Saturday, February 28, 2009

dola on abbot kinney: what is better than coffee and magazines?

if you cannot bear to sit inside of a coffee shop on a beautiful afternoon, but have a bunch of work to do, you should check out dola on abbot kinney.  offering a gardenlike courtyard setting, strewn with funky and oddly shaped chairs and tables, it is a perfect place to pretend to get work done while you surf the web on free wifi.  also available for your distraction, is a news stand brimming over with every cool and hard-to-find magazine you could want to read.  and last, but not least, many attractive and painfully hip venice locals strung out on caffeine and nicotine.

1423 1/2 abbot kinney blvd
venice 90291

Friday, February 27, 2009

AFEX at temporary spaces: the hip without the "ster"

remember back about 6 years ago when it was still fun to go out in hollywood?  before ed hardy and pantieless reality show whores contaminated the club scene, there were actually fresh and hip clubs where something cool was going on.  friday nights at delux were my favorite.  old school hip hop, fresh fashion, and people of all shapes and sizes filled the small room with a new york-esque urban vibe.  that feeling had been long gone and almost forgotten until i stepped into the tiny temporary spaces aka fountain bar on fountain and normandy on a thursday night for AFEX.  with legendary nightclub doorman andrew brin guarding the door, i was immediately reassured that driving 30 minutes from venice wasn't a huge mistake.  though the room is small, it is tightly packed with beautiful people who have probably never been to a plastic surgeon in their life.  dj adam 12, from the indie band she wants revenge, spins beats from all your hip hip favorites (think tribe called quest, swv, pharcyde, eazy-e) and really rad songs you have probably never heard but will find yourself asking your friends if they have.  for those who don't dance (and the music is so good, it is almost impossible not to!) there is a back smoking patio, which resembles a small living room with one wall missing.  super hot guys stand against an exposed brick wall inhaling american spirits, while girls in limited edition nikes bop to the jams.  every time i walk into ts i feel like an extra in the wackness,  which if you haven't seen, you should update your netflix right now, because it is amazing.  if you are sick of the same old bars and clubs in hollywood, this is the place for you, but if you are still wearing rhinestone hats, you better stick to the sbe scene.

temporary spaces
5100 fountain
hollywood, ca  90068

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

the place i always forget about: jones

i love jones on santa monica.  there are few restaurants which i deem to be worthy of a gold star, but this is definitely one of them.  there is nothing i would change.  in the ever changing landscape of cookie cutter bars and eateries in los angeles, it is a breath of fresh air to walk into this classic staple.  it is perfect for nearly every occasion: an intimate date, a reunion with old friends, grabbing a drink with a pal.  the ambiance is perfect.  the lighting is dark enough to make you look good on a bad skin day, but light enough where you can read the menu.  you can hear the cool indie rock tunes playing, but you can also carry on a conversation without having to ask "what" every other word.  the food is good, but not expensive.  and the clientele is super hip and attractive.  the side room, which used to house the smokers, is now the perfect place to congregate with a bunch of your friends.  so the next time you are wondering where to go, just remember, oh yeah, jones.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

perfume on a budget: terra nova perfume oils

i own a lot of perfume.  from the fruity and chocolaty thiery mugler angel to tropical and beachy kai, i feel like fragrance is an important part of your identity.  your personal scent defines you and distinguishes you from a crowd.  i try and shy away from expensive, mainstream, perfumes, because who wants to spend a fortune to smell like the person next to you?  perfume oils are amazing, because they seem to last a lot longer then the spray ons, and are easily transported in your handbag for periodic touch ups.  i adore kai, miss marissa, and faith perfume oils, but with price tags topping $50, they are hardly a recession necessity.  i discovered terra nova perfume oils at a beauty supply down the street from me a few years ago.  they have oodles of different scents, including gardenia, white ginger, and tuberose, but my absolute favorite is pikake, which brings me back to the gardens of hawaii.  every time i rub this oil on my skin, people stop me on the street to inquire about the delicious aroma.  and the best part: 4 ounces of the oil for $15!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

the counter: for the complicated burger lover

the counter on ocean park has been one of my westside faves for years, but now it is more accessible, as the franchise has expanded worldwide.  inexpensive, hip, and delicious, the counter is a gourmet build your own burger (beef, turkey, veggie, or grilled chicken) joint, that even your pickiest friends will adore.  there are limitless options, though being the creature of habit that i am, i order exactly the same every time i go (grilled chix, gruyere, cranberries, grilled onions, tomatoes, bbq and balsamic dijon dressing)!  be sure to order fries with bbq and ranch (both the sweet potato and regular fries are to die for).  Not only is the food great, but the counter is a fun place to go with your friends, or on a casual date.  Added bonuses: for sports fans, there are several flat screens to watch the sporting event of the moment (single women, take note!), the tunes are a super fun mix and old and new (fleetwood mac meets 50 cent), and the walls host cool photography and artwork.  

one of the last used bookstores standing: angel city books

if you like to read or just like the way that books look on your shelves, than you should definitely check out angel city books off main street in santa monica. most of the charming bookstores in la are shutting their doors, due the doomed economy and the fact that most people here only read scripts and perez hilton, but angel city isn't going anywhere!  though a bit cramped and not too aesthetically appealing, owners rocco ingala, jr and steve rodriguez keep the shelves overflowing with only the best in black and white print and the walls covered with interesting artwork.  whether you are looking for a book on philosophy, a novel to read on an airplane, or a guide to help you finish your script, you will find it here, and at a very reasonable price.  on their website it says, "we believe that selling literature is not like selling hardware and that the current trend of superstore is an inappropriate method for the handling of literature precisely because there is no distinction between the great and the mundane."  rocco, the long haired hippy behind the desk, has been a main street staple for many years, and is a bit of a character himself.  he is always open to offering suggestions, and will not let you down!  and for people who just like the way that books look, trust me: used books that look like they have actually been read look way cooler than brand new ones ordered on  after you grab your books, head next door and grab some java at novel cafe, which always makes for some interesting people watching.

rocco's favorite authors
henry miller
arthur rimbaud
rainer maria rilke
antonin artaud
jack kerouac
charles bukowski
218 pier ave
santa monica 90405

Friday, February 13, 2009

listen to this: the airborne toxic event

i had never even heard of this los feliz based band until my friend matteo invited me to their show at the music box at the fonda last night.  before the show, we watched their performance on david letterman from january 16th, and i instantly fell in love.  my obsession drastically multiplied after i saw them live.  though the band has been together since 2006, their popularity soared last year after kroq, indie 103.1, and 98.7fm put "sometime around midnight" by the then unsigned band on the airwaves.  they were immediately signed, and are now on their way to superstardom.  the music is very "morrisey-esque".  even the sad songs will make you smile and bring you back to the lost innocence of your teens.  every band number brings intelligence and a thorough understanding of music to the stage, and they often bring a string quartet to their performances.  just added to the coachella 2009 lineup, i predict that they will be at the grammy's in no time!  go to their website and watch the letterman performance.  you will get hooked.

froyo is a staple cuisine in los angeles

frozen yogurt is to los angeles like a cheesesteak is to philladelphia.  it is a part of our culture.  in other cities, people look confused when i ask them if there are any good yogurt shops, often directing me to a baskin robbins or ben and jerry's.  luckily for us, we have a plethora of frozen yogurt options all over the city!

though the trend has died down, pinkberry (several locations) and red mango (several locations) seem to be the most popular tart yogurt chains.  i prefer red mango, as the yogurt is much creamier, toppings are fresher, and the yogurt in general just tastes less chemically.

the big chill has (10850 w. olympic blvd) been a westside staple for many years, and there is a reason why there is always a line out the door:  it is the best fro yo joint in the city!  the yogurt is amazing (and for you tart freaks, their chillberry is to die for), there is an abundance of toppings to choose from (oatmeal cookie dough...yum), and the prices are low.  be sure to ask for your topping "on the side".  trust me.  instead of scantilly sprinkling your topping on top, they will fill up a rather large cup for the same price.  just be patient, and wait in the line.  it goes fast and so worth the wait.

across the street (3280 westwood) and at other various locations around the city including marina del rey (4718 lincoln) and torrance (20016 hawthorne) is penguins frozen yogurt.  the chain has been around since i was a kid, and it is the subway of frozen yogurt.  it is good, but there is nothing exotic about it.  the last time i was at the marina location, i noticed the prices were significantly higher: a medium with one topping was almost 5 bucks!  regardless, if you are having a craving, it will do the trick.

across town and over the hill there is another a plus alternative to this big chill: studio yogurt (12050 ventura blvd).  it is pretty much exactly like the big chill, but in the valley.

if you live in weho, you might want to swing by toppers (7158 beverly blvd).  the yogurt is good, but the service sucks.

lately, a bunch of self serve yogurt places have popped up around the city.  you pick up a cup, dispense your own yogurt, and sprinkle the toppings on yourself.  at the end, they weigh your yogurt, and it actually comes out to be about the same price as any other yogurt place.  do not walk into one of these places if you cannot exercise will power.  i always walk out of these places feeling ill, because who really needs to eat cookie dough and brownie on top of their yogurt?  in west la try twist (12105 santa monica blvd), in studio city menchie's (4849 laurel canyon blvd), and also the yogurt tree (11048 ventura blvd).  another great option is yogotango (1300 n highland) in hollywood, where they serve you "tart" yogurt and you sprinkle the toppings.

thanks to my bff jess bilson who helped me with this and introduced me to the fro yo cult!

Monday, February 9, 2009

book for a rainy day: the secret history by donna tartt

if you haven't read it, read it now.  if you have, read it again, because it has probably been about 10 years and you have forgotten exactly why this book is a cult classic.  set in a small liberal arts college in vermont, tartt brings back the term "greek tragedy" in a haunting story about 6 college kids and their obsession with the ancient culture.  if you have trouble understanding why good people do bad things, richard, the narrator, will take you on a psychological journey that will make you question your own morality.  tartt, who studied at bennington college with pal bret easton ellis,  is not only a master storyteller, but so gifted with words, that you will read some sentences over and over in awe of their powerful imagery.

sauce on hampton: no need to starve during a recession

are you sick of paying a fortune for boring food?  while los angeles boasts tons of great restaurants, it is difficult to find great, healthy eats at a low price.  sauce on hampton is long overdue!  tucked away across from the hare krishna temple and around the corner from the overpriced rose cafe, this little gem was opened about a month ago from rustic canyon alum, 25-year old sassan rostamian.  everything is organic, simple, but with a twist, and under $11 (with no change in price on the dinner menu).  i highly suggest the charleston char shiu pulled pork.  my mouth waters just typing the words.  though the space is small, the atmosphere is very zen and comfortable, and the service is right on target.  a great place for takeout and eating in as well, it won't take long before we are all waiting in line!

open every day 9am-9pm
259 hampton drive, venice

the new/old "it" sunglasses: carrera's

(singer estelle at left)

celebs are going crazy for these rediscovered shades, and they are perfect for the recession savvy consumer!  forget tom ford and marc jacobs.  celebs have been scooping these things up like crazy from solstice sunglass boutique at every gifting suite this awards season.  the jonas brothers, estelle, olivia wilde, david annable, and kanye west are among the following.  over the weekend at the 51st annual grammy awards gift lounge, rihanna and chris brown picked up matching pairs of the "vintage" syle which retail for less than $15o!  other popular styles include the "jocker" and the "safari".  you can find them at a solstice store near you, or by clicking on this link:

Monday, February 2, 2009

take a midweek vacation at the getty

take a day off work (or time out of your freelance life) and jet on over to the getty.  midweek, the getty is almost empty, giving you an intimate experience at one of the coolest museums in the world.  no matter what time of the year, the getty is the perfect escape from the chaos of los angeles.  not only does it house artistic masterpieces from around the world, the views from the architecturally advanced structure are insane.  and the best is free!  fork over ten dollars for parking, and stay all day!  on inauguration day, amber and i jetted up to the getty to celebrate a new beginning.  amber brought her camera, and we indulged in a photo shoot all over the grounds.