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Monday, June 29, 2009

A Silver Lake beekeeper serves up some home grown honey in Atwater

With two bee hives at home, Amy Seidenwurm rarely bothers to head to the store to pick up some sugar. She use honey to make everything from pancakes and glazes to salad dressings and cookies. On Tuesday night, diners with a sweet tooth and an interest in home-grown products will be able to sample some of Seidenwurm's cooking at Canale, where she will be participating in the Atwater Village restaurant's "Friends Cook at Canale" program. The $30 meal (which could change) includes honey-roasted walnuts in the salad and in the champagne vinaigrette; honey-glazed pork tenderloin; a goat cheese and nectarine tart drizzled with honey and accompanied by honey ice cream.

The honey will come from the hives of the Backward BeeKeepers, who are dedicated to educating Angelenos on beekeeping.

"Beekeeping is a hobby, though one I am extremely passionate about," said Seidenwurm, who raised the bees with her husband, Russell Bates (pictured). "Honey has a great flavor and a lot more depth than white sugar," Seidenwurm writes. "Plus it is extremely satisfying knowing it came from your backyard."

Photo by Amy Seidenwurm

Friday, June 26, 2009

Cupcakes & Capitalism

What is it about these little cakes that has professionals abandoning corporate careers to open their own business or juggle day-time work with night-time baking? Genevive Ostrander, for example, worked for a dozen years promoting beauty products before opening up Delilah Bakery, a center of cupcake consumption in Echo Park. Meanwhile, another Echo Park resident and business professional, Celeste Alleyne, is also pursuing her passion for cupcakes and baking. This Saturday afternoon, Alleyne's Soul Cups Cupcakes & Catering will have a cupcake tasting - how about a bite of "Pound 'O Butter" and "Peanut Butter Cup" - at Say Cheeze in Silver Lake.

But, Alleyne, who was trained by her father, a professional chef, has no plans to walk away from a 25-year-long career in public relations and community affairs. So, at least for now, you will have to special order that "Pound O Butter."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Eastside Shopper & Diner: Cops like stickers, too

A set of four LAPD stickers for $2 at the Los Angeles Police Revolver & Athletic Club Gift Shop near Elysian Park.

SiLA Bistro in Silver Lake waives corkage fees Tuesday-Thursday on wine bottles from 55 Degrees in Atwater.

Going to the game or the bowl? Order a Picnic Box meal and pick it up at the curb outside The Park in Echo Park.

A whole roasted chicken for $5 at Spain Restaurant in Echo Park.

Learn to play the guitar in 5 lessons for $62.50 at the Eagle Rock Music Studio.

Biscuits & gravy all week long starting next Monday at Delilah Bakery in Echo Park.

CitySip in Echo Park is pouring $3 a-glass wine and serving $5 cheese plates at its midweek Summer Happy Hour.

Because you can never have enough oilcloth: Oilcloth International holds a warehouse sale this Saturday in Highland Park

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How a seasick Echo Park resident took a cruise into L.A. maritime history

Echo Park resident Martin Cox grew up in the south of England, half a world away from Los Angeles. But as a teenager he read about an obscure L.A. institution and a bit history that for some reason he was never able to forget: The Los Angeles Steamship Company. The LASSCO steamships began to ferry passengers between Los Angeles and Honolulu during the roaring 1920 in smaller and less refined vessels than today's massive cruise ships. But Cox was surprised when, after moving to Los Angeles as an adult, no one seemed to know what he was talking about when he mentioned the steamship company and its fleet of ships, some of which had a habit of getting into trouble or appearing in Hollywood films.

So, Cox, a 40-something commercial photographer, set out to find out more about the shipping line, a years long adventure that resulted in a book he co-authored with Gordon Ghareeb, "Hollywood to Honolulu - The Story of the Los Angeles Steamship Company." Cox will be reading about the book during an appearance this Sunday at Skylight Books in Los Feliz.

Cox's obsession with defunct steamship company has also lead him to start a shipping website and to collect more than a 1,00o photos and hundreds of pieces of LASSC memorabilia, from passenger lists to the ship's china adorned with the poppy and hibiscus blooms, the state flowers of California and Hawaii. But for all his interest in nautical history, Cox rarely travels by water. He gets terribly seasick.

Here's a Q&A with Cox:

Why are you so interested interested in steamships and LASSCO in particular?

I first read about the Los Angeles Steamship Company when I was about 16 and living in the UK, it was a half page on the company that for some reason stuck in my head. The idea that they sailed ex German transatlantic liners to Hawaii intrigued me. I was not until I moved to LA that I decided to look in to the history of LA's namesake shipping line, but the more I looked, the less I could find. Despite not being a writer, nor a researcher, I was determined to get the story out.

How did you get started researching the past of LASSCO?

I wandered down to the LA Maritime Museum in 1995 thinking I would look at some exhibition items and perhaps read about the Steamship line, but there was little to be found, and after I talked with the librarian told me that no articles or books had ever been done on this 1920s mode of transport in our harbour. It quickly became my self appointed job to look in to this. It seemed odd to me that a city so famous, had it's own shipping line and yet no one seems to know this.

Immediately, I found that LASSCO had lost one of their ships on its maiden voyage, with no loss of life, that they were in feverish competition with San Francisco's dominance on the Pacific trade, that they used all kinds of second hand vessels, and that they has great graphic artists churning out stunning 20s designs to lure passengers out to visit the tropical paradise. That LASSCO was a vision of the LA Chamber of commerce. Accounts of silent era Hollywood movies being filmed about the company's ships came to light. It was all very appealing to me.

I met a man who became co-author, Gordon Ghareeb, he was the only person I had met who had ever heard of the company. The project was quickly becoming a very large research undertaking, with filing cabinets packed with information, but with no existing reference to use to sketch out the narrative, it meant raw research. Gordon and I worked well together and his language skills really polished the final version of the story.

When did you start MaritimeMatters.com? Did the book grow out of that?

I began MaritimeMatters.com Ocean liners history and cruise ships news, about the same time, mid 1990s. I was interested in the web as a means of sharing information, and in a way, ships used to represent the flow of information as well as goods and people around the planet, shipping as an early internet makes sense to me.

The internet also allowed our research for the book to grow and expand. A big moment came when the grand daughter of a former Captain of the company's flagship found me online and offered a huge collection of photographs that he either took or collected during his time on the SS CITY OF LOS ANGELES. Suddenly, beyond the facts and dates, we had the human elements, what it looked like to travel then, to attend costume parties on the high seas, to see stowaways transferred from one ship to another. That's when we knew it was not just a project, but a definitely a book.

How many LASSCO items do you own? Can you give me details about some of your favorites?

I started collecting paperwork, passenger lists and travel folders from the Line at swap meets but as Ebay took off, suddenly there was greater choice, though the line was not long lived, nor did it have many ships. So items are still scarce.

I love the crockery the best, the plate and cups with intertwined Hibiscus and Poppy flowers to represent State flowers of Hawaii and California. Another favourite is a huge cabin key from the coastal liner HARVARD that crashed on to the rocks in 1931 in yet another LASSCO ship wreck. I have no idea how many items I have, perhaps 200, and over 1500 photographs.

In addition to collecting LASSCO items, how else does your interest in steam ships manifest itself?

As a photographer, particularly of places and landscapes, and even more particularly of forgotten of abandoned places, ships began to intrigue me visually, not just as research and history projects, old vessels started turning up in my photography. In 2004 I travelled to India with a Shipping writer friend to see where ships go to die. Rammed up on the beach, they are taken apart by men with hand tools in an almost pre-industrial method, conditions are harsh and our presence was not always welcomed, but images from this experience found their way in to several exhibitions, one at Metro Gallery on Hyperion.

Have you traveled on an old steam ship? How did it turn out versus your expectations?
When ships were built to get from A to B in an era before planes, they were tough, built to take any weather. Craftsmen built them, they bear little resemblance with the modern cruise ship. I searched out all the older vessels that were built in 50s and 60s that had somehow survived to the modern era and sailed on as many as I could. I knew they would not last long and now all of the ships I took have been scrapped, laid up or turned in to QUEEN MARY type hotel ships.

What do you think of modern day cruise ships versus steam ship travel?
Traveling on older ships was wonderful, like an architectural dig going through the ship witnessing the changes and alterations each phase of their life has sea had wrought.

I have not been moved to sail on a any current ships, cruising itself has not gripped me. I also suffer horribly from sea sickness. Contemporary ships are built very differently to older ships. They are have very standardized spaces and proportions. They are constructed in modular fashion, fitted together and they seem to be built to carry a staggering number of people. The notion of getting away from it all at sea seems lost if you take 3,000 people with you. Modern ships are intense feats of engineering. I love to visit them, but to be a guest among thousands has not appealed to me.Besides fans of all things nautical, why would other people be interested in the history of LASSCO?

What I loved about learning about LASSCO was also learning about the history of LA. It was a very small place in the 20s. The story of LASSCO is the story of vision and boosterism and risk that LA made famous. We wrote this book as a definitive history of this city's missing maritime past, but hopefully with enough human element for one to image ones self on the deck of a great ocean liner steaming out from the orange groves and oil fields of a city yet to come, in a relaxed five day trip to Hawaii.

LASSCO also saw much filming on it's ships and we covered what we could finds of Hollywood's movie's, many lost, that were shot on the ships. Chunks of the "Black Camel" with Bela Lugosi (later resigned to the cutting room floor) were shot on CITY OF LOS ANGELES, A survivor of the edit was "Dangerous Innocence" 1925 with Laura Le Plante and Eugene O'Brien and "We're In The Navy Now" 1926 Paramount big budget comedy.

So, now what do you? Do you have another steam ship line in mind that you want to document?

I'm not sure that the LASSCO story has let me go yet, I am drawn to the idea of a documentary before all the docks and buildings in the story are gone, and there are still some wonderful people whom we met along the way who remember LASSCO, and then there's the fictional spin off... but as for writing another book that takes 12 years of research? Not so much. It's more likely that I will be exhibiting my photography again before another book.

Top photo from Hollywood to Honolulu - The story of the Los Angeles Steamship Company; bottom photo by Paul Antico; all others by Martin Cox.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A new role for an Echo Park church

The Echo Park United Methodist Church will serve as the backdrop for a dance performance that opens this weekend. The Collage Dance Theater will stage "Really, All About Eve, Verse 1" in the church at the corner of Alvarado and Reservoir streets. The church has long been the site of arts and cultural events, including a long running basement coffee house. How did the Collage Dance Theater and the church hook up? Dance company arts administrator Liliane E. Ribeiro explains:

"We were in the neighborhood looking for a potential space to partner with to present “Really, All About Eve” and we saw this beautiful church on the hill. We introduced ourselves to Pastor David Farley and he welcomed us and engaged us in conversations of sacred space and how the arts, dance in particular, can be a way to engage the community. The church has massive vertical space and the set and lighting designers are accentuating it artistically. The dancers are dancing in and out of the 100 year old pews and in the choir loft above the altar."

If you are interested in going, make sure to ask for a Friend of The Eastsider discount, which will save you $5, by calling (818) 784-8669.

Shepard Fairey hops into Frogtown

It looks like the growing arts community in Elysian Valley, aka Frogtown, has a new and high profile member. Shepard Fairey, the artist best known for his Obama "Hope" poster, has opened a fine art studio in an unmarked industrial building near Worthen and Ripple streets in the neighborhood wedged between the 5 Freeway and the Los Angeles River, according to residents and artists. Fairey's arrival could attract more artists and attention as well as raise concern about gentrification in the neighborhood of narrow streets, small homes and cinder block warehouses.

Fairey's main offices, which include a gallery and ad agency called Studio No. One are located on Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park. He is expected to reserve the Elysian Valley building, dubbed Studio No. 2, for working on his fine art. His firm did not respond to an email seeking comment. But a man at the Elysian Valley building confirmed that it was Fairey's studio, which had opened five months ago. Fairey is believed to shown working in Studio No. 2 in the video above.

Fairey joins a cluster of artists who have been living and working in Elysian Valley for many years now. The community host an annual studio tour called the Frogtown Art Walk. Painter Frank Romero, who works out of a studio on Blake Street, has long resigned as Elysian Valleys' most promient artist. But that could change now, said one Elysian Valley designer.

Fairey "may knock Frank Romero off the 'most well known artist in EV' pedestal."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Eastside Shopper & Diner

Can Tavin fill the void Show Pony left behind at Chicken Corner?

$15-a-month beginners yoga class in Highland Park.

Masa of Echo Park will donate a portion of its sales on Tuesday, June 16 to benefit the Echo Park Recreation Center.

Eat, drink and still be healthy during the Friday Happy Hour at the dTox Day Spa in Atwater.

When cupcakes are not enough: Delilah Bakery will start serving breakfast all week and expand the lunch menu beginning June 21.

What $55 at 1 a.m. will buy you at Warwick in Echo Park.

New pots from Pad Outdoor.

Can Tavin fill the void Show Pony left behind at Chicken Corner?

The closing of Show Pony, a popular Echo Park boutique and art space, and the departure of Han Cholo, a showcase of Ghetto fabulous jewelry, nearly three months ago left many wondering about the fate of Chicken Corner. That's the name of the crossroads where Echo Park, Delta and Morton avenues meet and where a half-block of storefronts have served as a magnet for art lovers, shoppers and coffee drinkers. The owner of Show Pony was reportedly paying $1,200 a month in rent and it was not clear, given the tough economy, who would fill the voild. Well, the Hans Cholo space is still vacant but the formerly pink-and-white striped Show Pony space is being converted into a "concept boutique" called Tavin.

Tavin is named after Echo Park resident Eric Tavin, a cosutmer and stylist who was looking for a change. So, the former New York actress moved quickly to lease the Show Pony space.
Tavin is expected to be open in time for launch party on July 11.

"Our store is going to be a concept boutique featuring selective vintage and new designer clothes, jewelry, and accessories for women and children," said Tavin in an email "We hope to feature local designers, especially. On top of that, to create an atmospheric, lifestyle space, we will also sell art pieces, books, and home items. We are looking forward to making Echo Park an even more interesting and cool place to shop live hang and be."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dear Eastsider: Pimp my gas station

Mariel from Echo Park writes that the new owners of Magic Gas are taking suggestions on what to stock in their newly expanded mini mart.

"She agreed cheerfully and said she was open to any and all suggestions from the community for things to have in the store. So, if you want it available at Magic Gas (ding dongs, peet's coffee, lactaid milk..) just ask. "

Monday, June 8, 2009

This Echo Park dive bar might be living up to its name

What's happened to Little Joy? First there was the sandwich board on the sidewalk promoting "happy hour" specials and then the big colorful murals appeared on the exterior of the dingy bar at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Portia Street. Inside, the wood paneling has been painted Pepto-pink and there are new bartenders, DJs and booze. These are some of the recent signs of a change in management and vibe at Little Joy, one of Eastside's most popular dive bars, and not everyone is happy.

"Here's the thing: the previous incarnation of Little Joy was divey and strange, but it had personality," said a Yelp comment posted by Justin M., who used to DJ at the bar. "The guy who was the manager is a great, smart guy, one whose ties with the artistic community on the east side allowed a certain artistic sensibility to flourish in the space. Now that's all gone. I dunno, I'm pretty disappointed. The owners of this place really have no clue what they're doing, I'm guessing. It's a disaster right now."

At one point there seemed to be no hipper place to hang out, with the former Latino gay bar (also referred to as Little Joy Jr. or The Little Joy) turned into a rec room for the new generation of beatniks, posers and the curious. Jay Babcock from Arthur magazine would spin records while plaid-shirted fans flocked to country-western nights organized by Joe McGraw. Little Joy soared into public limelight last year when Strokes drummer Fabrizio Moretti named his new band after the bar.

But the new management's less ironic attitude and decision to shed some of Little Joy's artistic ambitions, or pretensions, could not have come sooner, said the blogger at Food She Thought:

"The bar is just better. I can tell it's a better fit for me because someone else had angrily graffiti'd in the ladies' room that it now sucks at The Little Joy. If it sucks for some 21 year old graffiti'ing hipster, chances are I might like it a little better."

Bottom photo from Food She Thought