Wednesday, August 31, 2011

John Doe at the Grammy Museum

Such is my life: Philip Glass last night at the Hollywood Bowl and John Doe performing tonight at the Grammy Museum! Once again we have to go back to Indiana for these musical roots, this time for where it all began with John Doe. (That series of Hoosierland Influences I started back in June is taking on a life of its own!)

I'm not quite sure how I first heard of John and his punk rock band X. Yes, I had cable in the early '80s, when X was lashing out with "Los Angeles." Or, maybe it was the long-standing Rolling Stone subscription. Or, in 1986, when I worked at a rockin' radio station in Louisville, KY, where I frequently took home stacks of albums (again, the '80s!) by a wide range of singers, some who I knew and some who I came to know. In any event, I feel like I'm a longtime fan that somehow took hold in my Hoosier years.

Flash forward to 2011, and through Grammy Museum colleagues, several of us from the Skirball were invited to John's release party for his new album Keeper. I thought it would be a huge crowd, but there were only 226 seats in the Clive Davis Theater, so it was quite the intimate event. What started off in conversation ended with a rowdy show! I couldn't quite grasp that John Doe - with his 30 plus years of rock and roll attitude - was still wearing his suit jacket and tie while jamming. It was quite the visual disconnect, but the audio component was awesome! In any event, here's hoping for another 30 years of this music maestro!

Click here to go to John Doe's Web site.

Click here to go to the Grammy's Web site.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Powaqqatsi and Philip Glass at the Hollywood Bowl

It would not be summer without a trip to the Hollywood Bowl. This season, I had to see Philip Glass perform with his Ensemble to the movie "Powaqqatsi" (again).

My first exposure to Philip was in the early '80s in Indiana, thanks to access to cable TV. I heard him play selections from his "Glassworks" album (from 1982) and was immediately a fan. It was totally different from what I thought of as classical music, yet all the typical orchestral instruments were there. It was wild stuff! If you don't know his style, he describes himself as a composer of "music with repetitive structures." It was - and still is - a little trippy and hypnotic!

Flash forward to 1987, and my move to NYC. There I met other Philip fanatics, but they were devotees due to his scoring for the movie "Koyaanisqatsi," a Hopi word for "life out of balance," released in 1983. As I knew the drill, it wasn't a huge stretch to imagine a film consisting totally of imagery with no dialogue and only Philip's accompanying music. So, I watched the movie a few times on laser disc (remember, this was the '80s!) and jumped at the chance to see Philip and his Ensemble performing with the movie playing on a theater screen. It was awesome!

"Powaqqatsi," meaning "life in transformation," was then released in 1988, and I got to see it performed with Philip shortly afterward. Twenty-plus years later, now in Los Angeles, I'm watching "Powaqqatsi" (again) with Philip Glass, and a whole new group of friends, outdoors at the Hollywood Bowl. In the two decades since, there has been lots of transformations in my life, but I'm happy to note it was just as good as I remembered! (I'm also glad that I did get to re-experience "Koyaanisqatsi" live at Royce Hall probably 10 years ago.)

There's still the third installation of the Qatsi trilogy, "Naqoyqatsi," or "life as war" from 2002, that I haven't seen. Mr. Glass, you coming back to town any time soon?

Click here to learn more about Philip Glass.

Click here to learn more about the Qatsi trilogy.

Click here to go to the Hollywood Bowl's Web site.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sweet & Savory

I'm not sure how I heard about Sweet & Savory in San Marino, but I'm glad I did! I was heading to the Santa Anita Mall and wanted something other than food court options for lunch. Luckily, I pulled Sweet & Savory out of my mental Rolodex; they are conveniently located on Huntington Drive en route to my shopping.

Here's the result: brie and Granny Smith panini with spinach, cranberries and candied walnuts nestled inside. Savory, indeed! Unseen in the picture is the lemon miniature cupcake with frosting and a raspberry, and a cup of strawberry lemonade. Sweet, indeed!

In a "we're not in Indiana anymore" reality check, while I was enjoying my food, local moms were coming in to order lunches for their kids. Meals that are delivered to the schools (this is swanky San Marino, afterall). In my day, you either packed your own or went with the cafeteria's offerings. I was out of college before anyone delivered my lunch.

In any event, I'll be back to S & S. The caprese salad I sampled was delish, and their kale salad looked good, too. Then there's the breakfast menu and a whole bakery case. Yes, I'll be back.

Click here to go to Sweet & Savory's Web site.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Vroman's Bookstore

OK, answer truthfully. When was the last time you went to a brick and mortar bookstore for a book? It had been way too long for me. Like most of my generation, I became reliant on Amazon for any book, CD, or DVD need. What a treat to go into Vroman's in Pasadena! I was looking for the book "Half the Sky" for a work project, and, instead of directing me to aisle seven or a computer to look it up myself, the chipper staffer actually walked me over to the stack. Wow! Instant gratification and great customer service to boot! While looking through the shelves, I ended up spotting and also buying the latest Bill Bryson book. That's something that probably wouldn't have happened if I was making an online purchase. I'm trying to imagine the triangulation that could have connected the two distinctly different themes!

And for a personal soapbox moment, I'm going to remember to utilize this bookstore before it goes the way of the record store. Don't get me started on that day the music died.

Click here to go to Vroman's Web site.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sweet Butter

Sweet Butter
is my newest fave restaurant in Sherman Oaks. They opened in November, and I predict a hearty future for them!

From the get-go, it is a winner. Great name, eye-catching location on Ventura Boulevard (between Van Nuys and Woodman), with outdoor seating. I've noted the tables have been full any time I passed by, and I totally understand why.

You enter their little marketplace/ordering station, and it is decision time. You can select from the menu, the ready-to-go boxes, or the day's specials. Then you choose a table, either on the sidewalk under the misters or an inside courtyard. If you know me, you know I was outside, checking out what everyone else ordered while patiently waiting my turn for delivery.

I went with the day-of specials: kale salad with cranberries, candied pecans and some cheese (I'm sure it was something fancy, but can't remember what!) and a crisp dressing, and a baguette with proscuitto, mozzarella and basil. Delish!! Sweet and savory!

I've already eyed the breakfast menu, and checked out the pastry case, too. Yes, we're going to be Sweet friends!

Click here to go to Sweet Butter's Web site.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa

Today, I'm needing to re-recharge the batteries; I'm needing a Glen Ivy spa day.

I've never been to Glen Ivy alone, but when I couldn't rally any troops, going solo was the only way to go. And, it worked out fine. I actually went off the grid for several hours!

I spent the day jelly-ing in the jacuzzi, baking off (in the shade!) the red clay mud bath for wonderfully soft skin, and floating in the saline pool with each vista as beautiful as the next. Oh, and lots of time lounging under bougainvilleas, totally shutting off my head.

This impressive sashimi plate was a total surprise! I was set for a spinach salad-esque lunch and was very pleased to hear that there was a sushi bar now on location. This is the Big 3 Sashimi, with salmon, tuna and yellowtail. I hope you're also noticing the edible petals, cucumbers and Japanese radish spirals shaped into flowers. I pretty much licked the plate clean! Awesome!!

Now, maybe you'll step up when you hear I'm making a Glen Ivy run. I'll be recharging soon!

Click here to go to Glen Ivy's Web site.

Monday, August 8, 2011


I recently initiated a "fries once a month" limit to my diet. There were other components, like more salads in general and fewer cholesterol-challenging dishes. What it really means is that I have to be selective about the monthly splurge. For August, it will be these from Spitz in Eagle Rock, a decision I would readily make again!

I went with the Döner Combo, which is a sandwich, side and drink. You then get to personalize each component. I chose The Classic meat (combination of beef and lamb) with red onion, green pepper, cucumber, tomato, tzatziki and spicy chili sauce, in the Street Cart flavor style (adds garlic aioli inside, and lavash outside instead of bread), and the thin-cut seasoned fries. The real magic was the Street Cart dipping sauce. Absolutely delish!

OK, who wants to recommend some worthy fries for September?

Click here for Spitz's Web site.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Diamond Bakery

One of my chums out in Camarillo called to tell me she was pregnant - already in her third trimester - and invite me to her baby shower on Saturday. Wow! How out-of-touch have I been?! In any event, I couldn't attend the shower as it was during my work hours. But, I could come see her today and have a pre-party.

And, I knew just the treat: this fresh mango cake from Diamond Bakery in El Monte, as she introduced me to this delicacy years before. What you're seeing is thinly sliced mango draped over the lightest angel-foodish layer cake with whipped cream filling, and fresh fruit atop. Amazing!

Hmmm, maybe I'll need another cake when I meet the baby. Keep the celebration going!

Click here to go to Diamond's Web site.