Sunday, February 9, 2020

5 things i love right now

1. this starbucks drink, the almondmilk honey flat white

it is RARE for me to be extremely into any starbucks drink (dunkin' 4 lyfe) but i'm making an exception for this absolutely delightful new beverage. lately, i've been in the bad habit of "needing" an afternoon coffee, and i'm no coffee snob, but our office machine is just unpalatable. can't do it. combine this with the fact that i try any and all new weird food and drink and here we are. it's a little creamy, a little sweet, a little nutty, and the espresso balances everything out nicely. plus, it's relatively healthy for a 'bucks drink, so it's got that going for it, too.

2. this singer, briston maroney

well...i've been into him since january and i know i've already turned a few of y'all onto this dude, but i'm still going strong, so i wanted to share the love. the first time i heard his latest, "steve's first bruise," i had one of those "where has this guy been all my life?!" moments and retroactively declared it my favorite song of 2019 (uh, to myself). it's one of those rare tunes that demands that you pay attention to it the whole way through, from the stark beginning to the raucous end and the rises and falls in between. the rest of his songs are actually quite a bit more low-key (i highly recommend "freakin' out on the interstate" and "small talk") but that voice! and the way he uses it! and he's only 21! go, briston, go.

3. this piece about being ghosted before being ghosted was a thing

so poignant. so perfect. chef's kiss.

4. this choreography set to harry styles' "adore you"

the only thing better than dancing to harry styles songs? watching really really good dancers dancing to harry styles songs, of course. so smooooth! and ugh, the chemistry between kaycee rice and sean lew. yes, when you watch these routines as much as i do, you start to know the dancers' names. it's fine.

5. these relaxing videos of people walking around cities in the rain 

so i never really understood the whole ASMR thing and still don't completely, but what i do know is that these videos i recently discovered of people walking around in the rain are soooo relaxing and pretty. i especially love this one in beacon hill, and then i read the comments from people all around the world talking about how beautiful it looks and my heart felt so full because it IS beautiful here! there are also some really good new york ones, too:


Saturday, January 25, 2020

4 days in LA

city of staaaaaars....sorry, i've been watching la la land clips since i got back and it's stuck in my head. sort of like last year's trip to charleston, i'd only been to LA once before in 2006 with my family. while it was fun, i didn't really like it then (and i still kind of don't, in general??) but i was in the mood for a glitzy glammy los angeles vacation and it completely delivered. i had such a good time and it was the perfect warm-weather winter getaway. let's get to it!

DAY 1:

my flight got in a little before noon but it took me almost two damn hours to get to my airbnb because i decided to avoid the supposed craziness of the LAX rideshare lot and save some bucks by taking the flyaway shuttle to union station and then hailing a lyft from there. pretty sure it ended up taking the same amount of time, though, so...don't do that.

i knew it was gonna be good when, on the lyft ride, we passed by the hybrid donut/chinese food shop featured in the starcrawler video for "i love LA," a video i've inexplicably watched like 20 times at this point because its retro imagery is permanently lodged in my brain.

anyway, my airbnb—a cozy little studio attached to a spanish-style hillside home—was so freakin' cute! highly recommended if you're a solo traveler or couple planning a trip to LA.

those views, tho!
i know there are a lot of airbnb horror stories floating around lately, but i maintain that you can have some incredibly cool experiences (much cooler than a hotel) if you do your homework. like, sorry, but why would you spend $200+ a night for a sterile hotel when you can stay at this house's studio for DIRT CHEAP?

i set out to explore the neighborhood for the rest of the afternoon. silver lake is known as a funky haven for creative types: musicians, writers, indie actors, etc. etc., so i was excited to roam around. i grabbed an iced anise cookie latte from lamill coffee boutique, a beautiful cafe, to fuel my stroll, and embarked on a self-guided tour of the many *secret staircases*. they were really cool and provided amazing views, but god dang, they were steep!

after about an hour, i had enough of that and popped over to the thirsty crow to plot my evening over a half-priced old fashioned (happy hour, holla!). unpretentious with a relaxed neighborhood vibe, this was already seeming like my kind of bar. and when they started playing letters to cleo and the donnas, i was totally sold.

silver lake ended up being the perfect neighborhood for me to stay in. it was such a vibrant, cool area with all of these charming houses tucked into the hillside, friendly people, and lots of great restaurants, bars, and shops. also, they love elliott smith; not only did he shoot his famous figure 8 album cover here, but there's also a mural that pays tribute to musicians connected to silver lake, including him, beck, and silversun pickups.

for dinner, i had my sights set on l&e oyster bar, but they didn't open 'til 6 and ain't nobody got time for that (ok, only i didn't), so i sidled up to the bar at an intimate bistro called alimento, where i had a delicious spaghetti dish with dungeness crab, tomato, basil, and bottarga breadcrumb.

then, i decided to take my chances and head over to the first night of mandy moore's residency at the bootleg theater. you couldn't buy tickets in advance, the theater was tiny, and it was first come, first serve, but it was still an hour and a half before doors, so i felt like i might be okay. and i was. and once i got inside, my stupidity led to the coolest celebrity encounter!

the way the theater's set up, there's a really small bar room in the front (also with a stage) and the main room is through a doorway that seems like it's just for the bathroom. so, not having ever been there, i just assumed the small front room was where the show was taking place and sat down. like, there was even this display behind the stage:

i picked up a lucky penny on the ground...something that ALSO happened right before i met josh homme from queens of the stone age in new orleans and walked by c.c. deville from poison during my first trip to LA, WTF. as i'm sitting and wondering why there's only like, two other people in this room so far, i spot a blonde woman walking back toward the line from the bar. "she's pretty," i think to myself. then my brain processes her face and i realize holy shit, it's hilary duff! not only was i a huge lizzie mcguire fan, but younger is legit one of my favorite tv shows. so, i'd consider myself a fairly big hil stan.

of course, i didn't want to bother her, best believe i was going to bother her!!! only 8 hours in, this was definitely going to be the best celebrity sighting of the trip and i wasn't throwing away my shot, dammit. running on pure adrenaline, i walked up to her and spewed something dumb about visiting from boston and being a huge fan and asked for a picture. the guy with her, who i didn't identify as her husband matthew koma until the next morning, offered to take it for us. not for nothing, but he sings on the only EDM song i really really like ("spectrum" by zedd), his new band, winnetka bowling league, was on my spotify playlist last month, and his jam with RAC, "cheap sunglasses," was on the playlist i made for this trip! so that was kind of exciting too.

oh yeah, and mandy moore was super fun! weirdly, i saw her twice in one day in 2007 when she did a couple of free concerts in boston, and this was her first show since that tour. crazy. her husband, taylor goldsmith of dawes, and power pop legend mike viola joined her, and she brought up some friends to perform at points, too. good stuff.

DAY 2:

sunday morning was spent in venice. on the way, my lyft driver regaled me with tales of seeing ben affleck and jennifer garner fighting in their car in front of a chipotle, ben walking by my driver's car while dramatically vaping, and my driver blurting out "you're even more handsome in person than i expected!" lolol. 

i had breakfast at gjusta, a big and airy bon appetit-recommended bakery and deli where i waited a million years to order. but it was so worth it, mainly because i actually heard one of the cashier dudes say "gnarly" without a hint of irony and i felt as if all of my dreams were coming true in that moment. check out my multigrain porridge waffles with berries and rhubarb:

then it was on to the beautiful venice canals, and bougie abbot kinney street, and venice beach, which is officially my new happy place. skateboarders and surfers and beggars with signs that read "feed me weed" and day-glo graffiti, it was a dream.

though i could have easily spent all day there, i walked up to santa monica and had lunch at dogtown coffee. if you know me, you know i'm obsessed with all things '70s skateboarding/z-boys/lords of dogtown, so what a freakin' treat it was to eat in a cafe housed in the old zephyr shop!! i had a kale salad with cheese, walnuts, and mushrooms, which was surprisingly delicious but too boring to bother taking a photo of, reminisced about my favorite heath ledger scene, took in the memorabilia that adorned the walls, and chuckled at the barefoot man sitting near me. there's also a fairly new mural that pays tribute to the late, great jay adams on the back of the building.

took a quick ride over to beverly hills, and in the approximately 15 minutes i was there, i walked past david spade (who i also LOVE) in sweats. at this point, i'm feeling like this trip is just #blessed. it happened too fast for me to bug him, which was probably for the best.

last year, i saw these crazy colorful lattes all over instagram that i traced back to the butcher, the baker, the cappuccino maker in west hollywood, and just had to get one for myself, so i met up with one of my longtime twitter friends, heather, for the first time in person to chat and try one. i wish that it was a bit sweeter, but would you look at those colors! we had a fab time and i was so glad we got to meet IRL.

and then began one of my favorite experiences of the trip. for some reason—maybe it was my good mood because i was on vacation—totally magical shit just seemed to keep happening from the minute i arrived in LA and didn't let up. note to self: try to be in vacation mode ALL the time.

i strolled the sunset strip, past the legendary hair band venues like the roxy and the rainbow bar and grill and the viper room, and down to dan tana's, my top dinner choice. i would not recommend this walk by yourself at night—it was only 15 minutes or so, but halfway through, i was like "well, shit. it is dark and this road is DESERTED and i should not have done this." people aren't kidding when they say LA is a driving city, but that just doesn't jibe with me and i couldn't get that through my thick skull, only taking lyfts when i absolutely had to. which was still a lot. anyway, the bar was packed at dan tana's, so i hoofed it over to nearby craig's and boy, i'm so glad i did!

i ordered the chicken paillard, which was absolutely awful and flavorless, but no matter. it was worth it for the fellow patrons at the bar. i began talking with a woman, joyce, who had been talking with two guys next to her, tom and jimmy. we became fast friends and when i mentioned that i was going to grab a drink at the chateau marmont before checking out a show at the comedy store, joyce said she wanted to join me. the boys got wind and were all "we're coming, too!"

sadly, the chateau was having a private party or some bull and we couldn't get in, so we strolled to the sunset trocadero lounge down the street and got happy hour martinis and had a grand ol' time together:

the next morning, still groggy and lying in bed, i googled tom, who mentioned he was a producer and had worked on i, tonya but didn't say much more. uhh, he's THE producer of i, tonya...and MARGOT ROBBIE'S FUCKING HUSBAND! i thought back to the night before when he stepped away to take a call from "his wife" and shortly thereafter had to leave...which suddenly all made sense because it was the night of the SAG awards. and also how he pointed at a billboard we saw for birds of prey and was like "we worked on that!" this town is wild, man. never know who you're going to go boozing with! such a cool, quintessentially LA experience. jimmy told me he wanted me to send him this blog post, but i'm not going to send it now that i have discovered his friend's identity. muahaha.

oh, and the comedy store show was great. i got to see erik griffin from workaholics, plus a bunch of other really funny dudes like chris spencer, adam ray, jay larson, and rick ingraham.

DAY 3:

i still cannot get over the truly insane law of attraction experience i had on monday morning. probably the craziest one yet. as i was walking from my airbnb to get some cold brew and almond coffee cake at dinosaur coffee, i decided to listen to this band, everybody else, who i loved back in the rooney/phantom planet era and whose sunny power pop always brings back fond memories of my first visit to LA. so i'm strolling along, bopping to EBE, get to the coffee shop and hang for a bit. as i'm leaving, i make eye contact with one of the FOUR other patrons in the entire place, and it's the fucking lead singer. what on god's green earth?! i seriously had to restrain myself from gasping in his face and/or saying "STOP IT" aloud. i'd love to see someone explain that away as coincidence 'cause ya. just. can't. absolutely bananas. can you imagine how freaked out he'd be if i was like "hey, i'm from boston and was just listening to some of your songs from 2005!" hahaha. that, my friends, is what i like to call a wink from the universe.

next up was a laurel canyon music history hiking tour, which was such a special experience–especially after recently watching the documentary echo in the canyon. it was a beautiful day and i was joined by three other people. our guide, joseph, lives in the canyon and is clearly very passionate and knowledgeable about all of the past and present happenings there. he also brought along his little yorkie pup, graham!

we saw the old residences of neil young, slash, john lennon, stephen stills, jim morrison, and a bunch of other '60s/'70s folks, and the current residence of steven tyler and some lesser-known musicians. while i'd never ever want to live in LA, if i ever fell into massive wealth, i could be persuaded to live up here. the vibe was so different than in the city and i really dug it. the canyon country store, where mama cass famously lived and jennifer aniston famously worked, was super cool, too.
jim morrison's house

she actually lived in the basement of the store!!
i grabbed lunch at joan's on third, a sleek cafe and bakery that would have been the perfect setting for a scene on the hills or in a nancy meyers movie, then wandered the original farmers market and the grove for a bit

idk what happened to the photo i took of joan's but this is the vibe

...did some vintage browsing on melrose, including at wasteland, from which i bought clothes 14 years ago that i still wear. no such luck this time, but it was fun to look!

because i felt like i haaaad to, i walked all the way up to the cesspool that is hollywood boulevard to stare at the chinese theatre and the stars on the walk of fame and was reminded of perhaps my favorite photo ever, from the previous LA trip (it's tom cruise's star hahaha):
please note TMZ HQ, bottom right
after like 20 minutes i needed to rid myself of the grossness of LA's times square and sought refuge right around the corner at a bar my friend recommended, lost property (thanks, sean!). so damn great. there was barely anyone in there, and i let the bartender, dan, whip up a bourbon-y concoction on the spot for me that involved amaretto, chartreuse, maybe scotch? i forget, but it was delicious. i also talked his ear off and got his whole backstory. again, can i just do this for a living? it's so fascinating to hear about how people ended up where they are and pick their brains about life. he also let me charge my phone. score!

ugh ugh ugh another disappointing dinner was had at delphine because all of the good places, including musso and frank's, were closed on monday/because of the holiday. it was extremely forgettable so there's no point in spending any time on it.

buuut then i went to this dope late-night bohemian coffee shop called the bourgeois pig and got the bourgeois latte with chocolate, hazelnut, and espresso and sat in this dark back room that looks like an enchanted forest and i forgot all about the bad dinner. :) :) :)

DAY 4:

basically everyone told me i had to go to sqirl (and that there was always a long line), so i headed over there for breakfast and i lucked out with a short wait, probably since it was a tuesday morning. i ordered the breakfast porridge with straus milk, toasted hazelnuts, blueberry rhubarb jam, and assorted fruit—apparently LA is very into porridge right now which is cool because SO AM I—and a cold brew. it was great! creamy and hearty and fruity and perfect.

from there, i lyfted into downtown to browse the last bookstore...

and OBVIOUSLY some (500) days of summer filming locations:
the bradbury building, where tom meets autumn
the million dollar theater, where they watch vagiant

i also stalked the park bench but it was all fenced off now. womp.

downtown LA is weird and mostly blah, but the broad is a super cool contemporary art museum i'd recommend. while the galleries were neat, i'd be lying if i didn't say my primary reason for visiting was to get a photo in that insane mirror room. unfortunately, i didn't realize that you had to put your name in and come back when it was your turn, so i'd already explored the entire museum and had nothing more to do by the time i got added to the queue. but because this trip was magic, the universe was all "i gotchu, girl," and this younger dude plops down next to me on the bench and asks me how long i'd been waiting. "just 20 minutes, and they told me it would be an hour and a half," i groaned, mentioning that i was getting nervous because i had to be up in burbank for the conan taping in a couple hours. "i think they're about to let me in," he says, just as he gets the text that it's his turn. "come on. we're getting you in!" he says. beckoning for me to tag along with him. and he did!! what an angel. done and done.

for lunch, i stopped into a huge food hall, grand central market, and dug into this incredible fried chicken sandwich at lucky bird. after a couple really bad meals in this city, i was so thankful things were turning around on the final day!

then it was time for conan! the whole experience was really smooth and fun, from the friendly warner brothers staff members to getting a little unintentional tour of the WB lot while walking to the studio. the taping went by so fast, but i'm so glad i went. i'd been to one talk show taping, live with kelly and michael at disney world some year back, and it's always so fascinating to see how things play out behind the scenes.

also, the guest was jeff freakin' goldblum, and i could literally watch him and conan shoot the shit for hours on end. i was so happy that pretty much everything we saw made it into the broadcast:

i booked it to the griffith observatory and caught the tail end of the sunset and pretended i was in la la land or whatever:

i closed things out with a glass of pinot grigio and a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs at little dom's, a classic italian spot in the los feliz neighborhood. i loved the cozy atmosphere and oooh-wee, those meatballs just hit the spot. this restaurant is also known for its celeb sightings, but i was already gluttonous with my good fortune thus far, so i was okay not spotting anyone.

while there were a few more things i wish i had time to fit in (the getty, dinner at musso and frank, and that drink at the chateau) i had a total blast and LA is such an exciting place to visit. i'm bound and determined to make sure that another 14 years doesn't pass before i return!