Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Priscilla Ahn

My Los Angeles with


If you watched Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway duke it out in the film Bride Wars, you probably shed some tears during the touching scene right before they walk down the aisle. "Dream, "the song that provided the soundtrack to this climactic scene was pivotal in tugging at the heartstrings, perhaps even more than the wistful glances between the movie's leads.

Priscilla Ahn is the L.A. singer-songwriter who penned "Dream," and while that tune is beautiful and powerfully emotional, it's really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the artist's talent. Growing up in Pennsylvania, Ahn began crafting songs and playing the guitar at age 14; she performed in front of an audience for the first time before even turning 18. Music eventually led Ahn to Los Angeles, and I was lucky enough to have witnessed some of her first shows in the city almost a decade ago. Her stellar voice had me from first listen.

Since then, she has released two full-lengths via Blue Note (2008's Joey Waronker-produced A Good Day, When You Grow Up from 2011) and two Japanese albums, as well as touring the world with the likes of Willie Nelson, Ray LaMontagne, Joshua Radin and Devotchka. For her latest effort, last February's This Is Where We Are, Ahn took a solitary trip to the desert for songwriting inspiration.

The journey proved transformative, as the resulting tracks mark a slight departure from her sparse, acoustic-based songs into the realm of electropop. There's not doubt that the pulsating beats of This Is Where We Are's opener "Diana," "Home" and "You And Me" make you want to dance. Additionally, the electronic elements on the album's quietly gorgeous ballads ("Remember How I Broke Your Heart," "I Can't Fall Asleep," "OOOOOOO") never overshadow her dreamy vocals.

Ahn is winding down a North American trek in support of the album with two L.A.-area shows next week. After a month on the road, it's going to be good to be back home and visit some of the places she's been craving. She took some time away from tour madness to share the special places that make up her Los Angeles with Jigsaw.

Favorite venue to play, and your fondest show memory there: The Hotel Cafe (Hollywood)
There are so many great venues in the city that I love, but I've played at Hotel the most. I have so many old recordings of when I was just starting out there. That place holds a lot of good memories for me ... lots of support and love.

Venue to see another singer-songwriter or band play: The Hotel Cafe (Hollywood)
It's usually a great listening room, and it's not far from where I live, which always helps. I'm an old, house lady now – the closer, the better.

Last great local act you caught: Alex Lilly
She's amazing. I love all her other projects too, including Obi Best and Touché. Her new solo stuff is rad!

Café to grab a coffee/tea, and usual order there: Broome Street General Store (Silver Lake)
I usually get an iced latte. [They have] great coffee, a sweet outdoor patio and beautiful clothes and wares inside. Who doesn't like to shop and sip coffee at the same time?

Place for people-watching: Hollywood & Highland (Hollywood)
Not that I ever go there, but I drive through there almost every day. I love seeing all the tourists and the guys dressed up as creepy Spider-Man, etc.

Restaurant, and favorite dish there: Jitlada (East Hollywood)  

This restaurant slays me – my all time fave, in the country! I always get the crab claw curry with morning glories.

Clothes shop: Mohawk General Store (Silver Lake)

My last few great finds are from here. It's expensive, but it's really high quality. Whenever I make a purchase, I just tell myself I will wear it for the rest of my life.

Record shop: Counterpoint Records & Books (Franklin Village)
I've gotten many vinyls here, especially from their $1 bin. I've made some really amazing discoveries in that pile!

Bookstore: The Last Bookstore (Downtown)

I love getting lost in a bookstore, and that's easy to do here.

Place to take out-of-town visitors: Griffith Park Observatory (Griffith Park) or Venice Beach
We'll either do the beautiful and easy hike to the observatory, or rent bikes at Venice.

For Inspiration/Rejuvenation: Zuma Beach (Malibu)
It's a little bit of a drive, so it feels like you're removed from the city, and it's just gorgeous there.

This Is Where We Are is currently available. Priscilla Ahn performs May 30 at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever and May 31 at the Constellation Room. For more information, visit

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Events for May 15-21, 2014




Artopia @ Grand Central Market (Downtown)

Sometimes I just love walking through the Arts District to look at all the street art and just absorb all of the creativity that is in the air in the neighborhood. LA Weekly celebrates the area's vibrant art scene with this event that brings together live art installations, music, film and fashion under one roof. Since the venue is Grand Central Market, there is plenty of food and drink to be purchased from vendors who are staying open after regular hours (Horse Thief, Sticky Rice, Valerie at GCM, G&B Coffee, to name a few) as you're walking through the exhibits.


TMZ Comedy Tour @ The Ice House (Pasadena)
Often times what makes the bits of celebrity gossip revealed on "TMZ" so riveting are the people that deliver them. That's because some of those personalities have been entertaining crowds from comedy stages for years. Tonight's stand-up event gives four of the TV show's regulars – Brian McDaniel, Rick Mitchell, Katie Hayes and Myke Anthony – the spotlight to share their witty commentary on pop culture and beyond.



In Theaters This Week
The always great Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen and Bryan Cranston lead a cast that also includes Sally Hawkins, Ken Watanabe and Juliette Binoche in Godzilla; Million Dollar Arm stars Jon Hamm as a sports agent who recruits cricket players to play in the MLB. Also in theaters: Stage Fright


Maximo Park @ Troubadour (West Hollywood)
The British fivesome is touring the nation in support of their latest album, Too Much Information, that released last month and stop in Los Angeles tonight. Kick off your weekend swaying to the beat of new songs "Leave This Island" and "Midnight on the Hill" and singing along with older tracks like "Apply Some Pressure," "Going Missing" and "Our Velocity." You are sure to work up a sweat, let go of some of the week's stress and have some fun.


Amgen Tour of California (Santa Clarita to Mountain High)

One of the best parts of the Tour de France broadcast in the summer is watching the fans that stand on the sidelines, yelling at the top of the their lungs while wearing awesomely ridiculous outfits to ensure they get on TV. If you have ever longed to be one of those passionate crowd-goers, then don't miss your chance to cheer on world-class riders, like Peter Sagan and Mark Cavendish, as they breeze through Southern California. Today they ride from Newhall to Palmdale then up to Big Bear and Mountain High ski resort. Saturday's course runs from Town Center Mall in Santa Clarita and over to Mount Wilson before passing the Rose Bowl, Colorado Street Bridge and Old Town Pasadena. The tour's final stage takes place on Sunday in Thousand Oaks, and it will be thrilling to see who ends up wearing the yellow jersey.



Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary Art Show @ Gallery 1988 West (Mid-City West)
"Are you troubled by strange noises in the middle of the night? Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic? Have you or your family ever seen a spook, spectra or ghost? If the answer is 'yes,' then don't wait another minute. Pick up the phone and call the professionals…" This year marks many ups and downs for the supernatural comedy: losing one of its writers and stars (Harold Ramis), celebrating its 30th anniversary and the confirmation of a third Ghostbusters film coming to theaters next year. If you're a fan, then you should definitely head over to this touring exhibit's L.A. stop at Gallery 1988 West through June 1. Every piece in the show is awesome, from DKNG's Ecto-1 (above), Joshua Budich's They're Here to Save the World, Tom Whalen's Confectionary Kaiju and Richard Kelly's Keymaster.


Super Saturday @ Barker Hangar (Santa Monica)
If you love searching for bargains at estate or yard sales every weekend, then this "Rolls Royce of garage sales" (as dubbed by the New York Times) is for you. Hosted by celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe and model/actress Molly Sims, Super Saturday not only offers you luxury brands for 30- to 50-percent off, all proceeds go to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. You can get clothes and accessories for the whole family for a bargain and help a good cause while you're at it.


Office Space @ Santa Monica High School's Memorial Greek Amphitheatre (Santa Monica)
Eat|See|Hear's outdoor movie-food-music series is in full swing for the summer, and tonight's feature is one of my favorite comedies. If you're loving Mike Judge's new series, "Silicon Valley," on HBO, then you should see Office Space, his first feature-length film. It stars Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston, Gary Cole and Stephen Root in a story about workers who can't stand their job or their greedy boss. The End of Summer perform a set before the movie, so grab some grub from food trucks like Son of a Bun, India Jones and Coolhaus and settle in for an awesome night under the stars.


California Strawberry Festival @ Strawberry Meadows of College Park (Oxnard)

As you're driving up the 101 with your windows down on a hot summer day, It's hard to ignore the pleasant, hunger-inducing aromas as you pass the many strawberry farms located in Ventura County. I'm salivating just thinking about it. You can easily satisfy your every strawberry craving today and tomorrow at this year's California Strawberry Festival. Aside from treats like chocolate-dipped strawberries, strawberry pizza, strawberry funnel cake and strawberry margaritas, there are performances from the Young Dubliners and Mariachi Divas, a strawberry pie eating challenge, relay race, hat competition and shortcake build-off contest.



Artists & Fleas @ Arts District (Downtown)
What could be more relaxing on a Sunday afternoon than perusing the wares of artists, designers and vintage sellers all in one place? This curated marketplace that is open all year long in Brooklyn and Manhattan finally makes its way west. With local vendors like Gull and Marie, Soiyl, Mt. Washington Pottery and Groceries Apparel, you can pick up clothes, jewelry and home goods. There are food vendors and a DJ on site for you to enjoy as you take a break from shopping.  Also Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.



Isabel Beyoso @ Molly Malone's (Beverly Grove)
This is the perfect show to get you over the mid-week hump. The L.A. singer-songwriter, model and actress released her debut full-length, It's Time, last summer and is performing a special acoustic set tonight. From the heart-wrenching "Pursue Me" to the sassy "Better Than Nothing" and delightful "Mm-Mm Spell," Beyoso crafts songs that touch upon your every mood. When she performs them live, they are absolutely entrancing.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

STREET SIGNS - WeHo Peace Elephant

When the new West Hollywood Library was opened in 2011, the unveiling included this huge Shepard Fairey mural. The 70- by 106-foot art piece features a majestic elephant holding a flower, as well as a dove, and these images represent peace, freedom and creativity – a word that is part of the city's motto. The library is located at 625 N. San Vicente Boulevard, but West Hollywood Peace Elephant is best seen from the parking lot on El Tovar Place off Robertson Boulevard.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

New Release Tuesday 5-13-14

May 13, 2014


The Black KeysTurn Blue (Nonesuch)
When I was first exposed to the blues rock from the Akron, Ohio duo nine years ago, I wondered if mainstream pop culture would ever embrace their sound. It didn't take much time after that for Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney's music to start appearing in ads for Victoria's Secret and for them to start performing on music festival main stages. With the release of their fifth album, 2008's Attack & Release, the Black Keys began working with producer Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse), who has co-produced each of their subsequent releases, and as their songs became more radio friendly, their popularity soared. Now, with platinum records and multiple Grammys under their belts, the Keys once again team with Burton for their eighth studio effort, Turn Blue. If you loved their last three albums, then songs like "In Time, "Fever" and "10 Lovers" are going to make you very happy.

ChromeoWhite Women (Big Beat/Atlantic)
I can honestly say that I have never been disappointed when I've listened to songs from the Montreal electro-funk pair of David "Dave 1" Macklovitch and Patrick "P-Thugg" Gemayel. The streak continues with the tracks of their fourth album, White Women, which releases today. With infectious beats and often hilarious lyrics, there's a reason Chromeo refer to themselves as the "Larry David of Funk." Just give songs such as "Come Alive" (featuring Toro y Moi), "Over Your Shoulder" and "Lost on the Way Home" (featuring Solange) a spin to see what I mean. You'll smile, you'll giggle and, most of all, you'll dance.

Little DragonNabuma Rubberband (Loma Vista)
Ever since the Swedish foursome burst onto the scene with their self-titled debut in 2007, they've held my interest. Their synthesizers and electronic beats are paired with the soulful voice of frontwoman Yukimi Nagano in bold and innovative, yet completely catchy, ways. "Let Go" and "Klapp Klapp," the first singles from their fourth album, Nabuma Rubberband, immediately grab your ear with pulsating beats, and once Nagano's vocals kick in you are hooked. Although Little Dragon don't have an L.A. date on their current schedule, they are giving you a chance to win tickets to see them perform at Bonnaroo next month. All you have to do to enter is build your own Nabuma Derby car (see instructions here:, then post a photo of your tricked out racer on Twitter or Instagram using #NabumaDerby @LittleDragon and @Redbull.

Michael JacksonXscape (Epic)

While you may have mixed feelings about posthumous album releases, there is no way you aren't curious in the least about hearing more new music from the King of Pop. L.A. Reid worked with Michael Jackson's estate to find eight songs that the singer had completed vocals on before teaming with some of the industry's top producers to give the tracks a contemporary finish. The result is Xscape, the second compilation album of new music to be released after the artist's death. Reid enlisted Timbaland to co-executive produce the album, which also contains work from StarGate, Jerome "J-Rock" Harmon, Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins and John McClain. While songs like "Love Never Felt So Good" (which also has a duet version with Justin Timberlake) sound exactly how you would expect a new MJ jam to, the darker "Blue Gangsta" and title track hint at a different style that we might have seen from him. The deluxe album includes all of the songs in their original forms, a bonus track and two videos.

Tori AmosUnrepentant Geraldines (Mercury Classics)
I doubt there is a contemporary singer-songwriter who isn't influenced or at least knows the lyrics to one Tori Amos song. Her incredible voice is instantly recognizable, her piano skills phenomenal and her lyrical prowess is incredible. While her last three albums were classical in nature, Unrepentant Geraldiines, her 14th full-length release, is a return to the pop/rock sound she is known for. With songs such as "Trouble's Lament," "Wild Way" and "16 Shades of Blue," Amos has not only continued to push herself creatively she has remained entirely beautiful in eloquence and melody in doing so. See her perform songs from the new album and some favorites on July 23 at the Greek Theatre.

Also available – Bane's Don't Wait Up; Blondie's Blondie 4(0) Ever; Cursed Sails' Rotten Society; Dolly Parton's Blue Smoke; Dylan Gardner's Adventures in Real Time; Eastlink's self-titled; Guided By Voices' Cool Planet; Hiss Tracts' Shortwave Nights; Joseph Arthur's Lou; Killer Be Killed's self-titled; Kishi Bashi's Lighght; La Sera's Hour of the Dawn; Levi Weaver's Your Ghost Keeps Finding Me; Midnight Faces' The Fire Is Gone; Mirah's Changing Light; Mushroomhead's The Righteous & The Butterfly; Only Crime's Pursuance; The Pains of Being Pure at Heart's Days of Abandon; Rascal Flatts' Rewind; Rig 1's North of Maple; Sean Nicholas Savage's Bermuda Waterfall; The Shilohs self-titled; Swans' To Be Kind; Sylar's To Whom It May Concern; Sylvan Esso's self-titled; Thunderegg's C'mon Thunder; Tobacco's Ultima Il Massage; The Trouble With Templeton's Rookie; Walter Martin's We're All Young Together; Watery Love's Decorative Feeding; Weatherbox's Flies In All Directions; Young Widows' Easy Pain


In stores this week –
The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet by Nina Teicholz; Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore; Jack of Spies by David Downing; No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald; President Me: The America That's In My Head by Adam Carolla; The Skin Collector (Lincoln Rhyme) by Jeffery Deaver; Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises by Timothy F. Geithner; Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner; We Were Liars by E. Lockhart


Film – Writer/director Spike Jonze won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Her, a riveting and innovative love story that stars Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Chris Pratt and Rooney Mara; Aaron Echkhart, Yvonne Strahovski, Miranda Otto and Bill Nighy in I, Frankenstein; That Awkward Moment follows the dating adventures of three best friends (played by Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan and Miles Teller)

Music – The Dave Clark Five and Beyond: Glad All Over

TV – Eastbound & Down: The Complete Fourth & Final Season; Longmire: Season 2; Orange Is the New Black: Season 1

Also available – After Tiller; Camp Harlow; Chlorine; Compound Fracture; Crook; Shakespeare: Richard II; Special ID; Squatters; Stalingrad; Stranger By the Lake

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Events for May 8-14, 2014




In Theaters This Week

Chef is Jon Favreau's comedy about a cook who loses his restaurant job and starts up a food truck and stars Favreau along with Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale and Sofia Vergara; Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska in Richard Ayoade's adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Double; The animated musical Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return features the voices of Lea Michele, Martin Short, Jim Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Kelsey Grammar and Megan Hilty; Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Rose Byrne, Lisa Kudrow and Christopher Mintz-Plasse in the Nicholas Stoller comedy Neighbors; Gia Coppola's Palo Alto stars James Franco and Emma Roberts. Also in theaters: Fed Up; God's Pocket; Moms' Night Out

From Caped Crusader to Dark Knight: 75 Years of Batman @ Egyptian Theatre (Hollywood)
Batman first appeared in Detective Comics in May of 1939, and to celebrate, American Cinematheque is screening double features dedicated to the superhero two nights in a row. If you have never hiked up to the caves in Bronson Canyon that were used in the "Batman" television series while singing the theme song in your head, well, you're sorely missing out. Never fear, you can na na na na na na along with fellow fans during tonight's screening of the 1966 feature that was spawned from the show with Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin, followed by Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the feature spinoff of the animated show. Saturday's double feature is of Tim Burton's Batman and Batman Returns, starring Michael Keaton as Batman.


OC Night Market @ OC Fair & Event Center (Costa Mesa)
Since its inception two years ago, the 626 Night Market has grown into a huge affair, drawing more than 50,000 people to its monthly event inspired by the nighttime markets of Asia. This year, they've decided to spread the fun around to other areas of SoCal, including this weekend's first-ever festivities in Orange County. Beginning at 4 p.m. today, Saturday and Sunday, you can sample dishes from over 200 different vendors – the bacon jerky from Banzai Jerky, a lobster roll from the Lobsta Truck, lychee macarons from JoJo Cakes – and enjoy presentations from visual artists, musicians and dancers.


Thunder vs. Clippers @ Staples Center (Downtown)

Having begun the healing process after the shock and mayhem created by the unfortunate Donald Sterling, the Clippers were able to take care of business against the Warriors and head into the Western Conference Semifinals with a fresh attitude and outlook. Los Angeles took Game 1 against Oklahoma City, 122-105, on the Thunder's home court, but the OKC squad won Wednesday night's game by 11 points. Los Angeles has a fierce hunger to make it to the Finals, but don't expect this season's league MVP Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the rest of the squad to just let the Clips walk all over them. Game 3 tonight and Game 4 on Sunday afternoon are going to feature some exciting playoff basketball.



Cinquanta @ Greek Theatre (Griffith Park)
Just like 15-year-old Latinas celebrate their special birthday with a blowout celebration, the great Maynard James Keenan is commemorating his 50th year of life with this grand event taking place tonight and tomorrow night at the Greek. The L.A. singer-songwriter, musician, producer, winemaker and actor is known for his on-stage theatrics, so expect even more awesome performances from his bands Puscifer and A Perfect Circle than you have seen before. As a treat, Failure has agreed to hold reunion sets on both nights as the band's gift to MJK, who says, "This was the perfect opportunity to tick off one of my bucket list items in the form of a Failure reunion. What better birthday present could one ever hope for?"


The Return of Outdoor Movie Nights

Warm weather doesn't only mean beach days and wearing flip flips 24/7, it ushers in the season of having picnics and watching movies under the stars with friends. Tonight, two of the city's biggest outdoor movie event organizers kick off their schedules for the year. Cinespia sets up stakes at their usual site, Hollywood Forever Cemetery, with a screening of Harold Ramis' 1983 ode to the summer family road trip, National Lampoon's Vacation. Join the Griswolds (Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, Dana Barron and Anthony Michael Hall) on their cross-country trek to Walley World. Or, you can head a little southwest to Pan-Pacific Park where Street Food Cinema opens their season with a 30th anniversary double feature of two awesome comedies from 1984, Revenge of the Nerds and Bachelor Party. It's an all-out '80s party with a costume contest, DJs spinning music from the decade, food trucks and special guest Curtis "Booger" Armstrong.



Showing mom just how much you appreciate her doesn't mean you have to empty your wallet on an extravagant brunch at one of the city's best gourmet restaurants. Treat her to a homemade spread for brunch or dinner, or just spend the day doing something together. Go for a hike in Runyon Canyon or walk along the Santa Monica Pier. See a matinee of The Wizard of Oz at Aero Theatre, The Sound of Music at the Egyptian or Mildred Pierce at the Cinefamily. Take in exhibits at MOCA, LACMA or the Getty Center. Or head to a play, like the one below.


"Letters From Zora: In Her Own Words" @ The Pasadena Playhouse (Pasadena)
Most everyone has to read Their Eyes Were Watching God in school, and Zora Neale Hurston's own life is just as inspiring for women and men of every color. Playwright Gabrielle Denise Pina's "Letters From Zora: In Her Own Words" explores the author's opinions on integration, segregation and social justice through the dramatization of personal letters set to original music composed by Ron McCurdy and archival images collected by Margie Labadie. Get to know the woman behind the stories, as well as the friends and foes that comprised her world during the Jazz Age. Running through May 18.



Fallen Fruit of the Skirball @ Skirball Cultural Center (Brentwood)
From the vibrant red of its skin and seeds to the numerous health benefits contained in its juice, the pomegranate is quite an appealing fruit. Furthermore, the symbolic meanings of the fruit – particularly relating to marriage and fertility in Jewish, Persian, Greek and Turkish cultures – are many. After being inspired by an illustrated ketubbah (Jewish marriage contract) on display at the Skirball, David Burns and Austin Young of the L.A. art collaborative Fallen Fruit (who are known for using fruit as a medium) began work on this exhibit that focuses on the pomegranate, as well as the emotional, cultural and intellectual "ingredients that make for a great relationship." On display through Oct. 12.



Science & Food: How We Taste @ UCLA's Schoenberg Hall (Westwood)

The second lecture in UCLA's Science & Food series explores how humans taste through the lens of a scientist (Dr. Dana Small), a chef (Wylie Dufresne) and a food writer (Peter Meehan). Dr. Small explains how different flavors stimulate our brains and also sheds light on the link to obesity. Chef Dufresne, who is known for his inspired dishes that utilize molecular gastronomy techniques, tells of his approach to creating unique flavors and textures. Cookbook author and former New York Times writer Meehan shares his experiences with food and how they have shaped his writing.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fernando Gonzalez of Flipping Design



At Tortilla Republic

616 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood 310-657-9888

Once Los Angeles-based interior designer Fernando Gonzalez begins to describe his family, it becomes clear why dining rooms have become the primary focus of his company, Flipping Design.

"My mother's a big cook, and that actually rubbed off on my sister, who is in culinary arts. We both found our passions at a young age, and it's been good to be surrounded with siblings and family members doing the same thing as me, pushing hard to do what they love," he says. "All of us are really close-knit, and I feel truly blessed to have such a loving family."

To Fernando, family is where the heart is, and since nothing brings loved ones together like the dinner table, a home's dining room should never be neglected. Knowing how much sharing meals in a fabulously decorated space means to the young designer, it came as no surprise to me when he selected one of the city's most aesthetically pleasing restaurants, Tortilla Republic, as our meeting place. Its location, in the heart of West Hollywood's Design District, couldn't be more appropriate for our conversation about his artistic background, design and his new company.

With an original establishment on the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i and an upcoming location in Laguna Beach, Tortilla Republic's growing popularity stems from serving Mexican fare that favors homemade, organic and farm-fresh ingredients over lard and processed additives in an environment that is both modern and rustic. Fernando tells me that it's a place that would be appropriate for lunch with a client but is also comfortable enough for a relaxing brunch with friends.

We sit at a table just inside of the restaurant's outdoor patio, and he speaks of his childhood. He was born in Tijuana, Mexico, to a father who was formerly a singer in bands (where his artistry comes from) and a businesswoman mother (where his drive comes from). His parents' missionary work eventually brought them north near San Francisco, then to Oxnard and Riverside. Throughout this time, Fernando demonstrated a keen artistic eye and interest in architecture.

"Whenever my parents needed help doing anything handy or artistic, I was there to help. I would always be changing the furniture around in the living room or changing out the drapes for my mom. I loved books, and if I saw one with a picture of a home or a cool building, I would grab it and open it. I was captivated by the angles, colors and textures. When I was 9 and people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say, 'an architect,'" he remembers. "Around junior high, I really started to gravitate towards design shows on HGTV. I had an older sister and two younger brothers, and we had one TV in the living room. We would all run home as fast as we could because whoever got home first would get first dibs on the controller. I became a cross-country runner at the time because I was super excited to get home and watch HGTV. "

Fernando pursued his passion by studying architecture at at Riverside Community College. But once the architecture courses moved into extremely technical territory, he realized that interior design was really the field he wanted to move into.

"I like to use the left side of my brain. I love a challenge, but when it comes to math: no," he laughs. "Most of hte credits I did for architecture transferred over to interior design; it wasn't like I was moving into science."

He eventually made the move to Los Angeles close to seven years ago, but due to the market crash and financial climate of the time, he took a job in retail.

"Like my mother always says, 'If you're going to do something, do it right. Always be the best you can be in whatever you're doing, even if it's not your passion, do it right.' Working for Hugo Boss, I finally decided this was something that could give me the financial means to be comfortable," he recalls. "I worked my way up to general manager, then I decided to put all of my focus and energy into doing what I love."

It was about two or three years ago when the idea for Flipping Design first came to Fernando as he was furnishing his own apartment.

"I didn't want to go the Ikea route, where everything is medium-density fiberboard or particleboard, so I started looking on CraigsList and at estate sales and found some great pieces that were needing help and TLC. I started painting and designing them to my own taste," he tells. "Now that's basically what I'm doing, restoring and refinishing mid-century pieces, and ideally the direction I want to go is using these pieces in my designs. Let's say I'm flipping a restaurant, I would incorporate the pieces that I just refurbished into the design. I think that sets me apart from other interior designers."

Hence, the name 'Flipping' Design for the company he began last August. Fernando's ability to repurpose vintage furniture pieces and integrate them into his designs – as well as his unique focus on dining areas – sets him apart from most designers, as does his precise attention to detail. As we wait to place our order, he notices that the honeycomb pattern of the candleholder on our table is the exact same pattern that he used for the ceiling moldings of a recent dining room project he did in Hollywood.

"I find inspiration anywhere because I'm very observant and always looking at things to think of how things could have been designed differently," he admits. "Like the orange rim of this water glass is inspiring me to do something because it's so drastic, all clear on the bottom with a splash of color at the top."

Since it's the late afternoon, we decide to take advantage of some of Tortilla Republic's Happy Hour deals, some chips and guacamole, a Jalapeño Margarita for Fernando and a White Sangria with chunks of pineapple for me. He also recommends the Jalapeño Croquetas (charred jalapeño, potato puree and goat cheese coated in a panko crust and topped with cilantro crema), the swordfish and rock shrimp ceviche and the Flautas de Pollo.

We both admire how Tortilla Republic's huge glass doors bring the outdoors in, and Fernando remarks, "Bringing the outdoors in is trademark of any city that has fantastic weather like L.A. Cities like Barcelona have such great that the architectural designs are so amazing and inspirational. Acapulco, too, and even here, you find such great architecture. I grew up influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright. I love the craftsman, bungalow houses that he designed."

Since he loves craftsman- and bungalow-style homes, it's no wonder that Fernando loves the L.A. neighborhood of Silver Lake. While he currently lives just off the Sunset Strip, he would like to move to Silver Lake one day.

"I love Silver Lake's diversity. It has a hipster vibe, but it's a mix of a lot of different types of people. It's gentrified, not bougie," he describes. "Los Angeles is eclectic, and that's why I like it, and I love Silver Lake for having all of that. It's a beautiful neighborhood, yet it's rugged, raw and real."

As we sip our cocktails, he says, "I like spicy drinks, so the Jalapeño Margarita is my go-to cocktail here, but my forever drink of choice is a Dirty Martini because I love olives."

Aside from Tortilla Republic, you can also find Fernando at Bossa Nova, Akbar, Bar Stella at Cafe Stella or Malo.

"I definitely like spending time alone time to just get away from life. In the last few months I've gone to the Greystone Mansion a couple of times. I like to go there to just zone out," he says. "Nature calls me, so if I can hear the wind blowing through the trees it's feeding my creativity, boosting my battery."

Having worked at Hugo Boss, he still loves fashion and shopping.

"I can shop anywhere. I can go into H&M, Prada or a flea market and find stuff I like. If I genuinely like something, I'll wear it, whether it's from a thrift shop, flea market or Hugo Boss. Name brands don't mean as much as the cut, the style, if it fits with the season and is on trend," he says. "I do like mixing classic and eclectic pieces. Today I have a black jacket with a T-shirt and sandals."

As for his go-to furniture shops, Fernando likes Mortise & Tenon's pieces and accessories, especially their custom screen work. He also loves to walk through the Pacific Design Center where he has a favorite shop for fabric options.

"Right now, the medium that I love to use is canvas. The linen material gives walls another dimension; it's almost like using wallpaper," he describes. "I just went to the Gamble House in Pasadena, and canvas was used way back when. It was so inspiring to hear. We're using it aesthetically now, but back then, it was all they had."

Aside from using canvas in wall coverings, I ask Fernando if he has some design tips specifically for those on a budget.

"Open up a can of paint. That's what I always tell people. It costs less than $50. When you want an instant change, you can get it with color," he quickly replies. "I just wrote an article on the color blue, and in my research found that the shade of blue can change your mood when you step into a room, so I would encourage people to use more blue! Navy blue is the color of strength and often used in the business world. Hazy blues are tranquil and good in bathrooms. Subtle, soft blues are for a home office because they encourage you to focus. On a beautiful day like today when the sky is blue, you experience happy people, so that color blue gives off a good vibe, the sense of being happy."

Fernando's openness when it comes to learning new things about people, culture and even the color blue is invigorating. His passion and dedication are clear indications that Flipping Design is going to be a success.

"You can always learn something from someone, and my motto is to be constantly learning so I grow as a person. It's good to open yourself to other languages, lifestyles and cultures," he says with a smile. "When you surround yourself with people who love life and enjoy what they're doing, it helps you keep moving forward. When I encounter someone who is doing what they love, it gives me goosebumps."

Spend just a few moments with Fernando Gonzalez, and you'll get goosebumps, too.

For more information, visit

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

New Release Tuesday 5/6/14

May 6, 2014



AtmosphereSouthsiders (Rhymesayers)
The Minneapolis duo of rapper Slug (Sean Daley) and DJ/producer Ant (Anthony Davis) came together over 25 years ago, and with seven studio albums, 10 EPs under their belts and a jam-packed schedule of upcoming tour dates, they are still going strong. For me, when someone utters the phrase "indie rap," Atmosphere is the first group that always comes to mind. Southsiders, their first album since 2011's The Family Sign (the full-length follow-up to the awesomely named When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold), is a shout-out to their native neighborhood and, fittingly, is deeply reflective on tracks like "Camera Thief," "Bitter" and "Kanye West." Their record-release show at the Roxy this Thursday is sold-out, but never fear, they will be back in the fall for two nights at the Palladium (Sept. 5 & 6).

crashHardly Criminal (Community)
If you're a fan of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, then crash's voice should be familiar to you since he has served as a backing vocalist in the group for the past two years. Whenever Alex Ebert has handed the microphone over to him for a rendition of "Motion Animal," crash has wowed the crowd with his soulful style and unbelievable tenor. When he goes deeper in his register on the songs  of his debut album, Hardly Criminal – such as "Mad at the Clouds," which puts more of his Southern roots on display – he is just as enthralling. Now an Angeleno, crash hasn't lost touch with the music of his Louisiana upbringing; the sounds of his grandfather's country band and New Orleans street performers meld with his love of folk and soul for a flavor all his own.

Leisure Cruise – Self-titled (Last Gang)
Everyone needs an album that's just going to make them dance, and this debut from Lea Siegel (Firehorse) and Dave Hodge (Broken Social Scene) is more than capable of doing just that. The idea to form the duo came to Hodge the day that Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, as he saw his friend Siegel walk by a café he was sitting in. A few months later, they began creating the songs that would make up this self-titled effort, and the tragic events of the natural disaster definitely had an impact on their songwriting process. The album is anything but sad, though. Its electronic beats and beeps on "Double Digit Love," "Sailing" and "Ragged Down" take you on an aural journey that is utterly enjoyable.

Lykke LiI Never Learn (LL/Atlantic)

The Swedish singer-songwriter has such a striking voice that the songs she sings never fail to strike an emotional chord. Her third studio album, I Never Learn, is full of gorgeous, intimate tracks that she calls "power ballads." For the first time, she co-produced the songs with long-time collaborator Björn Yttling and Greg Kurstin, and she took inspiration from her new surroundings in Los Angeles. Resulting tracks like "No Rest for the Wicked," "Gunshot" and "Love Me Like I'm Not Made of Stone" are heart-wrenching and beautiful. Her May 19 show at the Theatre at Ace Hotel is already sold out, but make sure to catch her set if you're heading to Outsidelands in August because her live performances are quite riveting.

Also available – Antwon's Heavy Hearted in Doldrums; Badbadnotgood's III; Barrows' Red Giant; Ben & Ellen Harper's Childhood Home; Black Stone Cherry's Magic Mountain; Coy Kids' Youthful Days; Current Swell's Ulysses; Elephant's Sky Swimming; Eno Hyde's Someday World; Fujiya & Miyagi's Artificial Sweeteners; The Generators' Life Gives-Life Takes; The Horrors' Luminous; Hunter Hayes' Storyline; Kina Grannis' Elements; Liam Finn's The Nihilist; Lily Allen's Sheezus; Makthaverskan's Makthaverskan II; Matrimony's Montibello Memories; Money's The Shadow of Heaven; Mick Harvey's Intoxicated Man/Pink Elephants; Morning Parade's Pure Adulterated Joy; Natalie Merchant's self-titled; Naughty Boy's Hotel Cabana; Nikki Lane's All or Nothin'; Papercuts' Life Among the Savages; Paws' Youth Culture Forever; Rachel Taylor Brown's Falimy; Rodrigo Amarante's Cavalo; Santana's Corazón; Sarah MacLachlan's Shine On; Stone Cold Fox's Memory Palace; Thomas Dybdahl's What's Left is Forever; Trophy Scars' Holy Vacants; tUnE-yArDs' Nikki Nack; Willie Watson's Folk Singer Vol. 1; Young Magic's Breathing Statues


The Snow Queen: A Novel
by Michael Cunningham (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
I chose Virginia Woolf as the subject of my final research project in my high school English class, and I've been obsessed with the writer ever since. So, of course I devoured Michael Cunningham's The Hours – about three generations of women (including Woolf) whose lives are interconnected by her novel Mrs Dalloway – when it was released in 1998 and adapted to film in 2002. The Hours garnered Cunningham the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and international acclaim. If you enjoyed that book or his other works, such as A Home at the End of the World, Flesh and Blood or By Nightfall, you should definitely pick up his latest novel, The Snow Queen. Set in New York, the story follows two brothers' struggle and search for deeper meaning in life. It's a tale about faith, transcendence and love.

Also available –
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr; Birdmen by Lawrence Goldstone; Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast; The Closer by Mariano Rivera with Wayne Coffey; Conform by Glenn Beck and Kyle Olson; Delicious! by Ruth Reichl; Extra Virgin by Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar; Field of Prey by John Sandford; Finding Me by Michelle Knight with Michelle Burford; #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso; Guy on Fire by Guy Fieri; Instinct by T.D. Jakes; John Quincy Adams by Fred Kaplan; The Last Kind Words Saloon by Larry McMurtry (available May 7); Mirror Sight by Kristen Britain; The One (The Selection) by Kiera Cass; The Painter by Peter Heller; Southern Living Country Music's Greatest Eats - presented by CMT; A Troublesome Inheritance by Nicholas Wade; Unlucky 13 (Women's Murder Club) by James Patterson; Walking on Water by Richard Paul Evans


Film – The Veronica Mars Movie is set nine years after the event's of the TV show's series finale and reunites creator/director/writer Rob Thomas with the cast helmed by Kristen Bell, Jason Dohring and Enrico Colantoni; Kurt Russell, Jay Baruchel and Matt Dillon in The Art of the Steal; Broadway Idiot follows Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong's journey of turning the band's 2004 hit album, American Idiot, into a Broadway musical

TV – Generation War; Republic of Doyle, Season 1; Rookie Blue: Season 4; Your Inner Fish

Comedy –
Lewis Black's Old Yeller: Live at the Borgata

Music – All My Friends: Celebrating the Songs & Voice of Gregg Allman; A Celebration of Blues and Soul: The 1989 Presidential Inaugural Concert; Rush – The Rise of Kings; Suzanne Vega's Solitude Standing

Also available – After the Dark; Burn; Making the Rules; Mr. Jones; Nearlyweds; Still Mine; Sugar; Truth

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Events for May 1-7, 2014




Cinco de Mayan Spectacular @ The Mayan (Downtown)
What could say 'let's celebrate Mexican heritage and pride' more than the high-octane lucha libre wrestling, burlesque striptease routines and hilarious comedic commentary of Lucha VaVoom? While they put on shows for various other holidays throughout the year, their Cinco de Mayo spectaculars are probably the most popular. If you're a regular, then you most likely already have your ticket for Thursday or tonight's show in hand. But if you have never experienced the outrageous sexo y violencia at one of their events, you better hop to it because it will undoubtedly sell out. Also Friday.



In Theaters This Week
Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are so adorable, I could watch them act together in anything, add Jamie Foxx, Paul Giamatti and Felicity Jones into the mix for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and we've got ourselves a winner; Elizabeth Banks plays a reporter who is stranded in downtown L.A. without a phone, car, ID or money and only has eight hours to get to an important job interview in Walk of Shame. Also in theaters: Belle; Friended to Death; Ida


Philip Glass @ Royce Hall (Westwood)
If you've never heard of Philip Glass, I'm not sure I want you reading Jigsaw anymore. Just kidding, well, kind of. He is one of the most influential composers in the world today, and his scores for the Qatsi film trilogy are epic. He has also scored films like Kundun, The Truman Show and The Hours, written operas, symphonies and sonatas, and has collaborated with artists that range from David Byrne and Allen Ginsberg to Aphex Twin and Leonard Cohen. See Glass perform in his interpretation of La Belle et la Bête tonight, with the Philip Glass Ensemble Saturday or with Maki Namekawa and Sally Whitewell on Sunday. It's for your own good.



California Bookstore Day @ Various bookshops (Citywide)
Independent bookstores are taking part in this party throughout the state with 13 exclusive books and art pieces being offered in addition to their regular inventory. Think Record Store Day, but for book lovers. Some of the special items are a limited bound copy of Neil Gaiman's The Sleeper and the Spindle, a signed Hugo lithograph and a cool punk rock writers journal from artist Wendy MacNaughton. Local purveyors taking part include Skylight Books in Los Feliz, Small World Books in Venice and Book Soup in West Hollywood.


Kentucky Derby Day @ Santa Anita Park (Arcadia)

I've always wanted to go to the Kentucky Derby to wear and admire the crazy awesome hats that ladies put on their heads for the event. One or five Mint Juleps in those fancy silver cups sound so good right now, too. Although we are thousands of miles away from Churchill Downs, Angelenos can still take part in some derby fun at our local track in Arcadia. There will be live bluegrass music, a hat contest (YAY), food trucks, a craft beer garden and plenty of competitive races to wager on.

Kings vs. Ducks @ Honda Center (Anaheim)
It's a SoCal battle to advance to the Conference Finals in this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs, but aaahhh, who do I root for, my childhood hometown Ducks or my current hometown Kings? Anaheim finished the regular season at the top of the west, just one point behind Boston, while Los Angeles became only the fourth team in NHL history to win a series after losing their first three games when they overcame San Jose on Wednesday. For my own sanity, I think I'm going to stay neutral on this one and just be happy for whichever team goes on to face Chicago or Minnesota.

SUNDAY, MAY 4 - May the Fourth Be With You!


Spaceballs @ Egyptian Theatre (Hollywood)

If you got my little May the Fourth joke above, then a) we should be friends and b) you are probably already planning some kind of Star Wars-related activity for today. If you love the George Lucas movies and can't wait to see what J.J. Abrams does with the franchise, then you will love this Mel Brooks satire starring Bill Pullman, Rick Moranis, John Candy and Daphne Zuniga as much as I do. Even if you have seen Spaceballs 20-plus times, lines like "We were told to comb the desert so we're combing it" and "May the schwartz be with you!" never get old.



Cinco de Mayo Festival @ Olvera Street (Downtown)
The three-day festival begins on Saturday, but today is the official holiday that celebrates Mexico's 1862 victory over French forces near the city of Puebla. From 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., there is plenty of popular and traditional music, dancing and food to be experienced. Grab a strawberry-filled churro, take in some mariachi music and party it up.



Manhunter @ Egyptian Theatre (Hollywood)
I am such a scaredy cat when it comes to horror and suspense, but even I am intrigued by Thomas Harris' most famous character, Hannibal Lecter. In addition to the novels featuring the serial killer, I love The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal films. Maynard Keenan, frontman of Puscifer and Tool, is also a fan of the character, as evidenced by his selection of Manhunter in the Modern School of Film's Film: Masters series, which screens works handpicked by renown cultural figures like Keenan. The 1986 film from Michael Mann was based on Harris' first novel to feature Lecter, Red Dragon, and stars William Peterson and Brian Cox. Keenan will be on hand after the screening for a discussion about the film moderated by Robert Milazzo.



Frances Cone @ Hotel Café (Hollywood)
The Brooklyn-based trio of Christina Cone, Jeff Malinowski and Andrew Doherty just met within the past year, but as heard on their self-titled EP that released last week, they clearly belong together. With catchy choruses and beautiful harmonies, songs like "Better Man" and "June" will grab your ear and heart. This is the perfect show to get you through your mid-week slump.