Friday, 30 July 2010

LA foodz.

Urth Caffe insanity cakes

This isn't a picture of the Coconut Royale cake I had at Urth Caffe. It didn't last long enough to be photographed. This is a picture of cakes at Urth that I saved onto my desktop a couple of years ago, I don't know where from. Urth is totally overpriced and where the wannabees go to hang out – it's the café where Vinnie and the boys always go on Entourage – but if you can get past the slightly dubious atmos the cakes there are fantastic. Mine was a really light, coconutty sponge filled and coated with a mixture of cream and coconut. Dribble. We went to the Santa Monica branch.

Going to LA for me means lots of Mexican food. I think I ate fish tacos for most meals. These were by the beach in Ventura. Side of onion rings? YES PLEASE.

Ventura

This carnitas burrito missile came from Holy Guacamole in Santa Monica and belonged to James; I ordered some lame cheese tamales that were a bit rubbish. I'm upset just thinking about it.

Burrito

Just as I was consoling myself with guacamole and thinking, 'This stuff really is the food of the gods', I looked up and saw this sign. 

Holy Guacamole

I had more delicious fish tacos from this food truck. Apparently the whole food truck culture is really taking off in LA.

Street Kitchen

I communed with this fro-yo truck on the beach in Santa Monica too. Simply funnel your chosen fro-yo into a pot then add toppings. How convenient.

Fro Yo Van

We didn't eat at this place but the food looked really good. Chez Jay was Dennis Wilson's favourite bar and is apparently where the celebrities go when they're in the mood for a dive bar. JFK and Marilyn Monroe are said to have liaised there.

Chez Jay

After the apparently very strong drinks at Chez Jay we went to The Galley, a kitschy fish place decked out as a ship. Unfortunately my two margaritas rendered me able only to look at the pretty lights. I have foggy memories of a tasty chowder and some gorgeous, fresh seafood pasta. I've been before when sober and can confirm that it's a delicious, winning place.

The Galley

Probably my favourite meal of the trip and the one we saved until last was a drive down to Malibu to visit The Reel Inn. It's a fish shack by the side of the road where you choose your fish from the display, how you want it cooked ('Cajun, please!'), and which sides you want. 'Slaw, cajun rice, homestyle potatoes... so good.

the reel inn

Last but not least, a quick hat tip to Jack in The Box. That milkshake was delicious and I have to confess to having a bite of one of J's sliders. (I'd never heard of sliders before but everywhere was selling these trios of mini burgers. Is it a new thing?) Obviously for burgers we should've been going to Inn-N-Out but somehow we didn't make it. Gutted!

Jack in The Box

[Reel Inn image by Jennifer Jpan]

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Bowl and thrift in Mar Vista.

Phil Yoakum's bowling supply

On our last full day in LA – I'm doing this in reverse chronological order, just to be awkward – we set off to cram in all the places we hadn't seen yet. But on the way we drove through Mar Vista, an area we hadn't been through before, and saw a brilliant looking thrift shop (I can't bring myself to call thrift shops chazzas) and an old-fashioned diner with attached bowling alley. Naturally we had to stop.

Phil Yoakum's bowling supply

Pepy's Galley is a brilliant old diner where we had breakfast before exploring the lanes. I annoyed everyone by snapping photographs like a tourist on crack.

Phil Yoakum's bowling supply

Phil Yoakum's bowling supply

It's actually impossible for me to walk into a bowling alley establishment without having a go.

Phil Yoakum's bowling supply

Although with slightly less finesse than the regulars. Check that leg extension.

Phil Yoakum's bowling supply

Then on to the Council Thrift shop. This place was special. They had Acne jeans, Dior jackets, lovely vintage dresses in great condition, Ferragamo shoes...

Council thrift shop

...and check out the stud and bowling ball details on this bad boy. If I was a local and regular at Phil Yoakum's Bowling Supply , I just might've...

Bowling shirt

This shop definitely scored an A+ on the scale of thrift shops. As per the reviews here, the pricing is not rock bottom but I scored a brand new Jaeger pale blue wool jumper and beautiful fitted black silk shell for $22. You can't argue, really. (My full thrifting haul will be posted forthwith.)

Council Thrift Shop is at 12120 Venice Blvd. Phil Yoakum's is across the road at 12125 Venice Blvd.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

NYC > VEGAS > LA. The playlist.


I'm going through all my pictures and getting overwhelmed trying to work out what to blog about first. So in the meantime, here's the playlist I built yesterday of songs that remind me of the trip. It's on Spotify, hope you've got it!

I've done it chronologically which makes some of the tracks running on a bit random and kind've like the playlist Charles Manson might have had on his iPod. 'Pologies 'bout that.

Another Man – Barbara Mason
I was trying to build a playlist of songs before I left and discovered this gem. It's about a woman whose man leaves her for another man and has a slightly dubious message but is a banging tune.
I'm a Wonderful Thing, Baby – Kid Creole And The Coconuts
I think Kid Creole And The Coconuts may have actually invented New York. I listened to this song approximately 875.3 times.
Sun Watcher – Albert Ayler
OK, it's free jazz with a funky bassline but bear with it. I saw a tribute festival to Albert Ayler when I was in NYC, more on that later.
That's The Bag I'm In – Fred Neil
Actually, maybe Fred Neil invented New York. I did a lot of listening to Fred Neil whilst wandering around Greenwich Village. Yeah, I'm a cliche, gotta PROBLEM WITH THAT?
[Sittin' On] The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding
My friend Jenny and I treated fellow ferry passengers to a version of this after one too many Miami Vices after a day at the beach. They really really liked hearing the drunk British girls interpretation of this fine tune. Really. *cough*
Sweet Seasons – Carole King
Will You Love Me Tomorrow – Carole King
We went to see Carole King and James Taylor play together in VEGAS. She's still got it. She was giving JT and her guitarist major game-on eyes and at 68 looked better, had more energy and has written considerably more hit records than me.
Sweet Baby James – James Taylor
Ahh, JT still had it too. He's a total hottie on the cover of this album (love the sleeveface above). He said he wrote this as a cowboy lullaby as he drove to North Carolina to see his baby nephew who had been named after him.
Crying In The Rain – The Everly Brothers
They duetted on this. Which Carole also wrote.
Hot Burrito #1 – The Flying Burrito Brothers
We stayed in room 8 of the Joshua Tree Inn, where Gram Parsons died. They had all his CDs in there so we listened to them under the stars and I SWEAR I saw a shooting star as this song ended. This song gets me every time.
Ooh Las Vegas – Gram Parsons
Nuff said.
LA Woman – The Doors
This came on the radio as we were driving to LA. Haven't listened to The Doors since I was about 16 but this sounded mazin.
Ventura Highway – America
This came on the radio as we were driving in Ventura. NO SHIT.
Smile – Nnenna Freelon
Love this song ever since Jermaine Jackson sang it at MJ's funeral. This version was played on KJazz 88.1 (ace LA jazz station that you can listen to online). It has a dubious modern jazz production quality that I usually don't like but I love Nnenna's voice.
Bewitched Bothered & Bewildered – Ella Fitzgerald and Oscar Peterson
This live version also came on the radio and sounded rather good.
Don't Stop the Music – Yarborough & Peoples
A lady called Bathsheba made me dance with her to this in a thrift shop in Silver Lake. She also asked James when he bought a record, 'You gon' sample that?' Bathsheba: you are awesome.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The Watts Towers.

the towers with heart detail

I was reminded of the Watts Towers after googling the Bloods and the Crips. We were told not to go to Venice Beach at night by our walking corpse of a hotel receptionist, Gigi, because, so she said, the gangs hang out there. This later turned out to be total bullcrap but now at least I know all about hand signs, gang colours and careful use of words beginning with B and C. Anyway, her saying that led me to the Watts Towers so all is forgiven, Gigi.

The towers are the work of one man, Sam Rodia, an Italian immigrant who in 1921 bought a plot in Watts because it was cheap. A tile-setter by day, he lived alone after a troubled spell of being a miner and seeing his brother killed down the mines. He briefly turned to drink and left his family, seeking solace in following his creative impulse, creating steel and cement mosaiced towers and structures in his back yard. He spent every waking moment outside of his day job sourcing materials for his work and building, alone. For thirty years.

heart and mosaic detail

On his plot he built a small bungalow, where he lived, and the towers. This is how they look from the street.

Towers from the street

Inspired by great men such as Galileo and Columbus, he built a ship structure, positioned in the far corner of his plot, facing towards Italy.

the ship

There is a wedding tower, which he constructed to perform wedding ceremonies, a tiered wedding cake structure and a baptismal font. This is the inside view of the wedding tower.

marriage tower inside view

And these are the steps up to it. He designed the towers with two doorways, for the couple to enter separately, and one doorway for the couple to exit, in union. God, I love Italians and their romantic ways.

Marriage tower steps

Hearts are a common motif throughout, appearing on tile, wired into the structures and stamped into the cement. His portrait was later included on the cover artwork for Sergeant Pepper. With his solitary life and the hearts he scattered all over the towers, I definitely see him as an honorary member of the Sergeant Pepper Lonely Hearts Club.

heart at furthest point of plot

Rodia signed his work of thirty years by stamping it with the simple tools he used to create it, seen here on the outward facing boundary wall.

Towers behind wall, tool imprints

This film is the only known footage Rodia. I especially love seeing the simple interior of his bungalow, of which only the fireplace still remains. After years of facing abuse from his neighbours, who didn’t understand the strange wire structures he was building in their neighbourhood, he signed the lease of the property over to a neighbour and left, retiring to California. A few years later, in the mid 1950s, stray firecrackers burned his bungalow to the ground. Only intervention from local arts preservationists saved the towers from being destroyed and not before the city tried to crane them out of the ground, on the grounds that they were unsafe. But they survived.



Here’s the lonesome remaining fireplace.

fireplace

As Rodia said, ‘I had in mind to do something big and I did it.’ To me, these structures represent America; the pioneering spirit, what can be achieved at the hands of one man. It seems bizarre that they are not better championed.

The towers and the attached Charles Mingus Youth Arts Center are under immediate threat of having their public funding pulled: the towers are protected – although it’s sad that they are separated from the street by iron railings – but they are in a careworn state. Please sign this online petition to show your support.

Situated in Watts, a high-crime neighbourhood, the towers are only a few minutes drive from the freeway so I would urge you to definitely go if you are deciding whether or not to make the trip. Just remove any tiaras, Rolex watches, etc. And keep your car doors locked! For tour information call in advance to check days and times on (213) 847-4646.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

And now, the end is here, and so I face...

photo(4)

photo(2)

...one long horrible bitch-ass journey home tomorrow. Due to a circus of ineptitude that only James and I could manage between us, he booked his flight home a day earlier than mine and so here I am on what should be the last day of our holiday, on my own in a hotel room overlooking LAX.

But don't cry for me, it's a gorgeous hotel – The Custom Hotel – and as I type, from my bed, I can see planes taking off and landing, under a full moon. And frankly, after two weeks of crazy running around, I'm happy to be in bed, eating a supper of raspberries and cherries and downing water in preparation for my horrible journey tomorrow.

Anyway, I'll be back blogging next week and I warn you now, it'll probably be pretty America-centric for a while. Right, now I'm going to watch James' plane take off from my bed. How strange.

Oh, on the note of strangeness, a quick story from last night. We were cycling down Venice Boulevard on our ridiculously huge beach cruisers, I was in front and suddenly heard James shouting, 'PULL OVER!', with a degree of urgency that is unusual for him. So I pulled over, looked behind me and coming towards us, careening down the road, was a car that had obviously just been in a crash and had one of its front tyres burning away, leaving a trail of sticky burnt rubber on the road and veering out of control. As it went past us the remains of the tyre flew off and the wheel hub was hitting the tarmac and sparking. And still the driver didn't stop.

Recounting this story to a local later and wondering if it was out of the norm, they said, 'Yeah, that's crazy. Even for LA.'

I'm looking forward to getting home, dudes.

[The pictures are from a ridiculously pimpin' pool party that was taking place when I got here. I wanted to go but was too scared on my own. I'm calling red plimsolls as a popular look for dudes for fall. And check out the guy on the right's amazing look in the picture below. I had to take these on my iPhone so the genius is slightly lost.]

pool party 1

Monday, 19 July 2010

Checking in from the desert.

Hey dudes! NYC > VEGAS was as crazy as expected and I’ll post about it in tedious detail when I get home, rest assured, but I’m in a very chilled place this morning and have been having blog withdrawals so had to do a quick check-in. I'm lazing on the deserted patio of the Joshua Tree Inn, surrounded by palms buzzing with hummingbirds and nosy little critters with bended tails who keep scurrying up to peek at me, hiding under the shade of this joshua tree.

P1040215

We arrived last night just as the sun was setting and checked into room number 8, famous for being the room where Gram Parsons had his final party. I was worried that I might just find it a bit spooky and sad but the energy of the place was amazing. Despite being dog tired from VEGAS and our slow drive across the desert, I was buoyed up on the magical spirit of the place so walked across the highway to the store to buy a six pack of Pacifico and some tequila minis. We sat out in the room’s back yard, listening to Gram and staring up at the stars, spotting six shooting stars between us before being sensible and deciding against sleeping under the stars, which I really wanted to do, and collapsing into bed for a super restful night’s sleep.

I really don’t want to leave here today. I won $160 on my first ever foray onto the blackjack tables just as we were leaving VEGAS – I wanted to stay and gamble it all away but James, again the voice of reason, dragged me out of there – anyway, I’m tempted to spend it on another night here. We have a room booked in Venice for the rest of the week, but this place is just so magical. We’ll see.

Have a fantastic week dudes! I’ll probably check in again this week, now that things are a bit more sane. x

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Escape to New York.

DSC01768

I'm signing off for a while, folks! I'm going to New York to visit some pals. My friend Jenny lives there now and my bestie, Anna, is going to be there at the same time. We were a deadly triumvirate back in the day but haven't all been together for three years and I am SO EXCITED to catch up with both of them together. Excited and scared. We once had a major six day party bender that we christened Pissedmas. It was in midsummer, so I suppose we should celebrate it again. Recalling some of the scenes I am actually slightly terrified. But it will be top fun. That's us up top, looking refreshed.

After New York I'm flying to VEGAS BABY to meet James, who will be there finishing up at a work conference. We're going to see Carole King and James Taylor play live together (I hope, not got tickets yet!) before driving across the Mojave desert to LA for a week. I am literally dribbling with excitement at the prospect of it. Although again, I'm slightly scared. Last time we went to LA we wrote off the hire car on the way back to the airport and literally had to leave it wrecked in the street to catch our flight in time. Ahh, what adventures await, time will tell!

I'll probably check in along the way with blurred photographs and ramblings about vodka and grapefruits but will be back here properly on the 27th July. Have a fab few weeks!

Monday, 5 July 2010

Burrata.


In Rome earlier this year my friend served us an incredible cheese which I've been trying to remember the name of ever since and, reading something or other this weekend it came back to me; burrata. It's a mozzarella stuffed with a mixture of mozzarella and cream, and bundled up with an asphodel leaf.


When you unwrap the cheese it wobbles seductively onto the plate, oozing fresh, creamy unctuousness. Only considered good to eat for 48 hours after being produced, it's available in London at La Fromagerie and was big on the London cheese scene a couple of years ago. Apparently. Anyway, I know what I'm having for tea.

[Images with thanks to Rachel, whose blog about living in Rome and food I am going to also spend some quality time with, later!]

Friday, 2 July 2010

Meme, Myself and I.

A while back, the truly fabulous Christina at Fashion's Most Wanted gave me a Beautiful Blogger award, which means that I have to post seven facts about myself and then pass the award on to seven more blogs. Thank you, Christina! So here are my seven facts. And if you haven't checked Fashion's Most Wanted, please do immediately, like, now, instead of reading this drivel. She does the most fantastic in-depth profiles of notable Londoners, such as the one she posted this week about Christos Tolera. An inspiring, fascinating read.

I called a friend to ask what I should write in this list and he told me to write about the time he and I were driving through the Joshua Tree desert and stopped at the Joshua Tree Inn, the motel where Gram Parsons died. We stuck our head in the door, then decided we were being a bit creepy, so got back in the car to drive off. We were listening to a Gram Parsons mixtape and, just as we pulled out of the motel carpark, the tape mysteriously stopped in the player, just as Gram sang the lyric, 'One hundred years from this day...'.


We were freaked out. And I'm more freaked out he brought up that story because just YESTERDAY I booked the motel room that Gram Parsons died in to stay for a night on my trip next week. (Yes, you can book the actual room he died in. I'm a bit worried I'll be too creeped out to sleep.) RIP Gram, you sexy country rock bad boy.

I'm addicted to coffee. The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is make a pot of coffee and when I go to sleep at night I think about the coffee I'll drink in the morning. Seriously bad addiction, I should try to give up.

I used to play bass in various bands, from my teens right up until leaving Liverpool when I graduated. The band I played in there were called Chevette and, amazingly, I've just found this on Youtube – a recording of John Peel playing our record! Danny, our guitarist, went on to form Ladytron when Chevette split after a few of us left Liverpool.



I chose to go to university in Liverpool because I loved The Beatles so much. I was very happy with my choice. It's a vibrant city with a unique culture. And the music scene there is fantastic. I can honestly say I spent my university years dancing, playing music, partying and doing very little studying.

I miss rollerskating. The day before my 8th birthday I went to bed at 3pm, because I knew I was getting my first pair of rollerskates the next day. Luckily my mum is acers and gave them to me a day early. (Hm, spoilt little princess, much?) I still have some rollerskates, I bought them thinking I'd go skating in Hyde Park but I'm far too embarrassed to go by myself. Anyone up for going rollerskating?

My mum got run over by an icecream van as a young girl. She was OK, but had a badly injured leg; apparently my grandmother's white dress was completely red by the time they got to hospital in the ambulance. I know I'm sick, but I find it funny that she got run over by an icecream van. I've never trusted those fuckers.

I've never seen E.T.

So there are my fascinating facts! I'd like to pass the award on to some of my fellow British bloggers Isabelle OC, the enchanted hunters, The Sneaky Magpie, The World According To Jane, Vagabondiana, Yeah...OK...Bye... , What Katie Does. Have a good weekend, people! xxx

[Gram Parsons image: Ginny Winn—Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images]

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Obsession alert: John Turturro.


I watched Barton Fink for the first time earlier this week. Bit late on that one, but brilliant, isn't it? I recognised John Turturro from Do The Right Thing, which I also only saw for the first time recently (I know, dur), then half way through Barton Fink I had a lightbulb moment and realised he also played Jesus in The Big Lebowski. In short, this man is clearly awesome. Bit slow on the uptake, aren't I?