Los Angeles Cracks Down on Wild House Parties with New Ordinance

February 22, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Hollywood Bowl Overlook

Hollywood Bowl Overlook at night. Photo by lawepw via flickr / Public Domain

Los Angeles has had its share of raucous house parties, but it seems those days are over. L.A. City Council voted 15-0 on an ordinance that imposes escalating fines on homeowners and party hosts who let their soirees get out of hand.

According to Dailey News, the motion was introduced by Councilmember David Ryu, whose fourth district includes the Hollywood Hills, a neighborhood chockfull of mansions suitable for a rager. Ryu specified via a release that they’re not talking small barbecues or family gatherings.

“These are massive events with cover fees and throngs of people tossing cigarette butts in fire prone areas. It’s reckless, it’s irresponsible—and it stops today,” Ryu said.

The fines begin at $100, but can scale all the way up to $8,000 or include criminal charges for repeat offenders. These fines can be issued to both the homeowner or the host of the party, if it turns out the homeowner rented a space to someone else for the purpose of said party. Additionally, some offenders will be required to attach a violation notice to their front door for a month. The list of offenses includes loud noises, blocking the public right of way, public drinking, public urination or defecation, providing alcohol to minors, vandalism, trespassing, fights, selling alcohol without a license, and littering.

The ordinance was supported by several community organizations and residents, many of whom submitted complaints to the city detailing the parties and their aftermath. These complaints included having to call the police and fire department on epic parties attended by hundreds of people, concerns over fire hazards, frustration over party guests urinating in the streets and on their property, and post-party debris including used condoms, glass bottles, and marijuana paraphernalia. (Apparently, one alleged party host went by the name Marijuana Don.)

The ordinance still has to be signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti to go into effect, but given all the support its already garnered, it seems highly likely.

For a brief look back at one of the Hills’ most extreme and problematic parties, let’s remember those Yotta Life parties. Bastian and Maria Yotta held a series of parties at a 32-bedroom Hollywood Hills home owned by developer Danny Fitzgerald. The Yottas went so far as to plaster a poster of themselves and their golden retriever sitting in a palatial throne room on their garage door, which did not give their neighbors much peace of mind. A 2015 Hollywood Reporter article indicated the police had been called on the house over 90 times, with callers complaining about massive parties and public urination and, on at least one occasion, the attendance of an actual lion.

Fitzgerald frequently defended the Yotta Life parties and his right to rent his home to them. However, Fitzgerald would go on to sue Saudi prince Aziz al Saud in 2016, alleging that the prince’s parties caused thousands of dollars worth of damage.





The Hollywood Bowl Has Released Its 2018 Summer Schedule

February 22, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Hollywood Bowl Playboy Jazz Festival

Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. Photo by Brian Champlin / We Like L.A.

The Hollywood Bowl’s 2018 summer lineup is here with good news for John Williams, Broadway, and indie rock fans.

This is the Bowl’s 97th season, and it officially kicks off on June 16 with the legendary Diana Ross—and it doesn’t slow down from there.

Other big-name acts include Rod Stewart and Cyndi Lauper, Jennifer Hudson, Kenny Loggins, Seal and Corinne Bailey Rae, Randy Newman, Queen Latifah and Common, Beck, Ozzy Osbourne, and the Dave Matthews Band. There are also a number of celebrated indie acts, including Grizzly Bear with TV on the Radio and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, and Father John Misty with Gillian Welch. This year’s 4th of July event, complete with a fireworks spectacular, will feature The Go-Gos.

There are also, as usual, several nods to cinema. June 30th will see a 40th anniversary celebration of the musical movie Grease, with a ‘Sing-A-Long’ screening. Fans will also be able to immerse themselves Patrick Doyle’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire soundtrack, or attend a live performance of the musical Annie. John Williams fans have multiple chances to hear the composer’s famous scores, with separate showings of  Jaws, Star Wars: A New Hope, and The Empire Strikes Back in August. John Williams will also conduct a three-night engagement of his many soundtracks, celebrating the 40th anniversary of his own Hollywood Bowl debut.

Conductor Gustavo Dudamel will conduct a celebration of composer Leonard Bernstein’s music featuring Kristin Chenoweth and Brian Stokes Mitchell, as well as Verdi’s Otello and Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker (yes, in the summer). A variety of world, jazz, and classical performances round out the packed season.

Tickets in groups of five or more go on sale March 20, while single tickets are available starting April 29. Subscription tickets can be purchased now. See a complete list of the 2018 summer season here.




Food, Happenings

These L.A. County Restaurants Made Yelp’s Top 100 in the Nation

February 21, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

Howlin’ Rays Photo: Michael Saechang/flickr cc

Yelp has released their Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. list for the fifth year in a row, revealing quite a few contenders from the state of California.

According to Yelp, their data science team comes up with the list by factoring in both ratings and the total number of reviews, thus determining the top-rated and most popular establishments. If a restaurant with multiple locations makes the cut more than once, only that restaurant’s highest ranking outpost will appear on the list. Additionally, an establishment has to be primarily a restaurant to make the final cut, meaning a highly rated cocktail lounge that just happens to serve bar bites wouldn’t be included.

Notably, over 35 restaurants on the list are from California, including the top spot, which went to TKB Bakery & Deli in Indio. Narrowing that down, the following 11 are in L.A. County:

4. Yo-Way, Gardena, CA: They serve sandwiches, frozen yogurt, smoothies, and juice.
17. 786 Degrees, Los Angeles, CA: They serve wood-fired pizzas.
18. King Mediterrano, Torrance, CA: Find Mediterranean and Greek food here.
25. Howlin’ Ray’s, Los Angeles, CA: There’s always a line at this Chinatown fried chicken shop.
38. Adobo Taco Grill, Lakewood, CA: A simple, casual Mexican eatery.
39. FurnSaj Bakery, Los Angeles, CA: This Granada Hills restaurant serves Lebanese cuisine.
54. Papa’s Best Sandwiches, San Dimas, CA: Papa’s is a casual sandwich shop in the San Gabriel Valley.
57: Big Al’s Pizzeria, Maywood, CA: As the name might imply, they’ve got pizza. But did you know a popular item is their Lebanese Garlic Chicken pizza?
64: Appu’s Cafe, Long Beach, CA: Appu’s serves vegan and vegetarian Indian food.
90: Mini Kabob, Glendale, CA: A small, independently owned Middle Eastern and Armenian restaurant.
96: NoHo Cafe, North Hollywood, CA: NoHo Cafe serves Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food.





Uber Launches Express Pool Service in Los Angeles Starting Today

February 21, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Entering DTLA

Entering downtown Los Angeles. Photo by Jeffrey Beall via flickr cc

A new Uber service is launching in Los Angeles today. It’s called Uber Express Pool, and it works by asking pool riders to walk to and from nearby pick-up and drop-off locations.

The POOL option already offers lower prices to riders who are willing to share their ride with other passengers. This typically takes a bit longer, as drivers take brief detours to pick up and drop off other riders along the way.

Express Pool seeks to streamline that process. Here’s how it works:

In the Uber app, Express POOL will appear as an option on the slider next to POOL. Choose Express Pool, then call for a ride. Within a few minutes, the app will assign you a driver and that driver’s ETA, just like with a standard uberX ride. However, the app will also provide you with walking directions to a nearby location where you will meet your driver. When your driver arrives, you’ll get in a car that may or may not contain other Express Pool passengers. When you get close to your destination you’ll be assigned a drop-off point and provided with walking directions from that spot to your final destination.

Uber Express Pool Photo: Uber

Ideally, this ride will be faster than your typical POOL ride because the driver is picking up and dropping off passengers stationed along the route. Uber also estimates that an Express Pool rides is 50 percent cheaper, on average, than POOL and as much as 75 percent cheaper than uberX.

This is potentially an ideal situation for commuters who regularly rely on ride sharing services to get to and from work, or for people going for a night out who don’t mind a brief walk.

It could also potentially alleviate some of POOL’s problems, such as an anecdote published in Motherboard in which a POOL passenger and their driver spent 40 minutes looking for another passenger who was seemingly lost “somewhere between a road closure and his hotel.” The author finally snapped, using the driver’s speakerphone to ask the passenger why he couldn’t just walk to a nearby gas station.

Uber first launched this service in San Francisco and Boston in late 2017. The service launches in San Diego, Denver, and L.A. today, while Miami, Philly, and D.C. will get it tomorrow.

Of course, there’s another service that already functions very much like Uber Express Pool: the Metro system, where standard fare is always $1.75, with free transfers within two hours. It may not always be as reliable as calling a car, but it’s pretty cheap!




Cool Spots, Happenings, Lifestyle

This is What Happens at a Sound Bath Inside a Venice Crystal Gallery

February 20, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

Dynasty Electrik Photo: Courtesy of Dynasty Electrik

Every Friday night a Venice crystal gallery is packed with people ready to unwind with Dynasty Electrik, a musical duo that combines their own compositions and performances with crystal singing bowls. If you’re looking for your New Age fix, this weekly event at Mystic Journey Crystal Gallery checks every box.

Mystic Journey Crystals opened in July, and was founded Jeffrey Segal, who also founded Mystic Journey Bookstore on Abbot Kinney. While metaphysical books can be purchased at the latter, the gallery serves as a place to display large crystals and geodes. Guests can browse the crystals, as well as the rotating selection of art.

On a recent Friday evening I strolled into the gallery about a half an hour before the sound bath was to begin. Even if you’re not a crystal person (I’m typically not) the pieces displayed here will catch your eye. They’re certainly some of the largest crystals I’ve ever seen, including a massive amethyst geode sourced from Uruguay, weighing 253 pounds and priced at $30,000.

In the corner of this room, I noticed a woman identified as Kristen Marie offering a tarot card reading to a woman clad in a giraffe onesie. In an adjacent lobby, a man was handing out samples of a rootbeer elixir made with wild Chaga mushrooms via Black Magic Alchemy, which I was told would “sexify” one’s skin. I only had a small sample of the surprisingly sweet concoction, so can neither confirm nor deny this claim.

As I sipped, people were strolling in with yoga mats strapped to their backs, storing their shoes in cubbies. I tossed my elixir cup, removed my own shoes, and soon made my way into a dimly lit hall.

Mystic Gallery Crystals has some serious geodes and crystals. Photo: Juliet Bennett Rylah

This was where the magic was to happen. Yoga mats and blankets were spread out on the wooden floor around a low stage where Seth Misterka, one half of Dynasty Electrik, played a dulcet melody on a flute. Behind him, a rotating LED projection light splashed the wall with pastel tones, while several large crystal singing bowls were spread before him.

At our leisure we filtered in and chose our spots. Some of us covered up with blankets and stared up at the ceiling, while others chatted, waiting for the sound bath to begin. The giraffe finished her tarot reading and joined her friend, who wore the exact same outfit, only in a unicorn style. There were more attendees than the hall could fit, so some spilled out into the gallery. When it was time for the south bath to begin we got comfortable in our spots and room was dimmed until only the rotating light remained.

Dynasty Electrik, comprised of Misterka and Jenny Deveau, has been performing as a duo for some 15 years. They formed in Brooklyn, and have reinvented themselves many times over the course of their musical history, sometimes veering into indie rock, free jazz, or electro rock, other times offering more meditative tunes such as those made specifically for the sound baths. Deveau said that they pair got into sound healing and sound baths after they were approached to provide compositions for a sound healer in Massachusetts. Notably, Deveau is also a creative director at Mystic Journey Crystals.

The stage from the perspective of someone lying on the floor. Photo: Juliet Bennett Rylah

One thing that sets apart Dynasty Electrik’s sound bath is that it blends pre-recorded tracks with live performances by the pair. The tracks consist of spacey synths and nature sounds both sampled and recorded by Misterka. On top of this, the pair may play gongs, the flute, or a theremin live. Combined with the clear, full hum the various bowls produce, it’s a lush soundscape.

The wall of euphonic noise, combined with vibrations felt through the floor, acted like a cushion of sound around my head. It was almost, but not quite, too loud. I’m not a great meditator, as my thoughts are prone to drifting when I am relaxed. So, I found myself thinking about a variety of things, most of them tangential, akin when you’re lying in bed on the precipice of sleep, but not quite there. Someone near me did fall asleep, or so I could ascertain by their soft snoring. Throughout, Deveau occasionally walked around the room with a portable bowl, bringing the warm tones closer to our heads.

Towards the end of the sound bath, which ran for about 45 minutes, Deveau returned to the stage and sang the first and only vocal song of the evening. She played a theremin while Misterka strummed an acoustic guitar. Afterwards, we were invited to breathe in and out deeply, then collect ourselves at our own pace. I found myself surprisingly sleepy for several minutes, but soon perked up enough to chat with others.

Now, I’m not much of a New Age sort. Crystals are pretty, yoga is fun, and I appreciate reiki and tarot more for their ability to trigger my ASMR than to offer guidance or cleansing. Yet I can appreciate a good soundscape, and I enjoyed the opportunity to just relax, close my eyes, and listen to something beautiful. But what do other people get out of it?

Deveau confirmed that the weekly events have a solid group of regulars, using attracting about 50 guests a session. Some, she said, come for the healing properties they believe a sound bath offers. Many people simply use it for meditation. A few claim to experience synesthesia, and at least one guest views it as a means to speak with extraterrestrials.

That actually isn’t so odd, or at least, it’s not the first time sound baths have been linked to alien communication. The Integatron, located near Joshua Tree, is renowned for its frequently sold out sound baths, which take place in the structure’s second floor dome. Its founder, aviator George Van Tassel, was transfixed with the idea of UFOs and their otherworldly passengers.

Van Tassel claimed it was an alien who gave him design instructions for the Integatron, which purportedly has the ability to rejuvenate human cells. Van Tassel began building the Integatron in the 1950s and continued to work on it until his death in 1978. The current owners of the Integatron say that people still come from all over the world to experience the supposed healing and rejuvenating properties of a sound bath in the dome. But hey, it’s nice to know you don’t need to go all the way to JT to take in such a rich sound bath experience.

Dynasty Electrik’s Crystal Sound Bath takes place every Friday (with rare exceptions) at 8 p.m. at Mystic Journey Crystals in Venice. Admission is $24, or free for members. Tickets can be purchased online.

Other events at the gallery include yoga, meditation, and a sound healing workshop, also led by Misterka. If you are interested in hearing the tracks used throughout the sound bath, they are available on Dynasty Electrik’s album, Crystal Sound Bath.




Food, Happenings

An Inside Look at the New Turtle Races at Brennan’s in Marina del Rey

February 20, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

Brennan’s Photo: Juliet Bennett Rylah

The turtle races at Brennan’s in Marina del Rey are one of Los Angeles’ longest-running Thursday night traditions. And though the frequency has decreased, and the bar has a whole new look, there’s no better time to check these little speedsters out.

Brennan’s, an Irish watering hole established in 1972, has been racing red-eared slider turtles for an adoring public since 1974. In late 2017, the pub was acquired by Artisanal Brewers Collective (ABC), the same group now running Sixth Street Tavern and Spring Street Bar in downtown L.A. and Tony’s Darts Away in Burbank. After a significant overhaul of the space, menu, and turtle habitat, a new Brennan’s looks to expose the next generation of Angelenos to the slow-paced excitement that is turtle racing.

Red-eared slider turtles are one of the most popular reptile pets in the U.S. However, these turtles can easily become an invasive species if released into the wild, especially considering their average lifespan is about 30 years. These little reptiles are, thus, Brennan’s lifters, and some some of them have already been living at the pub for going on two decades.

The turtle’s new habitat is known as Turtle Club Med. Photo: Juliet Bennett Rylah

Before the remodel, the turtles raced every Thursday. Now, after consulting with a herpetologist, Brennan’s has elected to only race the turtles on the third Thursday of each month at 9 p.m. The turtles also have a freshly renovated habitat with increased space for swimming and basking in natural light, as turtles are wont to do. All this to say, Brennan’s turtles are now happier and healthier than they were before.

The races once took place in the parking lot, but the heats now go down on the remodeled patio. The ‘track’ is more like a large square of Astroturf with a dot in the center. A circle near the outer edge of the Astroturf signifies the finish line. All competing turtles in any given heat are placed in the center and blocked by a plastic gate. When the gate is lifted, the first turtle to meander outside the finish line wins. The fastest turtle race in Brennan’s history was a mere 1.8 seconds, while the longest was an interminable 24 minutes.

Guests each receive a complimentary raffle ticket with beer purchases, which they can put in a small plastic box marked with their favorite turtle’s name. Each turtle has its own backstory, accounting for its life before retiring to the races. Banjo, for instance, was once a member of a rock band, while Marley was a celebrated breakdancer. If one can’t decide among the many contenders, additional raffle tickets may be purchased for $2-3.

Turtle races on a Thursday night. Photo: Juliet Bennett Rylah

Guests cheer on their turtle of choice, but they are not allowed to point during the individual heats. That’s considered bad turtle racing etiquette, and it could distract the racers. The turtles compete throughout the evening in a series of heats until a final victor is determined. Winners of the night’s raffles win prizes including gift cards, Brennan’s swag, or free beers.

In addition to new turtle digs, the bar and patio have also been overhauled. The patio, in particular, has been outfitted with benches, seating, greenery, heat lamps, and a set of stadium bleachers for watching the races.

Brennan’s renovated patio. Photo: Courtesy of Brennan’s

The menu has a new look, too, adding several vegan options including a colorful crudite, a handful of pizzas which can be served vegan or not, a mushroom pate with horseradish and mustard seeds, and the famed Impossible burger.

Other items include a spicy chicken melt, steamed clams, and a shrimp roll. For dessert, the surprisingly creamy, yet totally vegan butter cake is a must.

Brennan’s Butter Cake Photo: Juliet Bennett Rylah

Brennan’s is located at 4089 Lincoln Blvd, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292






Western Street in Koreatown Is Getting Pedestrian-Friendly Street Improvements

February 19, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

Western and 3rd Photo: Google Maps

A new project called Welcome to Western will improve Western Avenue between Melrose and 3rd, making the busy corridor brighter, more colorful, and altogether better for pedestrians.

The project is spearheaded by Elizabeth Timme and Helen Leung of nonprofit urban design firm LA-Más, who told Curbed LA their goal is “public realm improvements that are meant to support the pedestrian environment adjacent to small existing businesses.” The project also has support from both Councilmembers David Ryu and Herb Wesson’s offices, as well as the Koreatown Youth and Community Center. LA-Más also consulted with local business owners to get further input for the project.

This particular stretch of Western, which was marked for revitalization when it was named as one of Los Angeles’ Great Streets in 2014, is pretty busy. There’s a lot of traffic, myriad shops and restaurants, and many pedestrians who walk, bike, and skateboard around the area. Additionally, it’s a popular street with public transit users catching the 207 or 757.

While Great Streets has already implemented improvements including murals and some enhanced bus stops, there’s still much to do. I’m a daily public transit user who happens to live near Western and 3rd. I can confirm that Welcome to Western’s findings indicating a lack of seating, shade, and other public amenities in this area is no surprise to anyone who calls it home. As such, the renderings released on Welcome to Western’s Facebook page are pretty exciting.

Welcome to Western has divided the corridor into three main hubs, with renderings of each one’s planned improvements.

Welcome to Western rendering. Photo: LA-Más

Hub 1 is Western at Rosewood and Elmwood, near the strip mall that houses Castle B.B.Q. and the home of the almighty Opp’s monthly puppet show. Improvements include a mini-park, a large communal table with seating, and aesthetic improvements around existing bus benches. Hub 2 is Western and 1st and Western and Council, near HK Market and The Bun Shop. Here, seating, sidewalk painting, and additional signage is planned. Hub 3 is the very busy intersection at Western and 3rd. Plans include colorful sidewalk painting and crosswalks, in addition to mini-parks and shading over bus benches. A lot of the improvements are multi-functional. Fake greenery will provide color and shade while trees planed by the Koreatown Youth and Community Center continue to grow and fill in. New seating is beneficial for both pedestrians and business owners, as it gives customers an alternative to leaning against a nearby shop or crowding around their doors.

LA-Más is currently seeking final approval from the city, with plans to begin incorporating these improvements in July.





This Video Shows What LAX’s Automated People Mover Will Look Like

February 19, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

The APM above the terminal loop. Photo: Los Angeles World Airports

LAX’s Automated People Mover (APM) is part of the Landside Access Modernization Program (LAMP), which is a multi-step plan to make it easier for us to get around the busy airport without relying solely on cars or buses

According to Los Angeles World Airports, the APM is an electric train system that runs 2.25 miles on an elevated guideway. There are three stations inside the terminal loop, and three outside. There will be nine trains total, each with four cars, capable of carrying 200 passengers and their belongings at a time. They’ll show up every two minutes, shuttling passengers between terminals, to car rental agencies, or to Metro. The entire journey will take each train about 10 minutes.

Construction on this project will begin in 2018, with a projected completion date in 2023. Under that timeline the People Mover will be functioning long before the 2028 Summer Olympics, which is visually referenced in the video. 




Fun Stuff, Happenings

Over 250 Couples Got Married by L.A. County on Valentine’s Day

February 16, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

Couples were invited to receive same-day weddings without a prior appointment on Valentine’s Day. Photo: Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office

On Valentine’s Day, the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder County Clerk (RR/CC) offered same-day weddings to any couple wanting to tie the knot. Couples were able to show up as early as 8 a.m. in Norwalk and 8:30 a.m. at six other area locations, including Lancaster, Beverly Hills, and four L.A. locations without a prior appointment.

In 2017, the county saw more than 250 couples wed, with 84 of them expressing their vows at RR/CC’s Norwalk headquarters. Spokesperson Brenda Duran told City News Service that, by comparison, the Norwalk office typically averages 48 weddings per day.

This year, RR/CC’s Mike Sanchez told We Like L.A. that 285 ceremonies were performed countywide, with 90 of them taking place in Norwalk.

Ceremonies cost couples $35, while marriage licenses cost $85 for a confidential license or $91 for a public one. Some couples dressed up, while others wore more casual outfits for the affair.

One of 285 couples to wed countywide on Valentine’s Day. Photo: Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office

Similar festivities occurred at courthouses and chapels across the nation. In Las Vegas, you can get married at a kiosk in the McCarran airport, or even at Denny’s. Ceremonies take place throughout the city over a 24-hour period beginning at midnight. However, the Las Vegas Sun reports that the Clark County Marriage License Bureau now keeps hours of 8 a.m. to midnight, so the marriage isn’t official until the papers are signed. Meanwhile in Michigan, many couples trek to the small town of Hell, meaning they’ll be presented with a certificate that reads, “Married in Hell.”




Happenings, Lifestyle

L.A. County Fair Will Not Be Raising Ticket Prices in 2018

February 16, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

The L.A. County Fair. Photo: Omar Bárcena/flickr cc

While Disneyland is hiking its prices, the Los Angeles County Fair is offering a deal on both admission and food this year.

The L.A. County Fair was first held in 1922. Back then, it was only five days long, but has since expanded to nearly a month’s worth of activities. However, 2017 saw a 7% drop in attendance. Miguel Santana, the fair’s Chief Executive, told the Los Angeles Times that many families cited rising costs as the reason they elected not to go. So, this year, the fair will keep prices stable, and will offer a new deal on food.

“We feel that if we listen to our guests, everything else will all work out fine,” he told the Times.

The fair also has a dedicated theme for the first time in over 20 years. The fair will explore all things Route 66—the famed Mother Road that begins in the Midwest and ends in Santa Monica—through a variety of multi-cultural exhibits, performances, and educational opportunities. And it won’t just be the so-called Main Street of America’s romanticized history. According to the Pasadena Star News, the Millard Sheets Gallery will present an artist exhibition on the challenges of navigating Route 66 as a person of color during segregation.

The L.A. County Fair runs August 31 through September 23, Wednesdays through Sundays (plus Labor Day) at the Fairplex in Pomona. Prices are slightly higher on weekends and Labor Day than they are on weekends. Admission is $14/$20 for guests 13 and up; $8/$12 for children 6-12; $10/$15 for seniors; and free for children 5 and younger. Parking ranges from $15 to $30, or $60 for a season pass. Or, you can spring for a package including four season passes and parking for $66. You’ll have to snag that deal before February 25, however. Carnival rides are still extra, though access to special exhibitions will be free this year. When it comes to food vendors, they’ll be offering at least one deal for the price of $6.60.

Find more information and tickets here.




Cool Spots, Fun Stuff

A Tale of Two L.A. Cat Cafes

February 15, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

CatCafe Lounge Photo: Juliet Bennett Rylah

For too long Los Angeles had zero cat cafes. These were dark days in which the have-nots had to rely on the cats of friends or staring at kitties through the cat condos at PetCo in order to get their feline fix. Now, however, Los Angeles is home not one, but two cat cafes. Both are full of adoptable kitties in search of their forever homes. Which cat cafe is right for you? To judge is a fool’s errand, as both are alike in dignity. Yet, if you must, here’s how they compare.

CatCafe Lounge

CatCafe Lounge is a nonprofit cat cafe located in West L.A. They’ve partnered with SNPLA to offer guests a chance to visit with adoptable cats. All entry fees are tax detectable, and all of the proceeds go to saving and socializing cats.

CatCafe Lounge Photo: Juliet Bennett Rylah

Hours: Every day except Tuesdays, 11 a.m to 8 p.m.

Cost: All reservations can be made online. Standard entry is $25/60 minutes (includes free coffee/tea). On weekdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., $30 will get you a four-hour study session in the lounge. And yes, they do have free Wi-Fi.

The lounge also occasionally hosts “kitten showers,” where SNPLA will bring adoptable kittens to meet and offer tips on fostering and caring for neonatal and young cats. These events are also $25/person.

Student and group discounts are available.

The Space: CatCafe Lounge is quite large. You’ll enter up a flight of steps painted with yellow paw prints and proceed to the cafe. This area is kept completely separate from the cats.

The lounge is a sunny, second-floor space with lots of natural light, several cozy couches and chairs, and multiple areas for cats to play, climb, and, if they so choose, hide. This means curious cats can greet you and play, while sleepy ones can tuck away for a nap.

The Cafe: The entry fee entitles each customer to one free coffee or tea. They also serve cold brew and kombucha and a variety of snacks, with many vegan-friendly options.

The Cats: CatCafe Lounge has some 25 cats at a time. As they focus predominantly on at-risk cats who might otherwise be euthanized at crowded shelters, you’ll find mostly adult cats here. (There were two kittens present when we visited.) Some of the cats are a bit shy, but most are friendly and more than happy to sit in your lap or receive pets. If you are looking to adopt, you’ll be able to see how the cats behave around other people and animals. If you’re just looking to pet some cats, that’s great too, as socializing animals is an important part of the adoption process.

CatCafe Lounge
1736 S. Sepulveda

Crumbs & Whiskers

Crumbs & Whiskers is a D.C. import that opened an outpost on Melrose in 2016. Like CatCafe Lounge, all cats are adoptable via their partner, Stray Cat Alliance Cat Rescue.

Crumbs & Whiskers Photo: Crumbs & Whiskers’ Facebook

Hours: Every day except Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 7:45 p.m.

The Cost: All reservations can be made online. Standard entry is $22/70 minutes on weekdays, or $25/70 minutes on weekends. C&W also hosts special events, such as cat yoga on Sundays ($30) or BYOB wine and comedy events.

Group discounts are available.

The Space: Crumbs & Whiskers is a ground-floor storefront space, meaning there’s lots of natural light and the ability to make passersby jealous of your cuddle time.  There are tables and benches mixed in with cat furniture and shelves. The decor is fun, with lots of cat-themed art and neon signs, and plenty of places for cats to play, hide, and snuggle. Founder and Cat Lady in Chief Kanchan Singh has compared it to “your really cool girlfriend who is really into cat’s apartment.”

The Cafe: All food and drinks served at Crumbs & Whiskey come courtesy of Open Space Cafe Theater. They include coffee, tea, espresso, lemonade, cold brew, and hot chocolate, and snacks like cookies, yogurt, and chai pudding. A full menu can be accessed here. Most items cost between $3 and $5.

The Cats: All cats are at-risk cats rescued by Stray Cat Alliance Cat Rescue. There are typically about 15 to 20 cats at a time of various ages. Sometimes you can see who’s there on C&W’s website, though be aware that sometimes a cat gets adopted before the website is changed. Most are friendly and curious, and there are plenty of toys available to play entice them into play.

Now, if you’re thinking, ‘this is great, but I prefer dogs,’ you’re in luck. The Dog Cafe in Rampart Village allows you to play and pet adoptable dogs for $15/hour (drinks sold separately).

Crumbs & Whiskers
7924 Melrose Ave.





Architect Reveals Renderings for Dream Pedestrian Bridge Over Marina del Rey

February 14, 2018 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

Architect and cycling enthusiast Trevor Abramson is proposing a bridge that would allow convenient pedestrian and bike access over Ballona Creek and the mouth of the Marina del Rey Harbor. In an interview with Curbed LA, Abramson said this bridge could be the solution to a detour cyclists must take when riding the Marvin Braude Bike Trail.

The Marvin Braude Bike Trail, previously known as The Strand, is a paved bike path that extends over 20 miles along the coast from Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades to Torrance County Beach. When the path reaches Marina del Rey, it diverts inland to get around Marina del Rey’s eight basins.  Abramson’s dream bridge would span 1,400 feet over the mouth of the harbor and Ballona Creek, allowing cyclists and pedestrians to bypass that detour.

Renderings via Abramsom Teiger Architects, where Abramson is design principal, reveal a white, steel bridge described as a “five percent sloped spiral ramp that is nestled within a latticed shell structure.” The firm envisions the bridge as an “iconic gateway and viewing platform,” with the bases on either side acting as possible event or gathering spaces.

The proposed bridge. Photo: Abramsom Teiger Architects

Abramson doesn’t have an estimate for how much such a project would cost, as this is all pretty preliminary. However, as Abramson told Curbed, “You have to start with some visionary thoughts to make something iconic happen.”

It wouldn’t be the first time L.A. took on a pedestrian-friendly bridge project. Consider the bridge that now connects the Metro Red Line Universal City station to Universal Studios. Instead of waiting to cross busy Lankershim, pedestrians can head straight from the station to the waiting area where the Universal tram picks up and drops off passengers.

The bridge can be seen crossing the harbor in this rendering. Photo: Abramson Teiger Architects

It’s also not entirely uncommon for a visually appealing bridge to serve as a tourist attraction, such as the Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding. This bridge not only allows pedestrian access across the Sacramento River, but functions as a giant sundial.

Check out a map of Los Angeles’ many other existing pedestrian bridges, tunnels, and crossings here.