A STEP BEYOND: Contemporary Footwear, Functional to Fanciful

A STEP BEYOND: Contemporary Footwear, Functional to Fanciful

The Los Angeles art world, like the broader society, is struggling with how to continue to operate during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Art galleries and museums all over the Southland have shuttered their doors and installations have languished in darkened rooms, without visitors. Interesting solutions have emerged to tackle this difficult challenge. One solution is to create fully digital visiting tools, which enables show-goers to visit an art space from the comfort and safety of their home.
A fabulous 2020 design show entitled “A STEP BEYOND: Contemporary Footwear, Functional to Fanciful” has recently graced the galleries at the venerable Otis College of Art and Design. While the gallery doors for A STEP BEYOND were prematurely closed to the public in mid-March, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, show curator Lauria and gallery staff pivoted quickly and were able to digitize the show experience. The OTIS team has created an online tour of the show including a virtual curator tour, which is coming soon.
Otis is a private college, founded in 1918, which was the first independent professional school of art established in Los Angeles. The Ben Maltz Gallery on campus features a full slate of art and design shows throughout the calendar year. Guest curator, Jo Lauria has created a knock-out show for the space. On the Ben Maltz gallery site, there is now a 60-image slide show complete with didactic information. While nothing can replace the visceral experience of seeing a beautifully designed art show in person, during the time of social distancing this is certainly a healthy and welcome option. The full show can be accessed at:  https://www.otis.edu/ben-maltz-gallery/step-beyond-contemporary-footwear-functional-to-fanciful

“At the beginning of the War we were limited to the prescribed boot for walking…now our choice of shoes has become more unlimited than ever, and the subject of footwear fascinating enough to talk about at length.”– Vogue Magazine, 1918

Humans have an intimate relationship with shoes. In the time of pre-history, our ancestors utilized woven grasses and animal hide to wrap the foot for needed warmth and protection. Fast forward to our modern age, and footwear – even our perception of it – has changed radically. We now universally obsess over the design, concept and look of the shoes we wear and collect. For some, shoes are the ultimate status symbol.

 

 

A STEP BEYOND show, Otis Alumni shoes, L-R: Anna Miller (above), Alexandria Felix and Jacob Kim (below)

Historical shoes on display representing decades from 1900 through 2010, “A Step Beyond”

Rem D. Koolhas, “Mobius” shoe progression for United Nude, 2003-2016. UNITED NUDE, a global lifestyle brand co-founded by Rem D. Koolhaas, combines fashion, architecture, and design to produce footwear with an “alternative attitude.”

Situated at the intersection of art and design, A STEP BEYOND explores the complex relationship between fashion, footwear, society and culture – focusing on the past 110 years. The exhibition features contemporary footwear from a variety of perspectives, including custom shoes designed and handcrafted for a private client; luxury, limited-edition creations made for a privileged clientele; and shoes mass-produced for the consumer market.

“Footwear reflects the imagination, innovation, and artistry of its time.”– Jo Lauria, curator

A STEP BEYOND also includes footwear related artworks and showcases the imagination and technical prowess invested in human foot covering. The show features five shoe collections, (including twenty-one collectible sneakers), and eighty-five historical shoes, dating from 1900 through 2010. Twenty-three international artists, craftsmen and architects are represented including luminaries such as Andy Warhol, Rem D. Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid.

Zaha Hadid “NOVA” shoe for United Nude

Paul Kaufman for pskaufman shoes. Kaufman, has worked for international companies Dr. Martens, Na Na, Fornarina, Rocket Dog, Twin Star, and London Underground.

 The enduring allure of the Cowboy boot, A Step Beyond

The show is smartly divided into seven distinctive categories, outlined by the curator as follows:

The shoe as functional footwear – encompassing custom designed and handcrafted shoes for private clients, luxury, limited-edition creations for privileged clientele, and mass-produced shoes for the consumer market

The shoe as structure, sculpture and performance gear: highlighting artists/designers who successfully merge functionality with freedom of expression and the extend the shoe into other artistic realms.

The shoe as fashion marker: charting fashion trends and key developments in 20th and 21st century design.

The shoe as composition: focusing on the illustrated shoe as fashion’s most important accessory.

The shoe beyond literal object: Featuring the shoe as protagonist in individual artistic narratives.

The shoe as collectible: centering on the phenomenon of shoe collectors and their collections.

The shoe as design challenge: Otis alumni and faculty rise to the challenge of creating footwear with flair.

By separating the exhibit into these distinct categories, the viewer is encouraged to think about the shoe not only in its historical context, but to see it as a practical object and an art/luxury object. The various ways artists and designers think about, and approach the shoe, is the focus.

Ill-fitting or supportive, teetering or flat, silent or squeaky, restrictive or ergonomic, the forms surrounding our feet ask us to weigh nature against desire, and the outcome of this equation, when tipped even slightly toward one side or another, has the ability to impact every inch of our bodies and our understanding of ourselves.” – Amara Hark-Weber, bespoke shoemaker

Highlighting the artists who have participated in the exhibit, it was indeed tempting to try to cover every maker in the show, as they all have fascinating stories and create beautiful work. I’ve chosen a handful of contributors to highlight whom I feel capture the spirit of the exhibit.

 

The shoe as collectible, A STEP BEYOND, featuring a selection from the sneaker collection of Twin Daniel, and high-fashion shoes from the collections of Jean Concoff and Pamela Weir-Quiton.

Elisabeth Thorsen wearing her handcrafted leather Rose Maling shoes embellished with fresh water pearls, antique beads and gold thread, with hand-carved wood soles and heels, 2013; and on dinner plate is her handmade shoe Tsar Saltan, embossed leather, hand-carved wood soles and heels, 2013.

Elisabeth Thorsen, L-R: Easy Ticket to Hoppa-Hage, 2017, marbleized vegetable leather-chalk heels; Polka, 2018, Goodyear welted shoes, vegetable leather , hand-painted and hand-stitched details, in collaboration with Mari Jaeger, designer and Paint Me a Birdie (shoes), 2015, embroidery and EVA materials, in collaboration with Jens Stegger Ledaal; and Print from Print Me a Birdie shoes, 2015, ink on paper.

Elisabeth Thorsen is a Norwegian shoemaker and performance artist who draws inspiration from “nature, art, fairytales and 1970’s movies.”  Thorsen graduated from the Norwegian school for shoemaking in 2008 and has been making art using shoes as her primary focus ever since. Thorsen views her work as pieces of art, not merely functional objects. Her performances are both live and captured in digital video. She prefers to craft her shoes with experimental, non-traditional materials such as “carpets, furniture, carved sculptural elements, drapes and even ice, sugar, pencils and sports tape.” (1: From Artist Bio, Elisabeth Thorsen)

In Gaza Bowen’s series, Shoes for the Little Woman, the shoes are fabricated mostly from cleaning products that serve as a parody for the stereotype of the happy housewife who “enjoys” housework.  Gaza first learned her craft in 1976 at Colonial Williamsburg from a master cobbler. Gaza dedicated nearly twenty years to honing her construction skills and representing the shoe’s “cultural meaning and social significance” in both functional footwear and sculptural applications. 

“The works on display provide a focused look into the extraordinary life of Gaza Bowen. If anyone can claim the territory of “progenitor of sculptural shoes,” it is Gaza: she originated the concept of ‘narrative’ footwear that combines humor, unusual materials, invention, attitude, and social commentary.” – Jo Lauria, curator

Gaza, who passed away in 2005, noted “there’s more (to the shoes) for the person that cares to look. In that humor, I’m trying to make a statement about women and fashion, and women and household cleaning, and women as sex symbols.”

 

Helen Chung is an LA artist who works in multiple medium including installation, painting and photography. Drawing on popular culture, literature, and her former experience in accessory design, the artist attempts to “debunk social and cultural myths surrounding the notions of possession, desire, objectification, commodity, and commerce.”   “The two bodies of work on exhibit,” adds the artist, “are displayed in a boutique style with shoes and bags, except the items displayed are only containers of such objects. The boxes and the deconstructed shopping bags engage in a dialogue between intuition and intention, outlining two different processes: one planned with specific outcome, the other, a spontaneous process allowing whim and chance. The work ironically challenges the fixed notion of containers, as merely an external protection or subordinate transporting aid, not quite qualifying as an entity in itself.”  By focusing on the container, and the concept of containment, curator Jo Lauria notes “Helen maintains the integrity of the shoebox and the shopping bag by not adding anything or taking anything away.”

Bespoke shoemaker, Amara Hark-Weber considers the shoe “an extension of body, vehicle, representation of personal identity, inhibitor to/enhancer of movement, metaphor, fetish form, or simply utilitarian object.” Through sculptural footwear, Hark-Weber seeks to question our ideas of function and what we are willing to subject our bodies to. 

‘My sculptural footwear is an exploration of human movement, building techniques, and visual metaphor. They are objects that come alive with personal narrative when worn, with the power to challenge the viewer’s ideas about form, function, body, and movement.”– Amara Hark-Weber

 

Elisabeth Thorsen, Shizaru (4th Monkey Boot), 2018, leather, hand-carved wood heels. Carving by Trude Johansen, detail.

Gaza Bowen, “Little Woman AM” shoes, 1995, leather, rubber foam, linoleum, plastic bottles, dish scrubbers.

Gaza Bowen, Shoes for the Angry Little Woman, 1990, knives, potato peelers, rhinestones, skewers, scouring pads, kidskin, wood, paint, embroidered cloth, rose twigs, nail polish.

 

Helen Chung, Shoe Boxes and Shopping Bags

Amara Hark-Weber, shoe designer-maker in her studio.

Amara Hark-Weber, L-R: Muscle Memory: Equilibrium, 2013, cork, kidskin, thread; Muscle Memory: Opposition, 2013, kidskin, thread, hardware; Muscle Memory: Regrounding, 2013, basswood, kidskin.

“Andy Warhol glorified the shoe by using it as the sole seductive element of his still-life drawings, devoting entire portfolios to illustrations of women’s footwear.” – Jo Lauria, curator

The show also features artists who use images of shoes in their work. Spirited pen and ink drawings of shoes by Andy Warhol are included. According to the exhibition didactic, Andy Warhol began his career as a commercial artist in New York City in the 1940s and self-published hand-colored prints of his campy and glamorous shoes. 

“Widely distributed in fashion magazines such as Glamour and Vogue, Warhol’s illustrations elevated the pump to an object of desire.”  – Jo Lauria, curator 

Joshua Wong’s artwork of glamorous shoes, reflects his life-long love of footwear as luxury item. Inspired by the Upper East Side ladies of Manhattan hailing cabs in their 4-inch heels, Wong launched a successful career designing women’s footwear and handbags. Wong’s love for fashion illustration began in childhood when he was four years old, when his parents noticed that he was drawing high-heeled shoes and racing cars. He later mastered these skills at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. 

After a career in advertising Ralph Lauren hired Joshua to be his women’s collection footwear designer. There, he was involved in “the fast-paced world of runway shows and super models.” While traveling to Paris, Milan and London, Joshua was inspired to capture even more stories of fashion and design. Later on, he became the vice president of footwear design at Banana Republic.  Joshua currently enjoys developing the next generation of designers as a mentor at various schools and is an official mentor at his alma mater, Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. (2: From Artist Bio, Joshua Wong)

Amara Hark-Weber – Measurements, a work in progress

Andy Warhol, reproductions of original ink and pen drawings of shoes. Courtesy of Sotheby’s photography.

Joshua Wong, “Snake Shoe” ink and pen drawing on paper

Gregory Weir-Quiton is a legendary fashion illustrator who can usually be seen at Los Angeles art events, sitting in the middle of the crowd, drawing from life. 

“My passion is drawing the contemporary figure. Fashion design obviously influences my work since what intrigues me is how people design themselves (and everyone does). The drawing is an end in itself and I rarely add anything once the pose is over.” – Gregory Weir-Quiton

As a young person Weir-Quiton saw a fashion illustration in the local Detroit newspaper, and he knew he had found his calling. He graduated from Cass Tech High School, majoring in fashion illustration and then received a scholarship to Art Students League. He worked in New York and Chicago before moving to Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, he met and married his wife Pamela Weir-Quiton a celebrated wood worker. Her fantastic collection of shoe wear is featured in the exhibit. For 35 years, Gregory worked with major California retailers in the fashion industry including, THE MAY COMPANY, ROBINSONS, BULLOCKS, THE BROADWAY and I. MAGNIN. In this role, Gregory honed his skills of drawing shoes for advertisements. He would later refine these skills to create his more personal fashion illustrations of the human figure, accessorized.  After a long career in fashion illustration, Gregory reinvented himself at Hollywood advertising agency, BLT & Associates, where he works on major film and television releases. Gregory’s original concept sketch, drawn on a napkin for Stephen Spielberg, eventually became the iconic DREAMWORKS logo of the boy fishing on the crescent moon.

 

Gregory Weir-Quiton, ink and pen drawing

Gregory Weir-Quiton, pencil drawings on paper, for Bullocks Wilshire.

Gregory Weir-Quiton, Pencil on paper drawing for Bullocks Wilshire.

Through painting and object making, Alex Becerra pays homage to the lowly footwear traditionally worn in rural settings by Mexican laborers or in urban environments as “Gang-style Street wear” when the sandals are worn with white tube socks. The painting and object combination of huaraches references the artist’s Mexican-American heritage. The artist constructed traditional Mexican huaraches out of sheets of dried acrylic paint that were cut and woven by hand, to mimic the authentic leather sandals. Becerra’s engaging oil paintings are placed on the wall behind his real-life shoe subjects for maximum effect.

Phyllis Green is a Los Angeles artist, educator and curator who is interested in “integrating gender politics and craft.” Primarily a sculptor, she also works in performance, installation and video. Her contribution to the show is a soft sculpture, a lotus flower shape, crafted from sheepskin and topped with sheepskin slippers. Born in Minneapolis, Green grew up in Winnipeg Canada and attended the University of Manitoba. In 1978 she moved to Los Angeles and earned an MFA from UCLA in 1981. Green has lectured globally and has held various teaching positions at UCLA, USC at Loyola Marymount University. (3: From Artist Bio and Wikipedia, Phyllis Green)

Green’s “formally beautiful body of work somehow engages art history, contemporary social and political issues and heartfelt mystical spirituality without missing a beat” – Doug Harvey

 

Alex Becerra, L-R: NIKE Waffle Racer, 2019, oil on linen. Actual NIKE Waffle Racer shoes displayed on shelf below. Self Portrait with Huaraches, 2019, oil on canvas. Huaraches, 2013, hand-woven acrylic paint, displayed on shelf below.

Artist Phyllis Green, with her sculpture “Stepping on a Lotus”

A Step Beyond: Contemporary Footwear, Functional to Fanciful curated by Jo Lauria now showing virtually at the Ben Maltz Gallery, OTIS.

Katie Nartonis is a 20th century design specialist, curator and filmmaker with over 20 years experience in the auction field. She is passionate about the work of the post-war California studio artists and craftsmen. She is currently co-authoring a book on the San Diego maker Jack Roger Hopkins. More info at at www.thenartonisproject.com.
The Quarantine Diaries

The Quarantine Diaries

What have you been doing? Have you discovered a secret talent, a new joy that you can share with the world? We are looking for creative stories of how people have been dealing with shelter-in-place. Submit stories and images to [email protected]

Dating on Lockdown Just Got Easier, Thanks to GOATdate

Dating on Lockdown Just Got Easier, Thanks to GOATdate

Life on lockdown has presented an astonishing number of inconveniences for many of us, but who knew that dating would be possible in the age of social distancing?  

A new to market video-first dating app, GOATdate, aims to simultaneously modernize and humanize the virtual dating experience. In a ’shelter at home’ world, the brand is primed to succeed and change the virtual dating landscape. Having just launched in late March, the GOATdate is experiencing a meteoric uptick in user-ship — seeing a 100% increase in user numbers by the week!

GOATdate’s mission is to reestablish chemistry as a prime focus of virtual dating, all while making the experience more efficient by cutting out the endless texting and awkward, ‘Do you want to FaceTime?’ Dates, and of course, that very awkward first date. 

The mobile dating industry is currently entrenched with users taking ’swiping’ actions and out-of-date photos, and even while competitors have rolled out similar video features, they’re still primarily rooted in chat and text. 

Here are key differentiators:

  • Dates timed to 5-minutes, so users have an out if they aren’t interested 

  • Cheat sheets of the user with conversation starters on the day 

  • Required video verification to minimize ‘cat fishing’ and ensure security

It couldn’t be a better time to explore dating options that keep you safe, distanced from others, yet engaged in far more genuine ways. GOATdate sounds like it could bring a new wave to the dating scene, and may be the new way for quite a while.

A Night In With FEAST: A Virtual Cook-Along for Good

A Night In With FEAST: A Virtual Cook-Along for Good

Join FEAST on May 2 for “A Night in with FEAST,” with Chefs and Friends to Raise Funds Providing Meals, Food Education, and Nutrition Programs

Virtual Cook-along with Recipes and Live Demos by Julia Sherman, Aliya LeeKong, Behzad Jamshidi, Dakota Weiss, Keri Glassman and more 

Los Angeles, CA (April 27, 2020)FEAST, the nonprofit organization devoted to promoting health and wellness in under-resourced neighborhoods and communities through the power of healthy foods and human connection, will host their first-ever Instagram Live cook-along called “A Night in with FEAST” on Saturday, May 2, starting at 4 p.m. PDT/7 p.m. EDT.  In lieu of their annual fundraiser, FEAST’s virtual cook-along for good will feature five chefs and wellness experts preparing recipes for viewers at home.

The goal of “A Night In with FEAST” is to raise funds to continue their work with educational programming and food access as the demand for services has since increased as a direct result of COVID-19. Families living in poverty are struggling now more than ever to meet their basic needs including affordable and nutritious food. FEAST hopes to raise funds that will provide more than 20,000 lbs. of produce, $25,000 worth of food scholarships, and thousands of meals to families facing food insecurity in the coming months in Los Angeles, New York City, and beyond. 

Viewers can follow along on Instagram at the hashtag #FEASTNightIn and through the following social handles. 

The evening’s cookalong will go “live” as follows (PDT):

  • 4:00 p.m. – Redbird’s Bar Director Tobin Shea will kick-off the night with a Simple Vodka cocktail on @redbirdla

  • 4:15 p.m. – Chef & Food Activist Tom Colicchio will give a special toast on @tomcolicchio

  • 4:30 p.m. – another round of drinks with Olipop 

  • 4:45 p.m. – mocktails with Dietician and Founder of “Nutritious Life” Keri Glassman on  @keriglassman

  • 5:00 p.m. – Chief Culinary Officer Real Eats Food and TV Personality Aliya LeeKong will demo an Ethiopian-style carrot tartare appetizer on @aliyaleekong

  • 5:15 p.m. – Salad for President Cookbook Author Julia Sherman will make a tasty salad on @saladforpresident

  • 5:30 p.m. – Moosh Chef & Founder Behzad Jamshidi will demo a Mediterreanean Orzo entree on @behzj

  • 6:00 p.m. – Head Chef of Sweetfin Dakota Weiss shows us how to make a Poke Bowl on @dakotalovesbonemarrow

  • 6:30 p.m. – FEAST’s own Dana Rizer will end the evening on a sweet note with her Choco-coco Peanut Butter “Milkshake” 

Executive Director & Chief Food Enthusiast Dana Rizer says, “A simple donation of $20 can help feed a family of four. That’s why I’m really excited about this cast of chefs and wellness experts who will help us spread the word and continue our mission of empowering and educating through food.”

Supporters can donate by visiting feastforall.org/nightin/ to receive FEAST’s digital cookbook featuring the chefs’ recipes like Julia Sherman’s Red Cabbage with Pomegranate Molasses, Walnuts and Mint; Behzad Jamshidi’s Mediterranean Orzo; Egyptian Carrot Tartar from Aliya LeeKong; that will be highlighted during “A Night in with FEAST” allowing the viewer to follow along at home and emphasize one of FEAST’s core principals, education. 

Additionally, there will be a virtual marketplace where a portion of sales from partners will go towards FEAST: Atelier Saucier will donate 10% from all sales of their Les Combos table linen sets; Sweetfin will donate 10% of sales from their Santa Monica and Silver Lake locations on May 2; Simple Vodka is donating $4 for from every bottle purchased with an additional 20% off with coupon code ‘FEAST 20’; and Califia Farms is providing a 25% discount off your entire order with FEAST. 

Donations can be made by visiting feastforall.org/nightin/ or text the word FEAST to 707070. Donations will be matched by a generous FEAST donor, dollar for dollar, up to $10,000. 

About FEAST

FEAST (Food, Education, Access, Support, Together) is a nonprofit organization committed to promoting wellness and enriching lives through the power of healthy food and human connection, serving families in need in Los Angeles and NYC. In response to the new and increasing needs in our communities as a result of COVID-19, FEAST is focusing its efforts on increasing Food Access through deliveries of fresh produce and prepared meals to families in poverty throughout LA, and by providing food scholarships to families enrolled in FEAST programs nationwide. FEAST needs help to provide more than 20,000 lbs. of produce and $25,000 worth of food scholarships and thousands of meals to families in the coming months.” – www.feastforall.org I @feast_for_all I #FEASTNightIn

L.A.’s Best Spots for Valentine’s Day in 2020

L.A.’s Best Spots for Valentine’s Day in 2020

Contributions: Anthony C. Stafford

Once again, it’s that lovely time of year when couples splurge and go out of their way to profess their deepest feelings for one another. While some individuals may have started planning for Valentine’s Day as early as last year, it’s unmistakable that there are probably many more who are still trying to get things figured out at this very moment. Wherever you stand on the spectrum of readiness, we’ve got a compilation of some of LA’s best spots to please your special (or spoiled) someone. Read on, make your choice, and get a look at the menus, because allergies are a thing. Every surprise is not a good surprise.

Avec Nous

Details: A 5-course tasting menu with optional wine and champagne pairing.

About: Dining at the chef’s private table, Avec Nous’s vintage luxurious ambiance is perfect for couples in search of romance and intimacy in the heart of Beverly Hills. Dinner amongst the stars is probably the most sought after experience in LA. Where better to increase the odds?

Location: Viceroy L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, 9291 Burton Way, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Price: $115/person, $40 additional for wine pairing; $65 additional for Moet Grand Vintage Rose 2009 pairing; $85 Dom Perignon Vintage 2008 pairing

Menu Highlights: Oyster with Regiis Ova Supreme Caviar with gold leaf, passionfruit mignonette, salmon charcoal roulade with salmon roe, Fresno chile, and cilantro, 6oz filet with black truffle, Pommes Anna, black garlic demi-glaze, Earl Grey Panna Cotta with jasmine honey, and pistachio biscotti.

Reservations recommended: https://www.opentable.com/avec-nous

 

 

Delilah

Details:4-course luxurious special menu.

About: This swanky restaurant with a 1920’s vibe is perfect for couples who want to dine at the hottest and most sought after restaurant in LA. Imagine that! Traveling back in time, and impressing your valentine is surely a big brain move.

Price: $90 per person

Menu Highlights:  Hamachi Crudo with crispy shallot, lemon  oil, pomegranate, and shiso, scallops with gnocchi, roasted sweet potato, and salsa verde, Aspen Ridge filet mignon with short rib sugo, confit tomato petals, and brown butter mashed potatoes, pan-roasted duck with barley risotto, braised cabbage, duck confit, and caramelized pearl onions, white chocolate raspberry cheesecake with creme chantilly, and fresh berries  

Location: 7969 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90046

Reservations required: [email protected]

Website: https://www.delilahla.com/

 

 

Mason

Details:4-course custom menu.

About: An intimate dining experience with classic dishes and an impressive wine list. Easy does it. Less is more. No matter how you put it, Mason will please even the most demanding Valentine.

Price: $90 per person

Menu Highlights: Hand-cut beef tartare with traditional garnishes, and cured egg yolk, blood orange salad with shaved winter vegetables and tangerine oil, grilled lobster with baked rice and herb salad, cauliflower steak with brown butter, capers, lemon, and fennel, pavlova with lemon curd, candied buddha’s hand and chantilly.

Location: 108 W. Channel Road, Santa Monica, CA 90402

Reservations required: Call 424-644-3034

Website: www.masonrestaurant.com/

 

 

The Nice Guy

Details: A 3-course special dinner menu.

About: Vintage marble and a brass bar provide a romantic atmosphere for couples looking to indulge in The Nice Guy’s Italian specialties. Make a statement this Valentine’s Day, and own the night.

Price: $90 per person

Menu Highlights: Hamachi crudo with charred grapefruit, pomegranate, frisee, and cress, meatballs with marinara, burrata, Grana Padana, basil, and focaccia, grilled seabass with a sunchoke puree, roasted sunchoke, Bloomsdale spinach, and beurre noisette, 10 oz Aspen Ridge Ribeye with rosemary roasted potato, thyme, and apple balsamic, Cacio E Pepe with ground black pepper and pecorino, chocolate budino with charred marshmallow and biscotti crumble.

Location: 401 North La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048

Reservations required: [email protected]

Website: https://www.theniceguyla.com/

 

La Brea Bakery

Details: Long stem chocolate-covered strawberries from 2/14—2/16; and now serving dinner.

About: Whether you need a last minute treat for your significant other or are planning on treating yourself to some self-care this year, L.A. favorite La Brea Bakery has some sweet, easy options that are the perfect way to punctuate the evening. In addition, they recently extended their hours and are now serving dinner, making it a perfect place to swing by for a low-key, homestyle evening.

Price: $3 each (chocolate-covered strawberries); $15 – $28 (dinner)

Menu Highlights: Chitarra Amatriciana: fresh chitarra pasta with a tomato, onion and guanciale sauce with Pecorino Romano cheese; Cauliflower Strozzapretti: fresh strozzapretti pasta with roasted garlic and cauliflower puree, roasted tomatoes, peas and toasted ciabatta gremolata; Wild Salmon: pan roasted salmon with cauliflower puree, citrus & pea shoots fennel salad.

Location: 468 South La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90036

No Reservations.

Website: www.labreabakery.com

Coveted Women’s Members’ Club and Digital Network, The AllBright, Moves Into US with First Club Launch in West Hollywood

Coveted Women’s Members’ Club and Digital Network, The AllBright, Moves Into US with First Club Launch in West Hollywood

This Fall, The AllBright, the members’ club that celebrates and champions women, opened its doors to the US sisterhood with the launch of its first stateside club. With style and elegance integrated throughout the clubs, The AllBright West Hollywood is aptly located on LA’s Melrose Place.

Following another round of funding, reaching $18.8M, as well as the success of their two London-based clubs and digital network in the UK, AllBright is set to continue accelerating its growth with the latest US launch, bringing a compelling new proposition to the local market.

The AllBright is the first female member’s club to offer both physical spaces and a complimentary digital learning platform, The AllBright Academy, in the USA. Additionally, as an extension of the physical spaces, AllBright launched the first female-only digital community, AllBright Connect. The always-on platform is a global online sisterhood of like-minded women, that offers support and guidance to all. From London to LA, this unique resource allows women to connect with one another and find inspirational content, job opportunities and courses.

Situated on Melrose Place, The AllBright West Hollywood spreads across three floors, with stand-out, elegant interiors by renowned female designer Brigette Romanek and an incredible array of artworks by female artists, sourced by AllBright’s in-house art curator Beth Greenacre.

AllBright celebrates and champions women to inspire change in one another. The clubs offer a unique environment for women and their guests (be it male or female) to connect, take inspiration from and socialize with one another in a beautiful, welcoming environment. AllBright co-founder, Debbie Wosskow OBE stated, “Since launching AllBright, we have grown rapidly into a destination brand for women from all sectors. AllBright has galvanized a strong and dynamic community of like-minded women and we are excited about growing this community further with the launch of our LA Club as we continue to grow the global footprint of our business.”

“Our launch in LA, signifies a significant landmark for our business. After only 18 months since launching in the UK, the demand from women to bring the AllBright concept stateside has been remarkable. Whilst our physical spaces are renowned as aspirational, inclusive environments for women to enjoy from morning through to late night, our complimentary digital learning and networking platform AllBright Connect truly sets us apart,” AllBright co-founder Anna Jones added.

About AllBright

AllBright was founded in 2017 by Debbie Wosskow OBE, Founder of LoveHomeSwap, Evening Standard Entrepreneur of the Year 2018 and member of the Mayor of London’s Business Advisory Board and Anna Jones, former CEO of Hearst UK (overseeing 24 global brands including Harpers’ Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, and ELLE) and board member of the Creative Industries Federation.

AllBright opened its first AllBright Club in London in March 2018, swiftly followed due to membership demand by the launch of the second Mayfair Club in 2019. Both Clubs provide elegant spaces to host the AllBright community of brilliant, like-minded women, creating a unique environment to connect, create and collaborate. Beautiful, carefully designed spaces for driven, inspiring women with men welcome as guests and encouraged to join in and change the conversation.

Alongside the physical Clubs, AllBright Connect offers access to a complimentary digital learning academy and networking platform. The AllBright Academy offers tailored digital courses aimed at providing women with the tools they need to achieve their goals and build confidence along the way. The AllBright Academy champions an immersive, digital, cohort-driven curriculum with an outstanding line-up of specialist experts with dynamic and inspirational course content. It’s the ideal place for women of every age, every stage, whether a founder or not, to build and grow their careers.

The AllBright West Hollywood

Located on Melrose Place, AllBright West Hollywood spans over 12,000 square feet and three-stories offering meeting spaces, dining experiences, health and wellbeing services, event space and a gorgeous rooftop overlooking the city.

The AllBright head Chef, Sabrina Gidda curates seasonal menus, inspired British cuisine, including the quintessential British afternoon tea to suit all tastes.

In the in-house spa, celebrity facialist Georgia Louise makes her California debut with the opening of her second location, offering her transformative Lift + Sculpt method, a non-invasive bespoke facial that redefines and contours the face for an awarding winning GLO. The spa has a highly curated skincare boutique offering her cult skincare line and leading skincare brands and devices.

The AllBright salon offers manicures and pedicures as well as blowouts and full hair treatments. Salon and spa services are available to both members and the public.

Throughout the space, there are over 125 pieces of fine art with a value of over $1.5m curated by renowned art curator Beth Greenacre which exclusively features female artists, with over 40 pieces sourced from local Los Angeles artists.

To date the Club has attracted notable founding members including Olivia Wilde, Naomie Harris, Jameela Jamil, Meg Whitman, Adele Lim, Ruth Wilson, Maha Dakhil, Mary Katrantzou, and Maria Bello.

The AllBright West Hollywood hours of operation, Monday through Thursday 8am10pm, Friday 8am11pm, Saturday 9am11pm, closed on Sundays. Visit The AllBright at www.theallbright.com for membership enquires and further information.

Duuple App Creator, Abby Frimpong, Wants to Use Social Media to Change the World

Duuple App Creator, Abby Frimpong, Wants to Use Social Media to Change the World

Social Media is at a point of evolution where the current heavy hitters  are creating new and innovative ways to experience their platforms. When you take the premise of social media and flip its purpose to create initiatives that can drive socially positive impact around the world, you have Duuple.  App developer and Entrepreneur, Abby Frimpong, wanted to change the game on how society uses social media by not only making it a fun user experience, but designing the app’s use to drive socially conscious movements for its users. Abby spoke with us to dive into Duuple’s purpose and why she was inspired to create this wonderful app.

Tell us about yourself and why you decided to create Duuple. 

Duuple was first designed and later launched in 2018 to encourage change in the world. Personally, Duuple has a special place in my heart. Having worked as a fundraiser in the nonprofit world, I consistently saw the gap between the haves and the have- nots. There was always another brilliant kid in need of a scholarship, another cancer patient to get to or another deadly accident caused by a forgotten landmine. Duuple to me was a way to bridge the gap- how can we give back, how can we empower people to leave a mark and to inspire change in a fun and meaningful way! At the heart of Duuple are millions of people who are looking to make a difference in the world around them, inspiring community action for users to participate in exciting challenges, donate to causes and advocate for issues that matter.

What is one piece of advice you have for others wanting to take the entrepreneurial leap in Los Angeles? 

My one piece of advice is “Do it and do your best.” You have nothing to lose. Worse comes to worst, you are where you are now, which is not bad.  You will always have a job. Someone will hire you. The last thing you want is years from now that you regret you didn’t try.

Do you have any local Los Angeles or Southern Calfornia spots that inspire you? 

Local Spots I find inspiring are The Getty Museum and Villa, Griffith Observatory but also just catching a sunset on any given day. California has many awe-inspiring spots.

How does Duuple work?

It’s simple. First, take a photo or video, upload it to the Duuple app and select the duration of the challenge. Next, decide the giveaway which could be a badge, prize or cash. Save the challenge and share it with your network and the Duuple community.

Want your friends to try to repeat that crazy tongue twister that only you think you can do? Challenge them on Duuple!

If you work with a brand or NGO that’s looking to connect with consumers on driving awareness to a new cause or new product? Create a challenge on Duuple.

New artists with a fun new way to debut their music? Create a challenge on Duuple.

These user-created challenges provide discoverability and virality –with immediate calls-to-action for fun and/or social good among friends. Whether it is just friends competing amongst each other or a charity raising funds, Duuple is a fun and interactive way to challenge your network and share hilarious and engaging content.

Anyone can launch a challenge with the charities we partner with. We have over 400 charities currently working with Duuple.

What do you see Duuple tackling next? 

Now that we have Duuple active as one of the most entertaining mobile apps being used in the US and Korea, we would like to introduce it to the rest of the world.  We have the Duuple Ambassadors program coming up which will allow Duuple to create its’ own influencers. Also, we have the Augmented Reality feature which is almost ready to be released which will take Duuple’s engagement to the next level.  There is a lot happening for me and Duuple. I am constantly traveling to new countries to inspire the adoption of Duuple overseas. I will continue leading Duuple to become one of the most successful apps in its genre. Duuple will continue spearheading social good through social media.

Anything else you want our audience to know about Duuple? 

When people come together, change happens and social media is a powerful tool for this to happen. If you’re reading this I’d like to challenge you to sign up for Duuple and use social media to help create that change in the world.

Duuple is available in the Apple Store HERE, and is available on Google Play HERE

To Learn more about Duuple, visit www.duuple.com

Journey Up the Nile River

Journey Up the Nile River

TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE
July 2019
There are many kinds of vacations—the relaxing, island vacation, the adventuruous trip up the mountains of Peru, the majestic splendor of old churches throughout Europe, and then there is the Middle East. A term coined in 1850s by a British India official, it is composed of 18 countries, 60+ languages and nearly four million people. It is the birthplace of most of the world’s religions and “has been a major center of world affairs; a strategically, economically, politically, culturally, and religiously sensitive area.”

So, let’s just say, it’s not Hawaii.

There are over 200 Nile cruise ships. Many originate in the small town of Aswan, which is down the Nile. This is where our journey begins—after we leave the hustle of Cairo. To get to Aswan you travel by plane or train—driving is not recommended.

An overnight trip to Aswan by an overnight train is a unique experience. The train station in Cairo grows smaller in the distance as we head south on a 549 mile journey. Waking early morning, a rattling train is now alongside the Nile River; a country with a long history that hasn’t seen, in these parts, enormous change: Men still pull carts with cattle, horses carry cane sugar. In one brief moment a dead cow carcass can be seen in a small pond by the side of the road. Time has stood still in these parts.

Aswan is a smaller version of Cairo. To be sure, there is a McDonalds, a Kentucky Fried Chicken, and likely anyday, a Starbucks, but for now, it is a popular city that sits on the Nile, with a substantial amount of river boats.

Aswan is the “Jewel of the Nile”. Pink and grey granite thrusts upward through the Nubian sandstone, forming mountains, cliffs and jagged outcrops. While there countless mosques, there is also Archangel Michael’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral—a towering catherdral  in the Coptic architecture — the architecture of the Copts, who form the majority of Christians in Egypt.

Security is a way of life in Egypt. In Cairo and in places like the Coptic Church, security runs high. Armed guards and blockades can be found at many hotels and indeed at this Coptic Church. But retail and restaurants flourish in the city of Aswan—it is only until late one after noon on a Friday that the azan, the call to prayer can be heard by countless speakers throughout the city—these callers, called muezzinine, are a cacophony of  sounds—it becomes a surreal moment in a backstreet hotel as the soundtrack shifts, the sun sets, we are surely not in the West anymore.

The river Nile. The view of the river as seen in Aswan.
Photograph by Zuke Oshiro
“What you can expect from a Nile River cruise is the adventure of a lifetime.”
DAY ONE we board the Santuary IV. The Sanctuary Sun Boat IV is a contemporary chic, sleek boat with heavy art deco influences. There are 36 standard cabins, two presidential suites and two royal suites. We are greeted as enter the plank by the entire staff offering refreshments and introductions. We are divided  into groups and assigned an English-speaking tour guide, who will accompany us to the various temples along the way. Afternoon tea will be served. Everynight an activity is planned—tonight, after a gourmet dinner is served, we watch as traditional fokloric music and a “whirling dervish” perform.

As one look about it becomes clear that this journey invites all kinds of people—local Egytians, A London-based Sufi businessman with his family, and elderly couple from Scotland, a couple from Cape Cod, a Brazilan opera singer and her daughter, and Egyptian family with their California-based son-in-law. The staff is attentive, ocassionaly too attentive, but the dinner, which is buffet-style, is a nice start to the this ride up the Nile.

A felucca is a traditional wooden sailing boat used in protected waters of Egypt. Its rig consists of one or two lateen sails.
Photographed by Zuke Oshiro
DAY TWO a large buffet breakfast is served each morning. Groups gather on the first deck and we head out for adventure.  We journey to the majestic Philae Temple on the Island of Agilika. We begin to make friends with some Egytian locals and their California-based relatives. The temples are surreal. Over three thousand years old, the preservation is impressive. We are to dress like and Egyptians for a post-dinner party. We bargain with the locals to buy a “galabeyya”, the traditional Egyptian outfit. Each night, at dinner you are seated in the same place. We are seated next to a Brazilian opera singer and her daughter. The after-dinner party is a chance for everyone to mingle and dance into the wee Egyptian hours. This is the requisite fun of travelling by boat—it’s a small party, you get to know everyone, and their stories.
DAY THREE we set off the visit the Temple of Horus. We begin to understand some aspects of the Egyptian pharoah culture. The mythology is deeply complex. For example Horus, is the sky god and there are two, Horus the Younger and Horus Elder. There is a surprising lack of sexuality in these temples, and everyone is quite fit. The drawings are impeccable and rarely vary in form.

We head to The Temple of Esna. The Temple of Esna, which was buried beneath its own debris for many centuries, is located in the center of the town, close to the River Nile and only a short walk from your boat through the local market. We are given passage by way of carriage. The remains of the Temple contain a hall of columns with 24 pillars beautifully decorated with lotus and palm capitals. Also notable is that while looking up, astrological symbols can be seen, 12 of them.

To suggest that it is overwhelming is an understatement. One has to pinch themselves to remind themselves of the reality—you are in Egypt, in the MIddle East and these are the temples that Hollywood has been in love with for so long.

So that evening, as entertainment, they have set up a projector to show the 1978 film, “Death on the Nile”. This version features Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, the famous Belgian sleuth. Actually filmed along the same route we are on, this two hour and twenty minute film runs late into the Egyptian night—we all retire early for our last day.

DAY FOUR The east and west banks of Luxor. This is the big one, the grandaddy of temples. We’re suddenly seeing more people at these temples.  First stop, Temple of Luxor, dedicated to the god Amun. We have had a change in our tour guide! The people in our group requested a new guide. Welcome Medhat, looking like something out of a central casting for Indiana Jones, he is informative and affable. We move onto the Temple of Karnak.
After lunch, visit the Valley of the Kings or The Great and Majestic Necropolis of the Millions of Years of the Pharaoh, Life, Strength, Health in The West of Thebes, as it was once known. We will have the chance to visit at least one tomb in the Valley of the Queens, and visit the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. On the way back to the river Nile, you will pass by the famed Colossi of Memnon, known in Ancient Greek times for their haunting voices at dawn.

 

It’s over. We arrive at our final moments on board the Santuary IV — saying goodby the ship is abuzz with activity. Rooms are quickly seen to. We head to the Luxor airport to head back to Cairo. We have made friends. We travel over vast stretches of desert, broken by the sudden appearance of a great lake, which seems to run for miles. We are back in Cairo for 12 hours.

There was something about this trip, that for the well-worn traveler speaks to that ocassional need for danger—not physical danger, but to be somewhere where your native language is foreign, the landscape, the people, the culture is vastly different than anything previously experienced. Bali was one of those places, The Maldives certainly. Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, all spoke to a distance of things known, flavors never tasted, history seen in terms of thousands instead of hundreds. Dangerous? Sure—you’re in the Middle East—you cannot get to Israel easily from Egypt though it is under 500 miles away. But it’s Egypt, it’s Cairo. It’s the Pyramids! It’s everything you ever imagined and more. To be sure, there was a moment, leaving the hustle of Cairo in a taxi and the Pyramids suddenlhy appear in the distance—it’s a moment. Crusing up the Nile via a five star luxury boat, that too, was many moments.

https://www.sanctuaryretreats.com/egypt-holidays

Mark Your Calendar: Stanley Kubrick

Mark Your Calendar: Stanley Kubrick

 

For those who know him as a filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick’s early career as a photojournalist is a revelation. In 1945, the future director of such classic works as 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and A Clockwork Orange (1971) was just a teenager—but one with an uncanny photographic sensibility, who was already scouting human-interest stories for Look magazine. Explore this formative phase in the career of one of the twentieth century’s most influential figures in cinematic history.

Stanley Kubrick (1928–1999) was seventeen when he sold his first photograph to the pictorial magazine Look in 1945. In his photographs, many unpublished, Kubrick trained the camera on his native city, drawing inspiration from the nightclubs, street scenes, and sporting events that made up his first assignments and capturing the pathos of ordinary life with a sophistication that belied his young age. He produced work that was far ahead of his time and focused on themes that would inspire him throughout his creative life. Indeed his photography laid the foundations for his cinematography: he learned through the camera’s lens to be an acute observer of human interactions and to tell stories through images in dynamic sequences.

Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs is organized by the Museum of the City of New York, drawn from its Look magazine archive, which explores this early and influential work from Kubrick’s formative years. The exhibition follows along as he developed his talent for storytelling and honed his visual style in Look assignments that offer a kaleidoscopic view of city life, from the gritty to the glamorous. In these images of celebrities and everyday people alike, Kubrick revealed the hundreds of human dramas unfolding at any moment.

Through a Different Lens: Stanley Kubrick Photographs was organized by the Museum of the City of New York in collaboration with the SK Film Archives LLC.

For more information and tickets head here

THE SKIRBALL CULTURAL CENTER
The Skirball Cultural Center is an educational institution in Los Angeles, California devoted to sustaining Jewish heritage and American democratic ideals. It has been open to the public since 1996.
 
Address: 2701 N Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049

Second Home comes to Hollywood

Second Home comes to Hollywood

The area of East Hollywood where the current Target is being built, very slowly, has a new neighbor. At night, driving by St. Andrews Place, one imagines a new mid-century modern hotel has moved in, what with the amber lighting and modern hanging lamps, its look like something that might be found in Palm Springs, not between Western Avenue and St. Andrews Place. It is so new that Google maps has not registered it. It opened last Monday, and it’s called Second Home. No, it is not for senior citizens, thought they are certainly welcome. Second Home is the newest “workspace” to slip into the vast SoCal terrain. Like Soho House, Neuehouse, Second Home caters to a sophisticated clientele in search of space, light, and working conditions that bring creative types together. Created by London-based co-founders and co-CEOs Sam Aldenton and Rohan Silva, Second Home is the new campus was designed by Madrid-based architecture firm Selgascano, with Downtown LA-based Omgivning acting as executive architect for the project. A lush landscape of light, 60 circular acrylic pods and foliage, it is simply, surprising that this somewhat off-beat neighborhood should house anything so glamourous. Second home hollywood will be home to 250 organizations and will feature: a branch of second home’s bookshop libreria, a 200-person auditorium, post-production facilities, a restaurant, outdoor terraces, and meeting and event spaces.

For memberships, a tour, information visit https://secondhome.io/hollywood

Address: 1370 N St Andrew’s Place, Los Angeles, CA 90028

 

AND ON THURSDAY, SPETEMBER 19TH

Antoni is the food and wine guru on Netflix’s Emmy Award-winning sensation Queer Eye, and his passion for food is completely irresistible. A television personality, chef, model, and now cookbook author, Antoni is a man of many talents and even more fascinating stories.

During this evening event, guests will get to meet Antoni and taste recipes from his new cookbook, Antoni in the Kitchen (published by HMH Books, on sale September 9).

Antoni in the Kitchen brings together Antoni’s trademark inclusive and accessible attitude to food with one hundred of his all-time favorite recipes.

This cookbook celebrates Antoni’s love for fresh, casual, and healthy cooking, and the occasional indulgent feast, and inspires both newbies and knowledgeable cooks to get back into the kitchen.

The ticket price includes a copy of the cookbook Antoni in the Kitchen and food inspired by his recipes.

NEW TO SOCAL MAG! L.A. DEE DA 2.0!

NEW TO SOCAL MAG! L.A. DEE DA 2.0!

THIS WEEK: DANCES WITH FILMS FESTIVAL, WONDERWORLD LA

DANCES WITH FILMS

The opening night green-carpet event for the Dancing With Films indie film festival took place in the gorgeous and historic lobby of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, directly across from the TCL Chinese Theatres where the short and full-length works were set to screen over the next couple of weeks in multiple theaters. As directors, producers and on-screen talent made their way down the carpet, each group shepherded by a protective publicist, such as seasoned L.A. flacks Henry Eshelman and Diane Brown, cameras flashed and interviewers held up mics under the glaring lights. For many of these indie filmmakers from around the world and around the U.S., this was their very first brush with Hollywood glamour!

Now that the Los Angeles Film Festival has ceased hosting an annual event, Dances With Films — so named in its debut year by co-founders Leslee Scallon and Michael Trent to support a feature film they had made called Indemnity, in the wake of Sundance hosting a plethora of “dance” monikered film festivals — i.e., Slamdance, Digidance, No Dance, and several more with similar monikers.

Twenty-two years later, Leslee and Michaels’s Dances With Films is going stronger than ever while still sticking to their motto of “No politics, no stars, no sh*t.”

DWF has risen to fill the breach left by the L.A. Film Festival in supporting and featuring primarily indie film projects of all kinds, some of which this year included the heartbreakingly excellent The Land, which features a terrific star turn by actor Herman Johansen; the girl-centered video-gaming short Would You Like To Try Again?; Wowsers, produced by and starring the party’s most fabulously dressed guest Sam Fox, about a club where the BDSM isn’t always safe, sane and consensual; and the surprisingly witty horror-comedy Driven, starring the film’s writer, Casey Dillard, along with Richard Speight Jr. of HBO’s Band of Brothers and the CW series Supernatural.

WONDERWORLD LA

Just down the street from where DWF was hosting their opening night festivities, the fabulous magical interactive pop-up museum that is Wonderworld LA was throwing their own soiree to introduce the Wonderworld brand of visual genius to celebrities and local media influencers, sweetening the pot with drinks, donuts, a cotton candy station, complimentary nail art, and swag bags for attendees. Even Fox 11 news showed up to cover it!

Co-founded by venture capitalist Hua Wang and businessmen Jay Yue and Jie Wang, Wonderworld first popped-up in New York’s Soho district where the threesome gathered a cabal of creative designers who were seeking a platform for their work. Wonderworld Soho ran for a year before coming to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame just this month, where local artists such as Josh Wong collaborated in customizing the build-out to be unique to L.A.

Pop-up museums may be a new concept in Los Angeles, but they’re a big — and lucrative! — trend in NYC, where the trio behind the original and L.A Wonderworlds is set to launch Wonderworld Brooklyn any day now.

In NYC, Wonderworld is something of a fashion brand, but here in L.A., they’re not targeting the nightlife set. Rather, Wonderworld is open only during daylight hours and is bracing for a steady stream of both the legitimately young as well as the so-called young at heart, who will no doubt be completely entranced by the Alice-in-Wonderland-esque rabbit-warren of 11 differently themed interconnecting rooms, all housing art installations in various crazy-wonderful themes, all of which are meant for extreme posing and photographic shenanigans. Memory-making shots of patrons climbing in, on, and around the various oversized and decorative props, and Instagram-worthy photo ops with your posse are highly encouraged. We can’t help thinking that kids, both little and big, will take to Wonderworld LA as if it were a more sophisticated version of a Disney theme park!

Wonderworld LA is set to pop at least through the second week of August. For tickets and information call (747) 284-9616.

 

 

 

Punk Rock Karaoke

Punk Rock Karaoke

Lots of things have changed, of course, since the L.A. Weekly’s Thursday issue was what you rushed to get a hard copy of in order to gauge your spot in the Hollywood hierarchy and with which to strategically plan every move in your upcoming week’s nightlife carnivale.

For one thing, Coke Zero has edged out Diet Coke as the drink of choice.

 

But for those of you who don’t, or can’t, or were too young or too unhip to remember, back in the day there was a nightlife column in the Weekly called L.A. Dee Da, and it defined what and who was hip in L.A, via words and pictures, for many years.

We didn’t start the L.A. Dee Da column, nor name it, but we wrote and took the pictures for it for over 7 years, until we killed it — very possibly because we had just seen too fucking much to leave the house one more fucking time! And that was that. Until now.

Here again, for the armchair clubgoer, is classic L.A. Dee Da, 2.0:

Unexpectedly pleasant was the 7th Annual Rock Against MS benefit at downtown’s historic Palace Theater. Originally set for the Los Angeles Theater directly across the street, when sound issues arose at the Los Angeles, chill-as-ice proprietor of both theaters Ramin Delijani (of the downtown Ezat Delijani Square Delijanis), was kind enough to allow the show to move across Broadway to one of his other three historic venues, one of which — the Tower — is slated to become the downtown Apple store.

With reserved seating, actual songs with beginnings and endings, and sound levels not too loud for casual conversation, this was no recipe for high millennial attendance. In fact, when the MC asked if anyone in the audience was under 20 … the sound of crickets could almost be heard amongst the crowd. Yes, it was a playdate for the senior set! Comprising the first part of the evening was various songs done in tribute to some of the musicians who’d died in 2018, kind of a feel-good tribute to death: some of those honored musically were Temptation Dennis Edwards, Motorhead guitarist Fast Eddie Clark; Lynrd Skynrd guitarist Ed King, the fabulous Aretha, Pantera co-founder/drummer Vinnie Paul, and The CranberriesDolores O’Riordan, among others. It was like being in the audience at American Idol, but with real celebrities doing the covers. Even stand-up comic Bill Burr took a turn on the drums.

When headliners Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg came on, the audience was allowed to leave their seats and rush forward — or maybe saunter is a better word for how this particular audience of post-punk pensioners drifted stage-ward, where not only was no mosh pit created, there was not one instance of even the most minor pushing, shoving, nor the most light, accidental jostling. Look at us — we’re all so goddamned nice now! When did that happen?

The band proceeded to play a tight as a drum, feel-good walk down the oldies-but-goodies lane of memories that is a Ramones’ greatest hits cavalcade, including “Beat On The Brat,” “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker,” “Rock n Roll High School,” “I Wanna Be Sedated,” and all the rest, with Marky doing a surprisingly serviceable job on vocals — considering he was previously the group’s drummer, replacing Tommy Ramone, until (according to Wikipedia) he was fired for alcoholism. But by 2014 all the original members were dead, leaving Marky the only one left to carry the “Gabba Gabba Hey” torch well into the present century. His reception at Rock Against MS proved that, for some of us, it just doesn’t get old.

It didn’t hurt that Marky and the current lineup were totally on point, moving from one hit to another like a greasy machine. Marky was the epitome of classic New York cool in a Dean Martin t-shirt, a full mop of longish hair, and a physique that would have rivaled Twiggy’s in her heyday, with no appreciable difference in his sartorial style from that of the original New York punks we saw congregating outside New York’s CBGB and Max’s Kansas City circa 1978.

Coming from the Silent Auction area, we ran into local keyboard goddess Gere Fenelli, formerly of Redd Kross, who announced gleefully that she’d become a first-time bride at 56 and gesturing to her groom, proving that young love isn’t the only game being played in this town.

Backstage after the show, Blitzkrieg guitarist/former Bad Religionist/Circle Jerk Greg Hetson was as perplexed as anyone as to why the MC, former Mad TV castmember Debra Wilson, chose to stride back out onstage amid audience chants of “Hey Ho, Let’s Go!,” cutting off the band’s encore and closing the show rather anti-climatically, rather than with the hoped-for “Blitzkrieg Bop.”

An event that captivates both young and old is the best karaoke night in L.A. This fun-for-all-ages event takes place once a month not strictly in L.A., nor in the environs of Hollywood, Koreatown nor Little Tokyo. It takes place inside the kind of massive, three-sided strip mall that only the suburbs can spawn. Maui Sugarmill Saloon, the site of the festivities, shares Tarzana Square with dozens of other in-high-demand local emporia such as O Fancy That! British gifts and Abi’s Judaica (“beautiful gifts from Israel”!), which itself shares a very trayf wall with a Round Table chain pizzaria. But one thing Tarzana Square features that not even we can disparage: more than enough easy, convenient, hassle-free and no-cost parking for the overflow crowds at the Sugarmill.

You can keep your clusterfuck of a Downtown L.A. We’re partying in beautiful downtown Tarzana.

Organized by booker Sarah Elizabeth, there’s no vanilla joke of a ballad-filled karaoke machine involved at the Sugarmill’s karaoke night. The tiny stage tucked into a corner of the intimate venue holds a full live punk band, with San Lee of the Dickies and Greg Hetson, again, on guitar, and longtime scenester Nubs Gutmacher on sound, and singing along with the hoi polloi are a few celebrity ringers such as Mikey from the Adicts. The action all takes place just steps away from the pool table area, where — of course — people are calmly playing pool amid the din and sports coverage plays non-stop on a TV mounted on the wall. With the band ripping through a rolicking set of punk classics, this IS your mother’s karaoke — or maybe your grandmother’s — with hits by Iggy, Joan Jett, The Clash, FEAR, Misfits, Stiff Little Fingers, Buzzcocks, Circle Jerks, and more.

Even youngsters who could not have been born when this music was first inciting the dance known as the pogo were getting down with the vocals. Lyric sheets are provided, and it’s a free-for-all to sign up. Unlike “classic” bar karaoke, it doesn’t really matter here if you can hit any of the notes — no one can hear you above the band when you screw up, and the supportive audience claps for every valiant effort.

We got so caught up in the spirit of the evening we earned 2.5 of our 15 minutes of fame being an almost-for-real Runaway on “Cherry Bomb.” Punk rock karaoke takes place at the freeway-close Sugarmill, so grab your grandparents and their handicapped placard and join in the fun, which takes place the first Saturday of every month.

From punk rock to drunk rock and, ironically, on 4/20, the tongue-in-cheek country outfit Groovy Rednecks celebrated the joys of alcohol abuse with their third-Saturday-of-the-month gig at downtown Culver City’s historic Cinema Bar, a cozy spot with free admission, frequent live music on the miniscule stage, and just enough room to cut a rug. Nights start with two opening bands, one of which is the duet Talking Treason featuring Laura Smith and Rednecks’ guitarist Bob Ricketts. With songs such as “Always Bring A Beer” and “How Come I Only Love You When I’m Drunk,” the Rednecks’ paen to John Barleycorn was show 153 at this particular spot in the 12 years they’ve been in residency at the Cinema, or show 921 for singer Tex Troester, who’s spent 25 years teamed with guitarists Bob Ricketts and Barefoot Gary Riley who does, in fact, play all shows barefoot. Watch that broken glass! More recent members are stand-up bassist Steve Seifert and drummer Chris Bailey, a newbie of about a year, who is better known in certain circles as Grand Poobah for life of the venerable Hollywood institution The Water Buffalo Lodge — not Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble’s Lodge 26, but a loosely knit fraternal organization that once boasted a who’s who of the L.A. rock underground and whose legendarily debauched afternoon picnics were once the talk of the town; word is that another is being planned for this summer. Dedicated appreciators of feminine pulchritude, we witnessed one particular annual Water Buffalo Beauty Contest where the fair damsel who stole the coveted crown of Miss Water Buffalo that year demonstrated her “talent” of shaving her legs to an appreciative audience of Water Buffaloes and their Ladies Auxiliary.

Which just goes to show that here at L.A. Dee Da, whether you have true talent or are merely talent-adjacent, you too can make it into boldface!

 

MEET THE GROOVY REDNECKS
My band The Groovy Rednecks have been playing since 1991 (28 years) We have played 921 gigs and counting!
Tex Troester – vocals/lyrics
Bob Ricketts – guitar/music
Gary Riley – guitar/mandolin
Steve Seifert – bass
Chris Bailey – drums

The first time we played The Cinema bar was 17 years ago, we started playing the 3rd Sat of every month 12 years ago. (this will be our 154th gig there) The show starts at 10 pm with “Talkin’ Treason” (a duet of my girlfriend Laura Smith and my guitar player Bob Ricketts. They play mostly covers of country, blues, rock, and pop standards. The Groovy Rednecks start at 11 pm. And we choose a different band to play the midnight slot every month. (any genre as long as they’re good) The bar is one of Culver City’s oldest dives, with a tiny stage and a comfy outdoor smoking patio in the back. This month on 5/18 we are playing with a band called “Cool House”. We also have Merle Jagger on 7/21 and Wreck n Sow on 9/21. We are always looking for fun bands to play with. We need bands for 6/15 & 8/17. Let me know what else you need and thanks ! ~ Tex

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