Sunday, April 29, 2007

Update to "Batten Down the Hatches"

The LA Times had a piece today on the marches that we should expect to see on Tuesday -- May 1st.

While the City is expecting for less than the 650,000 people that marched from Downtown to the La Brea Tar Pits last year, they are planning for somewhere between 100,000 and 500,000 people.

I like this official quote the best:

"It's a mess," said Don Baumgartner, special events coordinator for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates bus and rail service.

Lets face it folks -- you aint making it to work, so head out and join them.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Batten Down the Hatches

Be prepared. Be very very prepared.

On Tuesday May 1st, we can expect tens of thousands of good people rallying in Downtown. You may have seen the street closure announcements. May 1st has become a day of rallying and protest for the immigrant rights movement and we can expect thousands to descend upon Downtown to express their views.

There is a lot of emotion around the issue of immigrant rights. La Placita Church, a safe haven and organizing center for the immigrants rights movement, is sponsoring a hunger strike in front of their church.

You may remember last year was an unprecedented march with tens of thousands of people in the streets. They gathered Downtown before marching to the La Brea Tar Pits.

Since last May 1st there have been many other attempts to put together marches but most of them have fizzled out and produced only a few people. I remember a few weeks ago the LA Times covered a small protest that actually had equal number of marchers and anti-immigrant marchers.

I am not sure what the route is this year, but it looks like the City has cordoned off parts of downtown for the march.

I think this is important for Downtowners to know this. I came home from a meeting in City Hall on a Friday at 11:30am and was surprised when I was unable to access my car because the parking garage was closed -- to make way for the St Patricks Day parade. I loved it.

The parade was actually very small and had very few attendees. But I loved the fact that I could not go to work and I loved the fact that Gilmore was passing out free green beer. The scene was very festive.
But others were very upset by the street closures. Some people in cars were furious. I witnessed two rather ugly altercations with police officers and drivers who were upset that they were unable to get through Downtown.

I know that some may get annoyed by the minor inconveniences of the marches and the parades, but I personally love it. I think it is a great perk.
So, if you can, go out and join the good people on May 1st.
Downtowners Unite, you have nothing to lose but your ________!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Just the Beginning . . .

If you haven't read this week's version of the Downtown News, you should!

There is a great story about Downtown's first case of NIMBYism.

Bernand Chang, who lives at the Flower Street Lofts, is mad at hell at a developer who wants to drop a parking garage a mere 20 feet from his window. Not just any window. He has some beautiful floor-to-ceiling french doors that open onto a parking lot.

I think the Downtown News was right when it wrote:

"In an increasingly densifying Downtown, situations like the Flower Street Lofts clash will become more common, observers predict. Along with heightened desire for Downtown living is the fact that the adaptive reuse era is coming to an end (many of the available old buildings have already been developed) and ground-up construction is filling the area's many vacant lots."

Bernand and his neighbors have protested and are hoping to win some basic concessions from the developer that would make the project more friendly to the residents who currently live in the adejacent lofts.

We can expect a lot more of this kind of struggle with developers as property downtown becomes even more lucrative, and as development continues to speed ahead at a rapid pace.

Monday, April 23, 2007

LA is Better With Affordable Public Transit


The MTA announced that the public hearing on the proposed fare increase for LA buses will be held:

Thursday May 24, 2007 @ 9 AM

The hearing is in the MTA offices located at 1 Gateway Plaza (Vignes & Cesar Chavez)

If you live in Los Angeles this issue will affect you. Bus fares go up = more cars on the road!

Get educated on this issue and go to the hearing May 24th. Whether you ride the bus or not, as a city we all rely on functioning, accessible public transportation and we all need a city that views investing in buses and trains as a PRIORITY. I have lived in a lot of cities and there is no question that the traffic here is the worst I've experienced, I can't imagine LA getting worse.

It is ridiculous that they have set the hearing for a time of day that few working people can attend. This hearing should be an evening or a weekend hearing. At the risk of sounding like a mouthpiece for the Bus Riders Union (and I reiterate, I do not work nor am I affiliated in any way with the BRU I just think they're dead on on this issue) I support their call for the following:

Call MTA Chair Gloria Molina, 213.974.4111,
Call Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, 213.978.0600,
and ask them to reschedule the hearing for a Saturday

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Downtowners for Hillary Clinton

The Presidential race is off to a fast start -- a very fast start.

I have been looking for a way to write about the Presidential race on this blog -- and I finally found it.

Hillary and Obama are in the lead for the Dems, while Mitt Romney is in way out in front of the Reeps.

Now records are becoming available for the March 31st reporting period for financial contributions to candidates, and you can search by zip code. I dialed in 90013 and surmised that Downtown, in large part, is voting for Hillary Clinton. I couldn't believe it either.
Well, that may be an overstatement.

Thus far residents of the 90013 zip code have only given $7,400 to Presidential candidates. So the fact that 62% of that money went to Hillary, 31% to Obama and 7% to Rudy really doesn't tell us much. $7400 could be the contributions of just a few individuals.

I want to know the crazies who live downtown and would give money to Rudy. I want to meet those people.

Friday, April 20, 2007

MTA Bus Fare Hike Sucks!

I should preface this by saying that I am not a member of the BRU. I am also not an expert on the policies of Los Angeles public transit agencies or the inner-workings of the MTA, but I will say that I spent several years working on public transportation projects in the Northwest and transit is an issue I continue to care about. Working on light rail/monorail projects in the NW I learned a valuable lesson: public transportation never pays for itself. It's always subsidized one way or another. However, when you calculate the cost to taxpayers of roads and highways (and all the accompanying costs from maintenance, to pollution, to highway patrol etc...) the costs start to bear out quickly in favor of public transit. That's not even taking into account the tremendous value to the economy that buses and trains provide by getting people to work and to school efficiently. Kind of like PUBLIC schools, PUBLIC parks, PUBLIC transit provides a service. Metro CEO Richard Snoble says: “We can’t sustain these massive subsidies,” Snoble said. “Either we raise fares or cut service. We simply can not operate the existing service let alone offer the public new transit improvements.” Wow so there are only two options? Raise fares or cut service? There's NO other way to fund public transit? Can't we be more creative? Especially in a city where air pollution and traffic are two of the top quality of life concerns.

I also think it's backwards for CEO Snoble to argue that higher demand means costs should go up. Rising demand means that people need buses and by raising fares, many people will struggle to afford them. “It is indeed unfortunate that at a time of such high transit demand due to continued population and job growth and the rising cost of all modes of transportation that Metro will not be in a position to serve the demand without additional revenue,” said Snoble.

Furthermore, Metro argues that the cost of transit in other major cities is higher "New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Diego and other cities currently charge $2 or more". Well we can all be selective about what we mean by other major cities. You could argue that Boston, San Francisco and Seattle are major cities too and compare: a month pass for the City of Seattle is $54/month, in San Francisco you can get a Fast Pass for $45/month and you can travel unlimited on subway and local buses in Boston for $59/month. So let's be honest, just because some cities charge more for public transit, than we do, some don't and I don't think we need to emulate cities that have expensive public transit. One final note on this subject, I've spent time riding the subway in NYC and one thing I am sure of, the MTA buses have a lot of work to do to catch up to that level of service so lets compare apples to apples.

It also concerns me that many bus riders are part of a low-wage workforce that relies on public transportation because the cost of owning and maintaining a car is so high. What happens to our economy if workers, students and the elderly can no longer get to work, school or medical appointments? How do you calculate the cost of that to taxpayers?

Consider this scenario, a young person without a lot of money takes the bus to work every day because he can't really afford a car. Then his bus pass goes from $52/month to $120/ month and he decides that driving a car might not that much more expensive after all. So he buys a cheap car and starts driving to work. It's cheaper! He only pays $60/month to fill it up and it's running fine. But he doesn't carry car insurance because that's still a little steep. Then he gets in an accident. With no car insurance. Now what's the cost to the public, to the taxpayers?

Or how about this: more cars on the road in LA period. I don't even have to elaborate about why that's a disaster for this city. Buses are a critical part of keeping fewer cars on the road and transporting people to their jobs, doctors and schools. And it's not just any people, part of what BRU is doing is proving that bus riders are disproportionately minorities, youth and the elderly. This fare hike will hit LA's most vulnerable the hardest.

Here's how the fare hike breaks out for "regular" riders:


Last Change




Proposed 1/1/09











Day Pass




















EZ transit pass





The month pass is increased by 130%!

Here's how it breaks out for "senior/disabled/medicare":



Last Change




Proposed 1/1/09






Zone 1





Zone 2





Day Pass










EZ transit pass





Monthly premium each zone





Metro to Muni Transfer





For the elderly and the folks on medicare it's a 400% increase!

I cannot for the life of me understand how MTA thinks LA's poorest communities can accommodate these incredible increases.

The BRU in their letter to MTA Chair Gloria Molina note that 18% of families in LA City and 14% of families in LA County live below the Federal Poverty Level which in January of 2007 was set at $20,650 for a family of 4. That works out to $1,720.83 a month (pre-tax) and for just two adults to purchase a monthly pass the cost goes from $104 a month to $240 a month. When you are raising a family and trying to pay rent and make ends meet the $136 difference could go a long way toward food, bills and medical costs.

I live in LA. I drive a car to work. I don't need the buses personally. But Il think the MTA fare hike is outrageous and an embarrassment to our Mayor if he doesn't block it.

F TJ's

Recognizing this may be blasphemy to all the up-and-comers hoping downtown is the next Silver Lake, after reading the Downtown News historical perspective on Trader Joe's approach to downtown, I think we'll be better off without that arrogant, self-aggrandizing, Hawaiian-shirt-wearing, union-standard undermining, and apparently 'risk-averse' corporate overlord in our back yard.

Yeah, you read that right - thanks but no thanks Trader Jackass. According to this article, it took three years to shift your tone from "'You could give me free rent, build the store and I still wouldn't build Downtown,'" to finally tour the area and conclude, "At this time Downtown Los Angeles is not in our two-year plan," which, to some, appears to be a significant, hopeful improvement.

So in the absence of big corporate corner grocery store, lets now shift our hopes to folks who actually - presently - currently - care about our downtown, the small local grocers who are already here, the ones who are expanding, and the local organic produce distributors who could easily stock any shelf in the area!

Small shops, please expand; developers, include walkable, independent grocery space in your master-plans; and Trader Joe's, in the eternal words of Bikini Kill, Suck My Left One.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Clayton's Royalle

Relatively new to downtown, friends have been talking up Royal Clayton's since I arrived. I finally made it there this past Saturday, April 14 with a lady friend. With nil expectations, other than that we would feel hip talking about it afterwards, I'm glad to report that the restaurant sets a good standard for the neighborhood.

Dark, gothy throughout, the space is quite warm and welcoming with plenty of room for eating, dining, drinking, and socializing. Two televisions near the steal-framed pool table tastefully hide in the corner, while the rest of the space provides plenty of eye candy from the heavy, leather seats and barstools.

The menu was substantial, with lots of American and European -style dishes with gourmet spins to choose from. We started with salads and shared some of their amazing blue-cheese mashed potatoes. As we were chatting the head chef came around and asked what we thought of the meal thus far - pointing to the potatoes I asked "Was that your idea?"

"Of Course," with his French accent.

"Nice. That is some awesome potato."

Vegetarians, we'd both opted to have the standard veg entree by which all restaurants can be judged: grilled vegetables with rice. Other veg options were a pizza or a grilled veg pasta, but the menu's revelation that the grilled veg would be accompanied by curried rice caught our imagination well enough for us to decide to get one each... So we wouldn't have to share!

In his twist on this standard, the chef grills a fine, fresh assortment Mediterranean vegetables which are plated squarely around a thoroughly tasty curried rice. The rice is worth talking up specifically - by 'curried' they don't mean they smear curry sauce all over your food, instead the curry is cooked into the basmati, bringing just enough of the flavor into compliment the veggies. A very basic meal, but very well executed.

As it was my birthday, we then decided to share two deserts. Cookies and milk, and the Chocolate lava cake. Lava cake - of course that was good; but the cookies really won. They brought out soy milk just for us, into which we dipped the freshly baked basic chocolate, macadamia nut, and sugar cookies. Simple, warm, homemade, fresh cookies. Yeah that rocked.

In all, its nice to know there's this welcoming, homey, spot so close. Light on the ego, heavy on the quality, and fair on the prices.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Part Troix

Have you ever taken a moment to check out our Councilwoman's Website.

If not, you should.

For the link, click here.

The site is too bare bones for me. There doesn't seem to be the same level of material or updating that happen on other council members websites.

For example, check out Garcetti's up to date and informative website.

The site is check full of info and is even updated with the council member's very own blog. I love the description of the staff members that work in the office. I bet it helps his constituents to know which staff member to call when certain problems arise -- it also gives everyone a laugh if you read some of the more creative staff bios.

Herb Wesson's site is not only colorful, but even includes video clips of district events.

The "other" downtown council member, Jose Huizar, utilizes the web to make sure constituents know the staff in his office.

At the very least, I would hope that our dear Council member can spruce it up a little. Adding the appropriate staff to contact for specific problems would be helpful.

Don't get me wrong -- I am not trying to bag on our hardworking council member. I feel the need to make sure all of our electeds are using the internets consistently and wisely.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Redevelopment Director Cecilia Estolano Speaks to the Downtown News

Anyone following downtown development has to keep an eye on the happenings at the City's Community Redevelopment Agency, or Redevelopment, to use the parlance of city hall staffers.

The Agency has a tremendous impact on zoning changes, development projects, and community benefits. This agency is the lead agency for a lot of the changes we are going to see downtown, including, most recently, the Grand Street project.

Last May, the CRA hired a new Executive Director. This is a big job. This person has to manage a several million dollar budget, direct the work of dozens of staff people, and create a vision for the role of the Agency in shaping neighborhoods (such as our own).

The Downtown News, always getting the best scoop, was the first to sit down with the new ED, Cecilia Estolano -- the woman that was hired by the Redevelopment Commissioners, the City Council, and the Mayor to lead this critical City Department.

There were two critical questions that most intrigued me about the interview.

First, since I moved to downtown I have complained about the lack of public parks in the area. Now I know that the size of the homeless population in the area probably makes residents feel that any green space would quickly become a problem. However, I lived in San Francisco -- a city with an equally challenging homeless population, and green space was a consistent element of life in the City. I am sure we can develop creative solutions so parks become a place that are used by the loft dwellers and the homeless alike. In other words, I don't think we have any excuses to avoid building green spaces downtown.

When responding to a question about how her practice as an environmental attorney may affect her vision of development, Ms Estolano proclaimed:

"It's wonderful to be working for a board and a mayor and council members who see the value of sustainable urbanism. But when I came here I wanted to make sure that was a core value of the agency and so in every speech I gave, and every time I talked to staff members, I made it clear that I expected us to move into sustainable urbanism, that we would find a way to reform the agency's internal practices as well as our relationship with developers to encourage that kind of activity."

You can only imagine my glee.

I was also very impressed by another thing Ms Estolano said during her interview. Check this out:

"I think it's a challenge to keep it of a diverse economic background. Right now, we pretty much have a bipolar Downtown residential population. We have the homeless and the SRO dwellers and we have the folks that live in the lofts and there is a big gulf in between. That's not a healthy community.."

This is a great statement. The same Downtown News that brought us this interview, also had a story about all of the yet-to-be-named fancypants that are going to be moving into the Biscuit Company Lofts. I have been hearing alot recently about well-to-do lawyers and entertainment types that are trying to make downtown their home. With all of the change coming, it is very important the the CRA do everything it can to be sure that working class and middle class folks have a place to live here too.

I couldn't say it better than when Ms. Estolano said, "we need to have people who are administrative assistants who live Downtown as well as the associates of law firms."

Cheers to Ms Estolano!

Jan Perry Watch -- Party Deux

Part two of many installments of the "Jan Perry Watch" is here.

I am not sure if the name "Jan Perry Watch" is the right name, since it sounds so confrontational. I am not trying to be confrontational -- just informative.

If you have any title ideas, email me at

In the meantime, here is the latest (second) installment.

I googled our city council lady and noticed that she has purchased her next domain for her city council run in 2 years. Check it out: I am not sure how I feel about the tagline: Creative Leadership for our Neighborhoods. It could be the same that she used when she ran in 2003.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Not our finest moment

I doubt if anyone reading this knows the name Mario Beltran. Mario is a city councilmember in Bell Garden, a small city about 5-7 miles from downtown. He is also the district director for Senator Ron Calderon. The Southeast LA villages that Senator Calderon represents have a long history of sordid politics and nasty feuding.

What does this have to do with downtown?

Well, Mario recently got into some trouble. The poor guy had a rough night and ended up at the Huntington Hotel on Main between 7th and 8th. Every news report about the Huntington Hotel describes the joint as a den of iniquity -- Ok, its a brothel. It seems Mario had a little too much to "drink" at the 740 Club on Broadway and mosied over to the Huntington Hotel for some action. The melee that ensued included Mario supposedly assaulting a woman, losing his belongings in a scuffle with a 'worker' at the hotel, and even dropping the 'n bomb' during the altercation. It all sounded pretty crazy.

What is also intriguing is the role of 740 Club Owner, Ralph Verdugo. As the LA Weekly tells us, Mario's drunken rage at the 740 Cluband beyond was far from the first major fracas that the club has caused. The place has a rap sheet that goes on and on. If you have ever walked by the club on a Friday or Saturday night you can't miss the huge crowd trying to get in. The place is usually hopping. But check out some of the most recent problems the joint has encountered:

"According to the LAPD, one woman was found lying unconscious there earlier this month with her pants and underpants pulled down. Authorities found evidence she had had sex, and police are investigating the incident as a possible sexual assault. Last August, a man identified as Roman Alvarado was stabbed in the 740 Club parking lot, allegedly by a member of the White Fence gang, after a fight broke out inside the club, and died from his stab wounds two weeks later." LA Weekly

What is even more crazy about the story is the connections that Verdugo has developed with some of LA's politicos, including our own councilmember Huizar. Huizar held a private fundraiser at the club last year, and has taken money from Verdugo and his associates. Yet recently, Huizar has complained that the 740 Club does not fit his vision for this section of Broadway.

Good for Huizar, I guess. The City Attorney and our very own police captain, Andrew Smith, are pursuing nuisance charges with the hope of shutting the place down.

I don't know what to think of this whole ordeal. I know Mario is not a bad guy. He just got messed up after hanging with the wrong crowd for too long one night. However, dropping the 'n bomb' is inexcusable. So is a drunken woman with no underpants.

First Installment of the Jan Perry Watch

While City Councilman Jose Huizar represents a portion of the lovely downtown neighborhood, the bulk of the district is in Council District 9 -- represented by none other than Jan Perry.

These days, there has been lots of controversy in Silly Hall about issues in downtown-- homelessness, skid row, air rights, street vendors, downtown development.

This blog will keep you informed of Jan Perry events as they happen.
The first installment is here.

Our Councilmember is going to speak about development and green space downtown at Los Angeles Town Hall. I am gonna try to make it down. I would encourage others from downtown to try and make it too.

Here are the deets:

Tuesday, April 17, 2007
5:30 PM Reception
6:00 PM Program with Q&A

Town Hall Los Angeles
515 S. Flower Street, Ste 1650
Los Angeles, CA 90071-2201

Members: FREE
Guest of Members: $15
Non-members: $25
Register Now

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Papa's got a brand new plan

Finally, someone has started to listen.

I read with joy today about the County's effort to develop homeless services in 'gateway' cities such as Pomona and South LA. I have thought for a long time that clumping together the City's and County's homeless services downtown only perpetuates the vicious cycle of homelessness for the folks that we see everyday.

Believe me when I say, I am not of the 'throw the bums out' camp. I love living downtown and I am humbled by the homelessness here. I try to find ways to be thoughtful and kind to the homeless residents who call the neighborhood their home. If you take the chance to get to know some of them, you may be surprised. On Friday night, I was sipping some Pinot at the Banquette and was seranded by not one, but two passersby. One of the two had an amazing voice. The other . . . well, not so much.

With that said, I think it's high time for the City and the County to begin spreading some larger portion of the available services to other 'gateway' areas. I always found it so wrong that while there were so many services in downtown, there were not many opportunties for folks to get decent jobs, and the transit options were rather limited as well. Furthermore, I can only imagine how hard it must be for someone who is fighting an urge when so many others are on the sidewalk partaking in what they once partook.

Cheers to Jan Perry and the beaucrats who seem to be moving along the right path. But this won't be easy. I would expect the "nimbys" of other cities to fight tooth and nail against any intrustion of homeless service into their neighborhoods. They do every time. The residents of the San Fernando Valley city of Sunland have been fighting an effort to bring a women and children's shelter to the unincorporated area of their City. Que le madre! How can you sleep at night and oppose a women and children's shelter. Some people have no compassion.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Waiting for the strike

This is a crowd of Pacific Electric train riders waiting at the station at 6th and Main to board trains before the transit strike goes into effect. May 24, 1946.

I think it's good to look at old pictures of downtown to get a sense of how the neighborhood has changed. I imagine a transit strike wouldn't cause the same mêlée

Rows & rows of houses

This is a picture looking east toward the horizon down 6th. The intersection is where Wall crosses 6th. It doesn't look anything like that today, the most striking thing to me is that all along Wall you can see little houses. It doesn't look upscale, but it looks like a tree-lined street with a market, a church and a block after block of little bungalows. I didn't realize that east of LA had real residential neighborhoods. I understand this was formerly agricultural land all the way to the river and then over time agriculture gave way to both light industry and residential development.

Next time wear a vintage baby doll dress...

I am a day late I guess, but I just caught this story from the LA Times called Sunset Strip's hip are go-going elsewhere

The article starts by saying that the hipsters of the sunset strip are heading EAST... at first I feared the author had identified a migration stretching as far east as downtown. Phew! not to be, the article notes that the hipsters of LA are moving east from WeHo to Hollywood.

Then I read on and caught this:

"We avoid cologne dudes and button shirts," said Ana Calderon, describing who she lets into the parties her record label holds Tuesday nights at the Hollywood Boulevard club Cinespace.

The scene on a recent night at the club was definitely a departure from the Standard — hundreds of young adults sported styles that evoked rock, punk, hip-hop, new wave, techno and glam. No one looked much older than 21. On a sticky dance floor, DJ Aoki — the son of the Benihana restaurant chain founder — was rinsing out a song by British rapper Lady Sovereign when a brawl erupted and twisted its way around, knocking over drinks and felling several people.

Of course, the brawl just underscores what West Hollywood boosters say about their night-clubbing neighbor to the east."

Which takes me back to my original bad reaction to West Hollywood hipsters (we already have downtown hipsters and we like them just fine) moving into downtown. About a week ago a friend of mine, who is also a bit of a rockstar, took me to meet a friend of hers, who in turn took us to Cinespace to see his favorite band The Deadly Syndrome. I can't really comment on whether or not I like the Deadly Syndrome because the sound at the show was caught right between horrendous and atrocious. But distorted, crackling sound aside I think I actually did like the band. The lead singer had a good voice and it seemed like a band worth getting to know better, not however, at Cinespace. We got in on the guest list -- missing the line stretched down the block (*amen). Once in you go up a flight of stairs, covered in gnarly dirty carpet and set off by weirdly bright lighting; inside there was mayhem at the bar and outrageously drunk men everywhere (it was a Tuesday night). It felt like what I imagine an American Apparel photo might turn into if everyone at the end got really wasted, extra high and then got stuffed onto a miniature dance floor with thumping bad house music. Needless to say it was loud beyond control. My friend said it was the most outrageous bathroom of any club she'd been in - I couldn't bring myself to find out.
I couldn't leave fast enough. On the way out we saw one woman in low cut lycra lap-dancing a sketchy looking guy and next to her a guy lap-dancing a woman wearing low cut lycra. Grim. Very grim. We left agreeing it was last place we wanted to be on Tuesday night. Or any night actually.

Maybe I'm taking the long way around to get to my point which is this -- first I am still trying to understand why all these hispters are willing to spend so much time standing in a line to get into Cinespace. Second my friend and I - rockstar or not - confirmed that we are certifiably unhip and/or very old. Third, I love that downtown - for the most part - has avoided this level of hipness and I cringe at the thought of its arrival. I might trade cologne and button down shirts for the under-age trainwrecks trashed and crashing at Cinespace.

Historic District Restaurant: Blossom

426 S Main St

What is it?
Brought to you by the owners of Chinatown's Via Cafe, Blossom is a delightful, inexpensive fresh Vietnamese food served in a stylish, clean, airy space. The ingredients are fresh and the service is fast.

What to eat?
My favorite is the cold noodle salad with lemongrass steak & egg rolls (~$7). It's cold vermicelli noodles with cucumber, cilantro, grilled lemongrass marinated thin slices of steak topped with nuoc cham and chopped peanuts. The tofu fresh rolls are delicious and of course so is the Pho.

What not to order?
I don't love the crepes - they are a little heavy, but they're not bad.

Advice to the owner?
I believe the owner owns the property that sits adjacent to Blossom on the corner of Main & Winston. My advice, expand? Also the Blossom website doesn't seem to be working right now.

Downtown Bars: The Library Bar

The Library Bar
630 W. 6th St
Los Angeles, CA 90017

I love the library bar - it is a great addition to downtown. It feels a little like a ralph lauren store inside with built in leather couches, low-lighting and a subtle animal print-vibe. There is a back room with high-back built in benches, and cashmere throw pillows. It's a little pricey but the feeling is relaxing, the music is good and in spite of being stylish - it's not too sceney.

There goes the neighborhood . . .

The Downtown News, a wonderful rag for downtown residents, scooped that superstar soccer player, David Beckham, and his lovely wife, Posh Spice are possibly moving downtown. The Downtown News reports that the LA's newest superstar couple may be interested in the Biscuit Company Lofts. I guess its fitting that the Brits would want to live in a Biscuit Company Building -- Brits love biscuits.

You can read the whole story here: Beckham and Posh

The story sounded very suspect and could be mere propaganda by some developers to continue to boost the beauties of downtown LA.

This new boosterism must be working.
In recent days, I have spotted Rachel McAdams and Johnny Rotten around the hood. I also hear a lot of folks dropping Ryan Goslings name.

Our biggest name new neighbor is Jeff Sebelia -- the winner of the latest season of "Project Runway." I see him in our parking garage with his prize white Saturn. He was also featured in this week's downtown news. I love the ink on the neck. Stay tuned and happy Monday.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Civic Center Restaurants: Cafe Pinot

Cafe Pinot
700 W. 5th St.

What is it?
Pinot is owned by the Patina Group. The Patina Group is the child of Joachim and Christine Splichal. Joachim is a celebrated chef who under the Patina Group has built dozens of upscale "brasserie-type" restaurants in LA, NYC and Las Vegas, in addition to providing the same type of food to museum food services. Last October the Patina Group merged with Restaurant Associates. What does it all mean? I guess it's just a fancy chain. Pinot is located next to the LA public library and the outdoor patio faces a fountain on the west side of the library. It's a great place to celebrate a birthday or an anniversary, if you're wealthy - it's a great place to celebrate thursday night.

What to eat?
The mustard crusted rotisserie chicken was amazing -- the chicken was perfectly cooked and the seasoning was not overwhelming but orginal. The roasted Colorado lamb was also very good. The service is excellent and our waiter recommended a wine from Argentina that was new to us but delightful.

What not to order?
I've never had a stray meal at Pinot.

Historic District Restaurant: Pete's

Pete's Cafe & Bar
4th & Main St.

What is it?
Pete's is one of the anchor establishments in downtown. Pete's is a restaurant and bar with gravity; a heavy oak bar, brass fixtures and vintage black & white tile floors. The back of the restaurant is encased in long dark velvet curtains, it is quieter and while the menu is similar to the bar menu it's definately spiffier.
The front is a warmly lit bar with an fenced in sidewaly patio that plays late night host to nieghbors and locals. During the day however from lunch through happy hour, Pete's is a City Hall favorite where suits and the top brass from police and fire kick back.

What to eat?
If you like mac & cheese they have a 4 cheese mac and cheese that's really good.

What not to eat?
I think the bacon they use in the BLT - is a really smokey applewood bacon that I find really tough and the flavor is overpowering.

Advice for the owner?
This is a tough one for me. I am a huge fan of Pete's. I think the design, the vibe, the atmosphere everything is really pleasant and I love that they are open every night until 2AM. So it pains me a bit to criticize, but there are a few things that I have experienced there enough to warrant some feedback.

First, the service is slow. I've experienced it firsthand and heard about it from friends. But if you aren't in a hurry it's not a deal breaker. My other critique is that the food just generally should be better overall. I think I've tried everything on the menu and it's all okay, but beside the mac and cheese nothing really stands out. For example, two times I ordered eggs benedict for breakfast. The first time the english muffin was burned, the last time it wasn't toasted at all. In addition, they serve fruit with the Benedict, except the fruit is always really bad. I hate that. It just means you have low standards.

My advice to the owner is that the service could be better especially in the bar area and considering that your food is not super inexpensive - it also could be better.

Arts District Restaurant: R23

923 E. 2nd

What is it?
R23 is located in the arts district in a warehouse dock. It is low lit, hardwood floors, and is modern, stylish and comfortable. R23 is however, a little expensive so I only go there with people I really like.

What to eat?
First everything I've had at R23 with one exception has been delicious. My favorite item off the Chef's Special is the lobster tempura. I love lobster, I love tempura and it's the first time I've had them together. Marvelous. Their sushi is fresh and the kumomoto oysters are a good choice. So is the eggplant.

What not to order?
The exception? The grilled stuff duck. It just wasn't that good.

Advice for the owner?
I got nothing.

Burgers N Shit is Closed!

Downtown is changing fast. I have lived here for almost a year and half and in that time I have already seen our neighborhood grow and change in strange ways.

Perhaps the best example I have of downtown's transformation is the fact that "Burgers N Shit" on Main between 4th and Winston is closed (it looks like the Department of Health intervened). Thank Jesus!

From my place I could see the roof of the "Burgers N Shit." Huge rats!

The closing I think is symbolic of a downtown that is changing.

In the coming weeks and hopefully months, this blog will shed a light on downtown Los Angeles. We will try to document life in downtown los angeles by interviewing some of our own citizens, chronicling relevant news stories and events, and opining about our neighborhood's restaurants. We may also try to keep folks apprised of art happenings all over the neighborhood. I think I am highly unqualified for such writing, but I will do my best until we find someone more suited.

The impetus for this blog was an article in the LA Times. The title of the article was 'Has Downtown Finally Arrived?" At first I was excited by the coverage of more independent shops and bars and restaurants. It was also nice to open up the online newspaper version and see shots of Monica, the owner of Banuquette, and Foxxy the Old Bank DVD watchog. About two paragraphs into the article I became panic-stricken when I read that some of our local developers were courting the Outback Steakhouse chain to the downtown area. Oh my, I became very nervous. I got real nervous and started calling people. I called Jan Perry's office, I called others downtown, and I called my fiance and asked her to start this blog with me. I said I would chain myself to the building if there was to be an Outback Steakhouse grand opening in downtown. Although I may reconsider if they gave out free waffles and coffee like Arda's did last weekend.

I will do my best to keep this blog up to date and useful.

Holler at me if you have any ideas.