Friday, May 23, 2008

Travel With Me

With all the bills I racked up during college, I sometimes wonder if it was worth it (of course it was). Maybe I could have been more fiscally responsible (that's a big maybe), after all, my parents never were the ones who espoused the benefits of saving. That's beside the point however, except to say that I've learned a lot since then and in just a short time, I'll be debt free, and doing this: CLICK HERE

Thursday, May 15, 2008

European American

What would Americans do without their imitation European cafes? Sitting among grossly expensive imported items and white linens, served by snobby waitstaff, and ordering off a pricey menu whose items manifest in servings the size of tuna cans (no, smaller). Americans, and Angelenos can maintain some level of denial that what they are experiencing is a small slice of foreign European bliss, at home. Such is the destiny of The Little Door, a tucked away cafe off of 3rd street. French accoutrements abound in the form of bright cobalt blue walls, menu's written on chalkboard and mirrors, waitstaff in crisp white shirts or striped tees (think your local venice canal boat guide), canned homemade jams, an assortment of organic teas, coffees and plenty of pastries and colored macaroons. There is an outside covered patio, shrined in leafy vines, and small vases of fresh wildflowers sit on each table; while the inside is awash in white light from outside and the back wall showcases a selection of available wine for you to purchase. The effect is a cafe that is both old world and modern, and very charming with all its European references.

The upscale clientele buzzes; with lunching ladies, business meetings, and the interruption of model-esque women running through to pick up a quick bite to eat at the deli. This cafe is obviously an enjoyably secluded spot. I'd say the patrons are as charming as the gold filigree detailing on the teacups.

My disappointment showed up in the form of the succint and only slightly titillating menu. There is very little to say about the menu, hence the reason I left out mention of it. The Little Door offers organic helpings - among them, ginger salad, Quinoa and Salmon. I decided to order the chicken salad however, hence the cautionary note on healthy. The chicken mixture is a little heavy considering the mayonnaise they put on it, and topped with a white roll, I'm pretty sure it's resting place will be in my arteries.

I enjoyed the atmosphere and the cafe's lack of pretense, but a cafe really hits the spot when the food is as enjoyable as much as the atmosphere and energy. A future visit will not be planned, but if I end up here again, I hope the bad taste left in my mouth will have gone the way of the dinousaurs.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Man Among Strangers

The Emigrants destiny: The foreign country has not become home, but home has become foreign.

~Alfred Polger

I almost choked on tears when I came across this thought by Mr. Polger. Nothing truer could be said to those who've traveled far and now reside in stranger places than those where they were born. I believe that it is far greater to leave your home and add experience to your character, than to never change and never wander far from the things you know; as leaving home is sure to change you in ways you'd never believe. It's like hating onions your whole life, and then suddenly loving them.

Mr. Polger brings up a point that is all too familiar to me now, as it is with disbelief that I feel I couldn't live anywhere (for the moment) except L.A. My love has grown for the city's quirks and ambitious atmosphere; the hungry wolves and sun-tanning beach bunnies, dirty bars and bum friendly Hollywood Boulevard. It is a far-cry from my somewhat wholesome small town beginnings. Home will always be home, but it's comforts don't offer much to me now.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tokyo Pop

It just so happened that L.A. is now officially Japan-infused. With Japanophiles popping up across the city's landscape, and since L.A. is a bonified hub of the cutting-edge, welcome Royal/T cafe; a capitalization on the maid cafe trend of Tokyo's Akihabara district. Although the little cafe off of Washington Boulevard is a bit more art gallery oriented, its novelty is enough to bring an influx of curious patrons and manga maniacs alike. However, nothing can replace the original design. See Here...STOP THE MAIDS!!

Modeled after cafes in Tokyo's Akihabara district, Royal/T garnered a lot of attention, as it is the first of it's kind in this big city.

Travel + Leisure reports, "One of the quirkiest phenomena in Japan has come to L.A. with the opening of Royal/T in Culver City (8910 Washington Blvd., Culver City; 310/599-6300; The 10,000-square-foot, Japanese-themed space houses a contemporary art gallery, a shop with artist-designed toys and clothing—and a café where the waitresses are dressed up as French maids. ROYAL/T, owned by Whitney Museum Council member Susan Hancock, was conceived as a 21st-century "guerrilla" version of a traditional museum. None of the art in the gallery is for sale, and the café features Japanese comfort-food dishes such as tomato-rice omelets and macha milk. The debut installation, "Just Love Me," includes works by Yoshitomo Nara and Takashi Murakami, from Hancock’s private collection."

If I Can't Sleep

It is well past midnight and I'm walking down Beverly Boulevard to grab a cup of Joe. This is fairly rare. I should be sleeping. I treasure my down time.

So imagine this...a long room (more long than wide anyway) drenched in sepia tones, dimly lit by two dusty 1940's vintage crystal chandeliers, furnished with small wooden tables, soiled velvet couches, a smattering of laptop power plugs lining the walls at waist height, and a waitstaff demonstrating their best night-of-the-living-dead impression while asking you what you want with a hint of denigration. They don't serve decaf here(I tried that). It's Insomnia cafe people and it's well past midnight.

Come ready to party, this cafe is a grunge fest, complete with out of work artists, actors and writers working away on their little mac laptops. Take a hint from the name, this cafe is for the hard-working and ambitious. These patrons are so consciously self-unaware the stench of pretension is a little thick.


If you want a late night snack and a quiet place to work, this cafe should be your destination; but here's hoping you sleep well.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Geisha, Interrupted

Bar Flower, a novel written by Lea Jacobson, now takes a place among my stash of favored literature. Her writing is eloquent and intelligent, thoughtful and easy-to-read, otherwise described as straight forward - with no guessing at metaphors and vocabulary. All in all, a very skilled artist. In the wake of my increasing thirst for all things Japanese and the country's darker underpinnings - including those of hostess clubs and virulent prostitution - Bar Flower emerged at precisely the right time. Lea keeps a blog called Geisha, Interrupted that is equally engulfing for the reader. A homage to her life in Tokyo, Japan.

My thoughts today have nothing to do with her book and the world of hostess clubs, but rather Haruki Murakami, who writes in his latest book After Dark this poignant paragraph, chosen by Lea and advocated by myself...

Archetype and Octopus

The following is a passage from page 92 of After Dark, the latest Haruki Murakami novel in English translation. For some reason I found it so brilliant, and, so perfectly bizarre!

* * *

Takahashi: "As I sat in court, though, and listened to the testimonies of the witnesses and the speeches of the prosecuters and the arguments of the defense attorneys and the statements of the defendants, I became a lot less sure of myself. ...To my eyes, this system I was observing, this 'trial' thing itself, began to take on the appearance of some special, weird creature."

Mari: "Weird creature?"

Takahashi: "Like, say, an octopus. A giant octopus living way down deep at the bottom of the ocean. It has this tremendously powerful life force, a bunch of long, undulating legs, and it's heading somewhere, moving through the darkness of the ocean. I'm sitting there listening to these trials, and all I can see in my head is this creature. It takes on all kinds of different shapes- sometimes it's 'the nation,' and sometimes it's 'the law,' and sometimes it takes on shapes that are more difficult and dangerous than that. You can try cutting off its legs, but they just keep growing back. Nobody can kill it. It's too strong, and it lives too far down in the ocean. Nobody knows where its heart is. What I felt then was a deep terror. And a kind of hopelessness, a feeling that I could never run away from this thing, no matter how far I went. And this creature, this thing doesn't give a damn that I'm me or you're you. In its presence, all human beings lose their names and faces. We all turn into signs, into numbers....What I want to say is probably something like this: any single human being, no matter what kind of person he or she may be, is all caught up in the tentacles of this animal like a giant octopus, and getting sucked into the darkness. You can put any kind of spin on it you like, but you end up with the same unbearable spectacle."