L.A. the Blog Essential Read: ‘Project Dad’ Documentary

Making a film requires so many things, and unfortunately no matter how much talent you have if you don’t have money nothing ever really happens.  Even a student film five-minutes long runs at least a hundred dollars.  Sharon Shattuck, a filmmaker and animator, definitely has the talent.  This writer has been privileged enough to work with Sharon in the past on a few of those student projects, but that was years ago in New York City and much has happened since then.  Sharon’s first documentary short ‘Parasite’s: A Users Guide‘ screened as a finalist for the Student Academy Awards; her animation that premiered at Radiolab won awards; she currently works with Wicked Delicate a production company teamed up with Ian Cheney, one of the filmmakers of the documentary ‘King Corn‘; and her most recent documentary entitled ‘Project Dad‘ glows with such potential that we here at L.A. the Blog get excited just thinking about watching it on the big screen. Her current project needs that one thing to get it off the ground and it is so close!!!  It needs money.

The project described in Sharon’s own words:

Project Dad  (working title) follows Sharon’s quest to understand her LGBT family through a two-way dialogue with her dad.  Funny, poignant, and above all real, the film uses a mix of verité and interview footage shot by the filmmaker, and point-of-view flip-cam footage shot by her subjects, to answer the question, “What is a healthy family?”  Springing from her experiences growing up in a supportive family surrounded by outside misunderstanding, the filmmaker seeks out other children of LGBT families, expectant LGBT parents, family law experts, and politicians from both sides of the fence, to craft a film that is national in scope, and centered on hope and redemption.

With a Kickstarter campaign in the works with a just a few days left to raise the rest of the needed cash we encourage all of our readers and supporters to give the same support to Sharon and donate whatever money they have left after donating to KCRW/KPFK/etc, or perhaps split this years donation with Sharon.  Or just outright cough up the cash.  The project gathered some great support from The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and The Advocate.  It also gained the attention of a Sundance documentary programming associate who kind enough blogged about the project.  The project is a co-production of Wicked Delicate, and please if possible donate to the project.  And with that we have whined enough, pleaded until our fingers bled, and hopefully cajoled you with the big name dropping above.  Below find a short film Sharon worked on with this writer, and if interested in donating or supporting for ‘Project Dad’, or for just more information click here.

UPDATE:  Congratulations to Sharon, her projects got funded through Kickstarter, and congratulations to everyone who donated.

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L.A. the Blog: Two New Eateries On Hollywood Blvd.

As the machine development wheels forward unconquerable, implacable along the famous stretch of Hollywood Boulevard known as the Walk of Fame, where in golden stars immortalized forever rest the names of iconic people who bestowed years of entertainment upon us – L.A. the Blog is happy to announce two new eateries marking the mythic landscape.  They totally make the “cheap eats” list of places to grab a quick bite and both are well worth the visit.

The first place anyone from New York will recognize, and everyone else who watched Spider Man 2 the movie should remember fondly.  The silver screen made-famous Joe’s Pizza where Toby McGuire playing Peter Parker worked delivering pizza in the film’s opening scenes – yes!  Joe’s Pizza is now gracing Hollywood right at Wilcox and Hollywood Blvd., and yes!  Right around the corner of another New York staple Papaya King.  We are experiencing a wholesale invasion from the east coast.  Next will see Dunkin’ Donuts or something.

Joe's Pizza

Joe’s famous NYC Pizza

As L.A. the Blog is personally very familiar with Joe’s pizza in New York our readers can trust us to safely critique the flavor of this new Joe’s in comparison to the one in NY.  Surprisingly the pizza is very similar in taste, almost exactly the same in taste, so we give the place an A+ for its pizza.  We will point out the slight differences.  Whether it is the high-volume of pies that Joe’s in NYC throws out compared to this one, or that the cooks on the east coast have a process they are used too, the pizza at the Los Angeles location definitely was in better condition and looked as if they LA guys took time and tender loving care putting the pizza together.  The crust was a little thicker, and in LA-fashion crispy too.

Where Joe’s NYC is famous for fresh out of the oven pies, and a really thin crust that no one in their right mind would call crispy; the LA spot hasn’t reached the years of perfection in knocking down millimeters off the thickness and doesn’t do the volume to demand out-of-the-oven pizzas every five minutes.  That we believe give the NY pies their distinct difference.  Or as others believe it could be that the water in Los Angeles is different from the water in NYC.  Yeah we use less chlorine maybe?

As taste goes if you miss a slice of NYC, then head to Joe’s because it is damn close!!!  The prices for a slice were around $2.50 so this place also makes our “cheap eats” list.

The other spot that just opened is right next to Joe’s at Hollywood and Wilcox, and is a taco stand, err … truck, or restaurant, or a really awesome and creative eatery that serves up some good Mexican food.

The Calle Taco truck, once a real food truck that graced the streets of Los Angeles now sits under an old Hollywood theater marquee near the intersection of Hollywood and Wilcox, slightly back from the sidewalk with tables and chairs in front, giving costumers a place to eat what the truck dishes up.

Calle Tacos should get an award for best-designed restaurant on the boulevard.  Not only did the place take a food truck, cut it in half, and place it on the inside of their restaurant so costumers have to order from the taco truck window, they also went all out in gracing the inside of the restaurant with beautiful graffiti murals of Los Angeles, and literally made the entrance to the bathrooms the front door to the food truck too.

Why you ask?  All in honor of the many taco / burrito dishing food trucks that everyday feed us on our merry ways through the city.  Memorializing in true Hollywood fashion a staple of Los Angeles life and culture.  L.A the Blog loves LA, so we love you Calle Tacos.

The food was good, we didn’t try everything on the menu but the carne asade burrito tasted great.  While not as cheep as a food truck with tacos at $1.95 and burritos at $5.95, you can definitely get some grub for under the $5, so it also makes the Blogs “cheap eats” list.  Check out below for some picks of the place and when in Hollywood be sure to stop in!  FYI – the graffiti is by LA-based artist Hex, aka Hector Rios.

UPDATE:  We just visited Calle Tacos again and noticed that Tuesday is $0.99 taco day, every Tuesday, and right now if you visit they have a free can of soda if you check in to their facebook page, or tweet about your visit.  We scored a great lunch for $3.24!

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L.A. the Blog: Catching up with Project Runway-fame Viktor Luna at PAR-LA

Viktor Luna and friends

May 12, 2012 – (Left to Right) Joshua Christensen, Viktor Luna and their friend Josh pose together for a photograph inside the clothing store PAR-LA during an intimate fashion celebration showcasing some of Viktor’s and Joshua’s latest designs.

If anything our friend Viktor Luna has been busy these last few years since we last saw him in 2010 putting on DIY fashion shows in Manhattan during NYC Fashion Week.  For starters Project Runway Season 9 saw him as a finalist in the last episode of the season designing neck-to-neck with the season’s winner.

That was so 2011 though, what about this year?  A trip to Mexico City to start, where he headlined a fashion event with his own show.  Speaking engagements at various schools and universities within the United States.  The 2012 Project Runway RTW Collection show during this years NYC Fashion Week, where his work from the show was featured.  A visit to the L.A. Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising campus with fellow Runway star Joshua Christensen (seen above with Viktor).

And most recently in West Hollywood at the clothing store PAR-LA for a Spring / Summer exclusive release of his clothing.  Not to be outdone in the least Viktor surprised with graphic print shorts and t-shirts that foretell a warm summer awaiting us in beautiful, sunny Los Angeles.

Viktor Luna shorts

Viktor Luna designed shorts with graphic print design, can you recognize the print?

This classic knee-length and slim fit short combined with the bright colors will make any summer pool party or BBq bash hipper then the next hipster going with their standard cut-off jean shorts, or Hawaiian floral print.

Can you tell what the design is?  We will let you guess on the featured image to the left, but we will tell you that one print is of a chandelier in Grand Central Station, of course the graphic design is manipulated making each piece of the collection fabulous.

Combined with the shorts you can find graphic print t-shirts and Viktor’s signature bow ties to match, along with another Viktor Luna t-shirt simple with his label design on black.  The last for those withing to remain out of the spotlight.

L.A. the blog would also like to compliment Joshua Christensen on his wonderful contribution to the event.  Most notably Joshua’s work with leather makes a perfect match for any cold nights left this Spring.

Joshua Christensen jacket

Jacket by Joshua Christensen

Joshua is a graduate from FIDM in their advanced degree program and was also a contestant on Project Runway.  We got the low-down on Joshua from the cougar at Left Coast Fashion, and you can see some of his work from his recent FIDM show during L.A. Fashion Week here.  We salute Joshua as an L.A. designer with an eye for what’s classy.  At PAR-LA he is predicting a hot summer too with a collection of light materials making up shorts, shirts and for those lazy Sundays and Yoga classes – sweat suits.

We wish Viktor and Joshua the best and we loved the clothing.  We are hoping that next time we will get a gift certificate when we show up at the event so we can walk off with some fancy items from both their collections.

PAR-LA is located at 8250 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90046.  Does PAR remind anyone else of golf, this writer loves golf so maybe it is just me …  Check some photos of the shop and more photos of Viktor’s and Joshua’s work below.

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L.A. the Blog: Jerry Hultin and Urban Planning and Progress

May 10, 2012 – New York University hosted on Thursday night an evening of thinking about urban planning and the future of our cities.  As a quick disclaimer  this writer for L.A. the Blog is an alumnus of NYU and attended the discussion, so now there is no conflict of interest, nor is this shameless advertising for NYU, okay!

Jerry Hultin, the president of the Polytechnic Institute of NYU, led the evening soiree, and for all you would be politicians, I can personally attest that Mr. Hultin greeted and spoke with every guest at the event before his talk on urban planning, including yours truly.  In many ways the event was as much as a discussion of our cities landscapes as it was an introduction of the universities newest school – The Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP).

Founded in an effort by New York City to stay competitive in this growing age of science and technology, NYU CUSP is a joint partnership between the city and NYU.   You can read a full press release about the new school here.  Basically NYU applies the students and the academics, and the city supplied the land and the building.  Housed in Brooklyn it will take a long unused MTA building and convert it into the future!!!  Really the building looks pretty in the infographic they presented.  There is a nice video on the project found here that fills you full of hope.

Enough about the facts, lets talk about urban futures.  Well, smart cities for one.  What is a smart city you ask?  Nothing really at the moment, it is just a theory where we use all the available data and renewable technology, along with perhaps some cool new inventions like grass roofs (not reefer, but actual grass) and vertical farms.  Think a farm outside your window.  When we say data think of for example information on electricity usage and technology that directs the flow of electricity only when needed to areas that need it.  You may think that is the case now, but in actuality electricity is mostly going everywhere at once in high volume, but if a “smart” grid can shut off certain sectors of the grid not in use at certain hours (like 3 a.m. at my house), then it can direct it elsewhere lessening the need for the higher volumes to cover all areas at once.

I am sure you can imagine that resources like water can use the same technology, and traffic has ebbs and flows too so if we can speed up traffic through technology that better monitors heavy traffic areas and adjusts on a more minute to minute basis, we could cut down on electricity or gas consumption.  Consider if we go electric car in the next 10 years, where are people gonna charge their cars?  We sure don’t have a garage to plug into so some public charging stations would be nice too.

Hultin mentioned that IBM has started a Smarter Cities program (more selfless advertising on our part).  L.A. the Blog would like smarter politicians and corporations to go along with our smarter cities if we are on the subject …

Other than smart cities the major topics of importance that pose a challenge:  distribution of goods throughout the world and educating our future generations.

It was noted by an audience member and confirmed by Mr. Hultin that in India, a study showed that 40 percent of agricultural food was lost transporting it from the field to the table.  With such a high percentage of loss this represents a serious challenge that urban planning should address.

The other portion of distribution is the rising cost of fuel and the dense populations that make transporting goods more difficult.  Hultin noted that India and China will both be building and planning cities for 1 billion people in the future, so just the logistics of distribution in such an environment poses serious problems.  On top of that if they build cities as we build cities in the U.S., Hultin estimated it would take six earths to provide all the resources to supply the world’s population.  Obviously we only have one earth so Houston we have a problem.

Just to scare you into caring we are linking to a report that Hultin mentioned called Resource Revolution. A quick disclaimer, we haven’t read the whole report so don’t blame us if it is actually some propaganda put forth by bleeding left-wing liberals or screaming right-wing republicans.  We looked at the percentages in the front and decided it was scary enough and we didn’t need any more terror.

Going right into educating the young, does everyone else feel like this writer and wishes they pursued engineering rather than a liberal arts education?  Well that is part of the problem, how do we get future generations interested in science and engineering?  Get kids to stop running of like rap stars and rock’ n’ roll gods so they can get down to the business of saving all us old people.  Maybe we need some drug addict engineers to appear on TV yeah?  American bandstand for engineers?  Though we are speaking tongue in cheek about this, sadly for fields like engineering it helps to start people young as who the hell at forty is going to go back to basic math class?

There is also a surprising disparity in the engineering field between men and woman.  Most engineering schools look like this – guy, guy, guy, guy, guy, guy, guy, guy and 1/2 woman – meaning there is way too many dudes in the kitchen cooking up technology.  Since women are such a large part of the population, more the 50 percent last time I checked, it would help to have them helping out too.

L.A. the Blog will leave with one single quote from the evening, Hultin when describing what the greatest resource of the 21st century said, “Talent is the oil of the 21st century.”  Smart cities won’t just build themselves out on their own, we need smart people too.

L.A. the Blog: Papaya King L.A.

While L.A. the Blog is a little late on the scene reporting that Papaya King is opening in Los Angeles, well it is and it will be here this Spring (L.A. Weekly reports in April).  It is located just off Hollywood Boulevard’s main club drag on Wilcox Avenue.  The question remains how late it will be open, but 24-hours a day sounds good.

Not to be confused the Papaya Dog, nor Gray’s Papaya, but yes it is the original chain that opened back 1932.  For a little rumor history, people say that Papaya Dog was started by a former employee of the original Papaya King, and it might be said about Gray’s Papaya too.  All I know is that if the hot dogs have that New York City snap, they will be something unique in Los Angeles.

(This is a side note – if you ever get the chance go to Criff Dog in NYC, it’s worth it just to see the babe hugging the dog, and it’s yum!)

Stay tuned for more updates as they come in …

UPDATE 4/19/13:  Papaya King didn’t last long in Los Angeles, most likely from the crappy service, and is now closed.

L.A. the Blog: Wayne Barrett Leaves the Village Voice (Tom Robbins follows)

Looking good Wayne, may you write for another 30 years!

In other media news … Wayne Barrett announced his exit from the Village Voice this morning in an e-mail and blog post.

For the record Wayne spent 33 years as an investigative reporter at the famous liberal publication, and L.A. the Blog is re-posting in its entirety the e-mail that he sent this morning, and the link to his post on the Voice website:

Wayne Barrett: Time for Something New
By Wayne Barrett, Tue., Jan. 4 2011 @ 10:38AM
Ed Koch and I were inaugurated on the same day in 1978. He became mayor and I became his weekly tormentor.
I had written a few pieces for the Voice before I took over the Runnin’ Scared column that January, going back as far as 1973.
But I was now inheriting a column that Mary Nichols, the Voice’s editor-in-chief, had made famous, and that had been written by greats like Jack Newfield, Ken Auletta, and Joe Conason. A country kid out of Lynchburg, Virginia, where I’d founded the Teenage Republicans, I was suddenly occupying the first two pages of New York’s counter-cultural crier.
Since then, I have written, by my own inexact calculation, more column inches than anyone in the history of the Voice. These will be my last.
I am 65 and a half now, and it is time for something new.
If I didn’t see that, others did.
The paper has always been more than an employer to me. I turned down other jobs that paid better three times to stay here. Though my mentor Newfield used to say we got our owners “from office temporaries,” and though I worked for 14 different editors, the Voice was always a place where I could express my voice. And that meant more to me than larger circulations or greater influence or bigger paychecks.
It is called a writer’s paper because we decide what we will write. That is not a license to spout and I never took it as such. Across all these years, I almost never wrote in the first person and, even when I did, the piece was still packed with reportage. In my extended family, I have become the go-to guy for eulogies and I report every one of them, learning more about my mother, for example, by interviewing her sisters than she ever told me when she was alive.
When I was asked in recent years to blog frequently, I wouldn’t do it unless I had something new to tell a reader, not just a clever regurgitation of someone else’s reporting.  My credo has always been that the only reason readers come back to you again and again over decades is because of what you unearth for them, and that the joy of our profession is discovery, not dissertation.
There is also no other job where you get paid to tell the truth. Other professionals do sometimes tell the truth, but it’s ancillary to what they do, not the purpose of their job. I was asked years ago to address the elementary school that my son attended and tell them what a reporter did and I went to the auditorium in a trenchcoat with the collar up and a notebook in a my pocket, baring it to announce that “we are detectives for the people.”
When the Voice celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2005, I said “we thought a deadline meant we had to kill somebody by closing time,” and that, as a liberal Democratic paper, we were “better at goring one of our own.” It never mattered to me what the party or ideology was of the subject of an investigative piece; the reporting was as nonpartisan as the wrongdoing itself. I never looked past the wrist of any hand in the public till. It was the grabbing that bothered me, and there was no Democratic or Republican way to pick up the loot.
The greatest prize I’ve ever won for the work I’ve done in these pages was when Al D’Amato called me a “viper” in his memoir. Chuck Schumer, who ended D’Amato’s reign after 18 years, ascribed his victory in a 2007 memoir to a story I’d written a decade earlier that devastated the incumbent Republican. What Schumer didn’t say was that as soon as Hank Morris, Schumer’s media guru, went up with an ad based on my revelations about D’Amato, Arthur Finkelstein, who was running D’Amato’s 1998 campaign, aired a commercial about Schumer’s near-indictment and flashed my nearly two-decade-old clips breaking that scandal on the screen as well. I was the maestro of a commercial duel.
Even as my scandal stories skewered David Dinkins in the 1989 and 1993 mayoral campaigns, I chronicled the devolution of his nemesis, Rudy Giuliani, from hero prosecutor to used 9/11 memorabilia salesman.
As awkwardly as I felt about it, Carl Paladino’s toughest shots at Andrew Cuomo this fall were garbled renditions of two 6000-word exposes I’d done here about Cuomo’s HUD record. For a week in the 2009 mayoral campaign, I couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing a Bloomberg commercial drawn from my expose of Bill Thompson’s conflict-ridden home mortgage. But I’d delivered one cover-story blow after another throughout the cycle about everything from the mayor’s culpability in the Deutsche Bank fire debacle to his own governmental incest with Bloomberg L.P.
It was always the conduct that prodded me to write, not the person. And that is what I lived for, a chance to say something that revealed and mattered. To me, the story will always be the thing. It is all I can see.
I believe I have much left to learn, still armed with my notebook, and thus much left to tell you. It may be books or blogs or something in between. I hope to bring my trademark interns with me because they have, for more than 30 years, helped me think young, especially when it comes to the climate and water crises. The city and state beat are precious to me, but what is happening to our nation is also a frightening pull on me, so I don’t know what I will wind up writing in this new life.
I have loved my bond with you and have never traded an inch of truth for a moment, or even a season, of access. I tell the young people still drawn to this duty that it is the most honorable one in America, and that I have never met a corrupt journalist. I even met one, Tom Robbins, so brave that when he heard I was leaving, he quit himself and didn’t even tell me he was. “I’m going out with the guy who brought me to the dance,” Robbins told me after he resigned, crafting a lede with the very fiber of his life.
“If a newspaper writes the story of its city without compromise or calculation,” I wrote in that 50th anniversary piece, “it is as breathtaking as a ballet, each detail another artful step. Put us together as bound volumes in the memory of this grandest of cities and the Voice reads like a classic, ever passionate and principled.”
I will pray it always does.
http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/01/wayne_barrett_t_2.php

In the above letter Wayne mentions many of the instances where he impacted local New York politics, but let’s not forget that Wayne truly upheld the idea of the 1st Amendment for the entire nation.  For instance his articles in the Voice directly exposed Sarah Palin’s pay-to-play political dealings in Wasilla (which Palin threatened to sue Wayne over).

For me as an intern at Wayne’s desk in 2009, highlights included calling out New York Governor David Patterson for lying and making numbers up in his TV ads and TV appearances.  Or going after Bloomberg and Thompson as they ran for mayor in 2010.  Wayne really took the nonpartisan thorn sticking to an extreme in his quest to make his great city a better place (yes, NYC is as much Wayne’s as anyone else for the time he spent making it awesome).

More than anything Wayne embodied a dedication to journalism and the truth.  For example from the hospital facing major surgery to save his life, Wayne still had the time to call us interns, yelling out research tasks and things he needed confirmed as he pushed to meet another deadline.  Yes, even facing death Wayne still had time to embrace the most traditional of journalism tasks … yelling to get the story right and get it done.

Wayne, you will be missed and thank you so much!  I learned more those six months at your desk than I did my entire schooling as a journalist!

Oh yeah, as a parting shot for the Voice, New York Magazine reported that Voice Editor-in-Chief Tony Ortega said that Tom Robbins leaving had no relation to Barrett.  Wayne says otherwise … you tell me who you believe.