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UPCOMING SHOWS

LADY GAGA STAPLES CENTER AUG 11, 12 LOS ADOLOSCENTES THE CONGA ROOM FISHBONE PERSHING SQUARE AUG 7

AUG 12

LAST WEEKEND FOR

‘FABRIC’

AT COMPANY OF ANGELS

LIFE IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES / BLOGDOWNTOWN.COM / AUGUST 5, 2010

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P h o to b y E D FU E N T E S

LEAP OF FAITH By Jenni Simcoe

You’ve just won Top Chef, now what are you going to do? For Ilan Hall, the answer wasn’t heading to Disneyland, but it wasn’t opening a restaurant either. Given the tough odds faced by any restaurateur— one in four restaurants were said to fail in their first year even before the recession— Hall found it smarter to wait. He decided to travel, taking time to experience the cuisine of Spain, Venezuela, Romania and the Philippines. “I didn’t want to immediately jump in and start a restaurant. I wanted to travel, eating and learning

NEWS Old and new worlds collide at 7th & Main

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along the way,” Hall explains. He spent a good chunk of his earnings from the show, but considers the expense worthwhile. The prize money was $100,000 but after taxes it ended up being around $66,000. “I guess you could say that the $66,000 went to research and development,” he jokes. When he was finally ready to open a restaurant, the native New Yorker opted to make a change and take his chance on L.A. Rather than going at it alone, he partnered with his best friend since childhood, Natan Continued on Page 6

FOOD

NIGHTLIFE

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Out-of-the-way spots for your gourmet fix

The Falls adds to the Historic Core’s bar tally

EVERYDAY Get ready for a 3 on 3 takeover at L.A. Live

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blogdowntownWeekly

August 5, 2010

Images

Online at blogdowntown.com

Downtown’s Week in Pictures 1 Eli Reed rides the lip of a “broken teacup” on the street course built atop L.A. Live’s Event Deck for X Games 16. JULY 31, 2010

2 Gold medal winner Daniel Dhers lands on top of a VIP viewing area at the end of BMX Freestyle Park at X Games 16. JULY 31, 2010

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Ph o to b y E R I C R I C H A R D S O N

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3 Fee Waybill of The Tubes performs at Pershing Square while dressed as his alterego, “Quay Lewd.” JULY 31, 2010

4 Carrie Ann Inaba and Adam Shankman lead hip-hop choreography during National Dance Day festivities at the Music Center. JULY 31, 2010

3 P h o to b y E D FU E N T E S

Photo by E R IC R IC H AR D SO N

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P h o to b y E D FU E N T E S


blogdowntownWeekly

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Starting a newspaper probably doesn’t rank very high on the list of smart things to do in the age of the Internet and iPhones. Then again, neither is starting a restaurant in the middle of a recession or opening a retail store in a questionable neighborhood like Downtown L.A. If folks around us can do both of those things, who’s to say that we can’t just be on to something when it comes to believing that those who live here still like paper? There’s something uniquely powerful about a newspaper that’s sitting at the cafe, just waiting to catch your eye and tempt you to pick it up. That simple copy of the paper is a way to reach out to those who might not make the effort to find us online and to get them a little more connected to the community around them. That’s what is so unique about Downtown, after all: the community. Where else are so many people ready to jump in to outlandish projects just because they believe in them? Look at what we -- all of us who live, work or are involved in Downtown -- have accomplished over the last few years. We’ve built something amazing. It’s not where we want it to be and stories like the one that has been evolving around the corner of 7th and Main over the last few weeks show us that

blogdowntownWeekly

August 5, 2010

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there’s much left to do, but would we really have believed five years ago that Downtown would be where it is? I certainly had no idea when I arrived a little over six years ago. I was a kid who was just a little wide-eyed at his new neighborhood, and for some reason a few of you started reading as I shared that exploration online. Now we’ll be sharing that exploration in print, offering content that covers nightlife, culture, food, fashion, news and entertainment. All of those areas are ones where Downtown is all of a sudden poised to be a leader. We’ve got a few other tricks up our sleeve as well. By the time you read this note you may well have seen one of our Nihola cargo tricycles getting ridden across Downtown to bring you your paper. We’re Downtown, we thought, so why should we have to resort to using a truck or a van to drop off papers? Why not do something that really fits in with this pedestrianfirst lifestyle that we’re always touting as an advantage of life here? Bringing you this paper has proven to be an amazing task. We’re probably going to make a mistake now and then. Cut us a little slack, and just know that you’re the ones who inspired us to think it possible. - Eric Richardson, Publisher

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News 4

August 5, 2010

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You Said... Readers on blogdowntown.com had strong and varied reactions to our two stories about 7th & Main. The pair had accumulated a combined 55 comments by press time. Here’s a taste of the conversation that took place.

Border Crackdown

Ph oto by ER IC R IC H AR D SO N

Violence at 7th and Main leads to resident worry, police reaction By Eric Richardson

A task force focused on narcotics sales near the corner of 7th and Main netted the arrests of three dealers, seven buyers and three others with outstanding warrants early on the morning of Tuesday, July 28. The special enforcement action was taken in response to three shootings that have taken place at the corner since May. “This is only one of a number of things we’ve done,” explained Lt. Paul Vernon, head of detectives for Central Division. Residents in the Historic Core were unnerved by a trio of shootings centered around the corner, which despite recent development still serves as a border between the Historic Core and Skid Row. The most recent violence came on July 4. In that incident, a 19-yearold male was shot in both the front and the back, leaving a trail of blood as he attempted to run up Spring Street to get away. The shooting also highlighted a paradox that has plagued Skid Row for decades. The 19-year-old victim, previously convicted for drug dealing, told

police that he was in the neighborhood to attend treatment as part of his parole conditions. Instead, police believe he was selling. “I suspect that 19-year-old owed [the shooters] money,” Vernon said. “He hadn’t paid up, or hadn’t paid the tax for selling in that neighborhood.” Arrested for possession with the intent to sell were Kyle Smith, 20, of Long Beach; Deondre Washington, 29, who claimed to be homeless; and Charles Madison, 63, of South Los Angeles. All had prior felony convictions. Vernon described Smith and Washington as being members of rival gangs. Madison has a 27-page rap sheet, which includes both drugs and burglary. “These arrests confirm several things we had surmised: the drug dealers are not living downtown; gang rivalries are often left at home; and the sellers are career criminals,” Lt. Vernon said. While he acknowledged that other dealers may quickly move in to fill the void left by these arrests, Vernon said

that he hoped there might be a change. “Sometimes, all you have to do is go and find two or three people in an area like this who are causing the trouble,” he explained. After making the three arrests, undercover officers positioned themselves on the corner selling fake narcotics. They made seven arrests, either for possession or attempted possession. “It’s against the law to solicit to buy illicit drugs, so this is a way for us to cut into the drug buyers’ population, too,” Lt. Vernon said. “If they become afraid the next dealer is a cop, they may go somewhere else.” Before the special enforcement, police focus had been centered on the Huntington Hotel as a source of much of the corner’s issues. None of the men arrested had a connection to the hotel, and a check of the hotel registry showed only one guest on parole or probation. “That’s a good bit of news for all of us. It shows the hotel has tightened up its security operations and is not now as much a harbor for criminals,” Lt. Vernon said.

P ho to b y E RI C R I C H A RD S ON

The Tale of the Huntington

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Yes- Thanks Eric for a great article. But it is frustrating that they’ve known it was a problem and have spent the last 4 - 5 years working on it when it kinda seems like we need foot partrol and the idea of a substations sounds great too. Just like 5th and Broadway- I’m getting offered drugs next to Rite-Aid and a cop car is cruising by... skidrowdude How about we start snapping pictures of these people selling drugs and post them? In all seriousness why aren’t there any foot patrols? Is that not effective? Guest

Does anyone care that violent crime is down 12% in central division over the past 12 months (vs LAPD central’s goal of 5%), that robberies are down 26%, and that central division is one of the safest of the LAPD’s 21 divisions? (actually it might now be the safest) ...The real story here is that: 1) downtown is getting safer and safer, and 2) downtown’s residents are getting more and more frightened. DavidAC ...Just a saw a blatant drug deal near 5th and Broadway just outside of Pershing Square last night while walking with a friend who’s not from the area. This was during the performance in the park no less. Hopefully we can clear this activity out of the area sooner than later. It’s better than it was 10 years ago, but there are still many hotspots that could really use extra attention from the police and BID. 7th and Main is definitely one of them, while 5th near Broadway is another. Laldava02 i am so proud of the police effort here----i want to hug the cops DT! because they are awsome but also because many are cute...and i’m a single lady...just sayin’ seriously i dont want to pass judgement on the users or even dealers--but they were ruining the vibe on this particular part of the street--making it feel very unsafe to walk by any time of day...i feel safer now.. Guest

By Eric Richardson

“Why is it happening there?” asked Lt. Paul Vernon. “Well, to be honest, it’s always happened there. The Huntington Hotel is the root of it.” While the police department’s July 28 action did not turn up any connections between the Huntington Hotel and the men arrested that morning, the hotel at 752 S. Main has been a major character in the story of crime and drugs at 7th and Main. While other major Downtown hotels including the Alex-

andria, Rosslyn and Hayward were historically problem spots, they have since been cleaned up. “The Huntington is the last bastion, so to speak, of this kind of criminal activity,” Lt. Paul Vernon told blogdowntown in mid-July. The hotel is currently up for sale after a protracted fight between original building owner Landmark Equity Partners, purchaser A Better Choice Development, Inc (ABCD), and the City Attorney’s Office. In 2008, Land-

mark was ordered to sell its interest in a number of residential properties, including the Huntington, that had been maintained in sub-standard condition. The Huntington, located at 752 S. Main, was the last to sell, despite interest from several non-profit housing providers. According to court testimony, deals were struck with both a partnership between Clifford Beers Housing, Inc and Communities Actively Living Independent and Free (CALIF)

and with SRO Housing Corp. Neither could close before the deadline by which Landmark had to give up the building. Just before the city’s courtordered deadline, Landmark closed a deal to sell the building to ABCD, a contractor it had employed to do work on the building. The city saw the sale as a sham transaction, while ABCD’s Daniel Mangaroni wrote in a March 22 declaration that he simply saw a chance to flip the building and turn a profit.


blogdowntownWeekly

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August 5, 2010

P h o to b y E D FU E N T E S

At a July 29 press conference, Shen Yun spokesman Shizhong Chen made the group’s case that it had been unfairly blocked from developing two Grand Ave parcels that are part of Related Companies’ stalled Grand Avenue Project.

ARTS GROUP BIDS FOR TOP BILLING ON GRAND STAGE

By Ed Fuentes

When the Los Angeles Shen Yun / Fei Tian Arts Center Planning Group reintroduced its proposal for a 3,000-seat theater and training facility last week, it reasserted its claims that the City of Los Angeles has “ignored” the group’s request that other developers get a chance for two prized Bunker Hill parcels. The group tours internationally and says that it has 400 performances in 30 countries scheduled for this year.

The Downtown parcels that it seeks are not on the market. One is the site of philanthropist Eli Broad’s proposed art museum, which this week begins the process of City Council approval. It was during Community Redevelopment Agency discussion of the museum last month that the Chinese performance group first publicly unveiled its rival plans, which would include a 30-story tower adjacent to the Disney Concert

Hall. At a press conference held on the sidewalk next to the target site, Shen Yun spokesperson Shizhong Chen stated the Chinese Arts group was being blocked and that it found the city’s suggestion to consider using a parcel in Chinatown inappropriate. It was after the news conference that the rhetoric got even more interesting. The L.A. Times reported that a spokesman for the arts center

made the development showdown a human rights issue. Chen and Winston Xia were reported to be suspicious that the Chinese government could “intimidate” city and business officials to prevent the center’s approval. “This has been taken way out of context,” Chen now says, stating that he is the project’s only authorized spokesperson. There is still the matter of access to a bidding process that began seven years ago.

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When the Grand Avenue Joint Powers Authority was formed in 2003, a request for proposals was issued that solicited ideas for the land shared by the County of Los Angeles, the city and the redevelopment agency. The Related Companies were awarded a development agreement fair and square, says Councilwoman Jan Perry, whose district includes Grand Ave. “The land on which the Broad Foundation proposes to develop an art museum still falls under this development agreement because the site is under ‘contract’ to the Related Companies,” Perry explains. “They are able to assign their assigning rights on the development to the Broad Foundation.” And the councilwoman confirms that no one from the Chinese government has been in contact about Shen Yun. The arts group has not detailed its ability to finance the proposed project, but has insisted that it will present the proper backing when it is time. Despite its protests, the group has not ruled out other sites entirely. “If after reviewing our plan CRA/LA still considers it a China[town] project then I would not think the [suggestion to build there] insensitive, even if I may not agree with that conclusion,” says Chen. Still, it doesn’t sound like he is ready to settle. “Isn’t that stereotypical, to say the least? An outstanding global phenomenon deserves an outstanding venue. Its appropriate place is the city’s best theatre and cultural district.”


Food 6

August 5, 2010

Leap of Faith

Continued from Page 1

Online at blogdowntown.com

informed him that he needed to purchase yet another permit for having lit candles in the restaurant. New Challenges When The Gorbals opened, Hall was still well known from his win on Top Chef. He credits that exposure to the amount of attention the new restaurant received from the media. But Top Chef or not, Hall quickly learned there were challenges to introducing a new restauPh o to by D erek Van Oss

Zion. Neither had opened a restaurant before, but Hall did know the ins and outs of the kitchen from his education at the Culinary Institute of America and from stints in restaurants owned by celebrity chefs Tom Colicchio and Mario Batali. “We chose downtown L.A. because there’s a big sense of community. I like when you walk down the streets and you know people. That’s awesome. People want you to succeed,” says Zion. “That’s so true. I cannot walk the one block between my place and the restaurant without running into six people I know,” says Hall.

ing issues. “Evidently the water heater wasn’t powerful enough. We had no idea,” Hall says. The stress bubbled over, with Hall and Zion almost coming to blows in the lobby of the Alexandria. “Luckily security intervened and pulled us apart,” Hall says as the friends look at each other and chuckle. “It was tense for both of us and it was one of those things where we should have been away from each other. I sort of pretended to charge and then

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Building A Dream When Ilan Hall first toured spaces in downtown L.A. in the latter part of 2008, he almost didn’t see the space inside the Alexandria Hotel that now houses his restaurant, The Gorbals. “I was taking a tour of downtown buildings looking at different spaces, just perusing with Justin Weiss, the Assistant Director of Economic Development for the Downtown Center Business Improvement District.” Weiss offhandedly mentioned a bar space in the historic hotel and also showed Hall the space in much disrepair that formerly housed a diner. To Hall, the space felt right for what he wanted to do. Hall and Zion quickly went to work refurbishing the space. The pair did everything from painting the entire restaurant in one night, to sanding down the communal table by hand. “We did everything from the absolute ground up. This was a very raw space when we came in. We know it’s not the highest in style or design and it’s rustic and rough. But I’m not an interior designer. We just wanted something that would be comfortable, homey enough, fun, and interesting,” says Hall. After building the space and learning the ins and outs of the multitude of restaurant codes, Hall and Zion opened The Gorbals on August 14, 2009. Growing Pains Three days after the launch party, the restaurant was shut down by Health department inspectors because of plumb-

Restauranteurs Hang Tough The Gorbals is one of many restaurants that opened in 2009 and 2010. We asked folks from two other recent openings about their experience. Here’s what they said about— The community: Steve Springer, the general manager of First & Hope Supper Club says that the owners of First & Hope chose to open a restaurant in the Bunker Hill neighborhood because there was a gap in the market for an affordable neighborhood restaurant. “Downtown is so much more of a community than any other part of L.A.” says Springer. He estimates that diners are evenly split between Downtown hipsters, the theater crowd, and foodies from across L.A. Mignon co-owner Santos Uy sees room for growth as a community. “I’d like to see a butcher open down here. We also could use a nice gourmet grocery store with a great produce selection,” he says. Staffing: Springer said that staffing First & Hope was actually easier in the current economy because of the large talent pool that was available to them. Over 600 people interviewed for the hundred plus jobs available at the supper club. (Interestingly Springer said this just days after the departure of First & Hope’s executive chef and sous chef.) The Economy:

Natan Zion and Ilan Hall inside The Gorbals in January.

Yelp reviewers said we were ‘amateurish’. I thought, well yeah, we are amateurs. This is our first restaurant. Ilan Hall

Natan really charged at me,” he says. It took two and a half months to redo the plumbing valves, pipes and fixtures in order to conform to the building codes. Finally on Halloween 2009, The Gorbals reopened. Hall is quick to point out that he’s counting the August 14 as the one-year anniversary of the restaurant, rather than Halloween. “But I suppose we could have two anniversaries, just like my parents. They got married twice,” he says. Hall says he learns something new every day. Just last week, he had a visit from the fire department inspector who

rant to the community. “I guess on TV I came across as an arrogant jerk,” says Hall. “But I think I’m a pretty nice guy.” In retrospect, Hall says that through the editing and the stress of the competition, he sees how people came to that assumption. But Hall is right. He is a genuinely nice guy who breaks the mold of many a celebrity chef who would never admit their own weaknesses. Perhaps because of, or in spite of the persona people saw on TV, they were drawn to the restaurant. Foodies expected to see the chef that was full of Continued on Page 7

“We spent at least 20-25 percent less on all elements of build out than we would have otherwise. We were able to negotiate better prices because people were hungry for work, so that really helped in this economy,” said Springer. Restaurant Codes: Both Mignon and First & Hope Supper Club experienced difficulties with inspections and codes causing delays and frustrations. Just a month before the March opening of First & Hope, a solution to the complicated codes and inspections was instituted. “We were guinea pigs for a restaurant expediting pilot program that gives you a point person with the city and county that coordinates all the different agencies,” said Springer. “We are first time restaurateurs so we’ve learned by the seat of our pants every step of the way.” Location: Mignon is located between Main and Los Angeles. Uy chose the location for its proximity to the success of Cole’s, The Association and Varnish, which are right next door. “It’s a cool block so we thought we’d get a critical mass of people.” In hindsight he wishes he was west of Main. “It’s kind of a bad area. It’s the edge of civilization, Los Angeles Street. We get a lot of homeless people, druggies and panhandlers coming by,” he said. He’s concerned that it might affect business. “Maybe in a couple of years it will be a great location. It’s only going to get better from here. I’d like to see the streets get cleaned up.” He thinks solutions include better lighting and a crackdown on drugs and crime amongst the homeless population. Drawing Crowds: Springer also admits that the opening of First & Hope in March was a difficult time. “We’re just hitting our stride in the middle of summer in downtown. The theaters are dark until September. In the fall we will get really crazy busy, but we still need to build our lunch business,” he said. He adds that on Friday and Saturday nights it’s hard to get a table. Uy says that it’s been a challenge getting the word out that Mignon is open for business, partly because of it’s location east of Main Street. He’s hopeful that business will pick up as he goes into fall. “But I’d rather start off slow like we have than have people come all at once and then have the buzz die down where people say it WAS a hotspot.”


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August 5, 2010

7

Hidden KTCHN

Sunday brunch comes with an unlikely location By Michael Shane

They’re known as guerilla restaurants and you may have to search to find them. They live in unlikely places. I recently found KTCHN 105 in an old warehouse downtown. “Do you know how to get here?” asked the voice on the other end of the phone. “It’s the address on the website, correct?” I replied. “Yes, just go up to the gate when you arrive and follow the instructions on the white sign. It’s pretty self explanatory.” After making my reservation, that’s just what I did. Arrived at the gate. Dialed the number on the key pad as instructed… “after the gate opens, walk straight back and to the left.” the sign said. Walked a few feet and found myself in a secluded garden, surrounded by a tall, white picket fence while outside, you wouldn’t know that a bustling city continues with freight trucks zooming around. Your senses are tricked by the imagery around you. Just down a short path I’m met with a fork in the road… one leading into an expansive, kitchen fit for a Malibu ranch home with a long 20 foot prep table right smack in the middle. Along the left,

the wall is covered in shelves with stacks of glasses, plates, serving trays. Pots and pans hang all around. The other path leads to a patio filled with friendly chatter. KTCHN 105 is located at a former industrial warehouse converted to lofts in the middle of the wholesale produce district downtown. The perfect place for a restaurant with a menu filled with fresh veggies in every dish. KTCHN 105’s ingredients are bought right from the produce wholesalers no more than a block away. A cooking staff of three, lead by executive chef Felix G. Barron IV, works effortlessly to feed the small group of hungry people waiting just outside on the patio that tightly seats 35, give or take. I’m led to my little wooden table by a smiling waitress and offered a mimosa: blueberry, pomegranate, or orange. The décor for Felix’s KTCHN 105 is simple and made to be inviting. Silverware wrapped in a white linen napkin sits on top of a small folded, paper menu. A long bench lined the outside of the tables, while folded chairs fill the rest of the seating. Guests are either

Leap of Faith

jokingly says that his food is inspired by bar mitzvas. A quick peek at the bacon wrapped matzo balls on the menu quickly puts that notion to rest—marrying a traditional kosher ingredient with one that’s not. Though the menu changes daily due to Hall’s inspiration or because of the availability of seasonal ingredients, the matzo balls, potato latkes, marrow bones and crispy broccoli appear on a regular basis. “We’ve been called ‘eclectic global immigrant cuisine’ by food critics,” says Hall. “My father is from Glasgow and my mother is from Israel, so the reality is we are serving the food inspired by what we grew up with.” The name of the restaurant is also confusing to some. Many well known chefs choose to use their name in the restaurant, à la Emeril’s, while others take poetic license with foreign words and phrases,

Continued from Page 6

himself and wanted to try his food, while others just wanted the experience of going to a famous chef’s restaurant. What he didn’t expect was the misconception that people seemed to have with the concept. “People would come in and compare us to something like Bouchon. But that’s not what we are. Yelp reviewers said we were ‘amateurish’. I thought, well yeah, we are amateurs. This is our first restaurant. People gave us a hard time for not being a polished place,” says Hall. “But it’s a lot harder than it looks to open a restaurant. In the beginning I was thinking, ‘come on guys, give us a break. We’re trying to make food that’s tasty and enjoyable.’” When asked to describe the restaurant concept, Hall

Olive oil bottles sit in front of deli items at Garo’s Deli in St. Vincent’s Court.

P h o to b y E D FU E N T E S

Downtown’s Gourmet Secrets By Dawna Nolan

Long-time Downtown residents remember when groceries were a day trip. Then Ralphs opened, Downtown became more of a “real” neighborhood and buying groceries became less of a production. But some Downtowners have never made the big grocery switch, citing expensive prices, a preference for shopping at smaller, neighborhood spots, or just a love for

specialty items that they can’t find at a large chain. So, besides Ralphs and Grand Central Market, where can you shop for food downtown? As it turns out, if you know where to look—lots of places. This article is the first of a series in which we’ll show you some Downtown gems that should be added into your hunt for culinary gems.

If you like to cook, it can be a challenge to find items downtown that might be considered “gourmet,” things like good olive oils, vinegars, Italian tomatoes, even spices and greek yogurt. But tucked in a tiny, hidden-away spot, you can find all of those things and more. Garo’s Deli in St. Vincent Continued on Page 15

Court is a tiny shop (and full deli) that carries everything from Greek yogurt, tahini, and imported feta cheeses, to a wide selection of nuts, spices, olives, dry beans, teas and a dizzying array of spreads, pickles, dips and condiments, all at very reasonable prices. If you’re feeling festive, you can even purchase rose petal

jam and Turkish Delight, perhaps to accompany the shop’s Middle Eastern pastries and coffee beans, available in several blends and roasts, including Turkish and Arabic, for only $7 a pound. And if you prefer for someone else to make your Turkish coffee (or tea) the staff at

such as Thomas Keller’s Per Se, Bouchon and Ad Hoc, while yet others choose a name that hints at ingredients or cuisine such as Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill or Wolfgang Puck’s Cut Steakhouse. But for Hall, The Gorbals means something special to him. The moniker comes from a neighborhood in Glasgow where immigrants shared their different cultures through food. Hall sees downtown LA as a similar place where cultures mesh to provide an ‘amalgam of many different ethnicities and tastes.’ Hall and Zion opened the restaurant on a shoestring budget, only borrowing money from family and friends. Because of the limited start-up budget, Hall says that improvements have been made over time from cash flow along with gained experience. “Our food’s improved, our lighting, décor, everything. All of the superficial things and substan-

tive things have improved over time.” Staffing was also an issue that has improved. After some turnover, Hall says he now has a great staff that is very dedicated to the success of the restaurant and that takes pride in being part of the community. After all of the time and energy the duo spent in opening the restaurant, the future looks bright for The Gorbals. Hall’s business partner, Natan Zion, took a leave of absence in the spring to travel to Israel, take restaurant business classes, and visit family in New York. He’s due back in September. “He went all in to the restaurant when he came here. He sort of cut off everything extraneous,” says Hall. While he says it will be nice to have Zion back for the front of house management, he says his best friend’s absence has been “more difficult emotionally

because he’s my best friend in the whole world and my business partner. It’s going to be amazing to have him back.”

Continued on Page 15

The Big Payoff When The Gorbals opened, the economy was still in the midst of the worst part of the recession. That didn’t cause Hall much pause. “For some reason I wasn’t scared. I don’t know if that was stupid,” he says. Ultimately he thinks the state of the economy actually helped. “It was good because it helped us prepare for bad times. We opened at the worst, so we can only go up from there.” One thing that Hall credits to the restaurant’s success is the price point that ranges from $5 to $15 for small plates. “That’s why I don’t understand what people say on Yelp. I read it every once in a while, that we are overpriced or that Continued on Page 15


g Nightlife 8

August 5, 2010

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Falls Looks to Make a Splash on Spring By Sommer Lawal

Behind a heavy door covered in letterpress stands Michelle Marini—a classy, petite blonde who emerges peering through her oversized vintage tinted frames. She is holding down the fort at The Falls, the Spring Street bar that has been in the works for more than a year of construction. Marini welcomed the bar���s first customers last month during the soft opening, and officially opened the door on Friday for an intro bash. The cozy space has a retro modern look, but a nature feel that could easily be derived from a dive bar in Big Sur. The Berkeley and UCLA Art grad is no novice to the bar business -- she owned wellknown Hollywood spot Lava Lounge before partnering with Craig Trager of Vintage Bar Group to convert the space into The Woods three years ago. She then got into jewelry, but became bored with that and decided to make a return to the bar industry. To do so, she picked a block that has turned into a burgeoning nightlife row. Immediately to the north is Exchange LA, the nightclub and private event space just reopening inside the historic Stock Exchange building. Just to the south is Spring St., the beer-heavy bar from Michael Leko and Will Shamlian that opened in April. When asked about The Falls, Marini’s eyes brighten. “I want to throw a party every night,” she says. “Just like Lava Lounge, except the nightly entertainment. At Lava, we booked four bands, six days a week. At The Falls, I’d like to incorporate movies, film screenings and themed parties.” One can’t help but notice the detail in the design concepts that connect earth, rustic, glam and rock. Metallic circles sit in squares on the wall behind half-moon shaped booths. Amber, orange and warm hues are found throughout, while gold-finish tree stump tables match up with stacked logs embedded in the walls. Chan-

deliers and disco lighting are intended to compliment the music selections of 70’s rock and pop. Marini commissioned Downtown artist MATTEO to create a video sculpture, presenting colorful, moving images of waterfalls fused inside of hundreds of acrylic ice cubes. The design concept for the bar was created by Marini and executed by Chris Pieper of Pieper Commercial and Residential Contracting. As we talk, downtowners peek curiously inside the space every few minutes. “I love the neighborhood!” exclaims Marini. “Downtown is not very ageist, mostly both twenty- and thirty-somethings, so I’m happy people a decade or two older will have just as much fun.” “This place is not mixology,” Marini announces matterof-factly. “But we do have fresh ingredients on the drink menu. We plan to do a vintage cocktail menu with modernized versions of old-school drinks. For an added bonus, we’ll have freshly squeezed juices: lemon, kumquats, watermelon, basil and sage. We won’t have drinks you’ll have to wait twenty minutes prep time to enjoy. We will have wine for the distinguished palate including six choices: three reds and three whites for the wine aware. We’ll have six beers on tap that will rotate occasionally as well as six bottles and cans.” Marini gives credit to Al Almaeda, partner and ex-bartender, as her “righthand man” in the bar. For her, the drinks and the decor need to work together to create a vibe that fits the neighborhood. “I just want the community to feel welcome here,” she says. “There’s an eclectic flavor Downtown. Themed parties will always be fun and visually stimulating. People should be comfortable in a suit or ball gown, men or women! Most importantly, my goal is to be a neighborhood bar, inviting to everyone.”


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Inside Red Zebra’s Wild Ride By Sommer Lawal

The Historic Core’s Crocker Club may be better known for its dress code than for the scene inside, but one Thursday night a month finds the patrons looking just a little bit different. Latex clothing, tuxedos, tattered dresses, high fashion, fishnets and fur somehow find their way in the door and down the stairs, where red lips, big hair and smoky eyes can be found walking the runway. The night is Red Zebra, the creation of local artist Robert Vargas, whose work you may have seen on any of a number of Downtown gallery walls over the last six years. He’s also an Art Walk fixture, often found creating charcoal sketches of the faces of passers-by. For the last six months, Vargas has been throwing a party that tries to put a new spin on showcasing Downtown’s talent, and he’s not shy in talking about it. “Red Zebra is a spin-off of who I am,” Vargas says, on this day wearing a leather fedora hat wrapped with ribbons of multiple primary colors. “Because of my brand as an artist, Red Zebra came about. I’ve been a part of the ‘canon’ that is the art community for six years. Red Zebra came about from my fan base. There’s a void in the commu-

nity for bringing the gallery to the streets.” The event takes place on the first Thursday of each month, inside the basement club at 5th and Spring. “Downtown’s finest creatives,” per Vargas, is what the Red Zebra celebration is about. The event showcases talent ranging from live art, live music and bands, fashion shows, comedy shows and varying performance art. “I was the first artist to paint outside on the streets during Artwalk, bringing it to life. People respond to the creative process because of this void. There’s usually a separation between the viewer and art. I erase these lines by having live art. This artwork encourages participation by engaging the viewer where they feel like their beauty is worth immortalizing as well.” Vargas does have proper art credentials. Born and raised in Boyle Heights, he received a full ride to Pratt Institute in New York City, where he stayed six years past graduation before returning to his Angeleno roots. Local connections and the art are Red Zebra’s focus. “This isn’t about throwing a party,” says a passionate Vargas. “Art is the primary focus. I hire from within Downtown LA. Everyone involved lives Downtown, from the sponsors

P h o to b y R ick Mend o za

Artist Robert Vargas poses inside the Crocker Club’s vault. The club is the location of Vargas’ monthly Red Zebra art events.

and hair stylists for the fashion shows from Salon Pure, to the actual designers, like Ernie and Shelly Erion. I’m turning the streets into my studio and everyone is in the space. Red Zebra is a conduit of their energy.“ Acts rotate monthly. This Thursday, August 5th, Red Zebra will have three live bands, one MC, a runway show consisting of two designers, one for fashion, one for the peep show, a comedy show, ‘The Glass Door’ (a club within the Crocker Club), all celebrat-

ed by DJ Josh Peace. “Ernie Omega will be the host of the room,” Vargas adds. In September, Vargas presents a night of couture, as well as a collaboration piece with Jim Manos, creator of Dexter on HBO. “He will be live writing on a huge canvas while I paint on the same surface. It will be an intuitive mixed media collage,“ says Vargas with a smile and a wink. “You truly start to see the growth of the city when it becomes multi-layered,” Vargas says before getting a bit

existential. “I’m not relying on Artwalk to support and participate. The artists in a space makes them part of the virtual painting that I’m creating. Red Zebra is a free event, accessible to everyone. Spring Street is the Nile of Downtown LA. We can all see the busy hustle on the surface, but underneath, there’s a speak-easy in an old bank vault beneath Spring Street and it’s Red Zebra.”


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Trio of New Rentals Start Leasing Three old buildings have newly begun residential leasing in recent weeks, offering options for those in search of a new place to call their home.

Ph oto by ER IC R IC H AR D SO N

Skateboarder Ryan Sheckler took gold in the street competition at X Games 16 on Saturday.

Refocused X Games Tests L.A. Live’s Complex Design

The Blackstone Lofts 901 S. Broadway Pricing: $1450- $2800

Square Footage: 634 - 1264 theblackstonela.com Leasing Info: 213.489.2259

Jewelry Trades Lofts 220 W. 5th Street Pricing: 1,160 - $4,500

Studios and up Leasing Info: 310.467.2453

Spring Arcade Lofts 541 S. Spring Street Pricing: $1450-$3300

Square Footage: 680 -1450

By Eric Richardson

The L.A. Live complex has been the site of a number of large events since its venues began opening in late 2007, becoming an award show mecca and playing a role in the celebration of back-to-back NBA championships. It’s last weekend’s X Games that folks inside developer AEG’s offices are excited about, though. The event, which ESPN says attracted 138,525 fans between L.A. Live and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, was the first to make use of nearly every venue in the complex, from the Regal Cinemas to the clubs to Staples Center. That ability to host a large

event within a confined campus was one of the company’s big goals in designing the spaces. So how did the complex perform? Well, says Staples Center General Manager Lee Zeidman. “From a venue operator standpoint everything went exactly as we planned,” he said on Tuesday. Along with events atop the Event Deck and inside Nokia Theatre and Staples Center, the X Games also included a fan fest on Chick Hearn Court and an interactive park tucked in the shadows of the arena. The next time the complex

gets a similar test should be in February, when it hosts the 2011 NBA All-Star Game. Back in June, AEG CEO Tim Leiweke talked up the impact that having so many venues in one place could have for the event. “This might be the first time in the history of the NBA AllStar Game where everything is self-contained in a 100-acre campus,” he said, touting how that lack of travel would make the game a “rubber-free” event. Other similar big “activation” events could be coming. “We are always talking to various events and awards shows to do takeovers of the entire campus,” said Zeidman.

www.springarcadebuilding.com

Leasing Info: 213.239.9121


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11

3 on 3 Dribbles and Dunks into 2nd Year By Eric Richardson

The spectacle of the weekend should take place in South Park, where the Nike 3 on 3 tournament returns for a second year of competition. The first outing attracted several hundred teams to courts set up on Chick Hearn Court and atop the L.A. Live Event Deck, but organizers hope that the second outing could see far larger numbers. Those not participating in the action may want to circle Saturday, August 7, on their

calendars to make it over to the tournament’s slam dunk competition. Last year’s inaugural dunk off was won by Frenchmen Guy Dupay. This year’s competition includes Terry Cournoyea -- aka. T-Dub -- winner of 40 slam dunk contests worldwide. Press for the contest says that “T-Dub will face his toughest challenge yet” when going against Kevin “Golden Child” Kemp, Brandon “Werm” Lacue and Justin “Jusfly” Darlington.

Showing Off is for the Dogs 537 dogs and 1017 humans mingling at the Cathedral is nothing to sniff at. That was the final tally as reported by Hal Bastian, who with his dog Scooter, Monsignor Kevin Kostelnik and his dog Joaquin, hosted the fourth annual Downtown Dog Day Afternoon on July 27. The idea came about when two Downtown based parishioners kept running into each other on their only morning dog walk, Kostelnik told the crowd. “One walked their dog at 6am, the other at 6:30am. They decided to meet at 6:15am to walk their dogs together.” The active afternoon of getting on a first name basis with pets and their owners, often in that order, went on into the night. And now, pets and people came early, and even stayed a little later.

DASH Fares Up Photo by ER IC R IC H AR D SO N

A team from the Skidrow 3 on 3 league competes during the 2009 tournament at L.A. Live.

DTLA Resident Card Hot Discount of the Week: Half price bottles at Daily Grill around the clock for DTLA Residents Pick up your free card at DTLAResident.com

Plan to carry around some extra dimes when making your way around Downtown. The first fare hike in the history of the DASH circulator system went into effect on Sunday, the price of a ride

rising from a quarter to 35 cents. Fares are already scheduled to rise again to 50 cents on July 1, 2011. Also cancelled in the budgetbalancing moves were DASH B (South Park) and DASH DD (Weekend) services.

Without the changes, the city’s Department of Transportation would have faced a deficit projected to reach $350 million over the next ten years. Those who don’t enjoy carrying change can purchase DASH monthly passes or ticket books at a variety of retailers.


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CHINATOWN SUMMER NIGHTS

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Crafts, food trucks, and DJ’s from KCRW are helping Chinatown’s prosperity by adding wisdom to form a path of harmony to the historic neighborhood’s nighttime longevity.

Saturday, August 7th

Those four -- prosperity, wisdom, harmony and longevity -- are the themes of Saturday nights in Chinatown this month, which will be active with family workshops, ranging from Chinese Calligraphy to cooking demonstrations. Public radio station KCRW is bringing the tunes, promising plentyof dancing under the summer stars.

WISDOM

Chinatown Summer Nights will also debut the LA Craft Experience Aug 14 and Aug 28 in historic Chinatown’s Central Plaza, featuring unique vendors from all over Los Angeles.

chinatownsummernights.com

PROSPERITY Saturday, August 14th Saturday, August 21st HARMONY, Saturday, August 28th LONGEVITY

Produced by CRA/LA, Community Art Resources, and Santa Monica’s KCRW, Chinatown’s West Plaza with its Chung King Road, along with Central Plaza, the nights are hoped to bring good fortune and more nightlife to North Broadway.

Hillsong Live with Reuben Morgan Troker, Dwight Trible, Kamau Daáood & Indus Valley Civilization WHEN: Thu, Aug 5, 8PM (MMM) WHERE: Club Nokia, 800 W Olympic

La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc’

Lady Gaga

WHEN: Sat, Aug 7, 8PM

WHEN: Wed, Aug 11 & Thurs, Aug 12, 8pm

WHERE: Grand Performances, 350 S

WHERE: Staples Center, 1111 S Figueroa

SOLD OUT: The higher message of WHERE: Grand Performances, 350 S Grand Christian rock group, Hillsong Live Jazz, funk, break beats, cumbia, with Reuben Morgan. with turntablism are the mixed cocktail mischief-makers, Troker, Dwight Trible amaou Daáood. Seasons

Grand

The outrageous Lady Gaga teases Downtown for two nights at Staples Center.

WHEN: Fri, Aug 6, 8PM

WHEN: Thu, Aug 5, 8PM WHERE: Pershing Square, 532 S Olive

Jenni Rivera

Spaceland under the Stars' Thurs- WHEN: Sat, Aug 7, 8PM day Night Concerts bring the soft, WHERE: Nokia Theatre L.A. LIve yet showy, music of Highland 777 Chick Hearn Court Park’s Seasons to Pershing Square. Latina Diva and Queen of Banda, Jenni Rivera. Indus Valley Civilization Fishbone; The Janks

WHERE: Grand Performances, 350 S Grand

WHEN: Sat, Aug 7, 8PM

Progressive jazz-rock group featuring Ndugu Chancler, Badal Roy and Anantha Krishnan. FREE

WHERE: Pershing Square, 532 S Olive

.

WHEN: Fri, Aug 6, 12PM

Star Shareef Quartet WHEN: Fri, Aug 6, 8PM WHERE: Cafe Metropol , 923 E 3rd

The jazz quartet brings its soul to the Arts District cafe.

The daring 1928 French silent masterpiece La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc is screened with a new score by L.A. composer George Sarah. Film Series: Video Jukebox

WHEN: Wed, Aug 11, 8PM

WHEN: Sun, Aug 8, 8PM

WHERE: Pershing Square, 532 S Olive

WHERE:Grand Performances, 350 S Grand

Next week's installment of BETA Records Wednesday night showcase of unsigned artists features contemporary country vocalist Jamie Meyer. Miranda Lee Richards opens the night.

Latin America Cinemateca of Los Angeles screens a wide survey of new and classic Latin American and Carribean music videos and shorts.

Fishbone's South LA punk-funk sound comes to Summer Concert Series. In July, documentary "Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone" premiered at L.A. Film Festival, so moods will be high at Pershing Square August 7. The 8pm concert opens with The Janks.

Fabric

Ends Aug 08

Company of Angels 8pm 501 S Spring companyofangels.org

Lucia Iman 'Sunset Boulevard'

WHEN: Sat, Aug 7, 8PM

WHEN: Fri, Aug 6, 8PM

WHERE: Cafe Metropol , 923 E 3rd St

WHERE: Pershing Square, 532 S Olive

A special birthday concert for Lucia Iman, so expect “special guests.”

Friday Night Flicks screens the classic film about silent film star Norma Desmond possessing down-on-his-luck screenwriter Joe Gillis. FREE.

Jamie Meyer, Miranda Lee Richards

Jully Lee and Jennifer Chang in COA’s production of Fabic, written by Henry Ong. Photo by Kila Kitu

Playwright Henry Ong and the cast of Fabric have garnered strong reviews since opening July 8. It’s the last weekend for you to take in the story based in El Monte, where 72 Thai Nationals are forced to work behind a barbed wire complex to assemble garments.


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13

Depths of the Blue Whale Interview by Alanna Lin

Musician-turned-entrepreneur Joon Lee acts more like a curator or patron of the arts than club owner. Intent on producing an intense level of engagement with music for both performer and listener, everything about his venue reflects a vision that lives deep in the space. A wall-sized chalkboard that serves as a constantly changing marquee for the artists slated to play. Seating is comfortable and modular, so that guests arrange themselves around the music as they see fit. No platform separates performers from audience members. On an angled ceiling overhead, poems by Rumi, Hafiz, and Cherokee leader Leon Shanandoah Tadodaho invite guests to settle in and listen more deeply. Where are you from? I’m from Korea originally. But I moved when I was 18 or 19. . . to Kentucky.

lyn. I was studying architecture, working as a busboy at a restaurant on Bleeker Street a little above Soho. I started listening to the music they were playing at the restaurant and it sounded pretty fun. It sounded TOO FUN. At the time I didn’t know that it was jazz or anything, but I thought to myself, maybe I’m going to do this instead of architecture, so I quit school.

Kentucky. Why! In big cities there are so many Koreans, so I decided I would go a small city where there were not very many Koreans so I could learn how to speak English. But then there were not enough Koreans in Kentucky (laughs). People would run away when You heard this music and they would see me. So I lived decided just to change there for seven months and what you were doing? (pauses, considering) Yes? then I moved out to NYC.

That’s a dramatic change. Wow. I found out later that the Yeah, at the time, my major was architecture. I went to album was Bobby McFerrin Pratt Institute of Art in Brook- and Chick Corea.

Oh, yeah, that is too fun. Yeah (nodding). So I quit everything, came out to LA and started looking for a vocal teacher. I found her. Cathy Segal-Garcia--an amazing woman. Then I went to MI [Musician’s Institute] briefly, but quit school when I realized I was learning more from my friends gigging than what I was learning in class. So instead of paying for school (laughs). . . I decided to make a recording. Last year my album was 80-90% finished when suddenly my good friend called me up and said, “Joon, you want to do something in Downtown? “ I was like, “What you talking about?” It was the recession, you know? He took me to the spot where there was a Japanese club. The place had really low ceilings. Looked totally different. At the time, I didn’t know Downtown was really happening. But he said, “You want to take it or what?” I said, “I’ll take it.” The next day I called my arranger and said, “We’re going to stop arranging for now--please don’t bother me, I have another gig for a while.”

We worked on the space for three months, knocking out the low ceiling. It was 9 ft. to and now it’s 12 ft. Construction started in September and we worked up until opening day. December 10, 2009. I was working until 6:30pm and we were opening at 8pm. But since then. . .it’s been Blue Whale. How was opening night? Great! Ralph Morrison (he’s concertmaster of the LA Chamber Orchestra), came down with a string quartet. Bevan Manson, a beautiful piano player - wrote a song about the Blue Whale, and all these classical and jazz guys played it together! He was the partner on my album who introduced me to Rumi and Hafiz. The poetry on the ceiling? Yes. When we were working on the space, I called up Bevan and said, “Come up with some Rumi or Hafiz for me.” He asked me, “What do you want to do with it? Do you want me to print it up and frame it as a gift?” I said, “No, no. Let’s just come up with three good

things and I’ll take care of it.” He said, “Where are you going to put it?” I said, “You don’t have to know.” Did you already know where you were going to put it then? Yeah, I wanted to have Rumi or Hafiz on the ceiling because I wanted all the musicians to be able to play under Rumi’s energy (smiles). And when Bevan came, and he looked up and saw it on the ceiling, he said, “F-ck. . .It’s nice.” . . .So that’s how Rumi came into the Blue Whale. What specifically about Hafiz and Rumi did you connect with? Both are mystics. I love their poems, but I remember walking in here the first time, looking up and thinking, “Rumi! Hafiz! What are Rumi and Hafiz doing here?” Blue whales... I don’t know how to put it. There are many bad things are happening in the world right now, every second. So, this room is “supporting the arts.” But supporting the Continued on Page 14


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ART PICKS

FROM BLUE WHALE TO PIRATES This week on Downtown’s high seas The Blue Whale

Artists Talk: Hollen and Heaslip WHEN: Sat, Aug 7, 4PM

Andrew Boyle Group, Thur Aug 5 at 9pm Bill Cunliff Trio, Fri Aug 6 at 9pm Rufus Philpot Trio, Sat Aug 7 at 9pm Leah and the Moonlighters, Sun Aug 8 at 7pm

WHERE: Bert Green Fine Art, 102 W 5th bgfa.us

Artist Talk with David Hollen and Jen Heaslip, currently on exhibition at BGFA. 4pm.

Blue Whale / Little Tokyo 123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St, Suite 301 bluewhalemusic.com

For Your Pleasure WHEN Aug 06 - Aug 08, Noon - 7:30pm WHERE CB1 Gallery, 207 W. 5th St, cb1gallery.com

Redwood Bar and Grill

What ocean would be complete without pirates? Here are this weeks kidnapped bands trapped in the hull of The Redwood Bar and Grill. All shows at 10pm. Rosie Flores & Ruby James, Thur Aug 5 Soul Dance Freakout w/ Greg Foreman, Fri, Aug 6, Overnight Lows, Bad Assets, Gestapo Khazi, Sat Aug 7 The White Mystery Band, Dirt Dress, Spider Fever Sun Aug 8

Redwood Bar and Grill 316 W. 2nd St theredwoodbar.com

“For Your Pleasure” features the work of ten CB1 Gallery artists: Chuck Agro, Martin Durazo, Larry Mantello, Tameka Norris, Chris Oatey, Hilde Overbergh, Mira Schor, Susan Silas, Amy Yoes and HK Zamani. A reception for the artists will be held at the gallery on Sunday, August 8, 2010, 4 - 6 p.m. ‘Friends with Knives’ Group Show WHEN Aug 06 - Aug 08, Noon - 7:30pm WHERE CB1 Gallery, 207 W. 5th St, cb1gallery.com

Exhibition includes book signing with Chaz Bojorquez. Runs until Aug 29.

Depths of the Blue Whale Continued from Page 13

was like, “No, I’m going to do this. Bring all your pictures. Not much blood, ok? But bring some good ones.” Maybe the next exhibition should be mug shots of contestants from American Idol. But I’m not going to do that. (laughs). It’s all connected to the poems. It’s not just about The photographs the music I want to have here. on the wall? There’s a lot of music clubs in They’re are all of children LA. . .It may sound weird. But I just want to have a little peace from Iraq. from this little room. I want to have more of that.” Really? When I built this place, I knew this friend of mine was in Pace through looking Iraq as a journalist / photogra- at reality truthfully. Yeah. It’s not about the polipher and he took these photos of children in that country. I tics. I’m not a political guy, said, “Hey, I know you’ve been but even during construction taking pictures in Iraq...” He’s I was thinking, maybe the first a sensitive guy so he said, “You exhibit will be pictures from can’t do that. This is a jazz Iraq because that’s what’s club. You should have a nice happening right now. photo of a city night scene. . .” I said “We have enough of Versus American Idol. . . Or Dancing with the Stars. that. We don’t need that.” The pictures of Iraq are actually I’m not very knowledgeable what’s happening right now. about politics. But no matter . .People are so hypnotized what, kids are dying, young by all the reality shows like men are dying without knowAmerican Idol and stuff like ing one good reason. Actually that, they don’t see it. . .So I that’s what’s happening along arts is one of the ways to save the world. There are so many scars that we’ve made, we (quoting Hafiz) “have to hold hands.” Out of a great need We are all holding hands and climbing. Not loving is letting go.

with American Idol . ..but people are more focused on beautiful things. . .I mean. . .beautiful? -- I don’t know. But they’re more focused on that than what is happening. . .Just like jazz. Why? The scene is not as good as before. It’s the whole economy, YouTube-- people don’t want to listen to live music, jazz music anymore. They’re more into all the computerized things. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people doing great things. But there’s a reason I book who I book here. I carefully find musicians who are willing to be on the edge rather than just straight ahead, jing jinga jing. Because there are so many so many places out there and everything and people are always complaining about N.Y. and L.A. But the thing is, there are tons of great musicians in LA who don’t get a chance to play out, who don’t get a chance to play what they want to play. Because I listen to their music beforehand and have an understanding of what they are doing before I book

them, it’s not such a risk for me. Once they come in here as a player, they have priority here. I always tell them, “Start whenever you want to start. . . and end whenever you want to end.” That’s the reason we don’t have a stage. . .As an improviser it’s very important to share energy, eye contact and energy --so I wanted to break that invisible wall in this case a musician can set up their band anywhere. We designed it so that there’s an electrical outlet every three feet(smiling) -- they can find one anywhere. That’s cool! So people want to set up in the middle now... First few months it was pretty funny to look at them, they were so used to the conventional way, always going to the back-wall to set up, so I said, “Come on out, play in the middle!” If we have a string quartet in the middle, the audience hears the bow-sound, even breathing, everything. Or like the piano player tonight . . .I want people to be able to really listen to the music just like they would in their living room.

How can you afford to keep up this ethos? I don’t know if this is a rude question, but are you going broke? Pretty soon (laughs). It’s tough for everyone right now. I don’t want to complain. I want to keep it as along as I can. I want to do whatever I can to keep it going. Thankfully, I have great support from the musicians -- they come here and play . . .I’m very grateful about that. Great music, great things from people. It makes me humble. Even when it’s a struggle, watching people who come here and play hard, makes me really strong. I don’t know how long my batteries are going to last, but all the great people and great music help my batteries stay green.” The Blue Whale - 123 Astronaut E S Unisia St., Ste 301 (Weller Court) Los Angeles, CA 90012, Open Mic, Mondays 9pm-2am, Thu-Sat 8pm-2am, Sun, 6pm-12am. $10 cover with parking validation. Great food.


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Leap of Faith Continued from Page 6

PhotoS b y ED F U EN T ES

Costumes from television’s “Treme” and “Mad Men” on display at FIDM Museum & Galleries.

FIDM’s Annual Exhibit of Television Costume Opens By Ed Fuentes

Just off the stylish heels of “Mad Men” debuting its 4th season on AMC, The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and FIDM opened their 5th Annual “The Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design” to the public July 27. Curator Mary Rose, President of the Costume Designers Guild, has the suit that drapes on Don Draper joining Mardi Gras Indians and glee clubs. A total of 75 costumes from 13 shows produced for television, including Emmynominated outfits from six shows, will be on display until September 24 at the FIDM Gallery and Museum. When FIDM first began to mount exhibitions showcasing costumes from designers and supervisors, it wasn’t unusual for the gallery to have a traditional show business response: no call back. Things have changed. This year, designers for HBO’s “Treme,” the drama set in the post-Katrina New Orleans recovery, considered the exhibition a showcase for the city as well. Intricate costumes with feathers and beads were delivered by costumers who drove them in from New Orleans, just to make sure they would not be damaged. “With some of the pieces over 100 pounds, there was no way to estimate shipping costs,” says Barbara Bundy, FIDM Museum Director. The outfits are an important tool to support of a director’s ideas or aid in an actor’s interpretation of a character. Colors and fabrics must also work with detailed lighting. Even period pieces tend to get just a little touch of the contemporary. “If you look, it’s the way they fit, the accessories, the way the hat is worn or the way the dress is shorter,” says Bundy, before pointing out the costume for the character Joan Halloway Harris. “In this case, its a little tighter.” Oddly, it is rare for costumes to be on exhibition. Once worn, often they are used to piece meal for other shows. This time, the collective of character, form and fabric are part of the storyline. The Art of Television Costume Design runs through September 4 at FIDM Museum & Galleries, located at 919 S. Grand Ave. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm. Admission is free.

our portions are small. We’re a small plate restaurant. Our prices for the product that we’re giving aren’t expensive,” he says. Hall and Zion look forward to their continued success in downtown. “Our biggest success is seeing people enjoying themselves,” says Hall. While he is in business to make a living, the money isn’t the number one payoff or measure of success. “At the end of the day its very gratifying to have people come into a space you created and seeing people having a great time.” The restaurant’s busiest night is during the monthly Art Walk. The duo continue to pull from their talented pool of friends to bring in bagpipers, mimes, and clowns on stilts for a sideshow that draws people in. Thursday nights throughout the month are also popular because of live music that starts around 11pm. “We love the art walk because it’s a celebration of this great neighborhood. We think of it as a monthly party when we get to share our space with a lot of people,” says Hall. What’s Next? Hall and Zion hope that as the economy recovers they’ll see even more small busi-

nesses drawn to downtown L.A. “My advice for other small business owners is to do something that people need,” says Zion. Hall says that they are invested in the historic core for the foreseeable future. He hopes to open another restaurant concept downtown in the next couple of years. Right now Hall is focused on his next exciting endeavor

with another partner—his girlfriend. The couple is expecting their first child soon. “I feel like there’s a lot of prospect downtown and people are going to take notice and continue moving into lofts down here. I think it’s a wonderful place— downtown and I’m all for raising a child in the city. I genuinely love it here.”

Hidden Gourmet Continued from Page 6

makings and the like—they encourage “foraging” among their wares to create your own culinary masterpiece. Bottega Louie offers a welledited selection of gourmet delicacies as well. It’s here that one finds an array of sea salts from around the world, crispbreads and crackers, preserves, confectionery items like caramels, candied walnuts and toffee almonds. Also available are a good selection of olive and other oils (truffle anyone?) and vinegars. Plus, like Tiara Café, Bottega Louie carries wine so when a celebration is in order, Veuve Cliquot is right at hand. Next time we’ll talk about where to buy wine.

oil served with an olive oil toasted baguette and smoky chipotle aioli, topped with a citrus granite; or the Toad In The Hole with lemon scented fennel, celery and potato hash served with a sunny side up quail egg inside toasted squaw bread, laced with a citrus hollandaise. Other simple starters include basil cured salmon lox with toasted baguette; smoked Gouda Mac n Cheese with sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella and citrus parmesan crust topping; and grilled heart of romaine with fried capers and Pinot Noir dressing, garnished with pickled habanero chilies. Dinner items are transformed for brunch. Pork Belly Shirred Eggs features two baked eggs with roasted pork belly and caramelized onions, finished with a bull’s blood micro greens salad, dressed with apple vinaigrette. Also featured: a BLT made with a corn waffle, slices of thick bacon, tomato, smoked Gouda, fresh herb salad and roasted corn mayo served over a caramelized onion and pear maple

syrup. For an updated take on the traditional egg scramble, the chef adds roasted garlic, sun dried tomatoes, fresh Roma tomatoes, caramelized onions, scallions and smoked Gouda that melts in your mouth; or goat cheese and micro arugula tossed in brown butter vinaigrette; both served with home fries and brioche. Rounding out this detailed cuisine are handmade burgers with crispy onions, red tomato, melted Gouda, fried egg, brown butter greens and Mascarpone Dijon Cream served on a brioche bun with home fries; and corn beef hash cakes with a caramelized onion scramble in mozzarella, with a crispy onion herb side salad topped with hollandaise. Reminiscent of a speakeasy for restaurants, this jewel is worth making the trek for. Reservations are required and with only three Sundays of brunch left, spots are going as quickly as the vowels in KTCHN 105.

Garo’s will bring it to your sidewalk table steaming on a handled tray, just as if you were in Istanbul or Cairo. Think of it as a really inexpensive mini-vacation. Also worth a mention for gourmet ingredients is Tiara Café. They’ve long been a lunch staple for Fashion District denizens, but they also have a small market, where you can find Italian/Mediterranean staples like canned San Marzano tomatoes, imported Italian canned tuna, Arborio rice for risotto, anchovies packed in salt and good olive oils and balsamic vinegar. You can pick up prepared fresh ingredients from their refrigerator case too: cheeses, marinated vegetables, salad

Hidden KTCHN Continued from Page 6

personal friends of the chef, or friends of friends. Although the concept is somewhat unconventional to Americans, this type of dining is common in many parts of the world. Felix got his idea while dining in Versailles, in a restaurant which was also a home. He was greeted at the door and seated by the chef, who informed guests of the menu for the day and cooked it for them. Dining is similar at KTCHN 105. Felix is constantly out at the tables, delivering dishes personally so he can converse with guests and bring everyone into the experience. Last year, he hosted his first brunch series in the large backyard of his Orange County home. His house was opened to 40 people once a month to dine in a family style setting while enjoying an open bar. This year, with the move to Los Angeles, he created an a la carte menu and broadened the selections. First courses include monkfish, heirloom tomatoes and red onions marinated in citrus


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August 5, 2010

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blogdowntown Weekly - August 5, 2010