Category Archives: opinion

LA Weekly’s Best of L.A. 2017 — West Hollywood Re-Deux

Screenshot_20171010-112938

LA Weekly just came out with their annual Best of L.A. issue, which I picked up by happenstance on Friday night. As a native of this awesomely diverse and sprawling city,  I can’t wait to flip through even more, as there are some really interesting places profiled: a Romanian restaurant in Highland Park, a body-positive gym in Mount Washington, late-night Thai food in East Hollywood (as well as a magic-themed bar), veggie soul food in Leimert Park, a history museum in the west Valley, and countless others.

I was, however, quite thrown off when I reached the section for West Hollywood — a literal half-page-and-a-column about the following: a boxing gym, a marijuana dispensary, a new restaurant, and The Chapel aka The Abbey lite. Also included was a brief note from an expert that mentioned the aquatic center and mural on the back of the library, but nothing that really stood out.

West Hollywood featured in LA Weekly’s “Best of LA 2017”.

Hmm.

Like… really? That’s all that LA Weekly could come up with?

Thanks to the Sunset Strip, I’ve never really been a stranger to Weho — any time between 2006 and 2010, you could find me taking the 218 over the long and windy Laurel Canyon pass then the 2 west, just to get lost in a show at the Viper Room or the Roxy. My diminutive, reserved Lake Balboan self was eyeballs deep in dreamland every time, and I just loved it.

After making the move in 2012, I can truly say that it’s one of those unique cities where everyone can be who they want to be. It’s also very walkable– it isn’t out of the ordinary for me to park my car after work on  Friday evening and not get back into until Monday morning. It’s a small town in a big city, a real community of people from all walks and income brackets — real folks who work, live, volunteer, and create here.

It really is a special place, full of culture, color, flavor, life, and pride, with something most always going on, and someone most always glad to see or get to know you.

So I’ve decided to do my own “Best of West Hollywood” feature –not from the perspective from a trust-fund hipster, but from a former Valley girl and aspiring writer who works a 9:30-to-7 near LAX.

Best Ramen Place: Daikokuya
Not that I’m complaining, but I used to have to drive all the way to Little Tokyo, then Little Osaka on Sawtelle to get my spicy miso ramen fix. So now having Daikokuya available within walking distance just makes life all sorts of shiny (especially following a night of 2-for-1 drink specials on Santa Monica Blvd). Not only ramen, but they serve up some awesome rice bowls — shredded pork with ginger, teriyaki chicken, eel, oh my — with miso soup and cabbage salad with a dressing worth the caloric indiscretion. Every time.

Best Sit-Down Pizzeria: Dough
The name says it all — the dough makes the pizza. There really is something that just makes it taste so damned good. Do they fly in cases of Poland Spring water from New York, or utilize a water filtration process similar to Brooklyn Water Bagel Co.? I don’t know but what I do know is that it is so delicious every single time. Single slices are priced from $2.50 (cheese) to $3.99 (BLT), and there are innovative menu selections and  specials every day of the week. My personal favorite special is Monday’s buy one get one pizza special, and $0.99 pizza slices with the purchase of a drink on Wednesdays.

Best Happy Hour: Cecconi’s (Tuesday to Saturday from 4 to 7pm, enjoy food and cocktails priced from $4 to $7!) and St. Felix (daily from 4 to 8pm; Sundays start at 2! Just. So. Good. Just go. Go.)

Best Frozen Yogurt: Yogurt Stop
The prospect if dessert is worthy of a smile in itself, but throw in flavor names such as Bottoms Up Banana, Salted Caramel Booty, Milk My Harvey Chocolate, and Original Weho Tart John Duran, and you’ll be guaranteed at least a yelp of amusement. Plus, their vegan flavors — including coconut, almond; watermelon sorbet — actually taste like and have a non-imitation consistency.

Best Car Wash: Santa Palm Car Wash
I could go to the gas station closer to my office, or anywhere on the way home from wherever I may be headed — but I always end up at the local car wash on the corner of Palm and Santa Monica Blvd. You just feel where your dollar is going — into local business versus dime-a-dozen machinery. Newly remodeled and located across the street from Yogurt Stop and sharing geographical real estate with LA Buns hot dog and hamburger stand, its service with a smile is in actuality.

Best Disco FriesKitchen 24
Somewhere in between poutine and heaven falls an order of disco fries. Fun story: one night I was attempting to make my way back home after a liquor-ish maiden voyage to FUBAR and I had the drunken munchies. I walked by Kitchen 24 and dropped in to request the K24 Breakfast Sandwich and disco fries, the former of which I devoured on the rest of the walk home. The latter, however, my boyfriend ate the following morning as I slept off the booze. I forgave him eventually.

Best Gay Bar: Flaming Saddles 
Now, I personally can get into regular old country, but this isn’t regular old country. It is West Hollywood country, honey — a.k.a. attractive men in tight denim, boots, and hats, sometimes dancing on tables. Not that there’s anything wrong with a posh, scene-y vibe, but if you’re going for hella fun, go for the cowboy. Always the cowboy. (Runner-up: Micky’s.)

Honorable mentions —
Best Bottomless Mimosa Brunch: Jack n’ Jill’s Too, Marco’s Trattoria
Best New Place for Alternative Tacos: Tocaya Organica
Best Pet Supply Store: Collar & Leash
Best Tucked-Away Hotels:  Le Montrose, Le Petit Ermitage
Best Restaurants (That I’ve Been To): The Granville, Sandbox on Melrose
And finally, Restaurants/Shops/Places That I Hope to Visit Soon: Pono Kitchen + Bar, The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker, Salt & Straw

Ah… see? Much better.

Advertisements

The Problem with Needing to Be the First to Report the News

“Don’t believe everything you read on the internet” — the new and now longstanding credo du époque. 

What happened to actually reporting the news?  Pressure from conglomerates happened. Ratings, sensationalism, virality happened. The internet and social media happened, and I’d argue that we’re all to blame in some way, simply by demand and consumption. 

With the internet being the world’s main and largest source of information, and social media making it available and accessible by the literal second, it is a bit tough to escape the matrix — but tough doesn’t have to be impossible. 

On Monday, October 2nd, reports flooded in early in the day that legendary singer, songwriter, and musician Tom Petty was taken to the hospital in a state of unconsciousness following cardiac arrest. His condition was updated to having been taken off of life support, to dying. This was reported by hundreds of verified online publications, until it was acknowledged that confirmation had, in fact, not been obtained. 

Following a statement from the LAPD denying their prior confirmation, reports were quickly retracted to Petty clinging to life until his spokesperson released a statement hours later that he had passed away at 8:40 pm PST.

This need to be the first to report breaking news is now regularly causing once-reputable news outlets to shoot themselves in the foot while it’s still their mouth, while other websites — essentially RSS or reblog feeds — pick up the story and further spread the contamination. 

Was this the LAPD’s fault, or was it the fault of the new school of journalism? Was it our fault as the public for how easily we’ve adapted to wildfire? 

I would answer: all of the above.

As a result, Petty’s final hours were tinged by the unfair and unwarranted stress of infringed upon privacy, personally experienced by his family, friends, and bandmates. Fans around the world were either propped up by false hope, or thrust into a position of waiting for him to die. There was no good publicity to be garnered from it — just a media circus. Just vultures circling around, waiting to strike. 

It begs reminding that it is the job of journalism to report and document the news through an unbiased lens, with integrity to the profession. It a position worthy of dignity and respect, one with huge responsibility. It is far more than cents-per-word or exposure-only employment. And, it is not at all about the journalist. Journalism is our history in motion.

In forgetting this, devastating events surrounding the first two days of October 2017 have fallen under the pay-per-click umbrella, where “everyone is a journalist”, at an ultimate cost to the subject. 

We should all be ashamed.

Transformation Tuesday (Or, How I Stopped Bitching and Learned to Love the Hashtag)

There’s this holiday-themed Fruity Pebbles commercial from the mid-80s l that I would drop everything to watch when I was a kid. As we were more of a Grape Nuts, Cream of Wheat, and Quaker Oats family, the draw was less about the product and more about the strong sense of family and the magic of the Christmas season (and, of course, Fred finally letting Barney have the cereal).

No lie, that commercial is still fun to watch as an adult. But being an active, sometimes unwilling participant in consumerism, I have developed a little bit of a Grinch complex, particularly towards the over use of hashtags in social media and digital marketing. Considering their overall purpose and that they’ve only been clickable links within the past decade, I can’t really be too critical of them. Within the social media framework, they only serve to further connect people and ideas, whether for good, bad, or worse. And when you think about it, SEO and hashtags are merely yester-era’s catchphrases and slogans. The only difference between :more traditional” forms of media (i.e. print, radio, and television) is that this still relatively new media is available on demand, 24/7.

Anyway, with this realization, I’ve decided to shut up about the whole hashtag thing and learn to love the monster for linking the world together. Marketing means consumerism, which means a potential boost in both local and global economies. Even further, the fact that notable messages, ideas, causes and projects have the potential of receiving substantial exposure outside of an echo chamber is huge. 

Finally, because this type of media is still so new in comparison to others means that there are still plenty of uncharted avenues in which to employ it outside of the standard, excessive, and sometimes annoying. Independent creativity, meet wave of reinvention?

I can feel my growing heart three sizes already.

Stay In or Go Out?

inbed.jpg

Maybe it’s just the way it’s filmed, but the first time I watched Sex & the City, I thought that the girls went out all the time. Rewatching the series over the years (and now being a woman in her 30s) I’ve realized that, while not impossible, that just wasn’t the case for them, for myself, or anyone else I know (that I know of).

It wasn’t long ago that I’d rush home from work to head down to happy hour and get the weekend started — but as I’m writing this, it’s just after 10pm on a Saturday night and I am in my pajamas getting ready for bed.

I’ve actually been quite socially active — camping in Big Bear, attending rock and acoustic shows, gallery showcases and birthday parties. And while I’m not the biggest club goer these days, sometimes there’s just no better feeling than when the beat drops while you’re in the middle of the dance floor, and euphoria rushes like sprites in all directions through your bloodstream. Knowing what that feels like, it’s only natural to feel that if you’re not out, you’re missing out.

The other day I posted a series of tweets with the #selfcare / #selflove hashtags that ended up running along the vein of knowing your limits and not forcing things:

So to the above, I’d like to add that self-care is letting yourself stay in, which in my experience can take the same effort it takes to go out. Sure, going out can mean trading a security blanket for a pair of social butterfly wings, but staying in can mean pushing aside fear of missing out, or perceptions of what other people — or you yourself — may think.

Allow room for both as you see fit. Sometimes it’s okay to do nothing. It’s probably the biggest something you can do for yourself.

ttfn~

photo via Pixabay

The Solar Eclipse Doesn’t Care What You Think

total

I’d been looking forward to today’s total solar eclipse for weeks. Between the Perseid meteor shower last weekend and the Sturgeon moon the weekend prior, this was to be the marzipan frosting on top of a delectable month of visibly galactic activity.

From my vantage point in Los Angeles, I knew going in that it was going to be partial, but that was more than enough for me. To take part in a major event in the universe was all that was necessary.

What took me by surprise was some of the remarks about the eclipse — that it was a bit anti-climatic, or only okay. Fair enough if the hype surpassed reality. It happens.

Guess what? It’s a total solar eclipse. It doesn’t care what you think. It’s not here for you, humans. It went on without you whether or not you were there to watch it.

If you really want excitement, watch Game of Thrones, if you can continue to stomach the subpar writing of the past two seasons.  If that doesn’t do it for you, scroll through your favorite tag on tumblr. Still nothing? Tweet at your favorite podcaster and momentarily lose it when they “at” you back.

It’s to be expected, as a good amount of people have conditioned themselves to be so entertained or moved by something or someone that it seems to be forgotten that existing is enough. Meanwhile, the universe could collapse on itself and our planet wouldn’t even register on its list of worries.

My puny human advice? Be like the universe. Be brilliant, be bold; evolve and be limitless. Always be the bigger entity. Attract endless crowds just by existing. Illegitimi non carborundum and all that jazz. After all, aren’t we made of stardust?

See you again in 2024.

Intuitive Eating is Eating — Period

food

The idea of “intuitive eating” has helped many recovering from eating disorders by putting a purposeful label on a naturally-occurring function of survival. However, it has also earned its place within the health and fitness world as a way to eat, usually after a fitness competition, event, or photo shoot. In fact, it has such a gimmicky sheen on it that it’s pretty much begging for clarification.

So here we go: intuitive eating is not a diet, and it is not a program. At its core, it is a well-intentioned philosophy to listen to your body’s cues, eating when it’s hungry, and not eating when it’s not.

Also known as EATING.

Therefore, in the case of the everyday individual, I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing the phrase “intuitive eating” completely eliminated from public use. Here’s why:

1. The act of eating is really not that complicated. Eating is (a) putting food into your mouth, (2) chewing or slurping it, then (3) swallowing it. Without interference, the brain and body knows what hunger means. It knows how to eat and process food — it is designed to do so. While the act of eating requires that one not ignore the signals to do so, putting the word “intuitive” in front of it is insulting to people’s intelligence. Please, let’s call a spade a spade.

2. Marketability (“shut up and take my money”). People like to feel included, and generally will do whatever it takes to rise above something weighing them down. That’s why I wasn’t shocked with “zendoodling” i.e. adult coloring books became popular within the last year. I have a coloring book myself, with some truly beautiful designs. However, I (and hopefully others) refer to it as a coloring book.

zendoodle

                                       Zendoodle pattern.

I just find there to be something inherently wrong in making a buck off of another’s desire to improve their lives. Zendoodling is just coloring, and intuitive eating is just eating. There’s no need for crutch words. Call it what it is.

And the final reason I have issue with this concept…

3. It’s yet another thing to obsess over. Clean eating. Carb cycling. Fitting macros. All green everything. Buzzwords galore and now — intuitive eating. With obsession comes wasted energy, and I find it very unfair that people who want to enjoy life on such a basic human level look up to influencers that irresponsibly spread this so-called style of eating.

I will say it again, one more time: intuitive eating is not a style or trend. It’s not even new. It is eating when you’re hungry, stopping when you’re full, and hell, maybe eating a few more bites.

Intuitive eating is eating. Enough is enough.

Just eat.

Social Media Makes the World Small. It’s Not That Deep

worldMy good friend belongs to the same dance troupe as the now-wife of my first lover, and has been for a year or so now. I know this thanks to some photos my friend has shared on Instagram. (C’est la vie.)

This past weekend, I went to a bar downtown and friended a guy who runs in the same musical circle as the childhood neighbor I’d play four-handed piano with on Tuesday nights after Bible study. (Just a happy coincidence.)

Just this afternoon at my day job, I came across the portfolio of someone whose name I immediately recognized from work I follow on social and creative media platforms. (Well, all right, then.)

I realize that these interactions pack a little less punch than, say, going to the deli or car wash and bumping into someone who just happens to be a friend of a friend of someone you used to know. However, these instances were just intimate enough that I’d be lying if I claimed that I wasn’t the least bit affected. But due to the modern web of social media, it only makes sense that these worlds would collide directly, and at times violently, into mine.

A few years ago, I might have viewed the above occurrences as chance, or maybe even a sign of the past being manifested as a present branching-off of a celestial event. I wouldn’t be the only one, either — perhaps you would feel similarly. With the wealth of exciting activity occurring in the universe this month that will continue to be observed from our vantage point on Earth, it’s only understandable. 

But let’s really think about it: Anyone can be found on the internet. As of March 2017, statistics suggest that at least half of the world’s population has access to the internet. Interactions such as the ones above are really not that random. It’s just that individually-drawn, personal associations are powerful enough in convincing people otherwise.

As for me, right now, I subscribe to the fact that the world is small as a result of the internet’s far reach — nothing more, or less. 

It’s kind of fun, fascinating, maybe even thrilling. But it’s also really not that deep.