foster's Freeze. A smooth lapdance at Strip Club Too.

[Images from Vidalia and Wildbell Flickr sets.]

September 14, 2006

I-2 Or Not I-2, That Is the Question

To recap two previous posts: Is the Glendale Freeway a federal interstate highway (I-2) or a California state route (SR-2)?

I-2, says the city of Los Angeles via email yesterday from Council President Garcetti's office: "It is also the jurisdiction of Caltrans, so any questions you have about the 2 can be directed to them."

SR-2, says the state of California via Caltrans public affairs: "Yes, the 2 is SR-2. If possible, can you please email us a picture and the location of the sign that says I-2."

Photo: above. Location: Riverside Drive near Atwater Village, southbound just before the Glendale Freeway ramp. (That's +34 6' 15.35" -118 15' 10.68" for the hard-core.) Caltrans, coming your way.

It all begs more questions: Who put up that sign? And when? Aren't federal interstate designations tied to highway guidelines? And highway funds? If so, what happened with the funds? Were they ever issued?

And how long till this sign comes tumbling down? Drive by while you can.

Up Now! Our Favorite LA Food Weekend

Erin's Kitchen has posted our Newbie contribution to her favorite weekend series. There's meat! Potatoes! I mean, patios! Agua frescas! And the first ever published photograph of Mr. and Mrs. Newbie. Sure, our faces are obscured by a camera flash bouncing back in a convex mirror at night, but that's really us!

September 13, 2006

Atwater Village Takes the LEED

The green construction standards known as Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) don't require community input. But Los Angeles City College, developing its northeast campus at the old Van de Kamp Bakery at San Fernando Rd. and Fletcher Dr., got it anyway. From LA Weekly:

The neighborhood groups around the LACCD''s Northeast Satellite Campus Atwater Village location "have been active participants in the project." The college system is the first to build sustainability into its policy in response to community input. "It was the community that told us, 'We need someone who's going to be a champion and support this stuff.' Now we see it as a way to give another kind of education." The buildings will boast high-efficiency lighting, recycled-content carpets, and air-conditioning units that shut off when the windows open.

[Top image from LACC; bottom is Windows Live Local bird's eye view.]

Et Tu, I-2?

I'm not the only one mentioning that California state highway 2 might be mislabeled as federal Interstate 2 along Riverside Drive. I queried local representation today. An auto-reply thank-you came quickly. Stay tuned for a human response.

UPDATE! Human response from Office of Council President Eric Garcetti: "The Glendale Freeway is I-2, yes. It is also the jurisdiction of Caltrans, so any questions you have about the 2 can be directed to them." I see nothing on Caltrans. Stay tuned.

September 12, 2006

Everyone Is Talking About Canele

What was for 17 years the Italian neighborhood sit-down Osteria Nonni is set to open Friday as the Italian neighborhood sit-down Canele, 3219 Glendale Blvd. in Atwater Village. So sayeth - with apologies to Franklin Avenue - the blog-LA-sphere:

LA River Graffiti, For Now, R.I.P.

Not once but twice in the last month have Atwater Village's spray-can scars been repaired along the Los Angeles River. From AV's Neighborhood Watch newsletter, Sept. 3:

We have encountered red tape and bureaucratic hurdles along the way, but just last week, the entire stretch of the LA River that traverses through AtwaterVillage was painted over. Walls, walkways and embankments were painted. It was a glorious sight to see!

But good things neither last forever nor do they live on their own. There are those that just had to get their spray cans out again. [Photo above: week-old tags on storm drain caps north of Hyperion Bridge.]

Volunteers acted quickly, again, Sept. 9. Even the Sunnynook footbridge got an overdue makeover. The LA River has never looked so beige.

YouTube Actresses: Real or Fake? Discuss.

Is it a wrap for lonelygirl15? Jessica Rose, the allegedly aspiring actress, is known for the YouTube phenomenon and the LA Times sting. Her latest video has all the intentional lack of sophistication - that is to say, sophistication - of the orientation film on "Lost." Note the music. Familiar, but not famous. Probably legal. Probably paid for. At a bargain.

If LG15 needs replacing in the YouTube zeitgeist, here's Lucy in LA. I have it on good authority (via someone who knows someone who knows the videographer) that Lucy is the real deal. For now. No studio or agency ploy. Nothing to promote but herself.

Check out Lucy's tour of Hollywood Blvd., and a great story about her hot audition in the Valley.

New Motto for Trader Joe's Recycled Toilet Paper

      Good for the Earth
      Bad for Your Anus

September 11, 2006

We Lived 1,776 Miles from Ground Zero

I'm normally allergic to disaster anniversaries. But this one, my first in LA, made me wonder.

On Sept. 11, 2001, people in Denver, Colorado, were pissed off. Not so much at terrorists or Muslims or suicide bombers. But at Tower Records for not opening. At malls for closing early. At TV and radio for pre-empting their shows.

Coloradans felt detached from those tragic events. One even asked, "What does New York have to with me?" Coast vs. mountain, blue state vs. red, world destination vs. regional hub: no matter the scale, it's a valid question.

I wonder if Los Angeles would have felt the same. We live father from Ground Zero now, 2,790 miles. But in this fellow global city, would Californians seem less detached?

The mileage from the World Trade Center to our old Denver home, door to door, is the same as the year of American independence. Interesting. Entirely coincidental and meaningless, but interesting.

Our Favorite Food Weekend

Erin's Kitchen launched a series, Your Favorite Weekend, a delicious riff on the LA Times column where C-list celebrities list their favorite C-list eateries. Erin takes a different fork in the road, inviting "real Angelenos with interesting ideas and eclectic tastes to share their favorite weekends." Though I don't know if we qualify yet as "real Angelenos," Mrs. Newbie and I were honored when Erin asked us to participate. We finished our assignment this weekend. Look for it soon in the Kitchen.

September 8, 2006

Sugar? In Cotton Candy? Eww

Hilarious new LA County Fair ads here and here.

Call Us ARTwater Village

One art event per week is usually all we can handle over here in Atwater Village (a.k.a. Far East Hollywood, a.k.a. Tropico Adjacent, a.k.a. Baja Glendale). But this weekend we get two hipster magnets:

CCH Pounder Art
Gallery Re-opening

Pounder Kone Art Space
Friday Sept. 8, 6:00pm
3407 Glendale Blvd.

"Out on the Porch"
Exhibit Opening

jFerrari Gallery
Saturday Sept. 9, 7:00pm
3015 Glendale Blvd.

Read more about Friday's and Saturday's events.

September 7, 2006

New Interstate Highway in the Works?

I know Angelenos are sometimes loosey-goosey with highway names. It's not Interstate 5 and California Highway 110. It's The 5 and The 110. But this sign along southbound Riverside Drive approaching the ramps to State Route 2 (the Glendale Freeway) seems loosey-goosier than usual.

The red, white and blue shield indicates an Interstate Highway, like I-5 or I-10, a freeway in the national system serving major US cities. The problem with this shield for I-2? According to many sources - Wikipedia,, the Feds - I-2 does not exist.

Every other Highway 2 sign along Riverside Drive shows the familiar green hut of California's state highway system. Could this be another example of Donald Trump-related sign mischief? Could freeway installation artist Richard Ankrom be up to a new stunt? Or is California's lowly state Glendale Freeway en route to a Interstate highway upgrade?

September 6, 2006

The Best Free Education in LA

UCLA Extension could sell this 10-week program for $500 or more. But the Los Angeles Police Department offers Community Police Academy - a condensed, mostly hands-off version of what LAPD recruits learn - for free. For a Newbie like me it's a crash course in how this vast city bounces between chaos and calm. I'm halfway to graduation.

  • Week 1: LAPD History; Homicide Investigations (taught by actual homicide detectives with actual "murder books" containing actual photographs of what you actually think)
  • Week 2: Search & Seizure (the "mailman rule" says, if the mailman can get to something at your house so can the police)
  • Week 3: Pursuits; Community Policing; Traffic; DUI
  • Week 4: K-9; SWAT; North Hollywood Shootout (taught by a SWAT officer who helped take down one of the suspects on Feb. 28, 1997; he retires this month and is participating in a new National Geographic show about the shootout)
  • Week 5: Hate Crime; Internal Affairs (now called Professional Standards); Identity Theft
Did you know the LAPD has its own phonetic alphabet? Forget Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta... LA cops spell with Adam, Boy, Charles, David...

There ought to be a word ending with phile - like pedophile, or Francophile - to describe someone with a fondness for law enforcement. It would describe many of my classmates. They have a fascination with the investigation. They enjoy (or maybe they can't avoid) frequent LAPD interaction. Or could it be the 90-cent coffee?

Remaining weeks offer more law and order, LA style, including:

  • Week 6: Communications and Air Support
  • Week 7: Gang Enforcement
  • Week 8: Domestic Violence
  • Week 9: Vice
  • Week 10: Firearms Training Simulators

AVNC Lo Necesita a Usted!!

As follow-up to my August 19 post, Democracy Delayed, here's a call for every red-blooded American in Atwater Village:

Ocupe una posicion vacante en la Mesa Directiva del AVNC

Inscribase! Ayudenos! Involucrese!!

Las siguientes posiciones estan disponibles:
  • Representante de los Residentes de Atwater Central (1)
  • Representante de los negociantes (1)
  • Representantes de Organismos comunitarios o no-lucrativos (2)
  • Representante de Parques y Recreacion (1)
La fecha limite para submitir su candidatura es el jueves 14 de septiembre.

(Sorry, Blogger f'ed up the Spanish accents and I had to replace them with non-accented letters.) Application instructions - and English-language version - at

September 4, 2006

Security Hole in the Bowl

One of the Hollywood Bowl screeners - you know, the ones shining flashlights in all our picnic baskets - caught the guy ahead of me carrying a video camera into AFI's Movie Musicals last night. The screener ordered the guy to find the security counter and turn in his equipment, then turned to inspect the next bags.

Right. I'm sure this guy did the honorable thing, shuffling sideways through a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd, surrendering his camera to a nameless temp. He would never zig-zag to another ticketing turnstile, camera still in hand, so he could capture a bit of the show for the YouTubers. Never. Not even over the rainbow.

Newbie Question of the Week

Is it called the Wiltern because it's on the corner of WILshire Boulevard and WesTERN Avenue?

Going to see Guster there Sept. 29.

September 3, 2006

Best of Atwater Village Forums

Technically the plural of forum is fora, but I don't want anyone to think flora and expect to see a gallery of pretty gardens. Leave that to Flickr.

* Some "2 story eyesores" have been in Atwater Village as long as any single-family home, some 70 or 80 years. Stroll the sidewalks. You'll see at least one or two duplexes (maybe even three- and four-plexes) per block, not necessarily McMansions, but some well over 2,000 square feet.

September 2, 2006

I See the River and I Want to Paint It Beige

Too late. Between Wednesday morning and Saturday morning, someone gave a fresh coat of paint to Los Angeles River banks from Los Feliz Blvd. to Glendale Blvd. Gone are central Atwater Village gang tags. No more "I Heart Mom" bubbles sprayed one morning by thirtysomethings in windbreakers. No more FASTCOW.

See this Labor Day miracle while you still can. I give it till noon.

September 1, 2006

'Pinoy Real' is Not Some Trendy Red Wine

Speaking of gentrification, I noticed this recent addition to Atwater Village's Wikipedia page:

As middle-class Armenian and Filipino immigrants surged into the area, the Los Angeles Police Department managed to crack down on gang activity [including] The Rascals gang and Pinoy Real gang.

Despite LAPD crack-down, Pinoy Real (PR) lives on, with its own sloppy Wikipedia page:

Atwater (LA side) PR has a long history of continued rivalry between Hispanic gangs ToonerVille Rifa (TVR) and Temple St (TST) along with other Filipino gangs. Thee Rascals Gang (TRS) and PR kept mutual respect and shared the same Atwater village torritory. PR and TRS has fought side by side to keep rivals out of Atwater.

It's good to see people out tagging Web pages - instead of storefronts - with gang territory info. And with clues on how to spot gang members:

PR members are known to sport Pittsburgh Pirates apparel.

Oh, but there I go, proving right those smart, ambitious kids over at 50mm Los Angeles who post about "Ratwater" being full of, you know, "sniches."

Twenty-Minute Fire, Half-Hour Commute

On a good day my commute home, Los Feliz to Atwater Village, takes five minutes. But tonight Los Feliz Blvd. shut down in honor of the brave LAFD firefighters who, within 20 minutes, would rescue a burning 13-story building full of old people. I detoured south to get home across the Hyperion Bridge, but was delayed (again) by someone stalled in Silver Lake. I know, I shouldn't complain. It took a high-rise blaze and some blinking hazards to lengthen my drive to anywhere near that of the average LA commuter: 28.4 minutes. A blessing in disguise. Happy Labor Day. Now go check on Grandma.

  • Apartment fire at Los Feliz and Hillhurst [Metroblogging LA]
  • Fire Erupts in Los Feliz Highrise Condominium [LAFD Blog]
  • Los Feliz Apartment Fire Out Within 20 Minutes (w/ video) [CBS2]
  • Los Feliz Fire [Flickr]
UPDATE from LAFD: Sadly, one pet dog perished in the flames.