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Spoon by H Fans Are Raising Funds to Help With Credit Card Fraud

February 24, 2021 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Short rib rice cake soup from Spoon by h
Short rib rice cake soup from Spoon by h. Photo by Christina Champlin.

Spoon by H, Yoonjin Hwang’s inventive restaurant and dessert cafe, is raising money to stay open after struggling with both a pandemic and some pretty heinous credit card fraud. 

Hwang opened Spoon by H in Hollywood in 2012. It quickly grew in popularity thanks to its incredible savory dishes and creative, beautiful desserts. In late 2020, Michelin recognized Spoon by H as one of 12 SoCal “discoveries” alongside Wood Spoon in downtown Los Angeles and Tumbi in Santa Monica.

When the pandemic hit, it hurt a lot of businesses, especially those in the hospitality sector. Still, Spoon by H was able to reach its customers through takeout and delivery. Buzzfeed’s Worth It checked out Spoon by H’s special family pack, which included a gigantic amount of food for $129. You can check it out at the 10-minute mark in the video below. 

Unfortunately, Spoon by H’s popularity attracted some scammers. This week, Hwang posted to Instagram that the cafe would close permanently on Feb. 27 due to “the growing barrage of fraudulent disputed charges and the countless refunds issues.”

Hwang explained further to the Los Angeles Times, saying that several customers had ordered food via delivery apps, then claimed items were missing and disputed the charges. Credit card companies often side with the customer, and this included one massive order for over $700. Hwang helped the customer carry the food to his van and even took pictures of the order, but still lost her appeal. Despite increased security measures, including photos, video, and requiring customers to show their ID upon arrival, she told the Times it was still not enough to stay in business due to how much she’d already lost. 

“We lost orders, time, precious ingredients, and the problems accumulated to the point where we just couldn’t stay in business anymore. We’re losing money to these issues, despite all the evidence we provide,” she said.

But perhaps all isn’t lost for Spoon by H. So far, its GoFundMe has raised over $30,000. The ultimate goat is $80,000, which the page says will “hopefully be a solid cushion to cover some rent and supplies for a minimum of six months while restaurants remain closed during the vaccination period for Los Angeles residents.”

If you’re a Spoon by H fan, you can donate here.  If you’d like to see our list of other businesses currently raising funds to weather the pandemic, you can find that here.

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News

Here’s Who’s Eligible in L.A. County’s Next Vaccine Rollout

February 24, 2021 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Robert Irvin, 65, receives the Covid-19 Vaccine at Downey Mega Pod on February 1, 2021. Photo: County of Los Angeles

L.A. County will roll out its next vaccination phase on March 1, expanding to workers in education, food and agriculture, and emergency services. Not sure if that means you? Here’s who Phase 1B includes and how to sign up for your vaccine. 

Food & Agriculture 

The Dept. of Public Health plans to partner with employer and employee organizations, unions, and other groups to help distribute information. Eligible vaccine recipients in this group include:

  • Food service workers
  • Food manufacturing workers 
  • Grocery store employees 
  • Animal agriculture workers, including those involved in Vet Health
  • Veterinarians 
  • Food and Agriculture-associated Port and transportation workers 

Education & Childcare

If you work in this sector as an educator, you may hear more info from your school district, as it may have its own vaccination center. Eligible vaccine recipients in this sector include: 

  • Teachers (K-12, preschool)
  • Support staff (K-12, preschool)
  • Childcare workers
  • Independent school employees
  • Junior college employees
  • College and university employees 

Emergency Services & First Responders 

If you work in this sector, you may receive more information from your department, agency, or employer. Eligible vaccine recipients in this sector include: 

  • Police/law enforcement officers
  • Emergency management, Search and Rescue, emergency and public safety communication centers, EOCs
  • National Security
  • Maritime and Aviation Response (TSA)
  • Corrections officers and workers
  • Courts/Legal Counsel & Prosecution
  • Campus and school police
  • Rehabilitation and re-entry employees
  • Federal law enforcement agencies
  • Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers
  • Security staff who maintain building access control and physical security measures
  • DCFS, APS (workers who physically respond to abuse and neglect of children, the elderly, or dependent adults)

L.A. County’s vaccine supply remains limited, so you’ll have to register for an appointment to get your dose. Upon arrival, you’ll need your ID and proof of employment. For more information about what you’ll need and how to register, check out vaccinatelacounty.com. You can also call 2-1-1. 

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Culture

PaleyFest 2021 Lineup Includes Ted Lasso, Lovecraft Country, The Queen’s Gambit

February 23, 2021 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
What We Do in the Shadows. Photo: FX

Every year, the Paley Center for Media puts together panels with the creators and stars of new and beloved TV shows for an inside look at how they’re made and what’s next. This year, PaleyFest LA returns with a virtual fest that you can enjoy from home.

The programming launches on March 30, 31, and April 1 for the general public, though Citi cardmembers and Paley members will be able to watch as soon as March 26. You’ll be able to view panels on Paley’s Center channel on Yahoo Entertainment.

Here’s what’s on the docket:

Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit (goes live on March 30, 7 a.m.): Netflix’s smash hit of the year followed Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), an orphan chess prodigy in the 1950s who seeks to become the world’s greatest player. The panel includes stars Taylor-Joy, Marielle Heller, Moses Ingram, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Harry Melling, and Bill Camps, and exec producer William Horberg. Moderated by Stacey Wilson Hunt, Hollywood Journalist. 

FX’s What We Do in the Shadows (goes live March 30, 7 a.m.): This comedy follows the adventures of four Staten Island vampires—including one energy vampire who may be TV’s greatest villain—and their faithful familiar. The panel includes stars Kayvan Novak, Matt Berry, Natasia Demetriou, Harvey Guillén, and Mark Proksch, and exec producers Paul Simms and Stefani Robinson. Moderated by Kyle Newacheck, director. 

ABC’s Big Sky (live on March 30 at 7 a.m.): A crime drama that follows two private detectives and an ex-cop on the trail of a serial killer. The panel includes stars Kathryn Winnick, Kylie Bunbury, John Carroll Lynch, Jesse James Keitel, Brian Geraghty, Natalie Alyn Lind, Jade Pettyjohn, Valerie Mahaffey, and Brooke Smith, and exec producers Ross Fineman and Matthew Gross. Moderated by Maureen Lee Lenker, Entertainment Weekly. 

HBO’s Six Feet Under (live on March 30 at 7 a.m.): Six Feet Under, the drama series about a family who runs a funeral home, ran from 2001 to 2005. This panel is a 20th-anniversary conversation with members of the cast and creative team including Alan Ball, creator & exec producer; exec producers Robert Greenblatt, David Janollari, and Alan Poul; and stars Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, Lauren Ambrose, Frances Conroy, Freddy Rodriguez, and Rachel Griffiths. Moderated by Lynette Rice, Entertainment Weekly

HBO’s Lovecraft Country (live on March 31 at 7 a.m.): In the 1950s, a young Black veteran searches for his missing father. Not only do Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) and his friends have to battle horrifying monsters, but they also have to survive the racism of a segregated United States. The panel includes creator and exec producer Misha Green and stars Jurnee Smollett, Michael Kenneth Williams, Wunmi Mosaku, Aunjanue Ellis, Jamie Chung, and Abbey Lee. Moderated by Dominic Patten, Deadline

CBS’s The Late Late Show with James Corden: This one is the only talk show in Paley’s slate thus far. The panel features host James Corden and exec producers Ben Winston and Rob Crabbe. Moderated by Andrew Rannells

ABC’s The Good Doctor (live on March 31, 7 a.m.): This medical drama is based on a South Korean show of the same name. It stars Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel) as a surgeon with autism who transfers from Casper, Wyoming to San Jose. The panel includes exec producer and star Highmore, exec producers and showrunners David Shore and Erin Gunn, and stars Antonia Thomas, Fiona Gubelmann, Hill Harper, and Paige Spara. Moderated by Chancellor Agard, Entertainment Weekly. 

CBS’s Evil (live on April 1, 7 a.m.): In this horror drama, a forensic psychologist teams up with a priest-in-training and a tech expert to confirm or debunk supposed demonic activity. The panel includes stars Mike Colter, Michael Emerson, Kurt Fuller, Katja Herbers, Christine Lahti, Aasif Mandvi, and co-creators, exec producers, and showrunners Robert King and Michelle King. Moderated by Whoopi Goldberg. 

Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso (live April 1 at 7 a.m.): Ted Lasso stars Jason Sudeikis as an American football coach who becomes the coach of a Premier League team in England, despite lacking any sort of experience with association football. This panel includes creator, exec producer, and star Sudeikis; creator and exec producer Bill Lawrence; and stars Hannah Waddingham, Jeremy Swift, Brendan Hunt, Juno Temple, Nick Mohammed, Brett Goldstein, and Phil Dunster. Moderated by Patton Oswalt. 

For more info, check out paleyfest.org

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Culture, Lifestyle

Try New Board Games With GameHaus’ New Subscription Service

February 18, 2021 by Juliet Bennett Rylah

Board game cafes and bars were popular in L.A. prior to the pandemic, with groups of friends gathering over everything from Exploding Kittens to Settlers of Catan or complicated tabletop RPGs. Though they’ve yet to reopen, GameHaus in Glendale is offering a subscription service that allows you to try new games or play old favorites in the comfort of your home. 

Subscriptions are $30 a month and let you borrow two games at a time for up to two weeks. Considering that the cost of a board game can often be about $20-30 or more, it’s not a bad deal if you play often and like to try new ones. What games do they have? Well, a lot. 

GameHaus’ collection includes over 1,800 games, all listed in alphabetical order here. You’ll find classic stuff like Sorry and Clue, party games like Cards Against Humanity and Time’s Up, and strategy games like Ticket to Ride, 7 Wonders, and Mysterium. If you find the list overwhelming, you can also check out GameHaus’ featured and selected games here. Listed are staff favorites, plus suggestions for which games are best for the number of players you have. 

Due to COVID-19 safety protocols, you’ll have to request and reserve your games in advance—no in-store browsing for now. Once you’ve done that, pickup hours are Tuesdays from 5-9 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. When you’re ready to try new games, just repeat the request process, drop off your old games, and take home your new ones. Note: all games will be quarantined for at least three days upon return.

GameHaus also offers desserts, which you can also pre-order and pick up with your games. Each week’s offerings will be posted to Instagram. For example, this week they’ve got a classic apple crumble pie ($27), a dark chocolate pistachio pie ($30), cheesecake bars (six for $15), and giant chocolate chip cookies (six for $15). 

Curious about what happened to the other board games bars in town? Dragon and Meeple unfortunately closed for good last year. Geeky Teas in Burbank is open for in-store retail, curbside pickup, and shipping of both games and teas. Guild Hall in Burbank remains closed for the time being. 

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Culture

Artist Ted Zahn Illustrates L.A. Theaters, Diners, and Neon

February 16, 2021 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Vista Theatre by Ted Zahn. Photo courtesy of Studio Zahn.

Missing your favorite diner, movie theater, or music venue? Artist Ted Zahn has been illustrating storefronts and neon signs in cities across the U.S., including Los Angeles. While his love of historic architecture and signage dates back decades, these new illustrations are what he’s been doing while at home during the pandemic. And to help these kinds of places stick around, he’s also donating a portion of the profits to small businesses.

Though Zahn lives in Portland now, he’s visited L.A. regularly over the past 25 years to visit his brother. Over that time, his brother’s moved from Koreatown to Los Feliz to Pasadena, but Zahn loves to get in his car and search for architectural gems and storefronts to photograph. 

I love exploring Downtown, The Last Bookstore, Griffith Park, being a touristy nerd and driving around Beverly Hills and Mulholland. I love getting old-school eats at places like Clifton’s, Canter’s, and Casa Bianca. The history in L.A. is amazing, and it feels so accessible, so less stuffy,” he said. 

Zahn’s also always harbored a love for the small businesses that comprise a neighborhood, possibly stemming from the fact that his family ran a dry goods department store in Wisconsin before he was born.

I think that instilled a lifelong appreciation for independent retailers—including how their storefronts and signage give us a connection to our past. Big, classic neon storefronts feel uniquely American to me, and we are losing them fast. There’s definitely a metaphor there,” he said. 

The Troubadour by Ted Zahn. Photo courtesy of Studio Zahn.

Zahn once published a photo book of those signs called Neon Hunting, but the idea to illustrate his photos was inspired in part by the way artists like Stephen Shore and Ed Ruscha elevated everyday streetscapes into art, and partly due to an inability to travel for photography due to the pandemic.

So far, Zahn’s illustrations include buildings in Portland, Chicago, New York, the Bay Area, Texas, and elsewhere. When it came to L.A., he started with movie theaters—the Vista, the New Bev, the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. After he received a request to illustrate the Troubadour, he added other Sunset Strip venues like The Roxy and Whisky a Go Go.  Then he drew Norms, with its signature Googie sign, and more coffee shops and diners followed.

Of them all, Zahn’s personal favorite is The Wiltern. 

“It was the most challenging to draw in terms of architectural detail and it was the first theater I encountered on my first visit to L.A. My brother lived around the corner,” Zahn said. “It was like something out of The Wizard of Oz, the Emerald City. I’d never seen anything like it.”

The Wiltern by Ted Zahn. Photo courtesy of Studio Zahn.

Previously, Zahn donated a portion of proceeds from his art to small business or preservation efforts, like the Los Angeles Historic Theater Foundation or the L.A. Conservancy. As he added more cities, he consolidated his donations to GoFundMe’s Small Business Relief fund, which provides microgrants to small businesses affected by COVID-19 across the United States.

So, far, Zahn said the response to his work has been positive, with many people reaching out to request their favorite buildings and venues. Still pending are requests for the Palladium, Pantages, and Rainbow Room, among others. 

“It’s humbling to be able to create something you’re passionate about and find an audience for it. As dark a time as we are in right now, people have shown so much love for these places,” Zahn said. “It gives me hope that there will be a newfound appreciation for them when things open up again. If my work can play a small role in stoking that appreciation, it’s worth it for me.”

To purchase a print for yourself, visit StudioZahn.co. You can also check out Zahn’s latest work and works in progress on his Instagram account, @studiozahn.

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Food

Broken Spanish Returns With Residency at NeueHouse in Hollywood

February 11, 2021 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Broken Spanish’s tetela.

Chef Ray Garcia of Broken Spanish returns via a residency at NeueHouse in Hollywood. The menu will feature favorites from both Broken Spanish’s food and cocktail menu, plus a few new items. 

Broken Spanish permanently closed its downtown L.A. location in early August of 2020 in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Garcia posted the news to Instagram, saying, “The support and love over the past several months will never be forgotten, and the past five years will be forever celebrated. We close our doors today with an abundance of gratitude in our hearts and hope that this is just goodbye for now.” 

Though the pop-up is only temporary, fans of Broken Spanish will be happy to reunite with favorite dishes and drinks. Some items on the forthcoming menu include hand-pressed tortillas and lentils, seasonal tamal and tostada, duck meatballs, and chicharron with pickled cabbage salad. You’ll also be able to order cocktails, like Broken Spanish’s margarita or El Antiguo (bourbon, ancho reyes, suze, amaro meletti, aztec spice, achiote bitters, chocolate bitters). 

Garcia will also participate on a panel with Life & Thyme founder Antonio Diaz that explores food systems, the details of which are forthcoming.

This is not the first food pop-up Neuehouse has hosted at its outdoor terrace restaurant since the pandemic began. The co-working and events space previously featured a one-night pop-up with pizza spot Grá.

Broken Spanish’s residency runs Feb. 25 through the end of March. For obvious reasons, social distancing is in effect, so you’ll need to make a reservation in advance. They’re available Thursday through Sunday, 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Book your table via Resy.

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Culture, Lifestyle, News

Angry at Friends Who Are Still Gathering? You’re Not Alone

January 26, 2021 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Frustrated by photos like this on social media? You’re not alone. Photo: Kelsey Chance on Unsplash

You’ve been in your house for months, connecting with friends over Zoom, nurturing your sourdough starter, and completing a 1,000-piece puzzle of a basket of kittens. So why’s your friend in Tulum with her eight best pals having the time of her life? Or what about your co-worker’s 25-person birthday party?

For those staying home, social media has become the primary window into the lives of friends and family, including the ones who post their disregard for public health orders. For some Southern Californians, it’s caused despair and anger, especially when paired with record numbers of COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths this winter.

We spoke with several people about these complicated feelings. Because they’re talking about people close to them, we’ve allowed those who felt more comfortable being anonymous to choose their own pseudonyms. We also spoke with local mental health professionals about how we can best navigate these feelings, manage our emotions, and move forward or, if need be, cut ties.

“All I can think of is something dark, like, ‘That’s sad. You might just kill someone you love or end up getting really sick yourself.’”

Due to the pandemic, Belinda and her husband can’t afford childcare for their toddler, nor do they feel comfortable using daycare. They have to work, so they’re in a pod with Belinda’s elderly parents, who help babysit. To make sure they don’t pass the virus to her family, the couple hasn’t met up with any friends and have all food and groceries delivered. The only time Belinda’s left the house was to take her child to the pediatrician. The office felt safe, but she later found out her pediatrician had tested positive for COVID-19. Thankfully, the doctor did not pass it to her or her family, but the inherent risk in every interaction is still palpable.

“It’s especially jarring and upsetting for me when I see friends posting…images of them traveling for vacation, attending a party for their grandmother’s 90th birthday, or going on retreats with more than 20 people. And these posts are ones I’ve seen recently during the absolute worst chapter of this pandemic!” she told We Like L.A.

When Belinda sees these posts, she finds herself dissecting them, trying to figure out why some people are partying when others are dying. Sometimes, she makes excuses for them, especially if she knows they live alone or are struggling with an issue exacerbated by isolation. She’s noticed she’s more forgiving if the gatherings are outdoors, display social distancing, or only consist of a few people, but she finds it hard to justify much else.

“The worst is when they caption their images with some statement about how they all tested before seeing each other, even though we all know those tests only capture a moment in time and aren’t 100 percent accurate,” she said. “All I can think of is something dark, like, ‘That’s sad. You might just kill someone you love, or end up getting really sick yourself.’”

Belinda initially attempted to reach out to family members she felt were being unsafe, but came to the conclusion that she couldn’t control their behavior. Often, she mutes people to avoid feeling upset.

Though Belinda thinks she will move past most of her negative emotions, she’s more conflicted when it comes to the anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, and conspiracy theorists in her social circle.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to trust them again and believe they make sound decisions. I will instinctively just keep them at arm’s length. This makes me sad because some of those people are people I care about,” she said. 

Jonathan, a writer from Orange County, has similar feelings. Every time he opens Instagram, he sees a friend or colleague “out and about in the world, maskless, enjoying their life like over 420,000 people aren’t dead from a pandemic.”

Despite knowing many of these people for years, Jonathan wonders how he’ll go back to being friends with them “when they have shown such careless disregard for everyone else.” And even if he avoids social media, he can still hear his neighbors throwing parties every weekend.

“My friend circle certainly got a hell of a lot smaller since March, and I feel like it will continue to do so as the next few months go on. My trust in my friends is gone and my faith in humanity is broken,” he said.

Despite the pandemic, TSA screened 1.76 million passengers the Sunday after Thanksgiving and 1.19 million passengers on Dec. 23. Photo: Pixabay

Ingrid Rosales is a 29-year-old customer service worker who recently relocated from L.A. to Oregon. In December, she began to notice friends in L.A. hinting at gatherings: posting snippets of parties where she could see four or more people in the frame, or tagging themselves in other cities or states. It’s more subtle than posting an airplane pic, she said, but “it’s pretty easy to put two and two together and conclude that friends of mine are going to gatherings/traveling.” 

Rosales sympathizes with restless people nearing their breaking points and recognizes the significance the holidays hold for some and their families, but said she can’t condone the “willful ignorance” of those who chose to gather even after Public Health’s warnings around Thanksgiving. 

“At the same time that I’m seeing people post about being at a bar in Texas, I’m also seeing friends document their personal experiences with COVID and their trips to the ER. I’m astonished that even with a precaution that was given 30 days before Christmas, people [chose] to disregard warnings. It reads as complete selfishness and it’s a slap in the face to the people I personally know whose lives have been affected by COVID,” she said. 

While it’s easier for her to write off casual acquaintances, she’s conflicted over confronting close friends.

“I wouldn’t say I’m re-evaluating our relationship, but it’s definitely making me more conscious of their morals,” she said. “My generation has not experienced a pandemic before so this is new territory, but being socially and ethically conscious of everyone around you and helping prevent the virus from spreading is really easy to understand and to execute.”

“We were given the simplest moral test one can pass, yet we’ve taken the single free marshmallow.”

Chris, a 38-year-old composer in Montrose, saw the bulk of his film, theme park, and concert work dry up over the past year. He’s also lost family members, friends, and colleagues to the virus. He attended a funeral over Zoom, unable to be there in-person. Having experienced the harm of the pandemic firsthand, images of friends ignoring health recommendations leave him feeling disappointed and hurt.

“I’m hurt by the ones, especially romantic partners, who have chosen to travel [this winter], have recording sessions, fly in planes, and stay with family and friends out of state when they clearly know better. They explicitly chose to put others at risk and exhaust a fragile healthcare system for their own selfish ends,” he said.

Several months ago, talking to people in a friendly way seemed to resonate with those he saw still gathering, but now, after months of what Chris calls “lockdown fatigue and policy inconsistency,” he’s met with apathy instead. He’s unsure if he’ll maintain those relationships following the pandemic. 

“I’m struggling with it every day, and feel like there may be some relationships I should let go of. It was one thing when violations stemmed from public policy confusion. However, at this point, there are no more excuses. Their defiance of precautions is petty and selfish,” he said. “Their decisions affect everybody, but especially the most vulnerable in our population. My friends and partners know this behavior is wrong, yet they refuse to act differently. We were given the simplest moral test one can pass, yet we’ve taken the single free marshmallow. With a shred of consideration, we would all have gotten two marshmallows by now.”

The marshmallows refer to a 1972 Stanford study that tested whether children would immediately take one offered marshmallow, or wait a period of time to receive two marshmallows.

The marshmallow study has been done several times with various results, but in the case of the pandemic, the analogy is apt. Had we followed recommendations and kept our numbers down, we likely wouldn’t have locked down again, nor would Southern California remain at 0% ICU capacity. People wouldn’t have sat in ambulances for hours waiting for space in the hospitals to open up. Perhaps the South Coast Air Quality Management District wouldn’t have suspended limits on how many bodies crematoriums are allowed to burn each day. In a statement on Jan. 17, AQMD said, “The current rate of death is more than double that of pre-pandemic years, leading to hospitals, funeral homes, and crematoriums exceeding capacity without the ability to process the backlog of cases.”

Doom-scrolling is ill-advised. Photo: Pixabay

In the face of such grim statistics, it’s easy to feel angry, bitter, or sad. The question is, what can we do about these feelings other than stew in them?

Nick Bognar, a licensed marriage & family therapist based in Pasadena notes the sad irony of our isolation: it just gives us more time to scroll social media, building these negative emotions as we do so. But, he notes, if healthcare professionals haven’t convinced people to take things seriously, it’s unlikely you can. Instead, he advises focusing on what you need.  

“We are best served by protecting ourselves from the kind of content and interaction that will make us the most upset and resentful. If your Instagram is full of people making bad decisions and that’s making you feel upset, then change the programming,” he suggests. “Schedule a video chat with someone you know who is behaving responsibly. Play a video game online. Do an art project. Whatever you do, make sure that it is something that builds you up, rather than inviting in thoughts and feelings that will torment you.”

Epiphany Counseling founder Miyume McKinley, LCSW had similar advice. She recommends setting healthy boundaries with those who don’t share your safety values while spending time communicating with those who do.

“Oftentimes frustration comes from feeling that others are being careless and their actions are contributing to the spread of the virus. Then you begin to view them as the reason ‘safe-at-home’ orders continue to be enforced. As you focus on their behaviors and choices, which you have no control over, the more angry and powerless you feel,” she said. “Focusing on what is within your control reduces stress. Remember, you can control the safety precautions you choose to follow, what you consume in an effort to remain healthy (i.e., vitamins), who you choose to communicate with.”

Amanda Stemen is a Los Angeles-based licensed therapist and the owner of FUNdaMENTAL Growth, a therapy, coaching, and consulting business. She told We Like L.A. that she’s navigated this very topic with nearly all of her clients recently and believes the most important thing to stay as mindful as possible. 

“Feel your feelings, whatever they may be and no matter how uncomfortable they are. And when I say feel them, I mean feel them in your body as the physical sensations you experience that tell you that you’re feeling a particular emotion,” she said. 

So, for example, if your chest tightens when you see your cousin hanging out with grandma, that could indicate fear. If your face is getting hot while browsing your friend’s unmasked bachelorette party photos, that indicates anger. 

“All emotions are valid so feeling our emotions allows us to validate ourselves and to let the feelings pass through rather than become stuck, which is what happens when we try to push them away,” Steman said. 

This brings us back to the present, she said, as opposed to coming up with scenarios about the past or future that may or may not be true. It also allows us to hear what our emotions are telling us and then decide what we want to do with that information, whether that’s taking a break from social media, having a conversation with someone, or another empowering activity.

Instead of focusing on the behavior of those who don’t share your values, schedule time with those who do. Photo: Dylan Ferreira on Unsplash

But what about when the pandemic’s over? Can we come back from this? Steman says that depends on the nature of the relationship. 

“You may decide that certain relationships are no longer worth having in your life because you’ve realized your values are too different to find common ground with,” she said. “However, those that you decide are worth having in your life, but you still disagree with certain behaviors, having mindful conversations with those people will go a long way in feeling heard and understood and hearing and understanding them. That doesn’t mean you have to agree, but you may still decide the relationship is important whether you do or not.”

If you do decide the relationship is over, you might not have to do anything at all. Stemen thinks many may just fade away, in part due to the natural dwindling of social circles as we’ve been unable to gather in large groups and have instead invested in our most important relationships. Also, relationships naturally fade all the time, even without a pandemic, as interests, values, and lifestyles change.

For those that aren’t apt to fizzle out on their own, and if you’re truly serious about ending them, both Stemen and Bognar think offering closure can be beneficial. 

Stemen suggests being honest, but kind and nonjudgmental, taking responsibility for your part in the decision as you explain your reasons.

“It may be uncomfortable to be that frank, but ultimately, it’s mature and respectful. While we can’t control anyone else, we can show up as our best selves, which is always the best way to handle things,” she said.

Bognar also advises being upfront, honest, and succinct, then not responding to further communication. If the other person tries to argue, that’s where blocking comes in handy. 

“Ending a friendship or romantic relationship or cutting ties with a family member can be one of the most healthy choices we can make. However, making that choice very often means deciding not to have the last word,” Bognar said. “That takes discipline—the discipline to make the best and safest decision for your self-care—and that’s the same discipline that will help many of us survive the pandemic.”

If those kinds of potential future conversations have you feeling anxious, McKinley has one more tip that’s far more enjoyable: plan a post-pandemic future. Granted, we don’t know when this will end, but McKinley said that doesn’t have to stop you from thinking about future trips, dinners, parties, or gatherings with friends.

“Plan as many as you like,” she said. “This can be a time to take a break from your duties and to instead, dream.”

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News

Outdoor Dining to Resume as State Lifts Stay at Home Orders

January 25, 2021 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Outdoor seating at Gingergrass in Silver Lake. Photo: Gingergrass

Today, Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted the statewide Stay at Home order, moving California back to the tiered reopening system. While many counties will remain under the strictest Purple Tier restrictions, many sectors—including outdoor dining—will reopen in L.A. County this week.

The state’s regional Stay at Home order is based on ICU capacity projections, kicking in when a region’s anticipated ICU capacity drops below 15%. Right now, the Southern California region’s ICU capacity is still listed at 0% and hospitals are still under tremendous strain. The reason Newsom lifted orders is due to projections four weeks from now. Southern California’s projected ICU capacity is 33% compared to 30% statewide.

In no way does this indicate we’re out of the woods. During a media briefing today, L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said moving forward depends on everyone’s behaviors.

“If…people aren’t able to adhere to the rules and we have a lot of problems and increases in outbreaks, we’ll be in the horrible position to once again backtrack, so this is up to all of us,” she said.

As of right now, L.A. County is operating under the health officer order enacted on Nov. 25. The following may reopen now.

  • Private gatherings: Three households (15 people max), outdoor only
  • Family entertainment centers: Outdoor only at 50% capacity
  • Outdoor museums, zoos, aquariums
  • Cardrooms: Outdoor only, 50% capacity
  • Mini-golf, go-karts, batting cages: Outdoor only, 50% capacity
  • Hotels, motels: Open for tourism and travel
  • Fitness facilities: Outdoor only
  • Personal care services: Indoor at 25% capacity
  • Indoor malls, shopping centers, and lower-risk retail: Indoor at 25% capacity, common areas and food courts closed
  • Outdoor recreational activities
  • Faith-based services: Outdoor only

On Friday, Jan. 29, L.A. County will issue a new order that will allow restaurants to reopen for outdoor dining with safety modifications. According to Ferrer, that is the largest difference between the County’s order issued on Nov. 25—which shut down outdoor dining the day before Thanksgiving—and what will be allowed this week.

Ferrer said the County will work with labor partners and restaurants to ensure safety modifications are in place to protect employees and customers.

However, Newsom also announced changes to the state’s vaccine rollout today. After seniors 65 and older, healthcare workers, and some essential workers are vaccinated, the state will move to an age-based system, which Newsom said would “allow us to scale up much more quickly and get vaccines to impacted communities, much more expeditiously with a framework always on equity.”

It’s not clear which essential workers will be included in the earlier phase. Food and agriculture employees are listed, but not hospitality. This could mean younger restaurant workers will now be exposed to mask-free customers, but remain ineligible for the vaccine for months. California is already lagging behind every other state and is facing a vaccine supply shortage.

For now, residents are advised to continue to follow rules like wearing masks, washing hands, and avoiding crowds. If a bunch of people decide to have mask-free Super Bowl parties, for example, we may find ourselves right back where we started.

Meanwhile, L.A. County reported 8,243 new cases and 98 deaths yesterday, bringing the local death total to 15,260. 




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Culture, News

How to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine in Los Angeles Without a Car

January 21, 2021 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Photo: The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

L.A. County recently opened five large vaccination hubs, each capable of vaccinating 4,000 people per day. The catch? They all require recipients to come by car. So does Dodger Stadium, the City of Los Angeles’s largest vaccination center. As a carless Angeleno myself, I embarked on a surprisingly winding quest to discover how exactly my fellow transit users and I might get vaccinated. Please join me on this journey, which, just like taking a Metro bus, took much longer than it should have. (TL;DR? Here’s the map I made and the county’s registration site.)

I first tried emailing the L.A. County Department of Public Health on Jan. 15, who confirmed that at all five vaccination hubs—The Forum, Six Flags Magic Mountain, the L.A. County Office of Education in Downey, Cal State Northridge, and the Pomona Fairplex—you need a vehicle. “We are working on ways to allow other means of entry,” the email said.

That same afternoon, Paul Simon, MD, MPH, Chief Science Officer, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, held a media briefing. I asked him what car-free options were available. He said that while officials initially imagined vaccination centers would primarily be walk-up sites, there were some concerns over things like the weather that led them to believe drive-thrus might be safer. 

He said that while he didn’t have an answer at that moment, “I think we have to be prepared to offer some flexibility, particularly for folks that use public transit.”

You may be thinking, ‘Weather concerns? In L.A.?’ But those weather concerns were echoed by Kenichi Haskett, a Public Information Officer with the L.A. County Fire Department, who I spoke with on Jan. 19. That day, high wind and Red Flag conditions across Southern California had led SoCal Edison to cut power to thousands of residents, and you could hear the wind whipping during the County’s press conference at the vaccine site in Pomona.

Haskett said strong enough winds could knock over the sites’ porta-potties, tents or tables, or even trees.

“We had injuries on the staff today from debris,” Haskett said.

The winds were so strong that Orange County shut down its vaccination site at Disneyland on Jan. 19, anticipating what the National Weather Service called “damaging” winds of up to 50 mph, and again on Jan. 20. The Hansen Dam vaccination site, which opened on Dec. 30 to serve healthcare workers, also closed on Jan. 19 due to high winds and moved its appointments to Dodger Stadium.

Weather conditions hindered plans to incorporate walk-ups into the five mega-pods on opening day, Haskett said, but that will hopefully happen sometime soon. In the interim, Haskett said people could call an Uber or Lyft to drive them, at which point they could get vaccinated from either the front or backseat. Obviously, you’d have to have a phone with the app downloaded and you’d have to pay for the ride. There’s also something dystopian about paying a driver to wait in line with you to get a vaccine, but who can’t get one themselves.

Haskett later sent an email highlighting two walk-up sites managed by Public Health that you can access on foot right now: the Balboa Sports Complex in Encino and the El Sereno Recreation Center. The County’s Facebook Page is now promoting both sites with the caption “No Car? No Problem.” Neither are near major transit hubs. From Central L.A., both would take me over an hour by bus, and the latter’s Google-recommended route ends with nearly a mile-long walk. Doable for me, but what about seniors or people with mobility issues?

The goal for L.A. County is to open more walk-up vaccination clinics,” the email said.  

That’s great, but even this message was complicated by the town hall L.A. County held over its Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube channels that same evening, during which residents had been able to submit questions. One resident wrote in, “I don’t have a car and it takes forever to get around on the bus. Where can I get the vaccine and how are you making it easy for people who don’t have cars or depend on public transportation?”

Panelist Dr. Eloisa Gonzalez, Director, Cardiovascular and School Health, LA County Department of Public Health, responded that while that the hubs are set up as drive-thrus “to minimize exposure to all the individuals that are going to be arriving, we do realize that not everyone has a car. So people can use any form of transportation if it’s a bus or an Uber…to get to one of the mega-pods, but once they’re there, they can be served on a walk-up basis as well to make it easy for them to be able to receive the service.”

But can they? Because the County’s website says no, Public Health PIOs told me not yet, and there’s been no press release indicating that change has occurred.

Dr. Seira Kurian, director of Public Health’s Division of Medical Affairs, also responded to the question at the town hall, noting “there are some sites also available on our website [that] are not purely a drive-up sort of situation. So, there are sites where folks can actually go to more a clinic-type setting to get vaccinated. So it’s not completely necessary that you have a vehicle to get vaccinated.” 

Okay, so what are those? Well, the County’s list is right here. You’ll find the Encino and El Sereno sites, plus several that the L.A. City Fire Department runs. Dodger Stadium is drive-up only, but you can arrive via public transit or on foot to the following sites:

  • Crenshaw Clinic (1261 W 79th Street Los Angeles)
  • Hansen Dam Recreational Center (11798 Foothill Blvd., Lake View Terrace)
  • The San Fernando Clinic (208 Park Ave., San Fernando)
  • The Lincoln Park Clinic (3501 Valley Blvd., Los Angeles)

Additionally, there are also several community clinics and hospitals listed. Again, not a single one of them would take me less than an hour to get to by train or bus from my very centrally located Koreatown apartment, but they do exist. Some are full, others aren’t taking registrations yet, and some had long hold times when I called, but I confirmed with both the Kedren Community Health Center and One Medical’s site in Culver City that they are walk-ups.

There are also several pharmacies and grocery stores on the County’s list, though none appear to be accepting appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine. Ralphs lists several other vaccines, but not that one. The Vons and Albertsons locations I looked at had no available appointments on their calendars.

Here’s the County’s map of all those sites. Keep in mind, the yellow and red sites have no appointments yet, and some of the purple sites are drive-ups.

Image: L.A. County

I made my own map that lists only walk-ups, hospitals, and clinics. I included the mega-pods in yellow, which may have walk-up availability at some point. Again, much of Central L.A., not to mention several other areas, are empty.

During a briefing on Jan. 19, County Supervisor Hilda Solis said that in the coming weeks, the County would “open more vaccination sites so people can get vaccinated in their neighborhoods, locally, and in places they’re familiar with, like school and other locations. But in the meantime, I want to urge patience.”

Patience is something of a luxury, considering how many L.A. County residents have already died—over 14,000 people—and those mourning them.

However, assuming the listed grocery stores and pharmacies do open as vaccine sites once vaccine supply increases, those would offer walkable options in several additional neighborhoods. LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner has requested vaccines become available at the district’s over 1,400 campuses, which would add even more.

This is important because many transit riders may be reluctant to sit on a bus or train for an hour or more—even to get a vaccine—if they can avoid it. Mask-enforcement on public transit has been virtually nonexistent in my admittedly anecdotal experience, but Metro is also reporting 800 bus operators—35% of its drivers—out with COVID-19 or another illness. Those still at work are exhausted, logging six-day weeks.

To be fair, vaccination in L.A. County is a massive undertaking. Simon called the vaccine hubs “highly complex operations that require close coordination” among the team and staff. That includes people who help collect medical histories and forms, the doctors and nurses who administer the vaccine, the staff that monitors the vaccine to ensure it’s handled properly and is maintained at the right temperature, and staff that observes people after vaccination to make sure there are no adverse reactions.

There are also 10 million people in L.A. County, all of whom must currently receive two doses of the vaccine. (The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is one dose, but hasn’t been approved yet.) Of those, 1.3 million are seniors 65 and older.

Thus far, the county has only received 853,650 doses total since the first shipment on Dec. 14 and has called the vaccine supply “extremely limited.” During a media briefing on Jan. 20, Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said that it’s also difficult to predict in advance how much we’ll get.

This and other distribution issues have led to hours-long wait times at vaccination hubs. The sign-up website crashed on Tuesday, and many residents expressed frustration securing appointments for themselves or older relatives. As it stands, it may take until June to finish vaccinating seniors. Ferrer expressed hope that the new federal administration would bring more transparency as far as allotments, but right now, officials don’t know when supply may increase.

But it’s not just the vaccination sites that are proving difficult for people without cars. Many of the city’s largest testing sites throughout the pandemic have been accessible by car only with walk-up sites few and far between.

The city does list a handful of walk-up sites here, and Union Station’s testing site provided at least one Metro-accessible option. However, all of them are run by Curative, which L.A. County decided to stop using due to FDA concerns over false negatives. The City of Los Angeles will still allow Curative testing at some sites, but the Union Station site appears to have no future dates available.

If you go to L.A. County’s site for finding a testing site and select walk-up, you’ll see the following map. Note how there’s not a single one that pops up in Koreatown, Hollywood, DTLA, or several other rent-dense neighborhoods where many residents do not have cars. Considering this is the County’s map, you might think there would be city-run central L.A. sites.

L.A. County sites, Jan. 20.

When you try to arrange a test through the City of Los Angeles’s testing portal, it sends you back to Curative. Here’s Curative’s map, as of Jan. 20. The grayed out sites and some of the blue sites have no current or future appointments—again, including Union Station. I reached out to Curative about the status of the Union Station testing site. I did not hear back.

Curative testing sites, Jan. 20.

As local officials hope for transparency from the Biden administration, it’s transparency, both federally and locally, that would help us be patient. Over the past week, I’ve asked several carless Angelenos if they knew where they could get a vaccine, yet no one had a clear idea. Some people weren’t worried because it isn’t their turn yet, and some guessed they’d eventually use an LAUSD or college campus or take an Uber somewhere.

The initial messaging surrounding vaccine distribution should have included plans for those without cars, even if it was to say those sites were forthcoming. It shouldn’t take numerous emails, phone calls, and calling into briefings to get a simple answer, followed by more mixed messages. That same consideration goes for other accessibility issues, too, instead of tacking it on as an afterthought only when someone asks.

Due to severe astigmatism, I haven’t driven a car for about five years now. For the most part, I enjoy not driving. It’s nice to read a book or listen to a podcast on the bus or train without worrying about parking.

I’ve noticed, however, that the needs of those who don’t drive are rarely considered, to the point where many Angelenos are surprised anyone would choose to live without a car. They perceive relying on public transit as a burden or punishment, and it’s because of things exactly like this.

I’m sure by the time I’m eligible for my vaccine, I’ll have a plan—even if it requires me to walk a mile or sit on the bus for an hour. My best guess? The closest Ralphs, about .8 miles away. It’s just unfortunate that, just like taking Metro, we need to “expect delays” for simple information.



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Culture, News

L.A. Poet Amanda Gorman Reads at Presidential Inauguration

January 20, 2021 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Amanda Gorman. Image: MSNBC

History was made today with the swearing in of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, yet one figure really stood out. Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old Los Angeles poet, delivered a powerful reading of her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at the U.S. Capitol earlier today. 

Gorman is an L.A. native and author of the poetry book The One for Whom Food is Not Enough (2015). She became the first National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017. 

Gorman told NPR she studied Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Winston Churchill as she worked on her poem. She also adapted it with topical events. On Jan. 6, as insurrectionists stormed the Capitol, she said to herself, “Well, this is something we need to talk about.”

And so, she did. 

“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,” she read today. “Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.”

You can watch and listen to Gorman’s presentation here: 

And you can read a transcript of Gorman’s poem here.

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News

The Forum & Six Flags Among New L.A. County Vaccination Hubs

January 15, 2021 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
The Forum in Inglewood. Photo by Ritapepaj / Wikipedia Commons

Update: The virtual town hall is on Jan. 19 at 6 p.m. Watch free on Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter. To ask a question about the vaccine, fill out this form.

Today, Los Angeles County revealed the locations of five large vaccination hubs set to open Tuesday, Jan. 19. Each site is expected to vaccinate about 4,000 people per day. 

According to a release from the county, the five new sites include:

  • The Pomona Fairplex
  • The Forum in Inglewood
  • California State University, Northridge 
  • The L.A. County Office of Education in Downey
  • Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia 

L.A. County says the new sites will “significantly increase” the number of frontline healthcare workers it can vaccinate, with hopes of vaccinating an additional 500,000 healthcare workers by the end of the month. 

“In L.A. County we have to vaccinate 10 million people, twice,” L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn said via a statement. “These large-scale vaccination sites are going to help us get there by massively increasing our capacity to vaccinate people quickly and efficiently.” 

Those eligible for a vaccine must bring their verification documents, which include “a healthcare worker badge with a photo, or a professional license and a photo identification (ID), or a signed letter from an employer and a photo ID, or a payment stub from a healthcare provider with a name and a photo ID.”

If you’re not in an eligible category yet, you should not try to make an appointment right now. To see when you will be eligible, check out our guide here. Note that while the state has given the go-ahead to begin vaccinating seniors 65 and older, L.A. County has decided to finish vaccinating healthcare workers first.

Meanwhile, the City of Los Angeles has already converted its largest testing site, Dodger Stadium, into a vaccination hub, while Disneyland in Anaheim began offering vaccinations this week.

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Food

‘Snowpiercer’ Pop-Up Offers Free Donuts at Randy’s Locations

January 15, 2021 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
Celebrating season 2 of Snowpiercer with donuts. Photo: Randy’s Donuts

Randy’s Donuts has partnered with TNT’s Snowpiercer to offer specialty donuts free to the first 100 customers each day now through Jan. 27. These are definitely front-of-the-train desserts and not protein bars of dubious ingredients. 

The Snowpiercer takeover is available at Randy’s Donuts locations in Inglewood, El Segundo, Torrance, and Downey. For maximum immersion, Jasen Smith and Experiential Supply Co. (the same team behind Haunt’Oween and WonderLAnd) have modified the Inglewood shop to include a train on top, fake snow, and decals on the windows. The Snowpiercer donut is a vanilla raised donut topped with sprinkles and coconut shavings. 

The first 100 customers every day will receive one Snowpiercer donut for free. Otherwise, it’ll cost you $2.85. 

Snowpiercer is a sci-fi series based on the 2013 film of the same name and the graphic novel Le Transperceneige. The premise is an ice age has forced Earth’s survivors to board a train that travels endlessly around the world. The train is divided by class, with the well-to-do in the front and less fortunate in the back, where the quality of life is horrible and guards prevent them from accessing the luxuries of the other cars. 

The TV series is set seven years after the ice age and stars Jennifer Connelly as the train’s head of hospitality and Daveed Diggs as an ex-detective who is tasked with solving a series of murders while also plotting a revolution against the ruling class. The second season, which drops on TNT on Jan. 25, adds Game of Thrones‘ Sean Bean to the cast.

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