L.A. County Hits New Record for COVID-19 Cases, New Restrictions Likely

November 23, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Mayor Eric Garcetti during a briefing on Nov. 23.

Today, Los Angeles County announced 6,124 new COVID-19 cases, the highest single-day total so far. At least 1,500 cases are due to a backlog over the weekend, but the latest count does bring the county’s 5-day average to over 4,500 new cases per day. That means a new “Targeted Safer at Home” order is imminent. Public Health will work with the County Board of Supervisors to define what exactly that means and “determine additional safety modifications,” according to a release.

By comparison, this is a far sharper increase than we saw during the surge this summer. From June 20 through July 3, average daily cases increased by 43%. From Oct. 31 through Nov. 13, average daily cases have increased by 108%. There are now 1,473 people hospitalized with COVID-19, 27% of whom are in the ICU.  This is a 73% increase from Nov. 7. Because the cases we’re seeing right now reflect infections that were passed on two weeks ago, Public Health is not particularly confident we’ll see an immediate decrease in numbers. 

On Sunday, the County announced that all in-person dining, including outdoor dining, would shut down on Nov. 25 at 10 p.m. Further restrictions and closures are likely in the days ahead. During a briefing this evening, Mayor Eric Garcetti promised that those businesses will have a safety net. 

“We will take the funds that we have in business assistance and surge them into those industries to get us through this period, to keep those businesses alive, to protect those jobs, and to make sure that they can stand up again,” he said. “We could keep everything open and eventually they will close anyway, over a longer period of time, because the numbers would be more devastating.”

Garcetti also implored Angelenos to stay at home for Thanksgiving, with their own households, and avoid passing on the virus and overwhelming our hospital systems.

The meeting between Public Health and the Board of Supervisors is tomorrow. It may be a somewhat contentious meeting, as Supervisor Kathryn Barger has opposed the closure of outdoor dining. 

“Businesses throughout the County have invested thousands of dollars to ensure safety for their employees and customers only to be punished for the recent surge they have done everything in their power to prevent,” she said via a release

Barger asserts it’s large gatherings, not compliant restaurants, that are contributing to the spread and that closing them will only inspire people to host more private gatherings.

Garcetti defended the new restrictions in his briefing, citing County data that indicates 10-15% of new cases may come from outdoor dining, which Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer attributed to people sitting and chatting maskless with people outside their households.

Your best bet? You know he drill by now. Wear your mask, avoid people outside your household, wash your hands.


Watch the Academy Museum Install 1200-Pound ‘Jaws’ Shark by Crane

November 23, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
This shark? Swallow you whole. Photo: The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures just installed the last surviving full-scale shark model from Jaws. Guests to the museum will be able to see the toothy beast when the museum opens in April of 2021, but it will also be visible from outside at Fairfax Ave. and 6th St.

The 25-foot-long, 1,208-pound predator is nicknamed “Bruce the Shark” and was created by art director Joe Alves specifically for Jaws. According to the museum, Bruce was the fourth model made from the original mold. The first three were cast in latex and rubber. They later rotted and were destroyed. This one was cast in fiberglass and used in photo ops with tourists at Universal Studios Hollywood at the time of the film’s release in 1975. 

In 1990, Nathan Adlen took the model to his family junkyard in Sun Valley. When Adlen closed the junkyard in 2015, he sold or gave away its many possessions, including several pieces to the Valley Relics Museum and this shark to the Academy Museum. Greg Nicotero of KNB EFX was recruited to restore the shark to its original glory.  

Bruce is now the largest item in the museum’s collection. Because it would not fit in the elevator, staff had to remove two panels from the building’s glass wall and place Bruce via crane.

As I’m sure you are dying to know, Bruce has 116 teeth. 

The Academy Museum is scheduled to open on April 30, 2021, assuming we have indoor museums again by then.

Food, News

L.A. County Shuts Down Outdoor Dining as COVID-19 Cases Rise

November 22, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Honda Plaza Little Tokyo Outdoor Dining Picnic Tables
Public picnic tables at Honda Plaza. Photo by Christina Champlin.

Today’s announcement from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health may not surprise you if you’ve been following daily COVID-19 case rates, which have doubled since early November. The most recent count brings our 5-day average case rate to 4,097, meaning it’s time to say goodbye to outdoor dining for at least three weeks.

According to a release issued by Public Health this afternoon, restaurants, breweries, wineries, and bars will no longer be able to serve customers in-person as of Wednesday, Nov. 25 at 10 p.m. After that, only takeout, drive-thrus, and delivery will be allowed, while wineries and breweries may continue retail operations. This new restriction will remain in place for at least three weeks. 

This is sure to spark some controversy as restrictions kick in the night before Thanksgiving, and many local restaurants were planning to offer special menus for outdoor dining guests on Thanksgiving Day. If you made a reservation for Thanksgiving, you might want to give that restaurant a call and see if you can do pickup instead.

Last week, as COVID-19 cases surged, Public Health imposed new restrictions on non-essential businesses, limiting capacity and operating hours. At that time, Public Health warned us that if the county’s 5-day average of new cases met or exceeded 4,000, they’d pull the plug on outdoor dining. And, well, we’re there. 

On Nov. 19, the county announced 5,031 new cases and noted that cases were increasing at an even higher rate than the surge in July. From June 20 through July 3, the 7-day average increase in new cases was 47%.  From Oct. 28 through Nov. 10, the 7-day average increase in new cases was 68%.

Should the five-day average of new cases reach or exceed 4,500 cases, we’re back to Safer at Home for at least three weeks. That means everyone except essential workers or those performing an essential activity (such as grocery shopping) would be asked to stay home. Public Health also mentioned this would trigger a curfew, but that’s a moot point as the state has already imposed a curfew through Dec. 21. 


L.A. County Businesses Get New Restrictions Due to COVID-19 Spread

November 17, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
No Mask No Entry sign
No Mask No Entry sign Photo by: Juliet Bennett Rylah

Earlier this week, 40 counties—accounting for all of Southern California—were moved back to the most restrictive, purple tier in the state’s reopening plan. Due to increasing COVID-19 spread and hospitalizations, Los Angeles County will temporarily tighten restrictions on businesses. These changes are effective as of this Friday, Nov. 20. 

According to the County, cases have doubled since early November while hospitalizations have surged to an average of over 1,000 per day. Right now, the five-day average is 2,884 cases and 1,126 hospitalized patients per day. 

Tighter restrictions may go into effect if those numbers increase even more (more on that below), but for now, here’s what happens Friday: 

  • Non-essential indoor businesses—such as retail stores, offices, and personal care services—may only operate at 25% maximum capacity.
  • Outdoor restaurants, breweries, and wineries may operate at 50% max outdoor capacity.
  • Cardrooms, outdoor mini-golf courses, go-karts, and batting cages may operate at 50% maximum outdoor capacity.
  • At personal care establishments, customers and staff must wear face coverings. If a service would require a customer to remove their face covering, such as facials or shaves, it is not permitted. Appointments are required for services. These establishments may not serve food or drinks. 
  • Restaurants, breweries, wineries, bars, and all other non-essential retail establishments must close between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
  • Outdoor gatherings are allowed, but only with 15 people or fewer and only if those people are from no more than three households. Indoor gatherings remain prohibited. 

If the five-day average reaches or exceeds 4,000 cases or 1,750 hospitalizations per day: 

  • Outdoor and indoor dining at restaurants, breweries, wineries, and bars will be prohibited. Only pickup and delivery will be allowed. 

If the five-day average reaches or exceeds 4,500 cases or 2,000 hospitalizations per day: 

  • We’ll get another Safer at Home Order, this time for at least three weeks. Only essential works and those conducting essential activities would be allowed to leave their homes.
  • We’d also get a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., excluding essential workers. 

If you don’t want that to happen, your best bet is to avoid gathering with people outside your household, wear a mask, stay home if you’re sick, and wash your hands frequently. More information on the current COVID-19 data in L.A. County is available here.


California Advises Travelers Quarantine for 14 Days

November 13, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
People wearing masks in Old Town Pasadena
People wearing masks in Old Town Pasadena. Photo by: Christina Champlin

The state has issued a travel advisory due to surging cases of COVID-19 ahead of the holiday season. The advisory asks those who arrive or return to California to self-quarantine for two weeks. 

Today’s travel advisory comes from the California Department of Public Health. It applies to those who are traveling or returning to California from other states or countries for non-essential travel. Non-essential travel would include things like tourism or recreational travel, such as visiting family or taking a vacation. Generally, we’re advised to stay within our regions and not do any non-essential travel, but Americans haven’t been so great at following the rules this pandemic. 

What self-quarantine means is staying in your residence for at least 14 days and interacting only with your immediate household. This means no gathering with people other than those you live with or will be staying with. According to Public Health, “Persons arriving in California from other states or Californians returning from other states or countries could increase the risk of COVID-19 spread. In addition, travel itself can be a risk for exposure to COVID-19, particularly travel through shared conveyance such as air, bus or rail travel.”

California and Oregon have also issued advisories discouraging non-essential, out-of-state travel and 14-day quarantines for those who do travel. 

Los Angeles County is one of many areas across the nation where COVID-19 cases are on the uptick. Today, County health officials announced 2,481 new cases and 28 new related deaths. There are currently 942 people in the hospital, up 15% from last week Friday, 28% of whom are in the ICU. 

To illustrate how gatherings can contribute to the spread, the Los Angeles Times examined the fallout of a single wedding in Maine. On Aug. 7, 55 people attended the wedding. One of them had COVID-19. From that one infection, the virus spread to 176 people, seven of whom died. No one who died had even gone to the wedding. Six of them were residents at a long-term care facility who caught the virus from an employee. The employee contracted it from their child, who caught it at the wedding.

Meanwhile, Gov. Gavin Newsom is apologizing for attending a 12-person birthday party at French Laundry in Yountville on Nov. 6. Currently, guidance states you should not gather with individuals from more than three households. The party, in honor of his advisor Jason Kinney’s 50th birthday, did not follow the state’s guidelines.

“While our family followed the restaurant’s health protocols and took safety precautions, we should have modeled better behavior and not joined the dinner,” Newsom said in a statement to The Hill.


Beverly Center Pop-Up Gallery Features Black Contemporary Artists

November 13, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
A piece from Benari Kamau’s “Army of Lovers” series at “Heirs to the Throne.” Photo: Juliet Bennett Rylah

Open now at The Beverly Center is “Heirs to the Throne,” a six-week pop-up gallery featuring work from Black contemporary artists. 

You’ll find the gallery on the sixth floor of the mall across from artist Karen Bystedt’s gallery and clothing shop The Lost Warhols. Bystedt curated the show with guest curators Diane Allen and Terrell Tilford (Band of Vices), saying via a release that she was inspired by The Broad’s “Soul of a Nation” exhibit.

“Heirs to the Throne” features artists including Bradley Theodore, Robert Peterson, Travion Payne, Caviar, Allison Saar, Genevieve Garnard, Tavares Strachan, Kehinde Wiley, Sage Gallon, and Karl Kani.

Inside, you’ll find Brad Branson’s portraits of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, a retrospective of fashion designer Karl Kani’s work, and a hanging assemblage sculpture from Sharon Louise Barnes made from discarded industrial materials, paper, and guitar strings.

Travion Payne’s “Golden Abundance” and “Heteronormative Death of the golden child” at “Heirs to the Throne.” Photo: Juliet Bennett Rylah

Elsewhere, Benari Kamau shows a painting from his “Army of lovers” series, a 30-piece collection about the strength of women. This one depicts a woman in a shirt that reads “Army of Lovers” as she looks off into the distance. To her side, she holds a gun. Travion Payne has two stunning paintings in the exhibit, “Golden Abundance” and “Heteronormative Death of the golden child.” Per a release, Payne’s work “sheds light on controversial topics that will give insight into the issues that black men face. Issues such as mental illness in correlation with religion, colorism, homophobia, and fragile masculinity within the black community.” 

Opening night on Nov. 11 was a bit different than a typical art show with mask-wearing guests browsing the work in a once-busy mall that was mostly vacant otherwise. Just outside the gallery space stood a vending machine that sells PPE, including masks, sanitizer, and gloves. Or perhaps it’s better to say this is what a typical art opening looks like now. Either way, the gallery is open for viewing during the Beverly Center’s usual hours, and you’ll have to wear your mask here and everywhere else in the shopping center. Find more information here.


Rooftop Cinema Club Pops Up in Santa Monica

November 12, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Photo: Rooftop Cinema Club

Rooftop Cinema Club is back, this time with The Drive-In at Santa Monica Airport. It kicks off on Nov. 27 with a “We Love LA series featuring films set in and around Los Angeles, followed by a slew of holiday programming. 

Technically, the Santa Monica Airport does not offer a rooftop, but it’s still Rooftop Cinema Club helming the program. Movie-goers will drive into parking spaces 10 feet away from neighboring vehicles. The films are projected onto a 52-foot screen, while audio is piped through each car’s FM stereo. Guests may also bring a portable radio. There’s space for 150 cars each night. 

The We Love LA series includes the ‘90s comedy Clueless, Pulp Fiction, musicals La La Land and Grease, and more. In December, expect holiday classics like Elf, Home Alone, and The Nightmare Before Christmas alongside festive decor. Guests are also encouraged to “deck” their cars out in lights, tinsel, or other ornaments. Prizes will be awarded for the best car decorations on select nights. 

The experience is contact-free for COVID-19 safety. You must stay in your car to watch the movie and wear a face covering if you’re visiting the restroom or picking up concessions. Ordering and pickup of food and beverages are also contact-free, or you’re welcome to bring your own.  

Tickets start at $30 per car, depending on occupancy and screening time. But on Wednesdays at 5:15 p.m., Community Screenings are just $5 per car with two guests or $10 per car with three or more guests. All proceeds from these screenings will be donated to Los Angles Regional Food Bank and there will also be food drive boxes for donations at all screenings through Dec. 30. 

See the full lineup and get tickets here.


Get $5 Burgers, Cocktails & Soft Serve at The Rose Today

November 11, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Photo: The Rose

Need a cheap treat? Who doesn’t? Today, you can get $5 burgers, soft serve, and cocktails from The Rose and Chef Jason Neroni in celebration of the Venice restaurant’s 5-year anniversary. 

The specials are available for outdoor dining only and include:

  • $5 smashburgers between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. 
  • $5 soft serve between 5:30-9 p.m. 
  • $5 Rose All Day cocktails made with gin, Pisco, rose syrup, and lime between 5-6 p.m. 

The Rose is also open for delivery and pickup in addition to outdoor dining on one of its three patios. Should you stop by, remember to bring your mask! You’ll need it for any time you’re not seated at a table eating or drinking. 

The Rose has also hinted at prizes to celebrate the day, so follow its Instagram for updates.


‘Objectivity’ is a Fake Webinar, But It Might Actually Help

November 5, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Objectivity: From Clutter to Clarity with Mary Del Campo. Photo courtesy of Mister and Mischief.

Mister and Mischief’s Objectivity: From Clutter to Clarity with Mary Del Campo is a different kind of Zoom theater experience. It’s a touching, funny, interactive show disguised as a self-help webinar on decluttering. The show examines the value we place in our possessions, starting with just one of your own.

In Objectivity, Mary Del Campo (Jessica Eckenrod Cherry) is a lifestyle guru who teaches her students how to find happiness by getting rid of objects they don’t need. The obvious real-life comparison here is organization expert Marie Kondo, whose most talked-about practice is to declutter by determining if objects “spark joy.”

“Many people think we are doing a parody of Marie Kondo and the various Marie Kondos of the world, but that implies that we are making fun of her, which we are not! We love her!” Andy Crocker, who co-founded Los Angeles immersive theater company Mister and Mischief with her husband, Jeff Crocker, told We Like.

Crocker sees value in examining our relationship to our things and the “emotional exploration” that might bring, but notes that all self-help practices are ultimately aspirational.

“And that can be tricky when media empires are being built on people’s hopes for a more perfect life. Especially when we, as a culture, are going through a large-scale mental health crisis,” Crocker said, before chiding herself for getting “too serious.”

In Objectivity, the fictional Del Campo asks her attendees to choose one item in their home they haven’t used since March. The obvious significance here is that March is when everything changed—when we stopped leaving our homes unless it was for jobs or activities considered “essential.”

I chose my wristwatch. Its battery stopped weeks ago, but I haven’t bothered to replace it. Time hasn’t really had much meaning since this whole at-home-all-the-time business began. Other guests brought unworn shoes, cosmetics, knick-knacks, and art supplies. Some objects were still in their original packaging, never used. 

Mary asked us questions about our objects and the value they held in our lives. At one point, she asked something to the effect of, “Are you holding onto your object in the hopes that your lifestyle will one day call for it?” Yes! I want a reason to need to know what time it is! I thought of all the times I’d worn it while traveling to keep track of how close I must be to my destination. I miss traveling. I miss trains. These days, it might as well always be 4:18, as my watch suggests. 

It’s hard to talk about what happens next because it’s endlessly more delightful if you don’t know what’s coming. So, I’ll just say that what ensues is a hilarious battle between minimalism and nostalgia, but there’s no clear winner. As Crocker says, “Decluttering allows us to think clearly, and mementos bring us comfort. Both are incredibly important as we try to get through tough times.”

In the end, it’s up to you to decide what your object means and if it’s worth keeping. Crocker said many audience members have emailed them to share their decisions.

“Some have mailed their objects to happier homes and in the process reconnected with old friends. Some have chucked their items straight into the trash. There is a woman who told us that though she is going to keep her object, and that it reminds her of a lost loved one,  it no longer makes her sad to see it. That’s the crazy twist. We set out to make a fake seminar… but I think we actually might be helping people!” Crocker said.

When Mister and Mischief began developing Objectivity, it wasn’t meant to be a Zoom show. But what they lost in having real-life show, they gained in reaching audience members around the world, especially through their partnership with The Warehouse Theater in Greenville, South Carolina. Each participant now joins with their own objects, streaming live from their homes and peering into one another’s.

“It makes everyone’s environment and experiences deeply personal. That could have never happened if we had built out a space to do the show. And because we were so early in development when we made the shift online, we were able to really tailor the piece online. We ended up creating a piece that felt just like a webinar because it was one. We weren’t interested in pretending Zoom was anything other than what it is. We ended up making site-specific theatre, but the site is Zoom,” Crocker said. 

People keep telling me they’re “Zoomed out,” but if there’s one thing I’ve learned as someone who’s participated in and reviewed several online shows since March, it’s that there are things that work and things that don’t. I like a show that clocks in at an hour or shorter, requires me to do things other than just stare at it, uses the platform’s tools at least a few times (breakout sessions, chat, etc.), and interacts without being too demanding. It also does not hurt if it’s funny, which Objectivity nails.

I ended up keeping my object, but sometimes I wear it, even though it doesn’t correctly tell time.

Objectivity’s next run is Fridays and Saturdays, Nov. 6-28 at 5 p.m. PST. Tickets are $25 and available here.


Get a Free Habit Burger When You Vote Tomorrow

November 2, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
A double charburger combo from The Habit. Photo: The Habit

The Habit’s catering trucks will be out on Election Day providing free burgers and fries to poll workers and voters at select polling locations. It might be a good incentive to time your civic duty with lunch.

The Habit Burger Grill has partnered with Feed the Polls on this event. Workers and voters can receive a free Charburger with cheese (lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, pickles, and mayo on a toasted bun) or a veggie burger option plus fries on Nov. 3 between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the following locations: 

Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center  27040 Malibu Hills Rd, Calabasas CA 91301
E C Bilbrew Library  150 E El Segundo Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90061
Carver Elementary School 1425 E 120th St, Los Angeles CA 90059
Lucy Avalos Community Center  11832 Atlantic Ave, Lynwood CA 90262
Citizens of Zion Missionary Church  12930 S Lime Ave, Los Angeles CA 90059
Rosecrans Recreation Center  840 W 149th St, Gardena CA 90247

Not into burgers? Already voted? Check out our guide to Election Day freebies you can get with your “I Voted” sticker.


We Went to the ‘Murder House’ to Learn About its Ghosts

October 30, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
The Rosenheim Mansion. Photo: Juliet Bennett Rylah

Recently, we informed you that you could win a night’s stay in the American Horror Story Murder House’s basement. But what’s it actually like in there? What’s the deal with the ghosts that supposedly haunt it? We stopped by this week to check it out. 

The ‘Murder House’ is actually the Rosenheim Mansion, built by architect Alfred Rosenheim in 1908 at 1120 Westchester Place. In 1999, it became Los Angeles Historical-Cultural Monument 660, which is an unfortunate six numbers away from a real party. (Monument 666 is the Taft Building and its neon sign, located at 6280 W. Hollywood Blvd., if you were wondering.)  

Though the Rosenheim Mansion has appeared in several TV shows and films, its starring role came in 2011 with American Horror Story: Murder House, in which it played, obviously, the murder house. The series follows a family who moves from Boston to a beautiful, but very haunted home in Los Angeles. Because the house has been the site of grisly murders in the past, the family is plagued with not just ghosts, but corporeal annoyances in the form of true crime fans who come to gawk and cultists who come to do worse.

In real life, Dr. Ernst von Schwarz and Angela Oakenfold nabbed the house off the market for $3.2 million in 2015, but soon found themselves also warding off aggressive tourists. In 2018, they filed a lawsuit against the brokers that handled the sale, saying no one told them how many people it would attract on any given day.

But tonight, they’ll stream a seance from its basement, just one of several spooky events in a 3-day, 24/7 Halloween live stream. So, what made them decide to finally embrace the macabre? 

“In the end, I think it was just lemons, lemonade,” Oakenfold told me earlier this week, wearing a black Murder House T-shirt and a face mask.

Photo: Juliet Bennett Rylah

Oakenfold, who has still never seen American Horror Story, first found the house while browsing listings near Hancock Park as she and her now-husband were planning to move in together and start a family. She said she fell in love with it the moment she saw it.

Though the couple initially had no issue with American Horror Story fans who wanted to look at it or take a photo, they were completely unprepared for how intense it could get. Oakenfold said up to 200 people per day could stop by, including some who would come late at night, gather and play loud music, or, in the worst cases, try to get inside. (While I was there, I spotted two groups of tourists on my way in and three on my way out.)

“The first six to 12 months, we were just like, ‘how are going to live?’ We’d just invested so much money in this house. Could we put a really nice fence outside and a hedge? And the city said, no, you’re not allowed to have fences in this area. You can’t have it hedged, the house has to be visible so people can view it,” she said. 

So, they put up a temporary chain-link fence. But after considering how hard 2020 has been for everyone—including Oakenfold, who gave birth to twin boys during the pandemic—they thought maybe they could do a virtual event that would allow fans to see past the fence and inside of the home for the first time since AHS.

“I thought if we could do an event and show them the inside of the house, which is what they want, then maybe there’d be some sort of peace,” Oakenfold said. “So, people can come in remotely, and then we can donate a portion of the proceeds to charity.”

Night-night. Photo: Juliet Bennett Rylah

For the holiday, the house’s facade has been decorated with ghoulish dolls and pumpkins, while the inside is now rigged with 14 cameras that will stream the various rooms and its guests—which include Halloween experts, psychics, paranormal investigators, and other spooky characters—now through Oct. 31. For $25, fans can watch the streams 24/7 and a few lucky victims will be selected to join seances and ghost hunts. A few may even spend the night in the purportedly haunted basement, which has been outfitted with two beds and a creepy doll. A portion of proceeds will benefit Baby2Baby, a nonprofit that provides basic needs to children in poverty. 

Tonight, psychic Patti Negri is hosting a seance in the basement to attempt to make contact with the other side.

“She said as we get closer to Halloween, the veil between the living and the dead gets thinner, so she thinks Friday is going to be the optimal night to try and connect,” Oakenfold said. 

The wall between our worlds growing thinner is not new. You can even trace it all the way back to Halloween’s origin, Samhain

Surprisingly, Oakenfold and her husband are not big supernatural believers, though she does think there is something in the house. When she offered her friends a tour years ago, one of them told her he saw a butler carrying a tray up and down the stairs. Later, when the daughter of a previous owner came to collect some items left behind, she told Oakenfold about a butler spirit they used to see.

At one point, Oakenfold advertised for an office assistant. One applicant stood out to her, so she sent her an email. It turns out that the applicant had been in the house before. Into the ’90s, the home had been a convent and she’d volunteered for the nuns.

This doll welcomes you inside. Photo: Juliet Bennett Rylah

The woman said that back then, any bumps in the night were attributed to one of the many nuns walking around or shutting a door. But when Oakenfold got in touch with one of the sisters, she told her a ghost story. When the nuns first arrived, a mover brought in a rocking chair only to come running out and claiming an apparition had appeared in it. The nuns entered and recognized the phantom rocker as a sister who had died.

Other guests to the home over the years have claimed they didn’t like being in the basement or that something had touched them while they were down there. Even Oakenfold’s skeptical husband said some kind of mist touched him. 

“He said, ‘I don’t believe in ghosts but I did see something. I believe in energies, and there was some kind of energy that was down there and it touched me on the back and then just evaporated,'” Oakenfold recalled.

Despite this, Oakenfold has never invited a paranormal investigator in before this weekend. A friend once offered to clear her home of spirits or energies, but Oakenfold declined. The spirits just don’t seem like the evil kind, so she’s happy to share the space.

Will we make contact with those positive energies this weekend? Who knows? I personally don’t believe in ghosts, but I love a good ghost story, and doesn’t it feel like anything could happen in 2020? Here’s hoping we see a rocking nun. To check in on the livestream, go here. Follow the house on Instagram here.


Inside the Stranger Things Drive-Into Experience at ROW DTLA

October 29, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
The Stranger Things Drive-Into Experience. Photo: Netflix

The Stranger Things Drive-Into Experience has officially launched at ROW DTLA, offering an hour-long journey into the Starcourt Mall and scenes from the popular Netflix horror/sci-fi series. Though we have been sworn to secrecy (by the government or Netflix, you decide), we can share a few details from the press preview with you. 

Leading up to the show, guests are sent an email welcoming them to the world of Hawkins, Indiana circa 1985. Ostensibly, you’re headed to the Starcourt Mall for a Hawkins High reunion. Obviously, things are going to go awry because that’s what happens in Hawkins, but until then, live your best 80s life.

You can log into a portal with Facebook or Google, which allows you to create a student profile, browse 80s fashion, and read about the mysterious goings-on about town. They include missing pets, a chemical leak, and, of course, the long-awaited opening of the mall. (Just ignore the part where we didn’t have Facebook in the ’80s.)

When you arrive at ROW, the parking lot has been transformed into a neon pre-show mall experience. Characters from the show roam about: the kids weave their bikes between cars while Steve and Robin in their Scoops Ahoy outfits drop off concessions, which you can order at this point. A screen upfront allows you to join Hawkins High’s science teacher as he leads a series of in-car games, like Glove Box Bingo. You keep headlights on if you have all of the common glove box items he lists. If you’ve sprung for VIP tickets, you’ll be diverted into a car wash that’s actually a photo booth before entering the experience. 

The Stranger Things Drive-Into Experience. Photo: Netflix

Here’s the part where spoilers are verboten, but we can tell you the experience takes place on several floors of ROW’s parking garage and, much like the show, ranges from funny to spooky in tone. The production value is top-notch, only increasing as the show progresses. Story elements unfold through music, video, and live actors while audio comes via your FM radio. And don’t worry: you’ll be stopped and parked for all major plot points for safe scares.

If you haven’t actually watched Stranger Things, a lot of the show won’t make any sense to you. If you’re a fan, you’ll likely find this a really fun complement to the story you already know and love. There’s new music from Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein, plenty of Easter eggs and recognizable moments, and lots of familiar (albeit masked) faces who may creep around your car. Most story elements come from Season 3, with some flashbacks to earlier episodes, so we’d suggest catching up if you’re behind.

It also serves as a great lead-in to Season 4, although we don’t actually know when that will air. COVID-19 threw off the production schedule, but Netflix did tease us on Oct. 1 with a Tweet depicting a clapper in the Upside Down. 

Tickets are on sale for the Stranger Things Drive-Into Experience from Netflix, Fever, and Secret Cinema now, though it’s mostly sold out through February 2021. Tickets start at $59 for Standard Access, which gets you the immersive experience and access to the Hawkins portal. VIP tickets start at $120 and also include fast track entry and a mystery box of swag, snacks, and non-alcoholic drinks.