Skirball Cultural Center’s Free Summer Concert Series Kicks Off This Thursday

July 16, 2019 by Jonathan Tolliver
Image via Skirball Cultural Center

It’s going to be a starry, spangled, banner year for shows at the Skirball Cultural Center. Grammy-winning Guatemalan folk singer Gaby Moreno kicks off the 23rd annual season of concerts at the iconic Jewish educational institution on July 18 with a three-piece band playing songs from her upcoming album ‘Spangled,’ and tunes from her beloved catalogue. 

The Los Angeles-based artist is fresh off tours of Australia and the US, and is known for effervescent Spanish and English-language songs that meld blues, jazz, soul, r&b, pop and Latin-folk. She’s played with a who’s who of NPR-approved acts: Tracey Chapman, Calexico, Ani DiFranco and Andrea Bocelli. So like, that’s the vibe.

Filling out the weekly concert calendar is Rio Mira, The Klezmatics, Cha Wa, Tamar Llana & Ventanas and Joseph Leimberg. For each event the museum campus opens at 5:30 p.m., and doors open to the show at 6:30 p.m. For this Thursday Dublab DJ Mamabear kicks off the night, and Moreno takes the stage at 8 p.m. The concert is free, as are all museum exhibitions except for the uber-popular Noah’s Ark.

Grammy-winner Gaby Moreno plays July 18. Image via Skirball Cultural Center.

There’s no street parking, and a spot at the museum is $15 per car. Rideshare is recommended. There’s a full bar and specialty food items will be for sale, though you’re allowed to bring food. No outside alcohol or chairs are allowed.  

The Skirball Summer Concert Series continues on Thursdays through August 22, with same format (DJ set at 6:30 p.m., headliner at 8 p.m.). Check the full lineup for the rest of the summer below:

  • July 18 – Gabby Moreno
  • July 25 – Rio Mira (California debut)
  • August 1 – The Klezmatics 
  • August 8 – Cha Wa
  • August 15 – Tamar Llana & Ventanas (Los Angeles debut)
  • August 22 – Josef Leimberg 

For more information visit


You Can Sit on a 2000-pound Crystal Throne at this New Art Exhibition in DTLA

July 15, 2019 by Jonathan Tolliver
Photo by Jonathan Tolliver

From Samba to Citrine spheres, from Carnival to Quartz clusters, Brazil’s beauty is a gem. Starting this Tuesday some of the country’s biggest gems will be on display at Rhythm Visuals Gallery in the southern corridor of Downtown Los Angeles.

CRYSTALLINE: Brazil’s Crystal Giants is the latest exhibition at Rhythm Visuals. And the operative word here is ‘giants.’ With multiple pieces on display topping the 1000-pound mark, one clear message abounds: Bigger really is better (at least when it comes to crystals).

Photo by Jonathan Tolliver

The over 1600-pound Bahia-borne Lemurian Quartz cluster, aka ‘Skyline,’ jagged on top with a raw, untouched base, is eye-catching and hypnotic. 

Photo by Jonathan Tolliver

‘Sol,’ the world’s largest citrine sphere, is brilliant as a sunspot, yet is opaque enough to beg a closer look. Its base is artistically made, a work of fashion and function, serpentine and stoic. There’s no other piece like it here.

‘Amethyst Violet Throne’. Photo via Rhythm Visuals Gallery

The almost 2000-pound Amethyst Violet Throne looks like the product of a particularly good mushroom trip, pointed and bulbous and cavernous and rich in contrast.

There’s also a geode penis – ahem – geode phallus that curator Steven Bookbinder stresses wasn’t his idea. No matter how it got here, it really sticks out. 

Bookbinder has been in the crystal mineral industry, for over 40 years, and worked overtime to have these massive, crystalline marvels ethically extracted, transported and brought to this cutting edge gallery. He beams while describing the luminous crystal thrones he conceived.

“We make crystal balls, crystal points, we make crystal skulls, and other objects from crystals. I just kind of visualized and conceptualized some crystal furniture and crystal thrones,” Bookbinder told We Like L.A.. 

The thrones are the first thing you see as you walk in, smooth and scintillating. They’re framed by a trickling fountain and towering geodes, a presentation that screams ‘check me out!’ The care he and the Rhythm Visuals team put into this exhibition is admirable and sure-to-be-appreciated. 

“We envisioned this exhibit as a gift that we want to give to the people here in Los Angeles. It’s a gift from the heart that we brought here for people to see some incredible things that they might not have an opportunity to see otherwise,” he said. 

Rhythm Visuals Gallery director Maksim Gutnik has, along with Bookbinder, gone to great lengths to present these pieces in an authentic and approachable way. Guests are welcome to touch them with fingertips, or sit on thrones. He adds context to the space with Brazilian music, and is generally a walking encyclopedia on both process and presentation. 

“They come out of the ground naturally like this, with a lot of dirt,” Gutnik explains, showing photos on his phone before launching into a detailed talk about lapidary, the building of bases, the cleaning of stones. 

In the middle-back of the gallery are more sentimental pieces: giant Citrine hearts, giant Amethyst heart, smaller spheres and clusters that can easily be carried around. There’s also a super cool dagger that runs for $500 and will almost certainly be sold. Who doesn’t want a crystal dagger, after all?

Photo by Jonathan Tolliver

Be sure to lie down in the Agate Amethyst Stalactite Bowl, a functional 264-pound tub from Rio Grande Du Sol. You’ll feel like Venus in the shell, an icon in your own right. 

CRYSTALLINE: Brazil’s Crystal Giants is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. A closing event takes place on July 27 from noon to 6 p.m. You can also buy everything in the gallery, from big-ticket items to $20 keepsake pieces.


The Twilight on the Pier Concert Series Kicks off Next Month with World Class Talent and Internationally-Beloved Cuisine

July 9, 2019 by Jonathan Tolliver
Santa Monica Twilight Concert Series
Santa Monica Pier Twilight Concert Series from 2013. Credit: T. Tseng via flickr

The 35th Annual Twilight on the Pier concert series in Santa Monica has always been a buoyant and grooving good time, but this year’s lineup is more cutting edge than ever. Young upstarts like Dijon, San Cha, Disco Shrine and Starro highlight a movement toward hip, fresh sounds. 

Shows are every Wednesday from August 21 to September 25. After a splashy kick-off featuring a diverse slate of talent, each week boasts a theme: Latin Wave, Middle East Beats, Island Tides, Aussie Splash and Japanese Vibes, curation reflective of southern California’s multicultural milieu. By way of summary, here’s a quick overview of the 2019 lineup:

  • Wednesday, August 21 starting at 7 p.m. – Rostam, Dijon & Jen Awad
  • Wednesday, August 28 starting at 7 p.m. – Helado Negro, San Cha & Banda Las Angelinas
  • Wednesday, September 4 starting at 7 p.m. – A-Wa, Disco Shrine & Los Angeles Arabs Orchestra
  • Wednesday, September 11 starting at 7 p.m. – Hollie Cook, West Standard Time Ska Orchestra & Upstream
  • Wednesday, September 18 starting at 7 p.m. – Methyl Ethel & TBD
  • Wednesday, September 25 starting at 7 p.m. – Cornelius, StarRo & Taiko Project

Last year organizers expanded the event to three stages and a whopping 350,000 Sq ft of space for grooving and grubbing, an acknowledgment of the events exploding popularity. For 2019 attendees can enjoy a trapeze show before every concert spotlighting different cultures, immersive art installations, comedy at Pacific Park, a pop-up public library featuring writers who fit with the week’s cultural theme, and ample dinner and drink options, including a beer and spirits garden. Also the folks from Smorgasburg LA, the popular open air market at ROW DTLA, will be on hand with half a dozen vendors.

These events are uber popular and uber fun, so Ubering to and from the pier is a solid idea. That said, the Expo line will drop you about a 10-minute walk from the pier, a sweaty but gorgeous walk in balmy late Summer weather. 

The Pier is smack dab in the middle of Downtown Santa Monica, just off Ocean Avenue & Colorado Ave. If you do plan to attend, I suggest to arrive early and expect a crowd.

There are three entrances: the ramp on Ocean Avenue and Colorado, the Grand Entrance on Ocean Front Walk and the handicap accessible steps by Bubba Gump. 

For more info visit


An Immersive Apollo 11 Show Lands at The Rose Bowl This Month

July 2, 2019 by Jonathan Tolliver
Image via Apollo 11: The Immersive Live Show

This month the grounds of the Rose Bowl host a brand new immersive live show that’s all about the historic Apollo 11 mission. The experience is ambitious as it is breathtaking, and the timing couldn’t be better, with the 50th anniversary of man’s moon-trip milestone just around the corner.

Apollo 11: The Immersive Live Show retells the tale of the first moon landing from the perspective of Ben, a fictional retired aerospace engineer hoping to connect with his web-obsessed granddaughter, Sydney. Cue the happy tears. We follow our lead from the time he’s accepted into NASA’s space program, through his training and the mission’s end. It’s a rollicking ride, with graphics sequences as grandiose as they are expository. 

One killer clip is Ben and his wife’s Houston road trip montage, a musical and ocular delight featuring Tennessee blues in booming surround-sound, the sights of each city brilliantly projected in the round. 

This show isn’t all whimsy, though. Both the devil and drama are in the details. 

“Our characters are amalgamations of historical figures, so we can tell a more dramatic tale and focus on some of the aspects and facts that many people don’t know,” said show director Scott Faris. 

“It was very touch and go right till the last seconds. They had 15 seconds of fuel left.”

A bevy of historians made sure the show is accurate as possible, an exhaustive process that involved combing through official NASA archives and consulting with folks close to the mission. 

A preview of ‘Apollo 11’. Photo by Jonathan Tolliver

This production is three years in the making, and it shows. There are 40,000 square feet of 360-degree graphics beaming from 32 total projectors, an almost full-scale replica of the mylar-draped Command Module Columbia, intelligent lights, life-size rockets and a retractable control room in the world’s largest theater touring tent. The traveling cast is 20 people deep, and the show is already slated for a three-year run through 18 American cities, with six to eight week stints in each location. 

Apollo 11 also features an original score recorded in London with a 17-piece orchestra and a rock band. These compositions really sing in the state-of-the-art, custom-built Lunar Dome; you can feel the floor shake with each cello flight.

While the dome is not technically in the Rose Bowl stadium, it’s esoteric-yet-maximalist construction is a great complement to its more architecturally conservative neighbor. 

The exterior looks like a sleek space ship, an aesthetically-forward Area 51. This is theater mostly in the round, with 1600 seats forming a terraced 3/4ths of a circle around the action onstage. Actors are mic’d for maximum impact; speakers in the space adjust according to where the character is standing, so audiences can make out every syllable of this dramatic, edifying script. 

It was conceived by a Swiss airline pilot researching a book and documentary on the famed space flight, and produced by Nick Grace Management, the team behind the massive hit Walking With Dinosaurs, among other things. They’re no stranger to bombast, but here present something weirder than normal, a rousing deep space voyage that makes you feel adrift. The loneliness and wonder of the stars feels closer than ever, thanks to enveloping sound and video, including an at-times eerie score. 

You can snag tickets now for the July 5 preview, though the show officially opens July 10. Performances continue through August 11. Seats start at $45 and seem to be moving briskly. Tickets are available here.

The show’s premiere coincides almost-perfectly with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, and supplements the well-loved documentary released early this year. There’s plenty of parking, but early arrival is strongly recommended. 

Things To Do

A Stranger Things-themed Carnival Lands at Santa Monica Pier This Weekend

June 25, 2019 by Jonathan Tolliver
Image via Netflix

The folks behind Santa Monica pier’s summer programming are no stranger to family-friendly frights, and this year they’re turning things up to Eleven. A Netflix-thrown Stranger Things carnival descends on the pier June 29-30 with games, 80s cover bands, eating contests, magicians, a Scoops Ahoy ice cream truck and a green-n-gooey dunking booth. This sweet and spooky affair is timed to get folks pumped for the Independence Day release of the show’s third season.

Pacific Park will be made over as the fictional Hawkins, IN town where the show is based. The beloved Ferris wheel will be the Hawkins Wheel, with other pier rides to be transformed with in-show elements. There’ll be also Hawkins bike shop featuring a photo op with Mike’s Schwinn, plus a performance from the Hawkins High School cheerleaders – you get the picture.

The big draw is the aptly-named Curiosity House, a Demogorgon-filled fun house that sounds scary-adjacent and by itself worth the trip.

Rad news alert: Entry is completely free. Just stop by the Pier between 11 a.m to 9 p.m., and get ready to head back to 1985. Headbands strongly recommended… by me. 

Much like the show the event is inspired by, this sounds like a huge hit. Swing by before it’s DemogorGONE!

Food, Happenings

New Jurassic World Tiki Bar Will Open as Part of Revamped Attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood

June 19, 2019 by Jonathan Tolliver
A selection of drinks at Isla Nu-Bar. Images via Universal Studios Hollywood

The creative minds behind Universal Studios Hollywood and Jurassic World are serving up pura vida this summer with Isla Nu-bar and Jurassic Cafe, two sure-to-be popular new ventures featuring island-themed tiki drinks and Costa Rican cuisine. These dynamic-yet-chill concepts are part of the opening of the bombastic ‘Jurassic World-The Ride,’  based on the Chris Pratt-helmed films. 

The stand-alone Isla Nu-bar is easy on the eyes and detailed to the hilt. It’s named after the fictitious Central American island in the Jurassic World movies, and has a thatched roof, so you can really feel the fantasy. Bartenders serve up island-favorites like Tropical Margaritas, Mai Tais and Piña Coladas in three collectible cups: Etched Tiki (pictured above), Bamboo-styled Tiki and Tiki God. 

Jurassic Cafe’s Executive Chef Marie Grimm goes all-in on Costa Rican classics like sweet corn cakes with slow roasted mojo pork, chorizo and potato empanadas and pomegranate guacamole with plantain chips. Each entree is served with Costa Rica’s national dish, gallo pinto, aka rice and beans. 

Pomegranate Guacamole with Plantain Chips from Jurassic Cafe at Universal Studios Hollywood. Image via Universal Studios Hollywood

Yes, there is a gift shop. The aptly-named Jurassic Outfitters store will of course have t-shirts, drinkware, pins and other trinkets, but the big kahuna here are the custom-made dinosaur sculptures and maquettes. Replicas of T-Rex, velociraptor, triceratops and other fan-favorites will be available and sell for as much as a grand, high-end keepsakes perfect for the mantle. 

The ride itself boasts a brand new story line that takes you through the theme park, high-in-the-sky and underwater with the famed Mosasaurus. The films’ biggest stars appear, too: Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and BD Wong take you along with them, adding glitz to an already lofty experience. 

You can also purchase slo-mo video of yourself plunging down an 84-foot waterfall, a moment you’ll want immortalized on your IG for years to come. Who doesn’t love watching their friends in terror? 

Keep in mind the new California Neighbor Pass gives you 175 days in the park for $149 when purchased online, a bargain for folks who want to see all Universal Studios Hollywood has to offer. There’s ample public transit to the park, and a designated rideshare drop-off point. Easy, breezy, beautiful: Jurassic World. 

Although construction is ongoing for the revamped ride, both Isla Nu-Bar and Jurassic Cafe are in soft-open mode right now, according to Time Out Los Angeles, meaning you’ll most likely find them serving if you stop by, but there’s a chance hours may be limited.

As of now there is still no official launch date for Jurassic World-The Ride, except to say it’ll open at some point in summer of 2019. For the time being both You can check the Universal Studios Hollywood official website for more info on the ride opening date as it becomes available.


Here’s the 2019 Schedule for Moonlight Movies on the Beach

June 18, 2019 by Jonathan Tolliver
Moonlight Movies
Image via Alfredos’ Beach Club

Living in paradise has its perks, one of which is constant beachside events. As in year’s past, Alfredo’s Beach Club down in Long Beach has you covered with a fantastic slate of outdoor movie screenings from June 18 to August 20. 

The annual Moonlight Movies on the Beach features both classic and contemporary nerd-leaning cinema; last year’s futuristic video-game spectacular Ready Player One is one the same docket as the generationally-beloved E.T.

Screenings are spread along three picturesque Long Beach locations: Granada Beach, Cherry Beach and Nautilus Shell Shoreline Village. Films start roughly at 8 p.m.; guests are encouraged to arrive early to snag primo parking and great seats. 

Dinner, snacks and popcorn are available for purchase. Be sure to bring blankets, chairs and towels, cause sand. 

This Summer, Alfredo’s is teaming up with Justin Rudd and the Community Action Team at each event to highlight a charity. Moviegoers should bring canned food, new socks, cat and dog toys and other non-perishable items. This is a great chance to connect with local non-profits; a noble goal. 

2019 Moonlight Movies on the Beach Schedule

  • June 18th – The Sandlot at Granada Beach 
  • June 20th – Happy Gilmore at Cherry Beach 
  • June 25th – The Goonies at Granada Beach 
  • July 2nd – Jaws at Granada Beach 
  • July 9th – The Little Mermaid at Granada Beach 
  • July 16th – The Nightmare Before Christmas at Granada Beach 
  • July 18th – Coco at Cherry Beach 
  • July 23rd – Aquaman at Granada Beach 
  • July 30th – Ready Player One at Granada Beach 
  • August 1st – E.T. at Cherry Beach 
  • August 6th – Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse at Granada Beach
  • August 8th – Incredibles 2 at Nautilus Shell Shoreline Village (Between P.F. Chang’s and Gladstones in Rainbow Harbor. 
  • August 13th – Beetlejuice at Granada Beach 
  • August 15th – The Wizard of Oz at Nautilus Shell Shoreline Village 
  • August 20th – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off at Granada Beach 

Granada Beach is located at 5000 East Ocean Boulevard. Cherry Beach is located at 1 Junipero Avenue. Nautilus Shell Shoreline Village is located at 429 Shoreline Village Drive. 


The Globe Theater Will Be Lit This Weekend for the BET Hip-Hop Awards

June 17, 2019 by Jonathan Tolliver
Image via Henny & Waffles / Eventbrite

BET Hip-Hop Awards weekend kicks off this Friday at The Globe Theater in downtown Los Angeles with two retro-dance parties, the second of which features a smorgasbord of down home cooking.

The 27,000-square-foot venue –L.A.’s oldest functioning theater on Broadway–first hosts Peaches and Cream: A 2000s R&B and Hip-Hop Party on Friday evening. This is a two-story dance and hip-hop sing-along for the Nelly generation, a rambunctious and nostalgic trip to the not-too-distant past. There’s also a VIP area and private balconies where you can order bottle service. Rumor has it Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe hung out on these balconies, so be on the look out for famous ghosts.

The party is hosted by Nick Nuk’em and Emcee Classiq, with music by Kryp2nite and La La Land. Special guest rappers J-KWON (“Tipsy”) and Dorrough (“Ice Cream Paint Job”) headline the night. And don’t forget to dress-to-impress: there’s a dress code that includes no tanks, shorts or backless shoes or sandals.

Peaches & Cream is free to attend, but a $15 express line / guaranteed entrance ticket can be purchased online here.

If you miss Friday night, the fun continues on Saturday with Henny & Waffles, a day-long dance party and buffet. Food starts at 1 p.m., and includes cornmeal fried fish, six-cheese mac and cheese, a waffle station and themed Hennessy Whole wings.

The evening portion of the event kicks off at 5 p.m., when tables are cleared out so people can dance to soul, r&b and hip-hop hits. $10 Hennessy is served all day, while supplies last.

At this time the brunch portion of the event is sold out, but day party tickets are still available here.

Henny and Waffles will be hosted by famed-rapper and Seinfeld fan Wale (“The Mixtape About Nothing”). The party goes till 8 p.m. (and may get extra lit) so Uber, Lyft and/or public transit are strongly encouraged.