Saturday, April 12, 2014

May Company Building on Downtown LA's Broadway Sells to New York Developer

 Photo courtesy of  Gary Friedman of the LA Times
Roger Vincent of the Los Angeles Times has the story on the sale of the largest building left to convert in Downtown Los Angeles.

Former May Co. building in downtown L.A. to get revived after sale


A huge former department store on Broadway in downtown Los Angeles is being sold to a New York real estate investment firm that intends to pump new life into the old building and its rebounding neighborhood.
The century-old flagship of the May Co. contains 1.1 million square feet of space surrounded by Broadway, Hill Street and 8th Street. The commercial district was once one of the best in the Southern California, but fell on hard times in the late decades of the 20th century.
Waterbridge Capital has agreed to buy the property now known as Broadway Trade Center, city officials and property brokers said. The price was not disclosed, but experts familiar with the downtown real estate market expect the property to garner $115 million to $130 million.
And...
L.A. City Council member Jose Huizar said in a statement that Waterbridge plans a mixed-use development that may include offices, a hotel, stores and apartments or condominiums. There was no announcement about potential tenants.
The property is one of the largest available on the West Coast for conversion to new uses and many investors were interested in getting in on the comeback of downtown's historic district, real estate broker Phillip Sample of CBRE Group Inc. said.
"The rarity of a redevelopment opportunity in this size range, especially in a downtown core like Los Angeles that is clearly on an upward trajectory, created a tremendous level of interest from both private and institutional capital from all over the world," said Sample, who represented the seller.
Waterbridge's plan to combine several uses in one big historic building "will be a game changer for downtown L.A.," Sample said.
No building quite like that exists downtown. Historically, however, the old structure has been many things simultaneously.
It opened in 1908 as the Hamburger department store, and in addition to selling clothing and home furnishings it had an 80-foot-long soda fountain, a restaurant, a grocery store, a post office and a roof garden. The third floor housed the L.A. Public Library for a few years.
There was a house physician's office with a fully equipped operating room ready for emergencies "and a corner where a fainting woman can rest and be restored to strength," The Times reported at the time. There was also a theater where an audience of 1,000 could watch a moving-picture show or a vaudeville act.
And...
The historic Orpheum Theater across Broadway from the old May Co. building has been restored, and another former department store next door called Eastern Columbia has been converted to luxury condominiums.
A $100-million, 32-story apartment building is under construction across Hill Street, and the former United Artists theater and office complex about a block away on Broadway is now the 180-room Ace Hotel.
The activity piqued the interest of Waterbridge, said real estate broker Chris Caras of CBRE Group, who worked with Sample on the deal.
"The location within the downtown core," he said, "was a major draw for the buyer."
The full story is on the L:A Times website.



Sunday, March 16, 2014

Pilot of Missing Jet Likely the Hijacker!

The Daily Mail has all the details on the timeline of what the pilot did just before he took control of the plane.
An image has emerged of the pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet wearing a T-shirt with a 'Democracy is Dead' slogan as it has been revealed he could have hijacked the plane in an anti-government protest.
Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a father-of-three, was said to be a 'fanatical' supporter of the country's opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim - jailed for homosexuality just hours before the jet disappeared.
It has also been revealed that the pilot's wife and three children moved out of the family home the day before the plane went missing.
It comes as FBI investigators say the disappearance of MH370 may have been ‘an act of piracy’ and the possibility that hundreds of passengers are being held at an unknown location has not been ruled out.
Officials also revealed that it is possible the aircraft could have landed and transmitted a satellite signal from the ground. If the plane was intact and had enough electrical power in reserve, it would be able to send out a radar 'ping'.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2581817/Doomed-airliner-pilot-political-fanatic-Hours-taking-control-flight-MH370-attended-trial-jailed-opposition-leader-sodomite.html#ixzz2w90m3MZm


Sunday, February 09, 2014

The Broad (Art Museum) Announces Timothy Hollingsworth (formerly of 3 Michelin Star French Laundry Restaurant) as Executive Chef of Its Restaurant (REVISED)

Three announcements are being released by Eli Broad's Grand Avenue art museum this Monday, but  today's LA Times article by Christopher Hawthorne big news is... the kitchen in free standing restaurant in the plaza's park space will have as its executive chef, Timothy Hollingsworth. 

Hollingsworth, formerly of the world renown French Laundry (once called the world's finest restaurant by the New York Times), not only managed to retain the restaurant's existing 3 star Michelin rating (currently one of only eight in the country), but he twice won the US semi-finals for the Bocuse d'Or (the Olympics of cooking) and also tied with one other American for the highest scored received by an American at the finals even before he was made the head chef at the French Laundry.  

The New York Times has more on this aspect of the story:

Mr. Broad has invested in friends’ restaurants over the years, but he is now entering the field in a bigger way: He has formed a joint venture with Bill Chait, the force behind Bestia, Republique and Picca, to develop a restaurant next to the museum.
Other partners in the restaurant are alumni of Thomas Keller restaurants: Rory Herrmann, formerly of Bouchon Beverly Hills, who has signed on as director of culinary operations, and Timothy Hollingsworth, the former head chef of The French Laundry in the Napa Valley, who will serve as executive chef.
While the menu is still being developed, Mr. Hollingsworth described the vision as distinct from the Thomas Keller model. “It’s not going to be an ultrafine dining restaurant or the taco concept I talked about opening up, which I will still do in the future. We’re thinking more about approachable food with familiar flavors,” he said.
Mr. Hollingsworth said there were plans to involve the community directly, by hiring locally and serving subsidized lunches — “healthy, well-cooked meals” — to schoolchildren who visit the museum.
Hollingsworth's appointment as the executive chef (and the selection of Roy Hermann as the director of culinary operations)- despite Hollingsworth's statement they are not aiming for the type of dining experience at the French Laundry - still gives DTLA a chance to have a Michelin rated restaurant - for one reason.  If anyone can design a menu of 'approachable food' worthy of Michelin stars, this is the team that might be able to accomplish that. 
Below is the opening of Hawthorne's article - and the other two announcements.
The leaders of Eli Broad's planned Grand Avenue museum of contemporary art, to be called simply the Broad, will make news in three separate ways on Monday.They will unveil designs for a new plaza adjacent to the museum by architects Diller, Scofidio + Renfro and landscape architect Walter Hood. They will name Bill Chait, who runs Bestia in the arts district, to oversee a new restaurant on the plaza with Timothy Hollingsworth, former chef de cuisine at French Laundry in the Napa Valley.And they will announce that the opening of the museum has been pushed back from this fall to an unspecified date next year.
And the rest of Hawthorne's article is here. 

Thursday, February 06, 2014

The Next Big Step for Broadway - Jobs & Businesses





Broadway, the sparkling entertainment district of mid-20th-century Los Angeles, had a long fall.
As residents moved to the suburbs, opulent movie palaces dating to the early days of the film industry closed their doors. Upscale shops were closed, and department stores decamped for newer neighborhoods in the 1970s and 1980s. Businesses catering primarily to Latino immigrants kept the sidewalks active, but most buildings fell empty above the first floor.
Much of downtown has enjoyed a renaissance since 2000. New residences, bars and restaurants have peppered downtown from L.A. Live to Chinatown, but the dream of making Broadway a hot spot again has remained elusive. Now, five years into a Bringing Back Broadway initiative launched by politicians, preservationists and property owners, there are signs of reawakening prosperity.
On the Broadway blocks between 2nd and 12th streets are a growing number of new bars, restaurants and stores. Near Olympic Boulevard, the trendy Ace Hotel just opened in a former office building and movie house, and plans for another boutique hotel a few blocks away were announced in December.
An Urban Outfitters clothing outlet set recently up shop in the former Rialto Theatre. Hip Swedish retailer Acne Studios launched a flagship store in the Art Deco landmark Eastern Columbia building, a former department store turned luxury condominium tower.
And here is the important new reform that is about to be initiated - allowing developers the same type of flexibility for developers to restore old office buildings for offices - and not just residences - as did the first Adaptive Reuse  Ordinance of 1999.  And everything that has happened in the past 15 years has been a result of that first ordinance - champion by Carol Schatz and the Central City Association.  Even the proposing of that ordinance was enough to convince me to leave Malibu and move full time to Downtown. 
In an effort to hasten the recovery and revive still run-down sections of Broadway, city officials in December revamped real estate development guidelines intended to make it easier for landlords to reactivate their old buildings. The policies are intended to help Fire Department and Department of Building and Safety staff members consistently interpret the rules for upgrading old buildings that don't meet modern safety codes.
"We are knocking the dust off of decades of layers of red tape and impossible and conflicting codes that have resulted in our historic buildings on Broadway sitting empty for far too long," said City Councilman Jose Huizar, whose district includes downtown.
In an interview with The Times, Huizar — chairman of Bringing Back Broadway — talked about new real estate development guidelines that were adopted in December and how Broadway is evolving as downtown Los Angeles gets its mojo back.
You described these new guidelines as the biggest thing downtown since the Adaptive Reuse Ordinance of 1999 that opened the floodgates to renovations of historic buildings. What do you expect their primary benefit to be?
This is the linchpin that will allow for full revitalization of these historic buildings on Broadway where about 1 million square feet on upper floors have been empty for decades. It will be easier and cheaper to put them to use again.
Why did we need more guidelines?
The city was requiring that once buildings were upgraded they must be brought up in full to modern codes, but it wasn't clear which codes would be applied. Owners got different answers from different city staff members. There was a lot of uncertainty and confusion. It was easier for a lot of building owners to simply rely on lease activity on the first floor.
What was the main source of the confusion?
There were conflicts in the codes themselves, the California historic building codes that cities are supposed to interpret and use. Were we to use those codes or modern codes? Then there were different interpretations by different city departments.
Why won't that happen again?
Now people can work with a staff person — a plan checker — dedicated to helping them through the process in Building and Safety and the Fire Department. They'll help people navigate the guidelines. Safety will remain a priority.
Presuming this works, what is Broadway going to look like in five years?
You will see a real mix of activity among people from a mix of backgrounds, including tourists and residents who live on Broadway. There will be creative offices upstairs, new restaurants going up. There's going to be a wide variety of activity.
Some people have expressed fear that gentrification will drive out low-income residents and rob Broadway of some of its more recent ethnic flavor.
Concerns about gentrification were overstated initially. We are opening up historic buildings and floors that haven't been used in decades, not removing people. There will be a change, but we're adding more people and more services.

For the rest of the story with an update on the streetcar and the upcoming trial run of the new streetscaping plan for Broadway - click here.



Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Why Does an Atlanta Filmmaker & a GQ Reporter from NYC Understand Downtown LA Better Than Writers & Reporters in LA?

Both the January GW Magazine article on Downtown LA by New York raised Brett Martin and the the February debuting film by Atlanta producer Will Packer (read this morning's LA Times article by Richard Vernier) understand and appreciate our unique community  - our own small town in the heart of the big city we have built in Downtown Los Angeles - in ways many local LA writers and reporters - still too blinded by past perceptions  to be able to see.  Here is the opening of Vernier's article:

A movie Valentine to Downtown L.A.

'About Last Night' is among the first films to depict Los Angeles' revitalized business center, showcasing gastropubs, bars and historic spots in a 10-block radius around 6th and Main.


A bustling community of dog parks, gastropubs and historic lofts where people actually walk to work?
That's hardly the typical depiction of Los Angeles, at least in the movies.
Yet that is precisely the unconventional image of L.A. that emerges in the upcoming romantic comedy "About Last Night," a remake of the 1986 film starring Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, James Belushi and Elizabeth Perkins that explored the world of dating among four singles.
Though the original movie was based on a David Mamet play set in Chicago, the contemporary remake joins the 2009 film "(500) Days of Summer" as one of the first to depict the revitalized L.A. downtown, which is enjoying a commercial and cultural renaissance fueled by an influx of residents and merchants. The Screen Gems movie, which stars popular comedian Kevin Hart, premieres Feb. 14.

"About Last Night" was shot almost entirely downtown, showcasing such locations as the Santa Fe Lofts, Casey's Irish Pub, Broadway Bar and Cole's. The $13-million movie also was the first to shoot in the new Grand Park.
"L.A. has not been known for its downtown urban life, but there is really a resurgence," said producer Will Packer, who lives in Atlanta and is best known for the 2012 comedy "Think Like a Man." "There are lofts, gastropubs and night life — a real culture here now — so it felt like the right time to showcase that. We wanted the film to be an organic slice of life, like being on a street corner and seeing the way young people interact, drink, party and eat."
The "About Last Night" remake filmed over seven weeks in the fall of 2012. With the exception of Dodger Stadium, the entire movie was shot within a 10-block radius of the corner of 6th and Main streets, where the crew had set up a base camp.
 
That's highly unusual in that most movies film at multiple locations spread miles apart. But selecting locations within one small area enabled producers to keep transportation and other costs down.
"If we couldn't walk to it from 6th and Main, it was out of range," said Brian O'Neill, the film's location manager.
One of the principal locations was the Santa Fe Lofts, where Danny, the lead character played by Michael Ealy, lives. His friend Bernie (played by Hart) lives nearby in the historic Pacific Electric Building.
Filming in one area for several weeks can be risky. The downtown area already is heavily filmed, occasionally prompting complaints from local residents and merchants about disruptions caused by crews.

With that in mind, O'Neill sought to partner with local businesses such as Casey's and Broadway Bar by giving them roles in the film — as themselves.
"I reached out to the local community and approached them with the idea of: 'Do you want to be a partner in this movie? We're going to shoot your property as is,'" O'Neill said.
And the rest of the article is at the below link.:

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-et-ct-onlocation-downtown-la-20140205,0,3213674.story#ixzz2sSlhSqcn

A bustling community of dog parks, gastropubs and historic lofts where people actually walk to work?
That's hardly the typical depiction of Los Angeles, at least in the movies.
Yet that is precisely the unconventional image of L.A. that emerges in the upcoming romantic comedy "About Last Night," a remake of the 1986 film starring Rob Lowe, Demi Moore, James Belushi and Elizabeth Perkins that explored the world of dating among four singles.
Though the original movie was based on a David Mamet play set in Chicago, the contemporary remake joins the 2009 film "(500) Days of Summer" as one of the first to depict the revitalized L.A. downtown, which is enjoying a commercial and cultural renaissance fueled by an influx of residents and merchants. The Screen Gems movie, which stars popular comedian Kevin Hart, premieres Feb. 14.
"About Last Night" was shot almost entirely downtown, showcasing such locations as the Santa Fe Lofts, Casey's Irish Pub, Broadway Bar and Cole's. The $13-million movie also was the first to shoot in the new Grand Park.
"L.A. has not been known for its downtown urban life, but there is really a resurgence," said producer Will Packer, who lives in Atlanta and is best known for the 2012 comedy "Think Like a Man." "There are lofts, gastropubs and night life — a real culture here now — so it felt like the right time to showcase that. We wanted the film to be an organic slice of life, like being on a street corner and seeing the way young people interact, drink, party and eat."
The "About Last Night" remake filmed over seven weeks in the fall of 2012. With the exception of Dodger Stadium, the entire movie was shot within a 10-block radius of the corner of 6th and Main streets, where the crew had set up a base camp.
That's highly unusual in that most movies film at multiple locations spread miles apart. But selecting locations within one small area enabled producers to keep transportation and other costs down.
"If we couldn't walk to it from 6th and Main, it was out of range," said Brian O'Neill, the film's location manager.
One of the principal locations was the Santa Fe Lofts, where Danny, the lead character played by Michael Ealy, lives. His friend Bernie (played by Hart) lives nearby in the historic Pacific Electric Building.
Filming in one area for several weeks can be risky. The downtown area already is heavily filmed, occasionally prompting complaints from local residents and merchants about disruptions caused by crews.
With that in mind, O'Neill sought to partner with local businesses such as Casey's and Broadway Bar by giving them roles in the film — as themselves.
"I reached out to the local community and approached them with the idea of: 'Do you want to be a partner in this movie? We're going to shoot your property as is,'" O'Neill said.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-et-ct-onlocation-downtown-la-20140205,0,3213674.story#ixzz2sSlhSqcn

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Philippe Vergnhe of the Dia Foundation New Director of MOCA


















Below is the full release from MOCA. 

Full comments later but my first impression is the MOCA's board main criteria appears to have been curatorial talent rather than a proven record of fund raising.  And that is very good news.  It demonstrates the new Board understands it is their responsibility to raise the money and the Director's job to supply the curatorial vision.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

 
MEDIA CONTACTS
LYN WINTER, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS
Tel 213 633 5390
lwinter@moca.org
NANCY LEE, PR COORDINATOR
Tel 213 621 1788
nlee@moca.org

MOCA BOARD OF TRUSTEES NAMES
PHILIPPE VERGNE AS MUSEUM DIRECTOR

Los Angeles, Calif., - Following a worldwide search led by a 14-member committee, The Board of Trustees of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) announced today that it has voted unanimously to appoint Philippe Vergne as the museum’s director. Vergne succeeds Jeffrey Deitch, who resigned from MOCA on September 1, 2013.
MOCA is the only independent, artist-founded museum in Los Angeles dedicated solely to collecting and exhibiting contemporary art and has one of the most important collections of contemporary art in the world now comprising more than 6800 objects, a history of diverse, ground-breaking and scholarly exhibitions, many of which have travelled internationally, three Los Angeles locations of architectural renown, and a stronger financial base than ever before in its history.

Vergne who most recently served for five years as director of the Dia Art Foundation, New York has built an international reputation as a successful and committed museum leader with a deep knowledge of contemporary art, a respected curatorial vision, close relationships with artists and the international contemporary art community and strong fundraising skills. Prior to leading the Dia Foundation, Vergne held leadership roles as Deputy Director and Chief Curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, where he worked for over a decade organizing more than 25 international exhibitions as well as artist residencies and the Herzog & de Meuron facility expansion; as Director of the Francois Pinault Foundation in Paris; and as Director of the Musée d’art Contemporain (MAC) in Marseille, France.

Vergne’s recent institutional accomplishments include the rebuilding and transformation of the Dia Art Foundation, achieved by successfully stewarding and developing its board, fundraising for operations and capital projects, instituting long-range planning and cultivating close relationships with artist and donor communities. Since 1992 Vergne has organized and curated monographic, group and thematic exhibitions at major institutions around the world including, among others for Carl André, Yves Klein, Thomas Hirschhorn, Huang Yong Ping and Kara Walker and in 2006, Vergne co-curated the Whitney Biennial with Chrissie Iles. Vergne has edited and contributed essays to numerous books and catalogues, and has written for major art magazines. He is also a frequent lecturer. In 1988, Vergne received a bachelor’s degree in law from the University of Paris II, Assas and in 1989, he received a BA in archeology and the history of modern art from the University of Paris IV, Sorbonne, where he continued his art history studies, earning an MA (1991) and a Diplôme d’Etudes Approfondies (first doctoral diploma) (1992).

Vergne’s appointment follows a careful and wide-reaching international search which began in July this year spearheaded by a 14-member search committee led by MOCA Board Chairs Emeriti Maria Arena Bell and David G. Johnson, MOCA Board President Fred Sands, former MOCA Trustee and President of the Andy Warhol Foundation Joel Wachs, newly elected Board Co-Chairs Lilly Tartikoff Karatz and Maurice Marciano, MOCA Board Vice President Eugenio Lopez, MOCA Life Trustee Blake Byrne, Interim Director Maria Seferian and artists who formerly served on the MOCA board John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, Catherine Opie, and Ed Ruscha, among others.

“Philippe Vergne is a world class museum leader and we are so thrilled to welcome him to Los Angeles. Philippe brings a strong international perspective and curatorial record to MOCA, which is vital to us continuing as one of the most important contemporary art museums today. We are celebrating his decision to join us,” said MOCA Board Co-Chair Lilly Tartikoff Karatz.

Added MOCA Board Co-Chair Maurice Marciano, "I am very excited that Philippe will join MOCA as its Director.  I love his passion for contemporary art and he has a great vision for the future. Also, he is loved by all the artists he has worked with. With the successful completion of MOCA's endowment campaign and Philippe as its Director, we are embarking on a new, great chapter for MOCA as the leading, international museum of contemporary art."

"I am honored to be joining MOCA. I have admired its collection and programs throughout my career and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead this great institution into its next phase and to return to Los Angeles with my family to my wife's native city. From Michael Heizer to Mike Kelley, MOCA has changed the way I perceive and understand art. I am extremely grateful for the experiences and support that Dia has provided me with, and with pride I will look forward to its great successes," said MOCA Director Philippe Vergne.

“Philippe Vergne’s reputation in the contemporary art world and strong curatorial background make him uniquely positioned to lead MOCA at this time of great excitement behind our mission and our future,” said David G. Johnson, Chair Emeritus of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Board of Directors and Co-Chair of the Director Search Committee. “Philippe's scholarship, proven record of museum leadership and the mutual respect he has developed among the world’s leading artists will allow him to cultivate our legacy through MOCA’s world-class collection of contemporary art and ongoing innovative, creative programming.”

“With such a renowned group of candidates interested in this role, we needed to look beyond the resume to find a leader who would influence our program while also enmeshing themselves in MOCA’s unique cultural fabric,” said Maria Arena Bell, Chair Emeritus of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Board of Directors and Co-Chair of the Director Search Committee. “In addition to our world-class collection of art, we possess an appetite for cutting-edge programming and Philippe Vergne is the ideal person to continue MOCA’s journey forward.”

MOCA Board President Fred Sands who serves as a member of the Search Committee stated, “We’re thrilled with the quality and quantity of qualified applicants from all over the world who indicated an interest in the position which speaks well of MOCA’s reputation in the arts community. Now that we will have a $100M endowment, MOCA is the place to be in the museum world.”

“I am 100% excited that Philippe Vergne will be the new director of MOCA.  MOCA is very fortunate.  I think it’s a perfect marriage,” said John Baldessari.

“Philippe Vergne has the intelligence, vision, and ambition to lead MOCA forward. He has a deep appreciation of MOCA’s rigor, bravery, and unmatched program of contemporary exhibitions. His deep understanding of artists and the art they make brilliantly matches the collection of objects and ideas, the compelling timeline of powerful visuality, that is MOCA,” said Barbara Kruger.

“I am personally thrilled as an artist that our next director of MOCA will be Philippe Vergne. I first met Philippe while working on the Ice House series for a Walker residency and was taken by his ability for working with artists and his breadth of knowledge in contemporary art. In working with the search committee on finalizing him as our candidate for the next director of MOCA, our discussions continued to lead back to the enthusiasm and the vision for MOCA’s future, that Philippe brought to the table in the interview process. The future of MOCA has not only been financially met by the board during this time, but by the leadership and interest that Philippe will provide, and MOCA will certainly secure a brilliant future as the only independent museum of contemporary art in Los Angeles. In my opinion the museum we call “The Artists’ Museum” here in Los Angeles will thrive with all that has been accomplished in the past six months,” said Catherine Opie.

“After a very spirited search, Philippe Vergne is our highly qualified selection for director of MOCA. We believe him to be the most artist friendly and at the same time the most community friendly choice to steer our ship,” said Ed Ruscha.

Search Committee Co-Chair Joel Wachs lauded the participation of the four distinguished artists throughout the search process. “First and foremost,” Wachs said, “MOCA has always been the artists’ museum, and the presence, intellect and keen insight of John Baldessari, Barbara Kruger, Cathy Opie and Ed Ruscha have made sure it will continue to be so in the future.”

Last week the MOCA Board of Trustees announced the successful completion of its $100,000,000 endowment campaign, quadrupling its endowment and setting a next goal of raising its endowment to $150,000,000 preserving the museum’s heritage and protecting its place among the most important contemporary art museums in the world. The museum continues to have no debt on its balance sheet and is financially stronger than ever.

Interim Director Maria Seferian who was integral to the campaign’s success continues to lead the museum through the transition period prior to Vergne assuming his role as director.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

EXPLORE Historic Downtown Los Angeles as Described in the January GQ MAGAZINE This & Next Saturday!

The Last Bookstore (and a  2nd floor with 50,000 books at ONE DOLLAR each!)  Presents  a 10:30 START TIME FOR 2 hour walking tours  of the The Secret Lives of Historic Downtown Los Angeles -  FEATURED In GQ MAGAZINE and Endorsed By - LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE!


There will be a HISTORIC DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES 101  2 hour walking tour this Saturday January 18th  (and Saturday JANUARY 27th with a start time of 10:30 AM and an ending time of 12:30 PM. 

And on every Sunday, with reservations totaling at least 4 or more people  made by 5 PM Saturday - Sunday Tours can  also be given starting at 11 PM - or later depending -  on the first person's reservations.  And all tours start at THE LAST BOOKSTORE in the Spring Arts Tower at 5th and Spring and they are still only $15 per person.

And  besides our regular scheduled tours, we will be offering customized tours on different days and different times and from one to three hours including weekdays - depending on your schedule.  With a minimum of four reservations, we will design a tour of any part of Downtown focusing on any subject matter you choose.  These tours can be after work, during lunch breaks - or??

FOR MORE INFORMATION  - contact Brady Westwater at 213-804-8396 - or bradywestwater@gmail.com
BRADBURY BUILDING
All tours begin at THE LAST BOOKSTORE at 453 S. Spring Street in the Spring Arts Tower and will be led by long time Downtown resident Brady Westwater who, besides being involved with the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council, the Historic Downtown BID, Gallery Row, Art Walk, and the BOXeight and the CONCEPT Fashion Weeks, has brought over 150 businesses, artists and non-profit institutions to Downtown.  All tours are only $15 per person.  
Wyatt Earp

If you are a participant in 'Historic Downtown Los Angeles 101' Tour, you will see the first motion picture theater built,  the place where Babe Ruth signed his contract with the Yankees, the hotel where Charlie Chaplin lived when he made his early films (and the place where he made his Los Angeles vaudeville debut in 1910) - plus the homes and haunts of everyone from actor Nicholas Cage, the Black Dahlia, Rudolph Valentino, LA’s version of Jack the Ripper, President Teddy Roosevelt, the Night Stalker, western outlaw Emmet Dalton,  actor Ryan Gosling and more.  And you will also visit where O. J. Simpson bought his knife.

You’ll explore an intersection where all four buildings were often visited by gunfighter/sheriff Wyatt Earp since they were all built or occupied by friends of his from Tombstone during the shoot-out at the OK Corral.  At this intersection you will also discover what John Wayne, a prime minister of Italy, Houdini, Winston Churchill, boxer Jack Dempsey, Greta Garbo, President Woodrow Wilson and multiple Mexican boxing champions all had in common here.

You will also see where the first new lofts were opened, the places where Gallery Row and the Art Walk began and where Fashion Week returned to Downtown.  You will see many of the new boutiques, designer showrooms and stores that have recently opened in the area along with getting a sneak preview of what will soon be happening in the area.

Tickets for either tour are only $15 per person - free for children under 8 - and reservations can be made by calling Brady Westwater at 213-804-8396 or emailing bradywestwater@gmail.com.  All credit card orders will be processed  at Last Bookstore and cash payments may be made at the start of the tour.   All proceeds will go towards the revitalization and the study of the history of the neighborhood.  
Lastly, future tours will feature specialized areas of interest such as architecture, art of all kinds, shopping and food, single streets, sports (from steer wrestling to luchador wrestlers to a Sumo wrestler), transportation, specific periods of history, the hidden Wild West history of Los Angeles, movie locations, Downtown after hours and many other aspects of the neighborhood. And custom designed can be developed by request  for groups of four or more.
We will also be soon starting weekday and evening tours on what it's like to live in Downtown Los Angeles. You will be introduced to the many of stores, restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues (and often their owners, too) - along with being given previews of one of a kind special events - so you can get a feel for what it is like to live in Downtown Los Angeles.

We expect this tour to be popular with not only people considering moving to Downtown and people who work in Downtown and who would like to know what to do after hours in Downtown - but also to recent and even long established Downtown residents who want to know more about their neighborhood.



Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Great Story on Downtown Los Angeles in GQ Magazine

I was one of the many people Brett Martin interviewed for his GQ article on Downtown LA and of all the many writers I have spoken with, he has gotten the best grasp on what is new - and unique - about the path Downtown LA has taken.

America's Next Great City Is Inside L.A.

For decades, Downtown has been the dark center of L.A.: a wasteland of half-empty office buildings and fully empty streets. But amid the glittering towers and crumbly Art Deco facades, a new generation of adventurous chefs, bartenders, loft dwellers, artists, and developers are creating a neighborhood as electrifying and gritty as New York in the '70s. Brett Martin navigates his way through the coolest new downtown in America

January 2014
"Frontiers!"
Brady Westwater stands on the corner of Spring Street and Fifth Street, Downtown Los Angeles, arms akimbo. He wears a crumpled black cowboy hat pinned up on one side and a hooded sweatshirt of the Elida (Ohio) High School wrestling team. The squad on the sweatshirt changes daily, but this is essentially his uniform.
“This was the Wild West before there was a Wild West,” he says, all but wading into traffic and gesturing to the buildings around him. “In fact, many people went east from here to make the Wild West. This was wilder than any cow town in Texas.” The buildings on all four corners, he says, were built by a confederate of Wyatt Earp, who spent some time as an Angeleno in the early 1900s.
“The whole history of this neighborhood is a series of frontiers!”
With his hat, wiry arms, and scruffy mustache, 65-year-old Westwater bears some resemblance to a gold-panning frontier sidekick himself. He remembers when Fifth Street, “the Nickel,” had the distinction of being one of the busiest drug markets in the world, when the only places to get something to eat were the gas station on Olympic and the twenty-four-hour Original Pantry Cafe on Figueroa, where you can still get home fries with an archaeological mantle of crust. Back then, you could hang around and eventually see all the Downtown pioneers—artists, filmmakers, assorted bohemians—as they climbed out of their lofts and warehouses in search of sustenance.
Westwater, as he tells it, abandoned Downtown for a while, like most everybody else. He lived in Malibu and traveled the world as a mixed-martial-arts fighter. Then, in 1997, he came back, possessed of a vision of a revitalized urban community occupying Downtown. “I pushed flyers under every door I could find that showed a sign of life,” he says of his mission to match empty spaces with sometimes reluctant new tenants. He wasn't alone. Developers—names like Tom Gilmore and Cedd Moses—were set to begin taking advantage of a new law that loosened regulations on how Downtown's vacant buildings could be developed. Now, charging up the street to Broadway, Westwater points to building after building that has come back to teeming life: This one is lofts. This one houses one of the city's best restaurants. This one is a bar with a pop-up restaurant in the back and a performance space on top of that. Every structure seems to house artists, musicians, designers, tech developers, chefs—the whole Who are the people in your neighborhood of the creative class. After decades of being all but forgotten, Downtown has approached a critical mass of cool that even the most hard-core resident of Venice or Santa Monica or West Hollywood or Silver Lake would find impossible to deny.
“And we're still at the tip of the iceberg,” says Moses, whose Downtown bars have done as much as anything to spur on the development. “Right now, Downtown is like Brooklyn, but that's going to change. This is going to be Manhattan. And all the outlying areas, the rest of Los Angeles, that's going to be the boroughs. I don't have a doubt in my mind.”
Westwater, who both leads tours of Downtown and pops up in meetings with developers and politicians, is somehow in the center of this frenzy of activity—something between a fixer, a booster, a town historian, and the local eccentric, part Boss Tweed, part Joe Gould. In other words, the kind of great character produced by great cities. And that, of all things, is what Downtown L.A. is trying to become: a Great City in the heart of the City That Destroyed Cities.

There is much, much more in the article - including some greaT quotes from Cedd Moses.  And, at the end, Martin sums up what he has discovered about Downtown LA.
Downtown is still very much a series of frontiers—shifting, not fully formed, at times dangerous and self-defeating. What's left of Skid Row is still a shocking tent city reminiscent of The Wire's “Hamsterdam.” The homeless and mentally ill population that fan out from it daily are a major part of street life and a problem that won't be solved by being pushed into a smaller area or different part of the city. New entrepreneurs complain that all the hype has spurred landlords to get ahead of themselves, jacking up rents and scuttling some development before it even gets started.
None of this, says Moses, changes the inevitability of Downtown L.A., its inexorable rise.
"The fact is," he says, leaning forward and making eye contact for the first time, "Downtown is the only solution to the problem of L.A."
And that, truth be told, is when the last of my skepticism begins to dissipate, the moment I finally grasp the vision so many people have so excitedly tried to communicate: that Downtown isn't a bet on hipsterism, not on dumplings or cocktails or cool shops or food trucks. It's a bet on urbanism itself, a conviction that the past fifty years of outward, sprawling cul-de-sac development was just that: a dead end. That this is how we want to live, amidst the spark and jangle of humans pressed up against humans. Even in L.A.
There was a time, Brady Westwater says, when the ten square blocks around Spring and Fifth housed everybody you needed to know—the pioneers of moviemaking, aerospace, agriculture, the oil business, all the industries that built modern Southern California. What was past is now future, he says. “Picture a place where you can walk from MoMA to the Main Library to SoHo to Madison Square Garden to the best restaurants and bars in the world. Every single urban amenity, within walking distance. Where you walk outside and can't help but run into everybody. This is the only city that can offer that. And that's why L.A.—not Dubai or Singapore or anyplace else—that's why L.A. is going to change the world!”

Friday, January 03, 2014

University Researchers Miss the Mark on 'Myth' of Valley Girl Speak in the Valley

'Clueless' courtesy of Paramount Pictures via New York Times blog post

By confusing the Valley Girl Speak phenomenon in Encino (and adjacent parts of the San Fernando Valley) with the larger phenomenon of 'uptalk', researchers from the University of San Diego - none of whom, I assume, were there when it happened  - have misunderstood what made Valley Girl Speak unique - or why it was quickly picked up by the film and TV industries.  Here is the New York Times post on the subject:
Are you still making fun of young women for talking like Valley Girls?
Do you assume that because their statements end in a hesitant, rising quaver (“My name is Brittany?”) they are shallow, scattered or uncertain? Even that they sound — how to say this politely? is there any way? — intellectually your inferior?
For years, sociologists and linguists have studied that lilt, referring to it as “uptalk” or “high-rising intonation.” They found its presence in large pockets throughout the English-speaking world — Australia? England? New Zealand? Some date it to the 1950s, others say it is centuries old.Seriously?
In America, it became popularized during the 1980s as Valley Girl Speak, presumably inspired by Frank Zappa’s hit 1982 song “Valley Girl,” a derisive reference to the young white women of California’s San Fernando Valley who spoke it as their own dialect. Films like “Heathers” and “Clueless” perpetuated and parodied the stereotype of the speech and its purported lifestyle.
But scholars have found that the rising inflection can suggest a range of nuanced meanings in different geographical areas and conversational contexts. Another myth busted: its use is not exclusive to young women.

Here is the response I made on Kate Coe's facebook post on the subject.
These researchers totally missed the real 'cause' of Valley Girl Speak. Uptalk may have been part of it, but when I first noticed it, it was clearly a combination of surfer lingo with the nasal accents of Long Island (and other Bridge and Tunnel accents of transplanted New Yorkers), particularly in the South of the Boulevard San Fernando Valley communities of Encino and Sherman Oaks, both of which had large Jewish communities of ex-New Yorkers who also happened to be in the entertainment industry. And that explains why the film and TV industries picked up on the trend so fast.



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Discover the Secrets of Historic Downtown LA on This Saturday's 2 Hour Walking Tour Starting at 10:30 at The Last Bookstore at 5th & Spring

The Last Bookstore (and a  2nd floor with 50,000 books at ONE DOLLAR each!)  Presents  a 10:30 START TIME FOR 2 hour walking tours  of the The Secret Lives of Historic Downtown Los Angeles -  Endorsed By - LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE!

There will be a HISTORIC DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES 101  2 hour walking tour this Saturday December 21st  (and Saturday Dec. 28th) with a start time of 10:30 AM and an ending time of 12:30 PM. 

THEN - for the rest of the month - with so many people off work due to the holidays - I will be offering special custom designed tours on almost any day for four or more people for any mutually agreed upon hours

And on every Sunday, with reservations totaling at least 4 or more people  made by 5 PM Saturday - Sunday Tours can  also be given all December starting at 11 PM - or later depending -  on the first person's reservations.  And all tours start at THE LAST BOOKSTORE in the Spring Arts Tower at 5th and Spring and they are still only $15 per person.

And  besides our regular scheduled tours, we will be offering customized tours on different days and different times and from one to three hours including weekdays - depending on your schedule.  With a minimum of four reservations, we will design a tour of any part of Downtown focusing on any subject matter you choose.  These tours can be after work, during lunch breaks - or??

FOR MORE INFORMATION  - contact Brady Westwater at 213-804-8396 - or bradywestwater@gmail.com
BRADBURY BUILDING
All tours begin at THE LAST BOOKSTORE at 453 S. Spring Street in the Spring Arts Tower and will be led by long time Downtown resident Brady Westwater who, besides being involved with the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council, the Historic Downtown BID, Gallery Row, Art Walk, and the BOXeight and the CONCEPT Fashion Weeks, has brought over 150 businesses, artists and non-profit institutions to Downtown.  All tours are only $15 per person.  
Wyatt Earp

If you are a participant in 'Historic Downtown Los Angeles 101' Tour, you will see the first motion picture theater built,  the place where Babe Ruth signed his contract with the Yankees, the hotel where Charlie Chaplin lived when he made his early films (and the place where he made his Los Angeles vaudeville debut in 1910) - plus the homes and haunts of everyone from actor Nicholas Cage, the Black Dahlia, Rudolph Valentino, LA’s version of Jack the Ripper, President Teddy Roosevelt, the Night Stalker, western outlaw Emmet Dalton,  actor Ryan Gosling and more.  And you will also visit where O. J. Simpson bought his knife.

You’ll explore an intersection where all four buildings were often visited by gunfighter/sheriff Wyatt Earp since they were all built or occupied by friends of his from Tombstone during the shoot-out at the OK Corral.  At this intersection you will also discover what John Wayne, a prime minister of Italy, Houdini, Winston Churchill, boxer Jack Dempsey, Greta Garbo, President Woodrow Wilson and multiple Mexican boxing champions all had in common here.

You will also see where the first new lofts were opened, the places where Gallery Row and the Art Walk began and where Fashion Week returned to Downtown.  You will see many of the new boutiques, designer showrooms and stores that have recently opened in the area along with getting a sneak preview of what will soon be happening in the area.

Tickets for either tour are only $15 per person - free for children under 8 - and reservations can be made by calling Brady Westwater at 213-804-8396 or emailing bradywestwater@gmail.com.  All credit card orders will be processed  at Last Bookstore and cash payments may be made at the start of the tour.   All proceeds will go towards the revitalization and the study of the history of the neighborhood.  
Lastly, future tours will feature specialized areas of interest such as architecture, art of all kinds, shopping and food, single streets, sports (from steer wrestling to luchador wrestlers to a Sumo wrestler), transportation, specific periods of history, the hidden Wild West history of Los Angeles, movie locations, Downtown after hours and many other aspects of the neighborhood. And custom designed can be developed by request  for groups of four or more.
We will also be soon starting weekday and evening tours on what it's like to live in Downtown Los Angeles. You will be introduced to the many of stores, restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues (and often their owners, too) - along with being given previews of one of a kind special events - so you can get a feel for what it is like to live in Downtown Los Angeles.

We expect this tour to be popular with not only people considering moving to Downtown and people who work in Downtown and who would like to know what to do after hours in Downtown - but also to recent and even long established Downtown residents who want to know more about their neighborhood.