image Events

Hollywood Carnival rolls through Hollywood on Saturday, June 24

The Los Angeles Culture Festival™ (LACF) and Hollywood Carnival are proud to present the Annual Los Angeles Culture Festival™ — a world culture festival — expressing the colors of culture and freedom of the world as one people. This is a celebration of our cultures and traditions, featuring colorful costumes, dances, food, arts & crafts, and music from around the world.

The celebration will commence with the Grand Marshal beginning the Parade of the Bands, on the world famous Hollywood Blvd. It proceeds for three (3) miles ending on Highland Ave., the main entrance to the Carnival Culture Village. Our parade and culture village will feature several well- known celebrities from various genres, including movie stars and music icons.

On Saturday, June 24, Los Angeles’ Hollywood Blvd. will miraculously transform into a Grand Carnival & Street Extravaganza with parade-goers and masqueraders dressed in vibrant, breath- taking costumes dancing to pulsating rhythms of Calypso, Soca, Samba, Reggae, Zouke, Latin, Punta, Meringue, Mariachi, Reggaeton, Blues, Jazz, Steel-pan, Indian, Asian, African, Middle Eastern and other worldly music.

We highly anticipate that this cultural fusion will attract a significant amount of local attendees from our diverse multi-cultural society, not to mention a variety of tourists — creating a great family-friendly environment.

For more information, visit www.hollywoodcarnival.com.

June 23, 2017

image Entertainment

2nd Annual Make Music LA on Hollywood Boulevard at Egyptian Theatre on June 21

Make Music Los Angeles at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood is a free all-ages concert featuring performances all day June 21.

Sponsored by Sunset + Vine Apartments, Robertson Properties Group, and Urban Masala, the event is organized by the Hollywood Entertainment District with cooperation from Musicians Institute and American Cinematheque. Free harmonicas will be handed out at the end of the event, courtesy Hohner/KHS (while supplies last).

Performers include Arthur*Autumn, Honey & Jude, Earth ArrowSunshine Brenda Cole, Bruno Romano & Oriana Lucas, Rayssa, Emily Zuzik, and Janvi Anand.

The concert will take place from noon until 7:00 p.m. The Eyptian Theatre is located at 6712 Hollywood Blvd.

The Hollywood Entertainment District supports Make Music Los Angeles on Hollywood Boulevard to shine a spotlight on the vibrant creative community in Hollywood neighborhoods.  The Hollywood Entertainment District also funds streetscape beautification, street cleaning services, security program and homeless outreach.

Make Music Los Angeles in Hollywood  is part of Make Music Day.  Based on France’s Fête de la Musique, a national musical holiday inaugurated in 1982, the festival has become a phenomenon celebrated on the same day in more than 800 cities in 110 countries. Make Music LA engages all communities of Los Angeles in an annual cross-cultural celebration of the power of music and art through musical performances by amateurs, students and professionals.

Click here to RSVP on Facebook!

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June 14, 2017

image Entertainment

The Grand Egyptian

Built in 1922, The Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard was the first true movie palace in Los Angeles, and as such, became the first home for Hollywood premieres. Margot Gerber, director of marketing and publicity for the Egyptian Theatre and American Cinematheque, as well as serving as the chair of the Art Deco Society, has been working with the historic theater since 1992.

“I became the historian during the theater’s renovation in 1997 and 1998,” she relates. “I’ve launched a public tour of the theater one Saturday morning a month, as one of the ways to promote and preserve it.”

“The Big Parade” premiere at the Egyptian Theatre in 1925. (Photo courtesy of Bison Archives)

Gerber also uses all forms of social media to share what the theater screens each week, with many cinematheque members and others on the theater’s mailing list.

“Preservation is an on-going challenge. We did a half-million-dollar update to our original renovation in 2016 and 2017. A lot of the plaster was very compromised from water leakage. Our portico roof was in dire need of repair. We were also able to restore some murals on the courtyard walls that were cracking and crumbling.”

She notes that the theater is an historic cultural monument registered with the City of Los Angeles.

With her first year as president of the Art Deco Society, Gerber advocates for historic landmarks throughout the city. “I got involved with the organization in part because I started to work at the Egyptian. I’m exceptionally interested in maintaining the theater and other historic buildings.”

The theater was designed by the architectural firm of Alyer and Holler, and the first film screened was Robin Hood, starring Douglas Fairbanks.

“In the first five years the theater was open, the highest grossing films of the era played there, including Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush. Sid Grauman was the impresario who presided over the Egyptian Theatre until 1927, when he sold his interest to be part of the development of the new Chinese Theatre down the street where he remained until his death in 1950,” Gerber reports.

Today the theater screens a variety of films, with many showings highlighted by in-person guest appearances. Everything from Super 8 to 70mm format films are shown.

“Showing films on film as opposed to a digital format is almost a museum-quality experience,” Gerber explains. “We are coming up on screenings of films all made in 1982 that were blown up to 70mm, including E.T., the original Tron, and Poltergeist, among others.”

The theater was among the first in Los Angeles to host filmmakers and other guests related to films in person outside of film festivals, all year long.  The theater’s 60 foot screen provides an immersive experience for viewers.

As to the theater’s historic architecture, its crafted to look like an ancient Egyptian structure, using Egyptian Revival style.

“It was constructed in a similar way to sets from the big biblical productions of the day using false doors and staircases. The hieroglyphs are real symbols and the depictions of deities on the exterior of the building are actual Egyptian gods,” Gerber points out.  “The theater is one of the last open-air courtyard theaters along with the Alex in Glendale and the TCL Chinese up the street.”

The Egyptian Theatre celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2012. (Photo by Gary Leonard)

The theater recently received a grant from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, as well as having received a grant on their 90th anniversary in 2012 from the Art Deco Society to keep the theater in pristine condition. Even today, the structure is still grand, both inside and out.

According to Gerber, “Seeing a film at a theater with so much history is a rare treat. There are not a lot of single screen movie palaces left. It is a state-of-the-art theater housed in an historic shell, so the quality of the presentation is very high tech,” she enthuses.

As to the future? “American Cinematheque, the non-profit that owns and operates the theatre, plans to keep the Egyptian running as a movie theater long past its 100th birthday in 2022,” Gerber says.

The Egyptian Theatre
6712 Hollywood Blvd.
(323) 461-2020


Genie Davis is a multi-published novelist and journalist, and produced screen and television writer. Passionate about everything-Los Angeles, you can see her work in the arts on her own www.diversionsLA.com.

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June 12, 2017

image Community

Meet the godfather of gay pride, Rev. Troy Perry

If LA is the golden home of America’s queer rights movement, Rev. Troy Perry is its gay godfather. With this year’s LA Pride becoming the Resist March (originating at Hollywood & Highland this Sunday, June 11, 2017), we met with the co-founder of the world’s first gay pride parade, which took place in Hollywood on June 28, 1970, to hear how it all began.

This plaque at the corner of Hollywood Blvd. and McCadden Place marks the origination of the Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade. (Photo by Richard Bence)

What inspired you to start a parade?

Morris Kight called me—he was very leftist and would always call me “Brother Troy”— and said ‘can Bob [Rev. Humphries] and I come over and see you?’ He handed me a letter from New York, which is in the ONE Archives. It said that they were going to do something to honor the show of strength made on Christopher Street at the Stonewall Riot, and would we do our own march here in Los Angeles. I said “Morris, this is Hollywood. Let’s do something a little different, let’s hold a parade.” Saying it and doing it turned out to be something different.

Were the authorities cooperative?

It got so hostile so quick. They asked “who do I represent” and I said “the homosexual community” and then they tried to make fun of us. I always got right back in their face, I’m not going to let you turn me into anything other than what I know: Rev. Troy Perry. And by that time I had a non-profit organization, the Metropolitan Community Church.

Then what?

Chief Davis opposed the parade altogether. They asked us to wait just a minute while they deliberated but they had already made up their minds. The Police Commission voted 4 to 1 to place conditions on the parade permit. And they were 1) you’d have to put up a bond for a million dollars to pay out the businesses when people throw rocks at ya’ll 2) you have to put up a cash bond of $500,000, and 3) you’ve got to have at least 5000 people marching.

What about legal support?

When we returned with a wonderful attorney that the ACLU assigned to us, Herb Selwyn, they weren’t laughing. He presented our side in court in front of a judge here in LA. The District Attorney presented the City’s side. I got a fair-minded Judge who banged on his gavel and ordered the City of LA to “protect these people even if you need to call out the National Guard.” That’s what the courts are for, I’m not afraid to use the courts. Even if they rule against me I’ve had my day in court. Being an American citizen I know what my rights are and my fight has always been just treat me like every other American. I don’t ask for any more but I’ll be damned if I ever settle for any less.

The first Gay Pride Parade, held on Hollywood Boulevard in 1970. (Photo via The Advocate)

Was Hollywood popular with the gay community back then?

On one end of Hollywood Boulevard was Pagola’s restaurant. It was a meeting place for gay men. We would walk from the Hollywood Freeway almost down to Hollywood and Vine to the next gay restaurant, the Gold Cup [a coffee shop on the corner of Wilcox & Hollywood Blvd]. In between of course could be other gay men, sex workers or the hustlers who would hang around in front of those areas. The bar at that time was called the Red Raven. It scared me to death. I didn’t know what cruising was, that’s how dumb I was. I come from a blue-collar family. It was dark inside, with red lights and signs that said “don’t talk to strangers”. I wondered how I would ever meet anyone if I didn’t talk to them? It was the only time I went there because it frightened me.

Rev. Troy Perry leading a demonstration in 1969 on Hollywood Boulevard. (Courtesy photo)

What sparked your activism?

On August 17, 1968, I was down in Wilmington at The Patch. It was the first gay dance bar. I took a date of mine Tony Valdez. We went in and we were having the best time. All at once my date goes over to the bar area and Bill, an older gay man, reached over as Tony was bringing my beer back and slapped him on the butt. They were arrested for lewd and lascivious conduct by the three vice officers who were not wearing uniforms in the bar.

So they had undercover spies hiding out?

The Patch’s owner, Lee Glaze, known as the “Blond Darling”, started shouting “Is there a florist here I want to buy every flower you’ve got.” We walked into LAPD’s Harbor Station, and when Lee approached the desk officer on duty, he announced, “We’re here to get our sisters out!” “What are your sisters’ names?” asked the officer. “Tony Valdez and Bill Hasting” said Lee. It scared this cop to death! Lee showed me you don’t have to be afraid of the police. Once that happened, it encouraged me to become a gay activist.

And was this the catalyst for forming MCC?

I founded the Metropolitan Community Church because of Tony’s arrest. I always tell people God said to me “Troy, I love you and I don’t have step sons and daughters.” And with that I knew I could be gay and Christian. For me the military was finishing school. Once the military tells you over and over again that you could die you get to that point of “well, if death is the 800-pound gorilla in the room” and so it was with MCC at first. Since then, 21 of our churches have been burned down and 8 of our pastors have been murdered in the U.S. since 1968. Our organization has paid its price. We’re a deeply spiritual people. You can’t go through the fire and come out the other side not caring. We believe in Christian salvation. We believe in community. And we believe in Christian social action, meaning we will picket when we need to picket. Even if they kill us we believe in life eternal.

How did that experience inform your activism?

My first demonstration was on March 9, 1969 down at the Dover Hotel on Skid Row. That didn’t frighten me. I went in my full regalia to lay flowers for Howard Efland who had been beaten to death by police. I wasn’t afraid of a fistfight. If push came to shove I could handle myself. I’m a Southerner and seeing what Doctor King was doing with African Americans, he became my mentor. My mother taught me to be good to people. Tony Valdez, who was arrested at the Patch, was a Mexican American. The first [same-sex] couple I married at MCC was a Hispanic couple in December 1968. I wasn’t going to perform marriages for somebody you met last night. But if you were serious, come see me. One of them was dressed in a little female wedding outfit. It didn’t matter. I married them in my home. It was just the three of us. They didn’t even bring witnesses.

What lessons did you learn from growing up among Pentecostals?

By the time of the parade I’m not afraid. I used my real name on the first ad in the Advocate for the MCC. They taught me that if you wanted to start a church you needed three things: you’ve got to tell people who you are, tell them what you believe, tell them where you are. I went back to the Patch and put up a sign.  Lee introduced me to the two owners of the Advocate, the first gay newspaper, who were at the bar that night. They gave me the first ad if I would buy two more. And it just blossomed.

Rev. Troy Perry today. (Courtesy photo)

The church then moved to the Encore Theater in Hollywood—how did that happen?

My roommate, Willie Smith, was the projectionist. Willie persuaded Louie Federici, the owner, to let the church use it before the Sunday matinees. He took a lot of shit for renting to me. He was a closeted gay man but was Catholic and went to Mass. The Religion Editor for the LA Times came down to the Encore Theater. He later told me that he had no idea he was watching the birth of a global organization.

There’s some confusion about whether it was New York or LA that had the first parade. Can you clarify?

I sued. I won. We had a parade with floats and music and marchers. On the same day that we had our parade, New York did something too. Nothing wrong with that. And they had a wonderful rally, but with Morris and Bob, we had the first parade here and they dedicated a plaque to it on Hollywood Boulevard.

The intersection of McCadden Place and Hollywood Blvd. has been designated Morris Kight Square, honoring the co-founder of the world’s first street-closing gay pride parade on Sunday, June 28, 1970. (Photo by Devin Strecker)

What are your views on LA Pride becoming Resist?

Brian Pendleton called me and said we need to reset what we’re doing. We feel like we need to do something different this time. We can go back next year but our community needs to hear again that we are going to resist, like the early demonstrations here in LA. Black lives do matter, Hispanic lives matter, union groups, women, trans lives matter.

Will you be attending?

My partner Philip and I absolutely will. I will speak at the start of the march with the Mayor of LA. This is my home. When I moved here I adopted Los Angeles and I love my city.

The Resist March starts at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue on Sunday June 11, stepping off towards West Hollywood by 10:00 a.m.

www.resistmarch.org

Cover photo by Jonathan David, used by permission.


Los Angeles is both muse and home for British-born culture journalist Richard Bence. His mission is to chronicle and unearth the hidden stories of Hollywood with a special focus on its heritage. He has a passion for preservation, loves all things midcentury and enjoys getting close to nature on a canyon hike or lapping up the architectural riches of the city he calls home. He contributes to Monocle, Monocle 24 and United’s Rhapsody magazine. richard-bence.com

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June 7, 2017

image Dining

Off the Menu, On the Deck

Starting today, you’ll want to get to The Deck at The Hollywood and Highland Center, when there will be certain “secret” menu items at some eateries as well as specials being offered at others. From June 6 – 12, be sure to scope out some special deals and secret items. What better time to browse around and eat outside in the summer sun? Read on to see exactly what’s being offered at each place.

Cold Stone Creamery at Hollywood & Highland. (Photo by Devin Strecker)

Coldstone Creamery

Get into a “Rainbow Frenzy” with cake batter ice cream and rainbow sprinkles mixed in. You’ll find it layered with ganache and topped with rainbow whipped cream.

 

Crispy Tocino Spam Misubi from Fist of Fusion Island Grill at Hollywood & Highland. (Photo by Esther Tseng)

Fist of Fusion

The specialty item to be offered at Fist of Fusion will be a Crispy Tocino Spam Misubi — that is, a crispy bacon mixed in with spam wrapped in rice and seaweed paper. Quite the spin on a classic Hawaiian treat.

 

Ramen salad at Jinya Ramen Express at Hollywood & Highland. This is a special sample size – the regular size is much bigger! (Photo by Devin Strecker)

Jinya Ramen Express

At Jinya, buy one bowl, and get another for 50% off. Choose from a signature bowl or build your own. The discounted bowl must be equal or lesser value.

 

Ceviche Criollo from Mamacita Cantina at Hollywood & Highland. (Photo by Devin Strecker)

Mamacita

At this Peruvian gem by Ricardo Zarate, you’ll have every reason to wash down all the delicious bowls with all the delicious drinks. It’s a buy one drink, get another for free. They’re all delicious, including the Purple Corn Chicha, Cebada Barley, Maracuya Passion Fruit and Strawberry Horchata. Mix and match for ultimate customization.

 

Poke bowl from Pokinometry at Hollywood & Highland. (Photo by Devin Strecker)

PokiNometry

Poke may be all the craze, but during this special week you’ll be able to order a soy paper poke wrap that’s not normally on the menu. What’s better than a bowl than a portable sushi burrito?

Wafflejack at Hollywood & Highland now has both sweet and savory options. (Photo by Devin Strecker)

Wafflejack

Wafflejack has on offer a cheesecake waffle for this week, which sounds so ludicrously delicious, you’ll have to order it just to see for yourself. Creamy, cheesy and delicious.

 

At Whealthy, you can chose from signature bowls, or create your own custom bowl, at Hollywood & Highland. (Photo by Devin Strecker)

Whealthy

The special item here for the week is their signature Whealthy bowl, which comes with vegetables, chicken, beef, rice cakes and soy spicy sauce.

So head on over to the Hollywood and Highland Center to discover some great places to eat that you probably never even knew existed. There’s no better time than this week!


Esther Tseng is a freelance food and drink writer. She has contributed to Eater, Thrillist, LA Tourism, Visit West Hollywood, Serious Drinks, and more. She practices Pilates, spins and snowboards to counter all the calories she consumes and loves to travel, whether for work or leisure.

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June 6, 2017

image Education

Musicians Institute: The Music of Hollywood

The Musicians Institute has been located in Hollywood for 40 years, bringing with it the true sound of the music industry.

Musicians Institute is located on the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard. (Courtesy photo)

The musical education behemoth offers challenging music performance programs that combine contemporary music performance with vigorous education in traditional music disciplines. Performance programs include five major disciplines of study: guitar, bass, drums, keyboard, and vocal. Along with the impressive performance programs, The Musicians Institute offers in-depth Industry Programs as well to prepare graduates for music careers, training students in state of the art facilities.

According to Beth Marlis, vice president of industry and community relations at Musicians Institute, as well as the executive director at The Musicians Foundation which provides student scholarships, “The school is arguably the most well-known and respected contemporary music school in the world.”

Drummer courses at Musicians Institute in Hollywood. (Courtesy photo)

Marlis began working with MI thirty years ago as a faculty member. To this day, she’s a guitar instructor as well as a vice-president.

She notes that the school’s location in Hollywood is an essential element of its success. “There’s a reason we are where we are – it’s because the music industry is the school’s focal point, and its bull’s-eye is in Hollywood.”

One of the hallmarks of the school is their faculty, who like Marlis, are active in the real world with music careers. “Our authenticity is born out of the fact that our faculty are professionals that you’ll see working in television, films, and recording studios, or are working musicians on tour.”

Music production courses at Musicians Institute. (Courtesy photo)

The school was founded by members of the famous musical “wrecking crew,” who performed at every session at major studios in the 60s and 70s. “They built the Hollywood music industry of that era, and chose to share their expertise almost casually back in 1977 by starting a school,” Marlis relates. “Our DNA comes from the recording studios of Hollywood.”

Hisatake Shibuya purchased the school and has owned it for 23 years. The Japanese businessman is committed to the arts, and owns other schools in the area, including Elegance International School of Professional Makeup, Theater of the Arts acting school, and the International Dance Academy, as well as owning ESP Guitars and other related companies.

Students in class at Musicians Institute in Hollywood. (Courtesy photo)

Today the school is made up of eight different buildings spanning the area of Hollywood and Highland. Programs are eclectic, covering disciplines such as audio engineering, audio post-production, a music business program, and even a luthier school that teaches students how to build guitars. Its independent artist program helps students learn to be a successful, self-promoting independent artists. “Students in the independent artist program learn social media, marketing, and have a mentor. We also have a DJ program. But our mainstay is our performance-type program,” Marlis explains.

The school’s large urban campus currently has around 1000 students enrolled, with 70% of the student body from domestic locations and 30% international. “We offer Bachelors’ degrees, many short six-month programs, and the most popular program that we offer, an AA program in pure music,” Marlis attests.

Marlis says that in a nutshell, Musicians Institute offers students an authentic program that provides students hands-on, real-world programs. “We are the most innovative, well-respected, and oldest contemporary music school in the world, and we are turning out graduates who are the next generation of the music industry.”

In fact, the school has many famous graduates, from Anderson .Paak, highly visible at this year’s Grammy Awards, to Keb Mo, all the band members from Weezer, and half of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Graduates have performed as sidemen for Michael Jackson, Pink, and the Allman Brothers. “Ariana Grande’s keyboard player came from our school,” Marlis points out.

Guitar instruction at Musicians Institute in Hollywood. (Courtesy photo)

With some 300 faculty members, the ratio of faculty member to student is high. Depending on the program type, some student/faculty relationships are one-on-one.

Along with faculty, Marlis says outside members of the music industry are often a part of campus life. “The industry is here every week. We have high level auditions; A&R reps come and take the cream of the crop of our students. We are super robust about career placement and gig opportunities. There are internships, we get our students on auditions, we constantly get them placed. And that’s a big part of being here in Hollywood,” she notes. “If you want to be a fisherman, live by the ocean. If you want to be in the music business, be here. We are in this community and really invested in Hollywood; our community is important to us.”

Marlis recommends potential students – and simply interested outsiders – come and visit the campus. “I love giving personal tours. It’s always interesting and exciting. It’s a little like being in an episode of Fame or Glee,” she remarks. “It’s an incredible environment. You see the connections in the industry being built right before your eyes.”

The Musicians Institute
6752 Hollywood Blvd.
800-255-7529

Students perform at Musicians Institute in Hollywood. (Courtesy photo)


Genie Davis is a multi-published novelist and journalist, and produced screen and television writer. Passionate about everything-Los Angeles, you can see her work in the arts on her own www.diversionsLA.com.

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June 5, 2017

image Shopping

As The Record Turns is a Hidden Hollywood Gem

Tucked in the back of the historic, 100+-year-old Artisan’s Patio on Hollywood Boulevard at McCadden Boulevard is one of the best-sourced record stores in all of Los Angeles. As the Record Turns is a vinyl collector’s and industry insider’s record store owned by Kevin Donan — a longtime veteran of the music industry, himself.

As the Record Turns is tucked away in the back of Artisan’s Patio, just a block and a half east of Hollywood and Highland. (Photo by Esther Tseng)

Kevin, who has consulted and played on many an album as well as managed many an artist, celebrates the 30th anniversary of the store’s opening this year with his wife, Monet. As the Record Turns is ultimately a long-standing relic of their passion for music and pivotal work in the industry. The store’s history reaches to long before the age of the internet, sourcing and supplying movies and television shows with master recordings, special album art covers, acetate discs and more.

As The Record Turns has built an excellent reputation for having some of the rarest records to be found in most genres and fulfilling search requests. (Photo by Esther Tseng)

No matter how rare or how long out of print the record you’re looking for is, they’ll kindly help you find it. Everything in the store is in great condition, and the prices are negotiable to a point. They’ll even throw in a free record from a special stash on top of your purchase. The two-room store houses an impressive collection of over 25,000 originals, with not a reissue in sight, and Kevin has access to over a million and a half records from all over the world.

Kevin’s ultra insider knowledge and experience with the top names in the business also make for an fascinating visit for the record collector every time, thanks to the countless stories he has to tell. The Flint, Michigan native is a legend in his own right. He’s a self-taught drummer, having opened for numerous bands such as Parliament Funkadelic when he was a mere teenager. He sold Lenny Kravitz his first guitar and helped Dr. Dre choose the samples used on The Chronic. He worked in a pressing plant and as a recording engineer, having worked in the studio for many bands such as Earth, Wind and Fire, Harry Nilsson, Kool and the Gang and many more.

Currently, Kevin is working on a documentary and interactive book featuring art and other content from black cinema, civil rights speeches as well as African American contributions to theatre musical soundtracks recorded on vinyl. The book is called Black Film Tracks, and it features black album art, movie posters and more, promising to be the ultimate coffee table book for many reasons — the content and limited number of printed copies, alike.

As The Record Turns… The ultimate in rare vinyl records. (Photo by Esther Tseng)

Every visit to As the Record Turns is like a journey back in rock, R&B, soul, jazz, blues, and comedic history. You can’t walk away with just one record; you’ll also walk away with a good story and a good time. Stop in and see Kevin and Monet, who will take care of all your limited and rare vinyl demands.

As The Record Turns
6727 3/8 Hollywood Blvd.
323-251-4895

As a consultant and a record research locator, Kevin Donan of As the Record Turns has credits on over 2500 different LP’s, CD’s re-issues, 1200 films and 700 television and cable network shows. (Photo by Esther Tseng)

 

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Esther Tseng is a freelance food and drink writer. She has contributed to Eater, Thrillist, LA Tourism, Visit West Hollywood, Serious Drinks, and more. She practices Pilates, spins and snowboards to counter all the calories she consumes and loves to travel, whether for work or leisure.

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May 31, 2017

image Entertainment

A Look at the Los Angeles Visitor Information Center in Hollywood

The Los Angeles Visitor Information Center has been located in Hollywood for over 13 years. Conveniently located in the Hollywood and Highland complex, while the center now has an office downtown in Union Station as well, the Hollywood locale is still the main hub for visitors. Both locations provide information on things to do in LA, but only the Hollywood location offers ticket sales, brochures, and merchandise.

The Santa Monica pier at twilight, easily accessible from Hollywood via Metro. (Photo by Jack Burke)

The center is known as the place to discover things to do in LA from theater and concerts to dining spots, places to explore from major amusement parks to scenic views, and where to stay in the area. The center serves the general public, travel professionals, and the media as a font of information on visitor attractions, locations, and how to get to them.

According to Mary Carley, senior director of business affairs for the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, the center has a multilingual staff. “Our staff provides answers to questions regarding travel, directions and transportation,” she explains. “They assist with itineraries so visitors can get the most out of their visit to the Los Angeles area, and they make recommendations regarding dining, sightseeing and cultural options.”

Clifton’s, a historic restaurant in a renovated, multi-level space featuring American fare & cocktails, easily accessible from Hollywood via the Metro Red Line. (Photo by Genie Davis)

The center can base its advice on how long a visitor is staying and whether they are driving or taking public transportation to get around the city.

The visitor center also sells tickets to attractions, provides maps, and distributes travel guides – in short, it’s a one-stop-shop for a wide range of visitor needs.

But it’s not only visitors who come to the Visitor Information Center. Locals in need of guidance frequently stop by as well. With public transportation options growing through the city, information about the system is often a popular request from residents. “Locals usually request information about the metro system and come to purchase metro passes. Both local residents and out of town visitors also request information on what to do around the city and purchase attraction tickets,” Carley says.

In fact, the most popular service the center provides are their tickets to attractions such as Disneyland and Universal City Studios. But visitors and locals also ask for maps, and out of towners rely on the center’s helpful visitor guide.

Nighttime skyline of downtown Los Angeles. (Photo by Genie Davis)

Carley has worked with the center for 9 years, recruiting and training staff.  “My goal has been  to provide the best possible customer service and to continue to find ways to enhance our services, both for out of town visitors and for our local residents,” she says. From finding the best spot to eat tacos to providing information about the best beaches, the center helps their clients find hotels, restaurants, trendy hot spots, and family fun. What Carley would most like people to know about the office is that it is truly an inclusive way to find information about “all that is happening in the Los Angeles area. We can help plan your itinerary to get the most out of your visit, and we have tickets to many local attractions available for purchase.”

Chinatown, north of Downtown Los Angeles, easily accessible from Hollywood via Metro. (Photo by Genie Davis)

Convenient and informative: that’s the Visitor Information Center in a nutshell.

Los Angeles Visitor Information Center
6801 Hollywood Blvd. (on the 2nd floor of the outdoor mall complex, next to Starline Tours, with a kiosk on Level 2 in the Central Courtryard.)
(323) 467-6412
https://www.discoverlosangeles.com


Genie Davis is a multi-published novelist and journalist, and produced screen and television writer. Passionate about everything-Los Angeles, you can see her work in the arts on her own www.diversionsLA.com.

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May 26, 2017

image Community

It’s Time for our Elected Officials to Publicly Acknowledge the Unintended Consequences of Prop 47

I will confess. I bought into the narrative around Prop 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act. But how many would assert today that our neighborhoods are, in fact, safer than in November 2014 when the measure passed with nearly 60 percent of the vote? Perhaps it is time to reconsider parts of this law.

To recap, the intent of the measure was to reclassify several drug and property felonies as misdemeanors. According to the ballot pamphlet, the promise was that the funds saved to state prisons and local jails would be captured and reinvested into “school truancy and dropout prevention, victim services, mental health and drug abuse treatment, and other programs designed to keep offender out of prison and jail.”

As described in a blog I wrote in April about the declining sense of safety we are experiencing here in Hollywood, I am looking backwards to see what has changed. There are a number of contributing factors, in my opinion, but let’s start with Prop 47. Show me why this doesn’t deserve scrutiny.

  1. Our neighborhoods are less safe now as compared to before Prop 47 was passed.
  2. The monies for mental health and drug abuse treatment have failed to materialize.
  3. Law enforcement seems to be taking a “hands off” approach toward the enforcement of misdemeanors.

Let’s look at each of these.

Less safe: Consider what local law enforcement officials are saying. The California Police Chief’s Association reported last summer that property and violent crime increases were unique to California, and not experienced in the rest of the country. In Seal Beach just a few weeks ago, the police department reported that local crime is 15% greater than three years ago.  Similar reports are coming out of smaller towns like Auburn, Lodi, Escondido, Huntington Beach, Benicia. Does anyone think this trend will magically reverse itself?

The president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys, Marc Debbaudt, explains how crimes committed after Prop 47 are being treated differently, sometimes allowing people with a criminal record to go unpunished. He provides an example: “someone who has been convicted and served time for a serious crime – such as armed robbery, kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon – can no longer be sent back to prison if convicted of a new theft or drug offense, because these have been reclassified as misdemeanors.”

According to an LA Times article this March, Californians for Safety and Justice report that the state’s average daily prison population has decreased by 8,000 people. The CA Department of Corrections reports that 4,700 people have been re-sentenced and released from prison and 3,300 few people will be incarcerated each year. The public policy aim of reducing mass incarceration is a worthy goal, but the support systems that were promised have yet to materialize.

Where are the savings? The measure called for savings of hundreds of millions of dollars annually that would be reinvested. In the 2016 budget, the governor estimated first year’s savings at $28.3M, dramatically less than was promised in the voter ballot language. (The state Legislative Analyst office calculated closer to $150M in savings.) Rules established by the state appear to place the responsibility with the Controller to disburse monies generated from the savings each year according to this formula: 25% for public schools for truancy and related programs; 10% to victim compensation, and 65% to Board of State and Community Corrections to administer grants supporting mental heath and substance abuse treatment and diversion. Those monies are just starting to roll out, two years later.

Given this two year gap in “reinvesting savings,” the outcome has been less intervention for people enslaved by substance abuse who are less likely to go into treatment. As Debbaudt states, “The justice system lost all leverage to mandate rehabilitative drug programs.” A jail sentence may be a few days or a few hours and drug addicts are back on the street.

Mother Jones reported in December that the experiment to release drug offenders from prison has encountered a challenge: “Once they’re out, there aren’t enough social service programs to help these offenders overcome addictions and restart their lives.” They reference an 2016 investigation conducted by USA TODAY Network-California journalists, who found that “thousands of addicts and mentally ill people have traded a life behind bars for a churning cycle of homelessness, substance abuse and petty crime.”

Misdemeanors go unpunished. In Hollywood, it appears that the misdemeanor associated with overstepping one’s two hour parking meter will be punished far more swiftly than the misdemeanor associated with smoking meth in front of a busy restaurant where people are trying to enjoy patio dining. There is evidence of drug use every few blocks as one walks the busy streets of Hollywood – yet no apparent effort to enforce this in any way.

The USA Today team found that police made 220,000 fewer drug arrests in the first year after Prop 47 passed, a 9.5% decrease over the previous year.   The options for cops are either to jail people – but there is likely little room to house misdemeanor subjects – or issue a citation, which has no immediate consequences.  The report says, “caught between ineffective jail bookings and toothless citations, cops are increasingly doing neither.”

Further, the downward cycle continues when one considers that the threshold for petty theft to be considered a felony was increased from $500 to $950.  So if addicts who are living on the streets need to steal to support their habit, there are less consequences in that arena as well.

Stephen Johnson, a chief with the LA County Sheriff’s Department describes the current situation: “They’re not being punished, they’re not getting treatment. The net result is victimization for our local communities who see a rise in crime.”

So, what to do? It is time for our elected officials to publicly acknowledge the unintended consequences of a citizen-drafted ballot measure that was not vetted by the state legislative process. Take the necessary steps to pinpoint the loopholes and fix the weaknesses in this law, in the interest of public safety and victim’s rights. Kudos to the two council members (Bernard Parks and Mitch O’Farrell) who voted to oppose Prop 47 back in 2014, but now we ask the full council, the mayor, city attorney, board of supervisors, county sheriff and district attorney to put their heads together to find a way forward for Los Angeles.

Keep the parts that are good (e.g., removing the requirement to report a former felony conviction to facilitate the employability of ex-offenders) and address what is not working. If possession and use is now a misdemeanor, let’s remember that drug dealing is still a felony and the supply of drugs is a death sentence to those on the street. Advocate for the hundreds of millions of dollars that was promised so that services and treatment can be delivered to those on the streets.

We must not acquiesce to the current state as the new normal. Our electeds must find the path back to the Safe Neighborhoods that were promised.

No resources to help this young man homeless and using drugs in Hollywood since 2011. Top photo is from 2015 and the bottom from a few weeks ago. His situation is deteriorating.

 


Kerry Morrison is executive director of the Hollywood Property Owners Alliance.  She serves on the United Way/LA Area Chamber Home For Good Task Force and blogs at www.onlyinhollywood.org. @KerryHMorrison

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May 25, 2017

image Entertainment

Touring Hollywood

While a tour of Hollywood is a mainstay of visitor itineraries, local residents have much to learn and enjoy from these tours, too. With a variety of tour companies in the Hollywood Boulevard area, here are a few choices that deepen understanding of Tinseltown’s heritage, or offer just plain fun looks at iconic Hollywood locales.

Old Hollywood Walking Tour

Every last Friday of the month (and additional dates as scheduled), the Hollywood Entertainment District presents this 90-minute historic walking tour at 10:00 a.m. The tour encompasses Hollywood history from 1865 through 1960, and is conducted by the knowledgeable April Brooks Clemmer, a member of the Hollywood Heritage Preservation Committee. Attendees can learn what it was like when the tiny Hollywood suburb transformed itself into the world’s film capital in less than 50 years. Visit the oldest residential home on Hollywood Boulevard, as well as the city’s most famous movie theaters, the longest operating restaurant in Hollywood, and a variety of architecturally significant buildings, as well as its Golden Age shopping district. Featuring the use of historic photos, this fascinating tour offers an insiders’ look at the story of Hollywood’s past, present, and future.

6562 Hollywood Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028
(323) 463-6767

www.oldhollywoodtours.com

Starline Tours

Located in the Hollywood and Highland center, Starline Hollywood operates a variety of tours such as a Hop On/Hop Off tour of Hollywood among other locations, arriving at attractions across the city and accompanied by audio tours. For visitors inclined to take their time at some locations and skip others, the Hop On makes it easy to remain independent, while double decker busses offer city views from the upper level. Other Hollywood adventures include a one-hour trolley tour, a Movie Stars Homes tour, and Movie Locations route. The short but sweet trolley tour includes a look at the Hollywood Sign, the TCL Chinese Theater, Capitol Records, the Egyptian Theatre and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Want something a little spooky? Check out the Haunted Hollywood tour, featuring a visit to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, famous for celebrity hauntings.

6801 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
(800) 959-3131
www.starlinetours.com

TMZ Celebrity Tours

Focusing on Hollywood gossip as well as glamour, TMZ Celebrity Tours are coached in a custom-designed bus with state of the art audio and video systems designed to keep tour-takers in the thick of things – footage can be sent directly to TMZ itself, if an interesting celebrity sighting should occur. Stops include celebrity hot spots in and around Hollywood, and are focused on giving attendees a glimpse at celebs and their hangouts. TMZ offers what is essentially a celebrity-hunting tour with a light-hearted look at famous locales in Hollywood, West Hollywood, and Beverly Hills added in.

6801 Hollywood Blvd, # 105 Hollywood, CA 90028
(844) 869-8687
www.tmz.com/tour

Primetime Hollywood Tours

With Star Homes and Celebrity Sites in and around Hollywood one of Primetime Hollywood’s most popular tours, visitors can get a look at the Hollywood Walk of Fame and famous actors’ homes. From the hotel featured in Pretty Woman to the Chinese and Dolby theaters and rock n’ roll landmarks on the Sunset Strip, this inclusive tour takes place in sleek luxury vans or on open-air busses. Other Primetime offerings include the LA Club Crawl and a Nightlife tour that allows attendees to get an inside perspective on celebrity hangout spots.

6363 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028
(800) 262-7433
www.primetimehollywood.com


Genie Davis is a multi-published novelist and journalist, and produced screen and television writer. Passionate about everything-Los Angeles, you can see her work in the arts on her own www.diversionsLA.com.

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May 24, 2017