Happy New Year Los Angeles!

Here are some resolutions I'd like to see L.A. make:

#1 Build more metro stops (particularly ones at Miracle Mile and Laurel Canyon)

#2 Build more Boba Locas!

#3 Hire more teachers.

#4 Put a Vietnamese restaurant in Studio City!

#5 Citizens, stop giving so much attention to hipsters with ironic facial hair. It's your staring and reactions that encourage them to "stay weird." Ignore them, and they will eventually go away.

#6 $100 "jaywalking" tickets? Seriously? Skim the fat off of the over-inflated California government in Sacramento instead of ripping off poor citizens. Use the extra to do #3.


Everybody Loves Steve Martin

Steve Martini
Steve Martin's face makes me feel warm and fuzzy. It takes me back to the leafy suburb of my childhood, where an endless stream of peanut butter and lemonade was accidentally snorted through my nose while laughing in front of The Jerk, LA Story, Little Shop of Horrors, Parenthood, Father of the Bride, Roxanne and so on.

Thank goodness for Gallery 1988, which is appealing to all us Gen Xers with exhibits that take us back to our decadent 80's childhood. Not too long before the Steve Martin exhibit, they had a Garbage Pail Kid exhibit

To be in a room surrounded by various Steve Martins smiling back at me, was nothing short of glorious.


An L.A. holiday must-do: The Tam O'Shanter!

"What the Dickens?" you ask. Why, it's the Tam O' Shanter

Since Los Angeles is a sea of concrete strip malls and steel-and-glass minimalism, you wouldn't expect to see a place straight from a Dickens novel. Oh we have a sprinkle of the soot and smog of London during the Industrial Revolution, but we don't have snowy Christmas Eves, icicles hanging off latticework windows and Christmas carolers.

Or so I thought. We have the Tam O' Shanter, right by Griffith Park. Built in 1922 and frequented by everyone from silent film stars to Walt Disney (whose sketches adorn the walls), this place is a true wonder. They offer the ultimate Scottish experience all year, but it's during Christmas that the place pities the fool. Their multiple fireplaces are roaring, garland thick with red velvet ribbon is strung from rafters and Christmas trees laden with Victorian trinkets glint with the advent of the holiday. Best of all, there are carolers! Actual Christmas carolers in Victorian attire who sing in harmony, gliding from table to table to take requests, and they know every song. They even offer a production of A Christmas Carol in a special room.

prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, creamed spinach and mashed potatoes
And the food was impeccable. As a Middle Easterner, I've taken great pride about our triumph over cuisine, despite a barren landscape. A lot of Irish, Scottish and English food is bland, though cultivated from lush and bountiful landscapes. When visiting England, I marveled at how the best restaurants were Indian, not to mention the boiled chicken and potatoes that pass for delicious. And the Brits told me to thank my stars I wasn't in Scotland, where they serve the same fare, plus haggis. But the Tam O' Shanter would have none of that. They have roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and thick gravy, and seasonal pumpkin souffle with whipped cream. Scottish salmon with mashed potatoes and buttery greens, multi-layered English trifles and more.

Between the food, the carolers like porcelain figurines and the overall look of a light-up Christmas village, this place is a must-do.


Candy Cane Lane - a real Holiday Road!

Story has it, there are Candy Cane Lanes all over the country. They've popped up HERE, HERE and HERE and then some. But word has it that the Candy Cane Lane in Los Angeles is the one that started them all. Feels good to know that, considering the barrage of commentary coming from New York, accusing us of licking their fashion crumbs. For the record, we were never the last to know. Sometimes the 2nd, but never the last. And we don't all wear shorts and flip flops. And Rodarte is from Pasadena. But I digress...

It's undoubtedly a perk to have Candy Cane Lane in Los Angeles. We're close to Disneyland and I swear one of the employees must have built the two-story facade in front of their home, filled with trinkets and characters belting out It's A Small World. Then there's the weather perk. It's not hot outside by any means, but wearing a snuggly sweater and Uggs makes it perfectly cozy. The weather brought out families, who placed chairs in the back of flat-bed trucks, so that their kids could cruise by and interact with the crowds roaming the streets. It sounds white trash, but it isn't. It's like a parade, and they all don cute knitted scarves and thermoses of hot cocoa. Sometimes they carol, as do the kids who have the privilege of popping half their bodies out of the sunroof of their parents car. They don reindeer antlers made of felt and wave to everyone, giggling.

Vendors are on the street selling spiced apple cider and funnel cake. Neighbors are dressed as Santa and pose with visiting kids on gigantic sleighs, three rows deep. Since the barrage of cars and foot traffic on Candy Cane Lane has residents literally trapped on their property, teens take the opportunity to score some money, baking cookies and selling bottles of water. Strangest of all, was a man who biked through Candy Cane Lane over and over, wearing a helmet that dangled mistletoe over his head.

The thing that made it special, was that people were unabashedly enjoying the Christmas spirit. Teens weren't rolling their eyes, they wore blinking red noses. Parents weren't stressed over the commercial aspect of shopping lists, but slowing down to soak up the campy Griswold beauty of it all. It was truly a Holiday Road, if there ever was one!


Baby It's (a teensy bit) Cold Outside

There is a nip in the air! Naysayers, hush. You just haven't been here long enough to have your blood thinned.

Time to bust out the bulky sweaters and enjoy some comfort food! It's time for Doughboys. They aren't afraid of gluten, the sticky stuff that holds the world together. Cold weather isn't just awesome because hipsters will be putting away those oversized tank tops and slipping their pasty arms away from sight. It means buttery grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches and cast iron skillets filled with cheesy Southern goodness.

Happy December!