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10 Things To Do In L.A. After You’ve Had a Week You’d Like to Forget

March 27, 2015 by Cortney Matz

What brought you to Los Angeles? The sun? The beach? The fun, fabulous atmosphere of creativity and spunk?

L.A. is a treat, truly. But even in a dream world of sunshine and chill vibes, not every day will have you feelin’ groovy. Between commuting concerns, budget restrictions and the volume of time some jobs have us cooped up indoors, it’s bound to wear on you. And sometimes those bad days turn into bad weeks and sometimes what you really need is a way to simply break the cycle.

If you find yourself in just this situation, never fear. There’s always opportunities around the corner to make improvements to your outlook and find experiences that will build back up your positivity.

Just remember, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

And for starters? Check out the following list of L.A. specific suggestions.

Hermosa Beach Sunset

Credit: Neil Kremer via flickr

1. Drive… Like, Really Drive

Escape the congested freeways and take a scenic route by way of Mulholland, the PCH or one of the canyon roads.

You may want to let traffic die down a bit before attempting some of these Dguides.com suggestions – but a jaunt around the Griffith Park Observatory or a glimpse at a seaside view could be a shot in the arm after a tough day working for the man.

2. Get Beached

Aside from the refreshing breeze, open space and sheer beauty of the place, beach time is restorative for your health.

Check out this recent Medical Daily article, in which we learn that walking on sand stimulates feet and legs for neurological and physiological benefit. And the volume of minerals in seawater act as a tonic for the skin and body, not to mention the built-in massage of the tide’s ebb and flow.

Any beach will do, but here are some suggestions from We Like L.A. contributors: 14 Fun Things To Do in Venice Beach Next Time You’re in the Neighborhood and The Ultimate Guide to the Beaches of Malibu.

Rough day? Go to the beach! Everyone’s heading east at the end of the day anyway. Spare yourself some traffic frustration and run off to see the ocean.

3. Move Your Butt

Maybe it goes without saying, but arguably one of the fastest-acting stress busters is exercise. Instead of immediately hopping in the car to jet to your next thing, consider taking advantage of these opportunities to get moving.

Free yoga in the park, on a hike, even at the library!

You could even go on one of Free L.A. Tour’s daily walking tours or check out our city’s numerous secret staircases.

4. Eat Out!

You gotta eat, but why burden yourself with cooking after a challenging day? This is stress eating.

Be it a rooftop bar or food truck, L.A. dining has got you covered. Belly up to any number of local eateries you’ve never tried. Combine with a bar crawl for variety and inspiration.

These lists ought to get your creative juices going:

10 Essential L.A. Food Experiences – featuring In N Out as foodie traveler Anthony Bourdain’s favorite burger.

12 Spots for the Best Happy Hours in Downtown L.A. – when it comes to stress, a half-price margarita can go a long way.

EMC Seafood Oysters

Oysters at EMC Market

5. Let The Rhythm Move You

Is it possible to be truly focused on dancing your heart while at the same time remember all the crummy things that happened to you this week? Absolutely not.

No matter your style, these L.A. clubs supply plenty of places to bust a move. Check out these lists to swing, salsa, country line dance or simply boogie your blues away.

6. Window Shopping

Retail therapy is an American tradition, but even if your pockets are empty L.A. has plenty to offer by way of window shopping. CBS compiled a list of some top choices for Angelenos.

And if you do have some cash to spend, take a look at our opportunities for sample sales: 12 Ways to Find the Best Sample Sales in Los Angeles.

Another option to find discounts might be checking out one of L.A.’s many awesome thrift stores.

A photo posted by Nadia Tarr (@nadiatarr) on

7. Music and Poetry

Test out these open mics for a low key variety show that’s sure to introduce you to some new musical talent. Valley dwellers should add Republic of Pie and Kulak’s Woodshed to the list.

If your artistic side leans more to spoken words, here is a great list of poetry and storytelling events.

Come summertime, the free concert series begin. Cast a glance over We Like L.A.’s 40 Fun & Free list and see which ones you’d like to attend. A free concert is a great end to any day, doldrums or no.

8. Get Some Perspective

With the city closing in on you, it’s tough to feel anything other than overwhelmed. In the absence of wide open spaces, perhaps rising above is the best course of action. From climbing a mountain to ascending a flight of stairs, getting higher is a simple and effective means of lifting your spirits.

Sometimes it’s great to find a spot that has an epic view of the city to make your problems feel small. On other occasions, what you really need is a quiet space to clear your head.

Or, how about combine tips 4 and 6 at one of  the 10 Best Rooftop Bars in Los Angeles.

There are plenty of places to take in the view. So drive or climb to your nearest vantage point and get some perspective on the world.

We've got all new furniture up at #HighRooftop!!! Who's gonna help us break it in?!

A photo posted by Hotel Erwin (@hotelerwin) on

9. Learn Something

Some days will make you feel kind of stuck. Break out of the rut with some mind expansion through classes in anything from surfing to mixology. Browse books at the public library or barter for knowledge with one of these free classes offered by Trade School L.A. (or better yet, sign up to teach your own!).

If you’re feeling truly intellectual, check out one of the free public lectures at Zocalo Public Square.

10. When All Else Fails: Indulge!

Take a deep breath, un-clench those fists, and order dessert.

Might we specifically recommend chocolate – a magic elixir, scientifically proven to make you feel better when you’re low. You don’t need much, so go for quality. We suggest these 12 Spots For The Best Chocolate Every L.A. Foodie Needs To Try.

Teuscher Chocolates

Teuscher Chocolates. Credit: Cortney Matz

The Turning Point

Are you feeling better? If you’ve been inspired to try one of these antidotes to a bad day, I hope you’ll let us know how it went.

Everyone’s strategy for turning around their L.A. blues is different. So tell us, what are your favorite things to do in the city of angels when you’re feeling down?

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17 L.A. Landmarks That Made Awesome Cameos In Iconic Feature Films

February 23, 2015 by Cortney Matz

Since movies have historically been made here in Los Angeles, it’s no wonder so much of the place ends up on screen. Just about anything you watch, there’s something familiar about that building/coffee shop/street/beach.

These are a few we’ve noticed coming up a lot. Maybe not quite as in-your-face as the Hollywood sign, but still pretty memorable buildings, streets, and views.

Give it a glance – how many do you recognize?

1. Quality Cafe in Million Dollar Baby

See also: Se7en, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, 500 Days Of Summer, Catch Me If You Can, certain episodes of Mad Men, and basically any movie with a cafe scene. It’s a popular place.

2. CAA Lobby in Inception

When Leo DiCaprio instigates the sting against Fischer, the place he catches up with the targeted CEO is a swanky hotel lobby. Or is it?

3. Shrine Auditorium in King Kong (1933)

When the King’s captors reveal their glorious find to the public, that’s the Shrine stage it happens on. No footage on YouTube, but you can get more info on the movie via the imdb page.

4. Bradbury Building in Blade Runner

The painstakingly chosen brick, tile and color scheme for this 1893 structure is still chic today – and useful for anything from an office to an apartment building to a climactic rooftop confrontation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j2Z9K0W3Ul8

5. The Sunken City in The Big Lebowski

“Donny was a good bowler. And a good man.” The heartfelt eulogy was delivered overlooking one of our weirdest local landmarks. Walter and The Dude make their way over the broken pavement of what used to be a street to scatter the ashes.

6. The Korean Friendship Bell in The Usual Suspects

This is the part where things get anything but friendly.

7. The Orpheum in The Artist

When Jack the dog steals the show, it’s on the stage of The Orpheum – one of the few remaining Vaudeville theaters still in use.

8. The Dresden in Swingers

Apparently, this is where all the beautiful babies hang out.

9. Downtown L.A. in To Live and Die in L.A.

This might be the greatest car chase scene ever in Los Angeles, and I swear no one knows it.

10. The L.A. River in Terminator 2

To quote The Guardian:

“The riverbed in downtown LA provides the backdrop for the T-1000’s first appearance, when he is found by a policeman under the historic 6th Street bridge. And one of the most exciting scenes – when John is pursued by the T-1000 in an 18-wheel lorry – happens in Bull Creek.”

11. Gamble House in Back to the Future

The Pasadena house, commissioned by David and Mary Gamble in 1908, is available for tours and artsy educational events. It also happens to be where Doc Brown lives in 1955.

12. Union Station in Dark Knight Rises

Movie magic trivia: how do you create the grand scale of a city like Gotham? With locations from a bunch of other cities – and creating a court room out of a train station.

13. Griffith Observatory in Rebel Without a Cause

What better place for a long stare-down/flirtation than the Observatory. This is where the protagonists confront tormentors in a cinematic showdown (be they rebels, Terminators, or Charlie’s Angels).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OB17oq7hf20

14. Greystone Mansion in There Will Be Blood

Who knew Daniel Plainview and The Dude live in the same house?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Xdm_Vtrcco

15. City Hall in Lady Killer (1933)

When James Cagney is set up by his gang, the place where Mae Clarke bails him out of jail – and later saves him – is our own Hall of Justice. And if you’re unfamiliar with this classic, get familiar.

16. Biltmore Hotel in Beverly Hills Cop

Eddie Murphy just needs a place to sleep, y’all.

17. The Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Rain Man

The striking marvel of glass and chrome is an ideal setting for Tom Cruise to turn down $250,000.

BONUS: Los Angeles takes a feature role in Los Angeles Plays Itself.

In Thom Anderson’s 2014 documentary, all these icons around town finally get to play themselves.

What is your favorite depiction of an L.A. landmark in an iconic movie?

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8 Lies Valley Residents Tell Themselves About Commuting to the Westside

February 20, 2015 by Cortney Matz

The San Fernando Valley is a pleasant place to live. Truly.

Once you get out of the basin of downtown, things open up – the streets are wider, the levels are flatter, there seems to be more air. You have some elbow room in the valley.

But the one problem with living in the valley is that at some point most of us have to commute from the valley. And this phenomenon generates a level of traffic congestion the likes of which few ever care to see.

Anyone who has faced low-level asphyxiation in the wake of seven tractor trailers while packed onto the 405 at 7am with four hundred thousand fellow commuters has clung to hope in any way they can.

But are we really just lying to ourselves? Telling ourselves that the situation isn’t that bad simply because we need something to get us through the grind? Let’s examine the predicament to take account of some of the things we convince ourselves of that may or may not be true.

Commuting on the 405 Meme

Pro-tip: Make sure your expectation level matches up with reality.

1. I’m Saving A Lot Of Money

LIE: A primary rationalization behind living in the valley and commuting to, say, Santa Monica would be to save money on rent. But at what cost?

TRUTH: Time is money, and then some. Tally up the minutes, blood pressure points, and plain boredom that it costs you to save so much money and… well, the numbers don’t lie. What is your life worth to you? If you consider the minutes of it invested in rush hour bumper-to-bumpering, the total time/life suck can be rather staggering. All things considered, maybe it’s not so cheap to live in Van Nuys (guess where I live).

2. It’s Not THAT Bad

LIE: In our minds we may try to tell ourselves that the situation isn’t as bad as it might seem. After all, isn’t the actual drive distance a mere 20 or so miles to get from point A to B? How bad could it be?

TRUTH: Mileage in Los Angeles is like how time works in the dream levels of Inception. The further out you are from a destination, the more the commute time is compounded as comparing to some more ‘normal’ part of the country. So basically, 1 mile in L.A. transit is equivalent 10 miles in, say, Twin Falls, Idaho. And, of course, just like in the film, if you spend too much time in this “dream world” you’ll eventually be brought to madness.

To take it a step further, a few years back some science guys calculated that the 405 Northbound from the 105 to Getty Center Drive was the absolute worst commuter stretch in the entire nation. You can’t just wish that away!.

3. I Just Need To Find The Sweet Spot

LIE: “The Sweet Spot,” a mythical time/place that is always something other than now/here. You left this morning at 7:30, but you were running late and really wanted to get on the road by 7:15 to “miss traffic.” You would have headed home by 3, but got pulled into a meeting which put you on the road at 4:30 – “just in time for traffic.”

TRUTH: The time for traffic on the west side is… always.  So unless you have the flexibility to go to work at noon…. wait, never mind. Traffic still sucks then.

Every surface street, every hour of the morning, every human being in the valley is heading south.

Bottom line: Don’t worry about getting out the door on time cause it won’t even matter!

4. At Least Traffic Will Be Better When School is Out

LIE: Have you ever heard the myth that during the summer traffic lets up because school buses and parents shuttling their kids to and from school are off the road?

TRUTH: One word. Tourists. So it’s summer, and there are fewer cars on the road due to school employees, carpools and general school-related activity. Now we have inrushes of out-of-towners who are constantly bewildered by L.A. traffic and L.A. traffic systems. Yeah. That’ll be great.

Back to School Meme

Don’t believe the hype!

5. Working Late Will Actually Save Me Time

LIE: Have you been convinced that working late to avoid traffic will actually save you time/money because you’ll make it home quicker after traffic “settles down” … LIES!

TRUTH: This could actually work… if you decide to leave the office at 10pm. That sounds like fun, right?

6. I Can Take Advantage of My Time Stuck in a Car

LIE: Educational podcast? NPR? Language Tapes? There’s so much we could do with all this extra time to ourselves that in the end, it’s actually beneficial to have a long-ish commute, right…?

TRUTH: The only thing you’ll learn for sure is the chorus to the latest Arianna Grande song as you belt out the lyrics each morning while simultaneously hoping that no one is watching (they are).

7. That New Lane-Widening Construction Project Will Finally Fix the 405

LIE: Just a few more weeks, than that new Caltrans project will be completed, with new lanes added that promise a smoother, safer commute.

TRUTH: The 405 has been, and always will be, in a perpetual state of construction madness. And no matter how much supply we create by adding extra lanes or optimizing onramps, the demand will always exceed it.

405 Traffic Meme

This. So much this…

8. Waze Will Make it Better

LIE: Maybe you’re perpetually stuck on Cloverfield waiting to turn on to Santa Monica Blvd. Or perhaps it’s a grinding crawl on Venice Blvd that eats at your soul on the daily. But now you have a solution. You have technology. You’ll utilize the Waze App, which will significantly decrease your commute time and give you an edge on other drivers in the area.

TRUTH: It doesn’t work when everyone else and their mother is also using it to navigate shortcuts on “hidden” side streets. Just ask the NIMBYs who are trying to trick commuters from using Waze in their ‘hoods. (Pro-tip: You can’t trick Waze).

Conclusion: You Gotta Believe In Something

Now before I go making anybody feel bad, let’s just point out that the lies we tell ourselves are no better or worse than any other little white lies a working person might use to get through the day. We can’t very well start a morning with hopelessness and despair, now can we?

After all, what would we do without the valley? In the end, it’s all in how you look at it.

What’s your favorite lie you tell yourself about commuting in Los Angeles? Let us know in the comments below!

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9 Ways L.A. Would Be Different If It Actually Snowed Here

February 9, 2015 by Cortney Matz

It never snows in Los Angeles. Except that it does! At least, it did – Januarys of yesteryear yielded surprise snowstorms that amazed and overjoyed angelenos with anything from a dusting to a solid couple of inches. But yeah, it’s been awhile.

We have had six memorably fluke storms recorded, including the biggest, baddest storm in L.A. history: three days of snowfall starting January 10, 1949. Resulting in less than an inch downtown, but nearly a foot in surrounding parts of the county.

So it snows here, but not at all frequently. The last real snow storm was in 1962 and our strange little spectacle of fluff falling from the sky on December 30, 2014 sparked some curiosity among L.A. residents. Could the first snow in nearly fifty years be a precursor to more of the same? And what would that be like?

Aside from the widespread freakout that would surely occur, there are at least a handful of good things to be said for a culture of winter snows in L.A. Sledding in the Hollywood Hills, making snow angels in the city of angels – I mean, come on.

So let’s engage in a little thought experiment. What if it did start snowing in Los Angeles? What if it’s been snowy here since, like, the beginning of time, and was an annual part of our winter experience?

Imagine the possibilities…

Los Angeles Skyline With Snow

Credit: Wikipedia

Traffic: It Could Go Either Way

Granted, the initial surprise of white stuff caking the earth would leave thousands stranded on the side of the road, fashioning tire chains out of palm bark. But after that, the 101 is free and clear for everyone who ventures that far. A thing of beauty.

Imagine: a whitened landscape of ramps and six-lane highways, as far as the eye can see. Now that’s a Winter Wonderland. And you would definitely want to be walking in it.

And if you live in the hills? You’re basically stranded.

Skiing in Griffith Park?

Big Bear? What Big Bear? We got our own snow-covered mountains! Finally, a chance to whoosh our way through those hiking trails and carve a wicked turn on the Old Zoo switchbacks. All we gotta do is build a few lifts. Easy.

Not to mention iconic views of LA, Burbank and the Hollywood sign as you ride up.

‘Seasonal’ Complaints

You know those “seasons” we’re always wishing we had?

Now our collective midwest/northeast/Canadian roots can finally indulge in nostalgia at Christmastime. Enough with a year-round temperate climate, low heating and cooling bills, and oranges fresh off the tree. This city of unique, free-spirited individuals wants weather like everyone else’s!

You’re welcome.

Wardrobe

We angelenos do love our boots. Imagine a weather pattern in which we actually need to wear them – for warmth and stuff. Keeping dry. Add some fake fur, scarves that reach your toes, a pair of swank mittens and it’s layering, layering, layering until the sun comes out.

Now imagine that with a light dusting of the white stuff coming out of the sky… Magical.

Reshaping our Skyline

The flat tops of our houses and apartment buildings would need a makeover, or risk the weight of the snow bringing the roof down! Imagine neighborhoods being reshaped with pointy roofs and snow-friendly architecture.

Whining Rights

Nobody understands that 50 degrees feels really cold here. Maybe if we had some snow once in awhile, other parts of the country would take us a little more seriously. With temps swinging from 60 degrees at Christmas to below freezing on New Year’s, we can finally whimper to our Facebook friends who are shoveling out in Michigan or affixing snow tires in Maine. Right?

Oh well, at least our local friends will understand us.

Candles and Fires and Togetherness, Oh My!

Alternating community engagement and debilitating loneliness as power outages force us to connect offline. Maybe someone has a generator leftover from Y2K. It’s one way to meet people.

New Industry

The increase in frozen weather events results in jobs for the snow-clearing, salt-spreading, storm preparation industry. Pretty much an ideal gig for actors, since working in the wee hours means you definitely won’t have to cut out early for an audition.

Not to mention all the kids who will get their entrepreneurial start shoveling driveways. And skiing – don’t forget the skiing! Someone has to build those lifts, lodges and paths.

Snow Days!

The final coat on our wintry weather snowball is everyone’s favorite thing. Free vacation! From work, from school, from any non-essential activity. Everything shuts down when it snows – at least it does in L.A. Usually right when you run out of toilet paper.

So make sure and stock up on that. And milk. And bread.

L.A. weather has its quirks, not the least of which is the highs and lows of winter temps. As my roommate put it the other day:

“I’m over it. When does it get warm again?”

Do you ever wish it snowed in Los Angeles? Let us know in the comments below!

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10 Ancient Proverbs That Are Actually About Living in Los Angeles

February 5, 2015 by Cortney Matz

Los Angeles is undoubtedly a great city, and like the great cities that came before us, we have our share of philosophers. But did you know that some of the ancient proverbs handed down to us from many centuries ago are actually about L.A.?

Well, maybe not exactly about L.A., but the truth contained in many of these simple sayings retains its value today, even in the vastly different technological, fast-paced, ADD world that is contemporary Los Angeles. In fact, I’d go so far as to argue that simply applying some very straight forward advice will make your experience of living (and making it) here about a thousand times more enjoyable, successful, and rewarding.

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at what some ancient philosophers have to say about the city of angels. Or, at least, what they would have said.

Confucius Beauty Quote

Pretty sure he was talking about the Chandelier Tree here.

“The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

-Lao Tzu

Angelenos are generally an ambitious bunch. We have a thousand things to accomplish by the time we’re thirty. Or twenty-nine again.

Thanks to Chinese philosophy, we know that the path to these grand schemes has to start somewhere. That first step may not seem like much, but put one foot in front of the other and eventually it has to add up. It’s math.

“There are plenty of acquaintances in the world; but very few real friends.”

-Chinese Proverb

Los Angeles is full of people we like, people we tolerate, people we can’t stand. Some people we like so much that we think we’re friends.

So what is a true friend? Consider the acquaintances, professional relationships, family members and neighbors in your life. Which ones have your best interest at heart? How can you be a true friend to them?

“Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.”

-Confucius

In a culture obsessed with youth and beauty, it’s ironically difficult to recognize the gorgeousness that is all around us. Certainly L.A. is a beautiful place – barring the oceans, mountains, trees and flowers we also have some pretty incredible architecture and landscaping.

But Confucius said, “everything,” and I’m sure he means, “everything.” Take a sec and look around. Any hidden beauty you might have missed before now?

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”

-Socrates

So much to do, so little time. Always. This is the story of life in L.A. But what truly matters?

Take time to reflect on occasion. Make sure your busyness is contributing to your overall satisfaction with your life. It’s a tall order, I know, but tell that to Socrates.

“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

-Confucius

This quote is a favorite amongst creative professionals who have flocked here for the sake of their art. Isn’t it fascinating that the concept of steering your destiny is reflected in such ancient wisdom?

I guess non-conformity and meaningful work were relevant topics for discussion even in 551 BC.

“One generation plants the trees in whose shade another generation rests.”

-Chinese Proverb

There a lot of palm trees in this city, and I’m pretty sure they were not here originally. When you consider that most of our home county is essentially desert, someone clearly spent a lot of time, money and energy making it nice.

And now we get to enjoy the fruits of their labors. On a more serious note, many of the strides we seek to make in the culture and community of L.A. may be best realized in future generations. I’m not sure if that is an encouraging thought, but let’s stew on it.

“The road to a friend’s house is never long.”

Danish Proverb

Once you find those friends, visit them. Even if it means driving through rush hour hell and back just to make it.

Traffic on the 210 Freeway

For a true friend, braving this traffic is no big thing!

 

“There is no pillow so soft as a clear conscience.”

-French Proverb

Oui! Guilt is to a good night’s sleep like a weak bladder is to a drinking contest… Dis. Ruptive. And you know how we get when we’re tired. Remember Jiminy Cricket. Your conscience is your guide through the treacherous terrain of your own personal 1,000-mile journey (see #1).

As mentioned before, Los Angeles is a city teaming with ambition (and by definition then,  ambitious people). At every step, there will be temptations to compromise your values and go against your instincts. But no kind of success is worth losing your integrity.

“There was never a genius without a tincture of madness.”

-Aristotle

It’s difficult to tell which is which. Especially when the genius in question is toting a bag of oranges and sporting terry cloth shorty shorts. However, I think the lesson here is that sometimes when you have a vision of what you want to accomplish, even if it seems a little out there, you have to stick to it. Something to think about if you came out to L.A. with a specific dream you wanted to pursue.

“If you think you have someone eating out of your hand, it is a good idea to count your fingers.”

-Nigerian Proverb

In other words: look out for the yes-men. Real friends give it to you like it is, but flattery and deferential treatment almost always have darker motivations behind it. If you happen to work in the entertainment industry, this may be highly applicable in your life, though sycophants are not exclusive to the professionals in Hollywood.

The Takeaway

Whether it’s Chinese, Nigerian, Greek, French, Danish or Ranch, the wisdom passed down over centuries is probably worth repeating. Question is, which of the above could you apply to your life?

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12 New Year’s Resolutions Angelenos Will Decide to Make But Probably Fail At

January 1, 2015 by Cortney Matz

There’s something about the wibbly ether of the holiday season that puts us in a reflective mood. The transplants go out of town (or leave us here, depending on whether we picked up a retail shift in November) and the non-stop action of the city slows its pace.

Suddenly we have some space. Suddenly we get some perspective.

And then we realize, holy heck – we’re about to round up another year. And we haven’t done anything!

Well this year is gonna be different, by gum. Forget prior commitments, the never ending job hunt, and twenty other distractions. This year is going to count. Happiness will be achieved, harmony will happen, we will say adios to our bad habits and success will find us. The good life can be ours if we’ll just make a plan!

It’s a lot of pressure to put on one year. If you’re resolving any of these 12 things, maybe you should just stop.

[RELATED: 21 Memes About Living in Los Angeles Every Angeleno Knows to Be True]

Adventure Realization Cat

Travel More

It’s a big world and we want to see it. Right now.

Thanks to Discovery channel, we’re more aware than ever of the awesome stuff that we are missing worldwide. And the whole point of resolutions is to STOP MISSING STUFF. Chances are, this quest for action is one of the reasons that brought us to L.A. in the first place.

Two responses:

One, we live in one of the most diverse cities of the world. There is a lot to do, see and learn if we’re willing to brave the seven miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic and go. We Like L.A. has at least 40 suggestions to get you started.

Two, instead of a vaguely Walter Mitty aspiration, think about one place you truly want to see. Paris. Venice. What will it take to get there?

Make Your Big Break And Quit Your Day Job

This is your year! Every opportunity must be made the most of. No audition, pitch or interview can be anything less than perfect.

This New Year gusto is well-meaning, but unsustainable. Don’t get me wrong – definitely shoot for the moon. Definitely do your thing with all your heart. Definitely don’t quit.

Just try not to get too hung up on the timing. This kind of thing is worth the long haul.

No More Donuts

Have you seen how many donut shops this city sustains? We can’t stop eating them – all those local businesses will die. Think of the economy, people!

Save money

I mean… good luck.

More Family Time

We always seem to barely tolerate have a  nice time with extended family members and think: why don’t we do this more?

Then we realize how impossible it is to coordinate schedules and get everyone into a state fit for a decent picture, let alone spend meaningful moments together. It’s nearly a week before we can come down from the preparation, travel nerves and failure to meet our mothers’ expectations. Or maybe we just don’t like them very much.

I’m speaking generally, of course. My family is perfect.

Family Confession Bear

Volunteer

We waste too much time on frivolous activities. We should do something important, like volunteer for a worthy organization.

So do it. But also recognize the unofficial activity you’ve taken on voluntarily in the last year. Helped a buddy move? Pitched in on a low-budge film shoot? Worked for credit on a blog or industry website?

L.A. is great at getting us to work for free. If you feel like you haven’t had your fair share of it, there are numerous opportunities to get involved with organizations you already connected to.

Love the library? Ask about getting involved next time you heft a stack up to the checkout counter. Can’t get enough free Shakespeare? Maybe they could use a hand setting up. Everyone from open mic stages to soup kitchens can offer a few hours of feel-good love labor – if you have the love to give.

Be More Positive

Everything in this world seems to conspire to make us feel bad. We even feel bad about how bad we feel.

What does positivity mean to you? If it involves spitting back cheery platitudes after a taste of life’s lemons, I fear the effect is wasted. And it can get you punched if you’re not careful.

Let’s all try not to get punched.

Stop Smoking

It’s a disgusting habit and all your friends want you to stop. But will you? Can you? Do you?

Stop Smoking Meme

Clean More

It’s just gonna get dirty again, right?

Find Your Soul Mate

If L.A. has ten million inhabitants, our perfect match can’t be that hard to find.

Except that it can.

Dating is tough, frustrating and annoying. And if we do happen to find a real connection, the need to know if it’s “The One” will suck the fun out of anything. Who wants to resolve to have less fun?

Dwight Schrute on Love

Learn A Language

You’re walking by Home Depot and a cloud of foreign words follow you. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what those words mean?

Well, yeah, sure… but who wants to do all that learning…?

Stress Less

Just lost your contract and rent is due. Let’s OM our way to peace, shall we?

Between our plethora of yoga studios, beachfront property, and gazillions in revenue, L.A. should be one of the most relaxed cities in the world. Maybe we’ve just forgotten what stress feels like. Or maybe what we think is stress is actually another feeling, like tired or hungry.

Try having a banana and see where things go. Or check out one of these spots.

All This To Say…

When it comes down to it, let’s make the New Year less about what we don’t have and more about what we do. Let’s not get so wrapped up in our plans that we don’t appreciate or enjoy what’s already happening.

I’m afraid you guys are going to read this and think I’m a horrid curmudgeon who hates puppies. Really, this list is at least half jesting. Maybe three quarters. My goal here is to help us lighten up and enjoy life a little more.

That’s my own personal resolution: enjoy life.

Whatever your goals, I hope you will too.

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Lifestyle

9 Very Practical Things to Consider Before Moving to Los Angeles

December 29, 2014 by Cortney Matz

Congratulations! You’re moving to the city of angels – the place where dreams come true. Eventually. Possibly. Well, maybe there’s a little more to it, but if you’re willing to work hard and persevere, L.A. can certainly be a great place.

We’ve all done it – the process of transplanting from somewhere else to here – and we have some words of advice for your move. Here are just a few practical tips to help you get settled in your new neighborhood.

[RELATED: 10 Tips on Moving to Los Angeles Every Future Transplant Needs to Know]

The Griffith Observatory with Downtown Los Angeles in the background

Credit: Maelick via flickr creative commons

1. Cost Counting

Moving costs money, and here it costs money plus. Our year-round temperate climes create plentiful produce, so you’ll save on fruits and veg – but everything else is pretty pricey.

Sales tax alone is 9% – on everything from groceries to used cars. Even vehicles purchased from out of state can be susceptible to the tax rate, depending on how soon you bought one before moving.

Definitely check out fees associated with this and the other points listed below as you consider what it will cost to make the move.

2. Big Pond, Many Fish

The entertainment industry is famous for competition – Hollywood hopefuls vying for jobs and even working unpaid gigs to get credits. Even non-industry work is competitive. There are lots of jobs, but landing one can take awhile, so be prepared for your search to go on longer than it has anywhere else.

The same is true for apartment hunting, finding roommates, shopping on craigslist, and even dating. For every person trying to get something, there are plenty more trying to get the same thing. L.A. has 10 million people (that’s more than Sweden) in just 4700 square miles. Competition is fierce.

But so is the deep satisfaction that comes from success.

3. Transportation

The prevailing wisdom holds that L.A. is impossible without a car. But that’s not exactly true.

I think it depends on what you want to do and how close you live to the means of getting there. Public transit in L.A. is certainly a unique beast, and the decision to depend on it should not be made lightly.

That said, the possibility of avoiding car concerns like driving, parking, insurance (some of the most expensive in America) and ever-fluctuating gas prices has its attractions.

If you really want to live in L.A. without a vehicle, my advice is to find housing that’s easy walking distance from a metro stop. And if at all possible, keep early hours – public transportation gets incrementally skeevier as night progresses.

Also, pepper spray. Even if just for your own peace of mind.

If you do drive, bear in mind that you will make a lot of mistakes. You will confuse your east and west. You will exit the 101 at Highland (which you must never, ever do). You will nonchalantly head down Hollywood Boulevard on a Friday night. So must all who move to such places as this.

But you will learn and ultimately you will come out the other side and be wiser for it.

Lastly, if you’re concerned about the mythical horrendous L.A. traffic, here’s 6 six things you need to know  about dealing with the daily grind.

Driving Bad Time Meme

4. The DMV

Everyone loves the DMV! You get to kill a few hours, do some fascinating people watching, and drop a few hundred bucks on something shiny and plastic. It’s like a mall.

Speaking of those few hundred bucks, the DMV website has a handy calculator to get an idea of what sort of sticker shock you’re in for. Keep in mind you must transfer your vehicle registration to the state of California within 20 days of relocating in order to avoid penalties.

New residents will require at least two trips to the DMV – one to fill out paperwork and take the test, the other to turn in your inspection results and pick up your license plates. In between, you will be required to get a certificate of smog inspection. Lots of local auto shops offer the test, so give one of them a call for rates – usually between $30-40.

5. Other Things About Cars

Read those curb signs very carefully. Parking rules are very specific and often lengthy – for instance, you can park free at a meter in Beverly Hills after 6pm, but not after 2am. Being parked on any street in town between the hours of 2 and 5am without a permit will slam you with a $72 ticket.

Learned that the hard way.

Street cleaning is a regularly scheduled event. If you happen upon a street that has so many parking spots it seems too good to be true, it probably is. The signs that say No Parking on Monday between noon and 2pm really, really mean it.

Finally, if you see a colored curbside and you’re wondering if you can park there (and for how long), here’s a rundown you should read.

Driving in Downtown Los Angeles

Credit: Neil Kremer via flickr creative commons

6. House Hunting

There are a number of websites geared toward helping you find a place to live in L.A., so we won’t go into that here. A few helpful things to pay attention to when evaluating a place to call home:

  • Use the right tools to search for your next apartment. Fortunately, we have a handy list we’ve already developed to get you started.
  • Parking is a big deal. A big deal. Just to reiterate, Parking In L.A. Is A Big Deal. Depending on the neighborhood, it’s not uncommon for apartment dwellers to drive home and spend upwards of forty minutes looking for a parking space. If parking is not included with rent, definitely see about paying extra for a permit or check side streets to get a feel for the curb-to-car ratio. And don’t forget to read those signs. Also, if you’re commuting to downtown and need some advice, check out this list of tips.
  • Seeing as L.A. gets about a teaspoon of rain per year, water gets expensive. Make sure you know if any utilities are covered in the rent, as it can have a powerful cumulative effect on your overall cost of living.
  • It’s common for L.A. rentals to come without what one might consider to be standard equipment. Refrigerators, stoves and dishwashers may require an additional cost to rent – or be absent entirely. If you do end up in a situation where you need to buy your own, craigslist is the answer. That’s where everyone else who just moved and no longer needs their fridge is selling it cheap.
  • Air conditioning is not a given. I repeat, air conditioning is not a given.
  • Dogs – apartment dogs, house dogs, everywhere a dog, dog. There are a few exceptions, but most apartment buildings will not allow dogs over a certain weight – like, 30 pounds. Houses are typically more easygoing about the size of the dog, so you tend to find bigger dogs in neighborhoods with yards and small dogs everywhere else.

7. Valleys and Canyons and Beaches, Oh My!

Surrounded by hills with an ultra flat valley beyond, L.A. weather is divided by “micro-climates” – creating varying temps, levels of humidity and precipitation according to the terrain.

Downtown L.A. is frequently sunny, clear, and no warmer than 90 degrees – but when you get “over the hill” into the San Fernando Valley, the heat rises. The deeper you get, the hotter and drier it becomes – as much as 15 degrees hotter than downtown.

All of L.A.’s beaches are breezy and cooler than the surrounding area, with significantly more humidity – even fog on occasion. Likewise, different parts of the city draw different types of people at different times of year for different reasons.

It’s worthwhile to investigate the neighborhoods in which you’re interested in living – both by online research and by visiting it in person. Make use of friends and relatives who live or have spent significant time here. L.A. neighborhoods are as unique as the people who live in them, and areas vary wildly as regards convenience, crime, sociability, family friendliness and overall personality.

Also if you’re driving a moving truck into town, beware the canyon roads – they can be intense even in a sedan.

A Day at the Beach in Santa Monica

Credit: Adan Garcia via flickr creative commons

 8. Settling In

A few tips for plugging in and getting comfy in your L.A. lifestyle:

  • Sunscreen. You don’t necessarily have to wear it all the time, but it’s good to have the option. If you plan to be outside for more than 20 minutes, it’s a good idea – even in the car. Also hats.
  • With 140 cultures and 224 languages represented (according to lacounty.gov), transplants from other countries are welcome. Definitely make use of the appropriate foreign consulates here in L.A. for help navigating your move.
  • Go out and meet as many people as you can. Utilize connections and referrals from friends and family back home – even if it’s a friend of a friend of an old roommate. Meeting people will only help in every other aspect of moving here, from housing to job hunting to having a social life. That’s how I got connected with an amazing apartment right before I moved here. Relationships will help cut through the competition and save you a lot of hustle.
  • Go outside! L.A. is a great place to hike, surf, indulge in any number of fitness activities from CrossFit to yoga… No matter which part of town you end up in, you don’t have to go far to find some natural beauty to explore.

The sky is the limit. And well, you’ve seen how big the sky is.

9. When It’s All Said and Done, Relax

Come with a plan, but also know that plenty of people move to L.A. without one. This city is remarkably conducive to couch-surfing and seat-of-your-pants living. With all the uncertainties bound up in work, life and transportation decisions, if you prefer take more of a don’t-worry-be-happy approach, you are definitely not alone.

With all its price tags and bewildering street signs, L.A. is an amazing, multi-faceted and eclectic city. If you’ve left your hometown in search of your tribe, chances are you’ll find it here.

Godspeed.

Did you recently move to Los Angeles? Share your experience in the comments below!

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Cool Spots

The 10 Best Theaters in L.A. for a Vintage Moviegoing Experience

December 15, 2014 by Cortney Matz

In the age of Netflix and HBO, actually going out to a movie can have a flair and a sense of eventfulness – an excitement that may not exactly match the scene from “Annie” where they all go to Radio City Music Hall, complete with a Rockettes pre-show… but almost.

L.A. has no shortage of modern and technologically superb multiplexes. But apart from the ArcLight and AMC, what are your options? Where are the best theaters in Los Angeles where you can actually have an experience that’s worth getting dressed up for?

While ankle-deep in old theaters-turned-retail establishments, L.A. still has plenty of single screens playing a variety of worthwhile films, both new and old – many featuring Q&A or other appearances from actors and directors.

I invite you to step back in time with these grand old Hollywood silver screens and get reacquainted with the anticipation that makes you want to sing, “Let’s go to the movies!”

Orpheum Theater Los Angeles

Credit: wikipedia

1. Orpheum Theatre

A honey of a historic theater, featuring the Mighty Wurlitzer, one of only three original theater organs still existing in Southern California theaters. The Orpheum offers seating for over 2,000 people with orchestra, loge, balcony and side box seating. You may recognize the interior from scenes in the Oscar-winning “The Artist,” or perhaps a recent episode of American Idol.

The neighborhood is shaping up nicely and offers plenty of things to do before and after your Orpheum show. Inside, you can get a glass of wine or beer at the cash bar and bring it into the show with you. The theater itself is gorgeous, with lavish and intricate furnishings, not to mention the sweeping staircase as you come in (which you might also recognize from “The Last Action Hero”).

842 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90014

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2. The Theatre at Ace Hotel

Having originally opened as the United Artists Theatre in 1927, the lovingly restored 1,600-seater retains much of the charm and charisma instilled by its iconic founders, namely Mary Pickford and Charlie Chaplin. With architecture inspired by the Spanish Gothic style, richly illustrated murals, and a vaulted ceiling covered in tiny glimmering mirrors, it may be tough to keep your eyes on the screen.

An evening at this theatre is probably about as close as you can get to European looks without actually buying a plane ticket. And it’s attached to a hotel and restaurant, so if you get sleepy or hungry after the show, there’s no need to seek shelter elsewhere.

929 S. Broadway, Los Angeles 90015

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3.  The Palace Theatre

With a 1911 birthday, this is the oldest of the three Broadway theaters recommended here. The Palace still has a faded majesty about it. It feels old, but in a cool way. The theater was designed in a French renaissance style, with the facade featuring four figures to represent the muses of vaudeville: music, song, dance and drama. Impress your fellow moviegoers with that tidbit.

From the lush velvet interiors to the antique paintings, The Palace keeps much of its original look and feel. The 1,100 seats offer a great view of the stage or screen. You may want to consider taking a date – this is where Michael Jackson shot the opening of Thriller, after all.

630 S. Broadway, Los Angeles 90014

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4. TCL Chinese Theatre

The icon of icons, stuck right in the touristy-est of tourist attractions, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre can still draw locals to the film festivals it hosts and the recent addition of an Imax screen. Established in 1927, it was arguably the most spectacular theater of its day – Sid Grauman’s third theater, his “dream” project. With artifacts imported from China as well as statuary made specifically for the theater by Chinese artisans, the dream became reality.

The theater’s imposing facade is still a landmark on the boulevard, and even those visitors not given to fanaticism might compare feet and hand prints with Julie Andrews or George Clooney.

6925 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood 90028

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TCL Chinese Theater

Credit: Tim Wang via flickr

5. Vista Theatre

A fixture of Tinsel Town since 1923, originally dubbed the Lou Bard Playhouse. The Vista is a budget-friendly glimpse of Hollywood glam – matinee shows are only $5.50 and the popcorn is exquisite. In the vein of The Chinese Theatre, there are hand prints marking the sidewalk and beautifully restored Egyptian statues and murals decorate the place.

Not the least of its charms, manager Victor Martinez dons a variety of disguises to greet his guests. On any given night you may encounter Spiderman, Batman, the Phantom of the Opera, or Jack Sparrow.

4473 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles 90027

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6. The Egyptian Theatre

Just a few skips down from the Chinese Theatre, The Egyptian is distinguished by an extensive courtyard setting it back from the street. The discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922 led to an Egyptian craze that swept the nation, influencing the design of Sid Grauman’s second theater with luxurious Egyptian motifs and golden scarab designs on the ceiling.

Apparently when it was first built, the Egyptian went so far as to feature an actor dressed as an Egyptian guard, pacing the roof parapet with rifle in hand and signalling the start of each show. Somehow I doubt that would go down well for today’s audiences.

But the less menacing aspects of Grauman’s grand vision are still here for us to enjoy – along with what’s said to be the best theater popcorn in the city.

6712 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood 90028

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7. Disney’s El Capitan Theatre

You might wonder, what is Disney doing on a list dedicated to movie viewing for grownups? Well, even with animation featuring prominently on the marquee, no one puts on a show like Disney. The fully restored 1926 Spanish Colonial architecture is a treat for the eyes, while the live organ player, props and costumes on exhibit, and Laser Light Show Extravaganza will dazzle the rest of your senses.

El Capitan may be old, but it’s been outfitted with the latest technology – Dolby sound, digital projectors, and 3D. You’ll pay a little more than you might otherwise expect, but the movie and pre-show combo do not disappoint for a true celebration of movie magic.

6838 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood 90028

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8. Aero Theatre

The Aero Theatre was originally opened in 1939 as a continuous 24-hour movie theater for round-the-clock aircraft workers. It later became a beloved neighborhood theater and has anchored the upscale Montana Avenue section of Santa Monica.

With antique film equipment lining the walls and an old fashioned ticket booth, Aero draws film buffs with a range of classic and cult classic offerings. Theme weeks and tributes, independent releases, art films, panel discussions all help to create that sense of old time movie magic.

1328 Montana Ave, Santa Monica 90403

Aero Theater

Credit: Dave Fey via flickr

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9. The Crest

The intimately sized 1940 structure comes with a stage and a dance floor, decorated with luminescent murals of L.A. and a night sky effect on the ceiling. Less ornate than some of the other venues on this list, The Crest is nevertheless a beautiful space. And it has snacks.

1262 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles 90024

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10. Downtown Independent

And now for something completely different… This modern, ultra clean lines theater showcases indie productions in a facility that doesn’t even bother specifying when it was built. The stadium style seating for 200+ includes 16 reclining sofa seats, somehow managing to pull off both a streamlined yet cozy feel. Like an IKEA living room.

251 S. Main St, Los Angeles 90012

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Honorable Mentions

No catalog of cool movie venues can ignore L.A.’s fabulous outdoor options.

Cinespia is responsible for the legendary and hugely popular series of movie screenings at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Keep an eye on the website for the 2015 schedule – this is definitely one for everyone to experience.

Did you know L.A. has a drive-in? Electric Dusk Drive-In offers pet-friendly features and double features year round, with al fresco seating on astroturf at the front of the lot or traditional stacked parking for cars.

Whether your leanings lie toward the fresh and fringe or the tried and true, L.A. has a movie venue for you. Let’s get out our daytimers and plan an appropriately adult outing. This town was made for movies – since we live here, we should see some!

What’s your favorite theater in Los Angeles? Let us know in the comments below!

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Lifestyle

10 Reasons Driving in L.A. Doesn’t Suck Half as Much as You Thought it Did

December 8, 2014 by Cortney Matz

Our local driving experience has a bad reputation. But I believe that if you try hard enough, anything is possible. Seriously, anything – even a less sucky L.A. drive.

Let’s start by considering the following:

In other cities, people chat about freeway traffic lightly – as an icebreaker, a tiny little nothing to start a conversation. Not L.A. Here we have deep, soul-baring revelations about the time we naively hopped on the 110 toward Glendale at 5pm, or what type of person would obstinately hover in our blind spots.

L.A. residents have strong feelings – nay, passions – about driving this city. As well we should. It’s a daily practice of laying our hopes and fears on the table, screwing our courage to the sticking place, and putting our resolves to the test. To say nothing of the adventure surrounding what to do with your vehicle when you at last reach your destination. But can we, collectively, perhaps make these adventures feel more like celebrations and less like pyrrhic victories?

Sure we can, and  it starts with politely reframing our perspective. Or maybe just poking a little fun at the experience as a whole. 😉

So let’s review 10 reasons why dealing with the traffic nightmare of Los Angeles doesn’t have to suck nearly as much as you thought it did.

Driving Bad Time Meme

1. Time

L.A. is full of busy people. Previously one might have considered sitting a traffic to be a waste of precious time. But on the other hand, sitting in traffic leaves us lots of opportunity for people-watching, radio surfing, podcast absorbing, and practicing our beatbox abilities. All the leisure activities one wishes one had more time for.

See, don’t you feel better already?

2. The Power of Left

It’s a belabored point that L.A. is severely lacking in protected left turn lanes. But goodie for us when we do finally catch an opening between the mad rush of oncoming vehicles and oblivious foot traffic. The euphoria, the squeal-inducing elation of safely executing a left turn during typical daytime driving hours.

Anyone who has inadvertently scared the pants off a pedestrian or made their passenger’s life flash before their eyes understands The Power of Left.

3. Diversity on Display

L.A. is one of the few cities incorporating drivers from around the world, a range of cultures and etiquette, with a strong sample of every legal driving age there is.

On any random tuesday morning you never know who might be tailgating you, whether it’s a banker from Bangladesh, a wanna-be actor freshly arrived from the midwest, or just some rich chick from the valley. Truly an epic display of diversity, and lucky-us for getting to experience it everyday!

Adopted Traffic Meme

4. The Relief of Empty Bike Lanes

An empty bike lane means there are no bicycles riding beside stop-and-go traffic, which means we are not forced to constantly pass them and be passed by them. Or to wonder what in heck to do with them… Are we accidentally putting their lives in peril?

Better to have no bikes at all. This freedom and range of motion is less sucky then having a slow-moving two-wheeler on your right and wondering how much space is enough space whilst avoiding oncoming traffic.

A brief aside: one Wednesday night I was trying to avoid the 10 Westbound and the GPS took me through Beverly Hills on Wilshire, where I found possibly the slowest moving traffic of all time. Screaming. I was screaming in my heart. And oh, what’s that? It’s a tall bike. Riding down the lane lines between stopped cars. We both lived to tell about it, that’s all I can say.

5. Turn Signals

L.A. drivers pay attention to turn signals. According to some random anecdotal research, roughly 9 out of 10 instances of a turn signal will get you a few feet of space to change lanes when you need it. Of course, this practice is greatly enhanced when we speed up and move over like we don’t care if there is space for us.

And like every other basic American freedom, we reserve the right to use the turn signal or not. Many times not.

Morpheus Driving Meme

6. The Sun

It’s either right behind you or right in front of you. Seriously, did no one foresee the difficulty with this?

Thank goodness we have such a razor straight grid of asphalt leading directly into the sun most evenings of the year, which allows us to double up on cool. Shades, check. Visor, check. Seat tilted back to allow as little of the sun’s rays to peek around the edge of said visor, check check check. We still can’t see anything, but we look totally cool.

7. Carpool Lanes

Carpool lanes make us feel really smart when we do finally have a second person in the car. Usually because we are so used to driving solo that we forgot the carpool lanes even exist, leading to a last-minute Eureka as the flow of traffic comes unceremoniously to a halt.

Carpooling can be fun in other ways too – like having a friend to talk or listen to music with, as well as back us up when another driver is behaving badly and we need to let off steam.

kermit-driving-meme

8. DIY Roller Coasters

Why spend big money at Disney when we can ride the canyon roads for free? And then there are those choice areas of Hollywood, Studio City and Silver Lake that can usher you out of the bland downtown flats and right into a loop-de-loop.

Nothing says “Wheee!” like the straight, straight, curvy-twisty-turny-hello-blue-sky ride.

9. Left Lanes

Other people use left lanes to pass slower moving traffic. We use them for that too.

They also come in handy when Valet Parking lines have totally taken over the right lane and we just think we’re stopped at a light. A handy tip when driving surface roads on any given night: keep left.

You’ll be happier. And that makes the road a nicer place for everyone who likes driving in L.A.

10. There’s Not Always Traffic

One of my favorite things about driving in L.A. is hitting that sweet spot between the peak traffic hours of  7-10am/3-7pm weekday rush when the roads are clear for a few hours. Well, except for the lunch rush from like 11am-2pm. Or the beach rush on the weekends.

And then there are the lane closures for road work at night. But hey, 2am on Christmas Day you can fly down the 101 with no problem. Assuming it’s not raining.

Traffic is What you Make of It

Like anything in life, the traffic perils of our city become exactly what you make of them.

My advice is to kick back, blast your rock ‘n roll music, and thank the good Lord that you get to live – and drive – in the city of angels.

Even if you have to recite this affirmation with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

What’s your worst ‘driving in L.A.’ experience? Let us know in the comments below!

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Food

12 Spots for The Best Chocolate in Los Angeles Every L.A. Foodie Needs to Try

November 10, 2014 by Cortney Matz

Los Angeles is often compared with New York City, probably because we have such similar weather patterns and attitudes about time. But beyond the surface similarities, one category in which L.A. definitely parallels NYC is chocolate.

Prone to experimentation, the food community in L.A. has attracted chocolatiers and pastry chefs who love chocolate enough not to take it too seriously – with impressive results.

A yes, I know the difference between chocolate and confection is important (shout-out to all the chocolate purists among us!). The more sugar, butter, flour, or other flavoring components added to your chocolate, the less it looks and tastes like a bittersweet agent of brain health and more like cake.

But cake is still super good. So in tribute to everything from pure chocolate to confections that depend on chocolate to be what they are, I give you 12 of the best chocolate destinations in Los Angeles that you absolutely have to try.

List starts after the jump!

Amara Chocolate

Caracas style Profiteroles. Credit: Amara Chocolate on Facebook

ChocoVivo

ChocoVivo in Culver City is one of only three bean-to-bar manufacturers in L.A. – that is, chocolatiers who process their own cocoa beans. At ChocoVivo, every step of the chocolate making process is done on site. If you like the rustic texture of stone ground chocolate and the good feels of buying local, ChocoVivo is for you. And don’t miss their range of hot chocolate options, scaling from 100% chocolate – not for the faint of heart – to more traditional dark chocolate with vanilla or cinnamon added.

12469 Washington Blvd, Culver City 90066
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Choclatique

With award-winning Hollywood art director Ed Engoron at the helm, the emphasis is on authentic American flavors. Choclatique offers over 200 chocolates in all varieties of dark, milk and white – with names like All American Apple Pie, Hot Fudge Sundae, and Margarita. They don’t have a storefront, but you can shop online using a super fun box-building tool and pick up your chocolates in person or have them delivered.

11030 Santa Monica Blvd, Culver City, 90025
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Tifa Chocolate & Gelato

Thick “drinking” chocolate, handmade bonbons in an assortment of daring flavors (bleu cheese and honey, anyone?), and super-fresh gelato are the hallmarks of Tifa, a joint venture of brother and sister team Shawn and Candace Orr. In Agoura Hills, Tifa is a little outside the usual LA commute, but well worth a few extra minutes’ drive for the sheer volume of culinary delights.

28888 Roadside Drive, Agoura Hills 91301
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Tifa Chocolate and Gelato

Tifa Chocolate & Gelato. Credit: Cortney Matz

K Chocolatier

Diane Kron brings a Hungarian family tradition to the US with crisp rice chocolate bears and rum truffles. With shops in New York and Malibu as well as Beverly Hills, K Chocolatier has wowed the taste buds of such famous folk as Jackie Kennedy, Katharine Hepburn and Andy Warhol. Diane’s son David left his law career to take over the family business from his dad, and has been helming the chocolate ship since 2010. Drop by and take advantage of the samples they are sure to offer! It’s a generous place.

9606 Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills 90210
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Amara Chocolate

Coffee is a cherished gift at Amara (pronounced uh-MAR-uh), but the clear star of this show is Venezuelan chocolate. From fresh churros drizzled with streams from the chocolate fountain, to spicy hot chocolate, to a variety of chocolate-covered ganaches shaped like delicate marbles, it’s tough to know where to begin. Amara prides itself on whole ingredients (nothing artificial, no vegetable oil) and if the friendly and attentive staff is any indication, this chocolate promotes good manners as well as good health.

55 South Raymond Ave, Pasadena 91105
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Beverly Hills Brownie Company

Sooo many brownies! 26 varieties, to be precise – ranging from your deluxe chocolate-frosted chocolate brownie to red velvet, to cheesecake, to blondies (which are mostly irrelevant to this discussion). The brownies are big – basically smallish cakes – each with four edges and a soft center. All the best parts of the brownie pan in one serving.

315 N Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills 90210
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Beverly Hills Brownie Company

Beverly Hills Brownie Company. Credit: Cortney Matz

Valerie Confections

Valerie’s rustic toffee is the founding flavor that exploded this husband-wife entrepreneurial endeavor into a full-fledged set of LA eateries, culminating in three locations bearing the Valerie name. The Silver Lake confectionery still pumps out the original chocolate-covered toffees in six flavors, with the addition of petit fours, chocolate truffles, and even a cookbook divulging Valerie’s sweetest secrets.

3360 W First Street, Los Angeles 90004
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Sprinkles Cupcakes

The popular cupcakery is now a chain of confection heavens spanning seven US states, thanks to Oprah’s favorite things list, but the whole shebang originated right here in the hills of Beverly. With quality ingredients that include Belgian bittersweet chocolate and French sprinkles, the level of cupcake is elevated and refined to a kind of edible art. Which also happens to be delicious. There is even a cupcake ATM, which I’m told serves a line of 2am cupcake cravings stretched down the block.

9635 S Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills 90210
735 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles 90017
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Teuscher

The Swiss chocolatier with locations around the world is pronounced “to-share” – and it only seems right that we do. The shop itself is a thing of beauty, with cases of chocolate confections lining the front and a bevy of flowers hanging from the ceiling. Make sure and leave room for Teuscher’s signature Champagne Truffle – a two-bite confection with an elongated top and dusted with powdered sugar. Sweet and pretty.

9548 Brighton Way, Beverly Hills 90210
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Teuscher Chocolates

Teuscher Chocolates. Credit: Cortney Matz

Edelweiss Chocolates

A landmark in Beverly Hills, Edelweiss is known for its vintage equipment, much of which dates back to 1942 when the shop first opened. Their enrobing machine, which is still in use, famously inspired the chocolate-making conveyer belt fiasco in I Love Lucy. The hallmark of Edelweiss is their marshmallows, which are handmade and dipped in six different chocolate combinations.

444 N Canon Drive, Beverly Hills 90210
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L’Artisan du Chocolat

L’Artisan du Chocolat mixes classic French sensibilities with a twist of the avant-garde, yielding such unique combinations as Cucumber Vodka Dark Chocolate (which is a very popular – and strikingly refreshing – flavor, available on a seasonal basis). They also mix up the more traditional hazelnut or caramel confections, but make sure and ask for the Kalamata Olives. They don’t make them anymore, and I’m trying to create a demand.

3364 W First Street, Los Angeles 90004
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John Kelly Chocolates

Take a square of fudge, wrap it in Callebaut chocolate, dust a little sea salt on top, and you have a perfect John Kelly Chocolate. With a case full of tempting treats, shelves lined with pre-packed boxes, and a window into the chocolate-dipping kitchen, John Kelly is a sophisticated reboot of the neighborhood candy shop that envelops you from the moment you walk inside.

1508 N Sierra Bonita Ave, Hollywood 90046
1111 ½ Montana Ave, Santa Monica 90403
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John Kelly Chocolates

John Kelly Chocolates. Credit: Cortney Matz

L.A. chocolate is becoming a thing, and the range of options is as diverse as the city itself. So whether you are heading out to surf, commuting over the hill, or looking for a place to work on your screenplay, make room in your day for chocolate!

A word about Cortney:

Cortney Matz blogs regularly at TheChocolateTourist.tv, a website and video series devoted to travel, chocolate, and the thrill of the unknown. Don’t miss the debut of The Chocolate Tourist web series, coming to an internet near you!

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