Friday, December 31, 2010

We Have Moved!

We have moved our blog to a new location.  CLICK HERE to be directed to the new LA4Beginners blog.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Griddle Café: Well worth the wait

Known for its long lines, short hours of operation ( Mon-Fri am -4pm, Sat & Sun 8am-4pm) great atmosphere -- and their earth shattering bacon -- the Griddle Café has been the #1 Hollywood-savvy breakfast spot for the past few years and grows in popularity by the day.

Sandwiched between the Directors Guild and Rite-Aid, their aim is to provide the best breakfast ( and world famous chili too) in town and they hit the mark every time. Arrive early to beat to ever-present (and warranted) lines and make sure to park around back in the Rite-Aid parking lot and use the rear exit if you can. I recommend their French-press iced coffee to start.

Griddle Café
West Hollywood, Hollywood
7916 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 874-0377

Friday, January 16, 2009

California to Delay Tax Refunds

If you (like me) were hoping to use your California tax refund to get a little ahead in this poor economic environment, you might want to make other plans. It's looking more and more likely that California will either delay tax refunds or issue IOUs to people who are owed money by the state. Of course, those of us who would have used that extra cash to buy stuff won't be able to, exacerbating the state's economic woes. They'll also be suspending welfare checks (not cool) and student grants (also not cool), among other things.

The problem stems from California's $40 billion deficit and the state legislature's inability to pass a budget that Governor Schwarzenegger will agree to sign. Though all states are required to balance their budgets each year (unlike the federal government), California is one of the few states that needs a 2/3 majority in the legislature to pass a budget instead of the majority that it takes to pass other bills.

From what I've read, the Democrats are proposing a combination of tax increases and cuts in funding to close the shortfall, but Schwarzenegger doesn't like the idea of raising taxes in any form. He just wants spending cuts -- lots of them -- from things like public schools, hospitals, prisons, transportation and just about every other thing that the government normally funds. He's also proposed cutting five days off the school year, forcing state employees to take off two unpaid days of work a month and closing many government agencies two days a month. To make matters worse, there are a handful of Republicans who have taken some sort of vow to Grover Norquist to never vote on a budget that raises taxes (and I've heard that some of them have promised never to vote on any budget, period, regardless of tax increases).

If you're worried about the effect of funding cuts, please contact the Governor's office and your state legislators with your concerns. Both sides need to hear from the people who will really be affected by this budget crisis.

Contact Governor Schwarzenegger:
By phone at 916-445-2841 or by web form

Contact Your State Legislators:
Assembly Member Phone/Email List
Senate Member Phone/Email List

(To look up your representatives in the state senate or assembly using your address, click here.)

CB2 Store Coming to Los Angeles

Looks like there will be a CB2 store coming to Los Angeles -- signs have appeared in the windows of the old Virgin Megastore located at Sunset and Crescent Heights. CB2 is the somewhat more affordable, hipper sister store of Crate and Barrel (sort of like the Gap to Banana Republic) that sells furniture and home accessories.

Until now, Angelenos have had to order items sight-unseen from their catalog or website since there were only four stores in the entire country. The website says the store will be opening in "Spring '09", and I recently saw an ad on Craigslist looking for employees, so it seems that their doors will be opening fairly soon.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Economic downturn? Turn to an artist

Times are tough. More and more folks I run into feel that 2009 may be the worst year they have ever seen financially -- and seemingly spiritually. Even taking into account the amazing Obama victory and the feeling it gives, that the best is yet to come -- folks are more rundown and afraid than they were the day before election day. This comes as no surprise to my artist friends and I -- as we've seen it coming for years.

But then again, artists have the time to think about these things while everyone else is working day-in day-out, nose to the grindstone. With health insurance premiums and mortgages to pay these salt of the earth folks are the backbone of America but when hard times come and that steady job and its secure feeling 401k evaporate overnight the average person does not know how to live so close to the bone, without a safety net if you will.

You want to know how to live without a net without losing your mind or health? Ask your artist friends. These road-less-traveled comrades might not have the nest-egg you have or even know what home-equity really feels like but then again they sure know how to make a good-full life without a single bit of "security".

Now, I’m not talking about the trust-fund artist who chooses when (and when not) to have money, I’m talking about that friend of yours who seems to be just as happy as you where when you had it all, even when they seem to have nothing tangible at all. How do they do it? How do they stave off the “big fear”?

Simple, they've got no choice and have learned over the years that the 99 cent store is the place to buy the stuff you don’t care about and Trader Joe's can help with the rest. Artists invest in themselves instead of consumer goods. They join a gym and go 5 days a week, taking advantage of every class and amenity instead of buying an expensive piece of home exercise equipment -- that keeps you at home and out of the networking and flirty flow of life. They turn tough times into great art and entertainment or at least they try. Maybe it’s easier for artists to feel less effected in tough times because they have far less stuff to lose you say. You’re probably right but then again no one can foreclose on your creativity and in the end we are only what we have from the skin inward. Invest in thyself and if you've got any extra leftover -- invest in those you love. Or you can always buy yourself an bunch of gold Krugerrand and hide under your bed.

Keep your chin up, protect your nest and invest in yourself. The sun shall shine again and we all want to look good in that bathing suit the day it does.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"For Rent" Signs On the Rise

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you've probably noticed the large number of "For Rent" signs that have gone up in Los Angeles during the past few weeks. I'm reminded of the mass exodus that occurred after September 11, 2001, when the economy tanked and people started re-evaluating their career paths and lives in general.

It's not surprising that renters are moving to cheaper apartments or leaving Los Angeles altogether -- a suffering economy always hits areas with higher costs of living harder. After all, it's one thing to live the life of a "starving artist" when the economy is good, but when none of your friends can find work and you can't even afford the occasional dinner out, the Hollywood dream begins to look a little dingy.

And let's face it, Los Angeles can represent American excess at its worst. From this week's hot, new starlet dining at The Ivy to Playboy bunnies shopping at The Beverly Center, we're often surrounded by what seems like undeserved financial success coupled with a complete lack of restraint. Which only makes being unemployed or underemployed all the more disheartening.

But don't move back in with the parents just yet. Remember, Hollywood created the rags to riches story -- and it wasn't just a screenplay. In Los Angeles, today's filmmaker struggling to make rent is tomorrow's Hollywood Hills blockbuster producer. And the great thing about living here? Those transformations happen every day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Los Angeles: Land of the Future Part I

If Jules Verne or H.G Wells where alive today, not only would they be really old I'd say they'd be living in Los Angeles and working as screenwriters. Or at least they'd be trying to work as screenwriters. These men were not only masterful fiction writers ahead of their time, and the fathers of sci-fi writing, they were much more than that. They were futurists.

Their 19th century visions of flying machines, space travel and nuclear power set the stage for the digital age we live in today, thanks to those soon-to-be artists, engineers and scientists who were sent to bed with visions of their future worlds in their heads. Like Gene Rodenberry of Star Trek fame or for my generation George Lucas (70's Lucas mind you) it takes a creative mind without limitations to envision not only a world filled with advanced gizmos but a world filled with advanced people as well.

In the future ( yes I know Star Wars takes place " a long long time ago") people will be smarter, healthier and their dreams will improve upon the dreams of the past. It's easy for you and I to envision superhuman cloning or a telephone in pill form because both of those ideas are built upon something we already know about. But what comes next after every technological toy is too small to see and is cheaper than gum?

What comes next may not be as cinematic as a jet-pack or a laser blaster but what I can guarantee you is that somewhere, right now, some creative nut/genius is breathing life into our future via that wonderful time machine that we call fiction. The past is prologue as they say. Here's to the future.