Highways vs. Freeways

Back East, no one says freeway. Out West, no one says highway. The Highway vs. Freeway debate continues to be a passionate yet pointless point of contention. And everyone's defense is boring; "Our way is better because it's...ours?"

...So what is the difference between highways and freeways? According to Dictionary.com:

Highway - a main road, esp. one between towns or cities

Freeway - an express highway with no intersections, usually having traffic routed on and off by means of a cloverleaf.

...But guess what the synonym for highway is? Freeway. And a synonym for freeway? Thaaaat's right. Both coasts are right, both coasts are wrong and everyone needs to find something more substantial to trump the other coast. Serious issues, such as Twizzlers vs. Red Vines


I'm a sucker for a long line

Who doesn't think these people are in on something?

I always thought that Pink's Hot Dogs never needed to advertise, since the line stretching down the block seemed an advertisement enough. It worked on me. Stood in line for eons to get the Ozzy hot dog and it wasn't bad. Just meh. But I am a sucker for a long line, and 800 Degrees Pizza in Westwood lured me in. It had a build-your-own pizza walk-through, like Subway. Except these people are serious. The cheese is burrata, there's truffle oil and one orders their salads for pleasure, not out of guilt. Check them out.

Arugula + truffle = heaven

forget cheap mozzarella - these guys use slick mounds of  burrata

view from my table below


You go, Spago

dining with the ladies of NBC Phoenix

As you may or may not know, it is very difficult to impress Gradylicious, Queen of the Desert.  But we have been to Wolfgang Puck's new and reninvented Spago, and we approve. 

No more needs to be said, since Spago's changes has been written of here, here, here and - well you get it. You go, Spago.


As if Prius drivers weren't annoying and self-righteous enough...

Golden Girls Live!

the cast, with Metro PR's Tess Finkle

What better way to spend Valentine's Day than with the Golden Girls? After all, that show had the best opening song in the history of TV, and when this drag show opens, the audience sings along. Golden Girls Live is a raucous live show. Trivia and prizes abound, and for some reason Sofia passes out slices of cheesecake to the audience. Dorothy's character is impeccable and it all takes place at Oil Can Harry's. Can there be a better name for a bar?
Oil Can Harry's - best name ever



When a "Best of" restaurant kind of isn't

Bon Appetit magazine named Baco Mercat one of the "Hot 10" best new restaurants of 2012.  It was a "Best New Restaurant" in LA Weekly, covered in Esquire and made the cover of Angeleno. Not going would be like making some sort of statement, like the people who don't join Facebook. 

Book a table before 6:30 if you want to eat this year!

Baco Mercat was good. But it was also a lesson to me; a lesson I'd already learned in film. I used to think that if a movie was good enough to be nominated for an Oscar, it must be life-changing. But after years of cramming in the nominees' films during awards season, I realized that was false. Sometimes films are nominated because they happened to be the non-comedies that sucked the least. They were all good, just like Baco Mercat was good. But the earth did not rumble beneath me after my first bite, and I'd have to concede that expectations can ruin a perfectly good meal.

Hammered metal plateware classes up the joint

I also have to remember that this is Josef Centeno, the chef that every critic in Los Angeles goes gaga over. He opened The Lazy Oz Canteen to mucho fanfare, but I left disappointed. Critics are going to love whatever Centeno does, just like film critics will always love Spielberg, even if he made that Indiana Jones Crystal Skull film thingie in 2008. Oh, you missed that one?

Julie and Dayna, hotties who make me wish my hair were yellow

I wish Ricardo Zarate could get the credit that Centeno receives. Their menus are so similar, but the Picca Peru chef's food just tastes better. That's what should matter the most. Baco is worth the trip, but it's more of a People's Choice Award than Oscar-worthy.

having fun with friends even if I am a brunette
southern fried chicken and a biscuit - what could be better?

oxtail sandwich


Tamela D'Amico: Classing Up the Joint

Tamela D'Amico with Billy Vera

It's easy to romanticize the old-fashioned class of New York. We think of Woody Allen films reverently captured in black and white, the jazz of Charlie Parker and Central Park in the fall. In Los Angeles, it's hard to come by images like this. We have nouveau riche embarrassments like The Shahs of Sunset. We have gaudy new homes with columns that don't even try to look like they were needed structurally. We have Angelyne

So naturally, Angelenos are thankful for Tamela D'Amico, jazz vocalist extraordinaire. In a world where sex tapes grant red carpet access to people who can't even spell the word "pathetic," we'll take class wherever we can find it. She didn't climb onto a casting couch or a really bad reality show to get where she is. She doesn't stumble down the sidewalk in pink pleather clutching a Pomeranian. She wears gowns, son. She believes in hard work. She also has something that The Girls Next Door don't; talent.

When she's not on tour, she plays around town. She records albums, she writes, produces and directs, and by God she does a lot of photo shoots. She's held her own on stage with Billy Vera. I should give you fair warning though. She often plays at Catalina Jazz Club, and while I got in "free" on a press pass, I still had to cough up $30 just to sit and sip coffee. Not cool, so save your shekels for those shows.

Her hair is styled like a 1940's pin-up, her sound is all wet martinis and big band swing and the girl has style. Quietly defiant against the conventions of the city, she's never felt the urge to have yellow hair, tangerine skin, plastic surgery or bare midriff. This girl is old-fashioned in the good way, like chocolate malts and Frank Sinatra. And we can say that she's ours, Los Angeles. Did she come from New York? Admittedly, yes. But she chose to come here. She's classing up the joint.


Shocking Discovery: Rap Lyrics are Stupid and Don't Make Sense

My hatred of Hip Hop is no secret. Aside from the fact that the lyrics take us back about 50 years as a human race, the dudes all take themselves too seriously. They don't know how to have fun with it the way Humpty and Tone Loc did. Now they have to grimace with a row of gold teeth, act all hard and not give any indication that they're enjoying themselves.

Now adding this to my list of gripes: The lyrics don't make sense!

Don't believe me?

The name of their site comes from an old Jay-Z lyric, "No room service, just snacks and shit." A data programmer and stand-up comic got together to take the piss out of the dumbest rap lyrics out there.

Some gut-busting examples:

Kanye West: "I live by two words: f**k you, pay me"
SaS: "OK, first of all, this saying is four words long. So you're an idiot."

E40: "I'ma be the first hustler that set up shop on Jupiter."
SaS: "Nobody is going to do business with you on Jupiter. Filed under: Too far away / Would die instantly."

You tell 'em, Snacks and Shit.


Ethan Pines' Urban Archaeology makes Angelenos want to step it up

house? what house?
Have you ever passed a public school and marveled at how depressing the architecture was? You wonder why sadists would create something so dreary, as if receiving an education were a punishment rather than an honor. The same thing happens in Los Angeles. You see the shimmering palms and snow-capped mountains, but instead of being inspired by the landscape, architects plop down concrete strip malls with glaring yellow and red signs. Often, I wish Los Angeles would do better. I wish this because I love this city, and so does Ethan Pines.

Opening night at NEW THEME gallery
In his series Night Trees, where he juxtaposes striking trees against man-made structures, the buildings seem dwarfed, almost ridiculed. In a world where we keep our eyes on traffic, Pines reminds us of what we’re not seeing. The towering, live-giving trees seem ancient and knowing. In everyday life, they are content to sit in the background as we zoom past, fiddling with our iPods. But caught in twilight and lit strangely, they are breathtaking. These photos remind me of how I feel when passing an industrial school campus. It makes me wish Los Angeles would step up their achitecture, to match the natural beauty we overlook.

Ethan Pines’ love for this city is evident in Urban Archaeology, his first solo show in Los Angeles. His work at NEW THEME gallery on Melrose is unmissable. In addition to pieces from Night Trees is Night Cars. Los Angeles is a car culture and he photographs vintage driving machines. Instead of focusing on the sleek lines of the models, he trains our eyes on the dents and rusted-out parts. He loves Los Angeles not by glossing it over, but by showing all the juxtapositions. Beautiful cars and decay, majestic trees and chain link fences, and the spooky underside of yellow-lit freeway ramps at night.

But it doesn’t all have the hushed feel of an urban secret garden. There is gloss. To avoid this in L.A. would be making a statement. An annoying statement of defiance, much seen by people who take pride in avoiding Facebook. To quote The Beverly Hillbillies, this is the land of “…swimmin’ pooooools and movie staaaahhhs!”  Pines embraces this. While this exhibit focuses less on his glitzy commercial work, his website demonstrates just how versatile he is as an artist. High-glam abounds, in saturated colors and high-spectrum pop. He photographs personalities with their dogs, Mid-Century Modern homes and celebrities laughing in a confetti downpour. In these photos, the sky is impossibly blue and skin glows more radiant than a sunset over the Pacific.

His work ranges from classic California punch to an eerie gorgeousness. It will encourage you to pay more attention. You may have looked at certain buildings and trees hundreds of times, but now, you might actually see them. Don't miss this show.


Lukshon produces mouth-numbing menu. Literally.

Beausoleil Oysters

Many restaurants in Los Angeles come up with gimmicks to set them apart from the others. Crustacean has a secret kitchen, where family recipes are kept hidden from the other chefs. The Bazaar deconstructs and rebuilds foods into unrecognizable versions of themselves.

Lamb Tartare

I don't mind a good gimmick. I like to try new things. Lukshon, a new hotspot in the ever-gentrifying Culver City features prickly ash in some of their dishes. Prickly ash, also known as Sichuan peppercorn, once scared the bejesus out of me. I frequent Asian grocery stores, and once bought a packet of (delicious!) spicy peanuts. After a handful, my tongue went numb. I thought I was overdosing from MSG. And I kept on thinking that until I read Yelp reviews of Lukshon. People freaked out when their mouths went numb while eating their Chinese food. A light bulb went off. Prickly ash was the culprit mentioned in the reviews, and upon a Google Image search, it matched the spices in my peanut pack. MSG is my friend again. (I know, I know. Actually I don't. Why are we supposed to hate MSG again?)

Spicy Chicken Pops

As long as you know the numbness is coming, you can embrace and enjoy it. I like prickly ash. It's citrusy and spicy. Our server says that the medicinal qualities that numb the tongue also cleanse your palate, enabling the other spices in the dish to be appreciated on a deeper level.

Kurobuta Pork Ribs

It was a lovely dinner. Made even lovelier by my dining companion, the illustrious Caroline Giegerich of the Daily Marauder. My recommendation? The Dan Dan Noodles, Spicy Eggplant and Spicy Chicken pops. Bon appetit.