Behind Hollywood...literally

How did I find my way to the Hollywood sign? It started with a sign that read "No Access to the Hollywood Sign." The lady doth protest too much.

After four months of hiking the winding streets of Beachwood Canyon and admiring the enviable real estate, I found a closed gate. It was covered with even more signs telling me that there was no access to the Hollywood sign. But beside the gate was an open doorway. When I approached it, I saw  a star on the sidewalk. I was golden.

The first time I came up behind the Hollywood sign, I was alone and wished I could have shared it with someone. Then I took an old boyfriend, who, when squeezing through the fence to touch the "H," heard a censor beep. A moment later a helicopter came straight at us. And rightfully so. There are so many idiot taggers, we have to reluctantly spend our hard-earned tax money fighting them off. Ugh they are such losers.

Now I hike for the sweeping views of Lake Hollywood, and on a clear day, the glittering sea. I go for the exercise and for my dogs, who go wild when seeing horses, which are common there. This is certainly the love part of my love/hate relationship.

Lake Hollywood, hidden by mountains
the butler thinks he's a horse - greyhounds & horses have much in common

Carla Minard Winston


Munchie Machine Unites Opposite Ends of Social Spectrum

People say there are two different ways to live in Los Angeles. You can do the slow-paced Venice Beach thing by snagging a stress-free job, surfing and scarfing down fish tacos barefoot at beachside stands. Or you can live the fast-paced life, whizzing around Hollywood taking meetings and pounding on the Blackberry. As it stands, you usually have to pick a side. Industry types seem to forget there's a beach nearby and their seaside counterparts tend to forget about long-term goals. Both scoff at the other's values.

Back East, I was seduced by the both the laid-back beach lifestyle and the glitz of Hollywood. I thought I could do both. But since people in the entertainment industry tend to act as if they're curing cancer, it's hard to maintain a balance. I've had people move out of Venice Beach because they felt slowed down by "slackers" and said the general lack of motivation was depressing. In my quest for equanimity, I don't have a Blackberry, I refuse to text, I hike canyons and I spend weekends lounging at the beach.

The only two people in Hollywood fully embracing both worlds.
I do work in entertainment though, and it's only during al fresco power lunches to my cohorts spend time in the sun. These are the people who say they moved to California for the weather, but have never taken a surfing lesson or seen Topanga Canyon.

But if there's one thing both Hollywood types and Venice Beach residents can agree on, it is the Munchie Machine. Rolling around past studios and media meccas, it acts as a subtle reminder of our careless, free-spirited past. Looking like the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine, everyone is instantly transported to those hazy golden memories of stoned, sunny, laid-back good times. Cell phones are snapped shut, and all the years of social climbing and ladder climbing disappear. We worked so hard to gain responsibility, only to have the Munchie Machine remind us of how sweet life was without them.

Oh, and they make s'mores.


"I can't date you until I know what kind of car you drive."

Sound ridiculous? They say L.A.'s car is the answer to New York's bags, as far as statement pieces go. And  we've all seen that scene in Swingers where a girl is approached at a bar, and cuts off her potential suitor with "What do you drive?"

oh my God go to college
Sound like a joke? Now there is a website that helps single girls in L.A. find guys with nice cars, called Date My Ride. I would laugh at the embracing of our shallowness, even making a mockery of it, except for this:

Question: If a woman wants a nice car so badly, is she not capable of getting a good job and buying it herself?

This site makes the presumption that women are too stupid and lazy to get what they want, so they open their legs to be at the mercy of a rich suitor. It's so...medieval. Then again, I know this town is filled lazy and stupid (two maladies that can be controlled) girls who feel a sense of entitlement because they like what they see in the mirror. All of which takes the Women's Movement back 100 years. Tears.
a real vintage ad

Note: The site is rightfully covering their butt by saying it's a site "for car lovers," not Narcissistic men and lazy, stupid girls. But make no mistake, the boys are doing the advertising and the girls are doing the shopping!


For daytrippers & cutesy couples

daytripping with the blonde mafia

Why, you might ask, would we drive over an hour outside of Los Angeles to get apples? Apples that we have to pick ourselves? Apples that are pricier than organic apples in Los Angeles?

me having some wholesome fun
Normally I'd say the joke was on us, but what an experience. We did it for the crisp mountain air, seeing the leaves change colors (I'm talking Shenandoah Valley colors!), for the adorable village, the petting zoo, the farmer's market and for God's sake, the fried chicken and mile-high apple pie! It's all at Oak Tree Village.

this was worth the trip alone

This is one romantic Autumn day trip, and right now it's apple-picking season! It won't last long. I didn't go on a date, but on an adventure with a car full of girlfriends. Either way you go, you will marvel at the old-fashioned goodness of it all. Caramel apples at the Farmer's Market, baby goats hand-fed with bottles, corn field mazes and apple-picking at rustic orchards. You'll feel like a farmer's daughter, but an innocent one without all the field hand pregnancy scares.

come early to take advantage of everything before sundown

looks just like the dancers' quarters in Ditry Dancing!

nearly kidnapped him
why are goats so loving?

mile-high apple pies!


Makin' Bacon

I told you so. I told you this time, and that time. Bacon desserts are huge in Los Angeles. And while this L.A. Times link is from back in 2009, it is still making it's rounds over email and on Facebook pages. I had to share, because it is a serious guide to bacon in this town. Bacon ice cream and bacon cocktails? Duh!