Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dayshots: From J-Town to Gardena // Biking

It's only about 13 miles from Little Tokyo to Gardena, so a few weeks ago, I decided to bike home from East West Players. 

Once upon a time, I saw a cool building and thought that something cool was going to come of it. I was wrong. Three years later, the building is gone. Completely gone.
 A few blocks down, I saw Ghandi.

 Los Angeles needs more pocket parks. This one on South Broadway is not as nice as the little park on Venice & Hope, but it reminded me of the park in Paris where I sat to eat a delicious falafel pita.
I stopped here to drank some water. It was a hot, hot day. Chatted for a minute with a woman about what tough times these are, then got on my way again. 

There is still so much to see and learn of Los Angeles, even after four years.

Monday, August 29, 2011

5 Random Good Things // Gardena & South Bay

I meant to do more of these "Random Good Things" posts, but I've let it fall by the wayside. From 2009 to 2010, I've managed to live in Bellflower, North West Long Beach, and East LA before landing in Gardena, so I should dig up the things that made living in each of those neighborhoods pleasant. I've been in Gardena for a nice, round year now, longer than I spent in any of the other places, so I'm going to start there (I mean, here).

1. Gardena Municipal Bus Line Specifically, the 1 line which goes to Downtown. The line ends in Little Tokyo and the last stop is just down the street from East West Players where I've been working for the last year. Perfection. There's been lots of debate in the city council about the changes they're planning to make to the bus lines, and the new schedule takes effect on September 4th. The bus won't go Downtown nearly as frequently, but at least service wasn't killed completely as was originally proposed. And they added bike racks to the buses sometime last week! I think Gardena was the only (or one of the very few) bus lines in Los Angeles that did not have bike racks.

2. Spoon House Perfectly cooked spaghetti. You can get a nice bolognese. With hot dogs. Or you can go Japanese American style (highly recommended) and get the spaghetti with clams, mushrooms, and dried seaweed. And the bread, oh the bread. Fluffy and chewy and lovely. I like it with butter and black pepper. Oh, and you know a place is serious about iced tea when a little simple syrup dispenser sits alongside the salt and pepper at every table.

3. Redondo Beach at Torrance. Yesterday, while enjoying the first good hot day of the summer, I learned that skimboarding is allowed any time on the beach. This is a big deal since I'm used to Orange County beaches, which prohibit skimboarding during peak hours (from when the beach begins getting crowded to about 5pm). Skimboarding culture is perhaps more aggressive in Orange County since it first gained popularity in Laguna Beach, which means there's been time for enough accidents to happen for policies to be enacted to prevent future ones. There were a lot of  kiddies on the sand, but the handful of skimboarders seem to always be quite cautious. Not having to wait until the sun starts sinking means more time to run, glide, and eat sand before the cold water and wind make my ears hurt too much. I really haven't taken advantage of the proximity to the ocean enough since moving here last year. 

4. El Rocoto Chinese-Peruvian food. It has two locations. El Pollo Inka is the popular Peruvian food chain in South Bay, and I would still go there if I wanted some delicious roast chicken and rolls with green sauce, but El Rocoto wins with me for their lomo saltado, braised ox tail with creamy fettuccine, and chicken milanesa with pesto-cream spaghetti. And I always like supporting little (or in this case, littler) businesses.

5. Neighborhood Grinds I'm pretty attached to my morning French press coffee so I don't often go to cafes for coffee any more, but this is one of the shops that I treat myself to-- specifically for their dark chocolate mocha. Not too sweet. Nicely bitter. And that dark chocolate whipped cream. I like to slurp it off of the surface of the drink before it melts in. I'm a lady. Also, they play music that seems directly torn from my high school/college playlists, which is both pleasant and jarring (oh shit, are these classics? I mean, they play Michael Jackson on KRTH 101 now).

Just a few of the many things that have made living in Gardena pretty good so far. More (so many more) to come. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

If Only I Could be the Baroness of Boogie

Since The Park's Finest started their catering business, the question that has bombarded them over the last two years has been: Where is your store? Johneric has recounted stories of people calling him while wandering around Echo Park and Historic Filipinotown wondering where his spot is, to which he'd have to reply that they were a catering-only business and did not have a brick-and-mortar restaurant. The best bet for getting a plate (short of placing a catering order or attending a Pleasure Palate tasting event) was to volunteer at Tuesday Night Cafe, or go to their booth at TNP's Annual Benefit or the  Festival of Phillipine Arts & Culture.

As of July, however, The Park's Finest is on its way opening its very own shop in Historic Filipinotown. And they are asking for the community's help to make it happen:

The video not only tells a story of the formation of a business, but of the bond between neighborhood, community, friends, and family. I was lucky enough to have been invited to one of the first tasting/fundraising events that helped get The Park's Finest on their feet way back in 2009. It is astounding to see how far the company has come, and how dedicated the crew is to each other and to their community. This business is by and for community. I know that they can be trusted to come through on what they state on IndieGoGo:
as a community-oriented company, we aim to reinvigorate the blighted district of Historic Filipinotown in Echo Park. Our community fundraising campaign will build capital for a restaurant that offers a fulfilling dining experience, for families and friends to enjoy savory BBQ in an atmosphere where musicians and artists can showcase works that reflect and celebrate the intersections of the dynamic cultures and histories bridged by this vibrant area of LA.

I can't wait to see it happen. Unfortunately I can't donate at the Baroness of Boogie level, but I'm gonna do what I can as soon as the next check comes in.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

In Which I Yell A Lot // J-Town Summer Sessions is Saturday!

I don't often post photos or video of myself here. I'm making an exception because J-Town Summer Sessions is this Saturday and maybe if you're amused (and not frightened off) by my frantic yelling in this video, you'll buy a ticket to the concert and support one of downtown LA's longest-running free public arts spaces.

This posting is belated since Tuesday Night Cafe was last night and the 2-for-1 special is over, but I hope that this demonstrates the lengths to which we will go in order to get people to come and make this a great concert for the artists who are performing, vending, and live-painting. 

Online ticket sales end on Thursday, but you can also get tickets at the door for $25 ($20 for students/seniors). Kids 12 and under are free! With Mista Cookie Jar there, it's going to be a family-friendly affair. Even with Higashi selling beer. ;n)

Can you spare $20 for 7 months of art+community in Downtown?