October 30, 2006

Mrs. Newbie Wants to Know

To buy candy or not to buy candy? Where pray tell do the trick-or-treaters go in Atwater Village?

Comment below or email us.

October 28, 2006

Google, 1970s Style

Growing up in the 1970s, I always asked for "LEGOS" at Christmas and birthdays.

When the box arrived, I'd spread out the "bricks" and unfold the instructions. Remember those? They were perfect, international, kid-friendly manuals. Just numbers and diagrams. No words.

Except this warning:

The word LEGO is a brand name and is very special to all of us in the LEGO Group Companies. We would sincerely like your help in keeping it special. Please always refer to our bricks as 'LEGO Bricks or Toys' and not 'LEGOS.' By doing so, you will be helping to protect and preserve a brand of which we are very proud and that stands for quality the world over. Thank you! Susan Williams, Consumer Services.

Even as a nine-year-old, I was put off. How dare they tell me how to talk about my toys?

For years it ate at me. Even today it shapes my perception about LEGO. No matter how beloved the product, any company that issues a warning like that - to kids - has a screw loose.

The cold, disheartening impression: the lawyers are really in charge. Even of the most creative brands.

But that was the 1970s. Surely today's enlightened post-dot-com companies wouldn't dare micromanage the way their customers talk and think about their products. Right? Apparently not:

Usage: 'Google' as verb referring to searching for information via any conduit other than Google.
Example: "I googled him on Yahoo and he seems pretty interesting."
Our lawyers say: Bad. Very, very bad. You can only 'Google' on the Google search engine. If you absolutely must use one of our competitors, please feel free to 'search' on Yahoo or any other search engine.
Michael Krantz, Google Blog Team

Google is trying to be cute, but the message is just as off-putting.

At least LEGO acted like it was just a few helpless little branding hobbits trying to protect their precious creation.

Google goes straight for the legal jugular. What are their lawyers going to do about it, anyway? Sue over sentence structure?

Like LEGO, Google is one of my favorite toys. I always thought it a creative, international, friendly company. (They're one of the few willing to play with their own brand.)

So how and when did the lawyers get in charge?

Maybe I can google it.

On Yahoo.

October 27, 2006

On Glendale Boo-levard This Afternoon

From the Atwater Village Inner Child: "So the only time I get to go trick-or-treating is four days before Halloween, at 4:00pm on a Friday afternoon? Screw you guys, I'm putting on my costume and going to Glendale Galleria."

    Where: At many participating businesses on Glendale Boo-levard (between Glenhurst & Revere) in Atwater Village

    When: Friday, October 27, 2006, 4:00 to 5:30pm

Beachcombing the Los Angeles River

I run along the LA River a couple of times a week. In Atwater Village, from Fletcher Ave. to Highway 134 - in broad daylight, of course - the river trail is a safe, well-groomed public space.

I don't even mind the river dwellers so much. They keep to themselves.

But riverside as beach? I don't know if I want to run around any beach bums. I didn't move across a whole time zone just to end up in Venice. Besides, won't sand slide down the concrete bank?

Curbed LA: Dream house: beach or hills?

Eric Garcetti, City Council President: Hills. Echo Park, right where I'm at, not too high up, and pretty close to the 'flats.' Great workouts and you get the beach for free - on a clear day, you can see the ocean. I like to imagine, however, that once we've got our return to the Los Angeles River underway, homes in Elysian Valley and Atwater Village will advertise 'beachfront property.'

October 24, 2006

Crashing an Atwater Village Dinner Party

LA Weekly chimes in on the neighborhood food phenom that is Canele, without which we'd get about half the Google hits at Atwater Village Newbie...

Dinner at Canele, a new Southern French restaurant in the old Osteria Nonni space in Atwater, can feel a lot like crashing a dinner party, with oddly minimalist decor, people you probably know and friendly but puzzled waitresses who aren't quite sure why you've stumbled into their domain... [more]

The tight bistro at 3219 Glendale Blvd. (packed on weekends; not so much midweek after 8:00pm) was also written up by the Los Angeles Times (twice) and about half the northeast contingent of our own Blog-LA-Sphere.

Maybe I should get around to checking it out.

Eatz Cafe is Now Los Feliz Cafe

I read somewhere in the Blog-LA-Sphere that restaurants have about 30 days to re-open after a change in ownership, or they face additional delays with Los Angeles County re-certification.

If that's the case, Eatz Cafe must have beat the deadline by a mile.

It shut down for two weeks and re-opened as Los Feliz Cafe. It's in the same bucolic location in Atwater Village, spiffed up a bit with new paint and fixtures, stuffed between the par 9 Los Feliz Golf Course and the rushed Los Feliz Blvd.

Anyone know if it's the same menu as Eatz?

October 19, 2006

Meet Twinkles

Twinkles is "14 pounds of fun, love and mind-boggling cuteness." He's one of four alarmingly precious animals currently available for adoption on Atwater Village Directors of Animal Welfare's Petfinders page. You know you want one.

July 2006: Best Month Ever for LA Magazine

Martini Republic jumps on my bandwagon about the retro Web site for Los Angeles Magazine. And by "retro" I mean "appearing not to be updated for four months." From Lance:

I really like what they did with the cover of the November issue - cracked me up, actually - and there was a little story to go with it. But when I went to the website to link to the covers, I found that it hadn't been updated since the July issue.

I admit, July was great. A little warm, but a good time for the beach. And I know VH-1, with shows like "I Love the Early 2000s," seems to be encouraging Nostalgia for the Recent Past. Maybe that's what LA Magazine is doing. Or maybe, as Martini Republic says:

...It willfully ignores the fact that stand alone print media is a slow dying dinosaur - with every remotely decent tree-killing publication offering online only content in an effort to survive just a little longer.

Then again, maybe a city glossy with an audience of 450,000 doesn't feel the need to grow online.

October 18, 2006

The New California Minimums

Based on seven months of anecdotal observation:

  • Minimum cost of a dinner for two, tax and tip included: $40
  • Of a memorable dinner for two: $120
  • With a movie: $150
  • Minimum cost of a shopping trip to Trader Joe's: $33
  • To IKEA: $110
  • Minimum monthly rent for Los Angeles housing that wouldn't embarrass Mom: $1,595
  • Minimum daily cost for an LA parking space that wouldn't embarrass Mom: $7

October 16, 2006

Paper Flower Border

I don't know what the legal boundaries of Atwater Village are but for me the physical demarcations are a glorious growth of crimson bougainvillea that flows gently against the concrete wall of an overpass...

See and read more from the Uncommon Traveler trek down coffee-shop memory lane: Quick cups: Kaldi Coffee and Tea, Toni's Bakery & Cafe.

October 15, 2006

Viral Video for Dtox

From Code.tv, a tranquil two-minute promo for Atwater Village's Dtox Day Spa. Says owner Ken King: "We picked Atwater because it's an up-and-coming area. It's kinda hip, bohemian." Fast-forward to the part where host Shira Lazar takes off her clothes for a four-handed male-female massage, then tries to speak in complete sentences. Bohemian? Try bacchanalian.

Just across the street from Dtox, Asia Los Feliz also gets a Code.tv puff piece.

October 14, 2006

Save Silver Lake for the East Side

Those comment-less gossipers at Fishbowl LA are simultaneously bashing a harmless parenting magazine and attempting to re-district Los Angeles:

The October/November edition of Cookie ... has a "fun things to do in Los Angeles" feature. They include Beverly Hills, but not Pasadena, and think that Silver Lake is the Eastside.

Out of towners.

Say it with us: Eastside means east of the LA River.

Really? Try asking some flip-flopper from Westwood to meet you at Sunset Junction in Silver Lake. See if he doesn't bristle.

Or dodge the squinty looks from an East Hollywood resident when you tell them they, like their Silver Lake neighbors, aren't east anything.

Geographically, Silver Lake, Sunset Junction and East Hollywood are all on the west side of the Los Angeles River. Culturally, philosophically, aesthetically, though, they're not exactly on the west side of LA.

I'm still a newbie, but it seems the river has outlived its usefulness as an east-west divider. This out-of-towner moved here seven months ago; "east" moved west years before.

Besides, follow the LA River through the San Fernando Valley and suddenly Van Nuys is on the east side of LA. Makes no sense.

How about we all agree to cut the city along Western Avenue instead? It's straight, long and has the word "west" in it. Easy enough to remember?

And when Western Ave. bumps into the Hollywood Hills, we can just draw a line continuing it through the Valley, where nearly everyone will now be considered "westside." I doubt they'll protest.

Traditionalists and Wikipedia be damned.

    P.S. - Just to confuse the Fishbowlers, East LA (not "east side" or "Eastside") still refers to the unincorporated area of Los Angeles County east of downtown.

October 13, 2006

Starbucks Takes First Casualty

Neighborhood activists, start your lawn signs. With less than two weeks till opening, the new Starbucks store on Glendale Blvd. in Atwater Village may have already claimed its first victim.

Just this side of Hyperion Bridge, within foaming distance of the new SBUX, once perched a too-cute coffee-cup sign above neighborhood joint Creative Grounds. (Recently the same block opened kiddie education store Segray and Squires.) But the giant cup is gone, as are the Grounds themselves, says an email from the proprietor:

yes, creative grounds is no more. the landlord decided she wanted to go a different direction. thanks for the interest...

Watch your back, Kaldi Coffee.

October 12, 2006

Diminutive French Pastry Could Save Neighborhood

Zooming down Glendale Blvd. at 45MPH - tsk, tsk - you might miss little Canele, but it's making a big difference in Atwater Village. (What, you mean Starbucks isn't going to save us?) So sayeth the Los Angeles Times:

Open only a few weeks, it's still green, but Canele could be just what's needed to rev up the neighborhood...

Canele is named for the diminutive French pastry cooked in fluted copper molds. After you've finished, as you head out the door, you're offered a warm canele.

These are notoriously difficult to make, and Canele's bakers don't have them quite down. They'll get there.

Right now it's the gesture that counts. It's a little something to say thank you for coming.

[Image from shes-krafty]

Bring the Jobs, But Not the Store

I hear the rallying cry about how "four Home Depots within eight miles are too many," but I really don't understand this new tack. From the ALL CAPS-challenged Atwater Village News Blog:

Home Depot and Dakota Communications (a high-priced marketing communications firm from the Westside) are telling residents about the 200 new jobs that Home Depot will provide if they go into the vacant Kmart Store.

That's NOT the truth. Richard Green, Home Depot Real Estate Manager, has publicly stated that they want the Kmart site so they can build a BIGGER STORE; TRANSFER the GLENDALE employees to the new GLASSELL PARK STORE, so they can build a NEW BIGGER STORE in GLENDALE and HIRE NEW EMPLOYEES for that store.

Do they know how far apart these two stores would be? Of course they do. It's 2.5 miles. It's on their bloody map.

And do they know the average Los Angeles commute is 28.4 minutes? I don't care how crowded San Fernando Road is, it never takes half an hour to get from Atwater Village to Glendale. You know, you can actually walk it.

The overall messages seem to be:

  • Traveling 2.5 miles to shop at The Home Depot is OK
  • Traveling 2.5 miles to work at the Home Depot is too much


  • See, those Home Depot people are a bunch of liars


  • See, it's not that I'm racist and hate migrants who seek work in Home Depot parking lots, and it's not that I only have a nostalgic preference for quaint bookstores and pizza chains frequented by white people, I actually have ethical problems with the way Home Depot runs its business and neighborhood outreach programs

Sometimes ALL CAPS doth protest too much. My NIMBY nightmare is a recurring vision of 200 Home Depot employees aimlessly wandering the streets of Atwater Village with no store to call their own. That, and getting another California Pizza Kitchen in northeast LA.

October 10, 2006

Eatz Be Back?

This weekend, peeps in seats at Cafe Eatz! But no new sign visible from the streets. I'll do a walk-by later.

Previously: Eatz Be Gone?

October 8, 2006

Cut-and-Paste Atwater Chatter

Handing the content wheel to the good drivers over at Friends of Atwater Village:

Oct. 10 Costco Parking Expansion Meet
Oct. 11 Neighborhood Watch
Oct. 12 Fletcher Square Hearing
Oct. 12 Griffith Observatory Sneak Preview
Oct. 15 Apple Pie Contest
Oct. 21 Used Library Book Sale
Oct. 21 jFERRARI "Baile de las Calaveras" exhibit
Oct. 26 Fletcher Drive Mural Dedication
Oct. 27 Atwater Village "Trick-or-Treat"
Oct. 28 CD13 Public Safety Summit
Oct. 29 Halloween Festival, Farmers' Market

Our Picture in the LA Times

L.A. Puts On Its Party Hats [Los Angeles Times]

Dear Beck,

Thanks for putting on your rock and roll show last night in downtown Los Angeles. That was us, about 50 rows back on the right.

I know some people complained that it was only a one-hour show. We didn't mind. It was an all-day festival, after all, and Queens of the Stone Age had already started on the other stage. Besides, we like medleys! And the puppet show was funny. How long did the puppeteers practice so they could get the little Beck puppet to sing all the right lyrics?

And what was that line from the puppet video? "Gonna spray some east LA on your shit?" Mrs. Newbie thinks it was "shed." Please advise. Or put the video on YouTube.

Mr. & Mrs. Atwater Village Newbie

October 7, 2006

Balls Out for Atwater Village

Looks like the San Gabriel Valley is being strung along. Taxpayer-funded tennis courts are being hogged by private lessons. It's driven them to make a racket here on Landlocked Treasure Island. From the Pasadena Star-News:

POPULAR IS NOT A STRONG enough word to describe The Racket Doctor store in Atwater Village west of Glendale...

After picking out a racket frame, lightning-quick technicians strung your racket while you waited, as if they were weaving bamboo baskets. Before I could say "Breakfast at Wimbledon," our two new rackets were strung...

If only getting a court to play on was that easy.

October 6, 2006

Life in a Theme Park

Now that our neighborhood is known as the Best Landlocked Treasure Island in Los Angeles, it's time for a theme park to update some of its attractions. How about it, Disney? Universal? Vegas? Maybe vacationers don't need a new Atlantis. They may settle for Atwater Village.

    Ladies and gentrificationmen, welcome to Landlocked Treasure Island!

    Here - for an average admission of $1,781 a month - you can experience the half Hispanic, half non-Hispanic American dream!

    Start your visit with a magic potion from
    LatteLand, where every corner pits a multinational coffee shop against a beloved mom-and-pop. Will you help David beat Goliath? Or is it curtains for anyone who can't make a consistent $4 beverage?

    Then, cash a check or two on the way to
    Chain-Store Mountain. Here you can buy anything you like, but don't expect anyone to sell it to you. Wait time at Costco Canyon is usually 45 minutes or less.

    Treat the little ones to a game at
    Curbside Playground. Don't worry: when the ball rolls into the street, our careful drivers always, always stop in time.

    Traveling with teens? Those Rascals will want to sneak into
    River Tag Adventure so they can reach Frogtown before dawn. BYO Krylon!

    Then, choose dinner on
    Random Restaurant Row. It was southern Italian last time. This time it's southern French! Who knows what the next health inspection will inspire. Use your GastroPass and save.

    Try to schedule your visit on the third Friday of the month - or is it the fourth? - for the Art Walk, Skip & Jump. Spend $500 or more and win amazed stares from everyone around you. You'll find it along the ever-widening Dale o' Glen.

    Late nights, the historic BigClub RoostFoot is where all the action is. At the end of a long stay, it's comforting to know you're nowhere near the first guest to spill half your drink between the booth cushions. Love jukeboxes? Bring some quarters. And some hand wipes.

    Sorry, the helicopters are not among the approved rides in Landlocked Treasure Island. And please, try to stay in the center of the park. Do not wander too far north or south.

October 5, 2006

Best Landlocked Treasure Island

From LA Weekly's Best of LA 2006:

Lodged between the busy shipping lanes of Los Feliz Boulevard to the north and Glendale Boulevard to the south, and hidden from view by a veritable cliff face of storefronts, lies the enchanted island of Atwater Village...

More about our sliver of Baja Glendale here. The rest of Best of LA 2006 here.

[Illustration by Max Kornell]

October 4, 2006

Things That Make a Blogger Proud, Part 2

Atwater Village Newbie is the #1 result in a Google search on Reasons to Live in California.

Previously on Things That Make a Blogger Proud: Trendy Red Wine

October 3, 2006

Glendale May Not Get First California SuperTarget

The former Robinsons-May store at Glendale Galleria: 180,000 square feet.

SuperTarget stores: about 175,000 square feet.

The Galleria seems like a good spot for Target's first hypermarket in California, no?

No. Even though Target plans to open a store there in 2007, the Galleria space is two levels. SuperTargets, like their wannabe cousin Target Greatlands, have double entrances on a single level. And giant surface parking lots.

Head east, my in-the-know friends. Head to Moreno Valley, an exurb about 70 miles east of Los Angeles.

At Stoneridge Towne Centre, Hwy. 60 and Nason St., in July 2007, Moreno Valley opens California's first SuperTarget.

All 186,077 square feet of it.

P.S. - Another Glendale, the one in Colorado, may still own the title to world's largest Target location. The SuperTarget there is 200,000 square feet.

P.P.S. - If you don't know what the big deal is about SuperTarget, then you just haven't been to SuperTarget.

October 2, 2006

No County Needs This More

MTA, Metro Rail, LADOT, Metrolink, Foothill Transit, Big Blue Bus, Culver City Bus and all the other Los Angeles County public transportation authorities: please contact Google Transit.

Google Transit is like Google Maps for train and bus riders. Enter starting and ending addresses and boom: routes, schedules and fares magically appear.

Seattle's a nice place and all, but how complicated could their public transportation system be? It's not in the most populous county in the US! So please, LA County transpo chiefs, send Google Transit an email. Get on the bus.

My Sunday at the Glendale Galleria

Is it too much to hope that 2006 will be the year retailers figure out how to treat customers with online coupons? Starbucks didn't exactly raise the bar with its now-you-see-it, now-we-don't-take-it fiasco. And now Lenscrafters shows its own blurry vision.

I've submitted this humble retail tale to my favorite consumer advocacy site, Consumerist.com:

Question: When is an online coupon not a valid coupon?

Answer: When it's on a Blackberry!

My wife and I found a sweet $75 off coupon at Lenscrafters.com. We found it on our Blackberry, driving up I-5 at 75 MPH. (I was driving, she was Blackberrying.) I just had an eye exam and needed new glasses. In about an hour.

Needless to say, we didn't have a printer in the car, so we called the nearest Lenscrafters, at the Glendale Galleria, to see if that would be a problem. We reached Oscar.

Oscar: It's not a problem.

Mrs. Newbie:
Are you sure? Should we save the page and bring my Blackberry into the store?

That's a good idea.

Mrs. Newbie:
Should I ask for you when we get there?


It turns out the phone number for the Glendale Galleria Lenscrafters doesn't actually reach the Glendale Galleria Lenscrafters. No one named "Oscar" works at the Glendale location. We had reached "Oscar" at a distant call center.

And it turns out "Oscar" was lying. "Yeah," said the Glendale manager, "we have that problem a lot."

So it turns out you cannot just show Lenscrafters their coupon on your Blackberry. You must exit the store (Lenscrafters has no Internet access, they said, though they offered to email my exam results), drive home, print it out, drive back and hand in the printed coupon.

Even though the coupon code is the same whether you view it on screen or on paper. And even though the presumed marketing objective of the coupon - getting people to visit Lenscrafters.com - works either way.

But no matter. There are trees to kill! And $500 orders to lose!

When will retailers catch up?