Dave Grohl's Sound City Players @ The Palladium (Hollywood)
In honor of Grohl's directorial debut Sound City, a documentary about the legendary Van Nuys' recording studio, releasing at the Sundance Cinemas tomorrow, he'll be joined by Krist Novoselic, Corey Talor (Slipknot, Stone Sour), Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick), Rick Springfield, John Fogerty and Stevie Nicks on stage at the Palladium. The film's soundtrack, Real to Reel, features a track with Grohl, Novoselic, Pat Smear and Paul McCartney and will be available in March.
Culinary Cocktail Seminar with Matthew Biancaniello @ K&L Wines (Hollywood)
The cocktail chef, formerly of the Roosevelt's Library Bar, conducts a seminar based on four wine-based drinks concocted in his signature style of using seasonal, unique ingredients. Some of those ingredients include mochi, peppercorn-infused honey and candy cap mushrooms. There are two sessions of the seminar today (at 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.). In addition, the mix master transforms some of his popular libations into ice cream (e.g. stinging nettle infused St. Germain sorbet topped with pummelo-infused St. Germain air) for a pop-up at Scoops Westside from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Feb. 2.
FRIDAY, FEB. 1
In Theaters This Week Bullet to the Head stars Sylvester Stallone, Jason Momoa, Christian Slater and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje; Fisher Stevens directs Al Pacino, Alan Arkin and Christopher Walken as three old pals in Stand Up Guys; Aww at the young zombie love in Warm Bodies. Also in theaters: The Gatekeepers; Girls Against Boys; The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia; Sound City
The Gaslamp Killer (Theo Jemison)
SATURDAY, FEB. 2
First Fridays @ Natural History Museum Los Angeles County (South Los Angeles)
A discussion, entitled "Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex," with author Mary Roach is featured at this month's event. Join her as she follows the history of studying human sexual physiology throughout the years. Adventure Time (Daedelus and Frosty), the Gaslamp Killer and other DJs, like soda pop and Inka One, are all going to be on hand for musical entertainment throughout the evening.
Young Unknowns @ The Echo (Echo Park)
After Meredith Meyer moved to Brooklyn from Los Angeles, she met drummer Matt Arbeiter, bassist Bryan Percivall and guitarist Mike MacAllister and became the frontwoman for this cool new project that released a debut EP, You Are a Young Unknown, in the fall of last year. It will be exciting to see how their lush production and emotionally driven lyrics translate to the Echo stage.
MONDAY, FEB. 4
Robert De Niro @ The Aero (Santa Monica)
The acting legend is honored at An Actor's Playbook: An In-Person Tribute to Robert De Niro. First is a screening of Silver Linings Playbook, which garnered him a supporting actor Oscar nomination, followed by a discussion with the actor, moderated by film critic Pete Hammond.
Londoner makes his L.A. debut at Bardot's weekly cure for the Monday
blues, School Night. Lewis Watson may only be in his early 20s, but he's
already had two EPs (It's Got Four Sad Songs On It BTW and Another Four Sad Songs)
reach No. 1 and No. 2 on the UK iTunes Singer Songwriter chart and has
collaborated with the likes of Kaiser Chiefs' Richard Wilkinson, Arctic
Monkeys' Mike Crossey and Florence + The Machine's Kid Harpoon.
TUESDAY, FEB. 5
Sara Lundberg @ Book Soup (West Hollywood)
Only eating sustainable, humanely-raised meats and organic produce can put quite a strain on the weekly shopping budget, so any hints on saving money on things like toilet paper and laundry detergent are always welcome. Lundberg, the author of the super-saver site BudgetSavvyDiva.com, released the helpful pocket guide, Budget Savvy Diva's Guide to Slashing Your Grocery Bill by 50% or More: Secret Tricks & Clever Tips for Eating Great and Saving Money, earlier this week, and it's full of great penny-pinching strategies. She discusses and signs the book tonight.
WEDNESDAY, FEB. 6
Lucy Michelle @ Hotel Café (Hollywood)
The sweetly charming yet vocally powerful frontwoman of Lucy Michelle & the Velvet Lapelles makes her solo debut with Attack of the Heart – recorded with John Munson (Semisonic, the New Standards) and Chan Polling (the Suburbs, the New Standards) in the spring. She spotlights songs from the new effort, as well as tunes from her material with the Velvet Lapelles, during her residency nights at Hotel Café, tonight and Feb. 20. She also performs Feb. 27 at Largo with the New Standards, Dan Wilson and John C. Reilly.
Mexican food is usually the one thing that most Angelenos crave when they're away from home, and it's definitely a top draw to the City of Angels for Atlanta native Shameik Moore. Whenever the singer, actor and dancer visits the L.A. area, it's mandatory that he grab a steak burrito at Sharky's Woodfired Mexican Grill in Toluca Lake.
The 17-year-old first discovered the fast-casual, yet fresh and healthy restaurant over the summer when he was in town filming the first season of "Incredible Crew," a live-action, sketch comedy show produced by Nick Cannon for Cartoon Network.
"We came here to meet my mom's friend, and I really liked the food. That started the burrito addiction," confesses Shameik.
He holds up half of his usual Angus Steak Sharky's Burrito stuffed with meat, rice, beans and the most crucial ingredient of all – according to Shameik – sour cream and declares, "It looks like heaven in your hands! It took me a while to find a really good Mexican restaurant in Atlanta but I found one down the street that I go to often. I get the same exact thing, a steak burrito. It's not better than Sharky's, though. Sharky's is my favorite."
Sharky's makes it a point to set itself apart from most establishments, even those in Los Angeles, by offering healthier options like lower in fat whole-wheat tortillas, organic tofu and vegetable fillings and low-carb Power Plates and salads. Their vegetables are all organic, and their proteins are hormone-, preservative-, antibiotic- and phosphate-free.
Besides quenching his burrito habit at Sharky's, Shameik loves being in Los Angeles for a few other reasons.
"As soon as I get off the plane I feel a different vibe. I feel more creative. I like meeting new people here because there are a lot more people who do what I do, who have the same interests, that I can connect with on a different level. I enjoy that," he shares, before adding, "and you can't beat the weather."
Usually when he's in Los Angeles, he hangs out with the his five cast mates who comprise the ensemble of "Incredible Crew." And more often than not, they end up at the movies.
"I like to watch movies a lot, so I go with whomever wants to go. We saw The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man together as a cast, and we just saw Texas Chainsaw 3D. It was scary. I did not want to see it, but they forced me to," Shameik admits with a laugh. "I love action, that's my main thing. In action movies you get to jump off stuff, fight people, use weapons. Man, it's just exciting.I would love to be in an action movie and in a romantic movie. Those are two of my goals for 2013. I could be in like Hancock 2: Son of Hancock. Will Smith, get at me. You know how awesome that would be, to be in an action movie? I would feel complete."
Shameik's preference for the action genre bleeds into what he chooses to watch on television as well.
"I like 'Arrow,' because it's acting for real, and then he just busts out in all these fighting scenes. It's intense. So is 'Nikita,'" he declares. "I've also been getting into mysteries, too, hence my 'Pretty Little Liars' addiction. I am addicted to the show, I can't help it. Aria is my favorite character, only because she's smoking hot. I also really love Spencer because she's the smart one of the group, and I believe her as a character."
As for Shameik's own screen experience, besides "Incredible Crew" he has appeared in several commercials for Cartoon Network that include "Paper Jamz Guitar," "Comedy Block Central" and "Pop Pop Toy." He has made several guest appearances on "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" and BET's "Reed Between the Lines." In addition, the talented teen made his big screen debut as the children's choir master in Joyful Noise, which starred Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton.
Although "Incredible Crew" is Shameik's first foray into sketch comedy, it seems that being funny has just always come naturally to him.
"I get it from my dad, he's naturally funny. We all just laugh at each other. I just let it loose on the audition for 'Incredible Crew,' and that's what got me the job," he says. "When I get a script for a sketch, the page is full of words, but I have to make it mean something – show how I see the character to be. I just improv. It's sketch comedy, so you just have to be funny and not take it too seriously all the time. It's hard to keep a straight face sometimes."
Anyone would find it hard not to bust out laughing while on the set with such a talented ensemble. Shameik finds it an even better place to be because he's surrounded by a cast comprised of his peers.
"We're all teens, so we can talk to each other because we're going through the same things. It's cool because everybody's nice and humble," he tells. "You can't just piece us together like a puzzle, we function more like a clock. Every person a certain purpose to make everything function together. We each have a role to do, and together we make the Incredible Crew."
The show, which airs every Thursday at 8 p.m., is the perfect venue for all the actors to show off their budding comedic talents in a myriad of situations presented in each sketch. There's one character in particular that Shameik loves to play.
"I love the sketch 'Super Annoying Guy on a Plane' because it was the first sketch I really got to shoot and because of how free it was," he says. "They were just like, 'Go for it, do whatever you feel is annoying.' I got to really improvise, be crazy and do stuff I'm not allowed to do on a regular day. It's my favorite sketch that I've done."
His high-energy and frenetic demeanor in the sketch make it absolutely hilarious to watch, but Shameik also gets to show off his other talents, including his dancing and singing, on "Incredible Crew." He was able to record the song "So Stylin" in Cannon's studio for a music video for the show.
"I'm really excited about that one," admits Shameik. "It's the one that I'm most excited for everyone to watch me in from the entire series because it connects music and my acting together."
Music has always been a part of his life since his dad is a professional reggae musician.
"He was playing a lot of music around the house," Shameik says of his father. "It was a lot of reggae. My entire family is Jamaican, so that's really all they listen to. My dad always tells this story where he would tap a rhythm on a table, and I would tap it back when I was little."
It seems like music was just an innate talent that Shameik was born with, but as he was growing up all he really wanted to be was a professional baller.
"I love basketball. It was my first love. Michael Jordan was my favorite player, and now I really love Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. At first I wasn't interested in music at all, I just wanted to be a ball player," he says. "Eventually when I heard hip hop and R&B around the age of 15, I loved it, and it was the style of music that I wanted to do. I love reggae music, but I didn't want to be a reggae singer. The style of music that I love is more hip hop, pop and R&B."
Shameik got to put his own musical tastes on display through the release of his debut mixtape, I Am Da Beat, last year. Even though you can hear tinges of reggae flow in "Show Out" (featuring Shawty Lo), it's straight-up hip hop on "Young Boi" (featuring TK Da Man) and R&B smoothness on the latest single, "Roc Wit Me." Shameik says that there is one contemporary artist who serves as his ultimate inspiration.
"Chris Brown is my inspiration. I love his music, his videos, his drive. He's a great performer and artist," he reveals. "I would love to work with Chris. I would also like to work with Ciara."
After basketball and before music, there was another art form that first piqued Shameik's interest.
"Dance was the first thing that I got into. My dad took me to see a movie called You Got Served. I went in with my pants pulled up to my bellybutton, and I came out sagging. It literally changed my life. I've loved dancing ever since then, and it was basically because of Omarion. He was my favorite in the movie. I just started watching him and fell in love with dance and couldn't stop," he recalls. "At first when I said I want to dance, my parents didn't pay any real attention to it. Then when they actually saw me in action, they saw who I really was. They believed in me, got behind me and started taking me to dance class and helping me get to where I wanted to be."
His parents enrolled him in Chymes Dance Studio and eventually Gotta Dance Atlanta and Dance 411 after witnessing Shameik's first underground dance battle.
"It was only two weeks after I started taking dance seriously. There were about 10 people between me and the other last dancer standing, and he beat me. It was embarrassing, there was so many people. It was a really good battle, though. I went through everybody, so I was feeling a bit cocky, then he just brought me back to speed," Shameik remembers. "I said, 'I'm never going to lose again.' So I worked and practiced, and when I met him again I beat him and haven't lost since. I was motivated to dance harder and to practice more. Losing was a good push. Things happen for a reason."
He honed his dance skills and was cast in music videos for for Keri Hilson ("Turnin' Me On"), Soulja Boy ("Bird Walk") and Pop It Off Boyz ("Crank Dat Batman"). There are two choreographers in particular that Shameik would love to work with.
"The choreographer of You Got Served, Dave Scott. He's really, really good. I would love to work with Roland 'RoRo' Tabor, the choreographer for some of Omarion's performances that I love, like the BET Hip Hop Awards and Soul Train Awards, too."
Aside from "Incredible Crew," continuing to polish his acting, dancing and singing abilities and releasing his latest single in "Roc Wit Me" and working on a new album, Shameik has his sights set on what many teens his age look forward to.
"I definitely plan on going to college, it's just about when. Right now if everything takes off well, like I hope it will, I might be too busy, but a few years from now I might be able to jump into it, get my degree and make my parents proud."
"Incredible Crew" airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on Cartoon Network. For more information, visit shameikmoore.com.
Bleeding Rainbow – Yeah Right (Kanine) The third album from the Philadelphia's Sarah Everton and Rob Garcia marks their development into a four-piece, with the addition of Al Creedon on guitar and Greg Frantz on drums. While Yeah Right shows the band members pushing themselves further creatively, the sonic influence of My Bloody Valentine, Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana can still be felt, as on their last effort, 2010's Prism Eyes. It's no wonder that fans of the group now include Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl. Local Natives – Hummingbird (Frenchkiss) The Angelenos not only sell out shows in their hometown (last night at the Fonda and tonight at the El Rey), several of the dates on their upcoming national tour in support of Hummingbird are already sold out as well. Although this is just their sophomore release, they've become such a big part of the L.A. scene that I feel like they've been around for a lot longer than five years. For Hummingbird, the quartet actually ventured outside of Cali to record for the first time in Montreal and Brooklyn. The results, including gorgeous first single "Breakers," are fantastic. On an On – Give In (Roll Call) The trio of Nate Eiesland, Alissa Ricci and Ryne Estwing emerged from Scattered Trees to create an incredible debut in Give In. The album's first two singles, "The Hunter" and "Ghosts," have already amassed hundreds of thousands of plus on SoundCloud and YouTube, but go ahead and listen for yourself. Catch them perform live at the Echo on Friday.
Tegan and Sara – Heartthrob (Warner Bros.)
For over 13 years, the Quin twins have successfully defied genre boundaries selling almost one million albums and touring with acts from Neil Young to Weezer and Death Cab for Cutie. With the release of their seventh studio album, their first in four years, the duo continue to deliver songs you identify with, pulling at your heartstrings and always provoking you to dance.
Also available – Aimee Bobruk's /ba.'brook/; Amor de Dias' The House at Sea; Andrea Bocelli's Passione; Ashanti's BraveHeart; Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite's Get Up!; Blue Sky Riders' Finally Home; Charlie Wilson's Love, Charlie; Chelsea Wolfe's Prayer for the Unborn; Colton Dixon's A Messenger; Destiny's Child's Love Songs (Greatest Hits compilation); Ducktails' The Flower Lane; Elin Ruth's self-titled; Emancipator's Dusk to Dawn; Emmy Rossum's Sentimental Journey; Fiction Family's Reunion; Hatebreed's The Divinity of Purpose; The History of Apple Pie's Out of View; Kris Kristofferson's Feeling Mortal; Lisa Loeb's No Fairy Tale; Mice Parade's Candela; Radar Bros.' Eight; Rock Candy Funk Party's We Want to Groove; Tall Firs' Out of It and Into It; Terri Clark's Classic; Tomahawk's Oddfellows
TV – Although there are still a few more episodes (three, plus the Christmas special) left to air from Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey Season 3 here in the U.S., you can pick up the entire season today; Femme Fatales: The Complete First Season; Pan Am – Season 01
Film –The Cold Light of Day stars Henry Cavill (the new Superman), Sigourney Weaver and Bruce Willis; Speaking of Bruce Willis, the Die Hard: 25th Anniversary Collection comes out today and includes all four films, plus a "Decoding Die Hard" bonus disc; For the kids, there's Hotel Transylvania, with the voices of Adam Sandler and Kevin James, and Wreck-It Ralph, with the voices of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman and Jane Lynch; Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken and Tom Waits in Seven Psychopaths
Also available – All Superheroes Must Die; The Awakening; Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2; Citadel; The Duelists; Hello I Must Be Going; Noobz; Paranormal Activity 4
Elysian Valley (between Atwater Village and Silver Lake) has been known as Frogtown since the 1960s and '70s, when the frog population of the Los Angeles River exploded and the amphibians roamed the neighborhood's streets and lawns. This mural pays homage to the Pacific Tree Frog (aka the Pacific Chorus Frog) in particular, a species that still calls the L.A. River home. It also features several plants and flowers, like the California/golden poppy, that are common to the area. You can check out the mural along the Los Angeles River Greenway Trail, just east of Marsh Park (2960 Marsh St.) in Elysian Valley.
Nicholas Sparks @ Barnes & Noble (The Grove)
The bestselling author whose novels, such as The Notebook, A Walk to Remember and Dear John, have successfully transitioned to the big screen celebrates the adaptation of his 2010 book Safe Haven with a signing at Barnes & Noble. The film, directed by Lasse Hallström and starring Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough, releases on Valentine's Day.
FRIDAY, JAN. 25
Gilt Groupe Warehouse Sale @ Siren Studios (Hollywood)
Every so often the online shopping destination hosts a massive event where designer men's and women's clothes, shoes and accessories from labels like Rag & Bone, Cynthia Rowley and Carolina Herrera are all on sale. Tickets for the Friday preview are $25, while various time slots on Saturday are $5-$20.
In Theaters This Week Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters puts a new spin on the old story with Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as the title siblings; Paul Giamatti and Rob Mayes in the adaptation of David Wong's John Dies at the End; An interconnected series of shorts about finding the most banned movie in the world, Movie 43 boasts an all-star cast that includes Kate Winslet, Emma Stone, Dennis Quaid and Seth MacFarlane; Parker stars Jason Statham and Jennifer Lopez.
Tommy Santee Klaws (Lauren Everett)
SUNDAY, JAN. 27
In This Together Album Release Show @ Echo Country Outpost (Echo Park)
Join HeyDay Media Group artists in celebrating the release of the In This Together compilation. All proceeds from the album go directly to Sound Art as well as the recording artists that include RT 'N the 44s, Jim Reynolds, Fort King and Tommy Santee Klaws.
Princess Mononoke @ The Aero (Santa Monica)
American Cinematheque spotlights animated masterpieces like Princess Mononoke in a series entitled The Castle Returns: Miyazaki, Takahata and the Masters of Studio Ghibli 2013. Besides Hayao Miyazaki's epic 1997 classic screening tonight at the Aero and Feb. 10 at the Egyptian, other films in the series include Howl's Moving Castle (Feb. 3 at the Egyptian), Ponyo (Feb. 10 at the Aero) and, of course, Castle in the Sky (Feb. 2 at the Egyptian, Feb. 10 at the Aero).
MONDAY, JAN. 28
Doug Benson's Movie Interruption @ The Cinefamily (Mid-City West)
The collective sobs of tweens lamenting the conclusion of the Twilight film franchise still echo in the pop culture atmosphere, and who better to send the series off with a firm kick in the ass than Doug Benson and his comedy cronies. His pals include everyone from Sarah Silverman to Brian Posehn and Zach Galifianakis, so expect a lot of laughs in between the farewell tears during Twilight – Breaking Dawn, Part 2.
Adam Green & Binki Shapiro
TUESDAY, JAN. 29
Adam Green & Binki Shapiro @ Bootleg Theater (Westlake)
You probably recognize Adam Green from the Moldy Peaches and Binki Shapiro from Little Joy, and they've joined forces to create a brand new, self-titled album (available today). Full of tracks that make you clap your hands, sway your hips and sing along, the album is a definite must-have, and makes me extremely curious to check the duo out live.
"The Gift" @ Geffen Playhouse (Westwood)
Don't be so sad over the cancellation of "Don't Trust the B in Apartment 23," all you James Van Der Beek fans. "The Gift"'s stellar cast includes Kathy Baker, Chris Mulkey, Jaime Ray Newman and Van Der Beek. Written by Australia's Joanna Murray-Smith, the play thrusts two drastically different couples – young artists Martin and Chloe, and middle-aged, rich traditionalists Ed and Sadie – while on vacation. The results are hilarious and thought provoking. Through March 10.
WEDNESDAY, JAN. 30
Willy Mason @ Hotel Café (Hollywood)
The Massachusetts singer-songwriter just released a new EP, Don't Stop Now, and is working on his third studio effort for release later this year. His family pedigree is deeply rooted in storytelling, so it's no wonder that Mason's lyrics are so enthralling. Witness his lyrical prowess and musical skills on display at Hotel Café.
6060 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles (Mid-City West) 323-930-2277
Growing up, my dad was obsessed with cars. We always had at least four of them – ranging from Mercedez-Benz sedans to a DeLorean DMC-12 and various Ferrari convertibles – even though there were only two drivers in our household. The main chore my dad had for my sisters and me on the weekends was to wash, vacuum out and wax each vehicle. Instead of loving these classic automobiles, I was pretty much indifferent to them.
That is, until I met Alex Manos.
The owner and founder of Beverly Hills Car Club took me on a recent visit to one of his favorite places in Los Angeles, Petersen Automotive Museum, and his enthusiasm was infectious. We were in the lobby for just a few minutes to snap a photo in front of the museum's sign, and he can hardly stand still in anticipation of showing me all the cars.
Alex Manos with the 1916 Miller Golden Submarine
"As a kid I always grew up around classic cars. My parents had a Volvo 1800S, a two-door sports car, Aston Martin lookalike. It was really cool. They also had a Volvo Amazon," remembers Alex. "So, classic cars have always been a passion and something I've had a love for."
The first model to come into view as we begging exploring the Petersen is a gorgeous 1963 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III, formerly owned by Emmy-winning director John Frankenheimer and his wife Evans, and Alex tells me about his previous visits to the museum.
"One of my first times here was for a party being thrown by Snoop Dogg. I remember seeing the 1938 Alfa Romeo here and the 1949 XK120 Jaguar," he shares.
And yes, he recognizes each car on sight and can immediately come up with the make, model and year in every instance. When I remark that he could spend an hour just looking at the details of all the cars, Alex corrects me, saying, "Much longer than an hour! If you are passionate about these automobiles, just staring at one is a relaxing thing. It's like staring at the ocean for some people, staring at these cars."
One could really take an entire day to take in everything at the Petersen Automotive Museum. Their current exhibits include Sculpture in Motion: Masterpieces of Italian Design (running through Feb. 3) – in which Alex could be heard to exclaim, "What if you rolled up to a club in this car?!" – and Aerodynamics: From Art to Science (running through May 27) that showcased sleek and completely unique body designs, like the 1916 Miller Golden Submarine. The museum unveils a new exhibit, Fins, Flash, and Flying on Four Wheels on Feb. 23 with more than a dozen iconic vehicles with fins, including the 1959 Cadillac, 1937 Delage Aerosport and 1952 Spohn Palos.
You don't have to be as avid a car lover as Alex to enjoy the museum, though. Some of their permanent exhibits, like Hot Wheels and Hollywood Gallery: Cars of Film and Television, appeal to everyone. Besides a Batmobile and Robin's Motorcycle, there's the 1965 Mercedes-Benz from The Hangover and, in honor of the new Gangster Squad film, the Petersen hosted an exhibit of costumes, props and vehicles driven by actors such as Emma Stone in the movie.
Alex with the 1965 Mercedes-Benz from The Hangover
Being approached by several celebrities who were intrigued by his ride is actually how Alex was struck with the idea of starting Beverly Hills Car Club.
"About 12 years ago, I bought a 1962 Lincoln Continental with suicide doors. I bought the car from a guy who had owned it for 30 years and was the manager of the service department at a Lincoln dealership. So the car was perfect mechanically, and everywhere I drove it people would try to buy it from me. Shaquille O'Neal pulled me over. Hype Williams chased me down," he recalls. "After a while, I was like, 'You know what, I'm going to sell this car and get another one.' I sold that car, and it just started escalating from there."
Alex's next car was a convertible that needed some work.
"After I sold that first Lincoln, I started restoring cars. I bought a convertible, painted it and started getting into the restoration aspect of it. It really gives you a deeper love for the cars because you're doing so much work on them."
Since he's always had a creative flair, it was easy for Alex to envision what the convertible would end up looking like, and he found a lot of joy in dreaming up the details, like what color combinations to use. Alex's uses this same keen eye to discern a car's ultimate potential when purchasing cars to sell through Beverly Hills Car Club, which he founded in 2008.
"Our cars come through dealers, auctions and the Internet – a bit of everything. We have cars from $1,500 all the way up to over $200,000. We're probably the only place that's like that, where you can buy a car for $2,000 and then the next car down is $200,000. It gives everyone a chance to find their dream," he says. "The great thing about this company is that if you only have a small budget, you can still buy your dream car. You can build it up and put money into it slowly."
Beverly Hills Car Club really do have something for car collectors from any walk of life. They basically buy and sell each model as-is. Most of their inventory is comprised of European cars, but they do buy and sell Ford Mustangs and Thunderbirds as well as Chevy Corvettes. Right now they have a 1965 Mercedes-Benz 220SE Coupe, like the one in The Hangover that's at the Petersen, for just $1,250. Since it needs a lot of restoration work, it's the perfect starter car. They have a 1973 Porsche 911T Targa in good condition for $26,500 and a pristine 1938 Peugeot 402BL Eclipse Decapotable for $189,500. You can visit their showroom in East Los Angeles (4576 1/2 Worth St.), where they have two warehouses with 50,000 square feet full of classic cars.
The 1953 Nash-Healey on display at the Petersen elicits a funny story from Alex.
Alex with the 1953 Nash-Healey
"I had that car there, [points to] the Nash-Healey by Pinin Farina. It was a restoration project. A friend of mine from Coldplay was here at the museum, took a picture of this car and sent it to me because he had seen the one I had at the dealership. He said, 'I don't know if you know what you have!' I replied, 'Oh, I know what I have,'" Alex says with a laugh.
Although the Ferrari 275 GTB is one of his favorite cars and he has a special affinity for Mercedes, Alex admits to falling in love every time a new vehicle is brought to their showroom.
"Every time a car gets here, it almost feels like a rare, new find, and I get obsessed with that car until the next one comes."
It's this passion that makes Alex's excitement so palpable whenever he talks about classic cars. It's his fervent dedication that fuels Beverly Hills Car Club to strive for the best and bring collectors the most rare automobiles imaginable.
"We serve customers worldwide, so we have people asking for all different things. With these cars, no request is crazy. That 'want' everyone has who is in this business or has this as a hobby, to find that one rare car that nobody else has – there's just something about it. That's what I think makes us successful, that there is so much passion and love for the cars that it just drives you more. If someone has a job, and they're not happy with what they're doing, it shows. If you go to a restaurant and the chef hates his job, then the food doesn't taste good. If you go to a restaurant and they love what they're doing, then the food is delicious."
Beverly Hills Car Club is located at 4576 1/2 Worth St., Los Angeles. For more information, visit beverlyhillscarclub.com.
Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello of the Postal Service
JAN. 22, 2013
The Postal Service 2013
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the release of Ben Gibbard and Jimmy Tamborello's synth-pop project, the Postal Service's, one and only album. Give Up is not only its label, Sub Pop's, second-highest selling album (Nirvana's Bleach is the highest.), it's also one of my favorite albums of all time. In commemoration of the anniversary, Sub Pop plans to release a deluxe edition of Give Up, and a tour – including an appearance at Coachella – is rumored to be in the works.
Bad Religion – True North (Epitaph)
It's been about 34 years since they formed and this is the band's16th studio album, yet Bad Religion are still as relevant as ever. True North is chock full of their trademark biting yet eloquent lyrics, and songs like "Robin Hood in Reverse" and "Land of Endless Greed" are sure to get mosh pits going. They play s sold-out show at the Echo tomorrow night, but at 3 p.m. (PST) today you can watch a short live set and Q&A being broadcast from KROQ's Red Bull Sound Space via their website.
Big Harp – Chain Letters (Saddle Creek)
I've seen Stefanie Drootin-Senseney perform with Bright Eyes, She & Him and the Good Life – the band she was playing with when she met future husband and Big Harp musical partner, Chris Senseney. Her vibrant energy is undeniable on stage and no less palpable on Chain Letters, while his sensual, sonorous voice drips lyrical stories. See them at a free in-store tonight at Origami Vinyl or Friday night at Hotel Café.
FIDLAR – Self-titled (Mom & Pop)
One of the year's most anticipated albums, the L.A. quartet's self-titled debut explodes with frenetic screams, howls and screeches underlined and accentuated with infectious basslines and drum beats to get any crowd moving. Since 2009, FIDLAR has cultivated their sound, relentlessly touring with the likes of Black Lips, OFF!, Japanther and the Hives and releasing two EPs. Catch them at the LA Fort in Downtown tonight or at Amoeba for a free in-store on Thursday.
He's My Brother, She's My Sister – Nobody Dances in This Town (Park the Van)
Hands down one of the hottest new acts in Los Angeles, the fivesome – headed by sibling vocalists Robert and Rachel Kolar and featuring tap-dancing drummer Lauren Brown – is completely unique. From foot-stomping blues and cabaret, clap-along folk and all-out glam rock, He's My Brother, She's My Sister does it all – and they do it all very well. Trust me, you're going to love them.
The Joy Formidable – Wolf's Law (Atlantic)
The Welsh trio broke out in 2011 with "Whirring" off The Big Roar and decided to hunker down in a tiny town in Maine to write a follow-up, resulting in Wolf's Law. Boasting tracks like "Maw Maw," "This Ladder Is Ours" and "Bats," the Joy Formidable is poised to make turn even more heads with this release.
The Night Marchers – Allez Allez (Swami)
With a pedigree that includes the likes of Hot Snakes, Rocket from the Crypt, Drive Like Jehu and Beehive and the Barracudas, the Night Marchers return with a sophomore effort that pulsates with a seething energy. Allez Allez kicks off with the blues-heavy "Tropical Depression," gets in-your-face during "Loud, Dumb and Mean," reflective in "Pain" and snarling with "Fisting the Fan Base." Pillowfight – Self-titled (Bulk)
Whether it's his work with Handsome Boy Modeling School, Detron 3030, Gorillaz or Head Automatica, Dan the Automator is one of my favorite producers. Pair his prowess with the sultry lead vocals of hip-hop violinist Emily Wells, Kid Koala on the 1s and 2s and Lateef the Truthspeaker contributing backing vocals, and you have a bona fide supergroup in Pillowfight. Their self-titled debut's tracks will have you head-nodding, while it's artwork by David Choe will have you oohing and aahing.
Also available – Aaron Neville's My True Story; Adam Ant's Adam Ant Is the BlueBlack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter; Alasdair Roberts & Friends' A Wonder Working Stone; Arbouretum's Coming Out of the Fog; Camper Van Beethoven's La Costa Perdida; Carrie Rodriguez's Give Me All You Got; Foxygen's We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic; Gary Allan's Set You Free; The Growlers' Hung at Heart; Guided By Voices' Down By the Racetrack; Hilly Eye's Reasons to Live; Jeffrey Novak's Baron in the Trees; The Lone Bellow's Self-titled; Love and Death's Between Here & Lost; Nightlands' Oak Island; Nosaj Thing's Home; Otep's Hydra; Petra Haden's Petra Goes to the Movies; Poppy Ackroyd's Escapement; Ra Ra Riot's Beta Love; Randy Houser's How Country Feels; Say Anything's All My Friends Are Enemies: Early Rarities; The Shadowboxers' Red Room; Shugo Tokumaru's In Focus?; Speck Mountain's Badwater; This Town Needs Guns' 188.8.131.52.0; Toro Y Moi's Anything in Return; Trapt's Reborn; Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown's Wild Child; The Used's Vulnerable (II); Widowspeak's Almanac
Film – Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña star as L.A. cops in David Ayer's edgy End of Watch; For a Good Time, Call… stars Ari Graynor, Lauren Miller and Justin Long; Patton Oswalt and Johnny Knoxville in Nature Calls; John Krasinski and Olivia Thirlby in Nobody Walks; Precious' Lee Daniels adapts Pete Dexter's The Paperboy with a cast that includes Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, Matthew McConaughey, David Oyelowo and Zac Efron; Searching for Sugar Man is the story of '70s rock icon Rodriguez
TV –Kendra: Season 4; The Men Who Built America; Scarecrow & Mrs. King: Complete Fourth Season
Also available –Death Race 3: Inferno; Fat Kid Rules the World; Hansel & Gretel: Warriors of Witchcraft; Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai; Keep the Lights On; Officer Down; Pina (Criterion Collection); Tai Chi Zero
The blue skull-faced man in the forefront of this piece wears Michael Jackson's red jacket, heart-adorned T-shirt and black pants from the artist's "Beat It" video from the waist up. A tribal costume covers the bottom half of his body. It seems like another man in a black coat is lurking just behind him, too. This many armed figure stands at the corner of Rose Court and Pacific Avenue in Venice Beach.
Jake Bellows, Kate Earl @ Hotel Café (Hollywood) The Neva Dinova frontman, Bellows, has been hard at work on an album with Ben Brodin, Ryan Fox, Todd Fink and Heath Koontz. He's whetting our appetites with a limited-edition cassette, entitled Help, and celebrating the tape's release tonight. Stick around for one of my favorite female singer-songwriters to inhabit Los Angeles, the fabulous Kate Earl.
FRIDAY, JAN. 18
In Theaters This Week Michael Apted's latest installment of his Up series, 56 Up; Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe in Broken City; Luv stars Danny Glover, Common and Charles Dutton; Arnold Schwarzenegger and Johnny Knoxville in The Last Stand; Guillermo del Toro produced Mama, starring Jessica Chastain.
SATURDAY, JAN. 19
Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebrations Aside from the annual Kingdom Day Parade taking place at 11 a.m. on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (from Western Avenue to Crenshaw Boulevard then Vernon Avenue) and culminating with a festival at Leimert Park, the City of Long Beach is holding a Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace & Unity Parade Celebration, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Also, the International House of Blues Foundation joins forces with local students and community members for the Inspired By His Words celebration, featuring music, dance, spoken word and artwork, at the House of Blues Sunset Strip at 10 a.m.
Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr @ Venue TBA The continuously off-the-wall duo are playing a stripped down, intimate set at a super secret location. To find out all the details, you must visit mininormalcrashing.com/los-angeles and RSVP via Facebook. The band does give us one hint on their website: "we can say that there will be fruits and vegetables available on site."
Andrew Knott and Daniel Healy in "Backbeat" (Nobby Clark)
SUNDAY, JAN. 20
"Backbeat" @ Ahmanson Theatre (Downtown) The 1994 film, which chronicles the early days of the Beatles in Hamburg, Germany, was originally re-imagined for the stage three years ago. The enthralling musical production hits Los Angeles directly from London, highlighting the birth of songs by John, Paul, George, Pete and Stu through March 1.
MONDAY, JAN. 21
dineLA YAY, it's that time of year again! Over 280 restaurants, including places from Katsuya and Il Fornaio to Bouchon and the Bazaar by José Andrés, serve specially priced ($15-$5) prix-fixe menus over the course of 12 days. It's your chance to have a budget friendly culinary adventure that supports our city's dining establishments.
TUESDAY, JAN. 22
Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors @ Hotel Café (Hollywood) Fronted by the husband-and-wife team of Drew and Ellie Holcomb, the Nashville quartet is gearing up for the release of their latest album, Good Light, on Feb. 22. First single, "Tennessee," boasts the same brand of Americana the singer-songwriter is known for, and their live performances are touching and emotional.
MS MR (Tyler Kohlhoff)
MS MR @ The Echo (Echo Park) The New York duo of Lizza Plapinger and Max Hershenow has been making waves with their first single, "Hurricane," and its visually frenetic video. See them at the Echo before they graduate to headlining bigger venues the next time they swing through town.
Muse @ Staples Center (Downtown) It's ma-ma-mad-madness if you've never seen the UK-based trio perform live before. They're in Los Angeles for three nights (tonight, Thursday and Saturday) in support of their sixth album, The 2nd Law. Prepare to be dazzled by an all-out aural and visual assault on the senses.
5772 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles (West L.A.) 323-935-0268
Originally from Atlanta, Ga., photographer Austen Risolvato knew she was destined for a life in Los Angeles from a very young age.
"I came out here on a family vacation when I was 11 and went to the Beverly Center. I was tripping out because I had never seen a mall that big," she recalls. "Atlanta has big malls, but Beverly Center's a whole block, and Clueless had just come out – which was all L.A. shopping. We were going up the escalator at Beverly Center, I looked at my mom and said, 'I'm going to l live here someday.' Eight years later, I moved to L.A."
Although Austen has spent blocks of the past nine years traveling around the world as the official tour photographer for bands like Daughtry, 311 and Porcelain Black, Los Angeles has served as her home base for the majority of the time. She especially loves the city for restaurants and cafés that she can frequent at late hours since her schedule is so hectic.
"I work really long hours, so coffee is a big part of my life. There are a couple of coffee shops in Atlanta that genuinely care about the coffee itself, but it's not been my experience that it's on the level that it is here," she says.
Austen takes me to one of her favorite coffee spots in her neighborhood, Paper or Plastik Café. Owned and run by Anya and Yasha Michelson and their daughter Marina, the café prides itself on using single-origin, eco-friendly beans sourced from Intelligentsia, Ecco Caffe, Handsome Roasters and Coava and teas from T Salon and Kusmi Tea. While their beverage selection that includes pour-over coffees and seasonal teas is their main attraction, they also serve house-made sandwiches, salads, soups and pastries from organic, locally sourced ingredients.
She recently decided to convert to a vegetarian diet supplemented by meat that has been sustainably and humanely raised, and she's found a few other places besides Paper or Plastik to frequent.
"There's a place down the street called Bloom Café that I just went to for the first time, and it's pretty great. They have a Three Grain Vegetable Burger that tastes more like a sloppy joe. It's awesome. There's a sushi place that I love called B.A.D. Sushi. They have a roll called the B.A.D. Salmon Roll, which is amazing. It's basically sushi crack. There's Alcove Café in Los Feliz and Real Food Daily, too. I do miss bacon, though. My friend Alex Carpenter has a song about bacon that I listen to and cry myself to sleep to at night for how much I miss bacon," she admits as she starts to sing the song. "As much as I miss bacon, I just have more energy and feel better not eating meat."
In the nine years that I've known Austen, her body has slowly become adorned with more and more tattoo art, so I have to ask what her latest piece looks like.
"I got Snoopy in March. I had the same dog for 16 years, my Snoopy beagle, and I wanted to get something for her since we had to put her down in January," she says. "The same guy's been doing my tattoos for a long time now, Dave Sanchez. He's at Yer Cheat'n Heart in Gardena. Other than my back he's done everything, and he's amazing. We're working on my Disney sleeve [consisting of Dumbo, Ariel, Dopey, Bambi, Peter Pan]. My side panel is the outline of Georgia with a Coca-Cola bottle cap and a negative space heart over Atlanta, a peach and a teddy bear for my grandma. We have to finish the California and Italy areas. I've had the linework for them on my side for six years; I'm just a wimp. We have a deal that as soon as Dave finishes my right arm I can't get anything else until I let him finish my side."
It just so happens that Paper or Plastik's industrial yet warm and inviting atmosphere is being used as a shooting location for a production the day that we conduct our interview, and as Austen sips on an iced version of her usual latte, she remarks, "There are some very pretty people here today."
Anya and Marina curate the Anyash Design & Gift shop at the location, and Yasha serves as the artistic director for the MiMoDa dance studio, which is located behind the café. It's definitely a place that a coffee-lover and former dancer like Austen would feel at home in.
"Before shooting, I was dancing a lot: 20-plus hours a week, that was my focus. I also spent time studying science because I thought that I wanted to be an epidemiologist. I wanted to work at the CDC with Ebola. Instead, I live on tour buses," she says with a laugh. "My mom likes to tell the story that Dumbo was my first friend. I wasn't a kid that you could just park in front of the TV, but if you put Dumbo on, I was sold. Anything that was visually intense was my gateway to photography, long before taking a single picture."
The first camera that Austen had, a Kodak Photo FX, was actually the one she used to shoot a concert for the first time in 1997.
"They were a band called the Reruns. My best guy friend, Gunnard was the drummer, and I was like that really annoying friend who was always taking pictures of everything whenever everybody was hanging out. They were playing a show, and Gunnard asked, 'You're always taking pictures, why don't you do it when my band is playing?'. The Reruns were friends with a bunch of other bands, and I started shooting them all. It was cool because some of them went on to be influential in different areas of indie rock, like Ben Eberbaugh, who was in the Reruns, ended up being in the Black Lips. I grew up around all these people who were playing music, and I ended up taking pictures of all of them."
She eventually began studying the craft at the Savannah College of Art and Design, and since music was always a part of Austen's life growing up, it's no wonder that once an opportunity to tour with an established, multi-platinum selling band presented itself, she didn't hesitate to pack up and go.
"My mom and step-dad are big music people. I grew up listening to Patsy Cline, the Beatles and Carolina beach music. My first concert was New Kids on the Block with MC Hammer, and I still visually remember it. That was the first time I saw a show the way I shoot it because it was a pop show; the visuals were a production," she remembers. "Fourth grade was a big year, I saw Janet Jackson, the B-52s and the Grateful Dead all in one year. It was the Janet Tour with the wall of fire, her walking through it singing 'If.' That was one of the best shows I've ever seen."
Although she's met her and seen her perform live, Janet Jackson is one musician that Austen would love to work with in the future. Other than Janet and her brother Michael, Austen feels like she's photographed pretty much every artist that she's wanted to so far.
"I've been really lucky, the top five on the list of people that were alive during my lifetime that I wanted to shoot, the only one I didn't get to was Michael," she says. "Green Day's my favorite band, they have been since I was 10, and I've shot them. The New Kids got back together, and I got to shoot some shows. I shot No Doubt twice."
While she's photographed those musicians, plus Travis Barker, Bon Jovi, Snoop Dog, Lil Wayne and many more, her favorite band to shoot live is the All-American Rejects.
"My favorite band to shoot live is the All-American Rejects. There's nothing better than doing what I love, documenting a show, and having it be my friends doing what they love. I've been shooting them for six years, and they're still fun. That's not a knock on anybody else I shoot, but it does get repetitive. However, it doesn't get repetitive with the Rejects. Tyson Ritter on stage is like a cartoon character, flailing across the stage. They're one of the only acts where I can say that each one of them is that fun to shoot."
Whenever Austen leaves Los Angeles to tour, there is one thing she misses the most.
"Anytime I'm away from Disneyland too long, I start to twitch. When I walk into Disneyland, it's a living organism. Walt Disney said, 'Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.' It's always evolving," she says. "I look around at this totally absurd existence that is happening there, and it's the embodiment of the idea that no matter who you are, where you've come from or how big your dreams are, they can come true. When you look at how much Walt had done before Disneyland opened and how long it took him to build up the park, his big dream – it's a constant reminder for an artist who makes their living off their art, which is difficult at times, that when Walt was my age he was successful and broke, but it doesn't mean that it stops. There's no such thing as being too old for your dreams to come true. As long as you keep putting your work out into the universe, the universe is going to give back to you. Disneyland is a living, breathing reminder of that."
Austen even uses a setting from her favorite Disneyland ride, Peter Pan's Flight, as a metaphor when explaining her decision to switch gears photography-wise and stop touring.
"I've been living on buses since I was 18, and it's cool, like Neverland, but I just can't do it anymore, I'd like to put down some roots in this city," she confesses. "A lot of my close friends are getting married, so it's been cool to document a special day in the life of people I really care about by doing their wedding photography. I've started shooting video. I did a music video and some mini documentaries."
Portrait and commercial work is something Austen first gained experience in while working as an archivist for famed photographer David LaChapelle.
"When I went to work for David, my motivation was threefold. David's the reason I started shooting color film when I was a teenager. I was in love with black and white, I thought it was the only thing that could truly capture emotion. Then my parents got me a copy of Hotel Lachapelle, and it was like my head exploded. His colors are so rich, the tones are so deep. Some of that had to do with the fact that he was shooting film, but most of it had to do with his lighting technique. I left art school to go on tour, so I never learned how to light in a studio. A big part of being there was learning how to light in the studio which would allow me to, when I was ready, stop touring and transition my business into one place."
"David is not just a photographer, he's a brand," she continues. "I came away understanding how to make that happen, and if I wanted that to happen. I mean, I didn't sleep the whole time I worked there. It gave me a better understanding of photography as a business. Doing commercial photography allows you to do whatever you want; David is a model for that. He found a way to do commercial photography without sacrificing himself and used it to fund what he really want to do, like his film Rize."
As Austen bids farewell to life on the road, she begins a new chapter in her journey as a photographer. She has started work on a few photography projects that are very close to her heart. One is a Disneyland series where she visits locations at the theme park that her grandfather had captured on film in the past to do comparison shots. Another is a Neighboring Forestation series, where she captures the 'public face' and then the 'friendship face' of her close friends. For more information and to view some Neighboring Forestation photos, visit austen.la and youtube.com/austenrisolvato.
First off, a couple of my favorites unveiled new material over the past few days:
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs debuted new songs, including "Earth" and the title track, from their Mosquito album (releasing April 16) at the Glass House in Pomona on Friday. Vocalist Karen O says, "We would love for this music to make our fans feeeeel something, for it to stir some shit up inside of them, whatever that may be. SO much feeling went into this record, it was the rope ladder thrown down into the ditch for us to climb up and dust ourselves off. I hope others can climb up it too; we're excited to share the good vibes." Watch the teaser video for Mosquitohere.
A$AP Rocky – Long.Live.A$AP (RCA)
The NYC rapper (aka Rakim Mayers), who was named after hip-hop legend Rakim, drops his debut full-length that features the likes of Drake, Skrillex, 2 Chainz and Santigold. The deluxe version includes "I Come Apart" with soaring vocals courtesy of Florence Welch (Florence + the Machine).
Christopher Owens – Lysandre (Fat Possum)
The former Girls frontman enlisted a seven-piece band for the recording of his solo debut, and he'll have them in tow for a tour in support of Lysandre that hits Los Angeles March 22. Owens says the album was inspired by events surrounding Girls' first tour in the summer of 2008, so expect coming-of-age, road-trip tales.
Sean Lennon – Alter Egos (Chimera) Mystical Weapons – Self-Titled (Chimera)
Sean Lennon has two new releases out today. The first is his score for the Jordan Galland-directed film Alter Egos, which features Danny Masterson and Lennon. Cibo Matto's Miho Hatori (the first Gorillaz Noodle) lends her voice to some of the tracks as well. Lennon's other release is the result of an improvisational project with Deerhoof's Greg Saunier, known as Mystical Weapons.
Various Artists – West of Memphis: Voices for Justice (Sony Legacy)
The soundtrack for director Amy Berg's documentary about the wrongful prosecution and imprisonment of Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley for the 1993 murders of three boys in Arkansas features music by Band of Horses, Eddie Vedder, Lucinda Williams, Marilyn Manson, Nick Cave, Patti Smith and Bob Dylan.
Yo La Tengo – Fade (Matador)
The indie rockers have been together for nearly 30 years and release their 13th full-length, a pulsating, infectious album. Full of honest reflection and not the least bit pretentious, the trio take you on a musical journey that simultaneously gets your head bopping and tugs at your heartstrings.
Also available: Criminal Hygiene's CRMNL HYGNE; Dawn Richard's Goldenheart; Erin McKeown's Manifestra; Free Energy's Love Sign; Half Hearted Hero's Whatever; Holopaw's Academy Songs, Volume 1; Jamie Woolford's A Framed Life in Charming Light; Midnight Spin's Don't Let Me Sleep; Pantha du Prince's Elements of Light; Rice Cultivation Society's Sky Burial; Seth Glier's Things I Should Let You Know; Teena Marie's Beautiful; The Plot in You's Could You Watch Your Children Burn
Film – Liam Neeson reprises his role as ex-CIA operative Bryan Mills in Taken 2; Woody Allen directs a cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg, Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Ellen Page and Penélope Cruz in To Rome with Love; About Cherry stars James Franco and Heather Graham; Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal star as two mothers who take on their local school system in Won't Back Down.
TV –Being Human: Season 4; Men of a Certain Age: Season Two; Merlin: The Complete Fourth Season
Also available –17 Girls; 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Branded; China Heavyweight; I Am Bruce Lee; The Other Dream Team; The Possession
Pretty much every intersection of Echo Park Avenue, from Sunset Boulevard to Morton Avenue, in Echo Park is watched over by a stuffed animal – a rabbit, bear or frog – painted with a pink mask across its eyes. The fluorescent pink mask is the trademark of Leyla "Lo" Safai, who established HeartsChallenger as a visual art outlet in 2005.
She eventually started up an ice cream truck bearing the same moniker, and when it came time to create music for the truck to blare as it traveled through the streets, she turned to friend Ben Pollock. The duo became a music group, HeartsRevolution, in late 2005. Since then, they've toured the world over, leaving a trail of pink-masked paraphernalia in their wake.
The rabbit above can be found at Echo Park Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, and it not only wears the pink mask, it dons a T-shirt with 'Hang On!' emblazoned on its chest. More photos of stuffed animals hanging around the city are at Heart Street He(art).
Focus on Female Directors @ The Egyptian (Hollywood) The eighth annual program shines light on Oscar winners, documentarians, animators and other industry heavyweights and rising stars. Shorts to be screened include Ondi Timoner's "How Reddit Was Born," Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby's "When the Day Breaks" with Martha Wainwright and Clarissa de los Reyes' "Johnny Loves Dolores."
50-Cent Drinks @ The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf To celebrate their 50th anniversary, the chain café, which started in Los Angeles, is offering three different specialty drinks, their Heritage Favorites – Chai Tea Latte, English Toffee Latte and English Toffee Iced Blended – for just 50 cents. They're also selling a special Anniversary Blend coffee and tea in honor of the occasion.
FRIDAY, JAN. 11
In Theaters This Week Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling and Sean Penn in Gangster Squad; A Haunted House with Marlon Wayans; Dustin Hoffman directs Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly and Michael Gambon in Quartet; Struck By Lightning with a screenplay by and starring Chris Colfer ("Glee").
Yeah Yeah Yeahs @ Glass House (Pomona) It's no secret how much I love Karen O, so news of a brand-new YYY's album being released in the spring has me incredibly excited. Nothing compares to seeing this band live, and experiencing them in a venue as intimate as the Glass House is a rare treat. They just released more tickets for this show, so grab them while you can!
Keane (Alex Lake)
SATURDAY, JAN. 12
Keane, Youngblood Hawke @ Pantages Theatre (Hollywood) Tom Chaplin has such a
remarkable voice, so seeing Keane perform live can be an
unforgettable experience. The band swings through the States, with Los
Angeles' Youngblood Hawke, in support of their latest effort,
Julie Delpy @ The Aero (Santa Monica) The actress-turned-writer/director will be on hand for a discussion between a double feature of her latest efforts, 2007's 2 Days in Paris and last year's 2 Days in New York. In Paris, she stars as Marion, opposite Adam Goldberg's Jack, while on vacation in the City of Lights. Chris Rock is Marion's new beau, Mingus, in New York, where the couple endures a visit from her family.
SUNDAY, JAN. 13
Pasadena Cheeseburger Week Did you know the cheeseburger was born in Pasadena in the mid-1920s? From Jan. 13 and 18, Crown City celebrates the 'accidental' creation of the American favorite by Lionel Sternberger at his dad's restaurant, Rite Spot. You can vote for which Pasadena restaurant serves the best cheeseburger in the Cheeseburger Challenge. Participating establishments include, the Counter, the Original TOPS, Pie 'n Burger and Umami.
TUESDAY, JAN. 15
Cesar Millan @ Barnes & Noble (The Grove) I don't know a single dog lover who hasn't watched at least one episode of the "Dog Whisperer." Millan has such an inspirational story and has authored several books, including the just-released Short Guide to a Happy Dog: 98 Essential Tips and Techniques, which he'll be signing tonight.
WEDNESDAY, JAN. 16
Tony Fletcher @ Book Soup (West Hollywood) The music journalist and biographer of Keith Moon and R.E.M. discusses and signs copies of his latest book, A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of the Smiths. Released last month, the book tells the story of the tumultuous English band.
When translated from an ancient dialect, the word 'nirè' means: the one with wings. And It's clear from the moment one first comes across singer and songwriter NiRè AllDai, that she's intent on keeping the world on its toes. Whether you became acquainted with her through songs she's written for artists like Mary J. Blige, Demi Lovato, KeKe Palmer, Keri Hilson, material she's worked on with Dr. Dre, Timbaland, Scott Storch, Swizz Beats or Stargate or through her own singles such as "STFU (Shut the Fuck Up & Party)," "Inside Out" and "Hella Bad," her magnetic personality, inimitable fashion sense and undeniable talent make her hard to ignore.
It's no wonder that such a force to be reckoned with would take me to one of the most unforgettable places I've been in all of Los Angeles: Lake Shrine Temple. With graceful swans and ducks wading in the lake, trickling waterfalls and walking paths lined by lush green foliage dotted with brightly colored flowers, it's truly one of the most remarkably gorgeous, serenely peaceful settings, and one of NiRè's favorite places ever.
"If you walk around the lake three times, you start burning karma," she informs me as we start walking around the grounds. "It's so crazy that a lot of people don't even know that it's here."
NiRè in front of the Golden Lotus Archway
The plot of land was originally used for filming silent movies, before its hillsides were graded for development, save for a large basin. Natural springs filled the basin with water, forming Lake Santa Ynez. After sitting undeveloped for over 10 years, H. Everett McElroy bought the land with visions of turning the 10 acres into a private sanctuary for him and his wife. The McElroys lived in a houseboat they had transported to the site from Lake Mead while constructing the Mill House across the lake. Their eventual home was built complete with a 15-foot waterwheel that aids in sending overflow from the lake to the irrigation system.
In addition, they built a Dutch Windmill with a boat dock and landing before selling the property to an oil magnate, who moved into the windmill with plans to build a resort hotel at the site. His scheme was thwarted, however, when he dreamt three times of using the land as a "Church of All Religions." This phrase led him to the Self-Realization Fellowship Church of All Religions in Hollywood and its founder, Paramahansa Yogananda.
"Yogananda was a guru from India who came to America to bring yoga to the west. He prayed about having a place of serene, divine worship where people could come find peace," tells NiRè. "The whole purpose of Lake Shrine was for people to come here and be able to find peace."
Yogananda designed the Golden Lotus Archway, a "wall-less temple," and a monument honoring Mahatma Gandhi consisting of a brass and silver coffer with a portion of Gandhi's ashes encased in a thousand-year-old stone sarcophagus on the grounds. Lake Shrine was officially opened to the public in 1950, and in 1996, Yogananda's wish of constructing a temple on the site materialized in a 4,000 square foot white building on the hilltop overlooking the lake and the Pacific Ocean.
The Gandhi Memorial at Lake Shrine
"My aunt used to come where when she was young; she used to study Self-Realization. I went a few times, and I really like what they talk about and how they focus inward to solve problems instead of looking to outside sources or other people for fulfillment and happiness – finding that within yourself," shares NiRè. "I love this place. I live in the Valley, and it's a drive, but if I get a chance to come this way, I have to stop here."
NiRè is a native Angeleno, grew up living in West Los Angeles and the South Bay and has spent the past few years living in Hollywood and parts of the Valley.
"I love this city. The weather is beautiful. The beach is right here, or if we wanted to go snowboarding we could go to the snow really quick. We could go to San Diego, San Francisco or to Vegas – everything is just right here and super convenient. People seem to be a bit friendlier," she says. "It's what I know. I'll always have a house here, and a place for L.A. in my heart."
When it comes to other L.A. favorites, NiRè is quick to give her hairstylist (Reina B. of Reina's Hairstyling) a shout out, as well as the Standard for a good place to go dancing with friends, but she is a bit hesitant when divulging her regular shopping haunts.
"All my places to shop, I want to keep on the down low," she laughs. "I like little boutiques, flea markets, vintage shops. I like mixing vintage with nice [higher-end] pieces, whether it's shoes or a bag."
Besides Lake Shrine, some notable restaurants bring her to this side of town.
"There are so many cool places on PCH. There's Duke's, which I love. On the pier, right on the boardwalk, is the Beachcomber Café [which is now closed, sadly]. I always talk about it, but they serve tomato soup with blue cheese crumbles. And on top of it is a pot-pie crust. There's Café Habana, where they have Cuban food and the most amazing corn [the Grilled Corn Mexican Style]. I don't know exactly what's on it, but it's like God is in the corn."
NiRè's eyes light up when she describes the delicious corn and pretty much whenever she talks about anything that really excites her, especially music. Growing up, her parents listened to an eclectic range of music – "James Taylor, George Benson, Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind & Fire, the Carpenters" – and she started teaching herself how to play the piano at age 7.
"I just made up random songs sitting at the piano. I would come up with a list of songs, and at the end of the night I would make everyone come listen to me play them, neighbors too," she recalls.
You can tell how much she loves Lake Shrine, too, as she talks of its history and meaning in her own life. When she explains how plants were imported from all over the world to create the environment, it strikes me how apt of a favorite setting this is for an artist with as wide of a spectrum of influences as NiRè. All the roses, pine trees, palm trees at Lake Shrine seem random, but they're not really. Just as NiRè is able to combine her broad musical tastes into a successful blend of her own, Lake Shrine is a harmonious collection of diversity.
"You like music if it's good, it's good. Unless you grew up in a box and only like R&B or only like rock, if you like good music then you like good music. It's definitely a mish mosh here at Lake Shrine; the most random people walk these grounds. Some days you see people from the temple with their orange garb, and you can tell they're in prayer mode. One day I saw a crew of hardened individuals. I don't know what their background was, if they were from prison or where they came from, but Lake Shrine touched their hearts. I heard them say, 'Man, this is so dope. This is awesome,' and I was like, 'Yes," she remembers. "When I first got serious about writing I would always come here. It's great inspiration."
Growing up, NiRè looked to artists like Erykah Badu and Missy Elliott for inspiration.
"I would try to get to any free concert that I could see, and I've seen Erykah a few times, especially when she first came out. For me, that changed everything. No one was doing that style of music; it wasn't even a style of music at that point, so I was like, 'Yo, she's awesome doing what she wants.' She exudes this woman power, but she's still sexy, delicate. Along with Missy, she's a
Besides music, she also took dance classes and acted in plays.
"I was really into dance: jazz, hip hop, modern. I liked it being an active kid. If I wasn't dancing I was doing theater, musical theater or singing in a choir," she says. "My best role was in 'A Raisin in the Sun,' and I got some awards for it. Theater acting is where I got my love for the exchange that happens on stage. You give a certain kind of energy out and can immediately see if it was funny or not, if people believe what you're saying. I love that aspect of theater."
NiRè has been able to express her love for performing on stages from the Winter Music Conference in Miami to "Last Call with Carson Daly" and singing the national anthem at Clippers and Sparks games. Sports were actually another big part of her childhood.
"I ran track – that's so much of my life right there. It's not one of those sports where there's an object to the game. It's just go as fast as you can and win, that's it. It's very demanding and time consuming," she recalls. "It took a while to pry me away from track to start focusing on music because it just takes up all of your life."
The discipline she honed during those years in track, dance and theater instilled a discipline to work hard for what she wanted, specifically a career in music. As her songwriting skills blossomed, NiRè distributed handmade CD-R's all over town, and she was eventually hand picked by Timbaland for his writing team. Besides working with the aforementioned list of music hard-hitters, she also wrote "Superluva" for Mary J. Blige protege Starshell, which was produced by Fernando Garibay.
You can be sure that NiRè brings just as much fire and passion to her own material, including "Inside Out," featured on the soundtrack for the film What to Expect When You're Expecting, in her visually stimulating videos for songs like "Hella Bad" and on her forthcoming debut album, set to release on Virgin this year.
"I'm really excited about what's coming out in this next year. It's important to me to continue to grow my fan base. I really want to grab my fans, that's what brings longevity. So I want to release some more music before we go straight to radio. Things are just going to blossom from here on out, and people are going to get to know me. The dance stuff is really cool, but it's just a sliver of my personality," she says. "Music is changing, and it's changing into what I've been doing for the past year. It's more on an urban pop tip but still unique. I think what I bring to the table is a collection of different worlds. I've lived all over L.A. – from the hood to bougie parts to Hollywood where everyone's trying to hustle – I've listened to all types of music and I'm always myself. When there's a thousand messages coming from the television and radio telling you, 'This is what's in style,' it's difficult. It's tough to be yourself, but it's so liberating."