Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I Love L.A.

I did some things when I was in California recently to visit my beloved friend Karolyn. Here is a "blog" about the things I liked and found interesting there. Growing up in New York, I'd always heard a lot of shit-talk about the West Coast and Los Angeles particularly: everyone is superficial, it is polluted, people there don't treat you nicely unless you're rich and/or good-looking. Well, these problems exist in New York too and for the most part I found the "temperament" of the city similar to that of my own: artistic, fun-loving, nice enough, doing one's own thing. It was a great trip you guys!

The Last Bookstore has new and used books and, in size and dustiness, is similar to the Strand in NYC. What's different about it is that it displays works by local artists plus art installations/sculptures that use old books. There's a shop inside it where you can buy framed art prints. Perhaps best of all, they sell records too.

Galco's Old World Grocery is in the hip, suburban-vibed Highland Park neighborhood where the houses are adorable and all the dogs are Chihuahuas. This place sells every type of soda pop, specializing in the antiquey ones that are hard to find elsewhere. Yes, of course they play oldies on the PA and when we were there we heard "Love is Strange." I bought three bottled sodas: Moxie, Cheerwine, and Lemmy.

The Dresden is a short drive from Karolyn's house and so we needed to go. You have seen it in movies; it's the fancy bar where lounge musicians Marty and Elayne sing pop favorites requested by the audience. I heard them sing/play "Stayin' Alive" and also met like the friendliest bartender EVER who let me pay for only the first one of my four drinks.

Of course I shopped at Amoeba Records! Everything you, East Coaster, have heard about this franchise is true. It's enormous, there is a staggering amount of great vinyl, jazz gets its own whole giant room, the prices are reasonable (about 25%-50% off what the same records would cost here, depending on the item), and everyone was both knowledgeable and friendly. I spent an entire afternoon there, shopping for a box full of music which I later shipped home to myself via UPS, and didn't want to leave.

Stories in Echo Park is another new/used bookstore. We didn't spend much time here but I picked up my new favorite book for our ever-expanding toilet library: Singer-Songwriters (pic below). This place had a great selection of music biographies and such and a cute-looking cafe.

We took a side trip to the desert, and stayed in a lovely Airbnb house behind THE END in Pioneertown. It turned out our host was also the owner of the shop. She sold SUPER CUTE vintage clothes, shoes, bags, and jewelry; I bought a purple Benetton sweater from the late '80s that I adore. This place is right down the hill from the famous music venue and BBQ place Pappy and Harriet's, where we saw a band and had a boozy dinner. Joshua Tree park is just a short drive away, too, and made for a beautiful hike.

This is just a small sampling of the things we did; I'm leaving out the fancy donuts, the view from Griffith Park Observatory, the superb dinner special at Little Dom's, and the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs and more. Rather than being sad to no longer be in L.A., I'm grateful to have spent a week there and saved up some vitamin D in my body. Now I'm back in Brooklyn where it is cold and snowy. I have fond memories.

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