Monday, August 31, 2009

this fire is burnin' and it's out of control.

dear los angeles:

you are burning.

as a friend situated in the midwest reminded me tonight: some people find this satisfying.

[photo: bob cazzell]

funny he should mention it because just this morning as i drove to work and marveled at the giant plumes of smoke still erupting from your horizon, i thought just that.

my brain: how interesting to realize that i'm sure most of the country is thinking, yesssss, burn burn burn! los angeles, you are the heart of the land they claim is full of fruits and nuts [an insult in their eyes.] the people outside want us to sink into the sparkling ocean, be engulfed by our own earth when it quakes and smolder like the embers of our beautiful forests.

[photo: damien clark]

and yet i can't help but write that perspective off as utterly ignorant to the intense natural beauty we are wrapped up inside of every minute.

if we were their neighbors and their pets and their families, they would not feel this way. they just don't realize yet that we are.

"it's not a problem you can stop/it's rock'n'roll."

[photo of mt. wilson: eylene pirez]

Thursday, August 27, 2009

long may you run.

dear los angeles:

i don't usually start love letters by complaining. just bear with me.

one of your most troubling traits is your dependence on the automobile. you were practically built for the car. the car. back when it was a luxury item and it gave a sparkle of hope and a glimmer of what-might-be to a generation who believed in invention.

most big US cities were designed and developed before the car and so do not depend as wholly on cars for transportation. but you, you were different. you were big-skied, golden-sunsetted, mountainous, warm and vast. and so rather than cramming a whole lotta city into a small space, they decided to use all of you. and gift your people with the car to get from one side to another. from ocean to mountain to valley and back.

the car soon became as commonplace as a vacuum cleaner or telephone [thanks at least in small part to you, los angeles] and the multitude of people arriving at your borders realized quickly that they would most likely need one to live here. and your freeways backed up and your blue skies were lined with smog. before i go any further, i feel like i should apologize to you on behalf of those who came before me for making you this way.

you are resilient and generous, los angeles. for you sensed our addiction and gave us: the car chick. you knew we'd need her. we could only go so far before something started to hiss, squeal, steam or stall under our hoods. enter car chick: bekah.

her website is ultra girly [but also cheeky] and you almost think you've gotten the wrong url: but if you'd never seen the website and you wandered into her almost-sherman oaks shop, on first glance you'd never know the difference between her place and one run by a greasy dude [okay, it's cleaner. and there are pretty birds in cages.] trust me, it is different.

if you have had your fair share of car trouble, you know that it can be difficult if not virtually impossible to find someone to alleviate that pain. someone you can trust. someone who will not talk down to you. someone who goes above and beyond.

bekah is just what the doctor ordered. her eyes crinkle into a warm smile when you walk in. she speaks warmly of her beautiful family and hugs you when you go. she will tell you straight up: your car needs this NOW, these things can wait six months and you'll need to do the rest within a year or two. and then she and her team [who seem more like family] set about doing the work so that you are never without your mode of transportation for long.

i have sent many a friend to bekah. they all rave about her customer service. one friend got bad news from her: his car was not worth reviving. she didn't charge him to look at it, she evaluated a car he was considering purchasing later that week and told him it wasn't a smart buy, and the following week called him to say she found a car he might be interested in. WHAT? where does that happen? i don't think she made one cent off the exchange.

you are looking for a mechanic you can trust, a mechanic who does the job right the first time, a mechanic who never tries to sell you up and who treats you like someone who can retain information about their car and who it seems like you never have enough time to chat with.

and let's be honest: how badass is it to say that your mechanic is a chick?!

so, thank you los angeles, for giving us bekah, when all we gave you was smog and traffic.


cars are not endorsed by the author. some ways to green your life, your city, your world:

tonya kay's tips
converting to vegetable oil [t-model photo above]
ride the metro

Saturday, March 14, 2009

To A Girl I Know

My best friend is having her birthday party in L.A. tonight.
A birthday that has come during a time where she could probably care the least about it.
A birthday surrounded by circumstances that have most likely made her question every bit of our existence. Of her purpose. Of what's the fucking point?

I picture her sitting with her friends tonight, laughing and talking, all the while a pain deeper than she maybe has every felt before, sits nestled at the bottom of her heart. Her heart weighs one hundred tons right now and she doesn't know how to change that. We don't know how to change it either. I would give everything I could to lift that weight away and throw it into the ocean. We'd sit there and watch that pain drift away, over the horizon, and out of her life forever.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

the sun[ny] also sets...

since the last post here on our seedling blog, i experienced a tremendous loss.

on the night of january 31st, 2009, my father's 60th birthday, after a glorious drive down the PCH into malibu, after a walk on the beach, a lovely dinner and after a glass or two of wine, i checked my phone. a message bringing the kind of news you never want and can never expect. my dear friend sunny bresin-heath had been found unconscious and rushed to the hospital.

i cannot continue on with this blog without writing this story. because sunny was my los angeles family. she was so much a part of los angeles to me that this place i love so much wouldn't ever seem to make sense without her. it is possible that i now love los angeles to the depth that i do because sunny loved me here and helped me create a place for myself here.

the gentleman who had invited me to malibu stood by while i conference-called with my friends will and shaw to see if we could suss out the severity of the situation. he then offered to drive me to st. john's hospital in santa monica, which i took him up on. when we left the hospital early that morning, nothing had changed. sunny was in a coma and no one knew anything about what had transpired.

we returned to the malibu house to sleep. i forced myself to have breakfast before i headed back to the hospital.

the first two days seemed somewhat optimistic. sunny's body was healing itself from whatever mysterious situation had led her there. and then things headed south. her brain functions quit. the unknown amount of time she had spent without oxygen was getting the better of her. i could not tear myself from the hospital.

that week, my friends, her friends, and her family became my entire world.

midday on february 6th, sunny's sister lani started to have a panic attack. i was sitting with her, rubbing her back and holding her hand while her dad ran back and forth with cold, wet washcloths for her forehead. her hands were clammy, she was forcing herself to breathe steadily. suddenly she demanded to know the results of the tests that were being taken. sunny's father, rick, came back moments later and said, 'lani, sunny was declared dead.'

i remember her nodding and curling up tighter and her grasp on my hand clenching. and we both sobbed. and will reached out to us both and we all cried together. and lani screamed, 'FUCK! FUCK! my sister is dead! that is so fucked!' and she was right. and i thought of how much sunny loved it when lani made these types of outbursts.

more than a month has gone by already. a memorial was held in northridge, at her husband's grandfather's home; the same place she and zack were married august 16, 2008.

a memorial was held in minnesota. and now? now we work at getting through each sunny day without bending to the stabbing pains that strike whenever they choose. now we try to figure out the best way to memorialize her life with our own lives. now life goes on without this vital organ of our existence and we come face to face with the fact that there will be no more new photos taken, no more new stories to share, no more movies seen or music swapped. now we attempt to mend our broken hearts and make sense of this place without her.

to follow the rollercoaster we were on or leave a note: caringbridge for sunny
to donate to a cause sunny was passionate about: or

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

farewell flurries: from dc to la

"i mean that i was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again." - joan didion, goodbye to all that.

didion writes of new york what i have discovered i feel for los angeles.

six months ago i pointed out to my friend sara that at twenty six, i had never been in love. not even close.

"that's okay" she said.

"of course its okay," i replied, "it's just interesting to hear out loud"

today i read an article in the new york times questioning if today's new york had lost its recent luster following the fall of wall street and the current rise of washington d.c. surrounding president-elect obama's presidency. [i can't comment on new york but in my opinion, d.c. still has some growing up to do before it might be considered a hot-spot for anything outside of of politics or miller lite consumers]

never one to accept such blanket statements about anything that is considered 'in' or 'out' (how could i ever have come to love los angeles?), i continued reading only to collect key points that i could bring up in some social conversation i hope to never have.

thankfully, miz didion's excerpt made the article worth my while.

now at twenty seven i still have never been in love [in society's definition].

but yes, yes i am in love with los angeles, the city so many love to hate.

- dr. jovel.

when the action moves on

la times

p.s. kelsey i hate this font.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

raw love.

dear los angeles:

many people from all over the world come to visit you because of something that has always seemed oh-so-silly to me: the ground. the stars embedded in the sidewalk, the hand and footprints pressed into the concrete, the steps that stars graced back in the studio days.

so silly because, as i see it they should look up. not to the mountains [though they are one of my favorite things about you] or the hollywood sign. somewhere between feet and horizon - to the table.

when i host visitors the very first thing i want to take them to do is eat sushi. what i miss most when i go away is sushi. i crave it more often than i allow myself to eat it. as my friends start to have children the question most on my mind is, 'how will they live without sushi for that long?'

i admit, i may be a bit obsessed. but, if you've had sushi in los angeles, you can hardly blame me. another thing i love about sushi is that it's one of a few things the valley is highly competitive at. all my favorites are in the valley.

tonight we hit midori, an all-you-can-eat place that is a far cry from hometown buffet. skilled sushi chefs, above average cuts of fish, friendly patrons, and a tv that always plays the games [yeah, that part isn't for me.] though my favorite chef moved himself and his family to baltimore, the guys manning the place do a fine job and are very pleasant. favorites here: hawaiian king mackerel [ono] and the clipper roll. tonight the hamachi belly was particularly delish.

by the way, there are three midoris but i drive twenty-five blocks further to the one in studio city 'cause it's my fava-fave.

a few doors down from midori is the well-known katsu-ya. a humble looking, strip mall storefront that i've never been in without a celebrity spotting [most recently sacha baron cohen aka borat]. they have the best cuts of fish in town and by far the most competent chefs. if they have toro, you cannot leave without it. i orchestrate visits here around a waitress named mindy's work schedule. if you are the adventurous type, let her size you up and order for you. if you're not, at least order the honey roll.

good bargain lunch sushi: maki yaki II. there's only one, but i like that they feel the need to dub it the second anyway. these people are the friendliest, most welcoming folks. the place is situated next to a drag queen thrift store and a doggie-u-wash. it's not much to look at, but considering the prices and the quality, it's a go-to. they also nail take out sushi; hard to do.

also notable - iroha, but more for the atmosphere than anything really stand out. it's nestled and lit with white string lights. 'nuff said.

all you can eat runner up - a ca-shi. down the street from cbs radford and the chef/owner jay will know your name after the second visit.

[i realize it is bold to note only sushi restaurants in the valley, but i go where the good is.]


to eat:
sushi savior
midori sushi
katsu-ya's website doesn't do it for me, here's their citysearch
maki yaki 2
a ca-shi

l.a. & a paper rose

there she is, never without her trademark palm tree earings...

"I just moved back to dc from los angeles" is part of my background
explainer, still, after eight months back on the east coast.

i won't let go. i can't let go.

not yet. maybe not ever.

i feel privlidged to have been a los angeleno. i'm never shy of saying
so. not always fond of the opinions people are compelled to share with
me after hearing I once was, I often eschew the hate or love l.a.

the thought of debating makes me tired. to try and name all the best
that exists in la make me want to take a big ol' nap. I don't want to
defend - you can't love or hate la they way i do. i don't want you

relax. los angelenos know how to make relaxing look GOOD&EASY. better
thank any other major u.s. city.

relax with you next week, my love.

-the doc

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

testing mobile blog.

:kelsey on the iPhone.

home, sweet...

dear los angeles:

if there's one thing that distinguishes you from all the other cities in the world it is most certainly your homeless. for all the magnificent, unique homes, set into awkward walls of rock or nestled into communities of the rich and famous, it is those with no home to call their own who define you.

a few years ago i worked on a student film with some los angeles film school folk and the sound guy [now a friend and far too talented to simply hold a boom mic] told me about an interesting casting choice he made on accident. he had approached a few strangers on the street in hollywood and asked them if they'd like to be in his short film. it wouldn't require much of them and there would be a meal as payment. they were happy to oblige. at the end of the day of shooting, he asked them where to send the dvd when it was done and after some shuffling of feet, they told him the name of the shelter they stay at occasionally and gave him their cellphone numbers.

over the last weekend, friends from chicago were in town visiting and i took them to los feliz for brunch at a restaurant called HOME. at the stoplight in front of house of pies we spotted a homeless woman doing situps in the parking lot. she got up after a set of 15 and started doing jumping jacks, next in her routine apparently. they were astounded.

having lived in chicago for what is still a majority of my life, i understand. in college i became accustomed to bringing soft foods to give homeless people who asked for money i didn't have. other friends would bring or buy them booze. my suspicion is that only a meal at a hot new restaurant with a celebrity chef and the potential for networking would do the trick here.

last night on my way home, i got off the 101 at my exit and as i sat at the stoplight the man on the corner came over to tell me how much he likes my car:

him: "sweet car. that is THE car."
me: "thank you!"
him: "where'd you get a car like that?"
me: "it was my grandmother's."
him: "i wish i had a car. [points] that's my grocery cart over there."
me: [laughs awkwardly but hopefully politely.]
him: "i'm daniel, what's your name?" [offers fist bump]
me: [accepts fist bump] "i'm kelsey. nice to meet you."
daniel: "i wish i were single."

[green light.]


homelessness in los angeles is a real problem. educate yourself and help:
capital of homelessness
homeless actors
homeless blog

Sunday, January 11, 2009

song of sunday.

dear los angeles:

sundays are perfect. the sky is blue, the air is warm, the sun was bright and now it is fading with an orange glow.

things i typically love to do on sundays: sleep in, get up early and drive around on your empty streets listening to guns'n'roses, read the l.a. times and work the crossword puzzle, drink coffee for breakfast, have lazy brunch, eat cheese and avocado sandwiches, bask in the sun [it's her day after all], have lazy sex, listen to 'this american life' repeats.

driving the 101 towards the valley around ten a.m. this morning, even as hungover and achy as i was, i was lulled into a comfortable adoration.

something about the way the palm trees tip their faces against the blue backdrop makes my heart happy. they are plenty scattershot around town but have enough in common that they seem orderly in my favorite way: disorderly.

it's winter here. and i love winter here.


places to go:
for guns'n'roses - freakbeat records in sherman oaks on ventura.
for lazy brunch - HOME restaurant on hillhurst
for cheese and avocado sandwich [on rosemary bread] - lulu's beehive in studio city on ventura.
for this american life -
for a hangover - park in echo park [byob ends tonight though], spaceland on silverlake blvd.

photo credit: sean regan


dear los angeles. january in DC makes you look so good.

-party j.